Shadowrun Play => Shadowrun: Anarchy => Topic started by: Gingivitis on (18:52:52/03-05-17)

Title: Anarchy Spirits and Balance
Post by: Gingivitis on (18:52:52/03-05-17)
A few people in forums and actual plays (and at my gaming tables) have noted how unbalanced/overpowered an average Spirit is (let alone a Greater Spirit).  They need some help in order to be a surmountable opponent or a balanced PC asset.

I have a few ideas but I am wondering if others out there have taken it upon themselves to adjust how Spirits work, how they are summoned, their stats or anything else used to bring more balance to those magical bastards.

Or do you play "as is" and deal with it?

I know that Anarchy isn't about mechanics, but I am very interested in balance (for the players and the GM) because I have seen too many campaigns breakdown due to imbalance.
Title: Re: Anarchy Spirits and Balance
Post by: Tecumseh on (14:08:12/03-06-17)
I'm the poster in question. For the benefit of anyone who hasn't memorized all of my posts over the last six months, I will recap my concerns here.

If anything about Magic needs balancing, it's Summoning (as usual). Spirits are still powerful: with the exception of Earth Spirits, their dodge pools are all better than a maxed-out elf, their attack pools are 10-13, and their Immunity to Normal Weapons in addition to natural armor makes them highly durable. The fact that a magician can have two with a relatively inexpensive summoning focus (Amp Level 2) is more unbalancing than any of the spells I've seen.

Per my post in the House Rules thread, I still think spirits are ridiculously good, so much so that average spirits are basically free Prime Runners, with attack pools and dodge pools that mirror maxed-out PCs. Between attribute points, racial bonuses, and attributes starting off at rating 1, Primer Runners have 27 attribute points. An "average" spirit has 31-33. Great Form spirits would have 41-43.

Gingivitis, I know that you had proposed a drain mechanic a few months ago where the summoning magician had to roll a glitch die each Narration the spirit was sustained to see if the summoner incurred drain or not. Did you ever play with that and, if so, how did it go?

I've had several thoughts about how to balance spirits but since I haven't started playing yet I don't know how well any of them would work in practice.

1) Jack up the opposed rolls to make summoning harder. Lesser spirits resist with 10 dice, normal spirits with 14 dice, greater spirits with 18 dice. (My baseline for this is Coydog, who rolls 15 dice to summon air spirits, and Alyosha Daska, who rolls 14 dice to summon earth spirits.)

2) Make the standard spirit stats the stats for the greater spirits, since standard spirits are already Prime Runners in terms of attributes and dice pools. The new standard spirit will be the old lesser spirit, etc.

3) Riggers can't use their own weapons while commanding their drones (p. 48). Impose the same restriction on summoners as they boss around their spirits.

4) Require summoners to pay shadow amp points for spirits, like riggers have to pay for drones.

5) Some sort of drain mechanic, or limitation on how many spirits can be summoned per scene.

I like spirits and summoning and don't want to lose that flavor. As such, my preference is probably for some combination of #1 and #2, although making the rolls in #1 easier if the rule for #2 is in place. For #3, I'd almost prefer the opposite: removing the restriction from riggers to make drones function more like spirits. I don't have a good resolution for the imbalance inherent in #4 yet.
Title: Re: Anarchy Spirits and Balance
Post by: Gingivitis on (16:14:52/03-06-17)
I have done a number of things.  Over the last 6 months, no single adjustment seemed to fix the issues.  I feel there is a balance now in my games (I have two groups going).

1) I kept my original difficulties summon. 6 for lesser, 8 for average, 10 for greater. But I required the use of a Glitch Die to summon the greater.  Exploit gets you the greater, Glitch gets you some Stun damage, anything else gets you an average spirit.  I felt if I ramped the difficulties too high, people would just stop trying, but it made summoning greater spirits difficult and dangerous And requires a Plot Point.

2) I implemented the sustaining roll (Glitch die) like you said, at the beginning of the Narration.  I scaled it back though: Lesser spirits require no roll.  Average spirits  give you 1 Stun if you Glitch.  Greater spirits give you 1 Stun unless you exploit.  Summoner can dismiss for free before the roll.  The roll does not require spending a Plot Point.

Incidentally, I use the same mechanic to determine Overwatch and Alarms for Matrix hosts. There are 3 levels of hosts in my games, but instead of Stun, the host launches IC if you glitch.

3) The above two things put the danger and consequence back into summoning but it didn't take care of the power levels.  For that I rebalanced stats (earth is 10/4, air is 4/10, fire and water are 6/8, beast is 8/6 and man is 7 AGI/7 LOG, all other stats being 6).  I also added non-combat powers (like kla did in his write up), but forced a choice between two combat powers.  That made them slightly less absolutely deadly.

4) The above did not take care of their utter invulnerability with such high defense pools, damage reduction, armor, and high CMs.  So I took away their armor.  I like it because it makes them the opposite of vehicles which are basically ONLY armor.  I did leave 6 armor on the Earth and 3 on the Beast for flavor. A little math shows that now a standard mage has around a 50/50 chance to beat an average spirit now.

It seems to have worked so far but I am wondering what other GM's have done still.
Title: Re: Anarchy Spirits and Balance
Post by: jgmac on (15:14:36/05-21-17)
Hey, new Shadowrun Anarchy player/GM here. This thread has been extremely helpful. One of my players just rolled up a Conjuror the other day, and I had a problem with how Over Powered he seemed. I'll certainly try out some of the house rules mentioned here, but also wondering if you veterans can clarify some things for me.

This player has the summoning focus, which means he can summon 2 spirits instead of the normal 1. Does this mean he can walk around himself as normal, and tell both spirits to attack and rip the arms off the bad guys. This seems like it's a little much. I know Wired reflexes give some people two attacks a turn, but wired reflexes at least require you to be in the one place. Technically, with two spirits, the Conjuror could send them off in different directions and cause havoc on the battlefield. Any advice on how to handle this part of the game?

Title: Re: Anarchy Spirits and Balance
Post by: Tecumseh on (16:54:25/05-21-17)
Yes, if he has a summoning focus then he can have 2 spirits at a time instead of just 1. Yes, they can be in different places. Yes, it is as overpowered as it sounds.

I've been playing with the house rule of "all attributes are 2 lower than what's in the book," which essentially makes a Prime spirit into a regular spirit. So far this has been a good correction.

I would also be tempted to use Gingivitis' adjustment to remove armor (not Immunity to Normal Weapons, just armor) from spirits.

Another approach is to use my suggested house rule #4 above and make giving instructions to a spirit cost the conjurer's "attack". Once the spirit has those directions they will follow them, but the conjurer can't change priorities without also costing another action.

It would also be wise to apply some sort of limiter on the actual summoning so that there is an incentive not to treat spirits as a infinite source of cannon fodder. Gingivitis has some Drain suggestions. Other possibilities are to let spirits who are replacing recently banished spirits to roll Edge to resist the summoning. So if Summoner sends Fire Spirit #1 to its doom and wants to summon Fire Spirit #2, then #2 will drag its feet via Edge. Thus the summoner could be burning his actions (i.e. trying to summon) while the battle rages around him or her. A glitch die could also work, but a Glitch die only has an effect 1/6th of the time, which might not be a sufficient deterrent.

There are a dozen ways to potentially tweak this, all of which are dependent on how nitty gritty you're willing to get with the mechanics and how closely you're trying to stay to the spirit (hurr hurr) of both Shadowrun and Anarchy.
Title: Re: Anarchy Spirits and Balance
Post by: jgmac on (10:26:27/05-23-17)
Thanks Tecumseh. Couple questions about what you suggested regarding rule # 4. I like the idea of having instructions cost an attack. Would you allow the conjurer to use his attack action to give instructions to both conjured spirits? How do you resolve that with the advice given on Page 40 "Attack Limits", where it says that a character can only take a single attack action during their Narration. Of course they do give exceptions to that rule in the next paragraph, but their exceptions have to do with physical enhancements, and have nothing to do with magic.

My other question is what do you mean by having the spirit roll edge to resist the summoning? Do I use the normal amount of dice to oppose the test, and then add more dice based on the spirits edge score to that roll?

Thanks again.
Title: Re: Anarchy Spirits and Balance
Post by: Tecumseh on (16:31:48/05-23-17)
I generally take a player-friendly approach in Anarchy and don't get caught up in action economy. As such, I often err on the side of allowing a more generous interpretation, asking myself, "Would I want to be able to do this as a player?"

If the spirits are receiving the same instructions - "Attack that GMC Roadmaster!" - then I would certainly allow one action/attack to instruct them both.

If the instructions are different but both relatively concise - "You go over there and you wait for me here" - then I would still allow it.

If the instructions are more detailed and not at all similar then it would be well within the GM's prerogative to require two separate actions/attacks.

As for the Edge reroll, I was suggesting the use of Edge to reroll non-successes when the spirit resists its summoning. I'm not even sure these are explicitly stated in Anarchy. I personally use 4/8/12 for Lesser/Normal/Greater spirits respectively, but others use 6/8/10 or other intervals. The use of Edge would come after the initial opposed roll. So a Greater Spirit would roll 12 dice initially, and then if 4 were hits and 8 were non-hits then it would use Edge to reroll those 8 non-hits.
Title: Re: Anarchy Spirits and Balance
Post by: jgmac on (18:45:04/05-23-17)
Thanks, this makes alot of sense. I'll give it a try.