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Game Breaker / The Witcher: Game of Imagination

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The Witcher got a fair share of game-breakers that can turn fighting into nothing more than declaring who got killed on your turn. To be fair, every type of character can got his own game-breaker and the game-breakers by themselves are nothing more than a way of showing how badass your character is at the point when they are possible to conduct. It's very important to understand how the successes and difficulties are counted, as each of the gamebreakers heavily relies on how bonus damage and/or Defence ratings are counted, so they are not as obvious as they seem here. In the case of Critical Hit every of those techniques turns into There Is No Kill Like Overkill. Each Hit Roll goes on the same principle: there is a Defence rating of the attacked and skill of the attacker. Defence is lowered by skill and adjusted by potential modifiers (weather, light, being mounted and so on). This provide an equation Defence - Skill + (Positive and Negative Modifiers) = Amount Of Required Successes To Hit. Success is any outcome of 4 or above on standard dice (the game is based exclusively on d6) and the amount of dice taken for roll is equal to the Statistic of linked skill, so Shooting and Throwing are under Perception, while Armed combat, Unarmed combat and all forms of magic (Spellcasting, Witchers' Signs and Prayers) are under Dexterity. The higher the Stat, the easier it is to get sufficient amount of successes, even with low skills.

  • Bash & smash, which is shield and single-handed weapon combo, can devastate anything human-sized, especially when humanoid. With a perk allowing using shields as weapon, combat manoeuvre granting a character two attacks per round and 4 (on a 0-5 scale) points in Armed combat skill, it's possible to conduct a deadly combo. First, attack with shield. Shields have a chance to knock the enemy to the ground, while dealing standard weapon damage. Targets knocked down have their Defense reduced to 1. This allows an effortless second attack with your weapon aiming for the head. In normal situation, it would add 2 points to Hit Roll's difficulty and 1 for the second attack in the same round, so combined with full Defence of the enemy you would most likely miss or barely hit. But since knocked or unconscious enemies have Defence rating of 1, that gives a total of 4... and Armed combat required to even try two attacks per round is 4, so the final Defence of your enemy is 0. Yeah, that's right. Which means an automatic hit, even if you fail the Hit Roll. Attacks aimed for head have a damage multiplier, dealing twice as much damage and three times in case of critical hit. Summing the damage, you deal d6 + 2xStrength with shield, which is average, but your second, head-aimed attack, will deal at least 2d6 + 2x Strength + 3x Each Success. Why Each Success? Because every success in Hit Roll more than required to score a hit is translated into additional 3 points of damage. And since the difficulty of that roll was 0, all successes during Hit Roll are counted as additional. To put that all into perspective - typical humanoid enemy has about 23-26 Hit Points, while ending at 35 with maxed-out Constitution. And you can deal up to 35 damage with a character with average Stats, without critical hits or any elaborate tactics. More. Even if you fail to knock down your enemy, you still can deal quite a nice damage and since you are wielding a shield, you can parry potential counter-attacks or attacks from allies of your target or at least reduce their damage. It's almost impossible to loose a fight with this.
  • Shooting. Plain and boring shooting, without any tricks, perks or traits. Thanks to how defense against projectiles is counted, it's much easier to target specific body parts. In case of hand-to-hand and melee combat, both Agility and corresponding skill are counted into Defence: 1 point for each two of Agility and 1 for each point of given skill. Same goes with any form of magic, but Willpower is used instead of Agility. In case of projectiles, Defence is taken from Agility... and shields, if they are equipped. Which means that typical Defence against projectiles is 1 or 2. As noted above, skills lower Defence, so any amount of Shooting above 1 allows to automatically score a hit if no other factors than Defence are present. With higher skill (you can easily start with 3 or even 4, but that would be a Crippling Overspecialization) you can again go for head, ignore the penalty from such shot (after all, your enemy has low Defence) and get the damage multiplier. Aiming cost a single Combat Point, while most average character can't have less than 12. This gives poll large enough to use additional point to "charge" your attack - you can add that single point to any dice you wish, so it can prevent getting a Critical Failure or turn any dice below 4 into success, meaning additional 3 points of damage (remember that again you don't require any successes at all). You can of course use more Points, but that would be simply wasteful. This allows to One-Hit Kill almost anything on your way, from safe distance to boot. When combined with compound bow or heavier types of crossbows, you can one-shot a dragon - compound bow can deal as much as 90 damage in certain circumstances (while it's listed as 2d6+5+Strength of damage, so it's 2d6+10 with maxed-out Strength), which is enough to kill most of creatures twice. Remember dryads? This is exactly why they are so dangerous, because to top this all, they usually lay an ambush, meaning that for their first shot they have no difficulty for their shots and then it's still a measly 1 or 2 points of Defence for their enemies in further rounds and only if they somehow manage to spot dryads.
    • And then the first expansion introduced combat manoeuvre Repeated Shot, which is also known as Legolas shot. Archers can fire in single round amount of arrows equal to their skill, targetting each of them as they please. Certain dryad splat was originally planned to start with it, without having the pre-requested skill level and another manoeuvre, but it was cancelled after the authors realised how absurdly powerful this would be.
    • Traits and perks make distance fight so broken that it gets simply boring to play as ranger - Hawk-eye lowers difficulty for all visual Perception (like aiming) by 1 and halves distance penalties, Professional adds another dice for rolls of chosen Stat and Specialisation lowers difficulty by 1 for using chosen type of weapon and grants additional +2 of fixed damage.
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    • Throwing works under the same principles, but thrown weapons generally deal less damage and on shorter distances. Of course that doesn't mean you can't obliterate someone with a javeline in the face if you wish. Or a pebble.
  • Basic fire spells - Fire Arrow and Ball Lightning - by themselves are nothing special and easy to dodge or just block. Spells in general are rather timid in their effectivness, but can became very powerful if overcharged, gaining additional effects in the process. Not to mention that you can add a single Arcane Point to each of dice used for roll, having a better chance for additional successes. Since Defence against magic is usually low for non-magical character, and they make most of the population, it's generally easy to exploit described above "low Defence" technique for Spellcasting, but not really cost-efficient, as spells churm a lot of Arcane Points. Here however comes additional successes and perks. With more successes than required player may choose their effect and one of them for spells is lower intake of Points. For direct damage spells there is also standard +3 damage for each additional success. One of perks lowers the initial cost of chosen group of spell, their difficulty by 1 and Defences against it by 1, while other halves cost of chosen spell and can be picked numerous times for different spells. And don't forget about perk lowering difficulty of chosen spell by 1. By picking them all you can make Fire Arrow and Ball Lighting considerably easier (both are from pyromancy group) and cheaper to cast. In fact, they both will cost a single Arcane Point to cast and won't require any successes against typical enemies, so you know the drill already. Those perks turn Fire Arrow into Magic Missile Storm Magikarp Power, while Ball Lighting can be additionally overcharged to "just" kill everything in absurdly large radius without using whole reserve of Arcane Points for single spell. This can be made even more broken if your character always recharge Arcane Points from fire, which cancels inherit difficulty of fire spells from being hardest element to tame. In fact, the sole "get your Points from element related with spells you want to cast" is possible from the get-go and makes life easier for mages - while there is a penalty from using wrong source of Points, it's often the only difficulty for casting spells, so it can be ignored most of the time be sheer skill.
  • Psychic Powers: Why even bother with fighting your enemies if you can turn them into drooling morons for the rest of their lives? The only thing required to do so is to maintain a Psychic Link for long enough to win a conflict test based on psychics and their victims Willpower and then do whatever Psychics want with them - which means it could end after a single round with good rolls or poor stats of victim. Turning them into retards at this point of mental battle is as easy as plain hypnosis trick of "jump on one leg". Unless the psychics are too preoccupied with their surroundings (like fighting or having to act fast), they have almost no penalties for using their powers.
  • Aard Sign from Witchers' Signs is very potent for a simple reason. While all it does in basic version is knocking people down, it doesn't cost an action to cast. So a witcher can cast it, knock his enemy to the ground and then just finish him or her with sword (described above "low Defence" technique) in the same round. Or throw some object on swarm of enemies and then get the closest one. Or stop a ranger, while dealing with his melee friends. Or even stop a projectile in the mid-air if timed properly. The applications are countless. And as Magic Knights witchers can cast their Signs using both Arcane and Combat Points, which allows them to use much more fancy actions than any other type of character before running out of juice. Purposely Overpowered indeed.
    • Heliotrop, another Sign, also doesn't cost an action, so witchers can fight mages effortlessly, blocking their spells while charging toward them or backfiring spells in close quarters, as Heliotrop creates a shock wave after blocking magic - something that a witcher can handle, but can take a magic user by surprise.
  • Skill Dodge after certain threshold. With 3 points invested, it no longer cost an action, so a character can dodge and do something else in the same round. With perk Additional dodge, character can dodge twice per round and still perform another action. Combine it with above description of Aard Sign and witchers are virtually untouchable.
    • Or combine it with combat manoeuvre Rebound Attack. While it consumes a single opportunity to dodge, it allows to perform a counter-attack after relatively easy roll. Without using your action, as it's a dodge, not an attack. And your enemy didn't score a hit of course. Gets really nasty when Additional dodge and combat manoeuvre allowing second attack are present - you can obliterate your enemy in single round while remaining untouched from any attacks. This can be used even on monsters.
  • Attacking unaware targets and/or remaining unseen reduces their defences against physical attacks to 1, no matter what. This makes stealth attacks extremely lethal, as it's perfectly possible to perform One-Hit Kill blows, combining all the different rules for low defense with extra damage output, precise aiming and in general pull things that normally would ramp the difficulty of the attack Up to Eleven.
    • Ambushes are the second reason why dryads are extremely dangerous to face as enemies. Due to their status as Stealth Experts, they are perfectly capable of maintain their stealth even after sending Rain of Arrows.
    • Gabriel, a mini-crossbow lifted from the saga and introduced in later expansions, combines all the powerful elements of ranged combat with surprised attacks. It's designed as a concealed weapon, hidden in a wide sleeve and such. While it has a pitful range amd relatively low damage, it still follows all the rules of ranged combat, making it perfectly possible to put a headshot at point-blank range. And most importantly, due to their size, gabriels can be reloaded with ease and shot twice per round, which makes them the most broken weapon in the game.
  • As insignificant as it sounds, the bonus 5 Skill Points all humans get for free during character creation allows to rise any of the starting skills from 1 to 3. It is entirely possible to get any of those skills to level 4, allowing an auto-success without a roll in basic checks, cheaper than rising any skill to 3 with any other race (5 points from 1 to 3 vs 4 points from 3 to 4). Even without any min-maxing involved, it's still a free level 3 skill.
  • Vigour is probably the most undervalued skill in entire game, while being single-handly responsible from keeping characters alive and immune to most damage and even death itself. Any form of save check will be based on Vigour. Bleeding, poisoning, suffocation, disabling pain, being close to death, hypothermia, possible broken limbs, head trauma... they all require to pass Vigour check or suffer the consequences. In most cases that means dying on the spot. Sufficiently high, it can turn a character into a No-Sell juggernaught that can't be stopped by anything short from being physically destroyed. It's especially useful against all the dirty trick that can be pulled in brawling, since high Vigour is equal to being Immune to Flinching and all the nasty effects of Unarmed combat manoeuvres.
  • Perks lowering intake of Combat and Arcane Points are considerably unbalanced. The first one change price of chosen combat manoeuvre to 2/3 of original, which is irrevelant for low-tier, but makes all the high-tier moves very cost-efficient. The one for Arcane Points halves the price, which allows to spam spells.
    • Perks expanding the maximum pool of both Combat and Arcane Points are even worse in this regard. Not only they both increase the pool by 5, but they can be also bought three times each. And they are much cheaper than those mentioned above, while the points can be used for all kinds and sorts of manoeuvres and spells.
  • The trait Lucky is this for all skills. Normally, you get a critical success when you roll a 6 on Fate Dice. With this trait, a 5 is also a critical success. Thus, by using Charged Attacks in fighting, you can easily got crits with just a 4... or a 3 if you are using a charged Riposte combat manoeuvre. In normal circumstances a 3 is not even counted as success. But to get this trait you must first shed 5 Stat Points, which is almost impossible without lots of Min-Maxing or creating a wimpy, very hard to grind character.
  • Riposte combat manoeuvre by itself can qualify as a game-breaker. Whenever used, it adds 1 to outcome of each dice during Hit Roll, costing 3 Combat Points. So having Dexterity higher than 3 means you save Points. Oh, and you can still charge Riposte with Combat Points, so it can easily turn into +2 to outcome of each dice. With perk lowering cost of chosen combat manoeuvre, Riposte cost 2 Points, making it even more broken. Add to that Specialisation for specific weapon type, and the cost goes down to 1 when such weapon is used. By this point, for the standard price of 3 Combat Points, it's possible to augment two dice by +2, while remaining ones are +1.
  • Combination of blows, the Unarmed equivalent of Riposte. One of the most basic hand-to-hand maneuvers, requiring barely any skill, cheap to use and without any drawbacks whatsoever. It allows to perform few stikes in a single, quick sequence, drastically multiplying the relatively low d3+Strength damage output of hand-to-hand combat. Since the source book wasn't precise about the limit, most players follow the provided example and cap it at 3 hits per sequence, because otherwise this move can simply cause an overkill. The entire sequence can be of course aimed at any body part, so a good brawler can easily render limbs and ribs broken or outright knock someone cold due to the extra multiplier for head trauma. The maneuver also comes with +1 to a single dice of choice during Hit Roll, so it's impossible to crit-fail it and much more likely to either get a critical hit or at least an extra success, further inflating the damage output.
    • It can go a step further, when a character is wearing armoured gloves or something similar, since each hit will get +2 of fixed damage. Combined with perk Specialisation, which is another +2, and suddenly the manoeuvre can't deal less than 18 damage, while 21 or even 24 is even more likely, since barely anyone will make a boxer with 1 Strenght. To put that into perspective - an average character has 26 Vitality.
  • Painful Stike and, to a lesser extent, Groin Attack can be extremely powerful, as people on the receiving end of them need to pass relatively hard check, or they are unable to fight for up to 6 rounds. A series of Painful Stikes can render entire group of enemies unable to even stand straight, not to mention fight, without causing them any actual damage.
    • Since the difficulty of saving throws against Painful Stike is equal to the damage it dealt, wearing a knuckle duster or armoured glove and thus gaining a fixed +2 to damage can make it virtually impossible to resist the pain. Combine that with Specialisation perk (another fixed +2 of damage) picked for fists and the minimal possible difficulty of the saving throw will be 7. It will take Legendary Vigour to even try to resist it. And it can go as far as 16 with everything maxed out.
    • Simply throwing a sudden punch during fight using weapons can completely change the situation, especially if combined with Painful Strike. Defences against weapons and unarmed attacks are counted separetely, so great swordsmen may still have considerably low defences against attempt to get their nose smashed.
  • The perk Splitting moves takes the game-breaking to a new level. Forget what you read till this point, because everything pales in comparison with Splitting moves. Without it, characters can move to an enemy and hit him or hit an enemy and move away. With this perk, it's possible to move close, hit the enemy and move away. It's possible to be literally untouchable, without any need for dodging and suddenly turns Movement, THE official Dump Stat, into the most important parameter, as it's used for one and one thing only - to measuring how big distance a character can cover in a single round.
  • Fighting stances are an optional rule for this very reason - they are game-breaking enough to be pointed out as such in the source book. Each stance takes either Armed or Unarmed combat skills (depending which one is used) and changes them into additional buff. In case of defensive stance, your character becomes Stone Wall - the skill is removed, but Defence is rised for the same amount, thus making characters virtually unhittable. Offensive stance turns the character into Glass Cannon: it lowers Defence by skill, while doubling the skill itself, thus making it possible to hit anyone. Stances have a long list of other debuffs - they can be only used in close combat, you can't cast spells or use witcher's signs, no combat manoeuvres or charges are allowed and so forth. Then why they are game-breaking? You can still dodge, which makes offensive stance doable for certain builds without being afraid of retribution. And defensive stance allows to block anything, so who cares if you have hard time returning hits, if your enemies can't even touch you, as your Defence can go easily above 10 (meaning there is no way they can hit you regardless of skills and Stats) and that's without even taking outside factors into account. The defensive stance goes as far as allowing to pull You Shall Not Pass! against dozens of enemies if a character is placed in some choke point and thus can't be simply trampled.

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