Mark Caliber

Nerfing Stimpaks - How far is too far?

88 posts in this topic

/!\ This topic is going to be a number crunchy discussion /!\

OKay, so I'm (possibly) going to be GM'ing a Star Wars RPG shortly and I've begun to evaluate the rules from a whole different perspective.

My opinion is that Stimpak's are broken and way too over powered. 

However our PC's have the tendency to

1) Maneuver: Apply Stimpak

2) Shoot!

Repeat . . .

And I don't like that,  To that whit, I'm grabbing my nerf bat!

 

However, one of the PC's is very likely going to be a Commando Medic (for which I approve).  And I love the Medic talent tree and how it boosts Stimpaks.

I know, "Irony!"

 

My initial thoughts is to not change the first application of a Stimpak (Reduce wounds by 5).  No worries.

But I want to reduce the effectiveness of subsequent applications of the Stimpak.

Firstly, subsequent stimpaks on the same day will reduce wounds by only 1.  (No limit?)  However, I'm going to start having characters roll Resilience or Discipline checks (players choice) for subsequent applications with failure resulting in an addiction(stimpak) obligation.

I feel comfortable with this and I think this will work to keep stimpaks in game, increase the need of medics to practice medicine and do medical checks to recover wounds.  The stimpak talent is still powerful (maybe more so) as the typical medic will boost the effectiveness of that initial injection and subsequent applications would instantly double or triple in effectiveness, with a natural deterrent to de-incentivize multiple usage (per day).

 

The next level of foam coating that I'm considering is reducing the efficacy of Stimpaks if used every day.

So, if you Stimpak on the first day and then the next day you use a stimpak again, The initial usage would only reduce 4 wounds on the second day, and on the third sequential day, the initial dose would only reduce 3 wounds, and follow that same sequence.

 

I'm not set in my decision (obviously), but even as a player, I think stimpaks are a bit over powered and need to be scaled back a bit.  I think Medics should be rolling more medicine skill checks, rather than buying stimpaks in bulk.  <_<

 

So what are your thoughts on this modification?


 

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1 hour ago, awayputurwpn said:

Well you could start by requiring a maneuver to draw the stimpack and then a maneuver to apply it. If you're not doing that, then stimpacks are way too easy.

The military belt pouch from Dangerous covenants lets you get around this. Stores two enc 0 items that can be drawn as an incidental. Only costs 10 credits. I see no reason why you couldn't have more than one belt pouch either, though 4 or 5 is probably the practical limit of what would fit on a utility belt.

 

Regarding making stimpacks addictive, I've heard of others thinking up similar things over the years. One thing to keep in mind is that stimpacks aren't going to be an instant addiction. Though there are exceptions, like certain illegal drugs (and I don't think stimpacks would work like this, otherwise they wouldn't be so widely available in game [also, they're mostly bacta, which is side-effect free, unless you happen to be one of those stupidly unlucky people who is allergic to it]), with most drugs the most addictive ones are the ones with the most mild withdrawal symptoms (Things like tylenol and caffiene). Therefore, as a general rule, I would say the easier you make it to get addicted to stimpacks the easier you should make it to become free from the addiction. Because you're talking about tacking on an obligation, that's a much more serious addiction, and would require more time to build up. The most important thing to watch for when determining rolls is using at least one stimpack successive days in a row. Using 3 or 4 in one day isn't going to be much of a problem. Using one stimpack 3 or 4 days in a row will be (at least if you want to treat it how actual painkiller addictions work). [I have chronic headaches and have been addicted to OTC pain relievers before, so I know a thing or two about how this process works. I also know a thing or two about opiates and such.] Depending on the strength of the addiction, getting rid of it should take one to three months of no stimpacks (I would probably make it 2-4 weeks for gameplay purposes).

Before you implement any kind of rule like this, I would be certain the group has a competent doctor/medic/someone with force heal. Stimpacks can be vital for groups that either don't have a medic or aren't as competent in combat.

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1 hour ago, SEApocalypse said:

Isn't that exactly like the rules say they work? 

Yes, it is, but I see the "draw" maneuver requirement ignored all the time in live play. 

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39 minutes ago, Kirdan Kenobi said:

The military belt pouch from Dangerous covenants lets you get around this. Stores two enc 0 items that can be drawn as an incidental. Only costs 10 credits. I see no reason why you couldn't have more than one belt pouch either, though 4 or 5 is probably the practical limit of what would fit on a utility belt.

 

I think two pouches is pushing it, myself. It's like trying to wear two backpacks. There's other stuff you need to be able to access—your gun holster(s) or weapon sheaths for starters, and other stuff on your utility belt. It also has to be practical. If you're wearing a pouch on your backside or frontside, sitting down is going to be a pain. I play drums and occasionally have a bodypack or two clipped to my belt. That's the limit. If I had a mic pack, a monitor receiver, and my cellphone clipped to my belt, things would start getting real crowded. And the purpose of having a cellphone clip (I don't wear one normally, but just for the sake of argument) is negated because of how cumbersome it is to try and access it with everything else clipped to my belt. And forget about trying to retreive something from my front trouser pockets!

This is why I limit it to one military pouch. You get two items, choose wisely and stop trying to be a munchkin :) 

 

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I've never been a fan of :
Draw Stimpack - Maneuver
Apply Stimpack - Maneuver

I've long since houseruled it to wrap them in to one single maneuver.

To the OP: you could have them behave as emergency repair patches and give them 5 uses of 3 wounds each.

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For my games, I do this weird thing where I separate the encumbrance from the character (Brawn+5) and the Storage Gear (like backpack, utility belts, etc). I don't consider retrieve a Stimpack as a maneuver, if its part of the of the original Encumbrance. If the Item is in the Backpack/Utility belt/Loadbearing gear, then I consider this as a maneuver.

but, we don't use much stimpacks in my game.

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5 hours ago, kaosoe said:

I've never been a fan of :
Draw Stimpack - Maneuver
Apply Stimpack - Maneuver

I keep it pretty loose, myself. It's only ever once been an issue, and I had to strictly enforce it in one game with an unrepentant power gamer :) otherwise, players use one or two maneuvers for the drawing and applying, and it's rarely an issue either way.

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8 hours ago, Mark Caliber said:

I'm not set in my decision (obviously), but even as a player, I think stimpaks are a bit over powered and need to be scaled back a bit.  I think Medics should be rolling more medicine skill checks, rather than buying stimpaks in bulk.  <_<

Hmm... OK this is I think the second post I've read on 'overpowered stimpaks.' And I really must admit, it has never ever crossed my mind that stimpacks are overpowered at all. One could make an argument they are not "Star Wars-y" (though they certainly fit the various video game versions just fine). But I don't see the overpowered aspect at all. In a given 24 hour period, they will heal 15 wounds. I really don't see this as being overpowered. Characters can easily take 15 wounds in a single fight.

So I guess, put me in the camp that would say "no change needed here". Just my two deci-creds.

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18 minutes ago, Magnus Arcanus said:

Hmm... OK this is I think the second post I've read on 'overpowered stimpaks.' And I really must admit, it has never ever crossed my mind that stimpacks are overpowered at all. One could make an argument they are not "Star Wars-y" (though they certainly fit the various video game versions just fine). But I don't see the overpowered aspect at all. In a given 24 hour period, they will heal 15 wounds. I really don't see this as being overpowered. Characters can easily take 15 wounds in a single fight.

So I guess, put me in the camp that would say "no change needed here". Just my two deci-creds.

Yeah, the diminishing returns of each successive stimpack in a 24 hour period means they don't have much of an impact overall.

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5 hours ago, 2P51 said:

Agreed.  Since I can....

Draw gun - Maneuver

Shoot target in face - Action

True, but you can downgrade your Action to a Maneuver, so it can still be done in a single round. 

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7 hours ago, Kallabecca said:

Yeah, the diminishing returns of each successive stimpack in a 24 hour period means they don't have much of an impact overall.

The ability to use all 5 during one encounter makes them rather spamy. Having medicine checks cost an action, while stim pack application is a maneuver and can be done 5 times per target per encounter is imo the reason people are displeased with them. It feels gamey and rather wrong to spam them.

@Tom Cruise A skilled medic should get out of his medicine check and 2 stimpacks 20 wounds removed. And if he needs to visit again in the same encounter, the remaining 3 stims still remove another 15 wounds. As medicine checks are once per encounter, stim application checks are replacing often, so instead of healing wounds with his action the medic is boosting characteristics. Stimpack specialisation and stimpack application are really good talents. 

Now if you would make stimpacks once per encounter, the medic spec would become imo rather weak, meanwhile the spam of stim packs would certainly end. :)
Requiring that a medicine action goes alongside of the stimpack use would stop most spam as well. Huge healing boost as well, as mentioned currently medicine is for each target a once per encounter thing. 

Edited by SEApocalypse

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Can certainly understand that it is considered overpowered to those reducing use for those without quickdraw to 1 manouver from 2.

Personally I'd suggest to balance it have them cost a couple of strain to use (which is the same as you are saving the character by reducing manouver cost).

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As far as drawing a stimpack and then applying it as two separate maneuvers, I never thought it any other way. I look at it this way: To draw a stimpack (1st maneuver) you need to have one, or even two hands free. You might have to zip open a pocket, or tear loose some velcro on a pouch, then reach into where the stimpack is, grab it, retrieve it. Woe to the one who has to dig it out of a stuffed backpack or anything like that... You now have a stimpack in hand, 'ready' to use. I use the word "ready" very cautiously.

Then to apply the stimpack (2nd maneuver) you might have to grab it firmly in one hand, then use the other free hand (or your teeth...) to remove some plastic cap on top of it, if it is not wrapped in some plastic bag or other container of its own, revealing some injector needle or other such doohickey to inject the stims doing their healing deeds. Then you have to use in on some part of your own anatomy, or that of a fellow you are using the stimpack on. That's probably the easiest part. Of course, this assumes the use of maneuvers, and as such structured time, most likely being a combat situation or other stressing matter where timing is crucial.

Then there are belts. Regardless of their price in-game, and whether they are priced so low they should be auto-includes, I see how they work and why they change grabbing an item from them into incidentals. I can picture a belt with a couple of small openings, where a stimpack (pen-like casing) is stuck in, within easy reach. Clenched firmly enough not to just fall out, but not so much that retrieving them would be a feat of strength.

I don't know whether I read it in one of the many books or not, but as far as stimpacks themselves is concerned, They heal 5 wounds per application (possibly more due to talent trees and such). Every next stimpack used within a given time frame diminishes this base number by 1 (the second heals 4, plus bonuses, the third heals 3, plus..., etc.). Once the stimpack itself reaches an effectivity of 0 (regardless of bonuses), the body is saturated with stimpack-goo, and no amount of stimpacking will help, even with bonuses from talent trees and what not. The body just cannot take any more for it to be effective. Though this still means a single person can benefit from five stimpacks (a day?), it does limit their use somewhat.

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Interesting thread. Building on what others have thrown out here, what about this?:

A stimpack can be used as part of a medicine check to heal wounds, in which case it heals 5 extra wounds on a successful check. On a failed check, it still heals 5 wounds, reduced by one for each uncancelled failure. Stim packs can be used like this as often as medicine checks to heal wounds can be rolled, with no deteriorating effect. A stimpack alone does not count as having the right tool for the job.

Stimpacks used for stim application heals no wounds.

This should keep people with good medicine pools in high demand, and stimpack specialization is still useful as it can be used once per encounter per character. It should also cut down a bit on stim pack bookkeeping, as for the most part, the one stimpack/scene you get out of medkit should suffice.

Also, it means stimpacks will be used as an action.

Also, also, there will be no need for keeping track of how many stimpacks you have taken and when.

EDIT: I realized it might be easier to say it adds five successes to a medicine check to heal wounds.

Edited by penpenpen
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15 hours ago, Magnus Arcanus said:

Hmm... OK this is I think the second post I've read on 'overpowered stimpaks.' And I really must admit, it has never ever crossed my mind that stimpacks are overpowered at all. One could make an argument they are not "Star Wars-y" (though they certainly fit the various video game versions just fine). But I don't see the overpowered aspect at all. In a given 24 hour period, they will heal 15 wounds. I really don't see this as being overpowered. Characters can easily take 15 wounds in a single fight.

So I guess, put me in the camp that would say "no change needed here". Just my two deci-creds.

My only beef with Stimpacks is that even with a 15 wound per day limit, there is no point to Bacta Tanks, except for Critical Injuries.  If I suffer 30 wounds today, use 5 stimpacks today, and 5 tomorrow, and I am back to full health.  It usually hasn't come up in my games, but I don't let them heal yesterday's wounds with today's stimpacks.

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If GMs soft-shoe how many combat encounters their PCs are in Stimpacks are going to be overweighted, and Bacta Tanks unattractive .  In Ep 4 though Han, Chewie and Luke, from the time they land on the DS until they flee are in roughly 6 or 7 personal combat encounters and a ship combat encounter in less than 24 hours.  Granted they aren't injured, but they still are going at it alot.

If GMs are going to let their players clear the dungeon one room at a time and then go back to the Inn for a few days rest at a time of course healing capability isn't going to be stressed.

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1 hour ago, Edgookin said:

My only beef with Stimpacks is that even with a 15 wound per day limit, there is no point to Bacta Tanks, except for Critical Injuries.  If I suffer 30 wounds today, use 5 stimpacks today, and 5 tomorrow, and I am back to full health.  It usually hasn't come up in my games, but I don't let them heal yesterday's wounds with today's stimpacks.

Are your PCs running around with a backpack full of stimpacks?  Managing PCs' resources is a key tool for invoking story-related stress, and it seems to me that constantly supply refreshing is counter to what you're trying to accomplish.  As a GM there are lots of options for removing offending gear from the PCs.   

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48 minutes ago, 2P51 said:

 Granted they aren't injured, but they still are going at it alot.

This the crux of the issue. In the movies, getting hit is dangerous. In the game, you take a stimpack and walk it off if the hit didn't bounce off your ripped pecs in the first place. And beefcakes are more resistant to blaster fire than the skinny dude covered in armor plates. In the movies, there is great drama when Leia takes a glancing hit.

Don't get me wrong, I love the system in a lot of ways, but the damage mechanics can quite brutally yank you out of the immersion at times. There's been three (?) different star wars games since, and WEG still got the damage mechanics the most right.

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37 minutes ago, penpenpen said:

 In the movies, there is great drama when Leia takes a glancing hit.

That was a critical hit. 

Wound are basically just a secondary stamina resource. You literally can take a 100 damage hit and not die from it. Even the name wound and wound threshold is kind of misleading. 
That is someone who exceeded his WT and needs to be dragged along, because he can't interact with the encounter anymore (took quite a lot hits actually):
O9Op0GQ.png





That is the face of someone who went over his wt, but didn't receive a critical hit. 

 cYBXMYo.png


Once he gets his stimpack in, he is back in the action and can start commanding his troops again:

hS4v3Ht.jpg

 

Edited by SEApocalypse

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