Morph Feedback: Flexbots

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Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Morph Feedback: Flexbots

EDIT (July 31/17):Reiterated and expanded upon the original thoughts here.



So far I've really liked the new morphs and the more or less efficient designs that come with the new edition and the play tests.

Even so, something bugged me with Flexbots, when I started looking at them in more detail.

I took the time to throw together some simple flexbots and compare them to similar costed synthmorphs. I'm...not thrilled with what I've found:

2 Module Flexbot (8cp) vs Arachnoid (7cp)

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Arachnoid
Movement Rate: Hopper 4/16, Thrust Vector 8/40, Walker 4/24, Wheeled 8/40
Ware: Access Jacks, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Enhanced Vision, Extra Limbs (10 Arms/Legs), Lidar, Magnetic System, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Pneumatic Limbs, Puppet Sock, Radar, Retractable Limbs
Morph Traits: Exotic Morphology (Level 3)
Notes: Medium Frame (Armor 8/6)
DUR 50, WT 10, DR 100
Insight 0, Moxie 0, Vigor 3, Flex 1

Flexbot A (Crafter/Fighter)
Movement Rate: Thrust Vector 8/40, Walker 4/16
+Hopper 2/8 (4/16)
Ware: Access Jacks, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Modular Design, Puppet Sock, Shape-Adjusting
+Enhanced Vision, Fractal Digits, Nanoscopic Vision,
Pneumatic Limbs, Specialized Hive (Engineer Swarm), T-Ray Emitter
+Enhanced Vision, T-Ray Emitter, 2 Weapon Mounts
Morph Traits: Exotic Morphology (Level 3)
Notes: Light Frame (Armor 6/4), Small size
DUR 55, WT 11, DR 110
Insight 0, Moxie 0, Vigor 1, Flex 1

Flexbot B (Rogue/Wizard)
Movement Rate: Thrust Vector 8/40, Walker 4/16
Ware: Access Jacks, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Modular Design, Puppet Sock, Shape-Adjusting
+Chameleon Skin, Enhanced Vision, Fractal Digits, Nanoscopic Vision, Radar Absorbent, T-Ray Emitter, Weapon Mount
+Electrical Sense, Radio Booster, Skinlink, Utilitool
Morph Traits: Exotic Morphology (Level 3)
Notes: Light Frame (Armor 6/4), Small size
DUR 45, WT 9, DR 90
Insight 1, Moxie 0, Vigor 0, Flex 1

The flexbots seem to have significantly low pools compared to other synthmorphs. Just by these comparisons, even combined Flexbots have half or less than half of the pools of other morphs.

3 Module Flexbot (12cp) vs Reaper (11cp)

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Reaper
Movement Rate: Hopper 4/20, Ionic 12/40, Walker 4/20, Vectored Thrust 4/20
Ware: 360-Degree Vision, Access Jacks, Anti-Glare, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Claws, Magnetic System, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Pneumatic Limbs, Puppet Sock, Radar, Retractable Limbs, T-Ray Emitter, Weapon Mount (Articulated, 4)
Morph Traits: Exotic Morphology (Level 3)
Notes: Heavy Frame (Armor 12/10)
DUR 60, WT 12, DR 120
Insight 1, Moxie 0, Vigor 6, Flex 1

Flexbot (Crafter/Fighter/Rogue)
Movement Rate: Thrust Vector 8/40, Walker 4/16
+Hopper 2/8 (4/16)
Ware: Access Jacks, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Modular Design, Puppet Sock, Shape-Adjusting
+Enhanced Vision, Fractal Digits, Nanoscopic Vision,
Pneumatic Limbs, Specialized Hive (Engineer Swarm), T-Ray Emitter
+Enhanced Vision, T-Ray Emitter, 2 Weapon Mounts
+Chameleon Skin*, Enhanced Vision, Fractal Digits, Nanoscopic Vision, Radar Absorbent*, T-Ray Emitter, Weapon Mount
Morph Traits: Exotic Morphology (Level 3)
Notes: Light Frame (Armor 6/4), Medium size
DUR 70, WT 14, DR 140
Insight 0, Moxie 0, Vigor 1, Flex 2

*Non-functional?


Also, depending on the build, Flexbots have severe redundancy with their Wares. Three out of four of the modules have Enhanced Vision, and half of the modules have Fractal Digits and Nanoscopic Vision.

Not only that, but Flexbots seem to have more health, with a trade of mediocre armor. So they won't outdo dedicated morphs, but even so it looks and feels like they trade their pools for Wares at a disproportionate rate. Rather than being competitive, it feels like Flexbots would never be able to keep up with other synthmorphs of a comparable type or configuration.

I'm hoping this is only a foible of the playtest, because otherwise why bother investing in Flexbot characters? Even the legendary flexibility of the morphs falls short when other morphs can simply do more with their pools by comparison.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
Generally I found that

Generally I found that flexbots suffered from the fact that the individual modules were too expensive. You're not buying more DUR or augments, you are literally buying a new morph. Not only that, but some augments a module has doesn't carry over to the flexbot when they combine. For instance, chameleon skin doesn't carry over; all the modules needs to have it in order for it to be fully effective. Same with speed enhancing modules. On top of that, you are paying extra for modular design and shape adjusting, the iconic augments of flexbots. Also extra costs for being a synthmorph (almost forgot that one).

I need to do a review of what you can do to reduce costs. I've used morph creation rules to make cheaper flexbot modules. I found that reducing DUR and aptitudes is helpful. Don't buy aptitude bonuses, reduce the aptitude cap, and reduce DUR, keep armor light, etc. Definitely don't buy aptitude bonuses as for some morphs it is 50% of the cost.

Don't over do cost reductions. You're trying to make flexbots a practical option in this game, not cheat to get an advantage.

o11o1 o11o1's picture
I'd say the biggest thing

I'd say the biggest thing Flexbots can do is just carry fewer items of 'Ware. The 1 point of pool per module seems very intended and pretty flavorful, given the assumption that you're supposed to be stacking modules up pretty tall.

Ideally, a Flexbot Module would be worth around 2 or 3 CP, since a person is sort of expected to be buying multiples of them.

A slight smell of ions....

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Except you are...

Quote:
You're not buying more DUR or augments, you are literally buying a new morph.

Not so: it literally is the case where every extra module attached to a Flexbot gives it more DUR and access to the Augments in those modules. Because of how fexbots work (as per the revised Flexbot rules in Transhuman) they can easily outstrip other morphs for raw DUR with enough modules.

Quote:

I need to do a review of what you can do to reduce costs. I've used morph creation rules to make cheaper flexbot modules. I found that reducing DUR and aptitudes is helpful. Don't buy aptitude bonuses, reduce the aptitude cap, and reduce DUR, keep armor light, etc. Definitely don't buy aptitude bonuses as for some morphs it is 50% of the cost.

Don't over do cost reductions. You're trying to make flexbots a practical option in this game, not cheat to get an advantage.

Bearing in mind this comparison and feedback is specifically for the current iteration of flexbots in the 2nd Edition playtest. To recap the differences: morphs of any kind now have resource pools, rather than aptitude bonuses (like versions of Moxie tied to specific mental, physical or social actions).

Even so, if you reduce the already low DUR of Flexbot modules (individually most have equal, or even less, DUR as Flats or Cases) you start to cut into the only advantage they have.

Otherwise, why shouldn't Flexbots get the same morph-specific aptitude/pool bonuses that all other morphs get? With the 1st Edition Flexbots, their aptitude bonuses could combine to be exceptionally competitive with even high-end morphs, and provide a very reliable platform for all kinds of activities.

With 2nd Edition flexbots, it looks like they've been designed to cut down the pool benefits in return for Wares - which I can already tell is going to make them even more undercut by regular morphs who can do the same things, and better, for FAR less than it costs to field a working Flexbot.

Quote:
I'd say the biggest thing Flexbots can do is just carry fewer items of 'Ware. The 1 point of pool per module seems very intended and pretty flavorful, given the assumption that you're supposed to be stacking modules up pretty tall.

I'd be tempted to agree, if other morphs were balanced similarly. As it stands, even the humble Dragonfly morph (2cp) gets 2 more pool points than an individual Flexbot (4cp) - you would have to spend 12cp, total, to get the same pool benefits. That is a terrible trade of Cp-to-pools power which leads me to believe that Flexbots, as they are, are severely underpowered by comparison.

The most glaring problems, as I see it, are:
-Too many Wares per module.
-Too many redundant Wares across the current module selection.
-Too little module variety.

What I'd recommend to rebalance/optimize Flexbots (I'm keeping these ideas in mind for if/when the 2nd edition morph creation rules are hashed together):
-A set of modules with few/no extra Wares and at least 2 pool points per module.
-A set of modules with task-specific Ware packages for easy mixing and matching, and few, if any pool points.
-A set of modules with no few/no extra Wares or pool points, but with module specific special mechanics (like the Apiary or Bouba).

eaton eaton's picture
"Too little module variety"

"Too little module variety" is the killer, IMO. Flexbots aren't like normal morphs, in that they're not meant to be balanced with an "edge" in one area or another. The modules should be specialized, and combining them should produce a well-rounded (but expensive) aggregate with some unique advantages other kinds of morphs don't share. (Like the ability to split off one module and use it for recon)

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
eaton wrote:The modules

eaton wrote:
The modules should be specialized, and combining them should produce a well-rounded (but expensive) aggregate with some unique advantages other kinds of morphs don't share. (Like the ability to split off one module and use it for recon)

I am agreed - even though the current iteration of Flexbots technically meets those requirements. They just do so in the most inefficient way possible, and leaves them with the least 'bang-for-buck' of any of the available morphs. Even Cases/Flats are inferior but better, because they're free.

Personally I wouldn't mind if each of the current modules, or new ones that might be devised, have something to the effect of 2 pool points per module, and one or two Wares, beyond the standard Flexbot Wares, to help define a specialty for that module. If it's even possible, I'd like to see such modules priced at 3cp.

In that way, individual flexbots wouldn't be much better than other morphs (if at all) in the same price range, and only outdo the 'better than nothing' options like Cases/Flats. Then of course you start aggregating those bonuses/Wares into the collective as you add more modules.

Edit: Did some number crunching and piecing things together from a spreadsheet a few topics over to try my hand at recreating the morph creation process used, and seeing why things are the way they are.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2882422/Morph%20Pools%20Spreadsheet%20051517.xls

CP cost for pools is 2 per pool/point
CP cost for DUR assumes baseline DUR of 35. Every +/-5 DUR is +/-2 CP
Ware CP cost is 1 for Minor, 2 Moderate, 4 Major complexity
Total CP reduced by ¼ for final Morph CP

Armor
Light Frame (6/4) - 2CP
Medium Frame (8/6) - 4CP
Heavy Frame (12/10) - 6CP
Swarm Characteristics - 2CP

Natural Weapons
Light (DV 2d6) - Minor
Medium (DV 1d10) - Moderate
Reach - Moderate
Extra Arms - Minor (per pair)
Utilitool - Moderate
Nano Hive - Moderate

Pool CP
I/M/V Points
Flex Points
DUR CP
DUR
Traits CP
Traits
Ware CP
Minor
Moderate
Major
Total
¼ Cost
Final Cost

Custom Flexbot (2nd Ed)
Yeoman
Pool CP (4)
I/M/V Points
Flex Points (2)
DUR CP (-2)
DUR 30
Traits CP (-4)
Traits
Exotic Morph 3 (-6)
Light Frame (2)
Ware CP
Minor (7)
Access Jacks, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Puppet Sock, Nanoscopic Vision*
Moderate (6)
Modular Design*, Thrust Vector, Fractal Digits*
Major (4)
Shape Adjusting*
Total (15
¼ Cost (3.75)
Final Cost 4CP

*Note: the complexity for these modules is assumed for the purpose of testing - direct conversion from 1st Ed expense to 2nd Ed complexity would result in a final CP cost of 5 or more.

Yeoman - “Bog standard” (4 CP)
Movement Rate: Thrust Vector 8/40, Walker 4/16
Ware: Access Jacks, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Fractal Digits, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Modular Design, Nanoscopic Vision, Puppet Sock, Shape Adjusting
Morph Traits: Exotic Morphology (Level 3)
Notes: Light Frame (6/4), Small Size
DUR 30, WT 6, DR 60
Insight 0, Moxie 0, Vigor 0, Flex 2

Bare Flexbot* (3 CP)
Movement Rate: Thrust Vector 8/40, Walker 4/16
Ware: Access Jacks, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Modular Design, Puppet Sock, Shape Adjusting
Morph Traits: Exotic Morphology (Level 3)
Notes: Light Frame (6/4), Small Size
DUR 30, WT 6, DR 60
Insight 0, Moxie 0, Vigor 0, Flex 2

*I feel this demonstrates the viability of a 'pool only' set of Flexbots - as the creation costs for Flex are identical to other pool costs.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
If it sounds like I'm talking

If it sounds like I'm talking 1st edition rules, it is because I am talking 1st edition rules. I know those rules well. I figured that 1st edition knowledge would be helpful here.

Lurkingdaemon wrote:
Quote:
You're not buying more DUR or augments, you are literally buying a new morph.

Not so: it literally is the case where every extra module attached to a Flexbot gives it more DUR and access to the Augments in those modules. Because of how fexbots work (as per the revised Flexbot rules in Transhuman) they can easily outstrip other morphs for raw DUR with enough modules.

Yes you are buying a new morph. They have their own cyberbrains and stuff. They can run around as separate morphs. Being able to combine doesn't change that fact.

Flexbots are not cheap. Being priced as a full morph is part of the difficulty with using them. Not getting the same bang per buck as other morphs also adds to the problem.

I would also like to point out that making a large Flexbot will result in the reduction in number of actions possible. Each module could have functioned as their own morph; given to a friend or a fork of yourself. You are in essence trading actions for DUR and aptitude bonuses/pools.

The existing selection of Flexbot modules (1st edition) are not good at getting high aptitude bonuses. They're all +5 bonuses. Two +5 bonuses can't combine to form a +10 bonus. If you want +10 or +15 bonuses, you would need provide them in some way.

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
DivineWrath wrote:If it

DivineWrath wrote:
I would also like to point out that making a large Flexbot will result in the reduction in number of actions possible. Each module could have functioned as their own morph; given to a friend or a fork of yourself. You are in essence trading actions for DUR and aptitude bonuses/pools.

This issue is not specific to flexbots - this kind of action economy can be achieved with a single person, a few multi-tasking implants and a bunch of spare morphs with puppet socks.

The unique benefit of flexbots is they can merge together to achieve larger forms, and get the bonuses to DUR, and so on with larger compositions. With the specific example provided, it sounds very much a case of using different means to achieve the same goal - one that flexbots might not be the best suited for, in my own estimation.

Quote:
The existing selection of Flexbot modules (1st edition) are not good at getting high aptitude bonuses. They're all +5 bonuses. Two +5 bonuses can't combine to form a +10 bonus. If you want +10 or +15 bonuses, you would need provide them in some way.

That's what Augments are for - pick a module with a SOM bonus and give it Enhanced Muscles or Reinforced Skeleton (or both). Give a REF module a Reflex Booster, fit it to the SOM module and there you go. Not always an option, admittedly, but just because the default bots don't have impressive boosts doesn't mean they can't be made so.

I won't discuss the point further based on the 1st Edition mechanics - I don't have a problem with them.

I do want to discuss my feedback as per my original concerns for 2nd Edition.

o11o1 o11o1's picture
Lurkingdaemon wrote:That's

Lurkingdaemon wrote:
I won't discuss the point further based on the 1st Edition mechanics - I don't have a problem with them.

I do want to discuss my feedback as per my original concerns for 2nd Edition.

Looking over your design in the earlier post, that seems like a pretty decent layout of how they can't really get -less- expensive without having to cut into the really basic Synthmorph ware plus their shape adjusting. The pool points are kinda the cheapest thing about them.

Which actually suggests to me maybe Flexbots could instead by improved by going the other direction: adding an extra final CP or two to each one, spending it all on more basic Pool Points. If a Wizard module cost 6CP but had Menton-ish pool stats plus a nice ware package? the one module on it's own becomes an attractive morph option, even before getting into the ability to combine it with a Fighter module and now having nice fat stacks of DUR, Insight, and Vigor to play with (plus two weapon mounts and all the battle hacking gear)

A slight smell of ions....

TheGrue TheGrue's picture
Lurkingdaemon wrote:

Lurkingdaemon wrote:

Not so: it literally is the case where every extra module attached to a Flexbot gives it more DUR and access to the Augments in those modules. Because of how fexbots work (as per the revised Flexbot rules in Transhuman) they can easily outstrip other morphs for raw DUR with enough modules.

This is the subforum for the 2E playtest, so the Transhuman rules do not necessarily apply.

Thermonuclear Banana Split - A not-really-weekly Eclipse Phase campaign journal.

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Allow me to correct myself.

Quote:
This is the subforum for the 2E playtest, so the Transhuman rules do not necessarily apply.

My mistake.

*Ahem* Because of how fexbots work (as per the Flexbot rules in the current draft of the 2nd Edition playtest) they can easily outstrip other morphs for raw DUR, with enough modules.

Quote:
Which actually suggests to me maybe Flexbots could instead by improved by going the other direction: adding an extra final CP or two to each one, spending it all on more basic Pool Points.

The idea certainly makes sense, and would definitely add some appeal to using individual ‘bots until one can acquire more in play. I can't discount it out of hand, but it isn't the first solution I would go for. The general feel of the individual ‘bots has (more or less) been ‘cheap and cheerful’ - while 2nd Edition might change that, it obviously isn't too much of a stretch to recreate the original modules from 1st Edition (more or less).

Part of the issue for the current bots stems back to my observations about their Wares: the current module set seem to have more than they need, when the different Wares could be broken down further to create distinct modules (like the separation of augments between the 1st Ed Crafter and Sapper). In short, the current set of modules are workable, but their Wares layout is rather inefficient.

Also, as was pointed out by DivineWrath (and something I admittedly disregarded unfairly), reducing the DUR of individual modules can affect the ‘bang-for-buck’ each one provides - either by allowing the module to have more Wares, pool points, or just by reducing the final CP cost of the module.

Example:

Spoiler: Highlight to view

Bare Flexbot
Movement Rate: Thrust Vector 8/40, Walker 4/16
Ware: Access Jacks, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Modular Design, Puppet Sock, Shape Adjusting
Morph Traits: Exotic Morphology (Level 3)
Notes: Light Frame (6/4), Small Size
DUR 30, WT 6, DR 60
Insight 0, Moxie 0, Vigor 0, Flex 2

Cost: 3 CP - 12 CP before ¼ multiplier.
Taking the pre-multiplier cost of 12, the options we have to cut down on the final CP are:
-Reduce DUR: taking the DUR of the morph down to 20 (+/-2 CP per +/-5 DUR) reduces the pre-multiplier cost to 8 CP (or 2 CP final cost).
-Taking away the pool points (2 CP each) further reduces the pre-multiplier cost to 4 (1 CP final cost).

Tl;Dr: I am quickly coming to the conclusion that the Flexbot modules in this draft of the playtest are ‘merely’ inefficient with their design and Wares. I do, however stand by my observations concerning the lack of module variety - as that seems to be the root cause of said inefficiency, by way of attempting to merge multiple 1st Edition module concepts into a single bot for 2nd Edition.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Flexbots need to be more than a meatshield.

Yet again, this is a topic which is hard to evaluate without more information about how the gear/economy system will work, but I get the impression that the Flexbots suffer from the same problem(s) that they did in V1 - they're not particularly good at what they're supposed to do.

As I understand them Flexbots are all about adaptability, both for players who enjoy mucking around with gear (iirc Rob or Adam said this a while back), and on the in-game situational level.

For the former, the face the problem mentioned previously that extra modules for your Flexbot are literally additional morphs, and so bear the additional economic/situational costs associated with having more than one body but none (or few) of the benefits.
Unless things have changed dramatically in V2, it will still be easier/better to buy augments/blueprints and kit out a single morph than use a flexbot.

In game they're a little better, but mostly due to the Shape Adjusting augmentation - altering their capabilities in play remains largely impractical.

This is why I don't think giving the modules more stuff is going to help - it makes them more powerful or cost effective, but all that does is make them better individually rather than addressing the root problems.

I'm currently wondering if a better way to do flexbots would be to have a single base model rather than distinct morphs, with internal hardware that can be reconfigured into the various variants when loaded with an appropriate piece of software or dedicated blueprint during resleeving (or otherwise with a lengthy task action). Adding additional modules increases the amount of types which can be used simultaneously.

Another idea would be to give them a unique ability to interact with the Flex Pool, expanding the types of items which can be 'introduced to a scene' by allowing the morph to create gear on the fly, perhaps from a list determined by the module type.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
There's a huge advantage to

There's a huge advantage to Flexbot modules being full morphs which hasn't really come up: they're full morphs.

An Ego with Right At Home (flexbots), Ego Plasticity and maybe Pheonix is able to cover a ton of ground by dynamically altering between a single person in a tough morph, and a self contained squad when split up. One can really take over a group thanks to being able to have a fork wherever the action is. That said, flexbot builds are pretty CP intensive, especially if you want flexbot blueprints, and you probably do.

They can also be jammed or remote controlled, which basically makes them really expensive bots which work as a backup morph when someone dies, which is pretty valuable as well.

I think they're still a little bit too expensive, but whether or not that's actually a problem really depends on what the rules for getting blueprints are in second edition. It's so much easier to use a flexbot if it's easily replaced.

RobBoyle RobBoyle's picture
Some great points brought up

Some great points brought up here. I'll say that I have not been happy with the cost of flexbot modules myself, and I've been planning to go back and take a harder look at how to possibly fix that. I agree that much of the ware is redundant -- that will change once Gear is more finalized. Anyway, certainly open to ideas on how to tweak them -- the Flex-for-gear idea has caught my eye, and certainly fits with the shape-changing, though I'd rather avoid having to put in long lists of options. Will ponder that more.

Rob Boyle :: Posthuman Studios

Grim G Grim G's picture
So me being a Flexbro fan, I

So me being a Flexbro fan, I figure it's about time I contribute to this.

Price per bot: I noticed that the playtest lists stats that ALL Flexbots have, then lists the individual moduals. Now, if the base stats are added in the final price of each module, then maybe there can be a rule about buying additional modules.

Let's say the CP price of all base stats is 1, and specific add-ons are 3 (on a side note, I really want to see how the rules for homebrewed morph pricing works when CP has been heavily deflated). You purchase 1 module for 4 CP, then every other modual after that is 3 since they all have the same basic features.

I think this could really work because most of a Flexbro's base features are shared with every other synthmorph, even cases! So having redundant ware isn't much of an advantage.

Implications of a Flexbro: One thing I think should be addressed (and I think already has) Is the unique advantages of a Flexbot. 2 Fighter moduals (8CP, or 7 if you take my previous idea into account) have a combined DUR of 60, a WT of 12, and a DR of 120.

On top of that, you have 4 weapon mounts capable of holding a longarm each on top of a theoretically limitless amount of hands. If you have a co-pilot in there with you, they can man weapon mounts, provide cyberwarfare, and give you a reroll on perception tasks.

And on top of THAT, the Flexbro's Shape Adjustment, Modular Design, and ability to switch mobility systems (a rule from Transhuman) allow for a wide level of creativity. Fly up to the roof of a building without any rolls necessary to put yourself in a superior firing position. Slither through a vent to get into a flanking position. Split up and distribute your mass so you can fit into the crevasse in an alleyway, and when your target comes, double team 'em.

AND ON TOP OF THAT! You still count as being small sized, and harder to hit.

TL;DR A Flexbro's usefulness is measured in how creative you can be with them. Are they still underpowered? No idea. You be the judge.
Stat pools: To directly address OP's point about stat pools being to low, I think you have a point, but I'm not sure how good of a point it is. The question is can a Flexbot's modularity make up for the lack of pools?

Grim G Grim G's picture
RobBoyle wrote:Some great

RobBoyle wrote:
Some great points brought up here. I'll say that I have not been happy with the cost of flexbot modules myself, and I've been planning to go back and take a harder look at how to possibly fix that. I agree that much of the ware is redundant -- that will change once Gear is more finalized. Anyway, certainly open to ideas on how to tweak them -- the Flex-for-gear idea has caught my eye, and certainly fits with the shape-changing, though I'd rather avoid having to put in long lists of options. Will ponder that more.

As long as everything will be better, I'm on board. BTW, before you make any decisions, would you please take a quick look at my above post? I've been working on it for a few hours (on and off), and I'd hate to see an evening's worth of work to go to wast. :)
Grim G Grim G's picture
So now that MP and Avail are

So now that MP and Avail are a thing, what do we think about Flexbros? Still underpowered?

Vae Dei Vae Dei's picture
I think they actually got

I think they actually got worse? Since they don't give any flex now, but have the same cost.

Grim G Grim G's picture
Vae Dei wrote:I think they

Vae Dei wrote:
I think they actually got worse? Since they don't give any flex now, but have the same cost.

Seems like flex was just switched to a different pool.
Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
ThatWhichNeverWas wrote

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:
Another idea would be to give them a unique ability to interact with the Flex Pool, expanding the types of items which can be 'introduced to a scene' by allowing the morph to create gear on the fly, perhaps from a list determined by the module type.

I like this idea, a lot. It definitely fits with the theme of the adaptability and the shape-changing capabilities of flexbots (AKA Flexbros). Instead of a list, perhaps it could be a sweeping ability to introduce one Ware of Moderate complexity, or two Wares of Minor complexity - within reason. That way there doesn't have to be a specific list, and it could apply for future supplements/wares as they get introduced.

Otherwise one of the issues of the cost of the Flexbot morphs (apart from some of the wares selections) comes from the two signature wares that makes a flexbot a flexbot: Modular Design and Shape Adjusting.

Based on my attempts above to reverse engineer the devs own morph creation system, one of these Wares is considered Moderate complexity (2 CP pre-calculation cost), and the other is Major (4 CP pre-calcuation cost). I wont argue the necessity to say "this is what makes a flexbot capable of being a flexbot" but is it possible to fold the two wares into a single Major complexity ware for the sake of simplicity (and possibly cost savings)? This would ease up on the number of wares in the 'bots, in general, and it would be just as easy to say "this ware is specific to flexbots, or shells converted into flexbots."

o11o1 o11o1's picture
So to me it seems like there

So to me it seems like there are two 'Ware related changes that could really clean up Flexbots pretty quickly though would mean there is some recalculation on costs:

A) Cyberbrain, Puppet Sock, Eidetic Memory, Mnemonics: These are all the same item of 'ware, and should cost as per a single Major item of ware all together, instead of being nickle and dimed. This is also currently having effects on Pods.

B) Shape Adjusting and Modular Construction, as mentioned by Lurkingdaemon, are also the same upgrade, I've never seen morphs have one but not the other. ( I may have missed someone) If these are also collapsed into the same 'Ware, then that leaves flexbots with two Major 'ware before anything else, but are from there basically good to go.

C) More optional, but: All Flexbot Morphs, in addition to ThatWhichNeverWas's suggestion of generating gear on the fly, all the Modules should have at least 1 Flex point base, to ensure that it can actually be used.

A slight smell of ions....

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Nickels and Dimes? What are those?

o11o1 wrote:
A) Cyberbrain, Puppet Sock, Eidetic Memory, Mnemonics: These are all the same item of 'ware, and should cost as per a single Major item of ware all together, instead of being nickle and dimed. This is also currently having effects on Pods.

Synths and pods all suffer from this stuff - even all biomorphs (except flats) have the mesh inserts and biomods. Yea, it's nickel and diming, but it's also the cost of doing business, which isn't much of a problem since EVERY morph (except the freebies) has to pay for those.

o11o1 wrote:
B) Shape Adjusting and Modular Construction, as mentioned by Lurkingdaemon, are also the same upgrade, I've never seen morphs have one but not the other.

Once upon a time Reaper morphs had Shape Adjusting to reflect their ability to do all kinds of crazy compacting and disguise work with their various limbs and weapon mounts. Synthtaur (where are my 2nd Ed Synthtaur?!) also had it to represent their ability to switch from a quadruped stance to a biped one, in addition to doing funky things with the forelimbs (which became a second set of arms). There was even a nifty gizmo of a Synth called the Mimic, which could pretend to be various objects of various sizes using Shape Adjusting. A variant of the Steelmorph had it too.

2nd Ed seems to have revamped the Reaper: now they have just the Pneumatic and Retractable Limbs wares, so they can still do funny stuff with their Doc-Oc tentacles, but not some of the tricks that seem to be exclusive to flexbros now.

If anything, Modular Design was the exclusive augment for 'bots, as nothing but 'bots had it - whereas Shape Adjusting was a catch all for physical reconfiguration of some kind. If Shape Adjusting is being passed over for other wares that do the same(limb wares, skinflex, etc) then the Flexbot specific use for it could be folded into Modular Design as a matter of course - since, in the context of flexbots, the two wares are literally synonymous.

o11o1 wrote:
C) More optional, but: All Flexbot Morphs, in addition to ThatWhichNeverWas's suggestion of generating gear on the fly, all the Modules should have at least 1 Flex point base, to ensure that it can actually be used.

Agreed with a caveat: SOME Flexbots should have Flex, but few, if any other pool points - to encourage getting multiple modules if/when possible to shore up deficiencies. I can easily see situations where a single module with very good pools gets stacked to the exclusion of all others, which more or less defeats the point of having a variety of modules in the first place.

Grim G Grim G's picture
I disagree with rolling Shape

I disagree with rolling Shape Adjusting and Modular Design. They weren't necessarily a Flexbot thing, in fact, some modules didn't even have Shape Adjustment! I'm also pretty sure Modular Design could be bought as an aftermarket mod for all synthmorphs.

I'm a little iffy about Flexware (although that does roll off the tongue), but every module getting a point of Flex is something I back 100%

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Grim G wrote:They weren't

Grim G wrote:
They weren't necessarily a Flexbot thing, in fact, some modules didn't even have Shape Adjustment! I'm also pretty sure Modular Design could be bought as an aftermarket mod for all synthmorphs.

I think its been mentioned, officially, elsewhere on the forum that all 'bots in 1st Ed were intended to have both Shape Adjusting and Modular Design - any instances where that wasn't the case was simply oversight.

And yea, you could technically turn any Synthmorph into a flexbot if you had the credit/favours to spare for the cost.

Grim G wrote:
I'm a little iffy about Flexware (although that does roll off the tongue), but every module getting a point of Flex is something I back 100%

I like the name.

If it is a big thing to have the Flex pool to exploit the so-called Flexware, perhaps the Ware itself should grant 1 additional point to the 'bots Flex pool? That way every module would be able to leverage the ability, and the 'bots themselves could be balanced a bit more freely/inventively as far as the individual modules are concerned.

Grim G Grim G's picture
Lurkingdaemon wrote:I like

Lurkingdaemon wrote:
I like the name.

If it is a big thing to have the Flex pool to exploit the so-called Flexware, perhaps the Ware itself should grant 1 additional point to the 'bots Flex pool? That way every module would be able to leverage the ability, and the 'bots themselves could be balanced a bit more freely/inventively as far as the individual modules are concerned.


What do you mean by that? I just coined "flexware" as the name of the ability to produce ware on the fly. That being said, I'm a bit more open to the idea now that I have time to let it sink it. Flex may allow you to introduce an item into the scene, but ware of any kind doesn't seem plausible on it's own. You suggested 2 minor or 1 major, right? I guess that would work, but you can't create new ware without removing the old one(s), and not in the same scene as you still have said ware (I would imagine a T-Ray emitter would take hours to make).
Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
In the same way that certain

Grim G wrote:

What do you mean by that? I just coined "flexware" as the name of the ability to produce ware on the fly. That being said, I'm a bit more open to the idea now that I have time to let it sink it. Flex may allow you to introduce an item into the scene, but ware of any kind doesn't seem plausible on it's own. You suggested 2 minor or 1 major, right? I guess that would work, but you can't create new ware without removing the old one(s), and not in the same scene as you still have said ware (I would imagine a T-Ray emitter would take hours to make).

In the same way that certain wares now provide a boost to pools (Mental Speed for +2 Insight), the flexbot specific ware, whether its called Flexware or something else entirely, could have an inherent +1 to Flex - in addition to enabling the shell/morph to use the flexbot rules.

As for the suggested Wares that can be recreated - I actually recommended 2 Minor OR 1 Moderate.

Wares that are Major complexity are the really high end things that I'd imagine are either so specialized, or so sophisticated that the shape-adjusting materials and modular parts of a Flexbot simply cannot recreate. As I see it, this would keep Flexbots as swiss army bots, but prevent them from pulling a fabricator out of their backside (unless it was already built in).

EDIT: Because everyone likes numbers, I did some more reverse-engineered crunching to illustrate some of the suggested changes as they may, or may not, be implemented.

Outlined in the crunching is a recreation of the Yeoman module from 1st edition - with Pools of 1 Insight, 1 Moxie and 1 Flex.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Yeoman
Pool CP (6)
I/M/V Points (2)
Flex Points (1)

DUR CP (-2)
DUR 30

Traits CP (-4)
Exotic Morph 3 (-6)
Light Frame (2)

Ware CP
Minor (7)Access Jacks, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Puppet Sock, Nanoscopic Vision
Moderate (6)
Modular Design?, Thrust Vector, Fractal Digits
Major (4)
Shape Adjusting?

Total (17)
¼ Cost (4.25)
Final Cost 4 CP

Yeoman
Pool CP (4)I/M/V Points (2)Flex Points (0)
DUR CP (-2)
DUR 30

Traits CP (-4)
Exotic Morph 3 (-6)Light Frame (2)

Ware CP
Minor (7)Access Jacks, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mesh Inserts, Mnemonics, Nanoscopic Vision, Puppet Sock
Moderate (4)
Fractal Digits, Thrust Vector
Major (4)
Flexware

Total (13)
¼ Cost (3.25)
Final Cost 3 CP

(Apologies for the screwy indentations. BBcode disagrees with copy-paste)

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
Here's an idea. Instead of

Here's an idea. Instead of selling Flexbot modules individually, why not sell them as a group of modules? Offer a discount on the whole unit to make them cost competitive with other morphs. Maybe you can even allow a the group to have the same augments free of charge, such as chameleon coating for all modules (which normally need to be bought for every module of the Flexbot).

Edit: Not every module needs to be a full morph. These packaged Flexbots could be a mix of morphs and robots.

o11o1 o11o1's picture
Hmmm, a Group of modules

Hmmm, a Group of modules seems like it could be neat, though a bit werid to me.

Mostly I think We just need to get the price of Flexbots down to 3 MP base instead of 4 MP. At that number, you could reasonably have two different modules without having to spring for Resources 2 on your flexbot character.

A slight smell of ions....

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Module groups and crunchy bits

Module groups do sound interesting, although the issue becomes one of complexity - and flexbots are already headache inducingly complicated to some. Rather than bots, I'm almost thinking some kind of 'plug and play' type attachments might work - where one pays for the wares, but doesn't get the ancilliary 'this is a full morph' stuff. Whether or not such attachments could have an onboard LAI would also be a consideration.

As for getting the prices down for the MP costs - the most direct solution I can think of is to make the ware that is signature to flexbots (Modular Design/Flexware/Whatever) a single ware, not rely on any other wares to enable the flexbot rules, and preferrably of Moderate complexity. In this way, after all the number crunching is done, a barebones flexbot module would cost 1 MP, and have no pool points.

From there module types would be slightly less expensive, while still providing all the lego-morph goodness that we love the 'bots for in the first place.

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Compiled thoughts and reiterations

To reiterate, and expand upon my original concerns, with help from everyone that's pitched in so far, currently flexbots suffer as very mediocre choices as either independant morphs, or combined modules for the following reasons:

  • High expense for low value - Flexbot modules are very light on Pools, and heavy on wares - making them overspecialized as morphs, and poor choices compared to more adaptable, less purpose-built bodies. This is illuminated further by their high MP costs for each morph/module, and, as currently drafted, requires almost double the cost in MP to achieve similar Pool totals, compared to other morphs.
  • High redundancy - in part due to the current drafts frontloading Flexbot modules with wares, the available flexbot modules have severe overlap in the wares available - in some cases having 3 modules out of 4 with the same, redundant wares.
  • Lacking module variety - the lacking number of modules, currently written, compounds the above issues severely, as there are far fewer options for selecting modules - with almost 2/3rds less choice in the way of modules, and fewer unique wares per module.

Beyond these issues Flexbots need multiple, expensive wares to achieve their signature mechanic. The expense, overlap and redundancy of the Modular Design and Shape Adjusting wares feels counter to the whole streamlining process that has taken place, so far, with 2nd edition.

My own suggestion to alleviate a few of the latter issues would be to rework how a Flexbot is determined to be a Flexbot - namely through the Modular Design Ware. By making this ware, which was already specific to flexbot shells (even if it was accidentally left out in some 1st edition modules), be the ‘signature’ ware for all flexbots - while simultaneously removing the need for Shape Adjusting (which has yet to reappear in 2nd Ed morphs, besides with flexbots themselves) - the requirements and baked-in cost of the modules is reduced, and the overall number of wares per module is also trimmed down.

As an example of how I think this could be done:

Quote:
Modular Design [Moderate]
The morph is composed of modular components, in a smart material shell, capable of changing shape and function. The shell can attach to other Modular shells to create larger, composite forms. Enables Flexbot rules. +1 Flex pool. Synthmorph only.

My reasoning:

  • Foremost, the complexity is similar to other wares/gear capable of self-reconfiguration (utilitools, etc), and the principle is similar, albeit writ large for the morph scale.
  • The inherent Flex bonus would represent the variety of narrative options available to a shape-changing shell with this ware.
  • Redundancy is done away with, making this the ‘signature’ ware for Flexbots, and synthetic shells converted to flexbots.
  • This would also make individual flexbot morphs more economical - reducing their MP cost by 1 for the modules currently written (by cutting out the creation cost of a major complexity ware), and providing each of those modules +1 to their Flex pool.

Apart from these suggested changes, additions to the flexbot rules to further emphasise their adaptable nature have been suggested. In particular, the idea that Flexbots could use their modular/rearranging capabilities to mimic wares not already installed in their shell. I’ve been tentatively referring to this idea as ‘Flexware’, with the thought being:

Quote:
New Flexbot rule: Flexware
Flexbots can arrange their internal components and shape-adjusting shell to recreate lower complexity wares. Only attached modules gain the benefit of these wares. Max 2 additional wares. Spend 1 Flex: gain 2 Minor wares, or 1 Moderate ware until next long rest.

My reasoning:

  • Making this ability a core feature of Flexbots, rather than a ware-based feature, limits potential abuses, while keeping Flexbots uniquely adaptable.
  • Tracking what wares are being spontaneously generated is easier, and players attempting to leverage the ability more heavily would have to make use of Flexbots other features (being composed of multiple morphs, etc).
  • The concept itself would allow Flexbots to be much more adaptable as morphs, and capable of circumventing some issues regarding wares and their modules (chameleon skin, radar absorbent, etc).
  • The flexbot player would have more options of narrative influence - and would have to decide between the standard options for using Flex, and this ability.

Addressing these issues would hopefully make flexbots more competitive as options for morphs, while retaining their uniqueness within the setting and mechanics.

Another suggestion that’s come up a few times has been the idea of non-morph attachments of some kind.

Depending on the implementation of such an idea, I could agree with the principle. Two counter-points I feel should be mentioned: Firstly, if the main concerns brought up for Flexbots get addressed, the issue may become a moot point; Secondly, having non-morph attachments means just that: the attachments aren’t full morphs, and lose the benefits of being such for the more creative flexbot user.