Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Of Midterms and Mediocrity

Forewarning: there is no gaming content in this post.

Had my first midterm of the semester on Monday.  It went...  poorly.  Not "failed it" poorly, but low-B / high-C poorly.  The kind of poorly whose siren song lures us to indolence and "Ah well, I'll graduate just as much with a C as an A" logic.  In another class and another time, I had adopted that mode of thinking, but I just can't do that here.  That course was Operating Systems, which is our capstone basically, and those exams were real pieces of work.  This time it's Network Security, and I can't just let it go.  I know I can do better here - my performance on the homework shows as much.  Plus, I'm kind of hunting a job in this arena, so doing poorly on the exams reflects poorly on me for interviews.

I could make excuses - was out flying around the country for interviews all weekend, up late last night working on a paper, didn't eat enough breakfast because I was still feeling nauseous from airport food, and so forth.  But they would be bullshit.  True enough facts, but not the reason for my failure.  Looking at the solutions provided afterwards, I just missed details and made stupid arithmetic errors.  My knowledge wasn't lacking - I did great on strictly knowledge-based questions.  But when it came to applying that knowledge, I made errors more often than usual.  Looks like I was just in a hurry and not paying attention; maybe got a little cocky after I did well on the homework, maybe just wanted to get home so I could eat something.

In a sense, I prepared incorrectly.  Mentally, I prepared my brain, but to borrow from Musashi, I did not prepare my spirit; I did not have the spirit of winning, of cutting the enemy.  My sword was sharp, my arm strong, but my head just wasn't in the right place.  Next time, I will do better.  Slow down, focus on every line, think about it, double-check my math.  Because what kills me is that I could've made an A; nothing on this test was unreasonable or beyond my ability.  I made perfect scores on harder tests in high school, sometimes more than one in a day.  Just gotten soft on the permission of mediocrity.

Next time, I will do better.  Have another midterm tonight; time to see what I can do.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Logistics and Lairs

Well, it's been a while, but I've been busy with job-hunt, travel (as a result of job-hunt), and school.  One thing I will say for travel is that despite the general unpleasantness involved in flying, it does give one quite a lot of time to read and reflect.  And so it came to pass that last Thursday during a flight from Phoenix to Seattle, I finished Keegan's A History of Warfare.  Quite a lot of good gaming inspiration in there - now I want to run a Polynesian ACKS game, an Aztec ACKS game, a Viking ACKS game, and probably a few more that I forgot.  I hear Drew wants to run Roman ACKS (fasces?) game as well.

A few other surprising points stuck out at me, though.  The first is that different cultures have some really different outlooks on war.  The kind of combat we see PCs engaging in in D&D is very strongly western european in style, just in terms of directness and willingness to press the enemy into decisive melee.  Many other cultures, including the steppe nomads, Arabian cavalry, the Greek peltasts, and primitive tribesmen the world over much prefer to engage at range and flee or fall back if threatened with melee (often to encircle the enemy from the flanks).  And yet, we very rarely see such hit-and-run tactics on display among either PCs or their opponents.  This is disappointing, but easily enough remedied by changing "fighting retreat" on my morale table to "retreats with intent to reengage later".  As for PCs...  well, they will do what they will do, and as long as they have some armored melee fighters, they're likely going to press for melee most of the time.

Also interesting was that many cultures do not run down retreating enemies.  Surprising, I know - never would've guessed from the way my PCs go about it...

Finally, the chapter on logistics was extremely interesting from a gaming perspective.  There were a number of excellent facts:
  • On human limits - "A marching soldier cannot carry supplies for more than ten or eleven days" and "the soldier's load cannot on average be made to exceed 70 pounds of weight", or about seven stone.  Seven stone, curiously enough, is the cutoff between 90' and 60' speed in ACKS.
  • Twenty miles a day is listed as the best speed achievable by men on foot "with any degree of regularity", and the Roman legions on their internal lines are cited as moving about this speed.  ACKS permits up to 32 miles a day to unencumbered humans on good roads, or 48 with a forced march on good roads.  That seems... a bit high.  Good thing there are no such roads in my setting...  Unless some of those dastardly PCs were to build one...  Man, I hate those guys, always causing trouble, breaking the laws of physics, deciding to go to unmapped dungeons...  ahem.  Sorry, where was I?
  • Right, speaking of roads: "The lengths of roads per thousands of population were in 1860: 5 miles in Britain, 3 in France, 2 and a third in Prussia, and only 3/4 in Spain."  Now I feel even better about not putting much in the way of roads in there...  This means that a town of about 4500 souls, like Opportunity, has maybe 10-12 miles of good road in its vicinity, tops.  And wheeled transport doesn't work very well without them...  I guess the merchant caravans are actually mule-and-camel trains.
  • On pack animals: A bullock (apparently a juvenile ox?) eats its own load in about 8 days.  We have been ignoring rations for pack animals...  That may be for the better.
In any case, it looks like most long-distance campaigns during the Classical era were supported by a supply fleet of galleys carrying food and water rather than by pack animals or wagons, which was part of why campaigns tended to hug the coast.

So yeah.  Before the PCs decide to take their army and march on an opposing town (say, Deal), they should consider stockpiling iron rations for a month or three...

So that was the logistics part.  What's this about lairs?

A week and a bit ago, a session of ACKS was played, with many new players!  Jarol the Thothite assumed command of a band of new adventurers and sought out bounties upon the giant scorpions troubling the peasants of Opportunity.  Among his company were:  the wizard Leo, and his cleric Hildegarde, Goradohi the Crocodile-Man and his war-crocodile Ota, the Dardantine merchant Guilleme Capouchen and his own priestess Perrin the Pious, Bhoskar, a dwarven warrior in the service of Jarol, and one war dog.  They succeeded in tracking and slaying five such scorpions in pitched battle with no losses, save the war animals, both of which were slain by poison.

Upon their triumphant return to Opportunity bearing the stingers of their quarry, they were met by Corinth and her warriors while collecting their bounty from the Baron Garwyn, and also came into the company of Max Parsley, hick-turned-swordsman, and his scribe Henx.  Without the aid of Carcophan's Zaharan lore, they were unable to decipher the map to the Vaults, so Corinth proposed an expedition to the destination of the Myrmidian map recovered during the dragonslaying, which pointed to a fort in the desert.  En route, they made friendly contact with a group of giant cactus treants, who warned them of orcs and goblins in the vicinity.

Upon their arrival, the perimeter was scouted and no means of ingress was found, and so they went over the walls via grappling hook and opened the gates from within.  While exploring the cellar of a tavern within the fort, they found a passage within the cellar which led them into a goblin den.  The goblins, maddened by Max's accidental blasphemy of their death-god Hao-Dee, rolled a pair of 12s for morale and all charged to painful burning deaths in a patch of flaming oil.  All 30 or so of them.  Goradohi complemented the company on their cooking while the rest of them searched for treasure, finding several pieces of silverware and a captive, a captured bandit named Demmin who knew little of the area, being from further west.  After emerging from the warren, they sent Demmin to outside the gate with the mercenaries, and searched a smithy, where they found five goblins cowering in terror.  When commanded to leave, they protested that the orcs would get them.  Goradohi ate one, and the rest fled as orcs attacked the party from the rear, badly wounding Leo, Hildegarde, and Corinth's nightblade Macha.  The orcs were slain, and the party found nothing of value in the smithy, so with their wounded in tow a retreat back to Opportunity was ordered.

No PCs or henchmen were killed in the making of this session report :(  Even more sadly, it looks like with my interview travel schedule, there will be no more ACKS before the 14th of October at the earliest.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Of Bounties and PC Rulers

It came to pass in the lands of Baron Garwyn the First that the peasants were greatly troubled by a plague of ankhegs and scorpions the size of cows, which did eat at their livestock and their kin.  And they came to him, and spake, and did say, "Verily, we should not hesitate to pay our taxes, had we goats with which to pay them, but we haeve them not, for they are all devoured by insectes moste large."  And the good Baron was troubled by this, and summoned the lady-knight Corinth to his court, whereupon they spoke at length of this matter.  With the loss of the Baron to the duties of rulership, the mage Carcophan to injuries most grievous, and the mad Albanian to poison, the Company was much diminished from its former power, and Corinth was all that remained of the Olde Company.  She had recruited many new members, but they were yet unblooded, and thirsty for plunder and glory, neither of which was to be had in the extermination of mere bugs, no matter their size.  And these facts she laid before the Baron, and suggested that should he desire the infestation of his lands to come to an end, he should offer a handsome bounty upon those beasts which troubled him, in land or gold or titles, that she might convince her Company to pursue those ends.

And so we came upon a rules dilemma.  In ACKS, you normally get 1 XP for each GP which you extract from the dungeon.  The forums seem to indicate that this includes bounties, which have been suggested as a means for merciful judges (hah!) to provide extra XP / GP for hunting monsters with little treasure.  This would suggest that Garwyn should be able to offer a bounty on monsters, and then his fellow PCs should receive XP up to any amount.  Unfortunately, this could conceivably lead to situations like "Hey, you're 3kXP short of a level?  Bring me the head of the Inconvenient Rat Which Haunts My Kitchen, and I shall give to ye 3000 pieces of gold!"  So there's a problem there.  You also get into issues with infinite chaining, where two PC regents each fulfill each other's bounties, and repeat ad nauseum for unlimited XP.  Also not good.

My first proposed solution to this problem, which I still think is likely the best, follows from the principle that, in general, 1 XP can be earned from 1 GP by one person (or, 1 GP = 1 person*XP, for those of you who like physics).  There are exceptions to this rule, as in building castles, but they're endpoints to the gold cycle, as it passed out of PC hands.  So, says I, where can I find a source of gold for which the regent did not earn XP?  Fortunately, ACKS has such a source readily available in the form of the campaign GP threshold, which is a confusing concept but useful here.  The deal with the campaign GP threshold is that domain size and profit will, in general, scale with PC level, and so PCs should be able to achieve some sort of lower bound on earnings with basically no risk.  This is the threshold; there's a table at the end of the campaign chapter which shows how it varies with level.  When you earn campaign income, you subtract your threshold and then earn only the remainder as XP.  For example, Garwyn's threshold is 5000 GP, so if he earns 7000 GP in a month from taxes, he only receives 2000 XP.  The other 5000 GP have yielded no PC any XP, and so the rule follows - a regent can offer up to his campaign income threshold in GP per month as bounties which yield XP to his fellow PCs.

This system may work; I expect we'll see it in action soon.  However, we reach another, alternate solution if we base our policy on another of ACKS' recurring principles - on average, 80% of XP comes from treasure.  If we look at it this way, then we might suppose that a bounty of up to four times a monster's XP value would count towards XP for fellow PCs.  This does nip the "Inconvenient Rat Problem" in the bud, but doesn't solve the possibility of powerful, high-level regents swapping bounties on mighty monsters and racking up thousands of extra XP on a daily basis.  This too might be remedied by the policy that one only earns XP from a bounty issued by a regent higher-level than oneself.

In any case, this is still something of an open problem, but so far the monthly campaign threshold solution seems to be acceptable to all involved.  Tomorrow, we see if it is inducement enough to fight the Insects of Unusual Size.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Out for Blood

Alex and I were discussing recently, and it came up that I'm remarkably OK with PCs working counter to each other (I think we may have been discussing Tim's traitor behavior in MnM).  Alex posited that this was a result of my wargaming experiences, where these same players were enemies to be crushed beneath the volume of fire from my laser cannons, and the shattering of their hulls was cause for rejoicing.  That may be part of it, but I think that more important is the fact that I have generally had positive experiences with such play; Jared kept important secrets from the party in my first Traveller game, Asmir plotted against Jared's wizard in the second season Tim's game, Oknir played with and against us in the third iteration of that game, Fjolkir/Mavrilith killed a fellow PC and got away with it, and Mordecai worked at cross-purposes to the rest of the party in Alex's Trav game.  None of these incidences of 'playing against' resulted in much wailing and gnashing of teeth, nor the ending of games, and in fact I would argue that definitely Jared's playing against the party made the game more fun.  The others were a bit ambiguous; I think in these cases, the more that the treachery is kept secret, the less fun it is for everyone involved.

However, more generally, I realized that while playing MnM, I kept kind of urging my fellow players to pursue courses of action (riding disintegrator dragons and using the incorporeal telekine as a scout through hazard-sealed doors) which might be, ah, hazardous to their health.  I guess part of it reminded me of Drew's trickery towards Sheng and Jason during their first session, where he convinced them to poke the skeletons and open the cursed chest.  I started to realize that at some point along the line, it went from "treachery is OK" to "Even when I'm playing, I'm kind of gunning for the other PCs a little."  And I'm not entirely sure how I got here, or how I feel about it.

I think playing Asmir planted the seeds; I had never plotted to kill a PC before, but Asmir put me in a position where I had a couple layers of contingency plans to eliminate the entire party (I even appointed myself Party Cook in order to better poison the stew).  Before that I was in a very tentative "sometimes, if you do dumb things and get unlucky, you may end up dead" position as a DM.  Mordecai in Alex's Traveller game contented himself with smuggling dangerous goods without the rest of the party's knowledge, and plotting the downfall of interstellar megacorporations with the assistance of a rogue AI in his free time, but never went against the party's interests (and in fact was a primary provider of income).  Fjolkir was out to kill the dragon at any price, and ended up burning down a city and killing a fellow party member to do it.  That was my first (and hopefully only for the foreseeable future) PC-on-PC kill (but not the first of that campaign, as Oknir killed the paladin off-screen), and I did try to find ways around having to do it.

And then I ran ACKS, and that just downright desensitized me to PC death.  It's odd, how I never realized that 3.x and friends lacked good rules for handling death and character replacement until I ran a system that did have fairly comprehensive rules for it.  But to some degree, my brain is still in ACKS-DM mode while playing MnM, and it's...  probably not the best of things.  Perhaps it's a sign that it's time to sharpen the ACKS again, I guess.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

On Prep

Well, I've finally figured it out.

If there's no pressing deadline for the prep work, it just isn't going to get done.  And by 'pressing' I mean "Is this going to get used in the next three to five days or so?  No?  Well alright then."

Self-knowledge is a wonderful thing.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Munchkins and Masterminds, Part 3 - Character Death and Consequences

Matt's character died last session.  To be fair, he was riding a flying disintegrator dragon when it took a critical hit headshot with a nuclear grenade and exploded in a ball of radioactive fire.  He then failed his reflex save, failed his damage save by a bunch, and went straight to Dying.  Falling damage did the rest.

Was it technically a rules-legal death?  Probably not.  A second reading suggests that even a dying character who takes more damage (eg, falling) would get another damage save, likely at no penalty, and odds of that one putting him straight to dead were low.  Getting killed is hard work in Mutants and Masterminds; it is built for the superhero genre, after all.  Generally you have to beat the living tar out of someone at length first, and then dying takes a matter of hours.  Now, I get that Alex is using the Massive Damage rules to shift the system in a slightly grittier direction, in keeping with the sci-fi horror hulk-crawl vibe he's going for, and I'm all for that.  Matt's death was completely in keeping with that flavor, and I had no problem with it.  Pretty good way to go, if you ask me.

The place where I do think Alex broke genre as a concession to gameplay was in the handling of Matt's replacement character.  Matt died, we made it back up to the surface, and lo and behold there's a badass up there with some kind of man-portable shrapnel cannon and strange masochism-fueled regenerative powers waiting to join our squad.  The issue here is that the horror-flavor space dungeon crawl is essentially an attritive exercise.  You go in with a squad and they're slowly killed off one by one by strange, terrifying enemies until only Ripley is left and escapes with the cat.  When you allow replacement PCs, the party stays at full strength and that "oh god we're all going to die in here" overtone disappears.

The cost to the player of the death of a their PC is basically zero in this system.  You don't lose out on earned XP, because the rate of PP gain is ridiculously low (we had one PC gain 1/15th of a level last session.  The rest of us made no progress).  You don't lose out on treasure, because there is no treasure.  You don't fail to accomplish the mission, because the Party will remain at full strength (and even if you did fail to fulfill the objectives, I know I personally don't care all that much about consequences within the setting, since we don't have any real attachments to it except for Jared and Matt's old character).  The only thing we do lose is real-life character design time, and honestly I'm not sure if there's really anything stopping us from bringing in more-or-less identical replacements, which would nullify that cost.

As a result, I know that I'm playing to get killed, ideally in an entertaining fashion.  Exploits from last session include: being used as a projectile by the group's telekine (and taking no damage from it), charging the disintegrator dragons, attempting to grapple living darkness from beyond the stars, and voluntarily being used as a target for friendly grenades because I was easier to hit than the real target, but in melee with it (again, taking no damage).  I the player am indifferent about that character's survival, and fortunately, so is the character in-game.  So...  I guess I'm going to keep doing really, terribly stupid things until something comes along and gives him a spectacular death.

This line of thinking eventually brought ACKS to mind for contrast, though.  In ACKS, there is a clear progression of treasure, XP, and worldly power which the death of a character can interrupt.  Sure, you can get resurrected, but Restore Life and Limb has its own perils, and sometimes it just fails, or puts you in a position where you are going to die again very shortly (as with the side effect that calls Invisible Stalkers down on your head).  When people die in the dungeon, it can definitely obstruct the party's progress, but it does so without cutting players out of the game provided that they have henchmen.  You also end up spending reserve XP to bring in new characters, which provides a resource management aspect.

But what about that completely new 1st-level party with no gold, no XP (reserve or otherwise) to their name, no connections to the setting, and no real objectives other than "go in, stab rats, get copper pieces"?  Why should they care if individuals die?  Chargen takes like three minutes, so that's no disincentive.  There is, however, one last resource that death in ACKS costs you, and that is ability score sets.  When you roll that 18, you cherish it and protect it and use it wisely and well, and if it dies, it's gone and you can't just bring in its clone brother.  This may be the most telling argument in favor of random ability scores compared to point-buy that I have yet encountered; if you like what you're playing, you should keep it alive because you cannot just revert to it when you die.

In conclusion, Mutants and Masterminds is not build with high PC lethality in mind, and does not provide any good rules (or even suggestions in the GMing section of the book) for handling PC replacement in a way which discourages degenerate play.  Degenerate play results.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mutants and Minmaxers, Part 2 - The Impenetrable Defense

Alex ran the first session of his MnM game last night.  Some issues were observed with the system.

The main mechanical issue that came up was the disparity between attack and defense.  In almost all cases given an optimized attacker of power level n and an optimized defender of the same level, the optimized attack will fail to penetrate the optimized defense.  Here's a rundown by type of save / defense:
  • AC - this one is the biggest offender, and here's why.  The optimized AC is 16+2*PL; 10 base +1 dodge +5 maximum human dexterity +PL in Base Defense Bonus +PL in Superhuman Dexterity, Superspeed, or other defensive superpower.  The optimized attack bonus under normal circumstances is 6+PL; 1 from Weapon Focus +5 maximum human strength of dexterity +PL in Base Attack Bonus.  Superhuman Dex, Superhuman Strength, and similar powers do not add to attack rolls; the only way I've found to provide another bonus to attack rolls of +PL is with Luck, and there are two problems with that route.  First, Luck is a hell of a lot more expensive than than +AC portion of SuperDex in terms of points, and can't be split similarly.  Second, Luck only adds to one roll per round, which means that if you have multiple attacks, you're only achieving parity (10+ to hit) with one of them.  As a result, the gap between optimized AC defense and optimized to-hit diverges, until by PL7 (where we are) an optimized attacker needs a 17+ to hit an optimized defender.  At PLs greater than or equal to 10, your only recourse becomes to spray Rapid Strike, TWF, or Autofire attacks and pray for a natural 20, or to hope you had the foresight and points to bring Mental or Area Effect powers to bypass AC (and that they haven't optimized those saves too).  It's also possible to get some circumstantial modifiers to attack, such as the charge bonus or point blank shot.  These are, however, small integer constant bonuses and will not save the attacker from the O(n) that he lags behind the defender.  What might, though, is rendering the defender flat-footed by means of Invisibility, sneaking, feint, or other means, thereby reducing his AC to 10+PL.  Looks like Matt had it figured out after all...  unless the opposition has Combat Senses, which an optimized defender might be presumed to have, in which case it nets you +6 to hit and doesn't solve the O(n) scaling issue.
  • Fortitude, Reflex, and Will are all symmetric cases, so I'll get them all in one go.  Here we don't have divergence, but we still have some stuff seriously wrong with the math.  The optimized NAD save bonus is +7+PL; +5 from normal human maximum ability score +2 from the appropriate Iron Will, Great Fortitude, or Lightning Reflexes +PL in superhuman bonuses from Amazing Saves, Mental Protection, or Superhuman Ability Scores.  The DC for an optimized offensive power is, unfortunately, only 10+PL; no ability scores are added here, and there are no feats which boost this, nor powers that I have yet found.  As a result, an optimized save will fail only by rolling a 2 or lower on a d20 against an 'optimized' attacker of the same power level.  Oh, and if it happens to be Will, then they probably also have Indomitable Will, which provides a second save the next round, driving the probability of an overall failure down to 1% rather than 10%.  So - cover your NADs, kids, and watch everything just bounce off of them.
  • Damage saves - Here the news is brightest for the attacker, actually.  The optimized damage save bonus is 7+PL (5 human ability scores +2 toughness +PL in Protection, Amazing Save, etc), while the DC for an optimized damage save is 20+PL (15 base +5 normal human strength +PL in Superstrength, Strike, Weapon, or whatever) for a melee or mighty ranged attack, or 15+PL for a normal ranged attack.  Further, bonus damage is much easier to come by than bonus damage defense, by means of Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, and Surprise Strike.  These numbers put an optimized damage defender in the 8+ to 13+ success range without circumstantial modifiers, with repeated failures generating damage save penalties eventually sufficient to put them under, unless they have stupid-high ranks in Regeneration.
So...  defense beats offense by a wide margin, except on damage saves.  I anticipate a Party Objection to this argument, though - "You can't possibly optimize all of your defenses and still pose a credible threat to the party, and someone in the party will have whatever save you're weakest against, right?"

Wrong.  Wrong for several reasons, even.

First - the structure of save in MnM means that in order to be effective, you have to punch through either AC and then a NAD or damage save, or Reflex and then a NAD or damage save if you're using area effects (which can be problematic when there are friendlies around), or Will and then a damage save if you're using Mental Assault.  Unless you're specifically configured during character generation to go after those last two, you're almost certainly up against AC every round, and you're losing by O(PL).

Second - the Party Optimality and Diversity Assumptions.  In one sample party observed last night, two out of six characters had BaB of only ~PL/2, rendering them ineffective against high-AC monsters (20+ to-hit).  Further, only one character in six possessed an area effect, and there were no Mental-trait attack powers available.  Even worse, our defenses are pretty terrible; it would not take anything even near an optimal offense to down most of us.  I think a couple of wide-area energy blasts would do the trick, honestly.

Third - the "You can't possibly be optimal in all your defenses and still have any offense" assumption.  Well, have I got news for you.  A PL n character appears to have 15 power points per PL.  Let's consider PL7, which is where we are in Alex's game, with 105 points.  Ability scores - Str 3, Dex 20, Con 20, Int 3, Wis 20, Cha 3 costs us a total of 9 points, leaving us with 96.  We definitely want BaB and BdB 7, which will cost us 35 points in total, leaving 61.  Now for defensive powers - Superhuman Constitution with flaws Device, no environmental bonus, and no recovery bonus, comes to a total of 1 point per rank, for 7 points total, leaving 54.  We can do the same thing with Superhuman Dexterity, garnering just the bonuses to AC and Reflex as a device for 1 point per rank, 7 points total, 47 remaining.  Will is a bit trickier, since we can't really put it together with anything else; I'm partial to Mental Protection as a device at rank 7, for 40 points remaining.  Combat Senses 7 leaves us with 33, while Devices of Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, and Indomitable Will leave us 29.  Dodge for 2 put us at 27, and at this point we've basically achieved 'perfect' numerical defense.

Now, what can we do with 27 points of offense?  First, the feats - Point Blank, Precise, and Rapid Shot with Multishot as a device (muzzle brake / recoil suppressor / 40k-style suspensor harness) puts us at 20 points.  Energy Blast with Device and Autofire at rank 7 runs us 14 points, so we have six left.  Then, using the Stunt rules on page 95, we take Snare, Paralysis, and Stun as stunts for this weapon.  The interesting points about those three powers are that 1) they're all instantaneous duration and all ranged, which means you choose one of your four modes and autofire with it, and 2) they each target a different save - Snare is reflex, Paralysis is will, and Stun is fortitude.

Further, this build scales across PLs above 7 safely.  Each level, with your 15 points, you put 5 into BaB and BdB, 1 into each of SuperCon, SuperDex, Mental Protection, Combat Senses, and 2 into your weapon.  You then have 4 points left over to go spend on other ridiculous bullshit.

So, that's a pretty decent build with optimized defenses and an offense revolving around "guess their weak saves, then spam autofire until you roll 20s".  It still has issues dealing with Illusion, though.  To cover that gap, take Mute as a flaw and use those 10 PP on one rank of Regeneration for the off chance that someone manages to injure you, Assessment, True Seeing, See Invisibility, and...  I dunno, Attack Focus, Improved Initiative, or something else nice.  Disintegration as an stunt on your gun, maybe.  Let's go with Darkvision.  If you're feeling really, really dirty, pick up another combat-irrelevant flaw like Disturbing and spend all of those points on immunities to things like suffocation, pressure, aging, fatigue, and critical hits.  Congratulations, you have created a terrifying, unstoppable killer robot.  The only things he is afraid of are area-effect Disintegration and opponents of about twice his power level.  Not even death, because he prays for release from the ridiculousness of this goddamn system.

This guy looks like he has Str 3, right?

So, final numbers:
PL7.  Defense 30 (10+1 dodge +5 dex +7 base +7 superhuman), flat-footed 24 (10 +7 base +7 combat senses).  FRW and Damage saves +14 each.  Init +5.
To-hit at range +12 or 10/10 or 8/8/8 or 6/6/6/6, applying either Damage save DC 22 or one of the other saves at DC17.

By the way, have I told you about my next character?
Or, for that matter, how much I'm starting to hate point buy systems?