Friday, May 11, 2012

Fun With Normals Part 2: Champions and ICONS

40K Fridays will return next week with an all-new episode!

After seeing how the Normal Man works in M&M let's take a look at some other Super RPG's

Say Joe Genero punches Average Bob in the face - what happens?


Attacker OCV and Defender DCV are both 3 so we end up with an 11 or less to hit on 3d6, or a 62.5% chance of a hit. With a Speed of 2 Joe will get 2 swings per turn, so he should land around 2 hits per 3 turns.

A Strength 10 punch = 2d6 normal damage which averages out to 7 Stun and 2 Body

Average Bob has a Physical Defense of 2, so 5 Stun gets through. He has 20, so he's not in danger yet. With a 10 Constitution he isn't stunned either. He then gets his Recovery 4 and is back up to 19.

This is going to take a while.

With 2 hits in Turn 2, Joe will inflict 10 Stun, then Bob get his free recovery and regains 4 Stun. He begins Turn 2 at 13 Stun.

Turn 3: Sock! - Joe tags Bob for 5 more Stun, Bob recovers 4 and begins Turn 4 at 12 Stun.

Turn 4: Bam! Bam!  Joe connects twice for 10 more Stun, knocking Bob down to 2. He recovers 4 and begins Turn 5 at 6 Stun.

Turn 5 Joe hits once for 5 more and takes Bob to 1 Stun. Things could well be over here given the number of die rolls so far, but we will play it out.

Turn Six: Biff! Pow! Joe hits for the 8th time and takes Bob to zero Stun - Knockout!

So that's 72 seconds of fighting between normals to reach a KO. That's less than M&M but not by much.

A sword makes it faster: A sword gives a +1 OCV meaning Joe hits on a 12 or less or 74% of the time We  have 3 out of 4 attacks hitting now but we also have 1d6 killing damage (Joe is using a shortsword because of his 10 Strength) and he can push that to 1 1/2 d6 K because of his Strength.

Turn 1 Joe hits Bob and does an average of 5 Body and 15 Stun from this slash, with no defenses! He's down to 5 Body and 5 Stun in one hit, plus he is Stunned from taking more Stun damage than he has Constitution. He can recover 4 Stun after Turn 1 but he's only back to 9 and a second hit puts him down and dying. I think this illustrates the power of Killing Attacks vs. normal defenses in Champions pretty well.

A 9mm Pistol also does 1d6 killing. It will do 3-4 Body and 9-12 Stun on average so 1 should Stun him, 2 may knock him out, and then it might take a 3rd shot to put him down and dying.

A Rocket Launcher is much nastier - 4d6 killing damage. If it hits (62.5% chance) then Bob is blasted by 14 Body and 42 Stun, putting him down and dying and in really bad shape in one hit.

Punched by Superman? Let's give the big guy a 95 Strength since he's a 19 on M&M's 1-20 scale. That's 19d6 of normal damage, averaging 19 Body and 76 Stun. Average Bob resists with 2 PD, so he nets 17 Body and 74 Stun - worse shape than the rocket launcher hit by far.He's also knocked back 24 meters on average, which would inflict another 6d6 normal damage, assuming he doesn't hit a wall or a mailbox or something which would make it worse. Even without an obstacle behind him, the phrase "red smear" seems applicable here. Now that is a super-punch!


If ICONS Joe Genero takes a swing at ICONS Average Bob then we have Prowess 3 vs. Prowess 3 which means he hits 58% of the time, right in between M&M and Champions. He has a 16% chance of getting a Major Success and about a 3% chance of getting a Massive Success.

Strength 3 punches will inflict 3 Stamina, leaving Bob with 3. With one attack per Panel, Joe can KO Bob on the second hit, which will take 2-4 panels. That's pretty fast With a Major or Massive result there's about a 40% chance of rendering Bob helpless for a round or two or sending him flying but he probably won't take any extra damage.

A Sword does about the same but opens up a chance of a killing result on a Massive success. It's not going to happen a lot but there's a chance.

A Pistol is Shooting Damage 4 which still means it's going to take 2-3 hits to take down Bob. This is pretty comparable to Champions and notably faster than M&M.

A Rocket Launcher is stronger, and really any weapon that gets to Damage 6 or better takes Bob down in one shot.

The Super-punch is pretty nasty here. Call it Strength 10 which puts Average Bob in the hospital in one punch.


The to-hit chances for a normal vs. a normal are very close across all three games, 55-62.5% on average.

Punches: It took 8 hits to KO Bob in M&M, about 8 hits to do the same in Champions, and 2 hits in ICONS

Swords and Pistols: 6 hits in M&M, 2 hits in Champions, and 2 in ICONS

Rocket Launcher: 2 hits in M&M, 1 in Champions and ICONS

Superman goes berserk!: Bob is messed up in all three games, though it's only a 90% chance in M&M vs. guaranteed in Champs and ICONS.


So what do we know? Well, compared to M&M, Champions normals are far less resilient and if we factor in killing damage it's an even more pronounced difference.  ICONS is actually the deadliest of the 3 three in terms of normal human resilience.

I think the difference with M&M is the damage system and the wide variation in results you can get with the resistance roll. Between evenly matched opponents over one quarter of landed hits do nothing. That's quite a bit different than the other games where a hit is guaranteed damage of some kind. It lowers the effective hit rate from 55% to 41% which is going to slow things down. An attack has to inflict 6 levels more than the target's toughness to bypass all of this miss effect, which is a big skew, especially at PL10 or lower. About the only time it's going to come up is if you have the Really Strong Guy (boosted Strength over Fighting) landing a hit on Really Fast Guy (who boosted Parry over Toughness).

Now this is not necessarily a problem, it's just a different design decision. I think it may make it harder for players of other games like Champions to calibrate their expectations. If I know a 10d6 Energy Blast is a typical attack then I know that 30 points of ED will easily stop the Body damage and most of the Stun. If in M&M I know Ranged Damage 10 is a common attack then I need to be able to beat a Toughness DC 25 easily to shrug it off. If I assume and average d20 roll of 10 then I need 15 levels of Toughness to do that, and it weakens my Dodge and Parry defenses to push it that high because of the Power Level caps. I can see an expectations problem here It's not necessarily worse, just different.

Also, there is no Normal/Killing distinction in M&M, so that's one less way to shortcut to a takedown.

A lot of these issues, if we want to call them that, disappear with the use of M&M's minion rules - any minion failing a Toughness check suffers the worst possible result of that check - petrified, turned into a frog, knocked unconscious, whatever it may be. Some may see that as a bug, others as a feature, but it does make life more dangerous for the non-heroic in an M&M universe. Area effect attacks in crowded areas are quite a bit nastier too - it just makes that much more work for the hero!

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