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  • Adversary Threat Level / Beefing Up / Stats by Level

    I've looked at p103 of the Companion for creating adversaries/NPCs and I swing back and forth on how I feel about it. I've been designing my own adversaries per session, which has not been so bad and haven't really used the rules for design yet - so wanted to start doing that as I am now doing some future-thinking work.

    A key sticking point is also on p103 - "Note that an Elite ranked adversary is typically a full threat rank higher". This doesn't seem to make much sense to me as an Elite ranked minor threat will have 2 less attributes, 1 less focus, and a huge buttload of health less. In all cases, the health added keeps below the next threat-level. It would make more sense if health was a multiple based on Beefiness. (i.e. 25+CON*2 for minor TL, but Elite is CON*3, Heroic is CON*4, etc.)While the Focuses and Talents/Specializations/Powers could be a mixed bag.

    I get that they are 'mere guidelines' that are not 'hard and fast rules' and that most people advocate 'going off feel'. So to get it out of the way, I do go off feel, especially when converting - as I'm currently doing with "Tome of Beasts" but I still find myself trying to grok a mental representation to assemble it next to CR levels or next to some other factor. I also know that CR levels don't have a clear guidance, there are some very loose play tables like below:

    Code:
    CR-----Level
    1/4----1
    1/2----2
    1-------3
    2-------4
    3-------5
    4-------7
    5-------9
    6-------11
    7-------12
    8-------14
    9-------16
    10-----18
    11-----19
    12-----20
    This is very naive, since you could easily pit an L1 fighter against a CR1 and their attack could level out at even higher CR. Still, it makes a bit of sense - for example if you were to take this in hand with the threat-level chart on p104 of the CRB you would see a Major threat is L9-12, on the above that's CR5-7. A "Giant" is CR5 and a Major threat and somewhat matches (3d6+9 vs 3d8+5 / 80vs105 / AC13 vs Def9+AR5). Hey it matches! Ogre is a CR2 but matches Moderate (5-9). Oh well, it's close enough! I don't necessarily want to tie to CR, but want to find a way to sanely match up TL. The NPC stats and Adversary Beefing Up are guidelines that are a bit confused to me.

    I've also considered making each TL representative of itself with the Elite, Heroic, Epic being relative to that TL and indicative of a higher level challenge. Base TL Minor adversary + Epic being a better match for a group of L4. Does anyone have experience with using the Beefing Up rules in relation to party encounters? Does that kind of a view work out, or does it mismatch? Anyone have any working and vetted systems that work off of the guidelines?

    Also: I know that one of the solutions offered a lot is to use adversaries already created and re-skin. It still doesn't answer the question as the Companion does advise that 'published adversaries don't necessarily follow guidelines" and what i'm looking for is understanding the guidelines in context to apply to new/transferred creatures with a little less 'feels'.

    -LimpingNinja

  • #2
    Re: Adversary Threat Level / Beefing Up / Stats by Level

    This seems over-complicated to me. I make up all my own monsters and just put down numbers that seem to work when compared to what my players are doing with their characters, occasionally adjusting them after seeing them in action.
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    [URL="https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7FwXQHZFXPwRVVJTjMwbXNtNDg"]The (updated) Fantasy AGE Atomic Expansion with new arcana, talents, specialisations, expanded magic rules, and arcane orders/rune cults.[/URL]

    [URL="https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7FwXQHZFXPwdWF3ZTRicnQ0ZHc"]Fantasy Age Atomic Monster Index Vol. 1 with 21 new monsters and 7 types of minions.[/URL]

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    • #3
      Re: Adversary Threat Level / Beefing Up / Stats by Level

      Originally posted by Doctor Atomic View Post
      This seems over-complicated to me. I make up all my own monsters and just put down numbers that seem to work when compared to what my players are doing with their characters, occasionally adjusting them after seeing them in action.
      Basically this.

      I find the AGE Threat Level to be virtually worthless, as there are a number of things that are in character growth that arenít represented in power. Mages are notorious with this, as you might have to get an intro level spell just to unlock latter things.

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      • #4
        Re: Adversary Threat Level / Beefing Up / Stats by Level

        This seems over-complicated to me. I make up all my own monsters and just put down numbers that seem to work when compared to what my players are doing with their characters, occasionally adjusting them after seeing them in action.
        I actually said that's what I already do for my own sessions.

        > I've been designing my own adversaries per session

        I also followed with:

        > especially when converting - as I'm currently doing with "Tome of Beasts" by Kobold Press.

        I'm looking at generating an actual translation of OGL material to use with AGE in a serious manner by other DMs and by my local Gaming Cafe where I'm trying to introduce AGE as a serious contender to 5E without prefacing it: Note: All of this is wonky and based on my 3 character party of two mages and a rogue. While this may not interest the wing-it GM who creates everything by hand, there are a lot of people that find one-shots, settings, session guides, and campaign material very valuable. I'm sure there is a consensus logical system as there are multiple bestiaries that tend to follow the same pattern. What I'm asking for is whether anyone has put any of the patterns to use. Yes, I can baseline match nearby monsters - and I already do that, I'm looking to see what strategies other content creators use for actual shareable (not self-party) content.

        Yes, the TL may be worthless, CR is similarly worthless overall. All systems have items that are part of growth that are not represented in power, the same applies to D&D, PathFinder, Swords and Sorcery, Labyrinth Lord, 13th AGE, etc. They all still eventually find a modicum of balance for the wonkiness that generates baselines.

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        • #5
          Re: Adversary Threat Level / Beefing Up / Stats by Level

          Originally posted by Doctor Atomic View Post
          This seems over-complicated to me. I make up all my own monsters and just put down numbers that seem to work when compared to what my players are doing with their characters, occasionally adjusting them after seeing them in action.
          Originally posted by shonuff View Post
          I find the AGE Threat Level to be virtually worthless, as there are a number of things that are in character growth that arenít represented in power. Mages are notorious with this, as you might have to get an intro level spell just to unlock latter things.
          So with this in mind, are there any benchmarks you fall back on when tweaking or creating threats? For those of us new to the game, how do we eyeball this stuff? Do you have a static number in mind (9!) or do you base your design on the players scores (highest Strength +2, for example).

          More specifically, I'm wondering if there isn't an easy way to set up base schemes that can easily be plugged in for more improvised play. These are the sorts of tools I like in a game. The Adversary table in the Companion isn't exactly helpful in this regard. Giving me a pool of points to spend is a pain. Giving me a max attribute # is more helpful.

          Thanks,
          Tom

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          • #6
            Re: Adversary Threat Level / Beefing Up / Stats by Level

            Originally posted by BluSponge View Post
            Giving me a pool of points to spend is a pain. Giving me a max attribute # is more helpful.
            Then you are in luck, because the adversary table in the Companion gives you recommended max attribute levels.

            Although it seems to me that searching for the right attribute number in one single attribute in AGE is an exercise in futility - after some levels have come into play.

            For example, a level 6 character could have 0 in Strength, or she could have 4 or 5 or perhaps even 6.

            And this is exactly what you find on the adversary table in the Companion.

            For precision balance, I recommend d20 3rd edition.

            For bounded accuracy, I recommend d20 5th edition.

            In AGE, you won't get a simple formula for any balancing. You get wildly fluctuating probabilities instead.

            On the plus side: AGE characters don't need any balance for surviving.
            Last edited by rulandor; 02-21-2019, 10:43 AM.

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            • #7
              Re: Adversary Threat Level / Beefing Up / Stats by Level

              The problem is that it really depends on your group makeup.

              For example, in D&D 5E you can make a noncombat character, and they scale as they level: the proficiency bonus, cantrips, etc. Whereas in AGE, a noncombat character who progresses as a noncombat character wonít get too much better. For mages, itís even worse. In 5E, you can swap out old spells or overcast them. In AGE, low level spells just become redundant, or have to be picked up for later Arcana levels.

              Threat levels, or whatever the system calls them, are always an imperfect science. In AGE, moreso than others.

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              • #8
                Re: Adversary Threat Level / Beefing Up / Stats by Level

                Originally posted by shonuff View Post
                The problem is that it really depends on your group makeup.
                It isn't about predicting the exact level needed for a specific party to pass the Bridge of Sorrows; it's more about being able to baseline difficulty for releasing content.

                There is always tweaking required for campaigns dependent on group make-up; I'm not sure it's much worse in FAGE than 5E especially when dealing with fluff players vs min-maxers. In those cases in 5E you can see a massive deviation, but on the whole (beyond edge cases) you have a rule of thumb. With any system you will have an effective power trend-line, it's just that D&D has had more time to identify theirs and create the baseline.

                I realize you said it was worthless to try before, I just have a hard time swallowing it. If it were honestly impossible to do, you would be effectively saying that it would be also worthless to design community or paid content for Fantasy Age or, alternatively, that you could only do so with arbitrarily made-up numbers. Which would mean any bestiary, one-shot, adventure guide, etc. has minor value beyond names and descriptions. If that's the argument, then I'm not sure I agree but I'd have to do some examination to verify.

                In the last campaign I used 5E Monsters/NPCs at their designated CR, directly translated, against a mixed group FAGE. The adventure was for 3-5 L1-L3 players and was roughly 18 hours of play time with 3 players (promoted from L1->L2->L3 during play). After the first 5 hours most fights were 'fun' but not really fear-inducing. I adjusted some of the monsters as per 'Beefing up' to Elite and a few to 'Heroic' which appeared to work well. There were a few observations (i.e. things I need to change next time) beyond that on converting, but the players admitted it was fun and at times scary.

                With that said, I know that there are also sweet-spots within AGE and 5E where this becomes more difficult between classes (as you point out). Mages cause me the most concern in Fantasy AGE as well, I've had complaints that they top-out easy and become either samesy (if you go for power) or underwhelming (if you go for variety).

                Either way, I think that still being able to design TL on a trend-line should be possible and that it is a helpful endeavor - even if it see if it is broken. I may feed the data in, but otherwise I'll just use my current calculation for converting 5E adversaries and make up a random TL since the rulebook is kind of a pain in setting that as you said :-)

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                • #9
                  Re: Adversary Threat Level / Beefing Up / Stats by Level

                  The difference, though, is that 5E scales and uses multiple attributes for success and AGE doesnít.

                  A social character in 5E (such as a bard or warlock) will still see their attacks scale based on their overall level and their social stat being used as a combat modifier. Min-maxing will still provide deviation, but there is a baseline growth.

                  That same social character wonít have the same baseline in AGE. A 1st level character who progresses to 10+ as a social character wonít be much more effective in combat than they would at level 1 ó really just more HP.

                  This is somewhat mitigated, because AGE really is built around the combat encounter. And most players build around combat, at least partially (from my experience). That said, there still isnít a baseline growth to compare to TL.

                  I donít know if I would say that the TL is completely meaningless in the various bestiaries. They do provide a general relative power level between adversaries. However, I would say that its usage does require an additional level of eyeballing than is necessary with other systems.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Adversary Threat Level / Beefing Up / Stats by Level

                    Originally posted by shonuff View Post
                    That same social character wonít have the same baseline in AGE. A 1st level character who progresses to 10+ as a social character wonít be much more effective in combat than they would at level 1 ó really just more HP. I donít know if I would say that the TL is completely meaningless in the various bestiaries. They do provide a general relative power level between adversaries. However, I would say that its usage does require an additional level of eyeballing than is necessary with other systems.
                    I agree with this statement. I think that similarly to other systems you have to start with a set of assumptions and deviations from those assumptions are based on party build mechanics. While not as pronounced in 5E, the spell choices for a good handful of those classes can make a Bard/Druid deal relatively little damage (i.e. 6L Bard that doesn't hurt very much - [Cantrip: Dancing Lights, Message, Vicious Mockery] [L1 Spells: Heroism, Charm Person, Disguise Self, Healing Word] [L2 Spells: Blindess, Suggestion, Zone of Truth] [L3 Spells: Glyph of Warding, Plant Growth, Fear]). A CR rating of a part that included that bard would obviously be off, but realistically if you had a party of 4 social characters then you probably aren't too worried about TL.

                    The assumption I would put to a TL trend-line would be: An average party of 4 characters mostly combat-trained, DM will adjust for their party.

                    It's still loose, sure, but you will never have accuracy - that doesn't mean you can't create something with which to weigh against. Defining that makes it a little easier to assume the average DPR for the characters, their hit points, and thus what would be painful for them. *AGE still has a bit of an issue on the heavy HP side and AR absorption, so makes it a bit of a wonky throw at higher levels. Since nobody has any real data, I'll take some time next week and do some character builds by level and try to get some rough figures myself. While it isn't vital to bestiary conversion, I am pretty certain that most incoming DMs target towards the TL so having it ill-defined can leave a sour taste.

                    -LN

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                    • #11
                      Spammer
                      Last edited by Fildrigar; 05-31-2019, 06:40 AM.

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