Now that the latest version of the Dime Adventures rules have been released, here is this week's question:
What are your thoughts on this round of revisions? What area of the game is still has the most rough edges or needs the most work?
Garrotte change makes sense.
I think changing when the wait reaction spends AP makes sense. It means one can wait for something, but then use the AP to dodge if necessary. With the change, I might not always charge all the way forward to close distance immediately.
I think this version of the initiative system is pretty balanced, though I do think a little more playing around with it is necessary. I think we made a few tactical errors in the fight with cape man last session that might have resulted in the other side getting maybe an additional minion attacks over the course of combat or getting to start a round they shouldn't have.
I like the changes to hidden characters during combat. They are something that needs to be taken into consideration which I like. Finding hidden characters earlier could be a thing that the opposing side does. Possible mechanics:
1. During their turn, hidden characters can make a stealth roll to simulate their effort to remain hidden (shadowing others' movements, staying out of light). This roll is used in any contested awareness rolls for the round. If they don't actively try to remain hidden, the awareness roll is vs their stealth/dex (if moving) or stealth/end (if staying still).
2. Awareness roll vs willpower defense with the hidden character having an option to spend an AP to add stealth skill to this much like how parry works.
I like the change to two birds. It increases the utility, while decreasing the power slightly.
Switching Fleet of Foot and Quick Draw's experience costs makes sense. I think you forgot to change text cose for Athlete when you reworked it. Most of the other changes make sense.
I think a few of the subsystems haven't necessarily been tested as much as they could be (Dueling, invention). I am willing to get into duels and even kept the Duelist trait (even if I think it is a little underwhelming given that for 2 more experience I can get a general use Moxie each session).
I still think ranged might have better damage out on average than melee combat, but given how this is true in so many systems/settings with guns, that probably isn't a problem. Traits did help melee a lot, making it more interesting and flexible (e.g. compare Carroll and my characters).
One area that might need work is weird pulpy powers? I will admit to being curious about them. I assume they are going to be a possible supplement like some of the later options for Shadows over Sol. Random wish list for PC abilities, even if I don't get to play with them: occultist practices from around the world (everything from geomancy to palmistry), weird science, and weird monsters (lycanthropes, ghosts).
I agree with pretty much everything Micah said. Ranged definitely gives you better damage for less investment of Traits, but if you really want to maximize damage I think melee leaves ranged attacks in the dust thanks to Dual-weapon Fighting, Powerhouse, and Rage.
Speaking of which, do Powerhouse and Rage stack? Also, Charge Attack as currently written applies to any attack, including firearms and maybe psychic blasts? Is this intentional?
I haven't done a vehicular chase yet, which I am interested in trying out, but the foot chases seem to have worked pretty well.
I got confused about how Form Abilities work in terms of playing cards usually ending your turn, but I think we cleared that up and it's all good now.
I've tried both since the Partisan had both skills, and while I like the flavor options of melee more, I think a ranged skill/trait set is the better choice except for a template trying to max damage. I agree that melee allows maximizing damage slightly better, but I still think it costs buckets of XP. I also think that the damage improvement is really only because of duel-weapon fighting. It is probably the strongest 5-point trait.
Next would be, probably Gunslinger. Gunslinger's free leg shots and half-AP head shots may be less potent than powerhouse/rage, but it is also costs fewer experience and doesn't require a stat to be at 7. Gunslinger also does for free (legshots) what the costs an AP for the Knockdown Strength trait and costs the same.
While two swords, 6 strength, and duel wielding gives spade damage of 17, one higher than the elephant gun, it is a lot more of an investment. Also, most guns have pierce which really is almost bonus damage in any situation where buckets of damage matter.
Maybe my point is that right now the only reason to choose melee over ranged is if you are a duel-weapon bruiser. If you want to do anything else, shooting is more economical, and extra AP can be used to aim rather than move around.
So, I think that ranged is more straight forward, and maybe more consistent damage, but it lacks a lot of the bells and whistles of melee combat. It lacks a lot of the tricks of melee. Most of the strength traits are various melee tricks you could invest in. You never need to reload in melee. Parry is huge.
After spending a lot of time staring at the Elephant Gun, I don't think it's actually worth it. The Reload makes it kind of untenable unless you want to fire its two shots and then toss it away and draw a more reasonable gun.
Now, the more reasonable rifles are a bit more consistent, if a little less upfront damage. But, as someone who is almost completely invested in my ranged damage, Carol consistently does half again as much damage as I do (22, as opposed to 14). And his damage is always staged up one step. I think if we just added up the amount of damage done over a session, Carol would equal several people's put together. These numbers might be a bit skewed by the fact that Carol is less likely than, say, Eric or I to crit succeed, but even then ~half the time that happens that just gets us up to Spade damage (I might be able to keep up when/if I get the Dexterity 9 Trait, we'll see?)
Now. I don't actually think this is a problem. The minmaxer in me supports offering people a very effective route that is very points intensive. I think it's a lot like Pistols v. Rifles in Deadlands. Rifles are more consistent damage from the word go, but at higher levels pistols dominate. I'm not convinced that melee is going to just significantly outpace ranged once you start hitting higher experience levels. Which, again, is not a bad thing, persay. Range requires less investment for still very solid payout.
I have a completely random thing to add, that isn't actually about the rules currently, but might be an interesting thing to add.
I was thinking about medical stuff and how playing a doctor in combat most of the time is probably not terribly interesting in the things you can do unless you branch out into some other skill, like I did with gunning. Then I started thinking about what other systems do with their doctors to make combat more interesting for them and I started thinking of Accelerant and status effects. This system has status effects … what if there were a way for a doctor to remove status effects from other PCs in combat via some kind of delivery method like close range tranq gun or long range tranq rifle? Would that fit within the pulp genre? Someone is feeling dazed, hit them with a small dose of adrenaline to counteract, or something like that.
Spend an AP to load the correct ammo and and AP to fire. If long range, I would say you still have to hit the target's first number, because the PC is dodging and weaving to avoid the enemy, they are not a stationary target in combat. If close range, you avoid the need to hit.
This week's question:
Now that we've tried out the optional dice-based rules for a couple sessions, what are your thoughts on how they work? How do they compare to the card-based rules?
I think they generally work, but I do miss the cards. Critical successes are bigger when they come, due to needing doubles. And we have not had a single crit-fail that I recall. I used to run into the Insomnia effect more often, but I have not had that problem yet under dice.
Odd question - if you have a crit-fail in the dice system, do you get to refill your moxie like you refilled your hand with the cards?
The dice rules are much less swingy. Crit failing has never happened in two sessions, rather than the normal Crit rate of minimum five per session. You're much more likely to get average to above average. The way the Karma system works, it's much easier to guarantee success. You essentially have two dice, and if one suceeds, 5-7 times/session, you can go “I'd rather take the one that succeeds, thanks”. Now, I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, but it does feel like a true thing.
I agree that the dice feel much more predictable, which I overall consider a plus (I hate failing at things my character is supposed to be good at). I really do miss those critfails, though, especially now that I have a fun new trait that does something wacky when I critfail. It's definitely a credit to the system when you can get players to say “I feel like I'm not critfailing enough.”
Crit succeeding I can take or leave, really; it feels like it SHOULD be really rare, because it feels like insult to injury when the bad guys get it and when the good guys get it sometimes it results in big scary bad guys being one-shotted. That is occasionally a really fun thing, but if it happens reliably it kinda undercuts the narrative tension in my book.
If we could increase the critfail incidence somewhat, I would solidly prefer the dice to the cards, but I would still enjoy playing with the cards.