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HappyDaze

Stun Damage: A Metagaming Problem

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Those that have played the game for any amount of time will discover just how much more powerful Stun (Strain) is than regular damage (Wounds). Most combatant types, especially at high XP, will have a FAR higher WT than ST. Additionally, while stimpacks can quickly remove Wound damage in the middle of combat, the same cannot be done for Strain. This creates some major issues where the best way to take out anyone (up to a rancor!) is to just inflict Stun damage (Strain) - since a helpless target can be killed at your leisure. Oddly enough, characters with Grit and (especially) Resolve - usually intellectual careers and specializations - come out better in the "Stun Wars" sometimes so much so that the warriors go down like wimps (especially Wookiees).

 

For those that have faced this problem, what solutions have you tried or considered?

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I haven't seen as much of a problem with this in my games. Strain can be healed in combat with an advantage, especially since that option can specifically be chosen multiple times. My crew fought a nemesis once with only strain damage, and he kept regenerating with all of the advantages he had. He still had enough to crit our tank and take off her leg :(!

Edited by verdantsf

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Generally Stun is only useable at Short range. I personally don't see it being much of a problem. Rancor's have a soak of 12, which will take care of most weapons that put out Stun. (plus, close range with a Rancor...)

 

If it really becomes a metagaming problem with your PC's, say it doesn't work so great through armor. Make them use aiming for specific targets to get around armor with stun.

 

You can't nerf it too much, because on google + we just saw the opposite side of the argument. A guy wanted Stun damage to instantly take someone out like it did to Leia in ANH. He figured Stun was useless in the game.

(The counter-argument to that being that if you want to see it in game terms, Leia had probably taken a LOT of stress by that point off-camera. Her Obligation probably came up doubles, and her ship was being boarded by Darth Vader.) 

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What archon007 and Verdantsf said. As long as you can spend any amount of Advantage to heal strain, this is not a problem. There's also that talent (forget its name at the moment) that reduces involuntary strain. And at higher levels, where everyone has more wounds than strain, everyone also have bigger/better dice pools that generate more advantage.

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I don't see it as a huge problem.  Our Wookiee got obliterated by stun damage a few sessions ago, but he's pretty extreme on the WT/ST disparity spectrum.  My Fringer, by contrast, has a higher ST than WT, and can recover strain really easily between Rapid Recovery, a decent Cool, and spending Advantage.  Our combat-monster, a Droid Mercenary Soldier, has Second Wind so it's not just the "social types" that can deal with Strain effectively.

 

And seriously, don't underestimate the fact that Stun damage only works at Short range!  Even someone with a light blaster pistol can keep withdrawing to Medium to keep them at a distance (depending on terrain).  Even if you can only move around so much, you might be able to draw the enemy out of cover if there isn't any within short range of where you retreated to.

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To me the Stun Metagame rests with the Doctor talent Pressure Point. With this you ignore soak and can do a minimum of 19 Stun damage not including using a Destiny Point. You can also "dual wield" your fists for another 19+ damage to add insult to injury.

 

No living creature can withstand firepower of that magnitude.

 

Granted you'll need a 6 Brawn 5 ranks in Brawl 5 ranks in Medicine, 3 ranks in Feral Strength and Deadly Accuracy.

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So what you are saying is that it's a non-issue.

 

Not really. My Doctor is pretty darn impressive with just 3 brawn 2 ranks in medicine and 1 rank in brawl. I'm currently just in the Doctor tree with no plans on going Gadgeteer or Marauder. 5+ damage that ignores soak is great. Most things only have 9-13 soak so even for me it's not uncommon for me to 1-2 round something. It just seems very good for a non combat oriented character. 

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Even if it is an issue (which I don't think it is in most games), it can be softened by the gm doling out obligation. Stunning and then dispatching opponents may be mechanically convenient, but from the point of view of the narrative the players are doing something far nastier. Instead of killing the other guys in a "fair" gun battle, they are now executing them. Once or twice is one thing, but if the players make a habit of it,its going to have an impact on the narrative, and the rules for obligation match that.

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No offence, but if you are in a 'stun war' with your players, you fail GMing forever.

 

For NPCs avoiding this issue is trivial: Dont do stun damage unless you are trying to keep the players alive. If you are trying to kill them, just dont use stun.

 

If the players are using stun then killing the unconscious enemies, have there be repercussions. I would do a 5 pt obligation every time it happened and not bother to tell the players. After the fifth or sixth time an entire session is nothing but larger and more powerful groups of bounty hunters attacking them, and after the fifth or sixth time a contact tells them off and calls the cops, they may get the hint.

 

If you cont want to be that overt, or dont want to drail your game, just have NPCs start having enough resolve talents that the net effect of doing stun is no different than doing wounds. I would also start making encounters where they dont really want to get into short range if they can help it.

 

As for the pressure point talent, most of the time I wouldnt worry about it. For the BBEG, I would simply make a new talent

 

New Talent: I had that nerve cluster moved

Once per session, can ignore stun damage of one hit.

 

Then have him lop the doc's arm off with his vibrosword. Use that one sparingly and the doc will still be a hand to hand monster, but every now and then he will have it turned against him.

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No offence, but if you are in a 'stun war' with your players, you fail GMing forever.

 

For NPCs avoiding this issue is trivial: Dont do stun damage unless you are trying to keep the players alive. If you are trying to kill them, just dont use stun.

 

If the players are using stun then killing the unconscious enemies, have there be repercussions. I would do a 5 pt obligation every time it happened and not bother to tell the players. After the fifth or sixth time an entire session is nothing but larger and more powerful groups of bounty hunters attacking them, and after the fifth or sixth time a contact tells them off and calls the cops, they may get the hint.

 

If you cont want to be that overt, or dont want to drail your game, just have NPCs start having enough resolve talents that the net effect of doing stun is no different than doing wounds. I would also start making encounters where they dont really want to get into short range if they can help it.

 

As for the pressure point talent, most of the time I wouldnt worry about it. For the BBEG, I would simply make a new talent

 

New Talent: I had that nerve cluster moved

Once per session, can ignore stun damage of one hit.

 

Then have him lop the doc's arm off with his vibrosword. Use that one sparingly and the doc will still be a hand to hand monster, but every now and then he will have it turned against him.

Your suggestions sound way too much like a GMing style I do everything to avoid.

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I get the problem from a metagame stand point.  I'm just so glad that my group of players pretty much don't think about the rules and just play the game as if their character and the world around them was real.  We don't power game, we roleplay.

 

The only time we pulled out stun damage was to capture a bounty that lethal force was prohibited.  His poor cronies, on the other hand, didn't get off as easily.

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I haven't seen as much of a problem with this in my games. Strain can be healed in combat with an advantage, especially since that option can specifically be chosen multiple times. My crew fought a nemesis once with only strain damage, and he kept regenerating with all of the advantages he had. He still had enough to crit our tank and take off her leg :(!

 

 

I'm totally enthralled- could you post a stat block and some notes for that nemesis?

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No offence, but if you are in a 'stun war' with your players, you fail GMing forever.

 

For NPCs avoiding this issue is trivial: Dont do stun damage unless you are trying to keep the players alive. If you are trying to kill them, just dont use stun.

 

If the players are using stun then killing the unconscious enemies, have there be repercussions. I would do a 5 pt obligation every time it happened and not bother to tell the players. After the fifth or sixth time an entire session is nothing but larger and more powerful groups of bounty hunters attacking them, and after the fifth or sixth time a contact tells them off and calls the cops, they may get the hint.

 

If you cont want to be that overt, or dont want to drail your game, just have NPCs start having enough resolve talents that the net effect of doing stun is no different than doing wounds. I would also start making encounters where they dont really want to get into short range if they can help it.

 

As for the pressure point talent, most of the time I wouldnt worry about it. For the BBEG, I would simply make a new talent

 

New Talent: I had that nerve cluster moved

Once per session, can ignore stun damage of one hit.

 

Then have him lop the doc's arm off with his vibrosword. Use that one sparingly and the doc will still be a hand to hand monster, but every now and then he will have it turned against him.

Your suggestions sound way too much like a GMing style I do everything to avoid.

 

What, like actually being a GM?

 

If the players are trying to manipulate the game rules to get an advantage, then they arent role playing, they are roll playing. The same goes for the GM, as a matter of fact. That sort of thing should never be tolerated at the gaming table by anyone. A player playing against the GM to 'win' the game should not be tolerated by a GM either. The GM is the moderator, and while he runs the opponents, he isnt THE opponent for the players. Players and GMs who forget this make for bad games. Just look at the bad GM and bad player threads that show up every now and then to see this.

 

HappyDaze, you have made quite a few threads about 'problems' that you seem to assume are a factor in the game, yet are only a factor to those who want to make them a problem, not a fundamental problem in the game. This thread is a very classic example of that. Unless a group/player/GM decides to use stun to gain an advantage, this isnt a problem at all.

 

You also seemed to miss my first and formost fix:

 

Dont use stun unless there is a reason.

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No offence, but if you are in a 'stun war' with your players, you fail GMing forever.

 

For NPCs avoiding this issue is trivial: Dont do stun damage unless you are trying to keep the players alive. If you are trying to kill them, just dont use stun.

 

If the players are using stun then killing the unconscious enemies, have there be repercussions. I would do a 5 pt obligation every time it happened and not bother to tell the players. After the fifth or sixth time an entire session is nothing but larger and more powerful groups of bounty hunters attacking them, and after the fifth or sixth time a contact tells them off and calls the cops, they may get the hint.

 

If you cont want to be that overt, or dont want to drail your game, just have NPCs start having enough resolve talents that the net effect of doing stun is no different than doing wounds. I would also start making encounters where they dont really want to get into short range if they can help it.

 

As for the pressure point talent, most of the time I wouldnt worry about it. For the BBEG, I would simply make a new talent

 

New Talent: I had that nerve cluster moved

Once per session, can ignore stun damage of one hit.

 

Then have him lop the doc's arm off with his vibrosword. Use that one sparingly and the doc will still be a hand to hand monster, but every now and then he will have it turned against him.

Your suggestions sound way too much like a GMing style I do everything to avoid.

 

What, like actually being a GM?

 

If the players are trying to manipulate the game rules to get an advantage, then they arent role playing, they are roll playing. The same goes for the GM, as a matter of fact. That sort of thing should never be tolerated at the gaming table by anyone. A player playing against the GM to 'win' the game should not be tolerated by a GM either. The GM is the moderator, and while he runs the opponents, he isnt THE opponent for the players. Players and GMs who forget this make for bad games. Just look at the bad GM and bad player threads that show up every now and then to see this.

 

HappyDaze, you have made quite a few threads about 'problems' that you seem to assume are a factor in the game, yet are only a factor to those who want to make them a problem, not a fundamental problem in the game. This thread is a very classic example of that. Unless a group/player/GM decides to use stun to gain an advantage, this isnt a problem at all.

 

You also seemed to miss my first and formost fix:

 

Dont use stun unless there is a reason.

 

You don't communicate well. Starting both of your posts with challenges/accusations/insults is not a way to make a point. Welcome to the list.

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No offence, but if you are in a 'stun war' with your players, you fail GMing forever.

 

For NPCs avoiding this issue is trivial: Dont do stun damage unless you are trying to keep the players alive. If you are trying to kill them, just dont use stun.

 

If the players are using stun then killing the unconscious enemies, have there be repercussions. I would do a 5 pt obligation every time it happened and not bother to tell the players. After the fifth or sixth time an entire session is nothing but larger and more powerful groups of bounty hunters attacking them, and after the fifth or sixth time a contact tells them off and calls the cops, they may get the hint.

 

If you cont want to be that overt, or dont want to drail your game, just have NPCs start having enough resolve talents that the net effect of doing stun is no different than doing wounds. I would also start making encounters where they dont really want to get into short range if they can help it.

 

As for the pressure point talent, most of the time I wouldnt worry about it. For the BBEG, I would simply make a new talent

 

New Talent: I had that nerve cluster moved

Once per session, can ignore stun damage of one hit.

 

Then have him lop the doc's arm off with his vibrosword. Use that one sparingly and the doc will still be a hand to hand monster, but every now and then he will have it turned against him.

What about people who want to play the game with a non-violent/non-lethal style, stun works perfect for these people.

 

True you need to include that the enemies are not dead and they are still alive, these can add for great story hooks, returning enemies coming back to exact revenge on the players.

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Have to agree with korjik...not the delivery or tone of course... :) but the basic idea that if your players are running around stunning people then cutting their throats, it's out-and-out murder, best dealt with in story. Mechanically I'm not sure it's really a problem as others have already pointed out, but then again nobody has yet tried to meta-game that in small and infrequently playing group.

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Have to agree with korjik...not the delivery or tone of course... :) but the basic idea that if your players are running around stunning people then cutting their throats, it's out-and-out murder, best dealt with in story. Mechanically I'm not sure it's really a problem as others have already pointed out, but then again nobody has yet tried to meta-game that in small and infrequently playing group.

But a double-tap to the head after they're down is the best way to be sure...

 

;)

 

I've noticed that spare Advantages don't show up for our group as regularly as others seem to enjoy. We also have a number of Talents that cost Strain, and we also tend to have Obligation triggered (lowering out STs), so often there is >4 point difference between WT and ST (or, in the case of the Wookiee Marauder, a 13 point difference between WT 24 and ST 11). It just doesn't seem right that these weapons that are primarily intended to inflict lethal damage are so much more likely to drop a 'toughened' target using Stun Setting. The above could also lead to the argument that anytime you could have stunned the enemy but you choose to fire on lethal setting that it's murder too since the Stun Setting is at least as effective and that using the sub-par lethal setting indicates a deliberate effort to kill.

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HappyDaze, if your adversaries are sufficiently skilled in their attacks, they'll be able to generate enough strain removal with Advantages to keep pace with the PCs.  If you're currently having problems now, considering bumping up NPC attack skills.

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