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wolph42

Threat treshold

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On page 284 is the Threat threshold introduced to create 'balancing' encounters. What eludes me however is what it actually is. On first glance it looks like that an encounter for e.g. 6 rank 5 PCs should be 12*6 = 72 NPC's but that short of ridiculous. 

 

So how should I interpret it?

 

for reference:

 

Threat Threshold
The threat threshold is a number that limits the maximum
number and strength of NPCs that should be included in
an encounter. To determine the threat threshold for an
encounter, use the encounter rank on Table 12–1: Threat
Threshold on page 284 to determine the multiplier for the
total number of PCs in the warband. The result is the threat
threshold, which should be modified as needed should the
Acolytes have NPC allies aiding them or other factors.
 
Using Threat Threshold
Once the threat threshold has been determined for an
encounter, the GM can start creating the encounter by
adding NPCs. As the GM adds NPCs to an encounter
he adds together all of their threat values. Ideally, the
combined total of all threat values in the encounter should
equal the threat threshold. However, this is often difficult to
accomplish. If the total threat value of an encounter exceeds
the determined threat threshold, the GM should recalculate
the rank of the encounter.

 

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Each NPC has a threat rating listed in the circle on the top-right of their profile, usually ranging from 5 to 30ish.

You can combine any number of NPCs to reach the threat threshold that matches your party.

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You beat me to the edit of my post. Looking further i noticed those obscure black circles and quickly came to the same conclusion.

Where is this explained though? And how are these numbers drived?

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You beat me to the edit of my post. Looking further i noticed those obscure black circles and quickly came to the same conclusion.

Where is this explained though? And how are these numbers drived?

 

Threat Levels are explained on page 282, under NPC Profiles. Maybe it could be clearer.

 

I think your other point is the real kicker: How are these calculated? I love the idea, but it's not straightforward to make up your own NPC threat levels. A formula of some sort would be neat, but probably isn't really possible (a combat-oriented NPC with a very high Fellowship stat might get a high threat level without being very dangerous...).

seanpp likes this

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There may not be any way to calculate a threat rating for your own NPCs without either extensive playtesting, or knowing both the game and your players enough that you can just ignore the threat rating.

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I really don't think we need a threat calculator mechanic at all. I've yet to see a system that did it well, and this incarnation doesn't seem to stand out as the one that will somehow get it right.

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I really don't think we need a threat calculator mechanic at all. I've yet to see a system that did it well, and this incarnation doesn't seem to stand out as the one that will somehow get it right.

 

I disagree. Even a basic system like what we have is a huge step forward.

I remember looking at Deathwatch for the first time and trying to set up some balanced encounters. It was hopeless. I had absolutely no idea what a starting group could expect to handle. What use is a Troop/Elite/Master differentiation when there's multiple power levels in each group and none of them are explained?

 

The current system gives a rough guideline for new GMs. It's not perfect - it's never going to be - but it's a start. From there, you can start getting a feel for the system. At least your first encounter isn't likely to wipe out the group unintentionally.

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I think Morangias was more arguing against including a threat calculator for custom made NPCs, rather than the threat system itself. And I agree. Threat calculators perform badly enough in really carefully designed, combat focused games like DnD, I can't imagine it'd be possible to make a particularly useful one for a more open ended system like Dark Heresy

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I think Morangias was more arguing against including a threat calculator for custom made NPCs, rather than the threat system itself. And I agree. Threat calculators perform badly enough in really carefully designed, combat focused games like DnD, I can't imagine it'd be possible to make a particularly useful one for a more open ended system like Dark Heresy

 

Yes. I found the threat ratings hugely useful when I was testing combat. A major help to newer GMs to the system. But a threat calculator for NPCs would be very hard and might lead to a false sense of assurance for GMs. There are sometimes things that are better not done at all than done badly, and risk calculation is one of those things.

Edited by knasserII

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I think Morangias was more arguing against including a threat calculator for custom made NPCs, rather than the threat system itself. And I agree. Threat calculators perform badly enough in really carefully designed, combat focused games like DnD, I can't imagine it'd be possible to make a particularly useful one for a more open ended system like Dark Heresy

No, I meant the whole idea of threat ratings and setting up encounters in accord with them. It never works, and it encourages all sorts of bad behavior, from GMs not thinking about the kind of encounter they want to run to players feeling entitled about how combat should work out for them. I've seen that happen, and I've seen both sides ending up bitter and disappointed when it became obvious this kind of mechanic will never function properly.

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I've seen what happens when a powergaming GM with a GM vs Players mindset gets hold of a threat rating calculator for his own NPCs. He will optimize the NPCs for the situation where they run into the PCs. Then, when anyone points out how unfair the fight is, he responds by saying that the threat rating number matches what the party should be able to fight. Therefore the fight is balanced.

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A 'threat calculator' is only ever a vague guide at best anyway.

 

As noted, a group of 6 rank 5 PCs should be encountering 72 'points' of threat to make for a decent encounter.

But In the last two dark heresy games I GM-ed:

 

One had a Reliquary Retrieval Team, with a preacher, a sage, a tech-savvy scummer, a not-especially combatitive arbites and one augmetic blade-armed assassin*.

 

The other was essentially an interrogator's personal hit-squad, with an angelus-wielding assassin sniper, a SWAT-equivalent arbitrator, a guardsman, a tech-priest and a scummer who didn't worship khorne (honest).

 

In theory these should be facing the same quantity of handgun-wielding thugs. In reality there is no way in hell you can create a system which makes a fair fight for both, and cleaving too closely to a system which says you can is asking for disappointment - especially if it tries to tell players there is a certain amount of combatant characters you 'must' have in a party.

 

It's not bad as a ready-reckoner so someone new to a system can see at a glance who is nasty and who isn't, but Troops/Elites/Master did that fine anyway, as far as I was concerned.

 

 

* The team spent a lot of time running.

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I've seen what happens when a powergaming GM with a GM vs Players mindset gets hold of a threat rating calculator for his own NPCs. He will optimize the NPCs for the situation where they run into the PCs. Then, when anyone points out how unfair the fight is, he responds by saying that the threat rating number matches what the party should be able to fight. Therefore the fight is balanced.

 

Well if it is a choice between providing evil GMs with justification for murdering a party which they'll do anyway, or providing guidance to newbie GMs who might do so accidentally, I think the latter is worth more.

 

Systems like DH are especially hard to guesstimate opposition in. Plus the default encounter level in the book is NOT meant to create a 50:50 chance of survival, you know? If you want dangerous and risky, you give them an encounter of around Rank+2. So if it's a party not optimized for combat, giving them standard encounters for their rank shouldn't be TPKs or anything. They'll just find them harder, as such a party ought to.

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I've seen what happens when a powergaming GM with a GM vs Players mindset gets hold of a threat rating calculator for his own NPCs. He will optimize the NPCs for the situation where they run into the PCs. Then, when anyone points out how unfair the fight is, he responds by saying that the threat rating number matches what the party should be able to fight. Therefore the fight is balanced.

 

Well if it is a choice between providing evil GMs with justification for murdering a party which they'll do anyway, or providing guidance to newbie GMs who might do so accidentally, I think the latter is worth more.

 

That guidance can be provided by pre-written NPCs with their own stat blocks. The problem I suggested only comes in when you give GMs a way to calculate a threat rating on their own custom NPCs.

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Perhaps FFG should just stick another little black advice box in one of the first pages of the book, stating that if you can't find mutual ground for a satisfying game by talking to each other like reasonable adults trying to have a good time, you should find other people to play with.

 

There's no such thing as exploit-proof. I'm sure you can get close, but you just might end up investing more resources in the attempt, than FFG has invested in everything they've done to date. The only sure solution is to not play with people you don't enjoy playing with - and FFG can't do that for you.

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