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Puppet overpowered?

 
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elf23
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Joined: 17 Feb 2010
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Location: Berlin, DE

PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:51 am    Post subject: Puppet overpowered? Reply with quote

Hi all,

I've not experienced it in play yet, so this may all be unfounded, and there may be a balancing factor that i'm not seeing, but... I've been a bit concerned at the idea that the puppet power can be used as an instant kill effect by forcing the target to commit suicide. As far as i can see, no other powers have instant kill effects, and it seems especially powerful as puppet is just two opposed rolls vs Spirit (which a lot of creatures aren't going to have particularly high). This basically means that a character with puppet has a very good chance of taking out a single Extra per use of the power, no matter how tough that Extra is, as long as it has some conceivable way to kill itself. (I just have visions of a wizard taking out a huge giant (Spirit d6!) in a single round, which doesn't seem like much fun.)

Has anyone had much experience with puppet being used in this way? And is it actually problematic? It seems like it could turn an arcane character into a kind of one-trick killing machine.
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Sadric
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If your main concern is the "kill yourself" order I would simply add a +2 bonus on the second roll against exactly this order.

It depends on the trappings of the spell, but maybe animals simply couldnt kill themself. You need to think rather abstract to attack your own body, and many animals simply couldnt hurt themself really bad - I read only yesterday that skorpions are immun against their own poison (bitty knowledge is dangerous, especially for skorpions!).

How would a wolf kill themself. He could maybe bite himself in the hindleg and die from bloodlose half a hour latter.

Puppet is a strong spell, especially if used against your groups brick. Smile
So your players should have fun with it too, but a simple bonus against suicide and maybe a remark that true intelligence is needed to carry out suicide should be enough to stop the problems you see.
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TatteredKing
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The balancing factor is "What is good for the players is good for the GM". If players start using Puppet to kill their opponents like that, you just put in a bunch of puppetmasters that sit in the darkness, with very, very high stealth skills, take control of your Character and do worse things than kill you.

[GM]: "Wizard, you wake up. The fighter is dead. Heart ripped out. His heart is in your hand. Oh by the way....there are 37 gugs surrounding you."
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shadd4d
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also note that it's a Veteran spell; despite costing only three power points, in terms of pure damage it's less than a maxed out bolt. Also note that even if the suicide order is successful, the target may be extremely inept.

There's also a range consideration; the wizard has to be relatively close to the target; with bolt or even a bow/crossbow you can be farther away. Plus while it's easy to target a single extra, depending on the trappings (or dress sense of the wizard), it may or may not be obvious who is doing puppet and needs to be targeted.
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marshal kt
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bennies. the target has 'just 2 spirit rolls' that the caster has to beat. Both sides can spend bennies. The caster has to beat the targets spirit roll, not equal it. Suggestions have modifiers depending on what they are and how they're phrased. You can tell the greedy character that then others are holding out on him. Yo can play on theri paranoia and fears. These will have no modifers.
You tell th character to kill himself, he'll have at least a +2 modifier on his spirit. Someone who has coward or pasifist as hiderances, holy healer types and those with strong religions, will also have modifiers. It goes against their central, internal beliefs. Christians believe it's a mortal sin to commit suicide. They won't easily be convinced to kill themselves; especially if the hear 'voices in their head'. Thar'd be work of te devil, or whatever ther belief system teaches.

It's not an easy '2 dice roll' kill.
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GranFalloon
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the other hand, using it on a samurai or roman after they've suffered some disgrace, that might work wonderfully. Probably best to use it out of combat, when they're feeling nice and depressed and have time to mope, rather than in the middle of a fight when they have other things to take their aggressions out on.
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elf23
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some good points, thanks!

I guess with all those put together it doesn't seem as if it'd become a huge problem. The Giant standing next to a pit of lava would be in trouble, but that's a fairly specific situation.

I think as marshal kt suggests, bonuses to doing things really opposed to the target's nature seems like a good solution.
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Tom Servo
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I might be way off base here, but would it be unreasonable simply to house rule no outright suicides for puppet? A certain core element of self-preservation simply cannot be overcome?

The caster could still get the creature to do some outrageously risky and dangerous things (eg. the giant runs across a narrow bridge which spans the lava pit, requiring some roll which it sucks at), just outright suicide is not an option.

I guess I just don't like the idea, even with bonuses and bennies, unless the players were playing particularly dark and villainous characters. It's not very dramatic, cinematic, or appropriate for your typical "heroes".
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elf23
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom Servo wrote:
I might be way off base here, but would it be unreasonable simply to house rule no outright suicides for puppet? A certain core element of self-preservation simply cannot be overcome?

Yeah I think that's what i'll do. Seems like the simplest fix!

Even with illusion trappings (the pit of lava is actually a field of cool grass, and the poor Spirit d6 Giant's best friend is waving to him from the other side) i think you could rule that instant death uses of puppet aren't possible.

Judging the difference between a certain death situation and a very risky (but legitimate) situation may be difficult though. It's a tricky one.

Tom Servo wrote:
I guess I just don't like the idea, even with bonuses and bennies, unless the players were playing particularly dark and villainous characters. It's not very dramatic, cinematic, or appropriate for your typical "heroes".

Yeah it's the non-dramatic / anti-climacticness of it that i especially don't like.
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Clint
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me throw something out there. It seems too easy to succeed against a d6 Spirit, but the caster has to do so twice. One failure and it doesn't work. Ignoring bennies for the moment, a d6 provides on average a slightly higher TN than 4 (accounting for acing). That means even a d10 caster has more than a 28% chance of failure in a suicide command against such an Extra.

Using the giant as an example, even the highest Toughness (15) Sea Giant from the Fantasy Companion, the character could comparatively spend 3 PPs on three 2d6 bolts.

Doesn't seem like much... until it's considered that the giant's major Toughness comes from its Size, and Huge means it is +4 to hit. Which means for a slightly easier flat TN of 4 than Puppet, the caster can take a Called Shot for +4 damage doing 2d6+4 for three shots with a 70% chance that at least one of the bolts will get a raise for 3d6+4 damage.

Not only does he kill the giant if any one of those three attacks rolls a wound, but he also will kill the giant if any two of them just get a Shaken. Not to mention, he can use Bolt from farther away, it only requires one roll, he could optionally spend only 2 PPs for a 3d6+4 (40% chance of a 4d6+4) bolt, etc.

Another thing to remember is this is a Veteran Rank power, and the concern is a Veteran character taking out an Extra quickly because of that power. But consider, what Veteran character wouldn't have a better than 70% chance of killing such an extra in one action?

A non-arcane fighter can have Improved Frenzy at Veteran. With a single weapon and a shield, he can make two Called Shot Wild Attacks against the giant at +2 to hit and doing 2d8+6 damage. If he has a two-handed weapon, he could be doing those same two attacks at 2d10+6 damage. That's not even figuring in any other abilities like Trademark Weapon. Heck, a two weapon fighter could pick up Giant Killer at Veteran be rolling 2d8+1d6+6 damage for two attacks.

Anyway, point is, by Veteran level, most characters can have the ability to have very high odds to kill almost any one Extra in one round if they take it. Puppet can do it, but it's not necessarily the best choice even against a high Toughness foe.

Really, in my experience, Puppet's best effectiveness comes from actually being a nonlethal alternative in situations where killing or even assault would just make things worse.
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77IM
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I vote for the marshall_kt solution. I take the stance that the GM can apply circumstance modifiers to anything, at any time, unless a specific rule says they can't. So if I were the GM, resisting a suicide command would get the victim a bonus, unless they didn't particularly care much about preserving their own lives (like having the Death Wish hindrance or similar).

-- 77IM
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marshal kt
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing being over-looked is the puppet spell in other games isn't unheard of. In D&D there are sleep and hypnotic suggestion, and others I just don't recall.. Both do the same as puppet, especially the latter. This debate has been around for over 20 years.
The uncreative have always tried to ban the spells rather than a work-around.
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elf23
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot for your response Clint! Your comparison with other possible ways for a Veteran character to kill a giant makes a lot of sense, and puts puppet in its place as a very useful power, but not one which is unbalanced. (I'm continually being impressed with how well-balanced & well thought out everything in SW seems, by the way!)

Clint wrote:
Really, in my experience, Puppet's best effectiveness comes from actually being a nonlethal alternative in situations where killing or even assault would just make things worse.

Yeah that's what i was wondering about mostly - on paper it seemed like it might be open to abuse / over-use, but not having experienced it in play i wasn't sure. If any of my players get to Veteran i'll now be happy to let them use puppet Smile
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