April 19, 2011

Pure Strain Humans

Given recent comments I have given some more thought to Pure Strain Humans (PSHs). There was a concern that PSHs might be overpowered compared to mutants.

I pondered this a bit more and I still feel confident in the approach I started in the character generation outline. In that outline PSHs received the best method for attribute rolling - by far. I have worked a bit more on PSHs and my current design looks like this:

Pure Strain Humans (abbreviated PSH) claim to be the descendants of the Ancients. Pure strain humans (or True Men as they tend to call themselves) are perfect specimen of mankind. Highly resistant to disease, radiation and poison they are completely immune to mutations of any kind. Robots and cyborgs often believe them to be their returned masters and are likely to follow their commands.  Pure strain humans enjoy the following benefits:
  • Roll 4d6-L for each attribute during character generation and distribute the scores as you want.
  • Receive a +3 bonus to Intelligence, Toughness and Charisma.
  • Receive +2d hit points.
  • Cannot be mutated.
  • -1 DL on rolls to resist radiation and poison, -2 DL to resist diseases.
  • -1 DL when trying to command robots and cyborgs.
  • -1 DL when trying to resist mental attacks.
  • Pay 1 BP less for the initial tech level.
  • Receive three items of your starting tech level for free.
  • Receive a bonus of +1d-L to each roll for the base score of newly acquired skills (both during character creation and when learning a new skill during the game; so e.g. acquiring a skill from a rank 3 area will yield a skill score of 5d6-H-L instead of 4d6-H).
So I pumped them even more by also giving them better skill scores. Which actually is something that one might want to discuss... because Gaia Gamma basically is a skill based game with skill areas given a certain class feel. Therefor skills are one of the most important things in the game and while I had absolutely no doubts about it being ok to distribute lots of attribute points to PSHs (as a compensation for not having any special powers at all) I pondered about the skill think quite a bit more.

My current line of reasoning goes like this:
  • PSHs are the only genotype without any real special powers. Sentient plants and animals have mutations (and other special abilities), mutants have many mutations, robots and androids have... powers (we'll see - not yet thought about it ;-) ).
  • Thus the lack of powers easily compensates for much higher attribute scores, especially since the skill system ensures that attributes will not overpower actual gameplay.
  • Now for the better skill scores... the presence of the skill system implies that most actions in the game will be associated with skills. Thus to be useful you need to have useful skills.
  • Since PSHs only have higher attributes and special equipment (depending on their tech level) to show off with (and equipment can easily be lost or destroyed) they really should also get a slight boost in the skill area to be more useful among their superpowered breathren (a bit akin to Batman among all his superpowerd friends).
As the skill bonus only increases the average skill score (but not the maximum) I feel pretty confident that this should work out. But it's definitely a point to consider while playtesting.

I BTW have one other gut feeling concerning this thing: Whenever I played Gamma World there was little charm in playing a PSH (no powers, just more hitpoints, etc.). Now that people start wondering if PSHs might be too powerful in Gaia Gamma I feel that I am on the right track. Because IMHO a good character system design shines by wanting you to play each and every type of character and loving them all for their particular strengths. Given that view the challenge now is to make the other races as interesting and compelling to play as PSHs.

What do you think?


  1. Interesting game theory. Are you expecting PSHs to perhaps be more difficult to adapt with as the game further progresses and developing skills takes priority?

  2. Actually this question is a very good one. Currently I rather believe that it also is quite a challenge to make PSHs interesting in the long run. For mutants I have (I believe) a decent idea in form of the Universal Parameter Table (UPT, more on that later on) that will make it fun to get better in using mutations.

    Compared to that PSHs again seem somewhat shallow as they "only" have skills and equipment. I will have to think about it as I personally believe that the most important idea of D&D 3 was to make every new level gained interesting and exciting. So it should be!