Thursday, June 12, 2008

Flaming Bullets Suck

The second chapter of the Scion Companion keeps getting delayed, so they released some spoilers over at the forums. I was terribly disappointed by these spoilers.
Flamin’ Bullets (Fire ••••)
The weapon becomes wreathed in flames, and for the rest of the scene, the weapon belches blasts of Legend-fueled fire. The weapon still consumes normal ammunition, but the shots become imbued with “fire power,” so to speak. The fiery rounds also inflict lethal damage, even against creatures that normally take bashing damage from bullets, such as the walking dead. The fiery rounds add +1 Accuracy and Damage to the weapon and also allow it to light targets on fire. Shooting the gas tank of a car with a pistol really can produce an explosive ending when Flamin’ Bullets are used.
Not a good choice for a preview.

It overlaps heavily with Flare Missile (the existing Sun 4 boon), and doesn't compare well to it. Flamin' Bullets costs less (legend per scene, not per shot) and gives +1 die to accuracy. However, it's damage boost is +1 die, whereas Flare Missile gives at least +5 levels (roughly equivalent to 10 dice). Damage (not accuracy) is where guns need boosting in the system, since they don't get Epic Strength on their damage rolls but do get Epic Dex on attack rolls. What's more, Flare Missile lets you create ammo out of sunlight - so if your clip is empty, it'll let you keep shooting.

Worse yet, it also overlaps heavily with Blazing Weapon (the existing Fire 4 boon), and compares even worse to it. Blazing Weapon can only augment a melee weapon, not a ranged weapon like a gun, but it gives bonus dice equal to your legend, which you split up as you see fit. You can put +1 to accuracy and +1 to damage, and have at least 3 more dice to apply as you see fit. It also sets things on fire like Flamin' Bullets does.

Speaking of which, the vague "also allow it to light targets on fire" clause pisses me off too. It provides no rules, so you're completely at the whim of GM fiat as to whether or not you can ignite a person's clothes. I'm sure the authors thought that was best handled via Stunting, except they made this a level 4 boon - you have to be a Demigod to use Flamin' Bullets. The bonus dice given by stunts become laughable sometime mid demigod.

In short, Flamin' Bullets sucks. It does something the existing Fire 4 already does (it just changes the target from melee to ranged) but the new boon doesn't do it as well. Further, the two areas where guns could really have used improvement (damage and range) in the system aren't boosted (the former not significantly and the later not at all). While the Fire Purview could use more attack powers, what it really needed is a Hero-level attack boon. What's more, it's not fresh, and doesn't explore new design space at all - it just poorly mimics existing boons.

Flamin' Bullets would have been fine as a 3-dot Boon, but it's just nowhere near as powerful as the two very similar existing 4-dot boons.

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