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The Feral Effects chart - does it need a tweak?

Posted: Wed 26 Jul 2017, 20:49
by Unslain
My players and I are about half way through Escape from Paradise Valley (it's taken us a year thus far, meeting once or twice a month) and they recently came to me with a confession - the Feral Effects chart is putting them off.  Now it may be that we're just unlucky on the dice rolls -rare is the session when all the PCs can speak and use FP- but I'm now starting the game with 35+ FP from 4-5 players as they're reluctant to spend them.

Anyone else finding this happen in their game?

The key criticism at our table is that Animal Powers are less powerful than Mutations but the effects of an animal misfire feel more punishing than for human mutants.  We've yet to permanently lose a PC to their feral side but it's been close more than once and a player has retired a character rather than let the party choose between delaying the mission and finding their missing friend.  The loss of speech has become another issue; it always seems to be that a PC forgets how to speak on their way to a talking-heavy adventure, or the elder Seer forgets how to use Dominate.  Either way, the player winds up feeling left out of the roleplay.

The consensus we've reached for now is to change the Feral Effect duration from D6 days to 'until the end of the session' and see how that goes.  We may also add the option to roll Heal (with penalties) to end the effect, but only if the first change doesn't work for us.

Has anyone else had the same problem or have my players just been unlucky with their FP rolls?  Do I need to go easy on silent PCs and let them gesture to communicate?  Advice would be very welcome as we go into the second half of the campaign

Re: The Feral Effects chart - does it need a tweak?

Posted: Wed 26 Jul 2017, 21:15
by Fenhorn
All the effects on that table are temporary. There are no permanent effects. Sure 1 can be dramatic if it happens during a stressful time but even that is manageable. My players used FP a lot when we played and got some of the effects from time to time. They didn't though it was that big of deal. Most of the effects are roleplay effects. They got 1 a couple of times in a battle and that is of course annoying, but the group tracked the poor guy up after the battle and grappled him (so someone could Heal him). Sure sometimes the group needs to take a rest a couple of days and that is okey with me. A game can be hard as along as the players are given time for a breather every now and then.

Then if your players doesn't want to use their FP. Is their loss. That will make a hard game even harder.

Funny thing. My players thinks that mutation misfire effects are more dangerous than the feral misfire effects. Even the module overheat effects (upcoming expansion - Mechatron) can be very dangerous and the contact setback effects (upcoming expansion - Elysium) can be quite cruel.

When it comes to certain effects and how to deal with them. If someone goes feral, as I said, the rest of the group later on tracked him down and healed him. I don't like mimes but if a player lost their speech then that character was silent in the game. I let the player talk with his friend around the table, otherwise it would be just boring.

Re: The Feral Effects chart - does it need a tweak?

Posted: Wed 26 Jul 2017, 23:40
by Unslain
Thanks for your response, Fenhorn.  Unless I'm being unfairly harsh, the 1 result can be permanent if the rest of the party fail their Heal attempts.  And for us it has come down to the very last character rolling their single remaining Instinct die to succeed in bringing someone back.  That chance of losing a PC outright, my players tell me, feels worse than the guaranteed loss of an attribute point for a mutant.  I happen to like it as written but I'm only risking NPCs, and if it's sapping my players' fun then I figure we have to at least try a house rule out.

I'm relieved to hear that your players have had a different experience - that's something I can tell my lot if the house rule doesn't help.  We've given Mechatron a go and my players' response to the Overheat table was, "Wow, there's not actually anything in it that's really too bad."  Despite the battle robot getting a 1 result early on and then a 5 right before confronting the main NPC. I think they'll feel differently once we have the full book and are playing the campaign however.

Re: The Feral Effects chart - does it need a tweak?

Posted: Thu 27 Jul 2017, 00:16
by Fenhorn
Well, regarding the Heal roll, all characters with the Heal skill are allowed the to try so if all the players failed, take the feral player to the nearest habitat (or what the animals homes are called in the English version) and let them try. A sturdy rope should do it so the feral doesn't run away. Alternatively have some of the characters guard the feral player (he is feral so he probably will start to do whatever his animal type is normally doing before they got evolved) and go to the nearest habitat and hire a healer. I would be amazed if that doesn't work. A third solution is of course that a group of NPCs are on a walkabout nearby, perhaps they can help. The world isn't static after all.

 A fourth option is a little GM help from the Swedish rulebook (I can't find it in the English rulebook, it should have been instead of the textbox about using normal dice in the skills chapter). Regardless - here it goes (direct translation):

To "Fail Forward" (I have no idea if the translation of this headline sounds good).
A failed skill roll doesn't have to mean that you don't achieve your goal for your skill. GM has the right to rule that you actually achieve your goal, but that you are affected by a mishap on the way. This is called to "Fail Forward". - despite that the dice show a failure, the action is successful, but to a high price. This could be a good way to avoid that the story got stuck just because of a failed dice roll.

The price could be that the, now healed, ex-feral, is really confused and really doubting himself (he is normal but he instead becomes broken in Wits and/or Instinct).

I usually use NPCs that are on hunting nearby that the players can persuade to help or if the players are in the middle of nowhere, this last fourth solution.

Re: The Feral Effects chart - does it need a tweak?

Posted: Thu 27 Jul 2017, 06:26
by Tomas
Good answers Fenhorn!

Unslain - if your group finds the feral effects too punishing, I think your houserule idea sounds just fine. :)

Re: The Feral Effects chart - does it need a tweak?

Posted: Wed 29 May 2019, 03:34
by likwitmc1
We just finished our second session.  We have 7 PC's.  

At the end of the second session, 4 out of 7 can't talk for multiple days, 2 of 7 can't spend FP, 3 of 7 have run in the middle of combat.   We've spent more time dealing with the results of the feral chart than actually dealing with the scenario.   

To say my group is a bit...meh on the feral chart...would be an understatement.  With that many PC's, something debilitating is going to happen.  It might seem trivial, but it doesn't feel that way to us, it feels punishing and a bunch of bookkeeping of who can't do what and for how long.  It's also annoying that we have to devote an hour or two of gameplay to a therapy session every single game.  I half joked at the start of the second session that we'd eventually play a game in complete silence, and now we're halfway there with two sessions under our belt.  

We're toying with if you roll a 1, you then roll 2d6 and if you roll doubles, you get that result for the feral table.  Literally every single encounter or roleplay scene we've had has resulted in some misfire.  It seems excessive. 

Re: The Feral Effects chart - does it need a tweak?

Posted: Wed 29 May 2019, 04:43
by Fenhorn
When our group played through the campaign we did it with the feral effects and that worked. If you think the effects is a little to harsh, you can shortened the times of the effects, days becomes hours, hours becomes 15 minutes, or something like that, or just halve everything.

Re: The Feral Effects chart - does it need a tweak?

Posted: Wed 10 Jul 2019, 21:10
by Azel-Liark
You may have been unlucky as well. Through all the campaign, I had a few situaton like this but most of the time it went ok. 
The feral power are very nice and useful but it represent a risk. 

Now, if it doesn't work well with your group, maybe as some people say, you could reduce the effects. 

Re: The Feral Effects chart - does it need a tweak?

Posted: Tue 23 Jul 2019, 15:23
by DruidGamer
I would either say your players were very unlucky or their dice outright hate them.  The majority of Powers can only spend 1 FP at a time and if they came up 1’s that often, I would check the dice for bias.  It is possible for plastic dice to form “imperfections” when they are cast, especially in opaque dice. There is an easy way to find out, take a glass of water & add about a cup or so of sugar.  Stir until all is dissolved. Test one die at a time, it should bob & float near the top (if not, add a bit more sugar until it does).  Poke or tap the die with your finger a few times.  It should bob around & show a different side up each time.  If it consistently returns to the same side up, there is an imperfection inside that is throwing off the balance.

P.S.  make sure you get permission first if it isn’t your sugar 😧