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Kaalamity

Dealing with Too Much Soak

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Hey guys, first post in these forums.

 

Been GMing an ongoing EoTE game with about 5 people. So far, its gone very well, and we've managed to balance difficulty and fun, and had some great campaigns. However, in the course of our game I've encountered one problem that is making writing scenarios for my players that are challenging, yet fun, difficult.

 

That one guy, with way too much soak.

 

In short, we have a Marauder who has minmaxed his way down his tree to bring his soak up to 9, negating most blaster weapons, and his Wounds to 24. Which makes for a great tank, and is a smart move if you just wanted to beat the game.

 

The rest of the party? Not nearly so beefy, most of them with a soak of 3-4 and wounds of 12-14. They're playing explorer, smugglers, and mechanics. Even if they're well armed and armoured, none of them want to run around in heavy armour, nor can they all afford Personal Shields.

 

Where I'm having trouble is creating a way to keep the Marauder from facesmashing his way through everything, without putting in an enemy that can nearly one-shot one of the other players (which has almost happened enough times to make it a concern).

 

I don't want to force the rest of the party to abandon skills that make for better roleplay, like Knowledge and Medicine, for Brawn, Grit, and combat skills. Nor do I want them to dump all of their credits on getting heavy armor, just to keep up with the one guy.

 

I also do not want to tell the Marauder to respend his talents, reroll, or something extreme.

 

When writing, I've started designing enemies specifically to counter him, and keep him busy, while the party has a normal fight along side him, but that feels skeezy, and it can only last so long until its obvious I'm stacking the deck.

 

Running out of ideas, so I'm looking for some input from other GMs.

 

----

 

Edit - A post of mine from later in this thread for those who TL;DR to the end with a new comment:

 
The point of this was not to slap him on the wrist for building his character the way he wanted.
 
The point of this was to think of some creative ways to push his limits and challenge him.
 
Combat is the area he enjoys. I can put him in as many other elements as I like, but combat is what he enjoys. The first thing he asks for on every planet is if there is a pit fighting ring. The point of this was to help come up with some baddies that force him to fight in a new way, or present him with a clear indication of, "This is my limit" without it being a Rancor or Jedi. Thankfully, there are a lot of good ideas that I've already started implementing (including the Pierce house rule, which the player has already agreed to as reasonable).
 
I'm not a grumpy GM. I don't have a problem with the player, or the group as a whole. I want to challenge him in the area he excels in, and let him feel as awesome as he wants to.
Edited by Kaalamity
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We are supposed to be shadowrunners, not armoured soldiers, so I don't allow armour.  That keeps most characters pretty honest about the idea of being shot with blasters.

 

If it was good enough for Luke, Han, Chewie, Leia, etc it's good enough for us too.

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We are supposed to be shadowrunners, not armoured soldiers, so I don't allow armour.  That keeps most characters pretty honest about the idea of being shot with blasters.

 

If it was good enough for Luke, Han, Chewie, Leia, etc it's good enough for us too.

 

Sadly, most of his Soak is derived from his Brawn, and the Marauder Talents. He's just a super thick skinned Trandoshan that seems to be capable of simply shrugging off blaster bolts. The pains of minmaxxing.

 

 

A nemesis with pressure points talent. Negates the soak and targets his strain threshold. It doesn't have to be any beefier then normal but it might take the marauder by surprise and he won't be any more dangerous to the other party members.

 

This is something I considered, but I wasn't sure if it would end up hindering the rest of the group. Its also a very esoteric ability that I can't throw in very often (suddenly my crew is neck deep in the Monks of the universe). Will definitely make use of it though, thanks!

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Throw in a Rival/Nemesis enemy with Bring It Down (from Enter the Unknown - Big Game Hunter tree. Adds target's Brawn to damage dealt).

 

Use bolas to trip him. Hard to get into melee when your legs are all bound up.

 

Attack from angles that it's not reasonable to get to in 2 maneuvers - up 3 stories of a building or something.

 

Attack from reachable places that will require Coordination tests to safely get to and don't be afraid to flip Destiny to cause shenanigans there. 

 

Sunder his weapon.

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We are supposed to be shadowrunners, not armoured soldiers, so I don't allow armour. 

But shadowrunners wear armor…some of it very advanced even when it's still covert. :P

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Ensnare. Acathing Tirade, no combat ...

Did we not have this discussion just a short time ago about a droid with soak 9?

 

Edit: My SRs wore what was appropriate.

On a bodyguard job it was well dressed and armoured.

On silent jobs very little armor and the tools needed for silent entry and exit. Most people only bother with the silent entry, not a silent exit. So sad.

And for those loud jobs ...

They did only go loud when my chars planted a bomb as part of the job. Everything else remotely loud was considered a mistake.

Edited by segara82
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Throw in a Rival/Nemesis enemy with Bring It Down (from Enter the Unknown - Big Game Hunter tree. Adds target's Brawn to damage dealt).

 

Use bolas to trip him. Hard to get into melee when your legs are all bound up.

 

Attack from angles that it's not reasonable to get to in 2 maneuvers - up 3 stories of a building or something.

 

Attack from reachable places that will require Coordination tests to safely get to and don't be afraid to flip Destiny to cause shenanigans there. 

 

Sunder his weapon.

 

Place enemies on the far side of a treadmill. Got it. Will add that to my list. In all seriousness, good ideas. We've been doing a lot of combat inside starships recently, and its hard to keep him from just bum rushing down a corridor into a throng of people.

 

"Sunder his weapon." Guy only uses Brawl. Which he still can do pretty decent damage with.

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min-maxers are tough to deal with - especially because powergamers HATE it if you nerf their maxed focus, as it is what they have dumped all their effort/points/levels into.

 

instead, i try to come up with ways to focus on the "min" part of their character to challenge them.  also, when creating challenges for the group, focus on including what the other character's "max" is - what their skills and strengths are.  make sure that the other players are getting a turn to be the "hero" of the situation.  not every encounter can be solved with brute force. this moves the spotlight around a bit, and i think that is ultimately what bothers me so much about a min-max powergamer (hogging the spotlight).

 

keep in mind that everyone likes to be in the spotlight, even the powergamer who just wants to smash stuff.

 

i always point to media for examples.  star wars is great, because in the action scenes, everyone has a function/use. the solution to getting out of the garbage compactor was not "smash!" similarly, look at movies/comics like the avengers - hulk got to smash plenty of stuff (and there are certainly problems for the hulk when he tries to smash every problem...), but all the other avengers characters are (or, should be) just as useful and important to the overall story.

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Stun (active) quality weapons, like shock gloves - and home brew stuff akin to it - it requires 2 advantages, but that stun damage ignores soak... dual wielded you need 6 advantages, granted, but still, that's 6 unsoakable strain damage. Use gas attack variants of the various poisons in the book (make stronger variants of them too,), burn attacks, disorienting attacks, staggering effects, immobilising attacks... hit him/her where s/he's the weakest.

 

Above all, use fear checks - people, myself included, use this way too little I think (at least I rarely hear about it). It shouldn't really be called "fear" either, but a "keep it together when you're under fire" check. This can cause setback dice and upgrades to make your marauder really blunder about, sure he can soak most damage, but what about hitting his enemies? Less likely with some failures, threats and a despair :ph34r:

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i guess sort of what i meant to say is, the powergamer is likely having fun min-maxing their character. try not to take the approach of "me vs. him" when planning sessions.  i actually have done this a few times with players, and let my frustration overflow onto the PLAYER - which is not a good thing, if you all are friends (i actually don't talk to one guy anymore because of this - and it was probably mostly my fault...)

Edited by washer

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Falls. While he can survive a lot, he can be knocked out.

Everyone has a weakness. If they have a poweful enemy, have that enemy target those weaker. Allies, contacts, friends and family. If you can't hurt the target directly, go after everyone they care about.

If they have no family etc, take out their employer.

If not a droid, toxic environs are good.

If they wear armour, have an enemy wear an exact replica and start ruining their reputation. A bounty obligation added to the character will have to be taken care of, or it will grow.

Enemies will respond in kind. If a character is a melee monster, then enemies will want to snipe them or use vehicle based weapons.

Now... while I have given some ideas, the best thing I can tell you is don't make it difficult for the player for no reason. Make an in universe challenge to be overcome. If the villian is loosing hundreds of employees and henchmen they will start getting angry and up the ante.

Also, talk to the player (or players) about your concerns about the game. But kicking them really hard in the dump stats is not a bad thing

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min-maxers are tough to deal with - especially because powergamers HATE it if you nerf their maxed focus, as it is what they have dumped all their effort/points/levels into.

 

instead, i try to come up with ways to focus on the "min" part of their character to challenge them.  also, when creating challenges for the group, focus on including what the other character's "max" is - what their skills and strengths are.  make sure that the other players are getting a turn to be the "hero" of the situation.  not every encounter can be solved with brute force. this moves the spotlight around a bit, and i think that is ultimately what bothers me so much about a min-max powergamer (hogging the spotlight).

 

keep in mind that everyone likes to be in the spotlight, even the powergamer who just wants to smash stuff.

 

i always point to media for examples.  star wars is great, because in the action scenes, everyone has a function/use. the solution to getting out of the garbage compactor was not "smash!" similarly, look at movies/comics like the avengers - hulk got to smash plenty of stuff (and there are certainly problems for the hulk when he tries to smash every problem...), but all the other avengers characters are (or, should be) just as useful and important to the overall story.

 

Thankfully, I have no problem with keeping the others engaged until he gets into engaged range. And I make about 3% of the things they encounter out of combat 'smashable.' If I do, I make sure its a Formidable check to even try it. He can smash anything he wants, but it rarely is the solution (Though he did at one point ask to be fired at an enemy ship with a spacesuit on). I prefer my 'smarter' characters handling puzzles and finding loopholes to the combat, and make them feel cool. Even in combat, the Marauder can only get into Smashing-Distance of so many people while the rest take cover and shoot.

 

My problem is more the lack of fear the player has, which is thankfully addressed by:

 

 

Stun (active) quality weapons, like shock gloves - and home brew stuff akin to it - it requires 2 advantages, but that stun damage ignores soak... dual wielded you need 6 advantages, granted, but still, that's 6 unsoakable strain damage. Use gas attack variants of the various poisons in the book (make stronger variants of them too,), burn attacks, disorienting attacks, staggering effects, immobilising attacks... hit him/her where s/he's the weakest.

 

Above all, use fear checks - people, myself included, use this way too little I think (at least I rarely hear about it). It shouldn't really be called "fear" either, but a "keep it together when you're under fire" check. This can cause setback dice and upgrades to make your marauder really blunder about, sure he can soak most damage, but what about hitting his enemies? Less likely with some failures, threats and a despair :ph34r:

 

I always forget about fear checks. The player himself is no longer afraid of charging headlong into just about anything, because he knows he can soak most weapons in the game (And boasts it frequently). But these are some good options I always forget about in the heat of things. Thanks!

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Other than jet packs all the time.  Snares, entanglers, little wrist cord wrappy shooter thingys, snot grenades, whatever to root the marauder in place.

 

A group of Kung Fu Drall with Pressure Point could be fun, as well as, humiliating. 

 

This topic has popped up before.  There was a good house rule I liked for Pierce, which was the Pierce number represents the minimum amount of damage a weapon will do regardless of soak.  I thought it was pretty clever and that's how I am running it in my game, because as it is now it's just sort of a reverse damage modifier.  I also like the 1 minimum rule in WHFRPG which is regardless of soak, when you take a hit, you always suffer at least one damage.  I use that one as well.  No supermans in my game.

Edited by 2P51

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Falls. While he can survive a lot, he can be knocked out.

Everyone has a weakness. If they have a poweful enemy, have that enemy target those weaker. Allies, contacts, friends and family. If you can't hurt the target directly, go after everyone they care about.

If they have no family etc, take out their employer.

If not a droid, toxic environs are good.

If they wear armour, have an enemy wear an exact replica and start ruining their reputation. A bounty obligation added to the character will have to be taken care of, or it will grow.

Enemies will respond in kind. If a character is a melee monster, then enemies will want to snipe them or use vehicle based weapons.

Now... while I have given some ideas, the best thing I can tell you is don't make it difficult for the player for no reason. Make an in universe challenge to be overcome. If the villian is loosing hundreds of employees and henchmen they will start getting angry and up the ante.

Also, talk to the player (or players) about your concerns about the game. But kicking them really hard in the dump stats is not a bad thing

 

I'm not looking to make it arbitrarily hard, but more to illustrate, atleast once, that he's not immune to the game. At this point, he believes he can 'stand toe to toe' with any enemy in the book. While I don't want to drop a Jedi or Rancor on his head, I want him to start fearing failure a little more.

 

 

Other than jet packs all the time.  Snares, entanglers, little wrist cord wrappy shooter thingys, snot grenades, whatever to root the marauder in place.

 

A group of Kung Fu Drall with Pressure Point could be fun, as well as, humiliating. 

 

This topic has popped up before.  There was a good house rule I liked for Pierce, which was the Pierce number represents the minimum amount of damage a weapon will do regardless of soak.  I thought it was pretty clever and that's how I am running it in my game, because as it is now it's just sort of a reverse damage modifier.  I also like the 1 minimum rule in WHFRPG which is regardless of soak, when you take a hit, you always suffer at least one damage.  I use that one as well.  No supermans in my game.

 

 

I like these house rules. I may need to borrow them. ;)

Edited by Kaalamity
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Problem with trying twinky combinations right back at him makes it into an arms race, and endangers the players who aren't munchkins.

 

This is pretty much what happened in the EU, where the Jedi were made into godlike superheroes, and the only way to challenge them were to bring in the Vong from some dreadful anime/manga.

 

Oh, and I read 'Pierce' that way, too. Always lets a bit of damage in.

Edited by Maelora

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i guess sort of what i meant to say is, the powergamer is likely having fun min-maxing their character. try not to take the approach of "me vs. him" when planning sessions.  i actually have done this a few times with players, and let my frustration overflow onto the PLAYER - which is not a good thing, if you all are friends (i actually don't talk to one guy anymore because of this - and it was probably mostly my fault...)

 

I should point out that I have no problem with the player. I just want a way to challenge him, since combat is his thing (and what he enjoys the most). At the same time, I don't want to kill the rest of the party with overpowered enemies, tailored to test the limits of one player.

 

 

Problem with trying twinky combinations right back at him makes it into an arms race, and endangers the players who aren't munchkins.

 

This is pretty much what happened in the EU, where the Jedi were made into godlike superheroes, and the only way to challenge them were to bring in the Vong from some dreadful anime/manga.

 

Oh, and I read 'Pierce' that way, too. Always lets a bit of damage in.

 

And yeah, I don't want an arms race. I was more looking for the sneaky ways to inhibit him (and give him something to overcome), but not everyone else. Snares/fear, I forgot about (I'm a newbie GM, I admit), and that's the kinda thing I was hoping someone would point out.

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That's why I suggest going after people (or their reputation) that aren't as tough. Make an enemy like the operative in the movie Serenity, while he can't find Mal and crew, he kills everyone they deal with - whether criminal ties or innocents such as children.

I caution to not make every enemy like this, but it can be fun. Will the other characters turn on their ally if their families are at stake?

Make a Xanatos/Moriarty character. Smarter, more wealthy and willing to do whatever it takes to win.

If a hammer won't hurt your foe, use a scalpel - Or better yet, a pen.

There is a time and place for darkness in star wars. The scene where Luke looks upon the smoldering bodies of his aunt and uncle are powerful. Much like Peter Parker, Lukes last words to his family are in anger and frustration. He will never get to say I'm sorry or goodbye to his family. A tradgedy like that can be important to a characters growth, in that they have to accept consewuenxes for their actions. This is all from the idea that the player wants to role-play, and not just make a smash em up style character, however.

Edited by That Blasted Samophlange

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That's why I suggest going after people (or their reputation) that aren't as tough. Make an enemy like the operative in the movie Serenity, while he can't find Mal and crew, he kills everyone they deal with - whether criminal ties or innocents such as children.

I caution to not make every enemy like this, but it can be fun. Will the other characters turn on their ally if their families are at stake?

Make a Xanatos/Moriarty character. Smarter, more wealthy and willing to do whatever it takes to win.

If a hammer won't hurt your foe, use a scalpel - Or better yet, a pen.

 

There is a time and place for darkness in star wars. The scene where Luke looks upon the smoldering bodies of his aunt and uncle are powerful. Much like Peter Parker, Lukes last words to his family are in anger and frustration. He will never get to say I'm sorry or goodbye to his family. A tradgedy like that can be important to a characters growth, in that they have to accept consewuenxes for their actions. This is all from the idea that the player wants to role-play, and not just make a smash em up style character, however. 

 

A good idea. And it would be fun to tie this into how it actually affects his gameplay (Since he is the least 'roleplay' oriented of the group, "Can I hit it?" is a common question). Increasing the difficulty of fear checks, or adding persistent setback die may give him a reason to pay attention to the consequences of his character's actions a little more closely.

 

Addendum to your added comment:

I like introducing characters who are accustomed to the Dungeon Siege, Hack N Slash Encounter style tabletop experience, to the story-rich aspects. I often find that these types of players can be surprised at how attached they get to that Rodian urchin they picked up from that last mission, and how motivated they can get to resolve his kidnapping (vague example). My goal is to alter his way of thinking, so his solution to problems of, "Let me go hit it" is hindered.

 

Thanks for the wise words.

Edited by Kaalamity
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Just flipped through EtU... Pin... Pin the guy while the rest of the enemies take care of the group :ph34r: that way he cannot do squat, there's nothing to soak... Pin him, and combine it with scathing tirade, shock gloves or something like that.

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My crew has done very well in finding the wreck of the Sa Nalor.

 

Your beefcake marauder would not last long in front of our Gadgetteer.  Her damage far outstrips his soak.  Her heavy Blaster has 14 base damage, pierce, autofire, and she's rolling YYYGGBlue.   Your marauder could hurt her a bit before he fell with multiple sucking chest wounds.  Buh bye.  And this character was hardly optimized.  I'm more concerned about her ability to put down a Boss in a fight, than the Marauder soaking it up.

 

Our Marauder (force Exile) has a Soak of 6, and is struggling to get awesome.  But he has 21 wounds.  He has incredible defense in melee.  PurpleRedBlackBlack   He should top out at Soak 9, RedRedBlackBlack against all known targets.  (So I guess you got it easy compared to me...)

 

My advice?

 

First, let the marauder succeed.  Not all fights have to be resolved with a blaster.  I have a super sneaky droid... should I punish him?  That is very similar to what you are saying. He can sneak in anywhere.  (YYYGG Master Of Shadows)

 

Second, hit him in the dump stats... find a scenario where he has more challenge to succeed.  His agility can't be great, and the rest of his skills are essentially dump stats.  He's over optimized, outside of melee combat.  Kick him in the nuts for it.  Time for a negotiation check...  How would he deal with being coerced?  Squeal like a little girl I bet. (I plan to annoy my Marauder with droids because his force powers don't work against them.)

 

Third, make him earn it.  If your bad guys know what's coming, they can easily be prepared with traps.  If they don't know, standard bad guy tactics are to pick on the big guy in front.  If they do know... that's more interesting.  Pit trap... Magnetic trap... HRB nest.  Force field box.

 

Fourth, let your other players succeed.  Even if he kicks butt in combat, doesn't mean that this is what the game is about.  Run a 'repair the ship before we die' scenario (last fight in Beyond The Rim),  Did I mention that our Doctor is getting pretty good at re-attaching limbs?  Even in combat, he's probably busy and engaged, so who's going after the bad guy with the Death Star Plans in his back pocket?

 

 

The more I play the more I realize that however the players may dominate here or there, its more fun when they get into a scenario that they don't seem to dominate at.  When I play with so much variety, there's always something interesting happening for all the players.

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I think the "Bring It Down" option is really elegant for when you want him to feel threatened by combat. Throw that around and bring pierce weapons and you're done. I wouldn't call it arms-racey (which I always prefer to avoid) and it shouldn't frustrate him too much, whereas I think constantly keeping him out of engaged would. And, as always, hit him in the dump stat. Coordination to get across hazardous terrain at his foes while they laugh at him while he falls and keep on shooting, or Fear checks, or whatever.

But don't go too far against him either. You don't want to punish him for making his character the way he did, you just want to remind him that those badass moments where he just wrecks your combat encounters come at a cost.

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It's a mistake to believe that a Marauder is only effective in when Engaged. Ranged skills are easy to pick up and talents can be cherrypicked to easily increase ranged output. The melee/brawl output of the Marauder can be secondary to the Soak and WT is allows the character to accumulate.

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