View Full Version : [M&M 3e] Combat Rebalancing

2013-01-09, 09:00 PM
These rules are intended to smooth over what I perceive as some rough edges in M&M combat. None of the issues these rules aim to "fix" are particularly glaring imbalances (although I do feel that Regeneration comes close). There are always ways for a GM to get around any such problems, and it could be argued that they are appropriate to the genre; sometimes, you can't just go at a superhero with some level-appropriate challenge, you have to get it where it's weak.

Nonetheless, I tend to think that as much as possible, two characters rated as equal power, both built to be effective in a certain field, should be roughly equally effective in that field, rather than one or the other having a clear advantage due purely to stylistic preferences. When one's abilities allow you to exploit a specific tactical situation, of course, that's another story. Thus, the rules below.

Attack Degrees: When making a successful attack, and the target fails its Resistance check, the penalty to future Resistance checks and the duration of any conditions that normally last for one round is equal to a cumulative -1 or one round per degree of success on the Attack check. So a one degree success is the normal -1/1 round, two degrees is -3/3 rounds, three degrees is -6/6 rounds, etc.

Simple fact is, Damage and Toughness are statistically superior to Attack and Dodge/Parry (a fact exasperated by the fact that there are two defensive stats to worry about rather than one). This evens the odds at least a bit; a high Attack character will still have trouble actually damaging a high Toughness character, but when it does get an attack through, it has a chance of causing a serious impact. Compare to a Damage character, who will miss a high Dodge/Parry character almost every time, but when it does hit, has a solid chance of really hindering the opponent (especially when using an Affliction) or even taking it out of the fight entirely!

This also helps with Regeneration some, though it's only a start.

Finally, it makes Area and Perception range attacks a bit less powerful by comparison. Since they don't roll attack checks, they can't cause these sorts of additional penalties.

Move Action Tactics: The following actions become Move actions, rather than Standard actions: Aid, Aim*, Demoralize, Defend, Disarm, Feint, Grab, Ready, Smash, Trip. Additionally, the special actions granted by the following Advantages become Move actions: Daze, Fascinate, Inspire, Leadership. Finally, using a Multiattack power to provide cover is a move action.

*When using Aim as a move action, the bonus is always as per a ranged attack.

This has two purposes. First, it adds a bit more tactical depth to combat. Right now, the above actions are all highly situational, generally worse than merely attacking. This way they're not competing with direct attacks and offensive powers.

Second, it makes the move action itself an important resource. Moving can matter, because you give up the option to use some supportive action, but potentially deny your enemy the same. Things like tripping, dazing, staggering, and even knocking foes back become legitimate options that can have a big effect on the round.

Impervious Resistances: Impervious resistances don't provide immunity. Rather, when rolling the appropriate type of Resistance check, you have a minimum check result equal to either twice your Impervious ranks, or 10 + your Impervious ranks, whichever is lower. Any penalties to your Resistance check also reduce your minimum accordingly. For an extra +1/Rank, you may add the Perfect Extra to Impervious. If your minimum result exceeds a total of 15 + the effect rank, Perfect Impervious Resistance ignores any Resistance penalties or additional bonuses (due to power attack, multiattack, team attacks, and even critical hits).

A Penetrating attack reduces your effective ranks of Impervious by one per rank of Penetrating. Penetrating attacks can reduce Perfect Impervious Resistance. If the ranks in Penetrating exceed your ranks in Impervious, you do not have a minimum result at all.

Impervious resistances are subject to Aggravated Damage (see below).

What annoys me about Impervious is that it is very all-or-nothing (and now that the ranks it works against are halved, leans more towards nothing). Either you're immune to the enemy, or just as vulnerable as your normal Toughness dictates.

These rules make an Impervious character substantially harder to bring down. You really do have to wear it down, rather than hoping for a couple lucky low rolls. Invulnerability is still possible, with a substantial advantage of power or heavy Toughness focus, but unless you also took Perfect and are spending points to mitigate Aggravated damage, it's easier to at least have the chance of dealing damage. Likewise, even a few ranks of Penetrating can keep a high-Toughness Impervious character from being completely immune to normal attacks from level-appropriate foes.

The new rules for Aggravated damage will also help to some degree.

Limited Healing: For each rank in Regeneration, you have one point that can spend as a free action to remove damage conditions and Resistance penalties. You may spend a maximum of one point per round (as an Extra, you can increase the number you can spend by round by 1 per +1 to the cost per rank). This pool of points refreshes one full minute after your most recent expenditure. Regeneration is also subject to Aggravated Damage (see below).

Likewise, for each rank in Healing, you have one point can you can spend to remove a damage condition from the target when you use your Healing power, spending one point per condition removed by the power. These points likewise refresh one minute after your most recent expenditure. When healing multiple subjects, you spend one point per specific condition removed, and all subjects are healed of the same conditions.

The actual results of damage in M&M are on a fairly limited scale, and healing type effects generally remove at least one such thing a piece. Really threatening a regenerating character one on one, especially if it has high Toughness, is very difficult. This doesn't really curtail these powers in the long-term, but in battle, it allows a hero's reserves of healing to be worn down. They're still very cheap ways to get rid of damage quickly, but they can, eventually, be depleted.

The rules for extra penalties from Attack degrees and Aggravated Damage should combine with this to make healing useful, but not enough so to completely stymie a single attacker.

Aggravated Damage: Aggravated Damage is a form of Complication. At its base, a character who is hit by Aggravated damage takes an additional -1 penalty on future Resistance checks, above and beyond any effects of its Resistance check. Aggravated damage also bypasses certain types of defensive powers.

Aggravated damage ignores any Immunities the character might possess to it (including immunities limited to reduced effect). It likewise ignores any Impervious resistances (including Perfect ones) the character possesses; the target must roll a normal Resistance check with no minimum against it. A character with Regeneration loses one point from its Regeneration pool for each point it fails any Resistance checks against Aggravated damage by. A character killed by Aggravated damage cannot return to life due to Immortality.

Any character with either Impervious Toughness, Regeneration, or Immortality powers must choose a form of Aggravated damage at least as broad as a five-point Immunity. For an extra +1 cost per rank, the required form of Aggravated damage is reduced to as broad as a one-point Immunity. For +2 cost per rank, the power does not require Aggravated damage and ignores its normal interaction with any Aggravated damage complication the character may take.

This is basically a unified system for enforcing required limits on the particularly cheap defensive powers. It ensures that most characters will have some way to incapacitate or kill them, unless they want to pay a premium, rather than the default assumption being that they resist/recover from everything and get a discount for choosing a weakness. The baseline weakness ensures that Aggravated damage can be used as a complication even for normal heroes, and makes groups of enemies wielding the character's Aggravated damage into a serious threat.

I'm...a bit unsure about the Regeneration interaction. The typical way to do it would be that effects caused by the Aggravated damage can't be healed by it, but the method I went with seems easier to track in play, and also makes a mixed group where only one character has the proper type of attack still a potential threat, once regeneration has been overcome by the Aggravated damage.