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Ty's Guide for Balanced Powers

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[Reply] #1
06-30-2013 07:34 PM
Joined: 04-01-2007
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-Tyreaus-
-Tyreaus-
|[The Author]|
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So after hours and hours of thinking and writing and mulling, you’ve made a character or found a character you really like to play. Congratulations! Pop a bottle of champagne.

But you’re concerned. Is this character fair? Are his or her abilities well-balanced, or is planetary rape and complaints from everyone else my true destiny?

Look no further! This is an easy*, accurate** guide to determining just that! Follow along.

*Relatively speaking.
**Sort of.


STEP 1: For every ability/character, create a set of weaknesses and drawbacks roughly equal and approximately related to the ability’s/character’s versatility and power.

Truthfully, that’s all you need.

If you can’t match every ability with a weakness, then look at the whole character. Just as one ability should have a set of weaknesses and drawbacks roughly equal and related to the ability’s versatility and power, so too should the character have a set of weaknesses and drawbacks roughly equal and related to his or her versatility and power. As long as the abilities and weaknesses are at least somewhat related, it is virtually impossible for an unbalanced character to have a set of abilities that are individually well-balanced and vice versa.

For example, a super strong laser should have a super long charge time. A super quick character should have a super low durability. As long as the abilities and weaknesses look about equal and have at least some form of relation, you’ve done it right.

But if you’re really bad at doing this thing or just plain devious...

STEP 2: Avoid the stupid shit

Stupid shit involves loops, lengthened regresses, and narrowing regresses.

Loops are just as they sound. You can’t access weakness A before exploiting weakness B. You can’t exploit weakness B until you exploit weakness C. You can’t exploit weakness C before exploiting weakness A. This can happen if, say, you have a character with an ability protecting the weakness of another ability, and the other ability in turn protects the weakness of the first ability.

Lengthened regresses are just rolled out loops. You can’t access weakness A before weakness B before weakness C before weakness D before weakness E etc. You might think you have a lot of weaknesses so you can have a bunch of powers, but because your opponent can only attack one particular weakness, you don’t really have a lot of weaknesses, just the one.

Narrowing regresses are like lengthened regresses tied together. You can’t access weakness A, B, and C before accessing weakness D. It makes it seem as if you have a lot of weaknesses, so dump on the powers! But really, they’re all hidden behind a singular (and sometimes rare to exploit) weakness while you grant yourself a gigantic list of readily accessible powers.

Best way to avoid this? If an ability covers a weakness by default, the weakness doesn’t count. If you automatically have a knife-proof shield and your weakness is to sharp objects, then it’s best to toss that weakness aside.

Once you’re done that:

STEP 3: Revise and go back to step 1 you bloody wanker.

If the weaknesses are stupidly unrelated to the abilities, go back and develop different weaknesses. An ability to shoot lightning from one’s fingertips is not well related to a fear of fucking butterflies.

If it’s severely unbalanced, start re-balancing and check again. You might’ve created a regress or a loop in the process.

If you’ve changed your mind and want him to be more or less powerful, change whatever the hell you wanted to change and come back to check it again. You might’ve unbalanced the whole thing.

This is not rocket science. This requires patience, tenacity, and a willingness to redo your work. As long as you stop to think about your character’s abilities and use the principles behind these very general guidelines, you’re shiny.

There is, however, one last step.

STEP 4: Know when it can’t (And shouldn’t) be done.

Whether they are OCs or existing characters, not all characters are able to be balanced without the character in question being ruined. Aizen from Bleach, for example, is pretty much impossible for someone to realistically balance given what he’s shown. Even OCs can run into this problem: a character can have a list of abilities and few weaknesses by its nature, and any attempt to add weaknesses would not fit with logic, the character, or the universe the character is from.

If you can’t balance the character without breaking logic/character/universes, start figuring whether it’s even possible. Ask others: if they can’t do it without drastically changing something, it’s probably the right time to give up on it. That doesn’t mean the character necessarily goes in the trash, just make sure to use said character selectively, e.g. in your solo written works or roleplays where the average power level fits the character.

But even in cases where the character can be balanced, whether it should be depends, in part, on the roleplay. If you have one final villain against six or ten people, attempting to balance his abilities may cause one hell of an anticlimactic boss fight. In some roleplays, even when it may be possible, the power average is so high that doing so would leave your character underpowered.

All in all, you should always try to balance the character in relation to what role he or she is fulfilling and the standards others have set.

Questions or comments? Want me to look at a specific ability? Want me to see if your analysis is good? Toss them below. Not going to be a catering service for entire characters and people asking me if they’re balanced or not: it’s your job to learn how to do this. I’ll help you learn, but I ain’t doing the whole thing for you.


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The Golden Serpent

Edited 07-06-2013 01:24 AM by -Tyreaus-
[Reply] #2
06-30-2013 08:12 PM
Joined: 04-01-2007
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-Tyreaus-
-Tyreaus-
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Weaknesses and Abilities: Measuring

Some times people will not have a clue whether their abilities actually overpower their weaknesses. How do you measure them, after all?

Here’s my take on how to measure the 'magnitude' or 'power' of any ability or any weakness. It’s not foolproof or 100% accurate but it can at least give you an idea.

Abilities

The power of abilities are the product of three variables: strength, availability, and versatility.

Remember: Power = strength * availability * versatility, or P = S*A*V

Strength is the average measure of the change in the amount of disadvantage (for an opponent) or the amount of advantage (for the user) in the course of one use of an ability. It is an average because many abilities can be supercharged over a longer course of time or fired faster with an exchange of strength, or an ability can end up exploiting a particular weakness. The strength is not limited to “what I can blow up with it”, since not all abilities are physically destructive. In addition, the speed of projectiles can contribute to strength of the attack.

The measure of strength contributing to how potent an ability is should be fairly obvious: an attack that can destroy a planet is more potent than one that can take out a wall, and an attack that paralyzes an opponent for twelve hours is more potent than one that paralyzes an opponent for five seconds.

Availability is the measure of the lack of conditions surrounding the use of an ability. Conditions may be temporal (e.g. charge up or cool down time), preparatory (e.g. having to use another technique beforehand), positional (e.g. having to be behind an opponent or maintain eye contact), or other (e.g. having to yell out “kamehameha”).

The higher an ability’s availability is, the less restrictions there exist surrounding that ability, and thus the more often an ability can be used.

Versatility is the measure of what uses an ability inherently possesses. It can be said that the versatility is the measure of how many weaknesses a single ability is capable of exploiting. More versatile abilities - e.g., telekinesis - are capable of exploiting a wide breadth of weaknesses, including fire, cold, blunt trauma, constrictions, et cetera. By comparison, less versatile abilities - e.g., teleportation - are less capable or entirely incapable of exploiting particular weaknesses.

It should be self-evident that an ability that can exploit more weaknesses is more potent than an ability that can’t exploit any weaknesses at all.

Weaknesses

Similar to abilities, the measure of potency for weaknesses are the product of three variables that are inverses of the measure of abilities: damage, accessibility, and breadth.

Remember: Weakness = damage * accessibility * breadth, or W = D*A*B

Damage is the inverse of strength. It is a measure of the average degree of a disadvantage a character will be put in when a weakness is exploited. As with strengths, this is not just physical, as psychic attacks also measure damage. However, nor does it necessarily relate to the opponent: a technique that drains the health and stamina of the user also possesses a value of damage.

Accessibility is the measure of what circumstances and conditions surround the exploitation of the weakness. If the weakness can only be exploited when charging an attack, for example, it is less accessible than a weakness that can be exploited any time the sun is aflame. Similarly, if a character is weak to fire, that weakness is generally less accessible than a weakness to physical strikes, since virtually all characters have some measure of physical ability whereas not all characters have the ability to conjure fire. Again, this does not necessarily have to relate to the opponent: a technique that drains the health and stamina of the user possesses a value of damage, which is directly related to the conditions surrounding the use of the technique.

Breadth is the measure of how many techniques are capable of exploiting a weakness. A weakness to physical trauma, for example, can be exploited by a variety of techniques - punches, kicks, baseball bats, telekinesis. In contrast, a weakness to electricity above a particular voltage can only be exploited by electricity above that voltage. Again, this needn’t be related to an opponent: a technique that drains the health and stamina of the user possesses a breadth value, which is only exploitable via the technique.

Conclusions

It should be noted that the above definitions can also apply to the character itself. In such a case, versatility can be measured by the number of abilities as well as the versatility values of each individual ability, and breadth can be approximated by the number of weaknesses.

In balancing abilities and weaknesses, it is not necessary that damage equals strength for an ability and weakness pair, nor that the sum of strength for all abilities is equal to the sum of damage for all weaknesses. A valid character can be extremely strong ability-wise with a long list of less damaging but more accessible weaknesses. It should be the target that weaknesses = abilities, regardless of the individual values for S, V, D, A, or B.

I hope this provides some clarity and direction in character creation.

Weaknesses and Abilities: Specific Cases

Often there are specific cases, e.g. characters' items or weapons or the character him- or herself, that have a set of abilities and weaknesses. While an in-depth analysis as shown above should be done, the analysis above does not always fit neatly into every ability. There may be cases (especially with non-human elements) where one is uncertain whether an ability or weakness should be included or omitted.

As a rule of thumb:
-If a weapon/item/character has a property above the normal, it should be considered an ability. A steel sword with an enchantment that makes it unbreakable is such a property.
If a weapon/item/character has a property below the normal, it should be considered a weakness. A steel sword that dissolves in water is such a property.
-A weakness can also be applied directly to the ability. A steel sword with an enchantment that makes it unbreakable except when struck against ice is such an example.
-Any properties inherent to the item or character are not included in either category. Thus, a sword with the durability of steel has neither a weakness nor a strength, as that is the standard.
For characters, the “normal” is usually considered a peak human being, and thus 'peak human durability' is not usually considered a weakness. Again, weaknesses can be applied to abilities.

In general, every weapon (as with every character) should have a balance of weaknesses and abilities. If a sword can cut through anything, it should have some weakness to balance that ability.


__________________

The Golden Serpent

Edited 07-03-2013 03:45 PM by -Tyreaus-
[Reply] #3
07-02-2013 08:56 PM
Joined: 01-12-2013
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Demi
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Damnit bobby.
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Thanks for making this Ty oWo

[Reply] #4
07-02-2013 08:57 PM
Joined: 04-01-2007
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-Tyreaus-
-Tyreaus-
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Demiurge wrote: Thanks for making this Ty oWo



Do you figure it’s accurate enough to be useful for others?


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The Golden Serpent

[Reply] #5
07-02-2013 09:00 PM
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Demi
Demi
Damnit bobby.
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Ty Dreacon wrote:

Demiurge wrote: Thanks for making this Ty oWo



Do you figure it’s accurate enough to be useful for others?


Yeah I do, it really helped me make a balanced character.

[Reply] #6
07-02-2013 09:00 PM
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Izayoi
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Absolutely.


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[Reply] #7
07-02-2013 09:07 PM
Joined: 02-18-2013
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owo
owo
The Cloaked Schemer
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Ty Dreacon wrote:

Demiurge wrote: Thanks for making this Ty oWo



Do you figure it’s accurate enough to be useful for others?


It looks pretty good. I can’t think of anything you’d need to add or change.


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