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Author Topic: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?  (Read 4279 times)

BerserkMech

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[MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« on: 21 April 2019, 01:58:42 »
I've decided on using the 2nd edition system to run my new merc campaign. I know that it differs from players to players. My focus is roughly 70% wargame (the base/substance) and 30% roleplaying (the glue or cohesive agent) (between missions, linked campaign, repair/salvage, some personal level outside the mech operations, a little planetary travelling, etc.).
I am half way reading the rulebook itself, while checking out the discussions here every now and then. So far my impression is that 2ed seems to fit the wargame side best (2D6, same mechwarrior skills, zero conversion). The biggest gripe I've seen in the discussions is mainly the tendency for PCs to get OP because of how easy they can gain XP.

So my (naive) question is: wouldn't it just be fine to "patch" the XP reward system, by, say, scaling up the leveling ladder?

I have just drafted my initial core lance mercs and not actually run the campaign yet. But I want to learn from others' experiences and insights. Thanks.

PS Another major reason to use 2ed is for the majority of the wealth of the old FASA books are written for 2ed. I am also not so into the clan era, let alone jihad or dark age (least interested), so I don't feel any urge to chase the new stuff.
« Last Edit: 21 April 2019, 11:17:48 by BerserkMech »
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Daryk

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch the system?
« Reply #1 on: 21 April 2019, 06:33:32 »
I think AToW does a better job of rounding out characters than 2nd Edition.  As I recall, 2nd Ed. is all about Intuition, thus insuring you have a low base target for any skills you pick up.  It's the low base target numbers possible with character creation that are at the root of 2nd Edition's power creep problem.

BerserkMech

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Re: [MW 2e] Easy ways to patch the system?
« Reply #2 on: 21 April 2019, 09:41:20 »
Thanks for the advice. In fact I do have the physical copies of all four editions of MW rulebooks, in addition to a pile of old FASA supplements. For now I intend to use AToW as a rich reference and extra toolkit. Even if I want to go for AToW, the Companion is long OOP and next to impossible to get a physical copy. The thing is I enjoy reading paper books far more than burning my aging eyes with the small prints and flashy colors on the screen.

Off topic:
The major barrier that keeps me from delving into the AToW system is its overwhelming details and nuances, which probably are of not much use to my campaign (as in OP it's more battlemech and combat focused), and the seemingly less straightforward transition to and from CBT. Only if some vets here can recommend how to selectively adopt the rules... as a supplementary system/enhancement to CBT, even though I know other AToW fans will roll their eyes.
Also the chargen in AToW (a huge mini game in itself) still feels an overkill to me... I would prefer an in medias res approach, like in 1e/2e, so that I can dig deeper into individual PC's background whenever necessary, without spending tremendous amount of time and energy (esp. the math) just to give birth to the PCs (and NPCs). I personally find it more interesting to explore the stories of the PCs through encounters and events on the go, instead of scripting everything fully in advance.

That said, I would not disagree that AToW is great for players desiring a more full-fledged RPG experience.

For actual roleplaying, I am looking into the possibility of adopting Zozer's SOLO system for Cepheus/Traveller. You evaluate the scenario, set a TN based on how difficult or dangerous it is, then come up with a plan for the involved PCs,  and finally just roll a 2D6. All the details are flashed out based on the margin of success/failure of just one simple roll. It's not for everyone of course, but I don't really mind  switching to another mindset to fill in the gaps imaginatively alongside my CBT battles.

Back on topic: Perhaps I should've rephrased the subject, which is: is there any good way to patch the power creep issue in 2e?  What if we mitigate the low base TN from the beginning? I am not a math guy here...
 
« Last Edit: 21 April 2019, 11:20:18 by BerserkMech »
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Daryk

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch the system?
« Reply #3 on: 21 April 2019, 09:57:44 »
Patching the power creep is what got us 3rd edition (which I think AToW improved upon).

As far as the math during character generation, that's exactly why I (and others) built a spreadsheet.  Making characters really doesn't take very long anymore, though of course I've had lots of practice at this point.  What I do for my games is simply ask the PCs what they want, then work up the math for them and tweak from there (also easier in the spreadsheet than on paper).

BerserkMech

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch the system?
« Reply #4 on: 21 April 2019, 10:27:45 »
Not familiar with 3e at all, just want to learn more: how does 3e patch 2e exactly with regard to power creep?
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Daryk

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch the system?
« Reply #5 on: 21 April 2019, 10:49:54 »
3e switched to a 2d10 system, which made conversion to table top much more difficult.  It did address all the complaints about 2d6 being too coarse statistically (which is another factor in the power creep problem... a +1 can be a lot), but I never thought it was worth it.

BerserkMech

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch the system?
« Reply #6 on: 21 April 2019, 11:12:10 »
Just found an old thread about house ruling 2e: https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=1738.0

Summing up their suggestions regarding power creep:
#1 Doubling the XP costs for skills
#2 Break the skills down to some more specific skills to give players the ability to be more specialized as well as alternate places for XP other than gunnery/pilot
#3 No starting character can get any base target number for a skill lower than 3.
[Note: So the best case is 6 (Characteristic) - 3 (skill level) = 3; even with "Exceptional Attribute" (allowing Characteristic to go beyond 6) this rule still applies.]
#4 Max Edge (reroll) points drops permanently when a character has spent all their edge points.

All these sound pretty good, esp. #1 and #3. 
Not wanting to resurrect that old thread, and this one focusing on power creep only, I would like to hear more good fixes.


« Last Edit: 21 April 2019, 22:25:12 by BerserkMech »
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BerserkMech

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch the system?
« Reply #7 on: 21 April 2019, 11:13:35 »
3e switched to a 2d10 system, which made conversion to table top much more difficult.  It did address all the complaints about 2d6 being too coarse statistically (which is another factor in the power creep problem... a +1 can be a lot), but I never thought it was worth it.

I completely agree. 2d10 is such a big departure from CBT. Coarser it is, but I like the 2D6 distribution.
« Last Edit: 21 April 2019, 11:15:38 by BerserkMech »
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Daryk

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #8 on: 21 April 2019, 12:11:17 »
1 and 3 together will probably give you what you're looking for, but be prepared for all the starting characters to be 3/3...

BerserkMech

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #9 on: 21 April 2019, 12:53:41 »
1 and 3 together will probably give you what you're looking for, but be prepared for all the starting characters to be 3/3...

Perhaps a simple (and brutal) fix is
#5 Disallowing a starting character to have Gunnery/Piloting at 3/3, only one can be 3.
« Last Edit: 21 April 2019, 22:29:07 by BerserkMech »
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Daryk

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #10 on: 21 April 2019, 13:19:53 »
The trick there will be the skill packages... they give the same number of skill levels to each, so if you have the attributes to get one to 3, the other will be 3 by default.

BerserkMech

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #11 on: 21 April 2019, 13:30:52 »
Not sure about that. Even though the Advanced Academy/University Packages allows for 2 (or 3) skills at the same level, the suggestion I made is precisely to force players to assign both Gunnery and Piloting (both based on Physical Attribute) at different levels.
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Daryk

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #12 on: 21 April 2019, 14:07:06 »
I thought the packages were more directive than that... it's been a while since I looked at the book...

BerserkMech

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #13 on: 21 April 2019, 14:16:30 »
The rules only specifies how many skills at which levels, but which skill at what levels is free (as long as not higher than the corresponding Attribute value).
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Daryk

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #14 on: 21 April 2019, 14:18:31 »
Ah, then the 1&3 combo should work...

Tslammer

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #15 on: 22 April 2019, 16:08:06 »
The biggest problem with MW2 was how you must take attributes as your first or second priority.
Attributes are king.

ZERO to HERO can be fairly quick in MW2.


Mohammed As`Zaman Bey

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #16 on: 22 April 2019, 16:54:16 »
  I've played or run campaigns using all the RPG rules, from MW1 to AToW. The best way to prevent your campaign from spinning out of control is to know the rules as well a your players, especially when you have a group of expert min/max players who could squeeze every benefit out of the rules. For example, I only allow the newest/worst player Natural Aptitude. The last time we played Clans the guy who had NatAp still never won a duel and even lost the Boss Fight he should have dominated, against his evil twin...

  Spreadsheets are very helpful for accurate records and doing the numbers and one of my players designed one that saved plenty of time  in generating new characters.

  Construct a character, if you haven't, just to see what exploits you can use.

  In gameplay, I am usually stingy in XP awards, unless the party was somehow brilliant against overwhelming odds, but a smart party avoids overwhelming odds, and my group was useless in solving puzzles, so it was easy to limit XP, because any group of neanderthals could shoot their way into and out of trouble.

  While I want players to design the characters they want, they have to be reasonable. One wanted to be an inventor who could take over control of an opponent's mech.
"Okay," I said, "explain to me how that would work."
He told me that a round from his AC5 would inject nanomachines into a mech and eventually reprogram its systems.
"Great," I replied, "Considering that there are no nanomachines in the universe, you will have to invent them, and your skills and tech training is nowhere close...but you have a goal."
He never got around to inventing nanomachines but managed to invent a few devices that made little difference in the universe.

BerserkMech

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #17 on: 23 April 2019, 02:52:58 »
I hope using #1, #3, #5 together we can insure against the "zero to hero" problem. And as Mohammed As`Zaman Bey suggests, we just need to make XP reward harder than the rules say.
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Mohammed As`Zaman Bey

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #18 on: 23 April 2019, 16:20:45 »
I hope using #1, #3, #5 together we can insure against the "zero to hero" problem. And as Mohammed As`Zaman Bey suggests, we just need to make XP reward harder than the rules say.

  I found the regular XP reward system too generous and the players would advance or gain special abilities at an insane rate. It was better to limit XP and give them more material rewards (better pay and loot) than allow gods on the battlefield. Once a player became a Jumping Jack/Weapon Specialist, they were killing machines that could not be hit.

  Once I was able to lure them away from missions with material gain to more emotional/ego (revenge or spite) rewards, things could be fun without advancing too rapidly.

BerserkMech

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #19 on: 23 April 2019, 22:15:30 »
Thanks for the tip. As I am running a merc campaign relying more on (mech) battles and salvages, material rewards would be a great alternative to XP, which can be mainly reserved for exceptional performance by applying relevant skills in the scenario. 

The more I read 2e the more I like it (probably my favorite among all 4 editions).
- Clean and clear writing and layout.
- Easy and super fun to read.
- Chargen is FAST (whole lance ready in less than an hour, no head scratching, no banging walls, no premature deaths).
- Archetypes work great to get NPCs in no time ( complete list: https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=26326.0 ).
- Character Advancement and XP (AP) system is just two one and a half (!!) pages (pp. 50-51) and extremely adjustable without any fear of breaking the system.
- Seamless incorporation into Classic Battletch (zero conversion, no mod flipping ...).
- BEST supported version with TONS of (old & cheap) supplements and scenarios without tweaking and hacking.
- Plus the lovely hand drawn artwork of course!
« Last Edit: 23 April 2019, 22:35:17 by BerserkMech »
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Mohammed As`Zaman Bey

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #20 on: 24 April 2019, 03:26:12 »
Thanks for the tip. As I am running a merc campaign relying more on (mech) battles and salvages, material rewards would be a great alternative to XP, which can be mainly reserved for exceptional performance by applying relevant skills in the scenario. 

  Being a GM is an art and rarely rewarded. Really good GMs spend a lot of personal time preparing scenarios, generating opposing forces and villains, long before the game starts, so sharing tips and tricks is almost an obligation for us old-timers.

  As far as gaming aids are concerned, I've found that Megamek HQ is invaluable for generating, recording and even printing sheets for units friendly and enemy. It allows a lot of customization and it even allows you to use the players' own portraits for the pilots, which we always got a kick out of: The guy with the beard is me ;)





 
« Last Edit: 24 April 2019, 03:39:40 by Mohammed As`Zaman Bey »

Mech Salvager

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #21 on: 26 April 2019, 03:35:21 »
I’ve run a Mechwarrior 2nd Edition campaign for more than 3,5 years now, and yes, power creep is one of the things I’ve been worried about too. I’ve mostly been playing with the XP system as stated, as it isn’t that generous in my experience.

I did need to do a house rule to cap things though, and that was the simple change that I extended the “No raising your skill level above your learning in character generation” to the main bulk of the game. To not screw over low learning characters completely, I said that if they could find a trainer (Someone with the training skill and the appropriate skills that the trainee wanted to learn), then they could raise it above their learning…but it would still be limited by the learning of the teacher.

This has resulted in that most of them hover about 3/4, maybe 2/3, with a single pilot attaining 1/2 after three years (Or rather, some 8 years in game), which I think is okay, as raising it to 0/1 is going to be very difficult.

massey

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #22 on: 28 April 2019, 17:34:08 »
One thing I've thought about (never had a chance to try it) would be to require characters to purchase special pilot abilities as they increase their skill level past a certain point.  Say maybe once you pas a 3/4, every increase requires you to buy an SPA as well.

Going from 4/5 to 3/4 is easy, you just increase your Gunnery Mech/Piloting Mech skills by one.  But now you want to improve your gunnery down to a 2?  Well first you've gotta buy a special pilot ability, and that counts as a full skill increase.

So let's say Mechwarrior Bob has a 6 Intuition and a 6 Reflexes (of course he does).  This gives him a Physical roll of 6+.  You make a rule that he can only begin with a 3/4, so he takes 3 levels in Gunnery and 2 in Piloting.  Now after some adventures he wants to spend his XP and increase his Gunnery to 4 (reducing the target number to 2+).  Nope, you say, first he's got to buy Weapon Specialist or Some Like it Hot or something.  He pays the cost of going to Gunnery 4, but he only gets the SPA.  Now later on when he wants to improve his Gunnery again, he's got to pay the cost of going to Gunnery 5, and can finally get his 2+.

Another thing would be to stick them in situations that require them to spend XP on non-Gunnery/Piloting stuff.  Martial arts, blade, navigation, tactics, leadership, all the different skills.  Give them adventures where they need a couple of points of protocol, and go ahead and spot them the skill, and just make them pay off the XP later.

CoreWatch

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #23 on: 29 April 2019, 02:24:48 »
An interesting thread...

Might I offer a few simple suggestions to all GM's, regardless of which edition of this game or any RPG for that matter?

Rather than for the GM's themselves to always try to come up with the exact mathematical formula of which way is the best way by the book to award exp, or limit abilities, or to even try to change the natural progression of the way the book was written, perhaps take a back seat approach to your gaming tables for a minute by having a chat with your players about it first. Obviously, try to set the ground rules from the start of any gaming system by saying that at any point upon which we choose to game "fill in the blank" gaming system. That we collectively will decide to sit down for one gaming session and have a chat for when the system becomes so skewed as to let a player or even GM's NPC's become the "deus ex machina" of the gaming table by finding that game mechanic that changes, breaks, or bends the rules to the point of making the game too easy of a challenge. Basically, make sure the players in the group are aware of the power creep mechanic and the fact that it makes the game no fun. Tell them that collectively we need to decide on a better way to have the game work.

As far as awarding experience for the progression of the game... perhaps sit back and ask yourself does the players experience of your game sessions truly fit the experience reward they have earned in the many sessions that you have gamed. Some GM's have a hard time letting players progress to the point of where the players feel like the storybook, tv, or film hero or heroine characters are at because they feel it unbalances the game. And some GM's are unwilling or even unable to GM a truly difficult or high-level encounter due to actually having to put in the proper groundwork and/or effort to properly plan for and prepare the encounter to make it challenging to those high leveled characters.

Finally, I'll offer this one last advice... ask yourselves as GM's how many times a week, month, or even year that you manage to get together with your players to play said game system and is it worth the time to truly alter the system to where you hinder the progress to the point of complete slowness in leveling. Is it so bad that players sometimes take their characters from the freshness of a beginning character to the pinnacle of being a legend in that game system in what the game developers have decided to make the game systems natural progression? Is it worth changing the system just for you as a GM to hold your players back because you feel that you have to keep them at low levels of play? Then again perhaps your right as a GM and the leveling is too easy, perhaps that's a good enough reason to tell the players that you're going to use a hard experience progression or game-changing mechanical approach because of how often you as a group play your RPG games if its several times a month. Most often folks who play games only a few times a month find the opposite approach more ideal and make the game easier to level.

Anyway, just wanted to add my 0.02 cents into the conversation as a neutral GM who tries to see the good and bad of all GM'ing and gaming situations that could possibly affect your players and your group dynamic as a whole. The bottom line is to perhaps take some of these good folks advice that you see here on the forums and use them in your game, but bear in mind that as a GM or as a player... it's your collective time with your group at your gaming table that needs to be balanced for your experience and nature of play. Not necessarily is it always the mechanical rules or experience that needs to be adjusted. Just as it's not always the need to limit the game system as it was written. Then again try to realize that the people who actually write these RPG books that we all love and enjoy are just people... they get up in the morning and put their shoes and socks on the same way that you do every day as well. So play the game the way your gaming table believes it to be the right the way to play.

Hope that helps!

Cheers!
-CoreWatch
« Last Edit: 29 April 2019, 19:19:43 by CoreWatch »

massey

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #24 on: 29 April 2019, 15:29:40 »
^^^

That's all really great advice.  I know that what worked in our games when I was 20 and got to play all the time, doesn't work now that I'm 40 and hardly get to play ever.  If you are gaming twice a week for several years in a row, excess XP might be an issue.  If you get to play once every month or two and you can't get more than 4 or 5 sessions in before somebody wants to start a new campaign, XP isn't a problem that needs addressed.

CoreWatch

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #25 on: 29 April 2019, 19:10:26 »
^^^

That's all really great advice.  I know that what worked in our games when I was 20 and got to play all the time, doesn't work now that I'm 40 and hardly get to play ever.  If you are gaming twice a week for several years in a row, excess XP might be an issue.  If you get to play once every month or two and you can't get more than 4 or 5 sessions in before somebody wants to start a new campaign, XP isn't a problem that needs addressed.

Amen to that statement Massey!

-CoreWatch

DOC_Agren

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #26 on: 02 June 2019, 22:43:22 »
I think that can limit that your PC put exp into combat skills, make them need to use non-combat skills.  Yep you might be a great P/G mechpilot, but that doesn't help you if you can't understand your contract?  Yep you can hire a lawyer, but hopefully someone can act as the face for the unit while on contract.  Need to deal with locals, those lack of social skills hurts.  Or gee how screwed did you get on your local suppliers.

^^^

That's all really great advice.  I know that what worked in our games when I was 20 and got to play all the time, doesn't work now that I'm 40 and hardly get to play ever.  If you are gaming twice a week for several years in a row, excess XP might be an issue.  If you get to play once every month or two and you can't get more than 4 or 5 sessions in before somebody wants to start a new campaign, XP isn't a problem that needs addressed.

I hear you I have in theory 2 games a week, if everyone schedules work.  1 Game might be every 3 or 4 weeks if we are lucky
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

Mohammed As`Zaman Bey

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #27 on: 17 June 2019, 15:00:55 »
  I GMed a year-long Clan Burrock campaign where the players eventually became gods on the battlefield. I did inform them that their opponents would progress at the same rate, where the forces they met were also gods on the battlefield. Every time the players progressed, all their potential enemies progressed, which made the battles very bloody.

  One of the players was very good at designing custom mechs and at one point, every omnimech in their trinary was custom...and every enemy mech they faced was customized, as well.

  One character had a jumping Timberwolf with five Streak SRM launchers, Jumping Jack, Weapon Specialist/SRM and would aim high to use the Punch Table. "If I hit your head, you die." He never lost a duel.

  In this campaign, I allowed players to go wild with character generation, and the players chose negative traits like plant fetish and berserk rage, which made for hilarious  role play.

  Since the unit pretty much got everything it wanted through supply, I substituted personal rewards over XP awards. The trinary commander had a very bitter and dangerous rival who was taken by Clan Smoke Jaguar and was their ristar trinary commander. They weren't only sibkin but rare identical twins...dun dun dun! The campaign culminated in a massive boss battle where the hero was defeated by his rival, the evil twin Trinary Commander Skippy. One of the other players took the bad guy down to end the campaign...and fun was had by all...
  In the Burrock campaign, each player had to take on a personal goal, either public or private, that he had to meet by the end of the campaign. The personal goal counted as a negative trait, so the players got points to spend for them. The more difficult or risky, the more points they got. The rivalry was the most risky and public, as the players were constantly being raided or harassed by evil twin Skippy.

General308

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Re: [MW 2ed] Easy ways to patch power creep in the system?
« Reply #28 on: 10 August 2019, 22:45:59 »
Don't worry about power creep as they become strong so do the bad guys.  If you do that I never found it an issue.  The worse that can happen is you have god player vs god npcs and those fights go by very fast.

 

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