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Custom Background Balance

Discussion in 'Module Discussion' started by FactualInsanity, Dec 30, 2015.

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  1. FactualInsanity

    FactualInsanity New Member

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    Not the most inspired thread title, I know. And it's probably fairly cliché as a first post either, but I've got an itch to scratch and questions on how to scratch it.

    To put an unnecessarily long story short, I have an idea for a particular type of RP of Arcanum I want to do and I like to make custom backgrounds designed around the character I want to make. Usually I don't care about balance as the point is to have fun, but this time I want to try something new and it's fairly important that the background be as close to objectively balanced as possible. The background itself is as follows:

    Eccentric Inventor
    You love technology and have tinkered with it, to the exclusion of everything else, since you were a child. You developed a keen, inquisitive mind (+4 Intelligence) and a natural understanding of machinery (+1 rank to repair and traps), but your limited interaction with people has left your social skills with much room for improvement (-2 Charisma and -1 rank to haggle and persuasion). You also have a tendency to wear your latest experiment on your shirt, so others find you more repulsive than you are (-20 Beauty reaction).

    It's meant to be a somewhat milder, technologically inclined version of Only Child.
    Also I'm not entirely sure what the difference between Reaction and Beauty Reaction in Arcanum Factory is.
    Also also, when I say "rank" I mean an entire skill level.

    Any and all input will be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. on1ondevelopment

    on1ondevelopment Member

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    I think an increase of an entire skill level is far too much - put it at a third of, or half a, skill level instead. Especially it is too much since there is an increase in two skills.
    Since the IN is +4, I think other attributes should be lowered more - with an initial IN of 12 (depending on what race you are), it is possible to buy three ranks in any IN-based skill immediately, which is a lot.

    Let us say that I use this background and focus on technological combat skills, a bit of a barbarian I could be, albeit an intelligent one.
    This would give me the advantage of having several good combat skills early in the game, at the cost of some high-societial manners that I would not need anyways, because I'd probably slaughter people instead.
    No one'd like me in society, so questing would be more difficult and I'd thus have to fight people to get experience.

    In conclusion, I think that the IN bonus should be lowered to 3, and that a free rank in two skills would be too advantageous.
     
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  3. FactualInsanity

    FactualInsanity New Member

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    Just for the sake of discussion, can't much of the same be said about Only Child? It provides and even more massive advantage to a mage character at the more or less equal cost of potentially useless social skills. Or is it that Only Child is inherently unbalanced? Well, more than usualy unbalanced for Arcanum at least.
     
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  4. on1ondevelopment

    on1ondevelopment Member

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    I've never used Only Child personally, but with a massive WP bonus of 6, I'd say it can be powerful. Then again, it reduces one's Haggle skill by 2, which is one of the few skills that WP is used for.
    On the other hand, WP contributes to more hitpoints. Since it does have a reduction of CH by 4, it is only possible to have one follower (unless one spends points in CH), which makes your party a bit weaker.

    In general, I think that the bonus is almost useless since an Only Child won't exactly be a very good trader, nor will he be that much friendly to other people. But I will say that it is excellent for mages, and thus far overpowered for them.


    In comparison, I think that your own background gives too big advantages at the cost of such skills that will hardly be used in any matter, unlike Only Child that can't use a very good skill (Haggle) while having a massive bonus towards its prerequisite attribute. That is, if we look past mages, which we can't anyways. So I'll agree.
     
  5. Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril

    Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril Member

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    The big imbalance I see is that with only 3 points in intelligence and a single potion of intellect you can have a semi-permanent 19 int if you take therapeutics with no real downside. For balance I would add a -4 penalty to Dex and at lest 2 to Str or I would cut the Int bonus, and any full skill rank should have a fairly steep penalty.
     
  6. FactualInsanity

    FactualInsanity New Member

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    Yeah, regardless what other propositions people make (if any) I will drop the skill bonus, probably to half. I just usually go for full skill ranks for bonuses and penalties, because anything else makes me feel like I'm wasting points, when I get to that final skill level and use an entire CP to raise it a single pip. And I know you can get mastery in most skills without going the whole nine yards, but as someone else said in another thread somewhere "It's not as cool if the red bar doesn't reach all the way to the right."

    Similarly, dropping the intelligence bonus is also a simple fix. I realize I didn't actually say I agree with on1ondevelopment, but I do. Heck, it's no problem to lower it down to 2, or even 1, although I think 1 is too much.

    Again for the sake of discussion, can I say I find your other proposed rebalancing frankly redonkulous. I understand the mechanical idea behind it, but A) for me personally a background is more than the mechanics behind it and any bonuses and penalties should be consistent with the story it tells, and B) even just on the mechnical level, you're asking me to endure a loss of 8 character points, for the dubious benefit of having access to 4 character points worth of intelligence slightly earlier. It's difficult to make the no bckground background sound appealing to me, but that would certainly do it. XD I mean, I know stats are not equal and all, but even then taking a hit on charisma, strength and dexterity at once, and not an entirely insignificant one at that, seems very overkill.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond, though. I do appreciate the feedback, even if I don't agree with all of it.
     
  7. on1ondevelopment

    on1ondevelopment Member

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    You're welcome, and as they say, any attention is good attention.
     
  8. Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril

    Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril Member

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    the thing is that INT is very much the tech equivalent of magic's Willpower and a +4(or more) INT bonus screams 'technopath' and you mentioned Only Child witch makes a very good pure mage but to balance that takes severe penalys to adaptability (Cha and persuasion) with a very limited ability to counteract them. meanwhile, a tech that rushes therapeutics can negate *any* attribute penalty of 4 or less(not just the physical ones like with magic) with the last three learned schematics and still get an additional 2 Str from one of the earlier ones. so if you take therapeutics,-4 dex and str is at best a minor inconvenience. I agree it is huge if you don't though...

    personally I am a fan of heavy penalties for decent bonuses, see my own thred on some custom backgrounds I am atemting to add to my own game for examples of what I'm talking about.
     
  9. FactualInsanity

    FactualInsanity New Member

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    When you put it like that I can't really argue. I've never actually played around with Therapeutics, though a Mad Doctor with it as a major discipline is on my list of characters to play. Still, for this particular playthrough I don't plan on taking Therapeutics, so I'd prefer to lower the bonuses, rather than add to the penalties. At least to a reasonable degree. I already lowered them according to on1ondevelopment's suggestion. Currently it's +2 IN +2 ranks (half a skill level) in repair and disarm traps -2 CH -4 ranks in persuasion and haggle -20 beauty reaction. To that I could reasonably add one or two points of physical penalties, like -2 CN due to always being in the confined space of his workshop and developing a lung problem, or -1 ST and -1 DX due to an accident involving some contraption of his, which broke his arm in the past and the bone didn't heal quite right, things like that. Any more wouldn't really fit the idea behind the archetype.

    I have seen it. Back around the time you posted it and again right before I posted my own. I remember playing around with a couple of them and they were quite overpowered if sticking to their strengths. But that was way back when.

    Oh, and happy new year to everyone. :)
     
  10. Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril

    Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril Member

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    I quite agree. I did just get around to updating the page if you want to look again. Several things have been nerfed sense I first posted it.
     
  11. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    I'd say obviously make the background in a way you feel comfortable playing - if you want larger bonuses at the expense of fewer drawbacks when playing a single player game it's entirely up to you. Besides, many of the other backgrounds are similarly good so long as you play to their strengths (the previously mentioned Only Child, Sickly, Charlatan's Protege, Miracle Operation, Sold Your Soul, Beat with an Ugly Stick, etc.) so I'm not sure if that's such a strong argument to not have a powerful background.

    Having said that, I think what you detailed below...
    ...for me would is the best version of the background. I think a full rank in skills is usually a bit much, with half a rank depending on what races you're making it available for you could always take it with a Dwarf to get two full levels. I like the idea of reduced CN due to silicosis or from lack of sunlight due to being shut in the lab and beyond that reduced CN can be more of a pain than people realise early in the game, making you easy to knock unconscious. All in all looks like a pretty decent background, nice job.
     
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  12. Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril

    Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril Member

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    It will also get you killed in the Toon mine fairly reliably if you raise you tech too high, solo or if Virgil runs out of stamina, witch is why it is one of my favorite penalties. It is lots of !FUN! unless you remember to compensate for it.
     
  13. FactualInsanity

    FactualInsanity New Member

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    Let me put it this way, I did a couple of test runs to see if what I had in mind can get me out of the crash site reliably and due to the character I want to RP that involves killing Virgil immediately. I don't plan to be evil. It's just that Mr. Eccentric Inventor has some trust issues, which are not at all helped by being shot out of the sky and immediately proclaimed a religious figure by what appears to be a crazy person. Virgil kills me at least 50% of the time, unless I go heavily into a combat skill, which is not what I would want to do. I can only imagine it's going to be even more FUN with the CN penalty. But FUN is the theme and goal of this particular playthrough. :)
     
  14. Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril

    Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril Member

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    FUN or !FUN! ? Because there is a difference. Being on fire or squashed buy a forgotten beast with blood that makes your eyes rot mainly...I also play Dwarf Fortress witch is were the !FUN! meme is from. It means the 'fun' is on fire....remember: 'losing is fun'
     
  15. FactualInsanity

    FactualInsanity New Member

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    I also play DF, although I suck at it, but I don't play it in ASCII mode, so I had no idea !xx! means it's on fire. I am well versed in the losing is fun culture otherwise.
     
  16. Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril

    Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril Member

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    hrmm. I've been playin DF sence...well lets just say I was a potential player for Boatmurdered, so like 8 years. If your not very good then practice the forums, and the Wiki will fix you right up...or get you killed by a undead giant sponge...

    p.s. do you use the LNP?
     
  17. FactualInsanity

    FactualInsanity New Member

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    I actually haven't played in about a year and a half. Last time I played I used the LNP, yes, but I hear there is a better pack out there, so if I ever feel the DF itch, I might go hunt it down. Coincidentally, if you want to talk DF lets move it to a private conversation so as not to pad the thread with offtopic content.
     

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