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Wounds Power Creep?


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#1 Space Monkey

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 06:31 PM

 Hi All

Like many of you I've been collecting the 40k rpg lines since the first release of Dark Heresy by Black Industries. Recently getting hold of the Black Crusade book, I was looking forward to running a game for my players due to many of the positive reviews from you, the forumites.

But skimming through the adversaries section I couldn't help but wonder why some of the wounds characteristics were so high for, what amounts to a Human NPC. Fallen Demagogue - 35 wounds. Apostate Paragon - 35 wounds. Inquisitor Victoria Aldrich - 35 wounds. Hell, even one of the NPC in the adventure at the back of the book has 40 wounds… and he's just a guy!

Comparing some of these figures to what the characters can attain, even the best roll at character creation added to the maximum number of Sound Constitution talents you can buy would only place the very best a PC can muster to anywhere from 20 to 30 wounds depending on Human or Space Marine. If one of my players flipped through the book and spotted the oracle NPC mentioned above, his first thought would be "40 wounds for a human-based character!? Wow, can I be an Oracle?"

So what is with the high numbers being thrown around? Without wanting to offend Aluminium Wolf (sorry, Wolf ), what is it with the video game mentality of giving the "big boss" miles more hit points simply…   well, simply because.

If the best a Space Marine can hope for is 30, human NPC's should not be striding around with 35 or even 40 wounds.

Does anyone else feel the same way or am I firmly on my own in this opinion?



#2 JediMike42

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 07:35 PM

It tips the odds into the favor of the characters. Most NPCs don't have great armor ratings or a true proficiency for dodging, and those that do lack anything like the kind of potential potency or diversity that a regular Heretic has, and I think that's the trade-off. I keep the write-ups for the vast majority of my own NPCs near regular wound levels (~20) but they also have real armor, force fields etc, and get built the same way a heretic does.

It also seems like the higher your NPC rank (Troop-Elite-Master) the higher your wound totals. In terms of RP, I would play this up not as significant damage necessarily but tiring him out, destroying the efficacy of his protective equipment, hazing him with multiple sources of damage that leads to a crest at some point, etc. 



#3 Space Monkey

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:15 PM

JediMike42 said:

It also seems like the higher your NPC rank (Troop-Elite-Master) the higher your wound totals. In terms of RP, I would play this up not as significant damage necessarily but tiring him out, destroying the efficacy of his protective equipment, hazing him with multiple sources of damage that leads to a crest at some point, etc. 

This is the part I've never really been keen on. I'd rather they just use similar rules to the PC's when designing their NPC's, that way I don't have to explain to my players why an Adeptus bookwork has 50 wounds to make him tougher but that they're not allow to have that many. When a "max level" Space Marine has less wounds than a human demagogue it just doesn't sit right with me.

One of our first encounters with a large wound creature was fighting a Genestealer Broodlord in Deathwatch. Due to his high wounds the fight dragged on and on. there was only so many times I could say to the players "your shot skims past it" or "the shot bounces of its thick carapace". It tends to get a little boring for both myself and the players involved and I could see it on their faces. :(



#4 Space Monkey

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 10:58 PM

On the subject of Wounds, is the Unnatural Toughness stat factored in to the maximum number of times you can buy Sound Constitution?



#5 N0-1_H3r3

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 12:41 AM

Space Monkey said:

On the subject of Wounds, is the Unnatural Toughness stat factored in to the maximum number of times you can buy Sound Constitution?

As far as I know, it should be, yes.

With regards to  inflated wound scores on some NPCs… it's a pacing mechanic, nothing more, nothing less. It's anticlimactic if a supposedly powerful and important NPC expires after a single shot, so certain NPCs may be given more wounds than they might ordinarily have in order to make them last a bit longer. For player characters, wounds are a finite resource… for NPCs, they're a measure of effort required to overcome them. That is, at least, the theory behind it - that, along with an acknowledgement that NPCs don't have to work identically to PCs (for contextual reasons - most NPCs get a limited amount of 'screen time', so their rules need to be composed to reflect that while best representing the purpose and capabilities of that creature or character).

The practical side of things comes down to the individual interpretations of different writers - with there being no right or wrong way to approach NPC design (it's more art than science, because an NPC's rules are representative of the character, and thus need to be evocative), it comes down to personal opinion and individual approach.

As for the Broodlord in Final Sanction… I'm surprised it took longer than three rounds, actually - 80 wounds isn't actually that much compared to the amount of damage that a kill-team can inflict. It's also worth noting that, particularly with Orks and Tyranids, large wound counts don't have to be continually narrated as "glancing hits" - these are creatures built for battle, and able to take a lot of severe punishment before they even consider ceasing their efforts to kill you.


Writing Credits for Fantasy Flight Games: Into the Storm, Edge of the Abyss, Battlefleet Koronus, Hostile Acquisitions, Black Crusade Core Rulebook, First Founding, The Jericho Reach, The Soul Reaver, Only War, The Navis Primer and Ark of Lost Souls


#6 Space Monkey

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 01:19 AM

N0-1_H3r3 said:

 

With regards to  inflated wound scores on some NPCs… it's a pacing mechanic, nothing more, nothing less. It's anticlimactic if a supposedly powerful and important NPC expires after a single shot, so certain NPCs may be given more wounds than they might ordinarily have in order to make them last a bit longer. For player characters, wounds are a finite resource… for NPCs, they're a measure of effort required to overcome them. That is, at least, the theory behind it - that, along with an acknowledgement that NPCs don't have to work identically to PCs (for contextual reasons - most NPCs get a limited amount of 'screen time', so their rules need to be composed to reflect that while best representing the purpose and capabilities of that creature or character).

 

 

That paragraph goes quite a way toward explaining things. Thanks N0-1

My players and I now need to try and make some of the drawn out fight scenes a little more interesting than a simple exchange of blows.



#7 Asoral

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 02:50 AM

 I find the best thing to do if you want to use enemies with "normal" amounts of wounds is to make them fight smartly. That is to make them use cover(you get bonuses to dodging), use tactical spacing, use traps and such. The general "helluva lot of wounds" type is much simpler to GM since you don't need to put as much thought into playing them smartly. After all, the players usually only have to control one character while combat is going on and the GM sometimes needs to take care of maybe even whole armies fighting each other. That being said, as a GM you do have the power of precognition and as such you can plan the battles before hand, unlike the players :)



#8 BrotharTearer

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 09:23 AM

For beastial creatures with high wounds (like tyranids, orks and such) I like the narrative that "it just doesn't get stopped in its tracks". An Ork Nob that gets peppered with bolts and hits that just doesn't stop (due to his high Wounds amount to work through) should probably inspire some "oh shi-" in the players, because they'd think it should have died by then. Of course, that might not happen every combat, but still. The cinematics of someone just too hardy to die right away and going after, and perhaps also severely wounding, a PC is usually exciting.



#9 Nimas

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 02:29 PM

 Using the word 'wounds' kinda annoys me as much as other games using 'hp'. It just puts me in the mind that I'm hacking away at an enemy (or ally :D) like they're a mobile tree. I think of wounds (and hp) as more 'luck and focus'. Each attack chipping away at your concentration (obviously this can be represented differently for larger monsters for more epic like fights) until their luck runs out and you hit criticals. 

As to 35-40 wounds for humans, probably not the best judge given our group doubles all wounds on characters (base npc humans still around 12-15 tho). Mainly it makes it easier for our GM to gauge encounter strength and won't accidentally throw a tpk our way simply due to a few crits, and does allow enemies to target our party in terms of logic and danger, hitting the crazy khorne renegade first (at least until he was betrayed by a fellow party member) followed by the squishy psyker, before moving onto the less dangerous CSM and finally the heretek. 

This also allows a bit more flexibility in designing encounters as he doesn't have to worry about the fact that a weapon will either do no damage to the marine (marines now after the betrayal) or will insta kill a less resilient party member.



#10 Deinos

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 08:32 AM

In the table top wargame, people may very well have 4 wounds while still having a completely humanoid body…

More importantly, PCs can't reach that level of wounds, BUT,  remember that PCs can spend infamy points to heal, and that PCs are generally going to become way, way more durable than any NPC, with the potential to get, say, Blasphemy Made Flesh (make a willpower test each time you make any kind of attack whatsoever on me, at -50%, or forfeit your turn), and a Power Field for 80% chance to ignore whatever gets through Blasphemy Made Flesh. Then you can have Terminator armor. Then you can have Vigor Mortis (unnatural toughness above +10) ontop of your natural toughness bonus of +4 or so, meaning you soak 14 damage and then if it'd inflict critical damage you reduce that by another 14 points. And then you can spend infamy points to heal.

Its not really a big deal when you realize NPCs aren't gonna have the other advantages PCs have.



#11 Chastity

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 11:27 AM

As Deinos point out, Wounds are unrelated to body type in tabletop as well. An Imperial Guard commander has more wounds than a Veteran Space Marine.

Treating Wounds as being equivalent to Fate Points also makes an awful lot of sense. While a maxed out Chaos Marine gets at most 20HP, they also get 2-3 Infamy Points which can be spent to heal another 2-30 wounds. A Master-Level human could reasonably have 5-6 Infamy/Fate points, which more than covers the 20-or-so Hit Points that they're given.



#12 Géza!

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:23 AM

Chastity said:

As Deinos point out, Wounds are unrelated to body type in tabletop as well. An Imperial Guard commander has more wounds than a Veteran Space Marine.

Treating Wounds as being equivalent to Fate Points also makes an awful lot of sense. While a maxed out Chaos Marine gets at most 20HP, they also get 2-3 Infamy Points which can be spent to heal another 2-30 wounds. A Master-Level human could reasonably have 5-6 Infamy/Fate points, which more than covers the 20-or-so Hit Points that they're given.

 

Actually, that's the best explanation I have seen so far. Brilliant!






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