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Old 08-18-2014, 05:50 PM   #1
Otaku
 
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#6): Ally; Ally Group

Last Week: Affliction
Next Week: Altered Time Rate

This week we look at the Basic Set Advantage Allies, found on p. B36-B38, and expanded upon in Powers p. 41. By default, Allies are Mundane Social Advantages with a point cost that varies according to their CP value and Frequency of Appearance value. Once again, I am going to have to ask that you read the book due to the length of the material on it; without factoring in Modifiers, the cost can already vary from 1 CP for an Ally that shows up on a 6 or less*, built on 25% of the cost of the character to which it is allied up to 40 points for a character that shows up all the time (no roll required) and is built on 150% of the CP value of the character to which it is allied. Note that a the "Constant" Frequency Of Appearance level is normally reserved for characters that are physically attached, implanted, worn like clothing, etc.

Allies that lack certain Enhancements are their own characters: NPCs that the GM controls, but favorably disposed towards you. They are agreeable but not guaranteed to constantly agree with you, and can occasionally cause you some trouble. If you abuse them, you risk losing them (and all the points invested in them), though parting amicably or losing one through no significant fault of your own results in a replacement Ally eventually showing up.

If you want several allies that (in game terms) are identical and interchangeable enough to share a single character sheet (examples in the text are an army of low-grade thugs or robot drone swarm) you can buy them as an Ally Group instead of individual Allies. This adds a multiplier to the cost, ranging from six for a Group of size 6 to 10 to 12 for a group of 51 to 100, at which point each further tenfold increase jumps the multiplier by another increment of six: 100,000 such Allies would give a multiplier of 30. RAW indicates that an Unusual Background may be in order and that large enough groups (exactly how much depends on the circumstances) may qualify as a Patron instead.

There are Allies that can be Exotic or Supernatural, and though I can't think of any good examples that aren't better represented with a different trait, even Mental or Physical. Familiars are covered on p. B38, and the Summonable Enhancement (+100%) can be used to create a fleshed out, traditional fantasy "summoner" or something a bit more modern like PokÚmon, Yu-Gi-Oh or the dozens of other similar series.

Some Allies can also function as Dependents; if that is the case you calculate their value as each and add the CP values together. The GM will roll against both factors each session; if the character shows up as an Ally, they help you out and cause only the level of trouble appropriate to the character, if they show up as a Dependent then they'll inconvenience you in the appropriate manner. An Ally/Dependent hybrid can fail to show entirely, of course, and can even show up as both Ally and Dependent at the same time (Robin both assisting Batman while also needing to be rescued by him seems like a good example).

So do you allow Allies in your campaigns? Have you ever taken an Ally? In either case, how did it work out? Have you come up with some interesting uses of Modifiers for Allies? I seem to recall within recent memory a thread debating Contacts, and whether their cost made sense in light of Allies. This got me thinking; should "Patron" and/or "Contact" really be Modifiers to "Ally"?
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Last edited by Otaku; 10-28-2014 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 08-19-2014, 04:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
So do you allow Allies in your campaigns? Have you ever taken an Ally? In either case, how did it work out? Have you come up with some interesting uses of Modifiers for Allies? I seem to recall within recent memory a thread debating Contacts, and whether their cost made sense in light of Allies. This got me thinking; should "Patron" and/or "Contact" really be Modifiers to "Ally"?
I do. But people seem to rarely want them. Currently only one player in my campaign has an Ally, and it's closer to an Ally+Enemy in one person.

Meanwhile, I'm playing in a Transhuman Space game, and there I have an Ally Minion*, another PC has an AI Ally, and I think others have low-key Allies too.

I do think that a grand unified ally theory, which would make Patrons and Contacts into modifiers for Ally, would be nice to have. But this is a highly crunchy houserule discussion; I'm not sure if this thread is intended for those.

* == A ghosted bioroid, for those who know the terminology.
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Old 08-19-2014, 04:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

Allies and Ally Groups are a major feature of most of the campaigns I run, as I go very NPC heavy, and I like to give my players the sense that they control large segments of society. So when an NPC says "You and what army?" the PC can say "This one!" and unleash his horde of managably-numbered allies on his foe.

A few things I have discovered in my research: Social Engineering has rules for very low-point allies, down to 5% of your point total, in case you're dealing with heroes with very large point totals. Supers also has rules for treating vehicles as allies, and I find the two go hand-in-hand nicely.

When it comes to Frequency of Appearance, I've settled on two numbers as my go-to values: 6 or less for "Is only there when I feel like it," and 15 or less for "Is always there unless I feel like making them absent."
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Old 08-19-2014, 08:27 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
Allies and Ally Groups are a major feature of most of the campaigns I run, as I go very NPC heavy, and I like to give my players the sense that they control large segments of society. So when an NPC says "You and what army?" the PC can say "This one!" and unleash his horde of managably-numbered allies on his foe.

A few things I have discovered in my research: Social Engineering has rules for very low-point allies, down to 5% of your point total, in case you're dealing with heroes with very large point totals. Supers also has rules for treating vehicles as allies, and I find the two go hand-in-hand nicely.

When it comes to Frequency of Appearance, I've settled on two numbers as my go-to values: 6 or less for "Is only there when I feel like it," and 15 or less for "Is always there unless I feel like making them absent."
I run what I think are NPC heavy campaigns, but I actually don't ally very much. If you have the wealth for it, an employee is fine, and will generally behave well -- but he doesn't need to be an ally. Family members don't cost points under many circumstances (unless you're one of those guys who has a cousin for any given task). An ally should have rock solid, follow you anyway loyalty (or some other binding attribute).

I also balk at equipment as allies. I find it attracts far more munchkins than legitimate users. I like my allies to be people. There are legitament uses for the build though: one character in a game right now is baba yaga, and she has a vehicle Ally: her hut. Which is an RV. With Warp and Jumper. And fairly intelligent.
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Old 08-19-2014, 12:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

My latest character is a larger than life wealthy noble who is a merchant first and adventurer second, I bought an ally to be his bodyguard, 75% 12 or less and also put him as a dependant on 6 or less, resulting in a 5 point ally.

While im well rounded and weak on the damage side, hes an ironclad that deals 3d swing damage with his sword and many many nice perks he earned due to being a veteran warrior.

He saved our group from certain death once and its probably the best 5 points I have ever spend
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Old 08-19-2014, 12:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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Contacts can accept risks. Basic defines them as someone

Choose "quick" and "inexpensive", and the Contact is left with actions potentially hazardous.

This isn't going-into-the-dungeon-with-you kinds of risk, like an Ally. But it might well risk the Contact's reputation, their job, or even criminal penalties. Wise players will think twice before asking their Contact to do something that costs them the position that made them a valuable Contact in the first place.
Well, yeah, some risk is fine provided is something fast and easy, but most of the time, even fighting a mook is too much.

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
If so, the modifiers will need care, because these describe three different kinds of interaction.
  1. An Ally goes places with you, and shares in the risks of adventuring.
  2. A Contact is someone who stays in the context of their own life, and doesn't go places with you.
  3. A Patron involves Himself with your life, but on his terms, not yours.
An ally doesn't need to go places with you, if he stays in the city, you could trade "12 or less" to "only when in the city".

A contact is not someone who stays in context of his life, but someone who will do small favors.You can ask him to do something that'll take a long time but it's cheap and inexpensive(like, for example, a warrior who knows a guy who can search the library for a specific information), he will need to spend his time doing research in the library, he may not be able to keep his business running while doing that.
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Old 08-20-2014, 04:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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I also balk at equipment as allies. I find it attracts far more munchkins than legitimate users. I like my allies to be people.
Gawd, yes. More than the cheapness of the ability, the use of it to get equipment annoys me terribly, to the point that I won't consider such a build as valid in my own games.
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Old 08-20-2014, 04:56 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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Gawd, yes. More than the cheapness of the ability, the use of it to get equipment annoys me terribly, to the point that I won't consider such a build as valid in my own games.
As I said it worked very well in Desolation Road, and I'm not sure what other trait would have worked better. I didn't have any of the problems that people seem to think this would cause, either.
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Old 08-20-2014, 05:02 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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Originally Posted by Not another shrubbery View Post
Gawd, yes. More than the cheapness of the ability, the use of it to get equipment annoys me terribly, to the point that I won't consider such a build as valid in my own games.
Equipment as allies has a specialized sphere of application. It certainly works when the campaign is Mighty Morphine Rangers and it can be used as an alternative to signature gear for big ticket items.
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Old 08-19-2014, 04:43 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

The amount of secrecy in a campaign affects what kinds of Allies are useful.

In an Elizabethan M;tA campaign, I started off with an Ally, a family servant. But he didn't know about the secret things going on, and telling him wouldn't have helped much - having witnesses to blatant magic is bad, even when they're on your side. So he ended up not being used much.

The Allies in THS are generally Minions, and trustworthy. Stealing them is a sensible tactic for opponents who want to know what you're up to, but I haven't encountered this as such in play - has anyone?

Two characters in our Weird War II campaign have Allies, who are both ghosts. As such, they're things that have to be kept secret, and are sensible enough not to be threats to secrecy.
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