Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Surmounting Advantages

During the discussion of greatly enhanced healing in fantasy settings there came a question of what will some parties do to combat this advantage in their enemies. This is an important question not just in the circumstance of accelerated healing or of resurrection, but in general, both in gaming and in all fiction. For every advance or advantage there is a considered response to negate it. Those who do not have an advantage will want to copy the advantage for themselves, or barring that steal the other party's source for it. This push and pull, garner or steal, is another basis upon which to build conflict in stories. In gaming it is a consideration that the Game Master must make at every turn to keep the pace, the tension, and promote a surmountable challenge.

There are a few categories of elements that fit this mould. There is durability or immunity to harm, powers that cannot be defended against, normally inescapable circumstances, and overwhelming forces. These can be negated directly or indirectly. Direct negation requires stripping the individual(s) of the power or overwhelming it to the point it is not an issue. Disruption powers come into play or powers that are in opposition to the troubling one. Ice or water is used against fire, mind blocks prevent psychic attack or intrusion, and similar. Particular methods of killing cancel regeneration. Specific disposal of the body prevents it from rising from the dead. Then there are weaknesses built into characters such as deadly allergies to certain materials such as Superman and kryptonite.

Indirect negation can include circumventing the difficulty. Those invulnerable to damage may be suffocated or drowned. Those immune to fire may still be harmed by falling debris caused by a fire. The opponent may be the one that is immune to the character's abilities. All of these put a wrinkle in a game changing element or a power. They can only be used so often and put to smart use without negating the reason for having these capabilities in the setting, or unfairly treating the player of such a character by hobbling them unlike the other players. Tempering these changes to provide threat and tension is only desired in balance and when it enhances the storyline. It may even be better to turn the tables and have the protagonists seeking to deal such powerful foes.

Mood: tired.
Music: Welcome Home (Sanitarium) by Metallica and '39 by Queen.
Metallica: Master Of Puppets
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Queen: A Night at the Opera
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