Back to Crafty Games Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
August 20, 2014, 05:56:40 AM
Home Help Search Login Register
News: Welcome to the Crafty Games Forums!

Note to New Members: To combat spam, we have instituted new rules: you must post 5 replies to existing threads before you can create new threads.

+  Crafty Games Forum
|-+  Products
| |-+  Fantasy Craft
| | |-+  Tougher Standard Characters
« previous next »
Pages: [1] Go Down Print
Author Topic: Tougher Standard Characters  (Read 1106 times)
4saken
Recruit
*
Posts: 35



View Profile
« on: February 22, 2011, 12:34:53 PM »

I'm looking for a way to make standard characters tougher in my game.

I don't have much experience running it yet but from what I have seen (and read on the forums) standard characters seem to be push-overs. The difference between a standard and a special is not grunts compared to leaders but cannon-fodder (or even lemmings!) compared to villains. I'm looking to make the gap between these two not so vast.

I ask here to get some feedback on my ideas. Perhaps some of you have tried these same ideas before and know what works and what doesn't. For instance, one idea may work find until the characters reach mid or high levels and then might have all kinds of unforeseen consequences. There is also the likely possibility that I'm missing something, or that my observations may have been tainted by the circumstances of the [possibly atypical] combats I have seen so far.

Anyway my basic observation is that the standards fall too easily. It looks like most standards will go down about half the time from a single swing. I would rather they last a little longer without having to resort to giving them all Tough 1 or something. I don't mind a standard falling like that from a decent swing, say, 6 damage, but when they drop dead from 1 HP it's a little embarrassing.

So it looks like my answer is is to give them 2 or 3 more health, which should be like letting them take another 4-6 hp. But then I wonder how much should I scale this as the levels increase?

Idea #1: Use a flat modifier, say +3. Apply this across the board, which will be easier to remember as GM.

Idea #2: Have the modifier vary just a little. It seems a little like too much of a coincidence that the modifier I'd like to add almost perfectly matches the game's Menace levels. So idea #2 is to add the menace level to standard characters health.

Idea #3: To have the health scale up with the party level, use a different chart than it does now, such as the signature skill chart. My only problem with this is that none of the charts seem to scale in a way that would work the way I want.

Also, I already do failed damage saves a little differently, and maybe a little tweak on this would be all I need.

My basic theory is that a failed save is "down" rather than automatically dead. Those who fail their save by alot can be dead, sure, but if you only miss it by a little bit you might only be badly wounded. Either way, you're out of the fight unless pressed. This is sort of in the middle between the game as presented and having a bonus level of Toughness.

Taking this idea a step further I could make a barely failed damage save only mean wounded. There would be no actual penalties to fight but the npc would try to flee, and be out of the fight unless pursued. So when a character fails a save from 1HP it's not like they have a glass jaw and just keel over head but rather they take an injury that's enough to take the fight out of them. So this way when a goblin or an attacking animal fails that save it's not so much that they're horribly fragile but more a factor of they've done all the fighting they are willing to do. After all if a mob of standards are just worthless fodder for some leader chances are their hearts aren't really into it anyway.

Hmmm.... I guess that might look something a little like this:

Campaign Quality: Die Another Day

All standard characters, upon failing their last damage save due to lethal damage are automatically knocked back 5' and will attempt to flee. If they fail their save by 5 or more they are also sprawled and wounded (with specific effects left up to the GM) and those who fail by 10 or more are slain. Note that the result of this roll does not negatively impact feats such as cleave.

I think I'm liking that alot. It gives the GM more creative control if the failed saves are interpreted loosely, which I am all about, and doesn't require any math or other changes.

Opinions/observations, anyone?
Logged
Crafty_Alex
Crafty Staff
Control
*****
Posts: 3240


Damned if I do, damned if I don't.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2011, 12:46:09 PM »

So it looks like my answer is is to give them 2 or 3 more health, which should be like letting them take another 4-6 hp. But then I wonder how much should I scale this as the levels increase?

Seems to me if your issue is not scaling, but rather the starting number, I'd just give them all a Con bonus (say 14) which would increase their starting scores by 2.

Also, remember to increase the final save bonus by +2 per size category bigger than Medium - that's an easy one to forget.

Quote
Idea #1: Use a flat modifier, say +3. Apply this across the board, which will be easier to remember as GM.

This is bascially the same as giving NPC's a Con bonus, so would be my recommendation. Each point you add increases the average amount of damage they can endure before failing by 2.

Quote
Idea #2: Have the modifier vary just a little. It seems a little like too much of a coincidence that the modifier I'd like to add almost perfectly matches the game's Menace levels. So idea #2 is to add the menace level to standard characters health.

The thing I caution against here is too much stacking - Menace V for example, increases dramatic scenes appearance (which may standard NPCs vastly more dangerous to the PCs since they can all crit), and also increases thier Threat Level by 4 across the board, which will already increase their damage saves signficantly.

Just don't want you to accidentally TPK as I've done in the past by overcompensating Smiley
Logged

Nova
Agent
***
Posts: 150


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2011, 12:52:47 PM »

Standard characters can be a decent  threat on their own. Where they fall short is, of course, how easy they are to kill. At least, at first glance.

The recommended encounter in terms of standards is one per character in the party. Include lieutenants and animal partners for this. If that adds up to five, Five standards will be worth one's XP value times the threat level.

What some may forget is... Do you have an entire party fighting off ONE critter or group of critters at a time? Those five standards are the same as one out-numbered special. They do have the advantage of multiple actions, but they could be going down rather quickly.

Seems to me the main solution is twofold. One, read up the NPC section a little more. Your health issues are answered by the health grade system (the scaling included), and the threat level of the campaign (most I run or am in run at TL+1).

Usually best to keep that to the heavily armored ones; and speaking of which, armor can be given to them fairly cheap. In fact, never buy DR for your NPCs, give them armor, give them extra health, give them resistances, but DR is too expensive compared to just buying a suit. Armor can come with various resistances by default too.

If you need them tougher still, there's always "tough", which lets them keep going after failing their save once (or more, but tough can be a very special beast to handle when you stack it).

Finally, don't forget that some parties can chew through a battle better than others. Once they get a bit of renown for their prowess, an opposing force of standards is either suicidal or a well organised (or just big) force. In the latter's case, we're looking at 2-3 full squads of standard character (probably 2 led by a special, or 3 alone), who are going to be focusing a very large number of rolls towards the party before attrition really sets in, so long as they didn't place themselves in perfectly fireballable formations when they knew the party had explosives or a caster.

At low threats this might be 10 archers supporting those 5 guards. When they know they're hunting a mid-high level, renowned war party? they'll bring out the bombards, scrolls and summons. A few hundred silver is a small price to pay for the bounty on THOSE heads, especially compared to the risks of taking them on more "normally".
Logged
ArawnNox
Handler
*****
Posts: 844


GM in Training


View Profile WWW
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 09:22:41 PM »

It's a tricky balancing act. One I'm still learning.

Last night I tossed two mobs of 41xp NPCs (standard) at the party. The only real combat enhancement I gave them was Wolf Pack Basics. They harried the party a bit, but nothing they couldn't handle, which is what I wanted.

Once most of the mob was down, I added the 43XP Ogre (special) to the fight. I was worried for a bit because none of the players were big vitality classes. The Ogre nearly one-shot one of the mages and the assassin. And all I had given him was a greatclub and Club Basics. Fortunatly, my design choices worked out well (I had purposefully given him very low vitality/wounds) and they overcame the challenge. A little worse for wear, but they survived a relatively challenging battle. Smiley
Logged

Wizard's First Rule: People are stupid.
"A great GM knows how to make sure everyone has fun, and great players know the same." --Patrick Kapera
Arawn's Art: http://arawnnox.deviantart.com
4saken
Recruit
*
Posts: 35



View Profile
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2011, 10:17:11 AM »


Last night I tossed two mobs of 41xp NPCs (standard) at the party... nothing they couldn't handle...

I added the 43XP Ogre (special)... a relatively challenging battle.


This is kindof what I was getting at.

I guess the best thing to do is just fudge things a bit more than usual until I get used to the system. I can run 3rd edition in my sleep but that's because I know it so well. But I remember back when I first ran it everything was new and scary and it was far too easy to accidentally bring more than the characters could handle. Later, when I actually have some clue whether 5 or 15 of some mob is closer to what challenges the party I can adjust the difficulty more from the start (ie when you're making the scenario) rather than having to fudge.

Also as I get better I can more easily use the systems already built into FC, such as promoting a standard to a special, which looks like it could be a real game-changer. I know part of the problem is that while the players spent hours building their characters I was busy helping them rather than spending time to tweak their adversaries to their fullest potential as well, and to fully make use of my GM toolkit.

Hmmm.... if you can spend 2 action dice to promote an NPC, how much do you think it would cost for:


Reinforcements!  Add another mob of standard NPCs to reinforce the bad-guys.

Wow, these guys are tough.  Add the tough quality to one group of standard NPCs.


It seems like I have seen the reinforcements thing mentioned before but I don't see it in my book. Adding some tension with a few new mobs seems in the spirit of the game, especially if I flick an action point (I use poker chips for action points) on the table to do so.
Logged
Crafty_Alex
Crafty Staff
Control
*****
Posts: 3240


Damned if I do, damned if I don't.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2011, 10:38:39 AM »

I believe the Reinforcements rule is right under GM action dice section in Chapter 7. IIRC reinforcements cost 1 Action Die per 20 XP of value (rounded down) - so a squad of 43 XP standards would cost 3 AD.
Logged

ArawnNox
Handler
*****
Posts: 844


GM in Training


View Profile WWW
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 12:42:11 PM »

The other thing is too, even though I staggered the Ogre's appearance to a later round, if you add up all the XP I threw at the party: (41 x 2) + 43 = 125. On the very low end of Serious threat. Now, I didn't really push the tactics of what the NPCs were capable of (I only really used wolf pack basics on one player) but I was sort of banking on the low damage save of the wolves and the low Vit of the ogre to be the weakness the level 1 (and new to the system) players could capitalize on. ANd it worked out well.
Logged

Wizard's First Rule: People are stupid.
"A great GM knows how to make sure everyone has fun, and great players know the same." --Patrick Kapera
Arawn's Art: http://arawnnox.deviantart.com
Nova
Agent
***
Posts: 150


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2011, 01:40:14 PM »

Staggering it definitely drops the threat the full encounter poses a little bit. Once your players have the system a little more under their belt, kill the "playing dumb" when possible, though.

One very fun addition, especially if you do it in such a way that the opposing force planned or expected it, are the environmental screwups. This especially makes sense if a local force has to take on the invading PCs. an 80xp group with tactics and the ability to trigger a massive landslide should the party chase them down might win where an extra 50xp worth of stuff would barely have changed a thing.
Logged
ArawnNox
Handler
*****
Posts: 844


GM in Training


View Profile WWW
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 02:59:40 PM »

Well, obviously.
Mind you, the group also consisted of a scout, two mages, and an assassin. It doesn't exactly have a dedicated front-liner.
Logged

Wizard's First Rule: People are stupid.
"A great GM knows how to make sure everyone has fun, and great players know the same." --Patrick Kapera
Arawn's Art: http://arawnnox.deviantart.com
Krensky
Control
******
Posts: 6986


WWTWD?


View Profile
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2011, 04:49:10 PM »

Personally, I haven't found that Standard NPCs go down too easy in play. If I need a tougher standard, I build a tougher standard. I've even rebuild them on the fly if the encounter isn't quite going to plan.

Looking at my Runelords game, how many of my players think that a mob of Goblins aren't even an threat?

Granted, they go down in one or two good hits, but if you get two or three (or more) of them on you, they can put a serious hurt on you before you know it. (Swarm is evil.)

And those are only 30XP NPCs. Literal speed bumps.

Now, I will admit that most of the hurt has come from a 118XP Special, but I am concerned about the two PCs who headed alone into a goblin infested basement.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 04:53:43 PM by Krensky » Logged

We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming. - Werner von Braun
Right now you have no idea how lucky you are that I am not a sociopath. - A sign seen above my desk.
There's no upside in screwing with things you can't explain. - Captain Roy Montgomery
Coyote0273
Operative
****
Posts: 465



View Profile
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2011, 10:53:47 PM »

I was running my group at Menace 5 because it was a large combat heavy group, so I wanted NPCs that could rock their world when the time came. They didn't go down easy at all, and there were multiple occasions when the players ran for their lives.

Standard NPCs can be made very tough with just a few additions. Tough is one, treacherous is a very overlooked ability. Wolves that flank and do crits whenever... oooooh boy.
Logged
Pages: [1] Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  


Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.13 | SMF © 2006-2011, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!