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My friend is running a modified cyberpunk campaign, where we are fighting zombies during WWII in Germany. Fun stuff. However, I made my character a Martial arts boxer, giving them a 10 in reflex, body, and both styles of martial arts. After a few weeks of play, I've noticed that if I punch things in the face, they tend to die very fast. If I use my gun, there is a good chance I'll die.

The character isn't really fun because he keeps dominating combat. 2 punches to the face or torso == instant death. There is little risk of death except from grenades or long distance machine guns. As an example, in our last encounter, I grappled one soldier and used him as cover while I punched the two other soldiers in the face, and then broke his neck. Lots of fun, but surprisingly little risk! Every other character died.

Followup: Thanks for all the help. you can see the results of the suggestions here.

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Please define what you mean by fun to play. For me the RP is more fun than the combat. For others that is not the case. – Chad Jun 20 '11 at 13:45
What part of play do you want to be more fun, and what kind of fun are you looking to improve? It sounds like you're not lacking for Fiero, but perhaps you want more Alea? Or is the overpowered character interfering with Paida? Perhaps the combat fun isn't lacking, but you want more Kenosis? You're going to have to be more specific. ;) – SevenSidedDie Jun 20 '11 at 15:09
Ha, I have no idea what those words mean :) However, I thought I made it clear, I guess I didn't , that I want the combat to be more fun. Less, I win, more , I hope I win. – GMNoob Jun 20 '11 at 15:17
@GMNoob They're terms pulled from the article in the link. Check it out—it's very useful for exactly this kind of problem. It sounds like you want more Alea ("gambler's risk"), but it's not 100% clear. – SevenSidedDie Jun 20 '11 at 15:28
Sorry, I didn't read the link before. You are correct it is helpful. The problem is not a lack of Alea, but rather a "false sense" of Fiero. That is, I enjoy Fiero but not the way I'm accomplishing it. It would be as if you really enjoyed Fiero, but every-time you went to play the GM said, congratulations, you won, without anything actually happening. – GMNoob Jun 20 '11 at 15:49
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Tell your Referee to throw a bit more varied challenges at you. If every encounter happens at circumstances where you can just run up punch their face off, then it is a dull campaign, not a dull character. When you're facing a sniper 800 meters away with your head in the crosshairs, you will see that things will get a lot more interesting.

Tell your Referee to read the sidebars at pages 108 and 110 of the Cyberpunk 2020 rulebook. After a single session with those ideas, my players were much more careful with their new characters.

The Interlock system is deadly. It should be easy for your referee to make it just as deadly for you.

Edit: Importing a suggestion from related chat:

Whenever you are under fire, make a COOL+d10 roll against a target of 10(15 if you can't see/identify your attacker), modified by your stun/shock save. Failure means you can only run away or hide. Anything else is at a -5 penalty for the rest of your turn.

An alternative approach is, if you fail your COOL+d10 roll, you automatically repeat what you did in the previous round, regardless of if it is meaningful or not (e.g. you keep puling the trigger even if your gun is out of ammo)

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are those pages available online anywhere? I'm not sure which version of Cyberpunk we are using. Also, he has given us snipers and heavy machine gunes, but I just hide/sneak to the gunner, and punch him in the face :) – GMNoob Aug 3 '11 at 5:23
Something isn't right there... Can you give me the stats of your character? – edgerunner Aug 3 '11 at 6:19
BTW, I don't know if the pages are online anywhere, but what they basically say is "play dirty". Never let your opponent take a shot at you if you can help it. Set up traps, hit and run, never let your opponent rest or recover. If you know where the sniper is, then you can at least try to shoot back. If you don't know, all you can do is try to run or hide. – edgerunner Aug 3 '11 at 6:31
10 body, 10 reflex, 10 boxing, 10 martial arts, 7 stealth, and pitiful little in the others. Don't have the char sheet on me right now. (can't remember if its boxing or wrestling) – GMNoob Aug 3 '11 at 7:35
@GMNoob let us continue this discussion in chat – edgerunner Aug 3 '11 at 8:05

There are some things you can change, and some things you could ask your GM/group to change. Adjusting the way your character is built might not be possible - that's not something Cyberpunk is good at, and I assume you want a crazy-good brawler anyway, so crippling the character is counterproductive. Maybe one of these would help...

1) Play him differently. It sounds like you're an unstoppable melee machine - so branch out. Start charging machine gun emplacements, assuming you can outrun the bullets and then kill the gun crews barehanded. Take on a tank; if you can force your way inside, they're in a lot of trouble. Or perhaps it's time to try knife-fighting or swordsmanship for a while, as a change of pace.

2) Find tougher foes. You're fighting zombies, right? A lot of martial arts moves won't be effective against the nerveless bloodless organless undead. Maybe your GM can introduce tougher zombies, or enemy soldiers in primitive powered armor that's too thick to punch through, or irritable Canadian mercenaries with ridiculous healing powers, or an enemy operative who's got the same stats/skills as you, or anything else that can't be killed with one punch.

3) Rebuild the other PCs. If the rest of the group just died, maybe their new characters should all be more like yours - hyperspecialized in something. It doesn't have to be handfighting, but if everyone in the group was insanely skilled at one useful thing, that could free up the GM to hit y'all with more unbalanced challenges.

4) Make a different PC. Maybe your current one goes missing, and his not-quite-as-trained little brother comes looking for him. That way you still get a specialist, but you have some room to grow.

5) Call your shots. Go for more specific hit locations, try for more outrageous success results, and just generally give yourself a higher target number in return for more interesting combat effects.

6) Tell the GM it's too easy. If you haven't talked to your friend about this, he/she might assume that you're having a great time being Sergeant Unstoppable Punching Man. Work together on creating better challenges for yourself.

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Thank you. Being new to cyberpunk I just wasn't sure how the system is supposed to work. Though you didn't explain it directly, your answer told me what I needed to know, and I think making the other chrachters specialized is the way to go, while aiming for more headshots. The GM promised that next time, the zombies will all be wearing really big helmets so I can't just punch them in the face :) – GMNoob Jun 30 '11 at 10:31
And at the end of the day, that's what it's all about - zombie Nazis with comically large helmets, blundering around the landscape until the PCs show up... – sprenge777 Jul 1 '11 at 19:20

There's really only a limited number of ways to "fix" an overpowered combat character. The limiting factor here is the rest of your group... If the GM powers up your adversaries to your level, the rest of the group will be in trouble. If the GM tailors every encounter to combating you, the rest of the group will start to feel marginalized.

With that said, here are some suggestions that may help you out.

  • Tweak your character. The most direct means of addressing the situation is to talk to your GM and get permission to modify your character. Remove a few of the optimizations that make him so deadly. Invest in some abilities that are more interesting, but less powerful.

  • Invest in non-combat skills for a while. If you and your group can tough it out, you can invest in non-combat skills while the rest of your group advances normally. Eventually, they'll catch up (hopefully!).

  • Ask the GM for house rules on the abilities that seem over powered. Make them weaker, to bring you more in line with the rest of the group.

A note on playing inefficiently: Sometimes, not playing to your utmost and relying on role playing/cinematic gaming can work. However, my experience is that this has a low rate of success in general (especially now that you've demonstrated what the character is capable of). It's like working with a net: everyone knows you CAN beat the fight, so a lot of the suspense is removed. And if you fail to save someone because of the inefficient play, there will be a certain level of resentment.

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Well, if the reason in your opinion is too much power, then you should probably find a way to get a little weaker. Since you cannot reasonably unlearn martial arts skills, you should perhaps find a story device that somehow restricts you. Actually, I guess that should probably something the game master should take care off, but how about:

  • You break your hand
  • You take a gun shot in the shoulder
  • A zombie bites you, giving you some kind of disease
  • You age

You know - those kind of things...

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It sounds like your character is overpowered in too many areas. "Glass cannons" and "Tanks" are fun to play because they are really strong in one area but weak in another.

My suggestion is to reduce your defensive capabilities. Then you have a high-paced "kill bad guy before he kills me" situation, which is much more fun that "kill bad guy and laugh as he misses me every time."

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Good observation. I wish I knew how to make that effective change with the Cyberpunk system. – GMNoob Jun 20 '11 at 16:04

Most characters are great for their flaws. Have an event (or adventure) that shattered your character sense of worth by failing to protect X/save Y/whatever. Then you can role play how your character copes with failure, how he becomes different and how (eventually) he overcomes it.

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If it were me, I would talk to the DM about possibly shifting some of the game focus. If you're playing the "bruiser," focus on role-playing that role to the hilt while the DM shifts the game a little more away from melee combat. That would give your uber-abilities more of a role as "the thing my character is good at, which expresses itself a whole bunch of ways throughout the entire game."

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Yeah, that is a good suggestion. We tried that last session, but I was able to turn a dangerous firefight into a stealthy fistfight. And as AceCalhoon pointed out, if I didn't do my best, the other people would be really upset since they died anyways. (Cyberpunk is supposed to be filled with characters dieing often, or so we were told.) – GMNoob Jun 20 '11 at 16:02

The only fix is: House Ruling

As every CP2020 player/DM knows, the rules are very fexible but easy to exploit. I'm a long-time CP2020 player and Im still tweaking the rules to make them more "real", for me a 12mm bullet should be, at least, as deadly as a Martial Artist.

Some house ruling for melee/martial arts:

  • Melee damage halves soft armor: Blunt weapons dont need to cut anything to feel the impact
  • Melee damage is half stun/half real: You roll stun for whole damage, but mark only half boxes (8 damage from melee, rolls for 8 boxes, mark only 4)
  • Martial art bonus damage is only half the skill level: So a +10 martial artis does only +5 damage. With the 2 previous rules makes martial artist a bit less powerful while still interesting and not overpowered

Other rules I usually use:

  • Brawling is the main attack skill: You always atack using your Brawling skill.
  • Martial arts COMPLEMENTS brawling: You refine your Brawling skill with the bonus damage from martial arts. Your martial arts skill cant go over Brawling skill
  • Simpler and ad-hoc Martial Arts: You spend you MA points in the different categories as you see fit, so with a Martial Arts +5 you can choose +2 punch +2 kick +1 dodge and call it KungFu of the Future if you like.

And I could go for ages explaining more house rules...

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