Author Topic: Rules Questions: Threats and building encounters  (Read 1405 times)


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Rules Questions: Threats and building encounters
« on: August 29, 2014, 07:41:51 PM »
So I've ran several sessions in Mistborn, and it's gotten a very good reception from my players. I'm building my first extended story arcs, but there is one thing that is not really answered in the book (or here on the threads).

In the core book, on page 567 it tells you how to determine the Threat level of a Villain or Extra. What it doesn't tell me, though, is how Villains and Extras stack to become encounters.

For example, in the combat session in the book, there are 2 Mistborn and 2 House guards arrayed against Koel and Thorrow. In the Rogue's Gallery, Mistborn are listed as a Serious Threat, and House Guards as an Average threat. Clearly, Thorrow and Koel don't do too well in the example, but how does one gauge just how overpowered they were?

In one game session, I had a group of six, including two Mistborn, get into a fight with two Hazekillers, four House Guards, and two Coin Shots (this was the climactic battle of the session). My group was nearly destroyed. My Mistborn were down and everyone (except for the group's Hazekiller, he seemed fine) were pretty close themselves.

In another session (this time Alloy of Law era), I pitted them against a Twinborn and four mistings and my group won the Conflict rather quickly.

Granted, some if it may be my ability or inability to make full use of the allomancers, but I'm trying to find how to build a challenging encounter that's not one sided, but so far I haven't had any luck.

If anyone can give me any pointers, it would be much appreciated.


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Re: Rules Questions: Threats and building encounters
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2014, 09:45:55 PM »
One of the things you have to remember is that is game, like most RPGs, has dice. Sometimes, the dice favor the players; sometimes the dice crush the players.

What you generally want to do is fudge things behind the scenes. Don't mess with the rolls or the encounter rules, lest your players feel betrayed or cheated. But you are the Narrator, and the entire story world is in your hands.

Fight looking too easy for the players? Call for reinforcements. Morale failure and scatter. Call a total defense action and offer the heroes information in exchange for being allowed to walk away. Take or reveal a hostage (NPC or hero). Change the stakes of the situation. Place the heroes into a moral quandary.

Or, just keep moving and make the next fight a little harder.

Fight going sour for the players? Instead of applying nudges to damage, break a weapon or shove characters into each other's way. Do something that opens opportunities for new ideas (What can the Lurcher do with a fragment of a sword blade?  >:D ). Don't take the heroes out of commission if you have any way to avoid it.

I watched a recorded RPG session where the GM brought in a over-powered group of villains. The heroes got pasted across the market square. Three of the four players dropped before two rounds were complete. Instead of finishing the hapless hero, the villains put up their weapons, told the survivor that "this was a warning" and "stay out of our way", and exited the field.

Almost certainly not what the GM had planned, but the adventure didn't end because of a bad fight. Instead, it became serious, and all the more epic. The players didn't turn back--they wanted revenge rather than just wages.
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Re: Rules Questions: Threats and building encounters
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2014, 12:59:20 PM »
Honestly, I've never really had this issue come up in any of my games. The reason why, I think, is that I don't approach it from a "building encounters" perspective. I never sit down and say to myself, "Okay, I have 4 players, and if I want this fight to be pretty challenging then I'll need to make the bad guys this strong or that numerous."

Instead, I approach things from a story perspective- one of the things that the MAG is VERY well designed to do. My villains all tend to be personally involved with and of great significance to the players. I often find myself asking myself things like, "Okay, if I was this villain, how would I respond to the heroes' actions? Well I'd probably set an ambush here. How many lackeys would the villain feel like is enough to bring and overwhelm the heroes?" And etc.

The result is that I don't worry too much about crafting specific encounters to challenge the heroes just so much, and no more. Instead, I set up situations and scenarios and throw the heroes in the middle of them, then let them figure out how to handle them. Sometimes they slaughter the opponents, sometimes they get their trash kicked and wind up imprisoned. The point is, no matter what happens, I try to set it up so that it advances the story in a significant and fun way.

Now, just in case that doesn't satisfy your question, I will say that I tend to err on the side of lenience towards my players, at least when it comes to fighting extras (I like my villains to be a challenge). Typically players will have more fun mowing down a half dozen house guards than they will getting their trash kicked by two dozen hazekillers (of course, there are exceptions).

Another thing to always keep in mind is to have something for everyone to do, but especially if you want your fight scenes to be challenging. If you throw one super-powerful villain at your players, the villain is going to go down, and fast- especially if there are any Feruchemists amongst your players. (again, exceptions ). Much better to throw multiple villains at your characters, or at least one villain with a bunch of extras serving him. Or set up a scenario where the heroes have to deal with multiple challenges at once. Something like some of the heroes have to break the prisoners free before the executions can begin, while others of the heroes try to stir the crowds into a riot, and still others have to dispatch the guards on the canal boat so that the prisoners can hop aboard and escape, and then in the middle of everything, that Inquisitor with the distinctive scar that has been hunting Hero X shows up again grinning wickedly. Something climatic and exciting like that. It doesn't matter how hard/easy the fights end up being, or what the outcome is, you and your players are sure to have an enjoyable experience. ;)