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"Sub-optimal"

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Slazarith

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« on: (01:41:00/12-06-11) »
I've picked up a strain of adept hate from many of my fellow Shadowrunners, both in personal interaction and on the forums.

What's up with that?

Crash_00

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« Reply #1 on: (02:02:21/12-06-11) »
Well from my understanding you hit the nail on the head with your title. Personally I like them a lot, but I like cybernetics more. I've always been a borg player at heart and rarely play the magically inclined unless requested to do so (read as forced by GM to play something else).

Mirikon

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« Reply #2 on: (06:40:14/12-06-11) »
There are always going to be people out there that think if you're not doing the absolute max damage, throwing the absolute max dice, or otherwise amping things up to their most insane maximum that you're doing it wrong. On the WOTC forums, these are the people who brought you PunPun, the War Hulking Hurler ("how much EXP do you get for destroying Toril?" "All of it."), mathematical arguments trying to prove that fighters are useless because barbarians and rogues can do more damage than they can, and so on.

Here, there are people who disparage adepts, because unless you're looking at the Way of the Burnout, you're not getting chrome, and so aren't cheesing things up as much as you possibly can. Personally, I like adepts, though I admit I have a bias against mystic adepts from my D&D experience, that says when you split your time between two casting classes, you're going to suck at both. But that is my personal opinion.
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UmaroVI

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« Reply #3 on: (06:42:59/12-06-11) »
Do you want to know why they are suboptimal? Or do you just want to know why some people don't like playing suboptimal characters?

JustADude

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« Reply #4 on: (10:50:23/12-06-11) »
Do you want to know why they are suboptimal? Or do you just want to know why some people don't like playing suboptimal characters?

Personally, I'd like to hear both.
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UmaroVI

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« Reply #5 on: (11:38:27/12-06-11) »
Why some people don't like playing suboptimal characters varies from person to person. With adepts, the problem tends to be that they generally wind up being shitty hyperspecialized versions of street samurai that can do less stuff and are also worse at the stuff they do. This is OK if you don't have anyone else on your team trying to be good at fighting, but it's easy to accidentally make characters where you have an adept who, say, focused heavily on melee combat, and is just worse at it than the street samurai who picked it up as a secondary thing and can also do other stuff.

Of course, power is relative and you can certainly make adepts work if the GM and other players cooperate. In that sense, playing an adept isn't particularly different from playing a goofy or poorly constructed character of a different archetype. Also, not everyone cares and if it doesn't bother you then you don't need to worry about it.

Why they suck:

First, let me be specific. Unaugmented, non-mystic adepts suck. Augmented adepts are OK, so are mystic adepts (unless you use the SR4+FAQ rules for mystic  adepts, instead of the SR4A ones, and don't also throw mystic adepts something else like using the best interpretation of Heightened Concentration, but that's a separate discussion). There's two parts, "how do you know they are shitty" and "why did this happen?"

How I know: you cannot build an unaugmented adept who would not be strictly better off implanting some ware, without doing something like building a guy who sucks at everything because he optimized himself into a super-specific niche like being the best in the world at Artisan (Pie Eating), or by cutting 'ware off as a route by being a critter or infected or having Sensitive System. This one's been discussed to death and you can see http://forums.shadowrun4.com/index.php?topic=4610.45 for a discussion.

Why did this happen: basically, someone at Catalyst keeps on taking on OH SNAP clauses to adept powers to make them suck, and/or overpricing them. EG, multitasking (1 PP for the ability to Observe In Detail as a free action (useful, but sure as hell not worth 1 PP) and the ability to take 2 free actions per pass. Nice niche power, right? OH SNAP, you can't use the second free action in combat. Wait, when else do you track actions?)

Other lollerific ones: Melanin control. Because it would be SO BROKEN for a black adept to be able to disguise himself as being white with his magic powers. You know, like what he could do with a simple goddamn piece of gear.

Distance Strike: honestly, I'm pretty sure this one is just a joke.

The other main cause is that there are some adept powers that are brutally overpriced and really shouldn't be, like Improved Physical Attribute, and the result is that adepts lose out hard to street samurai because they pay a ton more for things like attribute increases.

Mirikon

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« Reply #6 on: (12:59:46/12-06-11) »
See, I'm going to have to disagree with Umaro here. I've always found that Mystic Adepts suck, while regular adepts can be quite effective. Of course, as has been shown in other forums, I don't go out to make the most Uber characters ever. Also note that while chrome and gear may show up in scanners and be confiscated, or not allowed in a certain situation, an adept always has their powers.

Ways to do an Adept well:

1) Pick up at least one rank of Increase Reflexes, maybe two if you want. 2-3 IP is really all you need, in most cases.
2) Pick a theme for the rest of your powers. If you're a social adept, take powers that focus on social skills. If you're a combat adept, take powers that help your combat abilities. If you're a thief, things like wall-crawling and freefall are excellent choices.
3) Place your magic at 5 during chargen. You can raise it later easily enough, but it isn't worth the extra 15 BP to max it at chargen.
4) Skills. Keep with your niche, but at the very least pick up Dodge (or gymnastics), at least a rank or two in a firearms skill, and at least a rank or two in a melee weapon skill.
5) Gear. Gear is your friend. You won't be spending tons of money on ware, like the samurai will, so get as good armor as you can, and some decent weapons. Then just add things in to fit your character. A chameleon suit for a thief, empathy software for a face, etc.

With the right use of skills and powers, you can be effective in combat, even if you aren't a combat-focused adept, and still be very effective in your area of expertise.
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Xzylvador

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« Reply #7 on: (14:24:07/12-06-11) »
^ Noone's saying that's wrong, Mirikon.
Do all that and you can be pretty effective in your niche and somewhat effective in combat.

But take that char, stick a couple of pieces of 'ware in it (lowering magic & power points by 1 or two) and it'll be better in everything it can do. Depending on the build, a lot better too.

So: That's why people say straight adepts are sub-optimal. They're functional, but very often can (easily) be made a lot better by a few 'ware tweaks.

As example, let's take your social adept. Put in Tailored Pheromones (R3, 0.6 essence). Then depending on if you want offence Muscle Toner (R2, 0.4) essence or defense Synthacardium (R3, 0.3 essence; 0.1 left for maybe a Smuggling Compartment or Fiberoptic hair or whatever). Bam! Your social adept suddenly gained 3 dice to pretty much all social skills and 2 dice to all attacks or other agi-related things (infiltration?) or 3 dice to gymnastic dodge and any other athletic test.
Sure, a little bit is lost by dropping Magic by a point, but not much compared to the gain.
-- I'm certain this could be done a lot better, just wanted to give a quick & easy example.--

I'm not advocating that every adept should get 'ware of otherwise suck. This is still a roleplaying game and there's a lot to say for flavor; awakened characters do get this "hole" in them by getting implants and all. But from a purely optimization point of view: straight adept = sub-optimal.

Edit: Added example and last line.
« Last Edit: (14:40:38/12-06-11) by Xzylvador »

Mirikon

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« Reply #8 on: (15:44:27/12-06-11) »
Well, for that same power point for a social adept, I could get Commanding Voice (.25 PP), Linguistics (.25 PP), and Voice Control (.5 PP). Yes, these might not seem like the most overwhelming powers, but they give you a ton of options.

Of course, now might be a good time to say that, out of all the magic items in D&D, my two favorites are the Hat of Disguise and Shiftweave. The hat allows you to change your appearance, including looking like someone you've seen before, and Shiftweave turns into five different outfits on command. Simple things, but they open up so many options, especially if you're looking to do more than stab things in the face.
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Xzylvador

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« Reply #9 on: (16:31:01/12-06-11) »
Commanding Voice has got to be one of the very few powers that probably costs way too little compared to what it can do. Dropping that, as a social adept, would be kind of silly. Voice control is quite handy too, the ventriloquism thing can really be handy and it's stricly better at beating Voice Recognition Systems than similar gear.

If you're going to select powers to drop, let's do it realistically with some of the staple social adept powers:
Improved ability(con), improved ability(etiquette), improved ability(intimidate), improved ability(negotiation), etc. A +3 to any one of them would cost 0.75PP's, +3 to all 6 social skills would cost you 4.5PP.
Or, get a piece of Bioware installed: All of them combined with one piece of 'ware that costs you 1PP and room left for some other cool implants.
Even dropping Kinesics -Pheromones' magical counterpart- would be mathematically better, with 1PP you can only get it for +2.
Though I'm not trying to come up with silly comparisons just to make an argument seem less true: Of course you want to stack both Kinesics and the Bioware to get a +6 total.

baronspam

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« Reply #10 on: (18:17:03/12-06-11) »
The question of how "sub-optimal" an adept is somewhat dependent on the nature of the campaign.  In a low powered campaign, and I think there is some evidence that the game designers had lower powered games in mind when the wrote the core rules,(look at the sample characters, for instance) they are not that far behind.  The higher power/more optimized the game gets the more behind the adept tends to be, and the more  hyper specialized they tend to get in an effort to compete.

My main complaint about adepts is that whatever area an adept focuses on, in nearly all cases you are further ahead to give up a point or two of magic and spend the essence on some bioware.  You can get vastly more advantage from those one-two points of essence than you can from the one-two points of magic.  It has always annoyed me.

Slazarith

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« Reply #11 on: (00:22:17/12-07-11) »
So, everyone unanimously agrees that the benefits aren't balanced with the price? (Or the other way around, if that's how you wanna look at it)

Fine. I like adepts, or rather, the idea of them, but I can see that.

What should be done then? Because besides house-ruling the the shit out of them, there's no way to make it any better. It's something that's bugged me for a long time.

That is, that for their game, they put forth all this effort to make everything have an in-game counterpoint. On one hand, you have the Matrix, On the other, astral. Spirits for magic, sprites and drone to match. And mirroring street sams, adepts. But the effort that was put forth didn't seem to be expanded to make them actually balanced.

Now, in reality, things aren't going to have perfect opposites. Just the way it works. In the real world, if magic were in the world and tech was this advanced, one would probably outstrip the other. But no one wrote reality. When it comes to a game, and more specifically, a game of a genre that's basis is the ability to be a rendition of your perfect self (no matter how imperfect your ideal might be), it makes no sense to me to write in the ability to be something that isn't a viable solution in-game.

Ranting aside, what would you propose needs to be done to make adepts an viable choice for the player who still want to be cool, without having more chrome than a Harley convention? Because I personally want to kick ass without having to replace my short-and-curlies with monomolecular wire.

Xzylvador

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« Reply #12 on: (02:15:53/12-07-11) »
^ No one is saying they suck, just that they aren't "optimal". They are still a very viable choice for a player who wants to be cool, adepts ARE cool. Anyone can get a cyberlimb and wires installed to become a street sam, adepts can do the craziest stuff without needing 'ware.

There's nothing special that needs to be done to make an adept a decent fighter, in fact he can be an awesome one.
There's a couple of advantages to being an adept instead of a street sam too. Like not setting of every MAD and/or Cyberware scanner you come close to.

UmaroVI

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« Reply #13 on: (07:22:54/12-07-11) »
True, but there's drawbacks of being an adept as well, like background count messing you up when street samurai are fine.

FastJack

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« Reply #14 on: (07:55:14/12-07-11) »
Meh. I like my adepts and I think they are perfectly optimal. In my experience, a PhysAd Initiate with a Rating 6 Weapon Focus is one of the few things on the planet that can stand toe-to-toe with a CyberZombie (yes, even with hazing).