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Balancing combat encounters

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

But balance like D&D or Pathfinder does it? That’s just not how we roll. Not in Call of Cthulhu, not in Pendragon, and not in RuneQuest.

Thank god and please don't ever change!

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

Balance guidelines? In the end it comes down to this - there should be always be a way for the players to get around most of an adventure's obstacle by means other than combat. That can be run away, talk to the monster, or find some allies. Jason is working on some more nuanced guidance than that, but at the end of the day, BRP balance is setting based not mechanically balanced - if your plucky but outnumbered band of rebels decide to take on that patrol of professional soldiers who are nearly as competent as them, you have a good chance of having a TPK. Just like common sense would suggest. And also keep in mind, one critical or one fumble can be a complete game changer - and how do you balance for that? 

But balance like D&D or Pathfinder does it? That’s just not how we roll. Not in Call of Cthulhu, not in Pendragon, and not in RuneQuest. A big monster with a descent chance of hitting is going to be really tough. Might wipe out the whole party. Same thing with a Rune Lord more skilled in combat than any member of the party. That’s just how it is with BRP.

If you want nicely balanced attritional adventures where the scenario is designed that the party should be able to fight their way to success against a series of level and class appropriate foes, then maybe Pathfinder or 13th Age is better for you. 

But me - I have always loved the danger of BRP. I've loved it in Call of Cthulhu, in Pendragon, and in RuneQuest. To each their own.

Much of what you say I agree with.  One of Runequest's strengths is that it discourages attrition combat and encourages thinking and roleplaying.  Similarly, its exciting that combats can swing on one fumble or crit, and makes them dangerous even when you have an advantage.  But why do CR ratings have to be a threat to that system?   Why do you feel that having such ratings somehow makes the game into, as you say, a "scenario is designed that the party should be able to fight their way to success against a series of level and class appropriate foes"?  

 

You said "if your plucky but outnumbered band of rebels decide to take on that patrol of professional soldiers who are nearly as competent as them..."  Your words clearly shows you have the ability to gauge competency vs. numbers at least to some extent and translate it into comparative balance, and it further suggests that your players need that skill set as well if they hope to survive.  I believe that both you and the game designers (not sure if you are one of them, pardon that) can look over a character sheet, monster stats, or an NPC write-up and get a rather good idea of comparative challenge.  Why not share such guidelines and translate it into some kind of numbers, whether it be CR or something else?  Why not make the game more accessible for those that don't have your experience?  

 

Much has also been said about the difficulty of translating RQ stats and other factors into CR ratings.  I would suggest that perhaps the reason is more based on bias toward eschewing "balance" than it is on the actual difficulty of providing some sort of CRs. 

 

In the end I wonder if perhaps many of you have been involved with Runequest so long that you have lost perspective on how incredibly difficult it is for a new DM and players to create adventures or make reasonable decisions in Runequest without CRs or something similar.  Or how difficult it is for new players/GMs to look at some stats and get any reasonable idea of what they translate to in a fight.  And providing such numbers doesn't have to change what the game is about or threaten it's core principles - it merely would make the game more accessible.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Jason Durall said:

 

The Gamemaster Sourcebook, which is my highest prio right now, has a whole chapter on Encounters, specifically on scaling them to suit the needs of the scene and to provide the right degree of challenge for the adventurers. 

But if you'd like to claim that we're "stubbornly refusing" to provide such info, or that sales are poor, you can be wrong on both counts. 

Of course, that's exactly what a stubborn refusenik would say.

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16 minutes ago, Stephen said:

In the end I wonder if perhaps many of you have been involved with Runequest so long that you have lost perspective on how incredibly difficult it is for a new DM and players to create adventures or make reasonable decisions in Runequest without CRs or something similar.  Or how difficult it is for new players/GMs to look at some stats and get any reasonable idea of what they translate to in a fight.  And providing such numbers doesn't have to change what the game is about or threaten it's core principles - it merely would make the game more accessible.

Or - and I don't want to sound all "get those kids off my lawn" - we've all BEEN there and ultimately figured it out?    With (in the ancient days) far less online support, group-assistance, or forums like this to seek advice and counsel.

Just because there's neither a signpost nor a shortcut, doesn't mean there isn't ANY way to get where you're trying to go.

I PERSONALLY believe you're probably overthinking it.  RQ is imo a pretty reality-based system.  Pretend you're writing the script for dramatic television.  Would the protagonist and his buddy be able to handle 3 "skilled toughs" credibly?  Or would the audience not buy it as unrealistic?  Then what about 2?  Granted, it's harder with monsters that have no basis in reality, but at least with people, think it through realistically and I expect you'll be close.

Edited by styopa

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3 minutes ago, styopa said:

Or - and I don't want to sound all "get those kids off my lawn" - we've all BEEN there and ultimately figured it out?    With (in the ancient days) far less online support, group-assistance, or forums like this to seek advice and counsel.

Just because there's neither a signpost nor a shortcut, doesn't mean there isn't ANY way to get where you're trying to go.

I think we are making the same point.  Doable but ya gotta work to get there.  Much better if the design team takes care of the basics to make it easier.

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23 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

What is CR?

Challenge Rating. I know it from D&D 3.5E and later Pathfinder. Ideally, a creature of CR X (or multiple creatures, adding up by some arcane bullshit to an Encounter Level of X) is a good average-difficulty encounter for four characters of level X.

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I think the uncertainty and danger of RQ is part of it's charm. The GM shouldn't gauge how many Lunar soldiers are in a patrol based on the PCs. The decision should be based on story logic and let the chips fall where they may. Now from a GM advice point of view, you should make sure that you don't *force* fights on players if the outcome is at all in doubt. Let the players choose to initiate combat--or not--if at all possible. Yes the PCs (or players? Not this again!) are occasionally going to underestimate opponents and have a bad day. That is the experience that RQ seems designed to create. Every decision to fight is a gamble. Do you feel lucky? ;) 

Maybe I should cross-post this over in the GM advice thread. I think there is a Petersen's Rules rule on it already, though.

The game balance problem I actually do have an issue with is the deadliness of combat vs work required to create a new character. It seems to me that if a game asks you to lovingly craft a PC it should have relatively forgiving combat rules. RQG seems like it asks players to put more work into creating a character than is wise if the PC is just going to get gutted like a trout in the first combat. It isn't a deal breaker, though. It just has me a bit concerned. (I haven't played the new rules yet.)

Edited by kpmcdona

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3 hours ago, kpmcdona said:

I think the uncertainty and danger of RQ is part of it's charm. The GM shouldn't gauge how many Lunar soldiers are in a patrol based on the PCs. The decision should be based on story logic and let the chips fall where they may. Now from a GM advice point of view, you should make sure that you don't *force* fights on players if the outcome is at all in doubt. Let the players choose to initiate combat--or not--if at all possible. Yes the PCs (or players? Not this again!) are occasionally going to underestimate opponents and have a bad day. That is the experience that RQ seems designed to create. Every decision to fight is a gamble. Do you feel lucky? ;) 

Gosh, sorry you wiped, guess you weren't lucky....guess you all need to get out dem dice and start making the 30 family history rolls each for your new toons ;)   

 

So, let me get this straight..... I'm to avoid fighting whenever possible, since gauging enemy strength in other than the vaguest terms is, well, impossible for anyone without years of experience under his belt.  So maybe 1  out of 3 game sessions might have a fight in it, right?  And since I have no way of gauging enemy strength, and the GM is blissfully and intentionally ignoring such matters (not that a new DM has much choice, given the lack of CRs), what's the odds that any effort I put into combat training actually being useful?  What are the odds I will get to that rare balanced fight where my training *might* actually matter before I wipe due to an imbalanced fight ?   Why have such elaborate and complex combat rules at all if balanced fights are a rarity?

 

It seems strange to even have this disagreement - CRs don't have to mean you become D and D , or that YOU or HER or HIM even have to use them.  It just makes them available to those of us that DO like balance as a game concept.  

 

 


 

 

Edited by Stephen

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7 hours ago, Stephen said:

But there is a reason why virtually all games use such a system

I don't think you have much experience with different role-playing games.  I would say that "virtually none" of the RPG rules I've ever read over 40+ years include any sort of "system" for balancing encounters.  (Many include advice or suggestions, though.)

7 hours ago, Stephen said:

To be fair, other roleplaying games also have those issues, and they still managed to provide a workable CR system, right?

Name 3, and only one of them is allowed to be based on the D20 rules.  You've proven that you can make broad, sweeping statements, now can we see something resembling a fact?

You're correct that any set of game rules should discuss the idea of making sure the game is "balanced", but with any of the games in the BRP system, it's more about pointing out what makes the game unbalanced than providing a mechanistic method of "ensuring" balance -- as if that would even be possible.

As pointed out above, the main issue is numbers.  RQ (all versions) has always demonstrated that numbers will win a fight, except when the outnumbered side is amazingly better than the other side.  If you have 12 "ordinary" opponents vs. 6 "decent" player characters, there's quite a good chance that some of those PCs will go down, possibly for good.  Whichever side rolls the dice most often is the side most likely to be getting critical hits and special hits, and a trollkin armed with a spear is going to just flat-out ruin your day when (not if) he impales you.  It doesn't matter that if it was a one-on-one battle you would almost certainly cream him, the point is how often are you going to fight puny guys one-on-one?

The best balancing system I've ever found in playing any version of RQ is experience -- player experience.  You quickly learn to judge what fights you'll "probably" win and avoid the ones you'll "probably" lose.  The GM learns what encounters are "fair" to put in the way of the PCs and what ones aren't.

[There's also always been an element of demonstrating Glorantha's "this is the way the world is, sucks to be you" in various Chaosium supplements.  The Eternal Battle as a random encounter?  Allosaurs in Balazar?  In effect, sometimes Chaosium is positively encouraging the viewpoint the world exists not as a challenge, but as an insurmountable obstacle.]

 

Edited by BWP

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I balenced a 5 versus 3 fight in my very first combat encounter ever with RQ. I dont mean my first time running RQ as a GM. I mean my first time ever facing a fight in any d100 system in any way. 

You dont need years of experience. You don't need a guide for this. Just common sense and some basic flexibility. Just adjust the fight as needed, as you go. (We had one of the monsters panic and flee in that fight) This is an improv friendly levelless game. There is never going to be a CR equivalent system and it plain doesn't need one.

If you are finding that too difficult to figure out just run one of the many already released scenarios were the authors have done the work for you. 

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You could desk check the characters - create or find a set of NPCs, spend some time doing trial combats using your PC character sheets to see whether the PCs are at too much of a disadvantage. If they are at too much of a disadvantage, find a way to even up the odds.

The other alternative is to suggest your characters innovate a bit. In RQ not every hostile encounter needs to end with a fight - if you are faced with overwhelming odds maybe you should try something different than pulling your swords and getting killed. I played a trickster character a long time ago, he just lied a lot, hardly ever killed anyone. Having said that he was quite formidable when he did have to fight, NPCs kept convincing him to go on dangerous trickster heroquests to try to get rid of him.
 

 

Edited by EricW
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10 hours ago, Jeff said:

If you want nicely balanced attritional adventures where the scenario is designed that the party should be able to fight their way to success against a series of level and class appropriate foes, then maybe Pathfinder or 13th Age is better for you. 

You can even play that sort of game in Glorantha: 13th Age Glorantha should scratch that itch nicely.

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I can see both sides.

There is a huge variety of playing styles, ranging from what could be described as Roll Playing, where almost every encounter leads to weapons being drawn and a furious bout of combat dice rolling, to true Role Playing where the participants explore societies using a gaming framework that has a combat mechanism (or so their memories tell them).

All these are valid.

 

Though it is not always true, there is an age/maturity bias here, and as most of the die hard RQ players rate towards the higher end of both those, it is not surprising that many people on this forum are placed far more towards the Role Playing end of the spectrum.

 

However, responses such as “go and play a different game” really don’t help.

 

CRs will always be very tricky to implement for RQ.

 

If, like me, you are like the hack and slash type of play, then here are some suggestions:

 

As mentioned before, avoid large, strong foes and ones with multiple attacks.

 

Stage encounters where the bad guys are weaker than you estimate the should be, but can bring in reinforcements if you want more challenge for the adventures. It is easier to add enemies during a battle than to remove them (I shall go and add that to the GM advice thread).

 

 

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10 hours ago, kpmcdona said:

I think the uncertainty and danger of RQ is part of it's charm. The GM shouldn't gauge how many Lunar soldiers are in a patrol based on the PCs. The decision should be based on story logic and let the chips fall where they may. Now from a GM advice point of view, you should make sure that you don't *force* fights on players if the outcome is at all in doubt. Let the players choose to initiate combat--or not--if at all possible. Yes the PCs (or players? Not this again!) are occasionally going to underestimate opponents and have a bad day. That is the experience that RQ seems designed to create. Every decision to fight is a gamble. Do you feel lucky? ;) 

Maybe I should cross-post this over in the GM advice thread. I think there is a Petersen's Rules rule on it already, though.

The game balance problem I actually do have an issue with is the deadliness of combat vs work required to create a new character. It seems to me that if a game asks you to lovingly craft a PC it should have relatively forgiving combat rules. RQG seems like it asks players to put more work into creating a character than is wise if the PC is just going to get gutted like a trout in the first combat. It isn't a deal breaker, though. It just has me a bit concerned. (I haven't played the new rules yet.)

That reminds me of the early days of D&D, where you could generate a new character in minutes. I was running City State of the Invincible Overlord, and players would generate a party, walk through the gates and attack the nearest shop. If they got wiped out (by, say, a gold dragon polymorped into shopkeeper form) they would just roll up a new party, saunter through the gates and try the shop next door. It isn't always an advantage to have fast character creation :)

I certainly don't remember any Chivalry and Sorcery players ever being cavalier with the lives of their characters, given how long it would take them to create a replacement. RQ falls somewhere between these two extremes, but I'd recommend troupe style play, where each player has a secondary character who can continue to take part in scenarios if the primary charater falls.

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7 hours ago, Stephen said:

So, let me get this straight..... I'm to avoid fighting whenever possible, since gauging enemy strength in other than the vaguest terms is, well, impossible for anyone without years of experience under his belt.  So maybe 1  out of 3 game sessions might have a fight in it, right?  And since I have no way of gauging enemy strength, and the GM is blissfully and intentionally ignoring such matters (not that a new DM has much choice, given the lack of CRs), what's the odds that any effort I put into combat training actually being useful?  What are the odds I will get to that rare balanced fight where my training *might* actually matter before I wipe due to an imbalanced fight ?   Why have such elaborate and complex combat rules at all if balanced fights are a rarity?

 

I think you're overstating the problem a little. If you have 4 starting player character with 70% combat skills then start them in a combat with half a dozen bandits with 50% skill and inferior spells and equipment. The players should win, and get a realistic appreciation of the risks involved. If in doubt always err on the side of making the foes weaker, or make sure to have them (realistically) cut and run after taking a few hits. Player groups tend to fight to the bitter end, but in real life this is a rare thing, and NPCs should be much more willing to flee or surrender. It's not really hard to judge who has the advantage between two groups of humans.

Encounters with unusual creatures will be harder to judge, so the first time you want to include a scorpion-man in a fight you might like to have it be already wounded from a previous combat, or make sure that the players get the drop on it. Once you have experienced a fight clearly in the player's favour you'll have a feel for the potential deadliness of a creature with multiple attacks and poison, as well as expendable limbs that can be crippled and soak up hits without disabling the monster.

I'm guilty of killing a player's prized character in the early days of a Pavis campaign because I didn't realise the deadliness of spirit combat under RQ2. I learnt from that, and have since always made sure not to overmatch a party in terms of such combats. My players also learned, and Spirit Block became the preferred first rune spell for most characters.

Edited by Russ Massey

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5 hours ago, Stephen said:

So, let me get this straight..... I'm to avoid fighting whenever possible, since gauging enemy strength in other than the vaguest terms is, well, impossible for anyone without years of experience under his belt.  So maybe 1  out of 3 game sessions might have a fight in it, right?  And since I have no way of gauging enemy strength, and the GM is blissfully and intentionally ignoring such matters (not that a new DM has much choice, given the lack of CRs), what's the odds that any effort I put into combat training actually being useful?  What are the odds I will get to that rare balanced fight where my training *might* actually matter before I wipe due to an imbalanced fight ?   Why have such elaborate and complex combat rules at all if balanced fights are a rarity?

 

 

5 hours ago, Stephen said:

It seems strange to even have this disagreement - CRs don't have to mean you become D and D , or that YOU or HER or HIM even have to use them.  It just makes them available to those of us that DO like balance as a game concept.  

I never sat down to do the math, but here's something to think about:

Look at the number of attacks the opposition can land in a given time, and the number of attacks the party can land in that time.

If designing an ambush, that means that the ambushers get free attacks, as spells or missiles, until the party can react with their arsenal.

I wouldn't bother with a detailed damage analysis, but with damage ranges - there are attacks that can only do attrition damage (such as Disrupt, thrown rocks), attacks that can take out a location without destroying it, and killer attacks that will destroy a location and take out a combatant permanently or until a major healing effort has been done. Damage bonus of the attack does a lot to make an attack more dangerous.

 

How likely is an attack to cause damage?

Can it be avoided?

Spells are resisted with POW vs POW rolls, and possibly shielded by Countermagic effects (Countermagic, Shield, Berserk, Warding, sorcerous Neutralize).

Physical attacks (both melee and missile) are reduced by armor. This may vary the three categories (attrition, location damage, location destroyed).

Parries add the armor points of the parrying weapon, often negating the damage or reducing it to mere attrition.

Try and estimate the effect of the initial attacks on the party. Ideally, there should be enough attrition damage to cause tension, and taking out one or two locations requires them to direct some activity to healing, reducing their attacks/situation changer options.

Exposing the party to lots of attrition damage increases the likelihood of damaged locations, aka tactically meaningful damage. That's fine, but may lead to TPK.

 

Estimating the "bling factor" of parried melee attacks is hard. In the 50% parry ability range, damage will result reliably. In the 75% parry ability range, you will see only occasional damage. In the 95% parry range, damage will be the exception.

Multiple parries will quickly lower the parry range, which is why numbers count so much.

Remote attacks that cannot be parried (missiles, element damage, breath attacks) only deal with whatever protection the party has against such attacks.

Additional attacks by spirits may take their own form of attrition, but result in the equivalent of a location destruction damage.

 

It is all about staging the conflict.

With big bad monsters, you might start their side of the combat with location destruction damage on one or several party members. Are you sure that's how you want to start the fight? For each "man" down in the party, another party member will have to do support, reducing the counterattack twice. Depending on the number of sidekicks and auxiliary NPCs, it will also leave the players of affected characters out of the action, or pushed into thankless jobs like rolling for the party mooks rather than furthering one's character's heroics.

Inclusion of such damage should only be on the table if the players decide to accept the combat. Exploring a cave with freshs (dream) dragon prints means that they decided to accept this risk, and there are numerous similar situations where the players have seen the danger signs and choose to press on regardless (possibly because of bad alternatives, but that's another staging issue). Challenging Great Trolls, Cave Trolls or lesser giants means that they accept the risk.

 

If the combat goes into a direction that threatens your scenario: Cheat. Within reason.

Your players may have memorized the creature statistics, but thankfully those offer ranges of values rather than fixed values. Whatever numbers you have written down, you may adjust them slightly. Make use of low levels of Protection rather than indentifiable armor anyway, and adjust those levels upward or downward as your "Pass Fail Cycle" needs require. Give the opposition a supporting magician in hiding/out of attack range to avoid exposing that cheat, possibly an allied spirit.

You find out that your cave troll will TPK the already bruised party? He may have some bruises himself, suffer from poisoning or disease.

The opposition gets overwhelmed like nothing? You're in control of the setting. Have the party encounter another wave, ideally not identical, but drawing from the same resources. Or let reinforcements arrive. Or let one exceptional duck/trollkin (or hidden ally of the duck/trollkin) use that Earthpower rune spell to revive its colleagues. Or have the (undocumented and unplanned) elemental of the opposition arrive belatedly from within its element.

Provide some other form of weakness of the enemy, and drop hints (or outright signposts) to the players to exploit that weakness. In a cthulhuid situation, it is reasonable to have at least some of the opposition suffer from bouts of insanity, and dealing with Lunars or drug-crazed zealots offers the same excuse for opponents being befuddled or demoralized even without conscious player activity. This is a reminder that the opposition aren't mere mechanical monsters but that they will have their own pitiful life stories and weaknesses.

 

Most importantly, think about the morale of the opposition, and the point where they start to retreat, flee, surrender, and why and how they would do so.

Interrupting a (usually chaotic) combat for negotiations will take a few melee rounds. Train your players in the application of disengagement (in case of doubt, frustrate them with opposition that will disengage whenever they can...) so that this option will be in their repertoire.

Depending on the situation, either side may have no interest in negotiations, or in letting anybody escape.

 

Enter the hostage situation, and the seriousness in putting the threat to action. I once faced quite a shocked reaction when playing a hardened veteran killer who did slice the throat of one of the hostages at a failure to follow through the conditions that had been put out in the room, not so much from the opposition characters as from my fellow players and the GM. (Not clear whether that extended to their characters, some of which were as cold-blooded by concept.) At that point, the escalation had already been at personal feud level, and the opposition (including the hostage) thought to call a bluff when my character wasn't bluffing.

Unfortunately, that was an opportunity for roleplaying spoiled by a debate about roleplaying ethics - which was a good thing to have, but it stopped the flow of the story. Interestingly enough, the morality of players of the type whose characters would initiate needless slaughter by shooting first was offended.

(That scene happened long before Game of Thrones had even been printed...)

 

Spells causing systemic failure like Sleep and Befuddle should be treated like "take out location", Demoralize like attrition.

Warding can be a killer if used to protect positions of snipers, as a Warding 3 will take out locations.

 

You'll be familiar with the tactics of the party if playing with your own group, but in a convention game, even with pre-rolled characters, you'll be in for big surprises. (But then, so will they.)

On the other hand, you are in control of the opposition's initial tactic and of their fall-back tactics.

When preparing the encounter, take a look at the theme of your scenario, and make sure that somehow the kind of opposition you want them to encounter is there. Adjust the number and/or state of health of the opposition. The giant is caught treating a leg wound. If they are outside of the ability of the party, have the party encounter the opposition while fighting off another, independent threat - that pair of tusk riders needs to finish off the wolverine before it can charge your novice party, so make good use of that "ally" to avoid the charge.

 

In other words, if you want broos, use broos. When dealing with Chaos, Chaos Features can increase or decrease the danger levels. Broo parentage can do a lot to adjust the threat.

 

Sometimes the opposition attacks only to expose the party to disease, poison, or some curse, and then disengages.

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12 hours ago, Crel said:

Challenge Rating. I know it from D&D 3.5E and later Pathfinder. Ideally, a creature of CR X (or multiple creatures, adding up by some arcane bullshit to an Encounter Level of X) is a good average-difficulty encounter for four characters of level X.

What an awful idea! I hope it never darkens RuneQuest's pages.

Edited by PhilHibbs

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15 hours ago, Jeff said:

But balance like D&D or Pathfinder does it? That’s just not how we roll.

That's not balanced either. That's actually not balanced. The whole point of CR's and such is to make sure that the threat doesn't balance out the party. If it did, then the party would die off every other encounter. 

But is is a good idea for a GM to be able to gauge how tough an opponent is going to be for his players, before he runs the adventure. While risk is good for the game, even necessary, few things are worse for a campaign than to  continually kill off player characters. 

 

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11 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

What an awful idea! I hope it never darkens RuneQuest's pages.

It already did, with treasure factors! ;)

The whole CR thing is a myth anyway, since it doesn't really factor in for specific character abilities or tactics. The reason why it is so important to D&Ders is that D&D revolves around combat, and "balanced" (read "rigged") is how you show a tough adventure with a attrition hit point system. The idea is that several minor encounter wear the party down, upping the tension along the way. It's much like how video games play out, even with "Boss" encounters. People don't fell like they have been challenged, or the game seem exciting unless they can see it somehow, and that's done by taking damage and seeing hit points drop. I know some D&Ders who don't think it was a good fight unless they have been dropped down to below half hit points. 

That mindset has led to a lot of problems when trying to run D&D players in other games, as D&Ders will often shrug off injuries because they still have most of their hit points left. What would be considered a sign that things aren't going well in a game like RQ, is considered just part of the fun of fighting, and leads to dead characters and shocked players.  

 

 

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Seems like a good topic for one or more blog posts. RQ combat is usually a lot deadlier, so a pure CR approach might not make sense, but some rules of thumb and examples could be a good way to get started for the beginner GM. Joerg's comment above might be a good beginning, but is perhaps a bit abstract. 

If you are all newbies, it might be worth setting up some simple variations where you fight out things and get a feel for how combat works and how much you can fight. For instance, you can start with some gang fighting in a city, where you can beat on various thugs, Lunars, Sun Domers, etc with a variety of weapons, numbers and skills. Then you get chased out by the authorities and the real adventuring can begin. 

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