"Too Many Bricks"

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Ken
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"Too Many Bricks"

Post by Ken » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:40 am

So, over in a the Gaming Table, I'm taking part in a recruitment thread, and we've gotten to something like 17 submissions. And one of the things I keep seeing is "there can't be too many bricks".

Could someone explain this too me? You see, back when I liked comics, the brick count looked something like this:
  • Justice League : Superman, Wonder Woman, J'onn J'onzz, Aquaman (maybe), Captain Marvel, Captain Atom, Rocket Red
  • Avengers : Thor, Iron Man, She-Hulk, Wonder Man, Vision, Hercules, Captain (Ms.) Marvel, the Hulk, Beast (maybe), the Thing, Luke Cage, Sub-Mariner
  • X-Men: Colossus, Rogue, Beast (maybe), Storm
  • Titans: Donna Troy, Cyborg, Hawk (maybe), Aqualad (maybe)
  • Young Justice: Superboy, Wonder Girl
  • Defenders: the Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer, Valkyrie, Gargoyle
  • All-Star Squadron: Robotman, Commander Steel, Doctor Fate, Superman, Hourman, Uncle Sam
Even the Fantastic Four had Thing and She-Thing at the same time at one point.

Seems to me that multiple strongmen is kind of normal for super teams.
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Batgirl III
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by Batgirl III » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:54 am

I generally assume (when designing a super-team of my own) that there should be one “brick” for every four or five people on the squad, one or two “not a brick but can fill in in a pinch,” and one totally “squishy” guy. This is just a rough rule of thumb and not something I’m ironclad with. But it does tend to reflect lineups of most teams:

Classic FF: Ben (brick), Reed and Sue (off-bricks), Johnny (squishy).

MCU Original Avengers: Thor and Hulk (bricks); Captain America and Iron Man (off-bricks), Black Widow and Hawkeye (squishy).

Uncanny Avengers: Thor and Cap (bricks); Rogue and Wolverine (off-bricks), Scarlet Witch and Havok (squishy).

Big Seven JLA: Superman and Martian Manhunter (bricks); Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern (off-bricks); Flash and the Batman (squishy).
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Chris Brady
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by Chris Brady » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:35 am

The problem is that the term 'Brick' can be broken into three categories, the DC version of M&M 3e does a great break down. First off, Bricks are all about Strength and Toughness, these character can physically withstand massive amounts of damage and pain, everything else is secondary.

A Paragon-Brick, is Superman. Flight, strength-toughness, speed, senses, everything about him is superior, he's literally a super man. Martian Manhunter, Captain Atom are all variations of that. Often they're Heroes first, symbols of hope, people second.

The second variation is the Warrior-Brick, typically trained in multiple fighting style, but physically powerful unlike 'true' Martial Artist. So characters like Aquaman, Hawkman are perfect examples of this. Wonder Woman is a warrior, although the top of the category. There aren't that many big Marvel Warriors other than Thor and Namor, although I'd put Captain Marvel/Warbird there.

The final is the true Brick, these characters are defined by their strength and toughness. The Hulk is the prime example of this. They might have combat skill, but that's not what they're known for. Raw physical power.

Thing is, each Brick on a team has their own niche they fit.

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Batgirl III
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by Batgirl III » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:43 am

I see being a “brick” as being as much about combat role as it is about power set; in D&D terminology these guys are “defenders,” in MMO jargon they’re the “tanks,” and so forth. The guy whose main job in combat is standing between the enemy and his allies (or civilians), enabling the rest of the team to worry about how to stop him.

In a superhero context, this is usually a role filled by someone who is nigh-invulnerable by some means: power armor, force fields, just plain indestructible skin, whatever. But even someone who is just really, really good at defending themselves can be a “brick,” like Karate Kid or the Beast.

The role is also relative, Captain America was the best “brick” the Avengers has during the Kooky Quartet era, but once guys like Wonder Man, Vision, and Thor (re)joined the team he was able to step back into an “off-brick” role.
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by Chris Brady » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:33 am

I disagree because anyone with strength, toughness and some sort of locomotive power is now a brick. That just muddies the pool. Dr. Strange is not a Brick, but he has spells that allows him to mimic that power set.

Also, I wouldn't make Iron Man into a Brick. His suit is secondary to what he is, a genius inventor. The suit is an extension of that.

I'm going to repeat myself. What makes a Brick is the focus on their power, their strength and toughness first, everything else they can do is secondary. But even then, they have focuses as well that makes them different.

Hulk and Thor have their own focus, but both are about their strength and toughness first.

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Batgirl III
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by Batgirl III » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:03 am

Dr. Strange could be a “brick,” sure he’s got the potential (what with his power being basically ‘I can do whatever I want as long as the writers give me some mumbo-jumbo to babble while I do it.’) But, he never actually acts in that role.

It’s not about having the means, it’s about actually doing the deed.

Iron Man doesn’t “tank” much, but mostly because he’s usually on a team that has guys who are much better at the role than he is. Put him in a situation where he’s with people who aren’t as tough as he is and he’ll demonstrate why he’s called “The Invincible Iron Man.”

Compare these two potential line-ups:
• Ant-Man, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, and the Wasp.
• Ant-Man, Daredevil, Iron Man, Luke Cage, and the Wasp.

Pretty similar line-ups, meeting most of the same skill sets, and relatively the same level of power. But notice how Iron Man’s combat role would shift significantly from the first team to the second.
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FuzzyBoots
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by FuzzyBoots » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:01 am

To me, "Brick" more or less comes down to a Toughness Shift, a Damage Shift, and no innate ranged attacks, although they may have a couple tricks with their damage. I think M&M uses "Powerhouse" as that archetype.

RainOnTheSun
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by RainOnTheSun » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:52 am

The way Interpose works in 3E really lends itself to a brick abundance. In 2E I believe you had to be standing right next to somebody to interpose, but in 3E they just have to be in your movement range. This is huge.

Think about two characters: one has a 5 Defense and a 15 Toughness, the other one has a 15 Defense and a 5 Toughness. If character 2 gets hit with by a damaging attack, character 1 Interposes. That means anyone attacking character 2 has to get through a 15 defense and then a 15 toughness. Character 2 is PL 15 against the most common attacks in the game.

Enemies can just attack character 1 instead of character 2, of course. And with a 5 Defense, character 1 is an easy target for anything that attacks Will or Fortitude. But a party with enough bricks to go around can be extremely defensive.

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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by Nunya B » Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:55 am

RainOnTheSun wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:52 am
Enemies can just attack character 1 instead of character 2, of course.
Unless of course Character 2 uses the Trick function of Deception. Or better yet, Character 1 does with Set-Up.
In which case enemies are locked into taking the worst possible option until they win the opposed check.

A quick-and-dirty optimization for a party is one heavily defense shifted character and three toughness shifted characters with high Deception and Set-Up. It's simple but horrifyingly effective.

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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by Batgirl III » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:04 am

Or Enemy #1 attacks the Squishy and the Brick moves to interpose... and then Enemy #2 drops an Area Effect on both of them. :twisted:
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by RainOnTheSun » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:42 am

Every time I look at the board and see this topic on the front page I get this song in my head.

Chris Brady
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by Chris Brady » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:01 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:03 am
Dr. Strange could be a “brick,” sure he’s got the potential (what with his power being basically ‘I can do whatever I want as long as the writers give me some mumbo-jumbo to babble while I do it.’) But, he never actually acts in that role.

It’s not about having the means, it’s about actually doing the deed.

Iron Man doesn’t “tank” much, but mostly because he’s usually on a team that has guys who are much better at the role than he is. Put him in a situation where he’s with people who aren’t as tough as he is and he’ll demonstrate why he’s called “The Invincible Iron Man.”

Compare these two potential line-ups:
• Ant-Man, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, and the Wasp.
• Ant-Man, Daredevil, Iron Man, Luke Cage, and the Wasp.

Pretty similar line-ups, meeting most of the same skill sets, and relatively the same level of power. But notice how Iron Man’s combat role would shift significantly from the first team to the second.
You're right, Iron Man's role would be Problem Solver, like he usually does in the normal Avenger's line up. Unlike Hank Pym, who is more of a researcher, Stark is a problem solver. You present a situation about it, and he goes and solves it, the fact that his suit is more powerful than Luke Cage in physical power, still doesn't make him a brick.

His focus is not his toughness/strength, it's his mind/knowledge and how he applies it. And that's what makes him not a Brick.

On the other team, the Problem Solver role would likely shift about, but end up on Wasp or Daredevil mostly.

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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by Batgirl III » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:18 pm

Well, see... To me “brick”’is a combat role and “problem solver” is a non-combat role. A character can fulfill both niches, like Steel (John Henry Irons) or Beast (Hank McCoy).

These are inexact subjective terms, of course, so it’s hard to state definitively that “X is a Brick because Y and Z.”
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by Batgirl III » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:01 pm

The way I see it, there are five fairly broad "combat roles" that exist, I've ranked them in what I feel is the order of priority. Most superhero teams are going to work best if they have at least one person to cover the first three. Preferably the first four. Once you've got those covered, then your team can begin to double-up.

1. Tank/Brick/Defender: Controls the pace of the fight, often by forcing the enemy to attack him or positioning himself between enemy and allies. D&D's Fighter and Paladin; DC's Superman; Marvel's Thing and Luke Cage

2. Striker/Scrapper: Has a good combination of offense and defense to be able to win most one on one fights, but has little to no ability to handle crowds of enemies or defend anyone but himself. D&D's Thief and Monk; DC's Batman and Green Arrow; Marvel's Wolverine and Mr. Fantastic.

3. Controller/Leader: On defense, they block routes for enemies to take or otherwise manipulate their options. When on offense, they act to clear routes for teammates to take or otherwise act "through" their allies instead of directly. D&D's Wizard and Druid; DC's Green Lantern; Marvel's Invisible Woman and Professor X.

4. DPS/Blaster: Does the most damage in a fight, but has the least survivability. Generally tries to stay out of trouble and attack from where they can't be hit back. D&D's Sorcerer and Warlock; DC's Green Arrow and Fire; Marvel's Hawkeye and Human Torch.

5. Support/Healer/Medic: Specialist role that focuses on helping teammates more than hurting the enemy. How this is done can vary tremendously, but commonly it involves healing allies, dispelling debuffs and so forth. D&D's Cleric and Bard; DC's Zatanna and Dove; Marvel's Dr. Strange.

There are likewise six key things that superhero teams tend to need to deal with that you should try to have at least one hero per team knowing how to do well... and preferably have more redundancy and crossover here than with the combat roles:

1. Diplomacy: You cannot resolve every conflict by punching it. You should know how to deescalate a potential conflict and how to explain your actions to the authorities.

2. Infiltration: You cannot resolve every conflict by running straight at it. Sometimes you need to get sneaky.

3. Investigation: You cannot resolve every conflict right away, because sometimes you don't know what the conflict is until you find the clues.

4. Leadership: You cannot resolve conflicts caused by the bad guys if you cannot resolve the conflicts within the team. Someone has to take charge, even in a team of equals, you need a chairman.

5. Science and Technology: A lot of superhero conflicts stem from, well, STEM. You need to have someone who understand how to handle this stuff. (If your setting has magic, then consider Science and Technology to be 5(A) and look to getting a 5(B) Magic and Mysticism expert too.)

6. Transportation: You need a way to move the team from Here to There, since oftentimes the conflict is happening There and not Here.
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RainOnTheSun
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Re: "Too Many Bricks"

Post by RainOnTheSun » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:54 am

Batgirl III wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:01 pm

5. Support/Healer/Medic: Specialist role that focuses on helping teammates more than hurting the enemy. How this is done can vary tremendously, but commonly it involves healing allies, dispelling debuffs and so forth. D&D's Cleric and Bard; DC's Zatanna and Dove; Marvel's Dr. Strange.
This is the most difficult combat role to bring into Mutants and Masterminds, for me. The way power level works in this game means that every character is usually running at peak efficiency all the time, with not a lot of room for enhancement. The Inspire and Set Up advantages can give a character a bit of this potential, but not much. I do have a brick idea I'd like to play sometime who basically exists to Interpose + Feint + Set Up, though.

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