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Homebrew Race Balance

 
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Culverin
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:42 pm    Post subject: Homebrew Race Balance Reply with quote

I am putting the finishing touches on a setting which has the following races in addition to the standard humans. I understand that my oni have nothing to do with the demons of Japanese mythology, but the name had a nice ring to it.
I have playtested all three in an ongoing campaign, and all seem useful, but I am curious if I can get any second opinions on the relative balance of the different races. They are as follows:


Oni: Oni are sentient, humanoid beings from Ritonak, of an obvious reptilian heritage. Of comparable proportions and intelligence with humans, oni currently make up the slight majority of civilized populations. Oni and humans are fairly dispersed amongst one another, but oni are provided many more social opportunities, due to their long life spans.
Oni receive the racial Edges and Hindrances detailed with their particular race.

Physical Description
Slightly taller than humans, oni average at about 6 feet in height, not counting the horns. Usually quite slender, they weigh roughly 200 lbs, even at such heights. Skin color can vary greatly between races, but few colors have not been seen before. Oni skin has a rather scaly texture, but is still quite smooth, especially in comparison to true reptiles.
All oni have some form of horns on the tops of their heads, and these can range from a couple inches to nearly a foot tall. Two horns are most common, usually above each ear, but some oni have been known to sport several horns. The horns on oni males are generally taller than those on females.
Prehensile tails are the other easily recognized trait of oni. These tails are about four feet long and never drag the ground. Tail dexterity is so impressive, and oni can hold their tails however they like for long periods. Many raise it behind the body like a scorpion, while others carry it over a shoulder. Letting it hang a few inches above the ground is also comfortable. Every oni tail sports a venomous, stinging barb, all of which carry venom.
Oni have three-toed, taloned feet, and never wear shoes. While their feet are not any longer than those of a human, they are wider, with the toes spread out like a hawk. Also like a hawk, the talons are retractable.
Facial features are almost identical to humans, with a couple notable differences. Teeth are roughly the same length, but pointed, and a stark, obsidian black. White teeth are almost unheard of, but possible. Ears are also slightly more pointed than those of humans. Eye color can vary from human tones, to red, black, and even orange, thought these tendencies also differ by particular race.
Oni can live to roughly 500 years of age, though 400-450 is a more common natural lifespan. Oni reach adulthood at the same speed as humans, and reach middle age at about 200 years. In spite of this, oni women rarely have more than two children. This is due to some biological process, not a cultural one, as most oni females cannot physically reproduce beyond two offspring.
Oni consist of one of three races: Fire, Water, or Earth Oni. Each have different traits and strengths, but are capable of reproduction between races. Oni born from parents of two races always inherit the racial traits of the mother. Any player who chooses an oni character must choose from one of the three oni races, detailed below.


EARTH ONI: The first Earth Oni hailed from the southern jungles of the continent, and the great plains of the west. Supposedly made by the god Kinfor, the Earth Oni are the most unorganized of the oni races, as well as the most proficient at combat. With great strength, fantastic dexterity, and a ferocious attitude, Earth Oni make the best soldiers of all the oni.

Characteristics:
Earth Oni skin is usually some shade of green, but also ranges into browns, grays, and tans. These skin tones usually provide camouflage in certain terrain (a +1 to Stealth at the GMs discretion). Eyes are brown, red, green, blue, and orange.
Earth Oni are immune to practically all poisons, and completely immune to acid. They can even swim in the stuff when necessary.
Earth Oni groups often possess very confrontational dispositions, and are the most easily provoked of all the oni races. Dont start a fight with an Earth Oni unless you want a war.

Edges:

IMMUNITY (POISON AND ACID)
Earth Oni are immune to all acid, and every poison unless it is noted in the poison description.

CLAWS
Oni have natural claws on both their hands and feet, and deal Strength+d4 damage when Fighting unarmed.

VENOMOUS STING
All oni have stingers on their tails, and these barbs contain a mild toxin. Oni can opt to sting an opponent with this tail if they get a raise on an unarmed Fighting attack.
A character who is stung by an oni must make a Vigor roll on the next two rounds or be Shaken. This cannot cause a Wound if the character is already Shaken, and Earth Oni are not immune to this toxin.

Hindrance:

Warrior Race
Once a conflict has escalated to violence, Earth Oni are psychologically compelled to respond with violence. They can avoid resorting to violence with a Smarts roll at -6.


FIRE ONI: Fire Oni traditionally come from the northern central regions of Ritonak. Supposedly created by the god Tamorsal, Fire Oni are usually known as natural magicians with the highest magical affinity of the oni races. More Fire Oni have Arcane Backgrounds than any other oni race.

Characteristics:
Fire Oni skin tone ranges into various shades of red, orange, yellow, and sometimes black. Thusly, they have trouble blending in with their environment without aid from various skin paints and clothing. Their eyes are usually the same color as their skin, with the occasional brown or white eyes.
All Fire Oni have the innate invulnerability to open flame; in fact most are soothed and refreshed by contact with fire. Heat has no adverse effect upon them, and all Fire Oni can traverse lava as anyone else could traverse mud. Just because their bodies are fire-proof does not mean that their equipment is, however. Fire-proof fabrics can be found in Gronma, but are quite expensive. Fire magic can still harm them, due to the raw arcane energy required, but it does significantly less damage.
Fire Oni are very vulnerable while in water. They make particularly poor swimmers, though swimming can be learned through practice.

Edges:

CLAWS
Oni have natural claws on both their hands and feet, and deal Strength+d4 damage when Fighting unarmed.

IMMUNITY (HEAT)
Fire, lava, steam, and any other forms of heat have no adverse effects on the bodies of Fire Oni. They still suffer dehydration when denied water over time, but heat itself cannot inflict Damage or Fatigue. Fire Magic inflicts half-damage on Fire Oni.

VENOMOUS STING
All oni have stingers on their tails, and these barbs contain a mild toxin. Oni can opt to sting an opponent with the tail if they get a raise on an unarmed Fighting attack.
A character who is stung by an oni must make a Vigor roll on the next two rounds or be Shaken. This cannot cause a Wound if the character is already Shaken, and Earth Oni are not immune to this toxin.

Hindrance:

Sink Like an Anchor
Fire Oni suffer a -3 penalty to all Swimming rolls.


WATER ONI: Water Oni come from the eastern regions of Ritonak, a largely topical area with many reefs, calm seas, and rivers. They can be found inland interacting with other cultures, usually around rivers and lakes, or in underwater communities in the open ocean.

Characteristics:
Most Water Oni are blue, pale white, sea green or black, though some of the isolated ocean tribes are known to sport exotic colors akin to tropical fish. Their teeth are naturally white far more often than in any of the other races.
A truly amphibious race, Water Oni can live and breathe underwater, as well as on land. Swimming comes very naturally. They are extremely vulnerable to fire, and feel uncomfortable far from water. This has no in-game effect, but they can surely complain about it.
Water Oni are the most naturally segregated of the oni races, as fair portions of the population live in underwater communities which are largely inaccessible to other peoples. While many are weary of outsiders, most are not hostile.
In spite of this, they are the most peacefully disposed people in Ritonak. Many Water Oni societies are democracies or republics. They are more inclined to settle their differences peacefully than others. Slavery is rare in Water Oni cultures, but bureaucracy and corruption are not.

Edges:

AMPHIBIOUS
Water Oni breath underwater as well as on land, and can also move their entire Pace while swimming or walking underwater.

CLAWS
Oni have natural claws on both their hands and feet, and deal Strength+d4 damage when Fighting unarmed.

VENOMOUS STING
All oni have stingers on their tails, and these barbs contain a mild toxin. Oni can opt to sting an opponent with this tail if they get a raise on an unarmed Fighting attack.
A character who is stung by an oni must make a Vigor roll on the next two rounds or be Shaken. This cannot cause a Wound if the character is already Shaken, and Earth Oni are not immune to this toxin.


Finally, the different oni races can all get unique Edges, which I will provide on my next post.

Thanks for the help.
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Takeda
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well on first blush they are incredibly powerful. If they are going to be played as Player Character races what will be their balancing point?

The blow birthrate is irrelevent to balancing the race. Their claws, poison, environmental immunities and such are huge.

As a NPC baddie race balance doesn't matter.
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Culverin
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is why I ask these things. Would you add yet another hindrance to all three races, or reduce what they already have?

The plan is to give them powerful abilities but also give them all circumstances where somewhat normal gameplay could be downright lethal, sort of like how vampires cannot do a lot of everyday things.
Fire Oni drown very easily, Water Oni are always at risk because fire magic is quite common in the setting, and Earth Oni always get in trouble with the law, especially in imperial territory where justice is harsh.
From a non-gameplay/setting standpoint, the races are supposed to be very powerful, and they are generally the ones in charge of political power. But I don't want their PCs to come imbalanced when compared to human PCs.

Also, these creatures are all susceptible to a unique type of lycanthropy, while no such disease exists for humans in this game.
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Takeda
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd look at the front of the SWD or Fantasy Companion. Typically races are built with all things considered coming out at +2 pts ... equal to the bonus edge humans get for having no racial abilities.

If you want everything to be more powerful you could grant bonus advances/edges to make up the difference .... like as if all Humans are genetically modified to be tougher/smarter/faster/etc. If you balance out the equation that way it's all good.
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xxlgeeklord
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've taken the liberty of working your Earth Oni through the Race Creation rules in the SWD.

Earth Oni
Immune to poison and acid(+1) I've replaced disease with acid
Venomous(+2)Surprisedn a hit with natural weapons the target must roll Vigor or be immediately Shaken.
Natural Weapons(+1): str+d4 natural weapons
Extremely Aggresive(-2): I'm ruling this as a Major Hindrance, like Bloodthirsty

Looks balanced to me. I'll do your other races later.
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Culverin
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! I just realized I forgot to post the Water Oni Hindrance. I must have missed it when I did my original copy and paste:

Vulnerability (Fire)
Water Oni receive +2 damage from all forms of fire, fire magic, and fire-based attacks.
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Zadmar
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Culverin wrote:
VENOMOUS STING
All oni have stingers on their tails, and these barbs contain a mild toxin. Oni can opt to sting an opponent with this tail if they get a raise on an unarmed Fighting attack.
A character who is stung by an oni must make a Vigor roll on the next two rounds or be Shaken. This cannot cause a Wound if the character is already Shaken, and Earth Oni are not immune to this toxin.

Normally poison only applies if your opponent is at least Shaken by the attack, but if they're already Shaken your venom won't do anything. Do you mean that a raise on the attack roll poisons your opponent even if your damage roll fails?

xxlgeeklord wrote:
Immune to poison and acid(+1) I've replaced disease with acid

Based on the observation that 1 PP of NE/SPC powers is roughly comparable with a +1 racial ability, I would personally treat "Immunity (acid)" as a +4 ability that completely negated background damage and halved the damage from direct attacks.

Here's how I'd price the races...

Earth Oni: 5 points.

+4: Immune to acid.
+2: Stinger (but I would use the normal poison racial ability).
+1: Natural weapons.
+: Immune to poison.
-2: Warrior Race (but I'd reduce that -6 penalty, that's pretty excessive).

Fire Oni: 5 points.

+4: Immune to heat/fire.
+2: Stinger (but I would use the normal poison racial ability).
+1: Natural weapons.
-2: Sink Like an Anchor

Water Oni: 4 points.

+2: Aquatic (using the SWD racial ability).
+2: Stinger (but I would use the normal poison racial ability).
+1: Natural weapons.
-: Vulnerability (heat/fire inflicts +2 damage).

The Vulnerability is based on the Weakness hindrance from NE, which inflicts double damage as a Major hindrance or +4 damage as a Minor hindrance. As this version inflicts only +2 damage, it's effectively half a Minor hindrance.
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Culverin
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zadmar wrote:
Quote:
Normally poison only applies if your opponent is at least Shaken by the attack, but if they're already Shaken your venom won't do anything. Do you mean that a raise on the attack roll poisons your opponent even if your damage roll fails?


I meant to say that you must be damaged first; that omission was just an oversight on my part. As for the poison effect, I was hoping to make it so that the poison would not hurt characters in and of itself, but leave them in a position where it is much easier to take further Wounds if combat persists. I can always change that to something more conventional, though.

Zadmar wrote:
Quote:
Based on the observation that 1 PP of NE/SPC powers is roughly comparable with a +1 racial ability, I would personally treat "Immunity (acid)" as a +4 ability that completely negated background damage and halved the damage from direct attacks.


I doubt I would go that far. If it is an immunity like bullets or all damage in general, I could see the +4 rationalization, but acid really only comes into play with the magic trapping and with elemental weapons, which are relatively rare. I rather agree that you can switch acid with disease, since both are not hazards encountered on a daily or weekly basis.
Likewise, I don't entirely buy that immunity to fire is a +4 bonus.

Zadmar wrote:
Quote:
The Vulnerability is based on the Weakness hindrance from NE, which inflicts double damage as a Major hindrance or +4 damage as a Minor hindrance. As this version inflicts only +2 damage, it's effectively half a Minor hindrance.


As for that, I could change it either way. Which would you recommend? I just don't want the major version to become such a setback that no one plays the race.
Also, I don't own NE but I have seen and played it, and I was under the impression that it was only balanced in it's own setting, not synced up with SW in general.
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SeeleyOne
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do not know how helpful this is, but I have been thinking about the cases where race designs would not be equal to +2. All too often someone will come up with benefits for a race, only to slap penalties on just to "balance it". Mathematically it works, but in many cases it does not really work thematically. The races in the Horror Companion don't even try to be balanced, which is ok if you realize that before using them.

The d20 system uses what is called an ECL. I don't recall what it really stands for, "Equal to Character Level" is probably the correct term. Anyway it is that you spend levels on the race. There are many pros and cons to this (in my mind it is mostly a con), but I can see it working prettty well in Savage Worlds. I am on two minds of how to do this.

The easiest method is to figure out how many Advances that a race is worth, where every +2 is an advance. Then you require the character to allocate that many advances towards the race. This is only possible when you create a character that will start out with some XP to cover so many advances.

Another method would be to go into XP Debt. Each +1 in race design would be worth 2.5 xp (a half an advance, and rounded up, so 2.5 is 3 xp). The character is created normally but has an XP Debt to pay off. This has pros and cons in that the character starts more powerful but has to be "stagnant" and not progress until the debt is paid off. I present three options for paying off the debt:

1) All XP goes towards the debt and you do not get any advances or rank advances until it is paid off.

2) Half XP is paid towards debt until debt is paid off. You still advance but only half as quickly until the debt is paid off. This is probably the best way overall. The player still feels like the character is progressing, and eventually it will all be caught up.

3) As 2, but each +1 is actually 5 XP (not half). In effect the character pays double XP for what was incurred in the debt. This option is a deterrent for playing a freaking tough race as it costs you more than it normally would. This option is good to help cut down on powergaming even though numerically it might not seem fair. On the other hand, the character will be freaking tough from the start.
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canology
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another option for races that are greater than +2 is to "charge" the character in starting Edges and skill points (each edge worth 2 and every two skill point worth 1)
That is what I do with the races in my home-brew world.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And another option is to improve all races to a higher level, making them equal once again.
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SeeleyOne
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ValhallaGH wrote:
And another option is to improve all races to a higher level, making them equal once again.

In several settings that is very appropriate. Dark Sun comes to mind. It is easy enough to give humans another edge or (more popularly) a couple of skill points to make up the difference.
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Culverin
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Call me crazy, but I actually like certain physical Hindrances. It helps make combat interesting when fighting troops of varied races. My homebrew also has elements of political assassination, and assassination methods must vary greatly between certain races for maximum effect.

I am more than willing to make up for any remaining deficit by powering up human characters, but that still begs the question: How overpowered are the oni? If I keep the current oni Hindrances, how much will I need to give humans?
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

About a +2 racial bump to humans if you don't change the Oni.

Zadmar's a bit off on his Earth Oni (acid is a very rare descriptor in the setting, making it a weaker-than-normal Immunity). Even so, they're at least a +3 race and probably a +4.
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Culverin
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That I can work with. Would it be better to give them a couple of points in anything, or make it vary by specific human cultures and ethnic groups?

Also, what do you think about the other oni? Roughly the same tier as Earth Oni?
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Zadmar
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess I was thinking more in terms of another well-known roleplaying game, where acid is one of the five energy types (the others being fire, cold, electricity and sonic) and comes up fairly often. The comment about earth oni being able to "swim in the stuff when necessary" also brought to mind visions of vast acid lakes, which I think would be pretty cool Wink

But yeah, if acid is rare then I agree it would make sense to lower the price. I should also stress that I was only giving my personal opinion on the pricing, more as an example than anything - there's no real right or wrong answer, it's up to the individual GM to decide how valuable any particular ability is going to be within their campaign.
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Culverin
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Suppose I was to change the venom affect for the sting ability. Instead of leading to that whole confusing Shaken thing, I was to make it so that Parry is lower in the event of a successful sting. I could ration that the paralytic effect is mild, but enough to slow a combatant down and make them an easy target.
I ran it that way at MACE this weekend with positive results.
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