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Encounter Design


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#1 Barefoottourguide

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 05:22 AM

 I just finished reading the beta book and wonder if Jay and staff took a Deadlands approach to encounters… doesn't matter if they're easy or tough… players should know when to run. Is this the approach we should take?

Garrett



#2 LethalDose

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 06:39 AM

Barefoottourguide said:

 I just finished reading the beta book and wonder if Jay and staff took a Deadlands approach to encounters

Could you enlighten those ignorant among us to what the "Deadlands approach to encounters" is, in a nutshell?

-WJL



#3 Barefoottourguide

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 08:07 AM

 Deadlands says throw whatever opposition you want or randomly generate at the PCs. They should know to pick their fights and run when they can't win.

Garrett



#4 awayputurwpn

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 08:27 AM

 This is definitely the feel I get from the game. Especially in light of the complete absence of a "challenge level" system.

Also, I like it.



#5 LethalDose

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 09:39 AM

Barefoottourguide said:

 Deadlands says throw whatever opposition you want or randomly generate at the PCs. They should know to pick their fights and run when they can't win.

Garrett

Eh, I think random encounter generation has its place, but not as the core mechanism for creating encounters.  l haven't played Deadlands, so I can't comment on how it works there.  

I DO like that it accepts that some fights should be too tough for the players, to the point of being practically unwinnable.

AluminumWolf is gonna hate this.



#6 New Zombie

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 10:08 AM

LethalDose said:

I DO like that it accepts that some fights should be too tough for the players, to the point of being practically unwinnable.

AluminumWolf is gonna hate this.

he can pretend it is a rogue-like game then.



#7 Donovan Morningfire

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 10:11 AM

Barefoottourguide said:

 I just finished reading the beta book and wonder if Jay and staff took a Deadlands approach to encounters… doesn't matter if they're easy or tough… players should know when to run. Is this the approach we should take?

Garrett

I'd say encounter design in this game is much more of an art than the strict formulas for "balanced" encounters that 3rd Edition D&D introduced and that Saga Edition and 4th Edition depended on.  Although even those systems could be thrown out of whack due them being based solely upon level and not so much special abilities or equipment.

So it is a bit like Deadlands, in that there's no hard and fast rules for gauging NPC capability vs. that of the PCs, but I'd also caution against expecting the PCs to run when faced with a "tough" encounter.  After all, you never know when a group of starting-level PCs are going to get ballsy and try to plug Darth Vader as the Dark Lord of the Sith goes walking past them in a corridor.


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#8 Donovan Morningfire

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 10:13 AM

New Zombie said:

LethalDose said:

 

I DO like that it accepts that some fights should be too tough for the players, to the point of being practically unwinnable.

AluminumWolf is gonna hate this.

 

he can pretend it is a rogue-like game then.

 

is it really necessary to needlessly antagonize the guy?  If you don't agree with what he's saying, just ignore it.


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#9 mouthymerc

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 10:22 AM

Donovan Morningfire said:

After all, you never know when a group of starting-level PCs are going to get ballsy and try to plug Darth Vader as the Dark Lord of the Sith goes walking past them in a corridor.

Never met a group of players that wouldn't take that shot. All too often they are of the mindset that if you put it out there it is their job to take it out, one way or another. And they must have a chance, right? Otherwise why did you put it there in the first place? I love players. They are a randy bunch.


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#10 LethalDose

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 10:39 AM

mouthymerc said:

Donovan Morningfire said:

After all, you never know when a group of starting-level PCs are going to get ballsy and try to plug Darth Vader as the Dark Lord of the Sith goes walking past them in a corridor.

 

Never met a group of players that wouldn't take that shot. All too often they are of the mindset that if you put it out there it is their job to take it out, one way or another. And they must have a chance, right? Otherwise why did you put it there in the first place? I love players. They are a randy bunch.

One of my best sessions with my current group of players was when I used Vader as a "wall of spikes" slowly closing in on them through station corridors.  I blatantly stole the encounter design from the "Halls of reflection" dungeon in WoW, and I don't really care, because the players loved it, even though they knew they weren't supposed to take him out.

Although, I suppose I put him on their heels, instead of in their path… Either way, they knew it was time to run.  

-WJL



#11 Lord of Malice

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 04:41 PM

Donovan Morningfire said:

After all, you never know when a group of starting-level PCs are going to get ballsy and try to plug Darth Vader as the Dark Lord of the Sith goes walking past them in a corridor.


Said players better be ready to become one with the force then.

Or if the GM is feeling nice, be prepared to escape an imperial detention facility. 



#12 New Zombie

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 07:41 AM

Donovan Morningfire said:

 

New Zombie said:

 

LethalDose said:

 

I DO like that it accepts that some fights should be too tough for the players, to the point of being practically unwinnable.

AluminumWolf is gonna hate this.

 

he can pretend it is a rogue-like game then.

 

 

 

is it really necessary to needlessly antagonize the guy?  If you don't agree with what he's saying, just ignore it.

 

hey, aluminumwolf has his point of view and is passionate about it - you have to respect him for that. his opinion is different to mine, but i respect it, sometimes he beats a dead horse, but i'm sure a lot of us have been guilty of that over the years. as a hardcore video gamer i think he would see the humour in both lethaldose and my comments. a practically unwinnable game IS a roguelike game in the video game world. a practically unwinnable encounter IS something that goes against a lot of what he has described. but, please feel free to look down your nose at me and tut away. or better yet if you don't agree with me, ignore me.

 



#13 Armenius Orson Carrick

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 02:53 PM

Moving back to the question at hand, I think you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly, to be honest. The Warhammer 40K and WFRP 3rd ed is essentially the same in that there are three pretty generic tiers of bad guys, for the sake of argument Grunts, Sergeants, and Big Bads. If you make up a character and have some rolls one-on-one with opponents you'll get a feel pretty fast for how lethal they are gonna be against the party. The main thing to remember in crafting encounters for this style of system is that you should always go small, and have reinforcements in the wings if the players start smashing their way through. It makes a lot more sense for guards to be re-routed from another hanger to defend an attack here than to suddenly run away when they're flogging the players senseless in what you hoped would be an easy encounter.

After a couple of sessions, you get the hang of picking the difficulty through the stat blocks of the enemies anyway, and I've found the encounters I've made for Dark Heresy to be much more balanced than the ones I ever made for D&D (where, in my opinion, the CR system can lead to very easy TPK if the party doesn't handle the right creature correctly - just as an aside), primarily because I'm more inclined to focus on what they are capable of in relation to the party. Granted it takes a little GM knowledge (in terms of the system and the player characters) and foresight, but personally it's worked for me (and our group - other guys have also GMed 40K rpgs and found it to be a really neat way of crafting encounters) really well in the past, and I was happy to see that they've gone down the similar path.

On a related note, I was always distressed by the low challenge rating that Vader had in Saga edition, and I like that here he is a "Nemesis." As well he bloody ought to be. ;)



#14 doctorbadwolf

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:15 PM

awayputurwpn said:

 This is definitely the feel I get from the game. Especially in light of the complete absence of a "challenge level" system.

Also, I like it.

 

Whereas I think it's one of the worst possible ideas to put in a game as the default for encounter design. As GM, I want to tell a story with my players, not model the random nature of life. I'm the GM. It may seem random to the players, but from behind the screen, it sure as hell isn't.

 

I'd rather not have to study every detail of the PCs' sheets in relation to every detail of the bad guys' stats in order to build every single encounter.



#15 Slaunyeh

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 12:10 AM

Barefoottourguide said:

 Deadlands says throw whatever opposition you want or randomly generate at the PCs. They should know to pick their fights and run when they can't win.

Garrett

I don't know what Deadlands is, but this is basically the basis of my encounter design.

Well, replace 'you want or randomly generate' with 'makes sense'. Jabba's palace isn't going to be protected by four level 1 thugs just because the PCs decide on a frontal assault and that would make for a 'balanced encounter'.






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