I thought that I had already asked this a while ago, but I cannot find the thread now. (And I’m rubbish at the forum search thing). Apologize if we’ve already discussed this and my brain just can’t remember it.
I like the Kid career; how the Kid sort of plays a different game from the rest and how they are focused towards escaping and survival. Good stuff. However, I think they are game mechanically too powerful for their concept.
The core point, I would say, of playing a Kid is that your game is even more frightening and you’re even more vulnerable than the rest. (And, you’re sort of a lovely liability to the other characters, which is great). That’s the central psychological facet of that “career”, IMHO.
But as the game is written, it is difficult to craft a particularly vulnerable kid, unless you purposefully make a daft character. You get the same number of Attributes and Skills as adults, and if you try to make, say… a weak character, you end up with a child that is above average in all other Abilities, as an example. (I.e., if you put the minimum required 2 pts in Strength, you have an average of 4 in the other three Abilities).
A solution would be to just reduce the character generation points given to Kids, but I don’t particularly like that. I like that there is a baseline balance for all characters, except synths which, thematically appropriate, breaks the game.
So, I’m looking for another way of nerfing kids, and hinder situations where Newt can fight off Burke, or whatever. I also want the nerf rules to be quick and easy, a “kid nerf level” easily slotted onto the other rules with a minimum of mental gymnastics and math required. Below are my suggested rules for a (slightly) nerfed kid, and I would like to hear y’all’s thoughts on these and/or other fixes.
Kid vs. Adult (and xenos, etc.)
*Kids get a flat -2 penalty on all rolls made against adults. The exception is for kiddie-appropriate rolls, such as Mobility rolls for slipping away under the table from a chasing adult, Manipulation to get an adult to help you, scavenging for food (you need fewer calories), etc. Basically, the Kid player needs to convince the GM that this is a kiddie-appropriate action to escape the penalty. The rational for this anti-adult penalty is partly about size and physics (a kid won’t hit as hard as an adult, and so on), and partly psychological (kids are scared of adults, so there’s a level of hesitation and freezing-up, etc.).
*Kids get a flat -2 penalty on all rolls for interacting with the adult world (driving a Daihotai Tractor or fire a gun, for instance – driving a kid go-cart would not incur the -2 penalty). So, a child firing a gun at an adult suffers a -4 penalty in total, but firing at another pesky kid is only -2…
*Kids attacking an adult with Close Combat ignores the first DAMAGE inflicted. This, of course, is HUGE, and should convince kids to run rather than fight that mad grown-up (or alien).
Adult vs. Kid
*Any kind of aggression, cruelty, or disadvantaging of a child incurs the adult a point of Stress, except for clearly benevolent actions (like ordering a child to let go of that dog and run, or similar). (I was playing around with the idea of having the adult roll Stress Dice equal to their Empathy, and suffer successes number of Stress, but that feels too gamey and random for me... and it's another dice roll situation introduced to the game, which is not optimal).
*Adults get a flat +2 bonus on all rolls made against kids. (I.e., Commanding them, or whatever). The exception here is for rolls where being a kid is clearly an advantage (like, crawling through ventilation ducts or when rolling opposed Manipulation to convince the captain of whom, kid or adult, to give the last cookie to). Again, a level or roleplaying and GM fiat is assumed here.
PS: These problems and questions won't be important to most games, even the ones that have a Kid character in the group. However, I am specifically toying with the idea of doing a kids only Alien Cinematic or Campaign at some point, (possibly a kids and their friendly synthetic story), in which case the problem becomes more acute. I can't have a bunch of 10-year-olds act the standard murder hobo parts in that game