Yesterday, I introduced some new rules to deal with the issue of compounding and stacking Bonuses and Penalties. Compounding and stacking Bonuses are one of the remaining major balancing issues on the Stage.
In yesterday’s post, I came up with two rules to deal with this issue.
- Limit Bonuses/Penalties granted by Powers or Spells by not allowing them to surpass the Skill level of the key Skill (the Skill associated with the relevant Spell or Power). That means that every Power or Spell that currently grants a Bonus will never grant a Bonus higher than 6 (6 is the maximum Skill level in the standard rules). This would apply to Spells or Powers that grant a number of Bonus dice as well.
- Limit total Bonuses any character can get to that character’s Body, Mind, or Soul level. That would mean a player can never have a Bonus or a number of Bonus dice to a Body skill that is higher than his Body level. The same would apply (with the necessary modifications) to Mind and Soul skills.
I've received a lot of feedback on these new rules. (Thanks to everyone who contributed!) Essentially, rule 1 is too limiting: there is very little sense in having only 1 or 2 Skill levels in a Skill if the maximum Bonus you'll be able to grant through it is +1 or +2 respectively. Rule 1 would be an incentive to level Skills as quickly as possible to maximize the Bonus you can offer, or to stay away from such Skills completely as they contribute too little. I don't want to incentivize that type of behaviour.
The question is then if rule 2 in itself is good enough. In the mid- to end-game, characters will have Body/Mind/Soul levels of up to 15, which maximizes Bonuses on average at +15 (the average roll on 4.29 Dice). Characters will have Skill levels of between 4-6 on their primary Skills by that time, often adding Bonuses of up to 5d for equipment and other stuff. Such a Bonus would increase the Dice pool by approximately one third. It's an acceptable result considering the cost of such Powers and Spells in terms of AP and other points.
However, there are two potential problems:
- If we change to the Character advancement system hinted at in the last bullet point of the “Lessons Learned”-box of this campaign log, then Body, Mind, and Soul levels will increase more quickly. That might jeopardize balance once more. And I do feel that’s where the advancement system is heading, as it encourages developing a character more broadly and gets rids of the Body/Mind/Soul flow-down system that people find confusing.
- When a Power or Spell grants Bonus dice, the maximum would be +15d, increasing the Skill check result on average by 52.5: completely out of line again.
I’m not going to deal with potential problem 1 just yet. I’m going to do some playtesting for a while to see if it is actually an issue. If so, I’ll return to this and try and find a solution. I am, however, going to deal with potential problem number 2. Changes will be limited as I’ve found no Powers and only one Spell (Precognition) that grant Bonus dice and that have not yet been maximized in this iteration of the Core Rulebook.
So, I stick with rule 2, slightly amended: the total Bonuses or Penalties any character can get are maximized by that character’s Body level for Body skills, that character’s Mind level for Mind skills, and that character’s Soul level for Soul skills. Additionally, I will amend Powers and Spells that grant Dice as a Bonus to maximize the number of Bonus dice at the key Skill’s Skill level.
Now it’s time to get to the testing! Feedback? Let me know, here!