Fuzzy wrote:The hard part though is those situations where one Min/Max-er dominates the rest of the group to the point that you have to design and run encounters specifically to deal with that character. I ran into this with a MinMaxed Barbarian in my 3e D&D days.
Yep, exactly... For example, go through the God Box adventure... there's fairly little that really challenges the second character above. So that puts the GM in an awkward position of artificially changing up scenarios just to make other players feel more relevant and/or go after the character with the design build. It's a level of GM intervention that feels decidedly inorganic, but can become necessary.
Given the range of PCs which a Torg group could create, IMO it would be a big ask for scenario writers to come up with adventures which don't need any tailoring on the GM's part. TBH I view it as part of the job of GMing. Either that or the GM says "I've got this published adventure that I want to run through as written, but it's most suited to these kinds of characters. Come up with something appropriate." *shrug*
Take the second character, for example... A Nile Brute. It's pretty much the same as the Eidonos Brute (a basic archetype). Except, well, just better. Drop Brute and Outsider (not likely to test for defeat often), and add 4 points of melee, a better weapon (+4 damage), better armor, a decent tech axiom, a better social axiom, 2 points of strength, and ki powers - which are solid). Replace Brute with Force Field (which is pretty much just better). It's no more vulnerable than the Eodonos Brute would be (though it will have some power limitations). Yes, this won't be true in Pan Pacifica, but it creates a situation where months of game play are dominated by a single character.
Having previously said that I've been able to see a weak side to any min-maxed PC my players have come up with, I have to admit that Force Field is perhaps the one Perk which does seem a bit overpowered to me.
It's contradictory outside NE but doesn't involve any rolls itself, so it never risks causing a contradiction (except on surges.) Given that it does stop working during contradiction it probably should give more extra wound levels than Hard to Kill, but 3 might be a bit much. Maybe 2 extra wounds would have been more balanced, or have it vary based on the character's Toughness, so that it's still useful for helping squishy characters survive but doesn't make NE "bricks", who buy it, as overpowered. Dunno. *shrug*
This is one of my problems with the Nile Empire - with the exception of psionics and things like computer use/hacking, any build that works well elsewhere can be topped by a Nile Empire build. And while it's true that a GM can always tap a power limitation, the dynamic in the game becomes very binary... in most situations, the character dominates certain activities (like combat). But every once in a while, that team member is neutralized and the entire group is at risk of a TPK.
If a GM is planning on tapping a limitation then they should probably be considering that while writing (balancing) the encounter in question.
I'm not sure it would be as binary as you say either; are your builds really that much more effective than a similar PC from a different realm, to the extent that the other character isn't going to get a chance to shine too? (this is partly (largely?) a GM encounter balancing issue.)
Also, the list of weaknesses I gave for your mage hands build give potential for a scale of effectiveness for that character (e.g. there would be varying levels of nerf, on the character's effectiveness, depending on whether they're being hit in the Limitations or faced with a P-rated Taunt/trick specialist, or both.)
Having said that, we haven't really had this problem. We have a very experienced group of players, so they tend to specialize (by agreement before characters are selected), so they share the spotlight well. We did limit ourselves to one Nile hero just to avoid the insanity, however.
I think that's a great way to handle things.
As a general comment building from this, I think it's probably impossible to write unexploitable mechanics which don't also lead to bland, mechanically samey, characters (e.g. all grunts have basically the same stats, but with different skins.)
The act of creating a ruleset which has a wide range of interesting, differentiated powers also pretty much guarantees that some powers (or combinations of powers) will be more mechanically optimal than others.
Not exploiting that, to the detriment of other participants' enjoyment, ultimately has to be a social contract issue between those participants, be it the players showing self restraint, the GM wincing and saying "nice build but nope because..." or the table as a whole having an adult conversation about each others proposed builds, and any negative implications they might have for telling fun co-operative stories.