Feedback on a new ability


I was wondering if the following ability is balanced since it would basically allow some “use once” abilities to be used more than once, which might then make them too powerful.

You may expend your heavy armor if your special armor is expended and a heavy armor is not currently part of your load.

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To be honest,I don’t know if It’s balanced, but it kind of lacks flavor, either fictionaly or mechanically, since it would allow playbooks without access to Heavy armor to act as if they had, while I think the differnce in abilities and Equipment between the playbooks is what make them unique and interesting.

I’m not sure I fully understand your comment, but maybe I didn’t properly formulated mine.

Thing is I was putting together abilities from the SRD and ended up with more than one “expend your special armor” abilities. I still thought they fitted the theme I was going for and wanted the playbook to have the option to use all these different abilities and not just one of them during the same operation. And since there’s only one special armor box I figured the solution might be to use another armor box, as long as the character wasn’t actually wearing an armor associated with the box. If a playbook isn’t allowed to carry an armor then at least that would give it a use for these boxes.

Is this “you can use your heavy armor box as a special armor box”? If so, it is probably balanced. Functionally it is similar to being able to take the Special Armor using SA again, and then with a small limitation (not using heavy armor) on top of that.

When I included a similar ability in my own hack, I called it “unencumbered”, if you are looking for flavor justification.
Edit: From my experience in my game, the main balance note I have is that it is just as powerful as your most powerful special box spender. So if it seems like that build is really powerful, consider nerfing the spender ability first, not the re-use special box ability.

For flavor justification I think I’m ok. I was building a simple druid-like playbook and was using battleborn for shapeshifting, shadow for woodland stride and mastermind to summon helpful animals. Using the armor slots was to be something like nature’s boon.
But as A_B said the ability might lack somehow since it doesn’t really bring a new facet to the playbook, just allow for more of the same.
I might have to rethink my stuff.

Yes, it seems that I totally misundersttod your meaning. Sorry for that.

It’s my bad, I should have been more forthcoming with the details and stuff. =)

Honestly, I don’t see any need to involve the heavy armor box in this. I don’t think there would be anything overpowering about an ability that straight-up gave you a second special armor box.

Note that taking more than one “special armor” ability will still be relatively inefficient, even if you expand the special armor pool. Most of the “special armor” abilities are open-ended enough that they could often be useful 2-3 times per score, so you will still find your abilities competing with each other for limited armor boxes.

If you want to encourage people to take and use multiple different “special armor” abilities, I would recommend abolishing the “special armor” box entirely and simply making each of those abilities work “once per score.” If you think those abilities make the game more fun and you want to encourage people to stack up on multiples, you could simply let people take as many as they want without penalty. If you think that those abilities are unusually powerful, or that the game is less exciting when players have too many chances to negate consequences, then you could impose some kind of additional cost or requirement to players who want more than one, whatever brings you think will balance the incentives such that taking 2 “negate consequnce/free push” abilities is worthwhile but not overpowering.

There is a risk with too many “once per score” abilities though, of ‘bursty’ characters who can frontload enough effect/resist to trivialize short encounters, and then largely sitting out if the encounter is longer.
By taking a “gain an extra Special box” ability, you give yourself a flexible extra use, making multiple different special spenders more likely to all pay off, without giving you too many total uses of once-per-rest abilities.
I do agree that spending the heavy armor box isn’t necessary for balance. However, it has the advantage of not needing an extra box on the sheet, and it can create some more consideration during character building (which some players like, and some players loathe…)

Your first point is spot on – I do think there’s definitely a risk that if a crew has too many special armor boxes, than short or straightforward scores could become trivially easy & unexciting. If you intuition says that investing 3 special abilities to come out with 2 special boxes and 2 ways to use them is roughly fair, I would agree with that. The trouble from my perspective is that if you divide it up into (1st Armor ability, Unencumbered, 2nd Armor ability), I think that Unencumbered is sometimes a good value, but actually taking a 2nd Armor ability is very poor value. There are 3 reasons for this – the fungibility of stress, the existence of “push” abilities, and the obsolescence of contingencies.

  1. Fungibility of Stress.
    The only new option you get by taking a special armor ability is the option to mitigate a consequence twice by rolling resistance and spending your special armor. Battleborn, Warded, and Mastermind are often used this way. In my experience, the other abilities are rarely used this way.

If you use your special armor to push yourself or instead of resisting, then it’s not giving you a new ability, it’s just allowing you to avoid paying some stress. In that case, it really doesn’t matter when or how you use special armor, as long as you DO use it. Suppose that I need to sneak past a guard and then pick a lock. If I have Shadow, I burn my armor to get past the guard and then use my stress bar to push myself on the lock. If I had Fortitude instead, I’d pay stress vs. the guard and use armor vs. the lock. There would be no benefit to taking both, because I could still only use one or the other.

Will a character who takes Unencumbered and only one Special Armor ability actually find it hard to get good value from both Special boxes? Mastermind and Fortitude are extremely open-ended. Warded and Battleborn are often held in reserve for insurance against severe harm, so having 2 boxes enables you to use the first one proactively. The only ones that might be hard to use twice in a score would be Subterfuge, Focused, and maybe Shadow.

  1. Push Abilities
    5 playbooks* have a special ability that gives them new options when they push themselves. If you want to make your special armor boxes useful in more diverse situations, taking your push enhancer is often just as good as taking a second special armor ability. Suppose you have taken Warded and Unencumbered, but your crew fights more humans than spirits and your special boxes sit unused. You could take Battleborn or Shadow to cover your bases, but why not take Tempest instead? You’ll be able to burn special boxes to throw lightning in fight scenes or summon storms in stealth or chase scenes. The Devil’s Footsteps makes Shadow extremely good in combat, and Not To Be Trifled With will sometimes let you fight something you would otherwise have had to sneak past, or enable you to bypass a technical or athletic challenge by smashing a hole in it. Venomous is the only underwhelming one in the lot.

*Although the Slide doesn’t technically get a push enhancer, they do get Rook’s Gambit, which also costs 2 stress to use. You can’t pay for it with armor boxes, but with Subterfuge/Unencumbered/Rook’s Gambit, you can breeze through social challenges without spending stress, and have plenty left to use Rook’s Gambit for whatever else you need to do.

  1. Obsolescence of Contingencies
    If Plan A doesn’t always work, or is inappropriate in some situations, then it pays to have a Plan B. If you can make sure that Plan A works every time, then Plan B becomes unnecessary. If you already have 2 special armor boxes and decent action rating in your primary schtick, then it probably works extremely reliably even against tough opposition. At that point you might as well double-down on what works instead of bothering to branch out.

Wow. I wanted to stick to using abilities from the srd so as to avoid creating new ones. Then I realized there could be an issue with the abilities I selected and figured the solution was to create a simple new ability. However, turns out the need for that new ability is arguable and I should probably rethink the choice of abilities I put together.
Anyway, thanks for the feedback. It’s very enlightening.

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