nWoD 2.0 inter-sphere balance and mechanics


  • Admin

    Hey folks! Before you say anything please read the following two disclaimers. :) So if your response was going to be similar to one of the following:

    1. "The World of Darkness isn't meant to be balanced between spheres!"

    or

    1. "I don't care about balance and/or mechanics!"

    then you might be wasting your time reading this! I hope it has its little special niche among those who like to talk shop about dice and crossover mechanics as they relate to MU*.

    So I spent a few days reading and re-reading the Werewolf 2.0 book, about an afternoon going through Demon (just so you know @Coin, they are also referred to as the Fallen so pfthp) and maybe one good solid through Vampire. It doesn't make me an expert but that's what this thread is for if my misconceptions can be dispelled. :)

    TL;WR first: I think as of now Demon is at the top of the chain, followed closely by Werewolf, which is lagging slightly behind Vampire. The difference in power ranges doesn't seem to be remotely as huge as in the regular nWoD.

    • Demon has too many toys (sometimes literally) to not be squarely ahead. It has more than one ways to deliver aggravated damage and a way to heal themselves and others even during combat. They have the (current) game's best item making from what I read, and excellent escape powers for when shit hits the fan, including burning a cover to fuel themselves. Hell, they can conditionally come back from death.
      They also have ways of attacking social dynamics which are pretty impossible to defend (and in a MU, can be as devastating as character death). They are also fantastic at information gathering - they are basically the best spies in the nWoD.
      Their one weakness is angels. If for any reason that's not a clear and present delimiter Demon has no built-in weaknesses.

    • Werewolves are solid death machines. In this edition they can do so much to cripple and deal damage, plus so much ability to take it without going down they are in a really good place. Between Gauru healing, merits like Living Weapon, form specialization and pack bonuses/buffs, they are tremendously good.
      Their item making is also top-notch, with the built-in limitation Fetishes usually need to be fueled by Essence - thus they can't be loaners. They even have pretty good information gathering abilities although they're indirect, by utilizing friendly/recruited spirits for it.
      Their weakness in cross-sphere is aggravated damage. They can't deal it to non-spirits/Uratha, they can't do that much to heal it (they heal a point every two? days, but that's not going to be helpful in mid-scene).

    • Vampires are considerably buffed in 2.0. They take bashing from just about everything that's not supernatural, they can spend vitae to heal or buff themselves, their default senses have been boosted and some of their merits and Devotions are scary. They also have the usual array of bloodsucker-things, including ghouls, Vitae addiction, etc. They can be sneaky as hell and their manipulative powers are about or even higher than Demons', and well above that of Werewolves.
      Where they fall short is that they have a choice of spending their resource; they can either heal or buff themselves on each turn. They also come with a natural item-making limitation (it's not a prominent part of the sphere), although on a MU* it's a good bet many will just have friends gear them up from other spheres or get HR'ed something.

    Now... after all this, my assertion in all this is that each sphere has certain limitations which are meant to be there. I've the feeling these things were playtested a hell of a lot more than in vanilla nWoD, and so removing them to 'fix' them could topple the scale more than it would do good.

    For instance if you allow Werewolves to heal aggravated faster it would automatically push them way higher, quite possibly past Demons. If Demons work at any time without without the non-theoretical fear of Angel involvement, they are even higher than they currently are. And if Vampires get native item making they could offset their other limitations.

    Just some thoughts. I've kept it pretty generic until/if other people feel like chipping in. :)


  • Pitcrew

    This is mostly spot on, yeah. The real challenge in 2e is making sure all of the ST-heavy elements are present and accounted for. If staff/the ST doesn't make Angels a real danger, then Demons will run amok. Same with vampires and political machinations--they have to be there, they have to be a challenge, they have to be real. Werewolves need to Hunt.

    One of the things I like about the new editions is that everything encourages you to act. There's nothing that really encourages you to sit around and do nothing. MUs that do encourage that will get stale and inactive, because they're basically being anathema to the principles of the games.

    Hell, the Aspirations system is basically a "set your own goals, even if they're silly." You know that at least you have something to do that you are interested in doing. And if you're not, why the fuck did you pick it as an Aspiration? Change it, dumbass!


  • Admin

    Mechanically, is it fair to say Going Loud is an 1-XP way to win a fight?


  • Pitcrew

    No. Because it's likely you're losing a lot more than 1 XP. You're losing an entire Cover. So while those Merits are probably returned to you as Merit Dots via Sanctity of Merits, you're still losing an entire avenue of RP. And any Cover dots you bought with Cover XP go bye-bye.

    Plus, Going Loud is fucking dangerous. I, as a storyteller/staff would never allow someone to Go Loud without then following up with the appropriate NPCs (Angels, Stigmatics, other Demons, people, whatever). Going Loud should be a risk. Will you probably win the fight? Sure. But it's Pyrrhic at best.



  • @Coin said:

    No. Because it's likely you're losing a lot more than 1 XP. You're losing an entire Cover. So while those Merits are probably returned to you as Merit Dots via Sanctity of Merits, you're still losing an entire avenue of RP. And any Cover dots you bought with Cover XP go bye-bye.

    Plus, Going Loud is fucking dangerous. I, as a storyteller/staff would never allow someone to Go Loud without then following up with the appropriate NPCs (Angels, Stigmatics, other Demons, people, whatever). Going Loud should be a risk. Will you probably win the fight? Sure. But it's Pyrrhic at best.

    First let me start by saying this is a fantastic thread and I love that I feel like I came away with the same idea as others that posted here. Demon's are pretty cool but Coin has the right of it, if you use your "powers" there needs to be that real threat that you will call down "the wrath of God" <puuuuuuunnnn>. I love the route they took with 2e so far and can't wait to see the rest. I look forward to playing 2e and can't wait!!


  • Admin

    What I find interesting is that, over time, MU* have a way of introducing power creep in ways not found in the original material.

    Now, in 1.0 that didn't matter too much because the developers had some a spectacularly bad job of keeping things measurable, probably because it wasn't even on their radar as a goal; between multiattack fighting styles, Werewolf being absolute shit (but described as badasses) or Geist being unstoppable juggernauts (but described as amateurs and psychics) it was a mess.

    So far, and although not all of it is out yet, 2.0 is not a mess. Which means power creep is a real thing. Ways I can foresee significantly impacting the balance of things:

    1. Items. Items can affect things big time in crossover games since they can patch holes in a splat's repertoire. Notice this isn't necessarily bad, but it should be noted, especially if they're distributed willy-nilly. In this case this only means Demon Gadgets, since Fetishes are useless outside of Vampire (and possibly Mages with Spirit but the splat's not out and they'll have their own items anyway).

    2. Specialization (if it comes with mechanical effects). Things like Bloodlines/Lodges etc which let splats do what they normally can't. This can be a very impact thing, especially if it's done in the old TR way of "yeah, we created a home-grown Legacy which no one else can pick up from now on".

    3. MU-only considerations. The games were made for table-top where (for example) torpor for a year isn't that huge. There the ST can go "poof! a year has passed. You are all awake again!" but on a MUSH it's not that different from character death. Changing limitations like that for gameplay purposes is reasonable, but does affect balance.

    4. Numbers. Another MU-only issue which in the past, even more than Renown red tape is what has kept me from Werewolf. Although at a glance that's not a systemic issue it does have a mechanical effect on the game, since packs are so important to that sphere's mechanics; more than other splats Werewolf simply doesn't function the same way in a pack as it does outside it.

    I'm sure there are other external factors but those are the ones I can see.


  • Pitcrew

    For Packs, I think there are solutions in the form of facilitating ways to get NPCs that belong to your Pack. This shouldn't be hard. I am currently developing a compound Merit (look at the Demon Merit "Arsenal" to see what I mean) that helps round-out a Pack from an NPC angle and will help aleviate the thematic gaps in going out and RPing without your PC packmates.


  • Admin

    I think the actual rules also allow PCs to roll (basically what it comes down to) WB sidekicks to support them. That could be fun, since unlike usual nameless retainers those are more or less family, people they grew up with or even pack members.


  • Pitcrew

    Yes, but I doubt any MU will be allowing that. This is why I started poking around for the system I mentioned above.



  • Yeah, I hate to say it, but 'every werewolf gets multiple free retainers better than any retainer you can buy otherwise' is a bit... balance-borking.

    Vampires have a similar mechanic: they could, IC, mass-thrall huge swaths of people on any given grid. Easily. There's definitely benefits to doing just that, too, IC -- but without a mechanic to represent the benefits of it on a MUX, it's troublesome at best.


  • Pitcrew

    @surreality

    A "Thralls" Merit based on the Staff Merit might be a great way to do that, actually. Or maybe poke at Demon's Cult Merit.



  • Exactly. It's something that needs modding, one way or another, for MUX use.



  • ... I kinda wanna try a demon in 2e. They seemed neat but I had a hard time figuring one out.



  • @silentsophia
    ONE OF US! ONE OF US!


  • Politics

    @Arkandel said:

    1. Specialization (if it comes with mechanical effects). Things like Bloodlines/Lodges etc which let splats do what they normally can't.

    Now I might have missed that part of the book, but just to adress lodges. In Werewolf 2E they seem to be purely social constructs, there are no mechanics bound to them, infact it doesn't seem to mention being bound to a second spirit totem either from what I've seen. It seems to more be a gang of people with similar goals, no bonuses or such.


  • Admin

    @Olsson said:

    @Arkandel said:

    1. Specialization (if it comes with mechanical effects). Things like Bloodlines/Lodges etc which let splats do what they normally can't.

    Now I might have missed that part of the book, but just to adress lodges. In Werewolf 2E they seem to be purely social constructs, there are no mechanics bound to them, infact it doesn't seem to mention being bound to a second spirit totem either from what I've seen. It seems to more be a gang of people with similar goals, no bonuses or such.

    Yeah, that's why I qualified that first. If a Bloodline/whatever is just part of theme then it won't affect balance, but on MU* people tend to introduce power creep over time through custom Legacies and whatnot.



  • @Arkandel
    So don't allow custom content that has mechanics? Seems the easiest solution.


  • Admin

    I completely underestimated Vampires. So I'm changing my mind - a well made vampire sits at the top of the food chain in 2.0.



  • @Arkandel
    What changed your mind, I'm curious?


  • Admin

    @Bobotron Resilience was the big thing. I hadn't noticed it doesn't simply convert its dots of aggravated damage into lethal for the scene, it's whenever you take damage. And that's just the passive part of it. The active portion skyrockets a vampire's survival.

    I value aggravated damage and Conditions/Tilts very highly in 2.0 and no other splat has the means to deal with the former as well as that. Until I see how the latter play out in practice, the bloodsuckers win. :)


 

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