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:
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'.