Taliesin's 3E Builds: Moonstone, Binary, Rulk, Wasp, Shang

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Taliesin
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House Rules #1: Time and Distance

Post by Taliesin »

House Rules #1: Ranks and Measures

The Ranks & Measures table in the Hero’s Handbook seems to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. In theory, the table works on two major principles: that the measures approximately double every rank and that each rank represents a range of measures. I feel there are some issues regarding each one—not game-breaking by any stretch, but issues that can and should be easily resolved.

The intervals in the Ranks & Measures do approximately double, but there appear to be several odd intervals, possibly to adhere to measurement conventions from d20--specifically 6 seconds and 30 feet. Reconciling these measures with the very useful benchmark measures of 1 hour and 1 mile created some odd multipliers at certain ranks (for instance, going from 12 seconds to 30 seconds, from 6 feet to 15 feet, from 1,800 feet to ½ mile) that could easily be resolved by abandoning the 6 seconds and 30 feet benchmarks.

Distance and Range of Measures
The values on the table are also meant to represent the maximum measure for that rank, and each rank represents a range of values between its corresponding value and the value one rank lower. The oddity of 6 feet becomes apparent again as the default size rank of -2 represents 3-6 feet, meaning that anyone over 6 feet tall is size rank -1. The Size and Mass Power Profile amends size rank -2 to a range of 3-8 feet without directly correcting the table. A direct halving of 15 feet to 7.5 or 8 feet would have avoided this issue, and in a way, it was implicitly done by the statement in the Power Profile. Such a change would place an average human height squarely in the middle of the 4 and 8 feet ranks and keep most heroes in the same size rank.

Time and Doubling
Ten doublings approximate a thousandfold increase—this is pretty useful for metric units and for units that do not otherwise jump in unusual intervals (distance is fine once you reach miles). Six doublings approximate a sixtyfold increase—this is particularly useful for time, with its conversions of sixty seconds to the minute and sixty minutes to the hour. This also means that to really take advantage of the ease with which doubling fits into the time ranks, we need to start at one second and replace the 6 second rank with either 4 or 8 seconds. For the record, DC Heroes used 4 seconds per phase.

Size and Rank
Most human traits begin at zero ranks with the exceptions of size and mass, which default to -2 and 2 ranks respectively. Mass does scale three times as fast rank-wise as size, and we can probably include most of the adult human population between mass ranks 0 and 2. Size was placed at -2 ranks so that distance rank 0 equated to the default human speed.

Optionally, normal size could be set to rank 0, with default reach equal to size (or size -1), a move action allowing you to move your size +1 distance, two move actions to move size +2. This takes into account the shortening of time rank 0 from 6 to 4 seconds and the ten ranks (instead of nine) from one round to one hour.

Either method would require some deviation from tidy rank 0s across the board for normal characters. However, starting rank 0 distance at 8 feet has the benefit of making throwing distances more realistic. With rank 0 set to 30 feet, you could throw objects that you can barely lift a distance of 30 feet, which is a little far; setting rank 0 to one’s default size or reach means that you would instead set such an object down within the range of your reach, which makes a little more sense.

Humanocentric Distance
We actually haven’t removed the 30 feet benchmark but instead altered the 6 feet measure to 8 feet. This places the human average height somewhere in the middle of the 4 to 8 feet range; the middle of that range isn’t 6 feet but actually 4 times the square root of 2, or about 5 feet, 8 inches—closer to the median human height if you include both genders. A strict doubling from 30 feet would not yield a 1 mile benchmark but keeps a lot of the familiar intermediate ranks. Using 1.5 and 3 miles before doubling from thereon out isn’t terribly cumbersome, but the higher values would be unfamiliar to those using a 1 mile starting point.

The old DC Heroes progression actually starts from 10 feet at AP (or rank) 0, and yields 1 mile at rank 9 and 2 miles at rank 10. This sets the typical hero in the 5-10 feet range, which is a lot less humanocentric, but expected given the wide range of values produced by doubling. I personally find the measures progressing from 10 feet much easier to use.

Code: Select all

Rank      Time           Distance
-5        1/8 second     3 inches
-4        1/4 second     6 inches
-3        1/2 second     1 feet
-2        1 second       2 feet
-1        2 seconds      4 feet
0         4 seconds      8 feet
1         8 seconds      15 feet
2         15 seconds     30 feet
3         30 seconds     60 feet
4         1 minute       120 feet
5         2 minutes      250 feet
6         4 minutes      500 feet
7         8 minutes      1,000 feet
8         15 minutes     2,000 feet
9         30 minutes     4,000 feet
10        1 hour         1.5 miles
11        2 hours        3 miles
12        4 hours        6 miles
13        8 hours        12 miles
14        16 hours       25 miles
15        1.5 days       50 miles
16        3 days         100 miles
17        1 week         200 miles
18        2 weeks        400 miles
19        1 month        800 miles
20        2 months       1,500 miles
21        4 months       3,000 miles
22        8 months       6,000 miles
23        1.5 years      12,000 miles
24        3 years        25,000 miles
25        6 years        50,000 miles
26        12 years       100,000 miles
27        25 years       200,000 miles
28        50 years       400,000 miles
29        100 years      800,000 miles
30        200 years      1.5 million miles
Updated 7/27/2012
Last edited by Taliesin on Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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House Rules #2: Growth

Post by Taliesin »

House Rules #2: Growth

Pre-Ramble

With the move to a consolidated Strength scale (albeit with the option of buying lifting Str separately) that doubles with rank, powers like Growth and Density should in theory have been more easily modeled. The general ratio of mass to height has been x8 mass for every x2 height, with Strength increasing directly in proportion to mass, with the usual comic book physics superseding real life application of the square-cube law.

M&M 2E had the difficulty of separate tracks for Strength and Super-Strength and introduced a four rank per size category scheme. M&M 3E retained the four rank scheme, which has the effect of x16 Strength for every x8 mass and certain proportions scaling very differently, aside from the issues presented by the uneven progression of the Ranks and Measurements table.

My intention is to move size and mass altering powers to a three rank per size scale, which I think simplifies an area that M&M has always had trouble with. The revised Growth effect below saves the major changes for each size increase and retains the same cost and benefit at each rank. Modifiers to the Intimidation and Stealth skills only apply at each size increase and retain the same ratio of modifier to size as RAW Growth. The penalty to active defenses also only apply with size increase but are half that of the RAW, which balances the one less power rank per size. The net benefit of Strength and Stamina over active defense penalty per size remains the same at +2.

Growth
Action: Free
Range: Personal
Duration: Sustained
Cost: 3 points per rank

Growth modifiers are restricted by PL limits.

Each rank of Growth adds 1 to your Strength and Stamina (constructs add 1 rank to Strength and Toughness if they lack Stamina) and 1 rank to your mass.

Every 3 ranks of Growth increases your size rank by 1 (ordinary humans start out at size rank -2), which also increases your reach (your reach is equal to your size rank) and speed by 1 rank (you start at speed rank 0). Each increase in size rank applies a -1 penalty to your active defenses and on your attack checks, a -2 penalty to Stealth checks, and a +2 bonus to Intimidation.

You may want to spread the active defense and attack penalties across three ranks of Growth. For instance, apply a -1 to close attacks at rank 1, a -1 to ranged attacks at rank 2, and the -1 to active defenses at rank 3, and so forth in the same order at higher ranks. Otherwise, Growth should be bought three ranks at a time in order to maintain a balanced progression.

Updated 1/3/2011: Seeing no change in the updated 3E rules, I decided that attack penalties simply should be incorporated if you're using the Growth effect.
Last edited by Taliesin on Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:28 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Taliesin's 3E Builds: Namor, Thing, Beast, House Rules

Post by hero4hire »

YES!

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Re: Taliesin's 3E Builds: Namor, Thing, Beast, House Rules

Post by Saltcrow »

Hey Taliesin, are you taking any requests at all? I know you're taking a brief break, but I'd love to see your rendition of Toxin or Venom!

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Re: Taliesin's 3E Builds: Namor, Thing, Beast, House Rules

Post by nodales44 »

House rules are getting tough, though its very challenging!
Last edited by nodales44 on Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Taliesin's 3E Builds: Namor, Thing, Beast, House Rules

Post by Taliesin »

Saltcrow wrote:Hey Taliesin, are you taking any requests at all? I know you're taking a brief break, but I'd love to see your rendition of Toxin or Venom!
I have Venom written up already, so I can get him posted soon. I haven't done Toxin, but it should be easy enough to work off of Venom.

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House Rules #3: Shrinking

Post by Taliesin »

House Rules #3: Shrinking

Pre-Ramble

Shrinking is a troublesome power in that it doesn’t offer much, just a few bonuses to defenses and stealth and the penalties it imposes become less and less punitive, as it is easy to simply build the character around the Strength penalty. At the same time, the benefits offered by intermediate ranks of Shrinking are negligible.

The other change in 3E is that size only affects active defenses, which has the oddity that the defense modifiers also affect characters of the same size, even though it is meant to reflect the change in scale. Addressing this will require a more drastic solution than this stop-gap measure.

Note that unlike Growth, each rank of Shrinking halves your height as opposed to halving your mass. Thus, every rank of Shrinking equates to three ranks of Growth in terms of size alteration. The difference in scale is due to fewer benefits from Shrinking and most of the benefits coming with each size rank. You can make Shrinking halve your mass and cost 1 point per rank, but the intermediate ranks don’t provide value and you’d wind up buying each size category.

Shrinking
Action: Free
Range: Personal
Duration: Sustained
Cost: 3 points per rank

Shrinking modifiers are restricted by PL limits.

Each rank of Shrinking reduces your size rank by 1, which also decreases your reach (your reach is equal to your size rank), your speed by 1 rank (you start at speed 0), and your mass rank by 3. Add your Shrinking rank to your active defenses and attack checks. Apply a +4 bonus to Stealth checks and a -2 penalty to Intimidation checks for every rank of Shrinking.

Flaws

Reduced Strength: Normally, you retain your normal Strength when shrunk. If you have this Flaw, you are proportionally weaker when you decrease your size. Subtract 3 ranks of Strength for every rank of Shrinking. This Flaw does not pay back its full value because reduced Strength imposes a diminishing penalty at higher ranks. -1 cost per rank

Updated 1/3/2011: Again, incorporated attack bonuses into the Shrinking effect. It just makes more sense for both defenses and attack checks to scale.
Last edited by Taliesin on Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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House Rules #4: Density

Post by Taliesin »

House Rules #4: Density

Pre-Ramble

There is no pre-existing Density effect in 3E. The increased mass provided by Density can be replicated with Enhanced Strength limited to resistance against grabs and effects such as Move Object. The other effects provided by 2E Density are easily modeled by existing effects.

The one issue that 2E Density had was an inconsistent scaling of Strength with mass, even moreso than Growth and Shrinking had. The basis of my house ruled Density is a doubling of Strength with each doubling of mass.

Density
Action: Free
Range: Personal
Duration: Sustained
Cost: 4 points per rank

You can temporarily increase your mass, gaining Strength and Toughness. Density modifiers are restricted by PL limits.

Each rank of Density adds 1 rank to your mass and adds 1 to your Strength and Toughness. The Toughness gained from Density is Impervious.

Flaws

Immobile: Using Density causes you to be too heavy to move from your location, causing you to be immobile as long as the effect is maintained. If you are completely unable to move, then you are defenseless as well, increasing the value of this flaw to -3 cost per rank. If you are merely vulnerable as well as immobile, then you can combine Immobile with Distracting for -2 cost per rank. -1 cost per rank
Last edited by Taliesin on Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Taliesin's 3E Builds: Namor, Thing, Beast, House Rules

Post by Taliesin »

My next house rule will basically treat these size/mass altering effects as powers built using Alternate Form as a basis and the effects as guidelines.

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Design Diary #1: Benchmark Overview

Post by Taliesin »

Design Diary #1: Benchmark Overview

I’ve approached builds in 3E differently from 2E. The main reason is that the stated purpose of my thread was to make builds that were compatible with the existing builds from Hero’s Handbook rather than originally conceive all of my builds wholecloth. Thus, I’m using the existing builds to construct benchmarks for all of my builds as a whole. These benchmarks will reflect a lot of the prejudices and design decisions of the designer, or at least my interpretation of the source material.

I’ll begin with a few general notes. Most traits were placed on a zero to twenty scale. Some traits, specifically certain ranks and measures, dip into the negative values; ranks and measures also exist for values over 20. However, most of the high water marks were set at 20, such as Darkseid’s Omega Beam damage and Flash’s speed—traits that could reasonably have been set at higher than 20. I don’t treat 20 as a hard cap, but it is a soft cap, and most anything higher will be written off as either an X-trait or in the case of resistances, straight Immunities.

Abilities

Unlike previous editions of M&M, there is no unified scale, at least insofar as human maximums are defined (or assumed). Batman is the obvious place to start, as he is often held up as the pinnacle of human achievement in nearly every category. His abilities are all over the place, though, with values of 4, 7, and 14 (and the odd 8 in Intellect). The Strength 4 makes sense, since there is a real world benchmark of lifting 800 lbs., which appears to have become an industry standard for peak human. The Stamina 4 appears to have been chosen to equal Strength. Most of the other abilities were set at 7, which was the human maximum from 2E.

One observation that stands out especially for the Fighting ability is that some characters have Close Attack and Parry both purchased separately from Fighting, which seems to suggest that their Fighting should simply be higher, since only those two traits comprise Fighting. For example, Nightwing has Fighting 10, Close Attack 4, and Parry 12 (2 points being bought as Defense), which is functionally identical to Fighting 12 and Close Attack 2, with no Parry bonus bought as Defense. My impression is that Fighting itself serves as some type of benchmark aside from just the attack and parry bonuses it imparts. An ability like Agility is limited below the character’s Dodge, for example, although in that instance, Agility also modifies skills that might not be at as high a rank as Dodge; Agility is instead limited by a benchmark for human maxima. Likewise, Fighting seems to be limited to a similar definition of human maxima.

Aside from the information gleaned from Batman’s build, we can look at a few other notable builds. Lex Luthor’s Intellect 11 is an important benchmark for top tier human super-scientists, compared to Batman’s Intellect 8, which seems to be peak human for those non-super-scientist types. It’s interesting that Brainiac’s Intellect 12 is only marginally higher than Luthor’s, given that he is generally considered one of the most intelligent beings in the universe. It’s nevertheless something to keep in mind for mental abilities. Captain Marvel and Black Adam’s Awareness 10 for their divine wisdom seems to be on a similar scale, for example.

High end superhuman Strength appears to have break points at 16 and 19. Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and Luthor’s Warsuit are all at Strength 16, and they’re defined as having “Superman”-class strength. Those who are described as Superman’s peers—Captain Marvel and Black Adam, as well as obviously Superman himself—are given 19. These provide some good comparables to use in defining the Strength scores of other characters.

Resistances

Tied very closely to abilities are resistances. Some of the resistance tradeoffs may dictate abilities. For instance, some characters have a much lower Stamina than Strength not necessarily for any obvious disparity between durability and strength but because their character calls for a higher Will resistance, which caps their Fortitude and therefore their Stamina at a lower value. Their Toughness might be bought up separately through Protection if their defenses are at lower values than their Will. For example, Superman’s Stamina 14 is much lower than his Strength 19, but this is due to his Will 15 and his PL15 capping his Fortitude at 15. On the other hand, his defenses at 10 allow his Toughness to be as high as 20 at his PL (it is 18).

Benchmarking resistances is a little bit more abstract than abilities, but again, it’s an exercise in comparing physical and mental/spiritual resilience against the iconics statted in the Hero’s Handbook. For characters without superhuman durability (e.g., Batman or Flash), Fortitude tends to exceed Toughness, but this is reversed for characters who are extremely superhumanly durable (e.g., Superman), mainly as a result of the Will tradeoff as explained above, while somewhat lower end superhumans have comparable Toughness and Fortitude (e.g., Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman). Powerhouses who don’t have or need Will saves close to their PL might also have comparable Toughness and Fortitude. Thus, I see the exact tradeoffs of the resistances as important in defining the character archetype.

Attacks and Defenses

Here is where I make a significant departure from my approach in 2E. In the past, I would look at the absolute values of attack and defense ranks as a measure of a character’s skill, talent or speed in combat. There are some drawbacks to this method, not least of which are tradeoff feats like Power Attack and All-Out Attack, which make each character’s attack bonus a range of values. If Wonder Woman has a similar attack bonus as Batman, it seems to suggest that they’re equals in combat skill, even though Diana has outfought Bruce in most of their encounters, even without accounting for their strength differences. On the other hand, Diana can use Accurate Attack, for instance, and push her attack bonus higher than Batman’s while still maintaining an edge in strength.

What I look at in 3E has been brought up as a criticism—that some characters appear to be built to PL, notably Batman. In fact, every character was built to PL to some degree, and guess what? That’s a good thing! There are two reasons:

First, in a game with tradeoffs, Power Level is a better comparator of combat effectiveness than attack bonus alone. Obviously, effect rank is just as important a measure, and with someone like Batman, who has two tradeoff feats: Defensive Attack and Power Attack, the real limitation is his PL. With Power Attack alone, his combat line could range anywhere from Unarmed +15/Damage 9 to Unarmed +20/Damage 4. With Defensive Attack, there’s as much as a five point swing in attack and dodge/parry in addition to that.

Second, attack bonus can be a slightly nebulous trait. There are tangible examples in the source material for traits like Strength and a lot of secondary material written comparing the power ranks or other effect or resistance traits. The source material for combat skill actually reflects a lot on the PL of the characters. In other words, attack and defense bonuses aren’t examined in a vacuum—at least, not as often.

Now, granted, there are certainly mechanical shortcomings in using PL, such as the fact that certain effects and tradeoffs unbalance characters of the same PL. For example, damage and Toughness shifted characters are generally more effective than attack and defense shifted characters of the same PL. So when we use PL, we generally can only make accurate assessments of characters with comparable tradeoffs—martial artists to other martial artists, powerhouses to other powerhouses. That’s generally fine for our purposes, though, since we’re really not going to compare a martial artist to a powerhouse when we benchmark, anyway. It’s also pretty reflective of the source material that the superhuman with damage and Toughness shifts tend to outperform the trained human hero with attack and defense shifts, even if they are of similar PL, so there isn’t a conflict there.
Last edited by Taliesin on Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:01 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Taliesin's 3E Builds: Thing, Beast, House Rules, Benchmarks

Post by Jabroniville »

Nice stuff. I wondered about the Close Attack thing, too-- I searched and searched for something I was missing that made it mathematically-worthwhile for high-accuracy & Parry characters to take instead of just a high Fighting Skill, but I couldn't find it :). I know it led some people to be weirded out by my high-Fighting Wrecking Crew, who nearly matched Robin in that category, and I had to point out all the other affecters in play (Close Attack, Close Combat Skill, etc.).

Honestly, though I get the "this is the benchmark of the Ability" concept, I just prefer to stick with higher Fighting. It just looks neater on the page, with less math adding it all together. In the end, you get the same result.

I think the only real reason to take "Close Attack" is if you're Accuracy-heavy but Parry-low, which isn't a lot of characters that I can think of. Most characters have a particularly effective attack anyways, which means just taking the Close Combat Skill.

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Re: Taliesin's 3E Builds: Thing, Beast, House Rules, Benchmarks

Post by Foreshadow »

@Jabronville, Taliesin has a certain approach that isn't right or wrong. He simply has a method. He decided to make his characters compatible with the design logic he feels Steve used in making the core book 3e characters.

Are these the definite characters, no, but he is doing a good job. I personally will not be taking his approach. I did that in 2e and in the end since I am doing the work I would rather use my own design formula.

For example, I want my premier speedster to have an 18 Dodge so he will have it, and if that means I were going to be using the Flash then I'd adjust it. I'm also debating if I want a character with 20 Speed running around. Maybe Speed 15 or 20 and lower a character like Superman's speed down to 12 or 13 or 14, slightly less.

I have reasons why I want that so if Taliesin wants a Thing with 17 Strength so be it.

Taliesin keep up the good write ups but don't get a swelled head, yet others need to keep in mind that he is going for a certain approach, and one goal I see he set is to make all his characters compatible with the DCA printed characters so whether he agrees with it or not, if they have a given value or approach like the way Fighting and Close Attack are handled then that is what he uses as part of the design pattern.

That doesn't mean it can't be done another way.

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Re: Taliesin's 3E Builds: Thing, Beast, House Rules, Benchmarks

Post by Taliesin »

Foreshadow is right that I've mentioned several times my approach with the builds on this thread. I'm intent on not reinventing the wheel with regards to the DC builds. My guess is that because those builds are "official," many if not most people are going to just going to use those rather than someone else's interpretation.

Perhaps at some point in time I will decide to reinvent the wheel. At that time, I'm going to probably incorporate a bunch of house rules and significant modifications to 3E to make them truly my vision of those characters.

In the meantime, Foreshadow has also been imploring me to compile a pdf booklet of these builds. I've little to no experience with making pdfs, so it's not something I really want to take time to work on, since I'm spread pretty thin as it is. I've heard some people suggest Herolab. I don't care much for it as a character generator, but does it produce nice pdfs of your characters? By nice, I mean do they at all measure up to the statblocks from DCA?

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Re: Taliesin's 3E Builds: Thing, Beast, House Rules, Benchmarks

Post by Jabroniville »

Don't worry- I wasn't criticizing Taliesin there, Foreshadow. I've been following his thread from the beginning, and still use his builds as a guide for anything that I might have missed. I know his current "Design as if it were DCA" philosophy. I was just commenting on the weirdness of their Close Attack/Fighting/Parry set-up.

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Re: Taliesin's 3E Builds: Thing, Beast, House Rules, Benchmarks

Post by Cgeist »

Taliesin wrote:In the meantime, Foreshadow has also been imploring me to compile a pdf booklet of these builds. I've little to no experience with making pdfs, so it's not something I really want to take time to work on, since I'm spread pretty thin as it is. I've heard some people suggest Herolab. I don't care much for it as a character generator, but does it produce nice pdfs of your characters? By nice, I mean do they at all measure up to the statblocks from DCA?
Sadly, no. Hero Lab is a great program and prints out perfectly usable PDF character sheets, but at the moment, there is no option for stat blocks like those in the DCA HH book. This is something that they've been asked for and apparently have on the drawing board, however.

Oh yeah - and keep up the great work, Taliesin! I have my own throughts about 3e and have batted around my own modified system, but the lure of having all the DC characters officially statted up has kept me from going any further. I think having the Marvel gang measured against the same bar is fantastic.

I would throw in a teeny little request, though - I'd love to see your take on the Street Fighter characters measured on the same MM3e scale. :)

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