Part 129: Mechanics Talk 5 - Fear, Panic, and SpiralsMechanics Talk 5: Fear, Panic, and Spirals
Today is 'All things SP' day here in mechanics talk, so we'll start with the basics. I mentioned fear before, so we'll start with what the manual has to say about it:
This is the only mention of fear damage, tucked away in the section on working with Abnormalities. What it doesn't mention is that watching an Agent panic or die also causes a fear effect, which is calculated as if the dead/panicked Agent is 1 level higher than they normally are. There are six fear levels, based on our Agent's level - the threat level causing the fear:
- Relaxed - Deals no damage. Agent is higher level than the threat.
- Calm - Deals no damage. Agent's level is equal to the threat.
- Nervous - Lose 10% of max SP. Agent is 1 level below the threat.
- Terrified - Lose 30% of max SP. Agent is 2 levels below the threat.
- Hopeless - Lose 60% of max SP. Agent is 3 levels below the threat.
- Overwhelmed - Lose 100% of max SP (instant panic). Agent is 4 levels below the threat.
So long as we aren't doing anything crazy like working ALEPH abnormalities with level 2 Agents, we shouldn't see a lot of problems with fear damage. Still, it's always possible that agents will have their SP reduced to 0, so let's take a look into the mechanics behind panic.
The manual gives a good overall idea of how panic works. When an Agent's SP is reduced to 0, we can beat them with a weapon that deals White or Black damage to give them SP back. Once they reach their maximum, they're saved from the panic state and resume normal work. White damage is recommended, since it's possible to kill an agent if we use Black weapons. We'll now cover each of the panic types in more detail.
Murder: Murder-type Agents try to kill whatever is nearby using their equipped weapon. They get an attack speed buff of 1.x times their normal attack speed, where x is the Agent's level. If using a W/B weapon, they damage their target's SP as normal, so we cannot have two Murder-type paniced agents go at each other with White weapons and have the situation fix itself.
Suicide: Suicide-type Agents stand still right where they first panicked and begin to shudder in place. When first entering this state, a random timer is assigned of between 30 and 60 seconds. At the end of this timer, the Agent snaps their own neck in spectacular fashion, dealing White damage to any other agents in the room. The risk level of the damage is equal to their level, and they deal 20*level in damage, so a level 5 Agent suicide is equal to an ALEPH abnormality dealing 100 White to everyone in the room. Suicide damage can be avoided if we just have everyone clear out of the room, but if we want to save the panicking Agent we have to risk them blowing early and causing more problems for their would-be saviors.
Wandering: Wandering-type Agents run through the facility and periodically deal White damage to anyone in the same room as them. The damage and risk level are both equal to their level, making them not a large threat so long as they don't focus their running to only a couple rooms. The real issue here is with knocking them out of panic, as any Wandering-type Agent gets a 1.x times buff to their speed, where x is their character level. This means wandering Agents tend to move very quickly, and without a ranged weapon that deals B/W damage they tend to just run right by any attempts to suppress them.
Breakout: Breakout-type (because the infographic's term is a mouthful) Agents run through the facility with a crowbar in order to get to a randomly chosen Abnormality which still has a QC. While in this state, they gain a buff of 1.x times their move speed, where x equals their level. On top of this, they receive a defense buff, gaining a modifier of 1-0.x times all their incoming damage. This means a level 5 agent would take only half damage from any attacks made against them, making them incredibly tanky. When they reach their chosen Abnormality, they attempt to free them by hitting the door to the containment cell with their crowbar. Each hit has a chance of 15% per agent level of lowering the QC by 1, to a maximum of a 75% chance at level 5. After either the QC hits 0 or the Agent hits the cell 5 times, they run off to a new cell to free that Abnormality as well. If not suppressed quickly, these types of Agents will cause resets. Unfortunately, Justice is the speed stat so Agents who get this panic type also tend to be the hardest to catch.
Every panic is bad news, since if not dealt with properly they can lead to a phenomenon called a panic spiral. It happens to every manager at some point:
Agents panic, causing other Agents (who may have already taken SP damage) to take a fear hit. These Agents, now vulnerable to snapping, are then sent to get things back under control by suppressing the other Agents. A neck snaps too quick, or the Agents try running around after a wander-type without going through a main room, and now one or two panicked Agents turns into more. Abnormalities get out, and suddenly it's a third warning and we can't actually control anyone in the facility anymore since they're all either dead or banging on the last Abnormality's door with a crowbar, muttering about salvation.
To avoid this, it's important to not panic when things start going wrong. When we see someone panic, it's best to pause and determine what sort of panic type they are, as well as how difficult they will be to suppress with our remaining Agents. In the worst case scenario, we may have to commit to DPSing down a breakout/murder Agent before they free/kill something, or simply leaving a suicide to die alone but that's a rarity. In general, if an Agent panics it isn't a wipe so long as we don't make things worse.