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Rogue62041

Character and Enemy Progression

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 I haven't played a paper rpg in a looong time, but this x-mas, a buddy of mine got me B/C because I'm a new father, and new fathers need other ways of spending time with the boys rather than at the bar.  Bars it seems, require money...

 

But I digress.  I was very excited to receive this book, and quickly set about planning my own campaign to GM.  

I have encountered several problems, but have managed to find the answers to most of them here in these forums.  However, I have two questions I cannot find any material on, and I hope that someone out there can clear these things up for me.

 

1.) I cannot find any sort of means to gauge a character's strength.  On the char/sheet I have, it has a spot for rank, however I can find no mention of rank anywhere in the book.  What then, is the purpose of experience?  Is it just a form of currency for the players to spend, or is there an actual structured level system I'm somehow missing?

2.) And on a similar note, how does one gauge enemy difficulty when creating adversaries?  In the book, a Bloodletter is described as an "Elite" difficulty enemy.  Is that for a newly created character?  Does a bloodletter become a "Troop" type foe versus near-princes?  What about created enemies?  How does one gauge their group rating?    

Any help or direction one might provide would be most appreciated!

 

Thank you,

 

FNGM

 

 

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1.) Rank doesn't actually exist in BC. it's just a leftover on the sheet from the other game lines, which do have rank. Other things wrong on the character sheet includes the applicable characteristic for certain skills and the entire box about space marine abilities (unless you think amphibious characters need re-rolls on their "don't drown" tests). XP is merely a way to get more abilities, nothing more. Well, that and get into the good graces of the Chaos Gods through the alignment system :D

As far as judging the PC's strength, that has to be a personal judgement. It simply fluctuates too much. A character built for social stuff will be far less credible a threat in combat than a hardcore combat psyker, all while most likely being rather effective at rabble rousing and recruiting allies. Which, considering BC's not a game focused entirely or even mainly on combat, is probably a bigger gm problem and group asset than damage resistance and DPS.

2.) Same deal, basically. I don't recall ever seeing any explanation for the "elite" moniker thrown on certain foes, so I'd chalk that up to yet more relics. And once again, personal judgement. Daemons are a lot less scary for Sorcerers than they are for Apostates, while hordes used full out would chew and spit out most human characters in short order, while space marines take it in stride. Apostates, meanwhile, are basically walking enemy conversion machines if they get enough time to talk their way out of trouble and their enemies are capable of understanding what they're saying. It all comes down to group strengths and weaknesses.

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In short, the game doesn't aim for a D&D kind of encounter balance. Each enemy is exactly as powerful as it's meant to be based on world's fluff, and not every enemy can be beaten at all by every team - at least not without resorting to underhanded tactics.

To really assess the enemy's strength relative to that of the team, it's best to compare the team members' individual damage output to the enemy's Armor value and Toughness Bonus to see how much damage they can hope to deal, then compare it to the creature's Wounds total. Then, do it in reverse - compare how much damage the creature can deal to team members and how long they can hope to withstand it.

But even then, it's a very rough estimate at best. There are many additional considerations that can totally change the outcome of the fight. Even the lowliest Guardsman can do heavy damage if he's holed up under heavy cover and/or outside of PC's effective engagement range. Then, we have things like Suppressive Fire, Overwatch, grenades, force fields... in short, the metagame of 40k RPG combat engine is quite complex and promotes proper use of all available options.

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And while this is a BC forum just to help add to the list of intricate, yet fun once they are learned is the solo:squad mode stuff form the Deathwatch branch of FFG's 40K rpgs.

Yea I totally agree with what was said though, this game is so loosely collared with XP and whatnot that it really is a ROLE playing game vs ROLL playing game until you hit combat, wich, depending on the scenario presented to the group, could avtually be a while. I still find the interactions of shopkeepers n repair shops with the groups always fun plus it helps get past the monotamy of "ok i got _________xp, gimme this gun" type repetiveness..

btw CONGRATULATIONS on being a new dad!! ^_^

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Morangias said:

Oh, the game can totally be an exercise in rolling the dice if one is inclined to play it this way - it's just that it handles combat without kid's gloves or training wheels.

"rubber ducky, youre the one.........you make combat so much fun.....rubber ducky youre the only weapon for me now.........doo...da doo da doo doo doo"

hmm....rubber ducky: type-melee       4d10+4 E special rules: balanced devastating(2), felling: YES       powerfield, tearing, and anything else to make youre deamon prince go 'wtf mate!?' 

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Rogue62041 said:

1.) I cannot find any sort of means to gauge a character's strength.  On the char/sheet I have, it has a spot for rank, however I can find no mention of rank anywhere in the book.  What then, is the purpose of experience?  Is it just a form of currency for the players to spend, or is there an actual structured level system I'm somehow missing?

2.) And on a similar note, how does one gauge enemy difficulty when creating adversaries?  In the book, a Bloodletter is described as an "Elite" difficulty enemy.  Is that for a newly created character?  Does a bloodletter become a "Troop" type foe versus near-princes?  What about created enemies?  How does one gauge their group rating?    

As said, Rank is a hang over from previous versions of the game. However, even in those versions you couldn't say "x monster is a good challenge for Rank x characters." Rank didn't tell you how strong they were in combat, just how much xp they had spent overall and determined whether the could spend their xp on (usually more powerful talents and greater skill mastery only being available at higher ranks). Even a rank 8 Dark heresy (max at the time) character could theoretically be little better at fighting than at the beginning of the campaign, if xp was largely spent on social and/or investigation stuff, or even worse if they were unlucky with the permenant crippling injuries. Now, this isn't that likely, as even the most cowardly Adept would be a fool not to buy swift attack, buy and boost their dodge and WS etc, but it is possible. Depending on the campaign you have been playing, and the priorities of the players, two characters of equal Rank in the same career could have significantly different combat capabilities.

Black Crusade got rid of Rank completely, so things have changed even further (though some of the talents have been nerfed or boosted to make them more or less appealing now that they are competing with every talent and skill available in the book... Combat Formation anyone?). Someone who has spent more xp on combat elements will generally be better than someone who hasn't, but even then it would be difficult to gauge an appropriate opponent for them. Basically you are best having a shot a couple of combats with enemies that have skills and talents appropriate to their role (rather than for the players) and seeing what happens. If you get a TPK... well, that's what Fate/Infamy is for, and maybe tone down the enemies a bit later. Or use it as a way to encourage your players to avoid fighting, or to try and get as many advantageous as possible before they do. If they walk through the enemy, beef them up a little, or look at what caused the fight to be too easy and try to find ways to counter it (but don't do that too much, or players will justifiably feel there is no point getting better at anything). Do they blow the enemy away before they can do anything? Give the enemy plenty of cover, maybe allowing them to get close tying them up in melee. They melee things to death with ease? Give the opponent the extra reaction talent, boost his parrying skill and throw a balanced weapon in there. Ambushes are also nasty (but don't GM fiat them... allow the players the chance of detecting them in time). +30 to attack and they don't get reactions? That hurts when on the receiving end.

Oh, just as a guide: 25 in a characteristic is average for a citizen of the Imperium. Untrained, not very well educated, probably malnourished. 30-35 is the norm for trained individuals, starting adventurers (though Black Crusade Characters are a little better than this on average) and the like. 35-40 slightly more seasoned, 40-50 are elite individuals, hardened veterans and the like. 50+ is really good, and 60+ is a real master at whatever it is. Use those as general guidelines of what stats to give someone. Decide what makes sense for the role or your NPC, not what would balance them with the party.

Elite? Term that came from Deathwatch (the Space Marine game, the previous one in the series). Theoretically it was meant to mean that it was a reasonable challenge for a single Space Marine. Now, with the system being what it is, and the absurd level of Deathwatch it wasn't really the case (some could be hideous to face 1 on 1, others were a nice walk in the park), but it just basically means that it doesn't need to be made into a horde to realistically hurt Space Marines (unlike troops), while not being monstrously hard (which "Masters" are meant to be). Even 1 elite could be quite a challenge for a Rank 1 Dark Heresy party (Daemons particularly, due to their Fear effects), even to the point they could possibly generate a TPK. A non-marine Black Crusade party will find them less troublesome, but if introduced too early and in too great numbers they could overwhelm the party (use them as "bosses" earlier on if there aren't any marines around). Troop level enemies are better here as general enemies for non-marines (though the Players will probably quickly outclass them). Later on they will probably not trouble a Black Crusade character too much, whether they are Marines or not.

Do watch out however. Even a seemingly easy fight can suddenly go horribly wrong. 40k RPG characters don't have huge damage absorbing powers compared to weapon damage. Even though you can improve it, it doesn't get massively higher (unlike D&D, say, where hit points get to ridiculous levels, though starting 40k rpg characters are more resilient than Level 1 d&d characters). Armour, improved toughness (especially Unnatural Toughness) can make a big difference, but even high xp characters will probably have less than 20 wounds (Space Marines aside, but even they will probably have something in the low 20s), and thats only if they chose to improve Wounds, which are often not the most attractive thing to spend xp on. Even if you are only taking 2-3 damage on a semi-decent hit that quickly adds up. Survivability in 40k rpg is usually more a factor of avoiding being hurt in the first place, and how quickly you can dispatch the enemy (low level enemies can often be dispatched in one hit).

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Also keep in mind the amount of damage mitigation your party has.  The GM in my campaign admitted he is having trouble giving us challenges, mainly because of that.  Both of the groups psykers have TK shield and will often push  for an additional psy rating or two when using it, giving a character with a toughness in the 30's a potential damage mitigation of 12 right out the gate.  While TK shield does dissipate as a round goes on (functions like cover, remember that) it can still make a psyker a truly horrifying opponent to begin with because they cannot be hurt.  And psykers aren't the only characters with that kind of mitigation, our tech priest has no psy powers and has a comparable damage mitigation because of armor, and mechanicus assimilation.

 

When crafting encounters for your group, make sure you consider damage mitigation and damage output.  That is going to be the best way to craft a challenge for your group.

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If your psyker regularly pushes, then it won't be too long before they implode.

If you're too worried about damage mitigation, start using hellguns with their pen 7 or so. A psyker straight out of the gate simply cannot get close enough to a marine straight out of the gate, and if they try, they are simply going to die from pushing powers too often.

And also remember that the problems with weapons that easily pen away stuff is that then humans suffer the problem of a single lucky hit can often spell their death ><

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 Or start using effects such as Toxic, Crippling and Felling. all of these were introduced (or upgraded in the case of toxic) to help deal with more powerful character such as Astartes.

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