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Balancing encounters & PCs.


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#1 puenboy

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:07 AM

So I decided to make it so that players "create" their own class, by choosing 6 aptitudes of their choice and picking 3 skills (In addition to Linguistics Low Gothic) in which they have double aptitude in as starting skills, as well as giving more exp to spend instead of starting talents. (In addition to weapon training las & low tech)

The problem is, I didn't give them any starting equipment because I don't really know how to work a starting equipment system or how to set it up. The problem is that I only have 2 players as well, and in their first fight I threw them against 5 traitor guardsmen, both players nearly died with 1 heavily damaged, 1 a wound away from heavily damaged and a comrade who took two hits. Now I do think that they are in a dire need of a buff, but I'm not sure how to.

Their standard issues are guard flak, a combat shotgun and the Precision Handcannon from the Inquisitor's Handbook (Dark Heresy). I'm not sure how to balance it so that they can take care of themselves against a few goons, but still not making everything a pushover.

(But to be fair, I was rolling well as the GM and one of the players was rolling absolutely horribly)



#2 Kasatka

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 04:30 AM

Any particular reason for not using the classes in the book? My initial reaction is "well if you break the system it'll break you back" to the seemingly endless threads on custom regiments and classes. But more constructively..

Your players had basic gear (nothing particularly powerful or tactical) and comrades (im assuming 1 each but without any special options for comrades if theyd taken a proper class). That makes 2 player characters with 2 NPCs to assist them, versus 5 NPCs that are balanced against the proper classes, and thus overpowered compared to your custom ones? I'm only surprised your characters didn't actually die!


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#3 puenboy

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 05:15 AM

Well I don't see how the book classes are balanced. Some classes are clearly superior than others (i.e. Ogryns and Stormtroopers) while other classes have very little use, such as medic (really, build a guy jus for medicae?). And it wasn't 2 players with the assist of 2 npcs. Comrades are only player buffs and can't actually do any attacks, so it obviously doesn't come close to normal npcs). 

And one more thing, other than criticizing me, your reply did nothing to assist on this problem (no, I do not consider 'you're lame stick with the book' as help).

Besides, if you stick to normal rules there would be rarely anything capable of defeating vehicles. Even Krak grenades (designed to damage vehicles) are largely ineffective against anything beyond a sentinel (and even then it's only marginally effective). Only War has many unbalanced aspects within it. So what I did was to put the PCs in relatively equal grounds to get a balanced baseline. 

Now, I would really appreciate a reply that is actually helpful. Thank you.



#4 KommissarK

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 06:06 AM

How strictly were you playing up the 5 traitor guardsmen encounter? Did they only die when the critical wounds table said they should die, or did they die at 0 wounds? Personally, when running "mook grade" enemies, I have them drop at 0 wounds. It simplifies the game and speeds it up.

Was there cover available? Wise PCs would have rushed to this, and then attempt to flank the enemy.

Why don't the PCs have any grenades?

You said how they picked aptitudes, but how about attributes, were they rolled, a point buy? I guess what I'm trying to probe is how good/bad was their BS/T/AG scores.

What skills did they choose to train in? DId they pick up dodge? Medicae? Did they "top off" their ability scores that had a ones didgit of 5 or higher?

Also, as a heads up, theres more to this game than fighting. Classes like the Priest, and the Medic have their places in the game and can serve to greatly assist the party.

There also is no need to make sure the party can "handle" vehicles. Just don't throw them at them unless its necessary by the narrative.

I'd be a bit slower to do this part, but how exactly is their 4 man team working in conjunction with the regiment as a whole. Are they some fireteam of another squad? Where is their support. 4 guardsmen don't just walk out into the wilderness. I guess what I'm saying is its quite reasonable for there to be more guardsmen backing them up. Now maybe they were there and just shooting at other enemies - and thats fine.

Long term these characters are going to be pretty scary, but will be overwhelmed by the economy of actions. Its just a problem of having a small group like that. I would try to keep the fights small - I do think 5 is a good size for an enemy group. They might do well to get their hands on a full auto weapon and start doing supressing fire, it would help their chances with the economy of actions.



#5 Cryhavok

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 08:50 AM

Your dislike of the classes seems to me to be your personal bias interfering with being an objective GM. But I could be wrong there. Are you giving your players special orders and passive abilities like the classes can get? Those make a big difference. For starting gear, without classes, I would give them the standard regimental kit, then let them pick a package of starting gear from the classes. This would allow them to pick a special weappon or heavy weapon from those classes.

As to the classes vs no classes thing, your example of the ogryn being way more powerful, I disagree. Ogryns have a huge weakness that makes them useless in many situations. They are extremely claustraphobic and cant mechanize, tunnel fight, clear buildings with tight corridors and small rooms. The can pretty much only fight in the open. On the other hand a medic can keep the entire party alive and carry/use any gun he trains in. An ogryn is limited to 3 ranged weapons and 1 melee weapon. Meanwhile a storm trooper has no companion. That might not seem like much but it makes a big difference and balances it out. Its ammo supply for its hotshot las gun is also much more limited than other gaurdsman, and he has less staying power in an extended engagement than a typical gaurdsman. Finally a ogryn or stormtrooper gets less starting experience than a medic. All in all I think your assesment of the classes is mistaken, and you have likely made the mistake of underpowering the players in your adjustment of things.


#6 Darck Child

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 10:51 AM

puenboy said:

So I decided to make it so that players "create" their own class, by choosing 6 aptitudes of their choice and picking 3 skills (In addition to Linguistics Low Gothic) in which they have double aptitude in as starting skills, as well as giving more exp to spend instead of starting talents. (In addition to weapon training las & low tech)

There is nothing wrong with doing this, after all it is your game.

 

puenboy said:
The problem is, I didn't give them any starting equipment because I don't really know how to work a starting equipment system or how to set it up. I' m not sure how to.
 
From what I've skimmed through, seems that by building the Player's Regiment determins what their standard equipment will be.  Anything different or above and beyond this the characters the characters maybe given based on the mission or by going to the Department of Munitorum - maybe the Black Market but don't let the Commissariat find out.
 
puenboy said:
The problem is that I only have 2 players as well, and in their first fight I threw them against 5 traitor guardsmen, both players nearly died with 1 heavily damaged, 1 a wound away from heavily damaged and a comrade who took two hits. Now I do think that they are in a dire need of a buff, but I'm not sure how to.

 

What was the context, I mean what mission were they on?  What role do they play in their unit? Are they Scouts? Snipers? Heavy Weapon Team?

Did the Players have the chance to ambush the Traitor Guardsmen?  

Was it a "random" encounter or the main objective?

If you are not strictly sticking by the rule are you giving the enemy full health or are you playing fast and lose and letting the Players kill the enemy with but a simple success?

What style of game are you going for gritty or Michael Bay/Hollywood?

Fixing is all dependant on the questions I posed above.

If they are part of of a Squad, then you have four more troopers to add. The second half of the fire team could be 4 equal npcs or 2 npcs with comrades.

Maybe make one of the npcs a medic, after all you have  wounded Players and npcs …

I think it has been mention but I'll suggest it again, grendes.

 

puenboy said:
Their standard issues are guard flak, a combat shotgun and the Precision Handcannon from the Inquisitor's Handbook (Dark Heresy).
 Are they designed for fighting in Hives? Come from a Hive World? Did you spend time builing up their Regiment?
 
puenboy said:
I'm not sure how to balance it so that they can take care of themselves against a few goons, but still not making everything a pushover.
I could have sworn that in  the introduction of Only War that there will be a higher attrituon rate for character deaths. It's all about war and combat, ultimately.  There are and will be golden opportunities to role-play. Combat is messy and often unfair.
 
Descriptions painting details that the Player's can take advantage of (cover, bodies,etc…).
 
Let's take your example:
 
They Players could be seperated from the rest of their squad.
 
They could be stuck behind enemy lines from when the line shifted an hour ago.
 
They can hear the sounds of combat all around, and the awefull chanting from the traitor guard.
 
Maybe they stumbled on to a position that had just recently seen combat and dead from both sides litter the ground. Suddenly from across the other side they see five filthy rag tag troopers - terribly scarred, two are carrying close combat weapons, one a standard with a symbol dedicated to ruinous powers and the last with a lasgun. For a moment both sides are surprised.  The silence is broken when they five traitors charge the Players, what do they do?  A side note: when you say 5 traitor guardsment are you talking about  5 seperate targets or 1 specialist and  2 targets with 2 companions?
 
Or maybe it could have gone down differently:
They stumble onto the killzone where they see most of their regement slaughterd in an open clearing. maybe to Players go to investigate, maybe you give them one when one the bodies is still alive and could be heard whispering a prayer to the Emperor and needs to be rescued.  The first tip off would be that these men were cut down out in the open. You, the Game Master/Storyteller make it clear that there are no enemy bodies in sight. Should the Players go to help out and there 5 traitor guard waiting in ambush and it will get ugly fast…
 
Personally I find great ideas from books and movie that I use for my games.  From these inspirations I use them to fill the gaps when the Players go outside from what I have written up
 
An after thought, that last scenario where the Players are about to walk into an ambush, should they live through the enemy's opening salvo. or you are looking to give the Players an out  after realising to late that they are in over their heads - you could have it that there is a vox box amongst the dead and the Players can here voice asking again for the cordinates for the Valkeries to land/strafe…

 



#7 Darck Child

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 11:43 AM

puenboy said:

Well I don't see how the book classes are balanced. Some classes are clearly superior than others (i.e. Ogryns and Stormtroopers) while other classes have very little use, such as medic (really, build a guy jus for medicae?). And it wasn't 2 players with the assist of 2 npcs. Comrades are only player buffs and can't actually do any attacks, so it obviously doesn't come close to normal npcs).

The classes are balanced in their own ways. The Comrades are what you allow them to be or want them to be. It's all about context again.

 

When I design a game I take a lot into cosideration such as:

What's my inspiration beside the themes presented in th core book?  Am I going to steal ideas from comic books, movies, or from works of fiction.

How will I incorporate them. Using the links above the common theme that grabs me for this example are that they all focus on an infantry unit.

So I present my "pitch" to my Players that I'm going to be running a game in Only War about a las company. I outline currently there be no specialists allowed. The squad will consist of 8 individual/comrades and be led by a Sgt. other than that the Players can be ay none specialist or an Operator.

Based on the feed back the Players and will give it a try if they can play a unit from the Vostroyan Firstborn.  I can work with this and say done deal.

Together we make up the regiment from the book keeping in mind what the Vostroyan are all about and choose to build it using the guidelines in the core book.

Player A is going to be the Sgt, his Comrade will be the vox operator.

Player B is going to be is a Weapon Specialist hoping to make it as a sniper or scout with his Comrade being his spotter

NPC 1 is going to be a Heavy Bolter and his Comrade will be his ammo carrier

NPC 2 is going to be the Medic with his Comrade being a las man. I give each Player the responsibilty of creating their own Comrade, and I ask them to tell me about their Comrade. Like how did they meet? Do they like each other? Common interests?

 

Comrades can be more than PC buffers, you could actually treat them like NPCs when they are outside the Players influence/synergy/whatever it's called….

Specialists are not part of this is concept.

Stormtroopers would be in their special unit.

Sanctioned Psykers have no friends, really they don't.

Nor do Comissars

Abhumans are going to be outcasts.

Not saying you couldn't work them into your story but for the most part they are going to be the odd man out.

 

puenboy said:
Besides, if you stick to normal rules there would be rarely anything capable of defeating vehicles. Even Krak grenades (designed to damage vehicles) are largely ineffective against anything beyond a sentinel (and even then it's only marginally effective). Only War has many unbalanced aspects within it. So what I did was to put the PCs in relatively equal grounds to get a balanced baseline.
 
The average infanrty guy doesn't stand a chance against an armoured vehicle, and they are not supposed to. You would say, need to get a Heavy Flamer close to the vehicle in question, some type of rocket launcher, or high explosives (grenades don't count)

I want to bring up that you keep going back to THE rules, where you have already shown that the rules are general guide lines. You allowed for different character generation. Why not give Krak grenades a little more umph in your games?



#8 Werewolf_nr

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:12 AM

puenboy said:

first fight I threw them against 5 traitor guardsmen

 

I think that is your problem. Traitor Guard are a "Troops" type enemy, which should be approximately 1 to 1 with Players. So basically there was 2.5x more enemies than there should have been.



#9 puenboy

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:51 PM

I buffed them up a bit and they're doing fine now. Still can't think of a way to incorporate vehicles in battle though, as they'd have no chance without lascannon (melta weapons are largely ineffective against the mid to top tier vehicles). Does anyone have a house rule to make vehicles easier to go up against? Because at this point, even a krak grenade (designed to fight vehicles) can't even put a dent on a sentinel unless you roll high.



#10 AtoMaki

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 11:14 PM

puenboy said:

Does anyone have a house rule to make vehicles easier to go up against? Because at this point, even a krak grenade (designed to fight vehicles) can't even put a dent on a sentinel unless you roll high.

Back in the good old days, we had a houserule that vehicles have -5 armour. It was rather 'meh'-ish. So we scrapped this idea and simply houseruled the enemy tank crews to be completely stupid. Believe it or not, this worked much better :D

Also, with melta weapons, you shouldn't have a problem. Just get into melta (short) range. 44 points of (average) damage is nothing to sneeze at. If I'm not mistaken, you can bust a Chimera with three shots. And if you are really afraid from vehicles, then get Lance weapons (or give some to the PCs). 



#11 puenboy

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:29 AM

How would it be an average of 44 damage when you can only roll 2d10+10 damage from a normal melta gun, which would have the average damage of 20? As far as I know, excess penetration does not deal extra damage, and even then it is still difficult to damage, say, a Leman Russ front armor as it has 45AP, with a pen of 24 at close range and an average damage of 20, it still would not deal any structure integrity damage to it unless you roll at least a 12 on your 2d10. Even then, you're going to waste a lot of the scarce meltagun charges dealing a maximum of 8 structural integrity damage per hit on the front armor. That means against a front armor of the Leman Russ, you will need at least 9 meltagun hits, even if you roll nat 10 on all your damage dice. That said, it encourages flanking the tank, and even then you'd be using more than a few clips of meltas, providing the tank doesn't annihilate you with its armada of heavy weapons easily ripping you to shreds especially in close quarters, that is.

Can you clarify what "stupid driver" means, anyhow?



#12 KommissarK

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:05 AM

Realize a tank crew is still testing their BS to hit you, and their Per to detect you. They don't just auto hit/auto detect enemies. So decreasing the "skill" of enemey tank crews is a pretty decent way of making them easier, without noticibly affecting the vehicle itself.

That said, why exactly are you trying to throw vehicle combat at PCs who have combat shotguns, and just a few sessions under their belt? That seems a bit off.

Also, yes, flanking tanks is the key to combat against them, and trying to "calculate" out damage against their front arc is a silly exercise. And the reason a tank shouldn't necessarily murder PCs that are trying to flank it is a result of cover, as well as a creative use of terrain (e.g. it shouldn't be a wide open field. Use destroyed buildings to block line of sight, that sort of thing).

Also, I seriusly doubt 2 guardsmen (or rather 4 with their comrades) alone would be engaging a tank. Where is the rest of their squad? If its a heated battle some sort of AT weapon is probably hitting the thing from off-screen.

 

If I may, how exactly did you further buff the PCs?

With Krak Grenades, the key is figuring out if you want to play up the use of Concussive against the crew. I've seen the point brought up. Technically the crew hasn't been "hit" I guess, but its still a legitimately "bad" effect to suffer.



#13 Darck Child

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:11 AM

KommissarK said:

If I may, how exactly did you further buff the PCs?

 

I'm curious too.

 

And you still have told us anything about the rest of their squad or regiment.



#14 AtoMaki

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 05:39 AM

puenboy said:

How would it be an average of 44 damage when you can only roll 2d10+10 damage from a normal melta gun, which would have the average damage of 20? As far as I know, excess penetration does not deal extra damage, and even then it is still difficult to damage, say, a Leman Russ front armor as it has 45AP, with a pen of 24 at close range and an average damage of 20, it still would not deal any structure integrity damage to it unless you roll at least a 12 on your 2d10. Even then, you're going to waste a lot of the scarce meltagun charges dealing a maximum of 8 structural integrity damage per hit on the front armor. That means against a front armor of the Leman Russ, you will need at least 9 meltagun hits, even if you roll nat 10 on all your damage dice. That said, it encourages flanking the tank, and even then you'd be using more than a few clips of meltas, providing the tank doesn't annihilate you with its armada of heavy weapons easily ripping you to shreds especially in close quarters, that is.

Can you clarify what "stupid driver" means, anyhow?

The meltagun has a maximum Pen of 24. There is only a very few vehicles that have less armour than 25 (mostly side/rear armour around 15-20, so the damage loss is neglible). And killing a Leman Russ will be dead hard, but it is okay. After the Land Raider and the Monolith, the Leman Russ is the toughest vehicle in the tabletop game, so I guess its role-playing reincarnation is fine. 

Stupid crew (not just driver) means that they are stupid. The don't use tactics, just go to point A, stop there, shoot some stuff for X minutes then repeat with Point B/C/D/whatever. They don't use suppressing fire with sponson weapons, they have minimal enviromental awareness and have random target selection (so they won't focus fire on the AT weapon). 






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