Hurting high-Reality targets

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ShirtlessOBrien
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Hurting high-Reality targets

Postby ShirtlessOBrien » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:29 am

This is not going to be an issue for games at launch, but it seems like the new Soak system is going to lead to advanced characters, in particular High Lords, being effectively unkillable.

As I read the rules if the target of an attack can manage a total of 20 on a Reality roll and spend a possibility it doesn't matter if you hit someone with a howitzer, they can Soak absolutely unlimited damage. So a Reality skill of 28 would mean that they could soak literally any attack that exists on a natural 2 or better. The oTorg Gaunt Man had Reality 35, and oTorg Baruk Kaah had Reality 24, so a 28 isn't unprecedented.

You don't even need a Reality 28 though because if you can spend a Possibility on the Soak roll and there are no Core Earth storm knights or Darkness Devices around to Negate it, you would only need Reality 20 (and two Possibilities) to Soak literally any attack 100% of the time. That is in fact achievable with a starting character if they are a pulp Hero with Super Skill and Super Attribute.

Running out of Possibilities will of course stop the fun but the oTorg Gaunt Man had 300.

In oTorg you could in theory kill these kinds of beings with a howitzer by rolling so many tens and twenties in a row that you punch their head off. In nuTorg in seems like literally the only way to hurt them is to hope they roll a 1 on their Soak. I believe it has been officially confirmed that you can't Negate a Soak attempt, or crash it with Opponent Fails, or indeed do anything else at all to prevent it.

I feel like there ought to be the possibility of wearing high-Reality targets down over time by stacking up damage, as opposed to them just negating everything wholesale each time until they roll a 1.

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Re: Hurting high-Reality targets

Postby Wotan » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:18 am

With respect you're offering a false dichotomy, in the sense that you're using OTorg stat blocks with TorgE mechanics. It's worth remembering that the TorgE stats we've seen so far are lower than their OTorg equivalents.

Your general point, that high reality characters with possibilities to spend are incredibly hard to hurt, is very insightful though, & definitely worth GMs bearing in mind when stating up boss fights. I'd guess that the devs are already aware of this potential issue and will stat High Lords etc appropriately.
Having said that, High Lords are meant to be tremendously powerful individuals, almost demi-gods, & it occurs to me that one way this could be represented in their stat blocks is to use this aspect of the mechanics. It should be hard to kill a High Lord who's supported by their Darkness Device IMHO, lots of Storm Knights in previously invaded Cosms have no doubt tried and failed.

Maybe, to even have a chance of killing one you need to isolate them from their Darkness Device, & then either wear down their possibilities or hope that they roll a 1 on their Soak check. *shrug*
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Re: Hurting high-Reality targets

Postby ShirtlessOBrien » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:08 am

With respect you're offering a false dichotomy, in the sense that you're using OTorg stat blocks with TorgE mechanics. It's worth remembering that the TorgE stats we've seen so far are lower than their OTorg equivalents.


Unless I have missed something we just don't have stats for nuTorg High Lords yet, so I didn't think I had anything to go on except their old stats. I realise they will change.

But as I also said, a PC can start with Reality 20. High Lords would have to be worse than possible starting PCs at their most important skill to not be able to Soak all the damage all the time (barring Negate) and that seems unlikely.

But most importantly I did miss an important rule which is that Darkness Devices can spend an additional Possibility on behalf of the High Lord. So High Lords don't need Reality 28 to be immune to everything except on a 1, they only need Reality 12. If the High Lords don't have at least Reality 12 I will eat a blue-and-red twenty sided dice. So you definitely can't hurt them unless they roll a 1 without a PC using Negate. Even if you do have Negate and possibilities to burn they will probably have Reality 20 anyway so it doesn't matter, they still only fail on a 1. I could be wrong about that last bit but we'll have to wait and see.

Having said that, High Lords are meant to be tremendously powerful individuals, almost demi-gods, & it occurs to me that one way this could be represented in their stat blocks is to use this aspect of the mechanics. It should be hard to kill a High Lord who's supported by their Darkness Device IMHO, lots of Storm Knights in previously invaded Cosms have no doubt tried and failed.


I agree that it ought to be hard, and people are going to differ on whether it should even be reasonably possible. Some people's conception of High Lords and such is usually that they are so much smarter than any PC can be that they should never get into a position where they could get killed in the first place.

But my feeling, and this is just a feeling, is that if you can kill them it should be because the PC team pulled off some amazing one-off combination of planning, in-game skill and probably an amazing dice roll. Not that they have to do all that and then hope the GM rolls a natural 1 because otherwise it's all for nothing. That isn't a mechanic for end boss battles that feels fun to me. A 95% failure rate at the last hurdle is just disheartening.

I am less worried about indestructible PCs because they would have to be very specialised to do it, but there's still the option of a starting PC who, barring Negate or a Darkness Device, can literally shrug off a nuke nineteen times out of twenty. Maybe that's how Indiana Jones survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a fridge?

Also maybe this is why Core Earth is scary and the Gaunt Man brought six meat shields along to the party? This Cosm has the power to Negate their Soak rolls! They could actually die! Perhaps all the High Lords are frantically buying up their Reality skills to try to get to Reality 20 before Core Earth Storm Knights hit them with howitzers?

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Re: Hurting high-Reality targets

Postby Kuildeous » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:57 am

I don't view defeating the High Lords as something to be done through conventional means. The High Lords should be powerful enough that a heavy machine gun unloading all of its ammo on him results in a miraculous moment where every shot misses.

So how does one defeat them? This is way off in the future, but I would go with some rituals perhaps or some clever plan that separates a High Lord from his Darkness Device. How many Possibilities does a High Lord normally have? We don't know, but so far I've yet to see any enemies with more than 5 Possibilities. This number seems to be lower than in OT.

As for a PC starting with Reality 20, sure it's possible, but he's going to suck in other areas. And if he has that score from an enhanced pulp power, then that means that his Reality will be less than 20 approximately half the time. Advanced characters could get that high. In that case, he'll just have to be targeted several times so that he spends his Possibilities. When you're empty, you can't soak, as one PC found out against a dragon really quick.
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Re: Hurting high-Reality targets

Postby Gargoyle » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:51 am

For the near and foreseeable future I'm treating High Lords like plot devices rather than foes that need stats.

For the issue of normal characters with high reality, yeah, it's tough to beat them. You're going to have to drain their possibilities, just like they have to do to kill pesky Storm Knights. But by forcing them to soak, at least they're not using them offensively. I sort of look at possibilities as hit points. With a lot of them, the fight can last longer, which may be good or bad depending on what you're going for. With transparency though (p260), since the players should know how many possibilities a foe has, I don't really see a problem. If they spend a lot of resources on an attack and it gets soaked...well, what did they expect? Maybe they should be more conservative until the enemy is out of possibilities. If it's dragging on too long, maybe that foe just has too many possibilities. Or maybe they're punching up over their weight class and need to run and come back to fight another day...players (and GM's) sometimes forget that running is an option.

But for fun, if I were to fight a High Lord today, I'd take care to do a few things:

- Level up and get some powerful allies, like other groups of Storm Knights.
- Fight them in Core Earth, maybe getting another team to rip up a stela to surprise them (ha, you're in our world now b****).
- Trap them with a Maelstrom card and multiple Master Plans. (no dimthread and no possibilities from the Darkness Device)
- Bring out some powerful weapons. A howitzer sounds great until you realize it kills all your buddies tanking him too. I think something with more precision will be needed, likely some eternity shards. There may be eternity shards that are specifically destined to kill particular High Lords. Perhaps that's one reason they want them so badly.
- We don't know how many possibilities they have, but if they've got stats, then those stats should be beatable. That means I feel they should have a reasonable number of possibilities, and could run out in a long fight. Otherwise, why have stats?

Without a Maestrom, I don't think it's feasible, and there's only one in the deck (I think). A Martyr would be helpful too. Multiple teams of Storm Knights might be able to trade cards if they travel and/or communicate properly. Perhaps an eternity shard is out there that let's them do that; they seem fairly specialized for things like this.

Basically I think a few good teams of Storm Knights could do it by Year One, but it's a long shot and would likely require a good deal of sacrifice, and resources may be best spent on other things, as the Darkness Device would just likely promote a lieutenant, and things could get even worse. With more options by Year One, it will be more feasible but never easy.
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Re: Hurting high-Reality targets

Postby TiaMaster » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:26 pm

Gargoyle wrote:For the near and foreseeable future I'm treating High Lords like plot devices rather than foes that need stats.

For the issue of normal characters with high reality, yeah, it's tough to beat them. You're going to have to drain their possibilities, just like they have to do to kill pesky Storm Knights. But by forcing them to soak, at least they're not using them offensively. I sort of look at possibilities as hit points. With a lot of them, the fight can last longer, which may be good or bad depending on what you're going for. With transparency though (p260), since the players should know how many possibilities a foe has, I don't really see a problem. If they spend a lot of resources on an attack and it gets soaked...well, what did they expect? Maybe they should be more conservative until the enemy is out of possibilities. If it's dragging on too long, maybe that foe just has too many possibilities. Or maybe they're punching up over their weight class and need to run and come back to fight another day...players (and GM's) sometimes forget that running is an option.

But for fun, if I were to fight a High Lord today, I'd take care to do a few things:

- Level up and get some powerful allies, like other groups of Storm Knights.
- Fight them in Core Earth, maybe getting another team to rip up a stela to surprise them (ha, you're in our world now b****).
- Trap them with a Maelstrom card and multiple Master Plans. (no dimthread and no possibilities from the Darkness Device)
- Bring out some powerful weapons. A howitzer sounds great until you realize it kills all your buddies tanking him too. I think something with more precision will be needed, likely some eternity shards. There may be eternity shards that are specifically destined to kill particular High Lords. Perhaps that's one reason they want them so badly.
- We don't know how many possibilities they have, but if they've got stats, then those stats should be beatable. That means I feel they should have a reasonable number of possibilities, and could run out in a long fight. Otherwise, why have stats?

Without a Maestrom, I don't think it's feasible, and there's only one in the deck (I think). A Martyr would be helpful too. Multiple teams of Storm Knights might be able to trade cards if they travel and/or communicate properly. Perhaps an eternity shard is out there that let's them do that; they seem fairly specialized for things like this.

Basically I think a few good teams of Storm Knights could do it by Year One, but it's a long shot and would likely require a good deal of sacrifice, and resources may be best spent on other things, as the Darkness Device would just likely promote a lieutenant, and things could get even worse. With more options by Year One, it will be more feasible but never easy.


I don't mind transparency to a point, like knowing the DN for heaven's sake, but knowing a foe's possibilities is beyond what I believe the knowledge they should have.

Just because a NPC has an insurmountable stat doesn't mean you have to ask that question. The question should be asked when ALL stats are insurmountable.

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Re: Hurting high-Reality targets

Postby Kuildeous » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:12 pm

TiaMaster wrote:I don't mind transparency to a point, like knowing the DN for heaven's sake, but knowing a foe's possibilities is beyond what I believe the knowledge they should have.


I thought that too, but I've been running with that level of transparency during demos and the Day One adventures. It's not as bad as I thought. By knowing what the villain's Wounds and Possibilities are, the players gain an understanding of when to push to end the fight. You are less likely to have a player sitting there with a full card pool because combat was over sooner than he expected.

Although it only stands to reason that if the PCs know how many Possibilities a villain has, the villains (at least the reality-rated ones) know how many Possibilities Storm Knights have. This could lead to some interesting targeting opportunities. If he really wants to knock someone out of the fight, he'll focus fire on a Storm Knight who's out of Possibilities.

I suppose it's just a way to gauge the threat of a stormer—not unlike eyeing how wounded he is.
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Re: Hurting high-Reality targets

Postby ShirtlessOBrien » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:57 pm

Kuildeous wrote:I don't view defeating the High Lords as something to be done through conventional means. The High Lords should be powerful enough that a heavy machine gun unloading all of its ammo on him results in a miraculous moment where every shot misses.


This is a completely legitimate way to run a game, but from a design perspective I would rather just put that out in the open and say they are 100% unkillable because plot rather than have it turn out they have a 95% chance of taking no damage. That seems like the worst of both worlds because it leaves that 5% chance the High Lord gets turned into a smoking pair of boots.

So how does one defeat them? This is way off in the future, but I would go with some rituals perhaps or some clever plan that separates a High Lord from his Darkness Device. How many Possibilities does a High Lord normally have? We don't know, but so far I've yet to see any enemies with more than 5 Possibilities. This number seems to be lower than in OT.


We do know that Darkness Devices have "untold thousands" os Possibilities and can transfer two to four per hour to their High Lord or indeed anyone else in their Stelae network. So in the medium term it might as well be infinite but in the short term for all we know they will limited to running around with a much smaller pool.

I don't think I articulated my concern in the best way possible though. I think the problem is that when opponents get higher Dodge you can compensate by getting higher skills, making them Vulnerable, getting people to assist you and whatnot. When opponents get more armour and Toughness you can go away and come back with a bigger gun. This kind of arms race is fun and forms the basis of games like D&D and Pathfinder. But as far as I can tell when opponents get more Reality all you can do is hope they roll a 1. There's no counterplay and opponents constantly no-selling attacks at the last minute seems like a frustrating mechanic.

I never played it but I think I read that 1st edition Exalted had a similar problem that there were ultimate defences that nothing could breach and so fights between experienced Exalts were a war of attrition to run people out of the points used to power their ultimate defence, and then when they ran out of points the loser got exploded into a pink mist. Nobody seemed to think that was a fun way for every combat to go.

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Re: Hurting high-Reality targets

Postby Gargoyle » Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:05 pm

TiaMaster wrote:I don't mind transparency to a point, like knowing the DN for heaven's sake, but knowing a foe's possibilities is beyond what I believe the knowledge they should have.

Understandable, I was surprised the rules gave that level of precision. But I think if you wanted to make it a little more vague, it would be reasonable to say that the Storm Knights would know when the bad guy is out of possibilities, or vice versa. So the proviso of not unloading on them until they can't soak still stands.

Just because a NPC has an insurmountable stat doesn't mean you have to ask that question. The question should be asked when ALL stats are insurmountable.


I think if they have insurmountable possibilities in TorgE, it pretty much makes all their other stats irrelevant, (maybe not completely true, but that's what I was thinking) but I'm not sure if I understand completely what you're saying. To rephrase what I was saying, I dislike having stats for NPC's that I'm not supposed to use in combat. Sort of like if you had stats for gods in D&D but they are intended to be unbeatable, then why have the stats? Minor point in any case.
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Re: Hurting high-Reality targets

Postby TorgHacker » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:27 pm

High Lords are going to be very, very, very, very, very, very, very tough. Especially with their Darkness Devices.

However, don't go by the Original Torg statblocks, especially for anything that was really tough. High Lords will have a lot of Possibilities, but not hundreds.

We debated whether or not to include the High Lord stat blocks in the cosm books, but we are going to. Delta Clearance Storm Knights should have a chance at defeating a High Lord. Temporarily at least.
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