Special Move discussion/call for overhaul

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Special Move discussion/call for overhaul

Post  sunbeam on Tue Jun 04, 2013 5:35 pm

Alright, so people have probably noticed that Special Moves are not quite balanced. Sure, most of the specials are balanced overall (Assassin’s Gambit’s d12 is unappetizing to lots of people, but the d8 and d10 are quite nice.), but that opens most of the specials to abuse. I know of one person who only rolls d12s because they spam slashback and the like, so they took Knight’s Presence because it’s d12 crit is ridiculous, and with Critfisher this can be done to abuse any special that you particularly feel like basing a moveset around.
I personally think that specials of the same die level should perform approximately equivalent effects. But this is an open beta. So what I’m going to do is sort the specials by Die level, calculate what pip cost each special move is equivalent to, and then show all of that to you, and we can all discuss where the different die levels should be balanced.
Below is the data, sorted by Die level. Within each Die level heading the calculations are sorted by special move, and if Math isn’t your thing, the concluded pip cost of the special move is in bold underneath each section. Enjoy!





d8
Crippling Strike: Blind target enemy (save ends).
Save ends conditions last 1.5 turns on average. Blinding, on average, cuts the target's damage output in half, for 1.5 turns. Your average damage per round is about 8 damage, and 8*.5*1.5=6. However, because Blind (save ends) stops 6 damage (on average), it's equivalent to healing you for 6 damage. Healing is worth half as much as actual damage, so Blind (save ends is the equivalent of 3 damage, which is aproximately equal to 1 pip. (3 pips=7.5 dmg=1 standard action; 1 pip=2.5 dmg). This move's effect is equivalent to a cost of 1 pip.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [+2] Standard action.

Healer’s Grace: Target ally regains 6 HP and can make a saving throw.
1 saving throw is effectively free (see the combat Talent Way Too Tough). Healing 6 HP is effectively equivalent to 1 pip (for proof, see Crippling Strike d8). This move's effects are equivalent to a cost of 1 pip.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [+2] Standard action.

Wild Lightning: Deal 1d12 damage to a random enemy.
Wild Lightning (the attack) deals 1d12 damage to an enemy and then 1d10 to a random enemy. this is a -3 standard action, so it's equivalent to 6 pips worth of damage. 3 pips=7.5 damage; 6 pips=15 damage. The move is supposed to 15 normal damage. 1d12 on average does 6.5 damage, so 1d10 damage to a random enemy is worth 8.5 damage. 1d10 (avg. 5.5) to random enemy=8.5 targetted damage; 1d12 (avg. 6.5) to random enemy= 10 targeted damage, proportionally. 2.5 damage=1 pip; 10 damage=4 pips. This move's effects are equivalent to a cost of 4 pips.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [-1] Standard action

Knight’s Presence: You gain resist 5 until the end of your next turn and target enemy must attack you on its next turn.
Mitril fullplate gives you resist 4 and a -5 penalty to initiative. Each -1 penalty to initiative is worth 250 gold (see Bracers of Ludicrous speed), so the total cost of Mithril fullplate is 6250 gold. this is resist 4, so multiply by 1.25 to aproximate resist 5 cost. This isn't perfect, but it works. So the cost of resist 5 for 5 turns is about 7812.5 gold (I'll round near the end. Trust me, this will be OP enough as it is.). We only get resist 5 for 1 turn, which is worth about 1.6k gold. 1k gold=1 standard action, so this is equivalent to 1.6 standard actions. 1 standard action=3 pips; 1.6 Standard actions=1.6*3=4.8=aproximately 5. The difference is made up with the minor secondary ability. This move's effect is equivalent to the cost of 5 pips.
Conclusion: this move is equivalent to a [-2] Standard Action. Bitchin'.

Dazzling Performance: You may use one of target enemy’s combat talents at random without paying its pip cost.
I refuse to calculate the cost of this talent.
Conclusion: I refuse to calculate the cost of this talent.

Bucaneer Blaze: Deal 1d8 damage to target creature and each creature adjacent to the target.
This is Fireball.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [+1] Standard action.

Be Prepared: Deal 1d10 damage to target creature.
This is Stab.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [+1] Standard action.

Form of the Juggernaut: You gain resist 3 and regeneration 5. These effects end the next time that you take damage. Alright, I'm going to come out and say it: Calculating this special's benefits suck, because everything is condition-based. That means all my math is going to be very shaky, because I'm going to have to make assumptions about the most likely conditions. Honestly, when you activate this special, you won't get the regen 5 benefit until the start of your next turn, and you're likely to be hit at least 1/round, and most enemies will do more than 3 damage to you in a turn. so in this scenario, you get the benefit of resist 3 once. This is not one round of resist 3, but rather you take damage once, and resist 3 nullifies (equivalent to healing) 3 damage once. This is 3 healed damage, which is equal to 1.5 damage, which isn't even worth 1 pip. But let's say that your resist soaks all the damage that turn and you get regen 5 once, then your resist 3 gets broken. so two uses of resist 3, and one activation of regen 5. That a total of eleven healing (3*2 from the resist, 5 from regen), which is equivalent to 5.5 damage. 5.5 damage is equivalent to the average damage from stab. This move's effects are equivalent to Stab.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [+1] Standard Action.

Assassin’s Gambit: Choose target creature. That creature becomes your “Mark” until the end of the encounter or until you fall unconscious. Your mark has vulnerability 2 against your attacks.
The average length of an encounter is 4-5 rounds. However, taking advantage of it on the round it is inflicted is difficult, making the total number of round of Vuln 2 3-4. Inflicting Vuln 2 for 1 round is worth 2 pips (See Call the Target), so the cost of this move is 6-8 pips. I'm going to choose the lower number because it's highly unlikely that you're going to just activate this on the first turn of every encounter. This move's effect is equivalent to 6 pips.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [-3] Standard action. This undeniably seems high, but consider that you are giving someone a (Save Ends) condition without any chance to save.

d10
Crippling Strike: Blind and weaken target enemy (save ends both)
Blinding and Weakening are mathematically identical. They both halve damage dealing capacity, just in radically different ways. They still accomplish the same thing, though, so they cost the same. Blind (save ends) is 1 pip, Weakened (save ends) is 1 pip. This move's effect is equivalent to 2 pips.
Conclusion: this move is equivalent to a [+1] Standard action.

Healer’s Grace: All allies can either regain 6 HP or make a saving throw. The saving throw is negligible (again, see Way too Tough). Furthermore, not too many allies will take that option, so we're going to assume that this is a party-wide +6 HP ability, which isn't far off from the mark. This is precisely equivalent to two uses of Grace, and almost exactly equivalent to the average healing output of Saving Grace. So this special is equivalent to Saving Grace.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [-2] standard action.

Wild Lightning: Deal 1d12 damage to a random creature, then deal 1d10 damage to another random creature, then deal 1d8 damage to a third random creature. Frenzy is the equivalent of a [+2] standard action. A [+2] standard action should deal about 2.5 targetted damage, on average. Frenzy's average damage is 9. This means that the jump in damage for "random creature" damage is 6.5. The total damage that's dealt, on average, by this special, is 6.5+5.5+4.5=16.5 random damage. 16.5 random damage deals 6.5 more random damage than an equivalent targetted attack, so it deals 10 targetted damage. 2.5 damage=1 pip; 10 damage=4 pips. This move's effects are equivalent to a cost of 4 pips.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [-1] Standard action.

Knight’s Presence: Up to two target allies cannot be attacked until the end of your next turn. The only talent that provides any sort of effect like this is Conjure Warden. The Warden's "Guardee" Cannot be attacked until the warden is destroyed, which, let's face it, is about the duration of 1 round. So this is equivalent to two spectral wardens that can't do their healing. 1d8 (4.5 avg.) healing is almost equivalent to 2.5 damage, which is worth 1 pip. So the spectral warden's "Guardian" Trait is only worth a little more than 1 pip. As this affects two Allies, this move's effects are equivalent to the cost of 2 pips.
Conclusion: this move is equivalent to a [+1] standard action, but a strong [+1]. Kind of a step down after the d8, huh?

Dazzling Performance: For each enemy, flip a coin. If you win that flip, stun that enemy until the end of its next turn. I'm going to make 1 major assumption here: Dazing is equal in power to stunning. One deprives you of all actions, one deprives you of most actions and gives you vuln 2. I could find the particular post where Stairc stated that, but I'm only about halfway done wiht these calculation.
Anyways, if stunning=dazing, then we have to look at blowback. Blowback is the equivalent of a [0] move, after the pip bonus from being part of a conjured weapon is removed. So dazing enemies for 1.5 turns (average save ends duration) using coin flips costs 3 pips. If stun=daze, then stunning enemies for 1 turn using coin flips costs (1.0/1.5)=(2/3)*3 pips=2 pips. This move's effects are equivalent to the cost of two pips.
conclusion: this move is equivalent to a [+1] standard action.

Bucaneer Blaze: Deal 2d8 damage to target creature and that creature is blinded until the end of your next turn.
Blinding costs about 1 pip (See Crippling strike, d8). 2d8 damage is 9 damage on average, which is equivalent to about 3.6 pips. This move's effects are equivalent to the cost of 4.6 pips.
Conclusion: this move would be too powerful as a [-1], but too weak as a [-2].

Be Prepared: Target creature gains 2d12 hp.
This is 13 healing on average, which is equivalent to 6.5 damage. 2.5 damage=1 pip; 6.5 damage=2.6 pips.
I wish they were all this simple.
Conclusion: This move would be too powerful as a [+1], but too weak as a [0].

Form of the Juggernaut: Mave a saving throw. You regain hit points equal to half the roll result.
Once more, the Saving Throw itself is negligible (See Way Too Tough). The average result of a d20 is 10.5. This is equivalent to 5.25 healing, which is equivalent to 2.625 damage. Let's just call that 2.5 damage, which is 1 pip. This move's effects are equivalent to the cost of 1 pip.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [+2] Standard action.
Corrolary: If this were a [+2] standard action, I would take it up in a heartbeat. This is way cooler than Way Too Tough. I’m just going to stick this in my folder of combat talents to suggest.

Assassin’s Gambit: Choose target creature. You deal double damage to that creature until the end of the encounter and that creature deals double damage to you until the end of the encounter.
Didn't we have a massive argument over how Double Damage isn't supposed to find it's way into the system? Oh, well. I happen to know of a very entertaining homebrew combat talent from Paper Shadow, which I think is balanced enough for use here, ironically because of it's extreme nature:
[+5] Most Wanted - Standard Utility
You take Double damage until the end of the encounter.
So we can safely say that granting one enemy double damage on you is worth -1 pip or so, since there's generally more than one enemy in the battle. It's a safe assumption that until the creature is dead, you will be targetting it like mad, since you get double damage against it. Though enemies have massively varied HP totals, I'm going to say that by the time you deal 30 damage to the average enemy, you and your allies will have worn them down to nothing. Now, at 8 damage per round, the average damage done per round over time, it will take you 4 rounds to do this much damage. At double damage, you do 16 damage per round on average, so it only takes two rounds. Minor actions and the like aside, this saves you two Standard actions worth of time. 1 standard action=about 3 pips, so this portion of the move is worth 6 pips. 6-1=5
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [-5] standard action.

d12
Crippling Strike: Blind target enemy and it suffers vulnerability 3 and 5 ongoing damage (save ends all)
Blind is still worth 1 pip (see Crippling Strike d8). Vuln 3 and ongoing 5 together deal at least 12 damage over 1.5 turns, which is almost 5 pips of damage on it's own. The vuln should be activated 1/round over 1.5 rounds, so it contributes an additional 4.5 damage, about 2 pips (1 pip=2.5 damage, 2 pips=5 damage). so This Move's effects are equivalent to the cost of 8 pips.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [-5] standard action.

Healer’s Grace: All allies regain 6 HP and save against all conditions.
Healing 6 HP to all allies is still equivalent to Saving Grace (see Healer's Grace d8), so it's worth 2 pips. Unfortunately, Healer's grace finally found a way to save against conditions that I can't hand-wave.
Curse Eater is easier to analyse than Mind Over Matter, so I'll be basing my calculations off of Curse eater. Now I believe Curse Eater was designed to be used in the "Dark Bargain Scenario:" The target has 3+ (save ends) conditions, or exactly 3 in Dark Bargain's case. So the move is now remove all save ends conditions from one person and gain 3d12 hp, in this scenario. 3d12 hp is 19.5 healing, on average, which is equivalent to aproximately 10 damage, which is...4 pips. So saving against all conditions is still worth basically nothing. However, everybody saving against all pips is worth more, so I'm going to price that at 1 pip. This move's effects are equivalent to the cost of 3 pips.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [0] standard action.

Wild Lightning: Use one of the combat talents you brought into battle at random without paying its pip cost.
I refuse to calculate the cost of this combat talent
Conclusion: I refuse to calculate the cost of this combat talent.

Knight’s Presence: Halve all damage target ally takes for the rest of the battle.
This is Guardian Angel.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [-5] Standard action.

Dazzling Performance: You and target ally each gain 2 pips.
This is you using Energize twice on the same ally. Energize costs 2 pips, as all [+1] moves do. This move's effects are equivalent to the cost of 4 pips.
Conclusion: this move is equivalent to a [-1] standard action, but has nigh unmatched versatility.

Bucaneer Blaze: Deal 2d10 damage to up to six creatures and 1d10 damage to yourself.
Alright, into the fray has you deal 2d10 damage and take 1d10 damage. 2d10 damage is 11 damage on averge, which is 4.4 pips. The combat talent as a whole costs 4 pips, So dealing 1d10 damage to yourself costs about -.5 pip.
Blazing Blade (the Flametongue talent) costs 5 pips to deal 2d10 damage to 6 enemies, which is effectively the same as up to six creatures. However, the cost of the move has been reduced by 2 because it's a conjured weapon talent, so the actual cost of the move is 7 pips. This move's effects are equivalent to the cost of 6.5 pips.
Conclusion: This move would be too strong as a [-3], but too weak as a [-4]

Be Prepared: Target creature gains Resist 3d8 until the end of your next turn. In addition, until the end of the encounter you and up to six allies may use any combat talent that you possess - even if you did not select it for this battle.
The versatility aspect of this talent is going to be worth exactly one pip. Two main reasons:
-You can only activate it once.
-People usually don't bring combat talents into a battle because they don't intend to use them. You didn't bring Fireswath to the solo fight, you didn't bring Sunburst to the mob of Minions, you're not going to use them if they become available to you.
It's worth 1 pip because some people have very cramped movesets, and appreciate suddenly being able to use backup moves like survival skills or healing salve.
Resist 3d8 grants you resist 13.5 on average. Keep in mind that this basically makes them immortal for one round in a lot of fights, but I'm still representing it mathematically. You should get attacked 1/round, on average (and even less with resist 14), the the resist absorbs 13.5 damage. Absorbing damage is equivalent to healing it, so this special heals 13.5 damage, which is equivalent to doing 6.75 damage. This is equivalent to 2.7 pips, which can acceptably round up to 3 (especially since the versatility is more like 1.1 or 1.2, in my opinion.) This move's effects are equivalent to the cost of 4 pips.
Conclusion: This move is equivalent to a [-1] move, but is very versatile.

Form of the Juggernaut: Remove any number of (save ends) conditions from yourself and you gain 2d8 hp.
Removing all save ends conditions from one person is worth almost nothing (see Healer's Grace d12). 2d8 healing is 9 healing, which equals 4.5 damage, which equals 1.8 pips, which we'll count as 2. This move's effects are equivalent to the cost of 2 pips.
Conclusion: this move is equivalent to a [+1] move.

Assassin’s Gambit: Roll a d12. If the result is a 12, kill target creature.
Y'know, the entirety of the Assassin's Gambit line has been problematic to calculate? It's one of the most complicated specials. F*** this special.
conclusion: F*** this special.




Alright, here's the data. Discussion, start!
First question: How do we want to balance the special moves? Should all special moves within a die level be balanced against each other, or should we balance a special move as a set of 3, where a weakness in one die level balances a strength in another?
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Re: Special Move discussion/call for overhaul

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Tue Jun 04, 2013 5:51 pm

sunbeam wrote:Alright, so people have probably noticed that Special Moves are not quite balanced.

I approve this message. We designed the original specials, which have barely been tweaked since then, for the one-shot adventure we thought this would be. We did it by asking ourselves two questions.

1) "Do they all look relatively equal - enough so that people feel there's some meaningful choices to make?"

2) "Would we be okay with any given special triggering once every two combat encounters (which is about the average if you roll 1 die a turn)?"

With the answer to both yes, we just moved ahead. So there's no formula for balance here like there should be and there's a lot of power discrepancy (statistically, a d12 only has about a 2% difference of rolling a 12 than a d10 does of rolling a 10 - so the power difference between the two specials should be miniscule. However, we all know it's not - d12s tend to have much more powerful specials than d10s).

This is an issue that absolutely needs to be tackled for balance reasons. So awesome, awesome job Sunbeam for bringing it up. I haven't read the full post yet (in class) but no matter what - bringing up this issue and doing all this work shows that you're definitely 20% cooler. =)

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Re: Special Move discussion/call for overhaul

Post  Kindulas on Tue Jun 04, 2013 5:58 pm

I haven't had the time to read this in detail, but the devs do fully support an overhaul to regularize Special Move power. This work is *highly* appreciated, and it will be great to know what people think about the future of special moves.

One thought Dan brought up was not simply having them change at a flat rate, like 2 PiP cost increase per special size, but figuring out the % each should be more powerful based on the % probability of each die.

And... I have to threaten the life of Wild Lightning's beloved d12. Note there isn't a final decision on that, but I have a knife at it's throat, since trying to figure out its value would mean basing it on how powerful it can be averaged to what people have on them. Calculate the average Pip cost of a 5-talent build built around critfishering for it. That really isn't fair considering the balance would be undervalued for those not building around it, but given people *do* build around it, we need to look at the worst case scenario... which might indicate an inherent problem with the power

Critfisher [+3]
two [-9]s
one [-10]
It's Over [-17]

Pip cost 9+9+10+17-3 = 42
42/5 = 8.4 Pips.

Even without It's Over and three -9s, it's still 6.8 PiPs
It's fair on builds with more [+] powers or a *reasonable* ult count, but this is the eventuality we must account for, and I'm not seeing a way to save it right now, unless we give it a cost ceiling, which just feels worse than cutting it. Can people come up with something as cool or almost as cool to take it's place, or find a flaw in my reasoning?

As far as the assassin's 12, that's an 0.694% chance of doing anything, considering it's two 12s in a row. So, that's like 10,000 damage put to 69.444444 average damage in the crazy scenario where you kill someone that's not supposed to die, and... well many times less in any reasonable scenario, cut further by the fact that you're probably fightning solos like 25% of the time. All I can say is it's power is *cool* enough to be a 12 while mathematically under-powered enough to not be scary balance wise.
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Re: Special Move discussion/call for overhaul

Post  AProcrastinatingWriter on Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:02 pm

Assasin's Gambit, new d12?: at the end of your second turn after using this move (if you have not fallen below zero HP beforehand), you may select target enemy as a free action. Target enemy is considered to be at -15 HP.

Something like that?
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Re: Special Move discussion/call for overhaul

Post  Paper Shadow on Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:27 pm

sunbeam wrote:I happen to know of a very entertaining homebrew combat talent from Paper Shadow, which I think is balanced enough for use here, ironically because of it's extreme nature
thisguyknowswhatsup.jpg

I've been playing around with the idea of item sets which boost or alter Special Moves, and perhaps the item for Derpy's Lightning will ease the problem...

12: You may select any combat talent you or an ally brought into combat. You may use it with only paying half of its pip cost.

Yes, I know it doesn't really fit into the idea of WILD Lightning if you are making a choice, but this way, you can still have the power of the special, but now there is a cost to balance it. Sure, if you get a 12 on a +1 Critfisher you are now guaranteed to get a turn one Crescendo, but now you are left with 0 pips. It's Over requires 9 pips, which is still very appealing to build towards, but now isn't possible on turn one without items or team mates, and then you are still stuck at 0 pips should the fight not be over. It gives more options and strength, but also opens new strategy thoughts. Do you build to have one cheap activation of your big moves, or build to have take into account the abilities other players take? I think it's pretty good, so even if you don't like it, I'm still adding it as the item for the Wild Lightning set... :P

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Re: Special Move discussion/call for overhaul

Post  Zarhon on Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:03 pm

Wild Lightning's d12 gets a few devaluing traits, though. Among other things:

- It can trigger pip boosters, which, for some of the high-gain ones, can be detrimental or cause an unwanted drawback, and doesn't give any benefits, pip-wise.
- It is completely wasted on any form of interrupt/reaction, or any such talent that simply can't be activated immediately as the crit triggers (unless it allows a reroll for such occasions).
- It sort of requires a very specific pick of combat talents to be useful: assuming a typical combat build has a minimum of one-two pip boosters, that leaves a 3/5 or 4/5 chance (since it only counts battle-picked talents, and you need to use traits to boost this number) to get the talent's full effect, at the cost of having no reactions/interrupts/-X talents/potentially dangerous if used at bad time talents to use.

Wild Lighting also has the misfortune of having a d10 that is potentially ally-ruining, and is near-worthless against a solo. You need to have special traits JUST for it to be worthwhile/non-ruining, which clashes with the d12's functionality/build options.
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Re: Special Move discussion/call for overhaul

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