How to balance OP powers if you don't care about power-ceilings?

BearlyAlive

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Heya, everybooty!

I'm currently (planning to somewhence start) writing a litRPG with MMO setting where the characters are all aware of how broken their own and the other's skills are. So how do I balance the power scaling when "Infinity" is just another number?

For example the antagonist has an ability called "promised victory", that well, promises him victory however he defines it. That one's pretty easy, tho since I can just let him win the battle, but lose the war.
My problem lies with my main characters. Especially with two of my protagonists.

My main protagonist has "Contract", the ability to form and force agreements with any living being that agrees to the term he lays out. I want him to be a summoner with a bit of Shaman King-style possesion (he grants his summons something they want and they give him part of their body).

The other one gets "Deus Mecanicus", the ability to build anything inorgarnic he can imagine given enough materials. From Magical Nukes to Gol-dams.

I plan to make them clash them over some farming area in some over the top shounen-esque war game, where both sides think they can't lose. My current plan doesn't work, though unless I add secondary abilities which would make the power scaling even more hilarious.
 

BearlyAlive

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So, I should just say 'screw it' and give everyone an instant-win button dota style? Or should I take my time and tone down the powers and add more drawbacks to them to turn it more into tactical situation instead of a shounen-esque "my infinity is higher than your infinity, thanks to blahblah"?

I do plan to turn this battle of epic proportions into a running gag later on, so it being a tactical sort of thing would mean that both parties more or less need to act pretty retarded to make it work as a gag.
 

Zirrboy

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The main characters are the lesser problem imo.
"Contract" still needs the user to get the other party to agree and the easiest ceiling here would be how strong the things he can summon are. He'd need to negotiate with contractors, meaning that he has to figure out the intersection of things he can offer and those they want each time.
"Deus Mechanicus" also already has the restriction of materials. A tool shed might suffice for a cheap mech, but the materials for the ultimate death laser could be spread all over the "map".

"Promised Victory" on the other hand has no weaknesses I can think of besides the one you already named, making the fights inherently repetitive.
And even if you do come up with other workarounds, definitions vs conventional power doesn't sound like a good matchup to me.
Either the antagonist instantly wins, or the ability fails and he then has no way to go against the MCs' cheats.
Unless I'm missing something here of course.

This last bit is simply personal opinion, but I don't think retardation and over-the-top alone can source sustainable comedy.
 
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Heya, everybooty!

I'm currently (planning to somewhence start) writing a litRPG with MMO setting where the characters are all aware of how broken their own and the other's skills are. So how do I balance the power scaling when "Infinity" is just another number?

For example the antagonist has an ability called "promised victory", that well, promises him victory however he defines it. That one's pretty easy, tho since I can just let him win the battle, but lose the war.
My problem lies with my main characters. Especially with two of my protagonists.

My main protagonist has "Contract", the ability to form and force agreements with any living being that agrees to the term he lays out. I want him to be a summoner with a bit of Shaman King-style possesion (he grants his summons something they want and they give him part of their body).

The other one gets "Deus Mecanicus", the ability to build anything inorgarnic he can imagine given enough materials. From Magical Nukes to Gol-dams.

I plan to make them clash them over some farming area in some over the top shounen-esque war game, where both sides think they can't lose. My current plan doesn't work, though unless I add secondary abilities which would make the power scaling even more hilarious.
Give more rules/restraint to that OP power, plus make an antagonist that can exploit the rules to defeat your OP MC. Basically give more thought about the power you gonna give to any characters you're creating. What make more exciting is the MC breaking the limit/ceiling of his power, so give the reader the illusion of limit that seem impossible to break, then break it in the most epic ways possible.
 
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Lloyd

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Just make everything so broken it's equally OP.
 

YuriDoggo

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For example the antagonist has an ability called "promised victory", that well, promises him victory however he defines it. That one's pretty easy, tho since I can just let him win the battle, but lose the war.
Or he can just "win the battle, win the war" because his ability is literally promised victory. Nothing says he has to choose between the battle and war. Just win both.
 

BenJepheneT

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Heya, everybooty!

I'm currently (planning to somewhence start) writing a litRPG with MMO setting where the characters are all aware of how broken their own and the other's skills are. So how do I balance the power scaling when "Infinity" is just another number?

For example the antagonist has an ability called "promised victory", that well, promises him victory however he defines it. That one's pretty easy, tho since I can just let him win the battle, but lose the war.
My problem lies with my main characters. Especially with two of my protagonists.

My main protagonist has "Contract", the ability to form and force agreements with any living being that agrees to the term he lays out. I want him to be a summoner with a bit of Shaman King-style possesion (he grants his summons something they want and they give him part of their body).

The other one gets "Deus Mecanicus", the ability to build anything inorgarnic he can imagine given enough materials. From Magical Nukes to Gol-dams.

I plan to make them clash them over some farming area in some over the top shounen-esque war game, where both sides think they can't lose. My current plan doesn't work, though unless I add secondary abilities which would make the power scaling even more hilarious.
then you have to substitute the system/power's role in the story for something else. one punch man did that with saitama's struggle and depression for being way too fucking powerful and focusing on other smaller characters most of the time instead. if there's no weight in your story's conflict, you gotta give me something else to replace it.
 

Maromar

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@BenJepheneT is right on the money here, if the MC can punch every punchable problem and win, one source of building intreasting narrative stakes is to give them a problem they can't punch.

There's a scene in Final Fantasy 13 that encapsulate the technique pretty well. The party slaughters a horde of soldiers after arriving in a hostile population center and get accosted by civilians they bear no I'll will against. They can't talk the crowd down and they're unwilling to blow through them. One member does end up scaring them off with a display of power but this is taken as a massive failure by the party who see themselves (and are) heroes with good intentions, it hurts them all in their own way and sows seeds of doubt that have to be resolved through several following scenes. They won the fight, but they lost, and it sticks.
 
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BearlyAlive

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Thanks for the input and feedback!

After sleeping on it I'll change the insta-win button into an insta-win button for everyone. It now is "grants one vitory to everyone around it. If the victories of the same definition would be granted, those victories that work against the user will be postponed until it is possible to grant them. Stackable." Works better for the story as well since I plan to use the fallen hero trope on him.
 
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