Thank you for joining us for The Sleepy DM's second entry in his series of articles about GM'ing Goodman Game's Amethyst. You can find the first part of the article here (a.k.a. just below this post). In his first article he wrote about his impressions of Amethyst as a setting and Amethyst Foundations specifically as a product. Interested in learning more about the Techan classes? Here's the place to find out just what makes them tick. Don't forget to come back on Friday to read about Amethyst straight from the designer's mouth in my interview with Chris Dias. No need for much more of a preamble this time, I'll let Mike dive right in!
The first session of Amethyst with our group covered two encounters. The group consists of three techan humans and a gimfen. The humans are a pair of grounders wearing mobile motor armor. This increases their size to large, and gives them some nice things I’ll talk about later.
Some big things that I noticed from the DM’s side of things after reading the book and playing a session are:
1. The tech classes are designed to be played against larger swarms of minions and regular enemies.
A lot of the classes have bursts, blasts, and wall attacks. Techan classes seem to really lack a high damaging move, even at the daily levels. All of the characters had a high level of controller abilities, but the group was dangerously close to turning into the at-will power gridfest that early 4th edition could turn into due to monster HP bloat. The developers get a pass on this from me because this book was published at the early point of 4th edition. Hopefully the Amethyst: Evolutions book I hear that they’re working on will be able to address some of these problems.
2. The Techan equipment covers a lot of neat ideas.
One of the reasons I wanted to run the Amethyst tech classes was to see how the guns and other technological equipment functioned. I was very impressed and pleased with the results, especially with the Mobile Motor Armor being worn by the grounders. It increases their size to large, which lets them bodyblock other members, and they have an increased loadout of weaponry due to both the grounder’s natural weapon proficiencies and a special ability from the power armor. The armor lets them hold two handed weapons in one hand, so they’re capable of switching up weaponry significantly faster than anybody else, and they can carry weaponry that the rest of the party can’t. The power armor also comes with its own set of hit points that its pilot can shunt damage to. It provides a temporary source of damage reduction that is a really neat idea.
3. If you’re using the tech disruption rules, an operator is required.
One of the big themes in the Amethyst setting is magic vs. technology. Magic causes technology to degrade and break down when technology using humans leave their secluded bastions. This is represented by a roll that a player makes at the end of initiative die. Depending on the roll result some of their tech items can go into distruption, causing a variety of effects. This can be particularly lethal to the groups grounders, as their power armor is at the top of the list for what is affected first by the disruption rolls. When their power armor is disrupted, they lose the damage reduction and are restrained until they can fix it. The power armor comes with a built in daily ability that lets it recover, but for the long term fights, you need an operator.
The operator is the engineer/medic class, depending on the focus taken. The group’s operator took an engineer class, and it looks like a good choice. As part of his paragon path he boosts the party’s disruption rolls, and he prevented a few rolls that would have otherwise disrupted equipment. The operator also has several abilities that can help recover disrupting equipment (and even make attacks with disrupting equipment!). I think the party would have been in some serious trouble with the second encounter that dragged on longer, and had more disruption events.
4. Tech classes both encourage and require teamwork.
The techan classes have the ability to use at-will attacks in place of a ranged basic attack, but most of the time you want to be attacking with something that more damage. The groups Marshal can enable a lot of ranged basic attacks, and even adds an extra +1[W] to them, making them more viable. The two grounders also had a paragon path that let them cover each other and boost their defenses when necessary, so they were able to absorb a lot more punishment that I had originally thought. The operator is capable of adding a few buffs to some characters, and can keep everybody’s equipment running nice and smoothly.
5. Gimfen are hilarious.
I’m quite enamored with the gimfen racial abilities right now. They’re quite viable for techan classes from the fantasy side of things, although you’ll never want a gimfen grounder because you can’t carry all of the good stuff because you’re small. Gimfen can drop prone as a free action and still crawl their normal speed. Toss on the Deck Fire feat (no penalties for shooting from prone) and the marshal class and you have a guy who spends the encounters rolling around prone and shouting at everybody else to shoot dudes. The end result is actually pretty effective. And I still want to make a gimfen barbarian so I can do the leaping charge from one square away to stab them in the face.