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ddbrown30

How to have truly "unbeatable" enemies?

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The only surefire way to have your enemy be unbeatable is to have them be faceless shadows that don't personally expose themselves to danger. Palpatine did this until Episode III, and he might have been doing again it after Episode VI...

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On 4/30/2019 at 2:43 PM, HappyDaze said:

Yeah, character growth in offense vastly outpaces defensive growth and is a problem with the system. There are a few defensive options that are really powerful, but they're not all that common and don't show up on NPCs often enough.

I'm going to print this and post it on my wall. 

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34 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

I'm going to print this and post it on my wall. 

As a basic example, look how much easier it is to mod out increased damage from a weapon (even without any talents). Now look at trying to add to Soak.

It's also generally easier to get attack adders than defensive adders to dice pools, and part of that is the weird and poorly explained (even in errata) Defense stacking rules.

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1 minute ago, HappyDaze said:

As a basic example, look how much easier it is to mod out increased damage from a weapon (even without any talents). Now look at trying to add to Soak.

It's also generally easier to get attack adders than defensive adders to dice pools, and part of that is the weird and poorly explained (even in errata) Defense stacking rules.

And I think this is something that is good for people who do not want D&D style characters who can now walk through a village of 0 level humans and not be afraid in any way of being killed should they try to attack the PC. The whole thing of where a dagger in the heart won't kill you because you have 100 HP and a dagger does a d4. 

But for those looking to have the big drawn out combats and characters who are juggernauts it is a problem. 

But I read it as Character growth outpaces... and was enamored with the idea that someone else feels the progression can be broken in this game. So was my mistake but I think you are correct as far as the dynamic of the system for people who want nigh-indestructible characters. 

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I think that so many game systems favor a strong combat offense rather than role-playing and defensive negotiations. Players having PCs going for deadly weapons during an obvious non-lethal fist fight type combat (Besides Wookies' tearing off arms!), just means that players really want to have their PCs win. But in shoot outs and laser sword fights, bystanders do get hurt. I recently had my group meet up in a zero-G bubble club...(I'll explain that if I have a enough requests). Well a group of hopped up on spice swoop bikers looking to steal a bounty from one of the PCs on another PC, comes in and press and get in the face of the PCs. Telling them, you need to come with us right now or there is going to be trouble. The street smart PC tracking the other PC for bounty starts to say, hey this is my bounty, while the PC who has a bounty on them is hiding in their bubble booth. A third player who the street smart PC was tracking for a local spice dealer, pulls out his blaster pistol and opens fire. The street smart PC looks at the other PC blasting away as says "I was going to smooth this over, why did you start shooting!"  Well, the shoot out brought out the local planetary crime lords enforcers who roughed everyone up. Why do players reach for their blasters when it was obviously going to be a good old fashioned bar room brawl? Organically, this is just what Indiana Jones did when he pulled his pistol on the sword wielding guy in street, but a lot of the thugs present had blaster pistols and I said as much to the players when they rolled in, but they were still holstered. 

I think that the same kind of threat level as Indiana Jones laying out the sword guy with his pistol is what some of these Adversaries should be able to do, just to put the fear into the players, not that it would. So many systems want the enemies to be on a somewhat level field with the players PCs, but how does that feel right? Nothing in the FFG rules states fights have to be fair or sided towards the PCs. If the scene states 20 stormtroopers and 1 AT-ST are 3 turns away for back-up or investigation and will arrive from these three directions, when the players PCs screw around and do X, Y or Z, when really A or B where the correct options, well they failed, and if they can't recognize the danger of the many fast boot steps and the hydraulics of heavy fire power trotting their way and choose  to stick around. I think there is a scene from Rogue One that comes to mind, the one where many of the Storm Troopers forces get wiped out. You're the GM, you're not the scale of fairness when the players have chosen poorly for their PCs. You can be nice and offer an out, but if they fail to take advantage of that, well....

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The main reason that you end up with offense > defense is that if you don't then combat becomes padded sumo. Which might be okay if you want to dedicate an entire session to whittling down 10% of the opponent's staying power, but not otherwise.

As for the PCs vs Palpatine, I'll second what some others have said: if he's dumb enough to let a bunch of competent assassins corner him unprepared, he deserves to get splattered.

He shouldn't be that stupid, though.

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Best way to make unbeatable NPCs is to not give them stats. Make them more like action checks, for the players to escape from, don't even give them the ability to attack these NPCs. You have X number of rounds to escape (insert baddie) before you take a hit and so on. 

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Give the bad guy Don't Shoot! You need to get creative to beat someone when you're not allowed to roll combat checks against them. ;)

But yeah, the singular bad guy works less well against a whole team of heroes, both thematically and mechanichally, so I'd go for strength in numbers. Comprise a team of high level rivals or mid-to-low level Nemeses about as tough as the toughest player and make them about equal in number to the PCs. If you want to really go for unbeatable, make a team of nemesis inquisitors using the guidelines in FaD and have them outnumber the players.

One of the more memorable fights I've played in this game was a fight against a quirky team of bounty hunters, each with a different theme and combat style; the gunslinger, the blademaster, the brawler, the heavy etc.

It reduces the chance of an anticlimax when a player just lands a single lucky hit.

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You all do realize that when you are the GM, you can make up NPC talents? Like say a talent called 'You Miss' where if the GM says 'You Miss' then the attack doesn't hit?

That's even if you want to get all that detailed. If you dont want to have your bad guy beat, then just dont keep track of their wounds. This is a narrative game, so narrate.

Now I know that there are a few people here thinking things like 'while then why do you even have rules!'. Well, if your climactic fights are all garbage, I would say the same thing. This isnt something that you should use all the time, and you shouldnt use it as a weapon against the players, and I wouldnt even use it to stop a single lucky hit, but dont have boring fights just cause the rules arent perfect.

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34 minutes ago, korjik said:

You all do realize that when you are the GM, you can make up NPC talents? Like say a talent called 'You Miss' where if the GM says 'You Miss' then the attack doesn't hit?

That's even if you want to get all that detailed. If you dont want to have your bad guy beat, then just dont keep track of their wounds. This is a narrative game, so narrate.

Now I know that there are a few people here thinking things like 'while then why do you even have rules!'. Well, if your climactic fights are all garbage, I would say the same thing. This isnt something that you should use all the time, and you shouldnt use it as a weapon against the players, and I wouldnt even use it to stop a single lucky hit, but dont have boring fights just cause the rules arent perfect.

Players also have the ability to veto any GM decisions they feel are arbitrary. They have a talent called "Pack up your stuff and go home, we'll find another GM."

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2 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

Players also have the ability to veto any GM decisions they feel are arbitrary. They have a talent called "Pack up your stuff and go home, we'll find another GM."

Yeah I think it's dangerous to engage in a lot of super blatant fiat stuff. I think in a game where the players see your dice rolls it becomes a situation where you maybe let BBEG mark I eat it and take the L. There's always next time. 

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3 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

Players also have the ability to veto any GM decisions they feel are arbitrary. They have a talent called "Pack up your stuff and go home, we'll find another GM."

And if you do it well, they players wont know you are doing it, or they wont care, cause they had fun. 

 

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15 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Yeah I think it's dangerous to engage in a lot of super blatant fiat stuff. I think in a game where the players see your dice rolls it becomes a situation where you maybe let BBEG mark I eat it and take the L. There's always next time. 

Everything a GM does is super blatant fiat stuff. Those stormtroopers didnt just happen to be in the hangar bay, the GM put them there.

Notice tho that I said the same thing. If you are going to fiat invulnerability, you cant do it often. I dont do it more than once a campaign, so thats about 3 times a decade now. 

A bad guy who you have had a **** of a time killing is far more fun than one shotting every one that shows up. Using fiat is a very double edged sword, but boring bad guys arent fun any more than ones that are impossible to kill because he is protected by plot.

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5 minutes ago, korjik said:

And if you do it well, they players wont know you are doing it, or they wont care, cause they had fun. 

 

I see. Trying to pull a Bill Cosby on my players is not something I'm going to try regardless of whether they won't know or will enjoy it. 

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2 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

I see. Trying to pull a Bill Cosby on my players is not something I'm going to try regardless of whether they won't know or will enjoy it. 

If thats your comment, no you dont see

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Just now, korjik said:

If thats your comment, no you dont see

Well, I don't consent to GM fiat as a player, and my players don't consent to it when I run, so we obviously don't play the same games.

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2 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

Well, I don't consent to GM fiat as a player, and my players don't consent to it when I run, so we obviously don't play the same games.

If you are running the numbers to make sure the GM is following the RAW, you are wasting your time and his. If you arent, you are wrong about fiat.

I would have to say it is the latter, unless you have never had to improvise while GMing, or your GM has never had to improvise either, cause guess what, that is GM fiat. 

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17 minutes ago, korjik said:

Everything a GM does is super blatant fiat stuff. Those stormtroopers didnt just happen to be in the hangar bay, the GM put them there.

Notice tho that I said the same thing. If you are going to fiat invulnerability, you cant do it often. I dont do it more than once a campaign, so thats about 3 times a decade now. 

A bad guy who you have had a **** of a time killing is far more fun than one shotting every one that shows up. Using fiat is a very double edged sword, but boring bad guys arent fun any more than ones that are impossible to kill because he is protected by plot.

I largely agree with what you are saying here, I would say though that I have found that Players are often pleasantly surprised when I let the dice fall where they may and they grease a bad guy through ingenuity or just great rolls. It sets the stage for them to see the game as not falling into the predictable yard trash yard trash sub boss yard trash boss fight paradigm. 

 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, korjik said:

If you are running the numbers to make sure the GM is following the RAW, you are wasting your time and his. If you arent, you are wrong about fiat.

I would have to say it is the latter, unless you have never had to improvise while GMing, or your GM has never had to improvise either, cause guess what, that is GM fiat. 

It's not about running the numbers. It's about trust. If the players cannot trust in you and the rules, then they can't depend on anything and it all becomes meaningless.

Maybe you regret your initial example, but I'm going to pick it apart. A "You Miss" talent, where whenever you want, the PCs attack misses. Yes, I can definitely see how much fun your players would be having after using all their best abilities and spending destiny points to have a huge damage roll with a crit miss simply because the GM said so.

But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say you wouldn't use it in that situation. Okay, so where's the line? Only on non-crits? Low damage? Only with a lot of threat or a despair? Whatever it is, how is this communicated to the players? Is it something they can understand and rely on or only on your whim?

 

Look, we're all GMs here. We know that fiat is a necessary part of the job, but it needs to be subtle and used sparingly. At the end of the day, we are all still playing a game together. Regardless of where on the spectrum you land between gameplay and storytelling, power gamer and roleplayer, you are still using rules. If you didn't want rules, you could all just sit around a table a spin a yarn together. Those rules (including house rules) are a collective agreement between the players and the GM. If you repeatedly disregard them, it all falls apart.

Edited by ddbrown30

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I'll agree that a "You Miss" talent is a poor example of GM fiat, it's far too obvious for starters.  But I have to think @korjik meant something more subtle, maybe more like "dang this is one-sided and I really should have given Vader a bit more Strain and Improved Reflect so he can use that PC's Despair and return the hit"...I don't have a problem with that.  It's well within character, not something a player should even blink at.

I will admit though I rarely spec out Nemeses (or even Rivals) to their full.  I will outline rough parameters and make note of key abilities, but only in general terms.  Then if things go too easily I can adjust accordingly.  It's a balancing act, and you have to err on the side of caution...if even one player raises an eyebrow and you can see them thinking "how the heck did that happen?" then you've blown it.  But if you can keep your tracks covered...wheee!!!  Do whatever you want :) 

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