RE: Re: Augmenting to Augment?

From: Mike Holmes <homeydont_at_...>
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2004 15:16:59 -0600

>From: "bigblackcatmail" <bigblackcatmail_at_...>

>Simple. Two characters. One gets singled out by a bully NPC for a
>fight but has a lower combat rating that the other character. So the
>other character does the fight with the weaker character augmenting
>(instead of the weaker character supplying the base and the stronger
>character supplying the augment).


Where does it say that the primary ability can be any character's? The rule is only that one character can augment another. So, if I'm being attacked, then only my combat ability is pimary with the other character augmenting. Unless the other character is ruled to actually be the target and not just helping out. I'd allow a player to step into another's place, but only if the original target agreed ("Sure Big Guy, you can jump in, and I'll help you out, instead of taking the brunt).

In which case...

>As a result, there's no need for
>the weaker character to EVER boost his combat abilities if he stays
>with the stronger character.

Well, that's a specifically designed theme of HQ. People without talented friends to back them up when the chips are down are generally screwed. That's intentional.

Second, what if they characters do split up? They can't be together every minute of every day. Given that he could be attacked at any time theoretically he would need to raise his ability. I mean, all I'd do is frame a scene to, "You're coming back from the latrine when you're surrounded by antmen. Big Guy and the rest are just out of earshot. And the antmen look hungry." Problem solved, I challenge the PC's ability directly without possibility of intervention.

In some cases, I won't even allow another to step in. Might just be too fast. "The thug leaps on you and starts beating on you. This'll be over before anyone can get to you. How do you respond?"

That might theoretically get a player thinking that they should buy up their combat ability.

But that assumes that the player actually is concerned with winning such contests, anyway. Which they shouldn't be. They should be concerned with their character concept and how it's developing. That is, if the player wants his character to be dependent on the big guys for defense in fights, then he should stay that way. If he wants him to be able to say, "No need, big guy, I can handle it", then he's going to have to take some combat ability.

In this case, the fact of the superior friend who helps out is just grist for the story mill.

>Better yet, there's no penalty for it
>either. If a follower augments in a contest and the contest fails,
>they take one level of damage worse than the main PC. If a PC is
>augmenting another PC, what happens? Maybe they're *supposed* to take
>damage like a follower but I've never seen it in practice.

I think that there are no repercussions at all to augmenting (I could be wrong on that). Only when you lend do you suffer consequences. I think that's intentional and a good rule. (more on why below)

Of course, if your ability is primary, then you're the one to suffer. So you'd better hope that the Big Guy is in a good mood, because if he steps in as primary, then he's going to be the only one to suffer from the consequences. Again, I don't see that as a deterrent, but it's a consideration.

I don't see players often giving up their character's spotlight. Rather, I see them usually dealing with these things alone. At most with help in the form of augments from the other heroes. I certainly would be rather loathe to give up contests to other players. Might if the situation was just right, but for the most part they're mine, mine, mine.

>Conceivably, a group could have the Mage, Fighter, Thief, Cleric
>lineup and never have to worry about any holes.

Indeed. I'm not seeing a problem.

BTW, in my game, if I had those four, do you think that it would cover all the "holes"? Which one of them is responsible for bargaining with demon-women? Where's the merchant who saved other PCs at the end of the last phase of play? Where's the hobbit to carry the ring? Nope, not present in your lineup. No lineup is complete.

Actually, ability choice is irrellevant in my game in terms of effectiveness, because I specifically design each contest to either highlight a hero's ability, or his lack. So this is a complete non-issue. It's all about who's shining at the moment, and how.

And, again, this assumes that the primary target is willing to have their spotlight get taken away. Which, given that failure is always an option in HQ, seems generally unlikely. I mean, it'll happen when it's appropriate, and not when it's not.

>What's to stop a group from doing that?

Well, you guys didn't. And wouldn't, even if you had realized this effect. At least not how I GM. Y'all were too busy trying to kill each other to work together, see. :-)

><If the average player can
>drum up a +5 augment (and that's a weak estimate, IMO) for any old
>contest and can always count on at least a +3 (if not a full +5) from
>every other player, then (with a group of 4 players) we're looking at
>a shift of +17 (more if you add in for group combat) which is at
>least an extra mastery *on every challenge*. Yikes!

You guys were doing way more than that when you teamed up. When Rharohi and Regina went up against the river serpent spirit, they had about +30, IIRC. Which put them just about at parity. Which was hella-cool, IMO. Yes, teamwork is how characters become greater than themselves. And the theme of community and fellowship from HQ is established.

>But from a player's
>standpoint, this bites the big one. Think how screwed I'd be if my
>super-cool, staff-fightin' amazon were with a group that decided the
>resident mountain man should be the base for all our combats (because
>even with a -10 mod, his 5w2 "Strong" beats out my 2w Staff Fightin'
>by a wide margin).

Because the "group" doesn't get to decide who's primary. I (the GM) do.

>So whenever combat comes up, I help out with my +2
>augment while the mountain man gets to do all the fun rollin' and
>resolution. The only thing my amazon would get the to roll for in a
>party like that would be for "Lookin' Good in a Bikini 19". (insert
>eyerolls here)

Again, why as GM would I fail to attack her when she was alone? Why wouldn't she, then, demand to be primary when she was leading the attack? Because it means a greater liklihood of losing? That's never stopped any HQ player I've ever played with. "Stand aside big guy" is almost a cliche in the games I play. Start with Aysha using her dagger ability as primary ability in fighting against three trained warriors, and only getting augments from Marek who had probably a 15 higher suitable primary ability.

Nobody consults the sheet. They just say what they're doing. I mean, not only would Aysha have been better off relying on Marek as primary, but she would have been better off relying on her impressive magic. But she decided just to augment with it. Because Nathan felt that she was pissed, and just decided lunging with a dagger was the thing to do there.

I've never seen anyone playing HQ min-max. Why would you? When losing is at least, if not more fun, than winning? Yeah, they use their highest abilities a lot. But the abilities are high because that's what's cool about the character. So they're just displaying what's cool. Proof is that sometimes they dig up more augments than others. For otherwise very similar contests. Why? Because it's about displaying the character interestingly, not about whether you win or lose.

>Granted, I've never seen a group do that. In most of the games I've
>played, players have tended to stay separate, working on their own
>storylines. But what's to stop a group from trying something like
>this, beyond GM fiat?

Nothing. It's good if they do. And good if they don't.

>When I ran HQ, my groups stayed together. Not
>for lack of me trying to get them to do their own thing either. They
>just habitually (and religiously) refused to split up. Had they had
>the option to just add all their abilities together willy-nilly, it
>would've been a calamity (and rife with complaints over how Player A
>with "Whack 'em" at 17 never gets to do anything because Player B
>has "Stomp 'em" at 2w...

Sounds like a mode problem. No? Entrenched gamers used to the "party" concept? Playing HQ with a gamism mode? Would that cause problems? You betcha. Not anything caused by the system, however. Just habits.

Moot, however, because you can always just target a character any time you want, and deny another hero stepping in.

>At least with a variable augment, the additional players get to *do*
>something, in my line of thinking.

This seems to be contradicting yourself. To paraphrase, "The player who is denied being primary is denied being the protagonist. But the other players are denied being protagonists because they're not allowed to more actively participate."

IMO, neither is true. Generally the target of the contest is the protagonist, and the other players get to grab a little glory too, by putting in augments. At the very least it fills out the scene like the augments for the primary target himself do. Everyone gets to display, the primary target first and foremost.

Now, if a player wants to grab a little more spotlight, there's nothing saying he can't ask for a variable agument. But it's optional in case he doesn't want to, and just wants to add a "I'm here, too!" +3. Seems like the best of both worlds to me.

>Keep in mind, part of the "fun" in
>HeroQuest is in describing what happens.

Sure. What, can't describe a straight augment, but you can a variable one? I allow all descriptions of any participation.

>I think GM's (in all rpgs)
>can lose track of that. If all other players get to do is hand over
>augments, we'd see one combat/debate/smooth talkin' monster
>monopolizing all the spotlight. IMO, that's were "abuse" kicks in.

Good thing I don't do that unless that's what the player wants, then. Heck, the player can just say, "I sit on the sidelines and watch." Happens all the time. The amount of their participation is entirely up to them. HQ is rather much more supportive of this than other RPGs.

Yes, online we do tend to just "list" augments (you see them a lot in the subseqent narration, however). But that's just traditional at this point, not a rule or anything. Please do narrate all your augments if you have a will to do so.

In FTF games, I often require, if not narration, at least a sentence about why an augment is applicable. But even there, sometimes it's just obvious and we just nod.

Lastly, you can make whatever you want out of any ability. It's only when the player can't think out of his D&D box that they have to rely solely on combat/debate/smooth talkin. Consider how the character Sebastian used his Origami ability to great effect in the current game. And everyone loves it - there's always comments like "look out, he's getting serious now - he's whipping out the paper."

No ability has a monopoly on cool.

>Still, I prefer the consistency of AP lending and variable augments
>for other PCs. I would reconsider my take on auto-augments between
>PCs if it did turn out that those supplying the auto-augment took
>damage like followers from failures. But I've never seen it treated
>that way.

See, the way I see it, and have described it in play before, you're not really getting in harms way, unless you are primary in the contest, or you're lending APs. Augmenting represents helping out somewhat more tangentially. Now, yes, that means that if you want to have more than one PC actually in jeopardy that you have to use an extended contest. I think this is perfectly fine, however. Didn't seem to end up creating a lot of those, did it? What, 6 or so over 19 sessions of play?

Seems that players were just fine augmenting.


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