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penpenpen

Soak and prison fights.

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So, in our current campaign the PCs have been caught and thrown in prison and things have taken a turn for the Oz.

Thing is, the soak mechanic has turned out to be a little lacking when it comes to handling prison fights, particularly when it comes to the brawn 6 PC. While it's fine that he can shrug off hits from fists and stuff it starts feeling a bit weird when he can basically ignore knives and shivs unless wielded by biggest (brawn 4+)  inmates around. As you can't reasonably start throwing in much better weapons since, you know, prison, we've discussed a few house rules in the group.

One solution would be to allow crits even the hit fails to damage against targets with only their basic soak score. To not invalidate a high soak score, you could use every point of damage the hit falls short of of doing damage (Soak+1-Damage) to increase the crit value by one for every point, or instead reduce the result on the crit table by -10 per point. Not sure which of them would work best.

Another would be to allow a targeted aim maneuver to reduce soak (on an unarmored target), but its tricky to balance. If you reduce it by a fixed amount, like 2 points, it might be disproportionately effective against low soak characters, and if you reduce it by a percentage, like half (realistically, reducing by quarters or thirds is unpractical), it might be too punishing against high soak characters.

What do you think of the proposed ideas?  How would you adress the situation? Would you adress it all?

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Yeah, I agree with Whafrog. Pierce (and Vicious, maybe) are your friends here. I'm thinking of a scenario where a PC is sneaking up on the big bruiser to jab a shiv in his neck; in this case you'd add blues for using the Aim maneuver twice, getting your buddy to distract him, etc. The key is to think about what narrative and mechanical elements will be putting the odds in the stealth attacker's favor, getting a P difficulty pool, as many blues as possible, and a few levels of Pierce, say.

Edited by SavageBob

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19 minutes ago, penpenpen said:

So, in our current campaign the PCs have been caught and thrown in prison and things have taken a turn for the Oz.

Thing is, the soak mechanic has turned out to be a little lacking when it comes to handling prison fights, particularly when it comes to the brawn 6 PC. While it's fine that he can shrug off hits from fists and stuff it starts feeling a bit weird when he can basically ignore knives and shivs unless wielded by biggest (brawn 4+)  inmates around. As you can't reasonably start throwing in much better weapons since, you know, prison, we've discussed a few house rules in the group.

One solution would be to allow crits even the hit fails to damage against targets with only their basic soak score. To not invalidate a high soak score, you could use every point of damage the hit falls short of of doing damage (Soak+1-Damage) to increase the crit value by one for every point, or instead reduce the result on the crit table by -10 per point. Not sure which of them would work best.

Another would be to allow a targeted aim maneuver to reduce soak (on an unarmored target), but its tricky to balance. If you reduce it by a fixed amount, like 2 points, it might be disproportionately effective against low soak characters, and if you reduce it by a percentage, like half (realistically, reducing by quarters or thirds is unpractical), it might be too punishing against high soak characters.

What do you think of the proposed ideas?  How would you adress the situation? Would you adress it all?

No one in prison is gonna mess with a brawn 6 person. 10 guys at once might, or another brawn 6 guy.

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40 minutes ago, whafrog said:

I wouldn't change anything.  Just add minion groups, or minions to groups, and you'll have plenty of damage output.  You could also give some lead NPCs shivs with Pierce 1 or 2...stuff they have hidden away from the guards.

Hmm. Better weapons in prison is a bit counter intuitive, but maybe...

Prison shiv: Melee, Dmg: BR+1, Crit 3, Enc 1, HP -,  Range [Engaged], Pierce 2*, Inferior

Add 1 Setback die to perception checks to find a prison shiv on a person's body.
GM may spend 2 Threat to damage weapon one step.
*Pierce only applies for the first encounter the weapon is used, after that the fragile edge is permanently blunted.

Constructing a prison shiv requires something that can be conceivably used as a blade and an Average (Difficulty 2) Skullduggery check. A prison shiv can not be repaired, but the blade may be reused to construct a new one if left in good enough shape.

Something like this wouldn't be taken over a vibroknife or probably even a simple combat knife on the outside. Maybe drop inferior but let it be damaged by a single Threat?

Edited by penpenpen

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2 minutes ago, Bishop69 said:

Yup... Pierce and Vicious are your friends.

And really, a Brawn 6 character is at maximum Human Brawn. That's ridiculous. He should be able to stop people in their tracks with a look (and a few ranks in coercion, hopefully...).

He can. But maybe he shouldn't be able to blunt blades by taking them in the back. ;)

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41 minutes ago, penpenpen said:

He can. But maybe he shouldn't be able to blunt blades by taking them in the back. ;)

Well it's a pretty simple solution, when his soak eats up all of, or most of the damage, that translates to a superficial cut.  Yeah, the guy comes in for a massive shank in the kidneys, but the PC is able to move his body enough to make it a glancing blow.  Cuts some meat, some fatty tissue perhaps, but otherwise it's not a really bad cut for him.   

Also, remember that damage is also = successes rolled.  So if he's fighting people with crap fighting stats, that are just squeaking by with 1 suxx on the roll, it's not a surprise he's avoiding most of the damage.   Add modifiers in the form of boost die to their attacks to help increase the damage output.  The crowd around the improvised fight really wants to see the big guy die, so while they aren't actually fighting, they're not making it easier for the PC (+1boost die).  The npcs ambushed him, and set it up to happen in a place that gives them environmental advantage (+1boost die), etc etc.

Also the suggestion for giving the shivs Pierce and/or Viscious quality is perfect.  It makes sense considering what they are.

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A Brawn 6 guy is The Mountain on GoT. A plain ol Joe with a +1 sharpened spoon/knife goes for him, with a couple greens comin up 4 successes and the purples blank he will get a wound in. A double aim and you might land a crit. That's exactly how it should be. There's nothing wrong with the rules.

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11 minutes ago, Ahrimon said:

I'm a fan of reducing natural soak to 1/2 brawn instead of full brawn.  It makes very little difference to most characters but helps curb some of the oddness of high brawn characters.  My .02 credits anyway.

Yeah but Brawn also factors into damage for most melee weapons too, so they basically cancel each other out, discounting talents that can alter the math.  

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1 minute ago, KungFuFerret said:

Yeah but Brawn also factors into damage for most melee weapons too, so they basically cancel each other out, discounting talents that can alter the math.  

Yes, but I'm ok with brawn weapons doing a little more in relation to the squishy's being stuck and bludgeoned.  :)

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1 hour ago, penpenpen said:

Hmm. Better weapons in prison is a bit counter intuitive, but maybe...

Are they "better"?  It's more about context.  Riddick could kill with a teacup, and seemed to do fine crafting his own shivs out of whatever material was at hand too...but they weren't his go-to weapon outside of prison.

1 hour ago, penpenpen said:

Prison shiv: Melee, Dmg: BR+1, Crit 3, Enc 1, HP -,  Range [Engaged], Pierce 2*, Inferior

Something larger could easily be BR+2.  Guards get bought to look the other way...  I'm not sure you need Inferior either, that's just shooting yourself in the foot if you're already worried about Mr Brawn.

I don't think the minions need their shivs to have Pierce.  If they have Brawn 3, a group of 6 gets YYYGG, plus a boost if you Aim.  Unless Mr Brawn has the Sense power, and multiple ranks of Dodge, it's not exactly going to be hard to take him down (and get some crits along the way) to a level where the boss can a do a coup de grace.

I also don't think you need to let the PCs have good shivs.  You might allow for some crafting, but you can also keep the better stuff from them by the guards doing searches (or snitches telling on them).

1 hour ago, penpenpen said:

*Pierce only applies for the first encounter the weapon is used, after that the fragile edge is permanently blunted.

Why permanently?  Seems like a lot of micro-management, are you planning a shiv-economy? :)  Minions get shivs, BR+1.  Bosses get shivs, BR+2, Pierce 2.  Done.

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1 hour ago, penpenpen said:

Something like this wouldn't be taken over a vibroknife or probably even a simple combat knife on the outside. Maybe drop inferior but let it be damaged by a single Threat?

If you're worried the PCs are going to emerge from prison with awesome shivs of destruction, I would just explain to the players that, to keep things simple, you are foregoing all the penalties for "Inferior" while in prison.  But outside they will be Inferior or worse, and will fall apart easily.  But there's no need to mention it unless it comes up.

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21 minutes ago, Ahrimon said:

Yes, but I'm ok with brawn weapons doing a little more in relation to the squishy's being stuck and bludgeoned.  :)

Then you could simply give all melee weapons a damage boost.  Whatever the printed stats are, give it +1 maybe, or +2 if you want it to be really lethal.  To me, that seems easier than trying to halve numbers that people might forget to halve half the time.  Personally I think the best thing, if you want to be really good at melee, above another person of equivalent ability to you, is to invest in a talent tree that does that very thing.  The various melee talents are very good at making someone way more effective at slicing and bashing another person into goo.  :P 

Not only that, it does things like give you more soak, and increased Wound threshold, making you tougher.

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6 minutes ago, whafrog said:

Are they "better"?  It's more about context.  Riddick could kill with a teacup, and seemed to do fine crafting his own shivs out of whatever material was at hand too...but they weren't his go-to weapon outside of prison.

Something larger could easily be BR+2.  Guards get bought to look the other way...  I'm not sure you need Inferior either, that's just shooting yourself in the foot if you're already worried about Mr Brawn.

I don't think the minions need their shivs to have Pierce.  If they have Brawn 3, a group of 6 gets YYYGG, plus a boost if you Aim.  Unless Mr Brawn has the Sense power, and multiple ranks of Dodge, it's not exactly going to be hard to take him down (and get some crits along the way) to a level where the boss can a do a coup de grace.

I also don't think you need to let the PCs have good shivs.  You might allow for some crafting, but you can also keep the better stuff from them by the guards doing searches (or snitches telling on them).

Why permanently?  Seems like a lot of micro-management, are you planning a shiv-economy? :)  Minions get shivs, BR+1.  Bosses get shivs, BR+2, Pierce 2.  Done.

Internal consistency. A professionally made combat knife is BR +1, an improvised prison shiv will probably not surpass that. BR+2 Pierce 2 is a vibrosword. :o

We haven't had minions in prison yet. Rivals were used to make it a bit more personal and each individual stand out as a threat more. Also perhaps to keep the body count somewhat below ludicrous levels. ;)
In a fight the BR6 PC and one other (BR4 Martial artist) went up against 5 rivals and a nemesis with improvised weapons, and only the Nemesis had a decent shot at harming the BR6. It helped a bit when they started throwing around assist maneuvers, but it was still a pretty brutal (but not completely unexpected) defeat.

The shiv blunting thing and inferior was added with idea to make them unattractive as options compared to regular knives, once they're available again, but making them very breakable might be enough. The whole internal consistency thing.

13 minutes ago, whafrog said:

If you're worried the PCs are going to emerge from prison with awesome shivs of destruction, I would just explain to the players that, to keep things simple, you are foregoing all the penalties for "Inferior" while in prison.  But outside they will be Inferior or worse, and will fall apart easily.  But there's no need to mention it unless it comes up.

That might work. Clashes a bit with the internal consistency but makes narrative sense. I do have a tendency to overdesign rules.

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2 minutes ago, penpenpen said:

Internal consistency. A professionally made combat knife is BR +1, an improvised prison shiv will probably not surpass that. BR+2 Pierce 2 is a vibrosword. :o

I disagree, I think the big difference between a professional and homemade is more in the durability of the item.  I've seen images of some of the things that people have made in prison out of random items, and the wounds they were able to inflict on people, and it's quite effective.   I think it's entirely possible for someone in prison to make a VERY lethal item, that does as much as, if not more damage than a professionally crafted one.   I think the main difference is that it's not likely going to last as long, maybe only good for one fight's worth of frantic stabbing before it might break.   

In the end, I think it boils down to the crafting roll for the person making the weapon.  If they happen to be a person with the skill ranks and talents to let them make anything from anything, then they sure as heck will be able to make a superior item than a guy who just shaved down the sides of a toothbrush.   The better item would reflect them reinforcing it with binding, to give it a grip.  Perhaps coating it in some substance to help keep it from breaking as easy, or perhaps thinking to serrate the edge of that toothbrush for more damage.  Perhaps embedding small nails in it as well, etc etc, you get the idea.  

I mean, an Outlaw Tech in prison (fairly likely, given the OUTLAW part of their name) would be crazy good at making weapons with their talents.  I see no reason that this couldn't be reflected in the weapons they make.  And remember, if we're using real world prisons as a baseline, a lot of those places have workshops and tool kits that the prisoners have access to, for their work programs, etc.  That makes it infinitely easier for them to make an effective weapon.   It just doesn't benefit from the access to mass production testing/quality control, high quality materials, etc.  Which again, would suggest the Inferior quality, as they are improvising with materials on hand.  So it's more likely to break with extended use.

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19 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

Then you could simply give all melee weapons a damage boost.  Whatever the printed stats are, give it +1 maybe, or +2 if you want it to be really lethal.  To me, that seems easier than trying to halve numbers that people might forget to halve half the time.  Personally I think the best thing, if you want to be really good at melee, above another person of equivalent ability to you, is to invest in a talent tree that does that very thing.  The various melee talents are very good at making someone way more effective at slicing and bashing another person into goo.  :P 

Not only that, it does things like give you more soak, and increased Wound threshold, making you tougher.

I definitely could.  But reducing soak from brawn fits better to me.  I find that soak get's too high vs all damage from brawn.  It bugs me that the most soak that you can get from battle armor is 2 (3 with superior) but Mr. Muscles can soak that just by lifting some weights.  I fully get that there are other factors besides just shrugging it off, but when average joe in battle armor and shirtless Mr. Muscles heroically stand in a hallway and under fire and both are just as hard to take down the system strains my suspension of disbilief.  Lowering the amount of soak from brawn and opening up the range of soak from armor would be my ideal v2 to the game.  Simply lowering soak from brawn would be a good temporary solution to me.  It's a personal preference.

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3 minutes ago, Ahrimon said:

I definitely could.  But reducing soak from brawn fits better to me.  I find that soak get's too high vs all damage from brawn.  It bugs me that the most soak that you can get from battle armor is 2 (3 with superior) but Mr. Muscles can soak that just by lifting some weights.  I fully get that there are other factors besides just shrugging it off, but when average joe in battle armor and shirtless Mr. Muscles heroically stand in a hallway and under fire and both are just as hard to take down the system strains my suspension of disbilief.  Lowering the amount of soak from brawn and opening up the range of soak from armor would be my ideal v2 to the game.  Simply lowering soak from brawn would be a good temporary solution to me.  It's a personal preference.

I'd lean towards this too, but it feels like too much av overhaul to do as a house rule. It'd probably be a little better, but probably not enough to be worth the time and effort.

Especially if later released material that I'd like to include messes it up.

 

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2 hours ago, penpenpen said:

He can. But maybe he shouldn't be able to blunt blades by taking them in the back. ;)

He doesn't. That is an issue with the guys wielding those blunt blades. 6 Soak is nothing. You apply 1 damage, and cut off his arm or worse with a proper crit in one strike. Afterwards you continue to beat that brute to death with his own arm, because reducing the crit rating of improvised weapons is not as useless as a talent as everyone thought first. And an obvious choice for a "inmate" universal talent tree. 

Though your group might start to hate after getting a gruesome injury in a prison fight. ;-)

 

39 minutes ago, Ahrimon said:

 It bugs me that the most soak that you can get from battle armor is 2 (3 with superior) but Mr. Muscles can soak that just by lifting some weights.

Actually you can have 5 against strain and 4 against other attacks. There are a few other attachments which add soak against specific types of damage light blaster fire, etc 

I am still with you that brawn is overly important on soak, especially when compared with armor. Though that is mainly an issue because gear armor sucks and not because brawn gives too much. 

Edited by SEApocalypse

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I had an ide for a total overhaul of the whole soak system (to be impelmented for future games not this one). you only count half the brawn soak against weapons meaning if you have soak 4 you only soak 2 from a blaster bolt. now you would need to change some talants like the marital artist trees iron body could make it so you're hands count as weapons and you would also need to increase some armour values.

I got the ide from vampier the masqereds system of bash/leathel/aggrevated damage 

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16 hours ago, penpenpen said:

Internal consistency. A professionally made combat knife is BR +1, an improvised prison shiv will probably not surpass that. BR+2 Pierce 2 is a vibrosword. :o

1

The easiest thing is to treat a shiv as an improvised weapon...which it is!  So, let's say it has BR+1, Crit 3, Pierce 1 (the same as a punch dagger), but suffers from the improvised rules, which means it counts as Inferior (automatic threat) and breaks on 2 threat or more.  A particularly lethal shiv (say, a sharpened screwdriver lined with razorblades, or something), could legitimately have Pierce 2 - as long as you keep the improvised weapon rules, you're not going make it better than buying an actual combat knife.

Also, the fact that your tank-like PC can only be injured by other strong and combat-capable PCs isn't really a problem.  Either throw someone equally big and scary at him, or someone with actual knife skills (Brawl/Melee 3-4) and watch the Triumphs rack up.

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Just going to mention this goes beyond the weapons. If there are a bunch of lethal killers around that think they’re up to trying to take on a brawn 6 guy, where are the talents? It sounds like a few ranks of Feral Strength, Deadly Accuracy, and/or Bring It Down are all you need if you really want an enemy which can threaten him.

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