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Estimating creature deadliness in BRP systems

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I am designing a sandbox low-magic fantasy setting based on the BRP basic rules. I understand that combat is generally far deadlier than in D&D, but is there some quick metric or rule of thumb to help balance combat deadliness to the party? I'm thinking a formula based on primary attack, ac, and hit points?

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No quick formula as far as I know.

 I look at the opponents' Total Hit Points and Armour worn, then the primary Combat Skill and Weapon Damage. Also a quick look at their available Magic.

That pretty much tells me how challenging they could be, but it's not really a quick empirical calculation like you are looking for.

Edited by Mankcam

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11 hours ago, Zit said:

May be using the Treasure Factor as in RQ2 could help ?

Zit's spot on.   Just calculate the Treasure Factor for the party members and then make sure the monsters AT LEAST total that amount of TF.  I say at least because a party with good synergy can survive a 200% of their TF advantage with some difficulty and routinely defeat up to 150% of their TF just through cooperation.  I used this system to balance games so much that I even changed the name to Threat Factor. 

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On 7/11/2019 at 3:35 AM, Casey said:

May be using the Treasure Factor as in RQ2 could help ?

 
Sweet. Would Plunder have that information? (Attractive since it's $4.95 haha)

Plunder has ready made treasure hoards and unique magic items. The calculation for treasure factor is in the RQ2 rulebook.

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5 hours ago, David Scott said:

Plunder has ready made treasure hoards and unique magic items.

And intriguing randomised special items.  As an aside, my very favorite game inspiration ever comes from the pages of Plunder.  The Gems/Jewelry Table:  "01  Costume jewelry that serves as a deed".  Think on that for a bit.

!i!

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On 6/30/2019 at 9:22 PM, Casey said:

I am designing a sandbox low-magic fantasy setting based on the BRP basic rules. I understand that combat is generally far deadlier than in D&D, but is there some quick metric or rule of thumb to help balance combat deadliness to the party? I'm thinking a formula based on primary attack, ac, and hit points?

Not really.

You could use Treasure Factors, as mentioned previously, to give a very rough idea of how powerful or dangerous a foe is.

My own guidelines are:

  • Tough Armour - The more armour a foe has, the harder it is to defeat. This applies exponentially, so a foe with 4 point armour is not a lot tougher than one with 2 point armour, but a foe with 8 point plus armour is a lot harder to defeat than one with 4 point armour. 
  • High Damage - This really takes PCs down. Someone with a 3D6 or higher damage bonus will be really dangerous, as most average hits penetrate armour. A D10 weapon is slightly better than a D8 one, but not overly so, however, a D10 is a lot better than a D6.
  • Multiple Attacks - This can be a killer, especially when combined with a high damage. A big cat with claw/claw/bite can be deadly. A Scorpion Man with weapon + Sting can be deadly. A Walktapus with several tentacles can be deadly.
  • Special Attacks - Any foe with a special attack is dangerous. This can be poison, harmonise, love trance, breath weapon, gaze attacks or whatever. These are hard to counter and make the foe more dangerous.
  • Special Abilities - These can make a foe dangerous. A foe who regenerates is hard to kill. A foe with an allied spirit can cast healing or other spells in combat. A shaman with spirits can be very dangerous.
  • Magic - The more magic a foe has, the more dangerous the foe is likely to be. This counts double for combat-related magic.
  • Numbers - Facing more foes is always more dangerous. I'd rather face one big bad boss than a number of foes.
  • Hit Points - Not really an issue, as even really tough creatures have a fairly low hit points per location value. Once you penetrate armour, perhaps with a critical, if you can do 12 points of damage then you can take most things down.

 

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On 7/13/2019 at 12:52 PM, soltakss said:
  • Hit Points - Not really an issue, as even really tough creatures have a fairly low hit points per location value. Once you penetrate armour, perhaps with a critical, if you can do 12 points of damage then you can take most things down.

 

We're in Basic Roleplaying subforum, and not RuneQuest. ;)

Attack% and Defense% should also be factored, IMHO, even though it's very difficult to compare a creature with 100% attack and 1d10 damage versus one with 10% attack and 10d10 damage.

 

Edited by Mugen

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On 7/22/2019 at 5:49 PM, Mugen said:

We're in Basic Roleplaying subforum, and not RuneQuest. ;)

Hit Locations are an option under BRP, are they not?

On 7/22/2019 at 5:49 PM, Mugen said:

Attack% and Defense% should also be factored, IMHO, even though it's very difficult to compare a creature with 100% attack and 1d10 damage versus one with 10% attack and 10d10 damage.

Yes they should and I missed those out.

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19 hours ago, soltakss said:

Hit Locations are an option under BRP, are they not?

 

😃 sure, sure. Everything's possible in BRP.

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On 7/22/2019 at 12:49 PM, Mugen said:

We're in Basic Roleplaying subforum, and not RuneQuest. ;)

Which has both hot locations as an option and major wounds as an alternative, and BTW, hit locations tend to be the less deadly of the two..

That's what really makes estimating creature deadliness so difficult in the game. In D&D with PCs and monsters each taking their turn and inflicting damage on the other, and with damage not really meaning much until hit points are gone, combat is handled by attrition. A fight isn't really dangerous unless a PC can be reduced to 0 hp or less. 

What make BRP so much more deadly is that just about any attack from any opponent has the potential to reduce a PC to 0 hit points, or take him out of the fight with a  major wound or disabled location. Even something very safe, such as  like a fight between a 13th level Paladin and a 1 hit die Goblin is still deadly in BRP/RQ- as the story of Rurik and the Trollkin shows.  You can never really "balance" combat deadliness in the game, it's just don't designed to work that way.

 

That said, what you can do is get a idea as just how deadly a given opponent will be by comparing it's combat skills, damage, hit points,  and protection to those of the PCs. Plus factor in for intelligence (or lack thereof) in the opponent (and in the PCs). For example something like a lion had mediocre combat skills but does enough damage to drop an average PC on a hit, unless parried or stopped by armor. It had fair armor protection, and more hit points than a PC, so it will probably take a few hits to drop it. It also can get more than one attack a round. So the GM could compare that to what the PCs have in the way of abilities and equipment to try and gauge the letheality of the encounter.

 

I suppose a formula could be worked out based on skill, number of attacks, average damage, armor, hit points, and so on, but it would probably be a bit misleading, as it would be a general number and not one based on the PCs abilities, plus it would probably exclude things that should factor in (such as poison, or terrain).

 

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Which has both hot locations as an option and major wounds as an alternative, and BTW, hit locations tend to be the less deadly of the two..

So, it's only relevant for people using one of those options, and my experience tells me Hit Locations are not very popular outside RuneQuest audience.

Of course, your experience may be different from mine.

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On 8/6/2019 at 2:52 AM, Mugen said:

So, it's only relevant for people using one of those options,

Or for people deciding between the two.

On 8/6/2019 at 2:52 AM, Mugen said:

and my experience tells me Hit Locations are not very popular outside RuneQuest audience.

Of course, your experience may be different from mine.

Not much, but I will say most of the players of BRP-related fantasy games tend to prefer RQ3 rules and hit locations over other systems (i.e. Stormbringer/MAgic World) once tyhey become familiar with them.

 

But, from the viewpoint of opponent/monster deadliness which option someone uses can make a difference, not so much becuse of the difference between hit locations and major wounds, but because of the difference in armor that accompanies that decision. Most versions of BRP that use major wounds also use random armor protection, something that greatly increases the leathiality, while versions of BRP that use hit locations tend to use fixed armor protection. 

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7 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Not much, but I will say most of the players of BRP-related fantasy games tend to prefer RQ3 rules and hit locations over other systems (i.e. Stormbringer/MAgic World) once tyhey become familiar with them.

Agreed.

 

7 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

But, from the viewpoint of opponent/monster deadliness which option someone uses can make a difference, not so much becuse of the difference between hit locations and major wounds, but because of the difference in armor that accompanies that decision. Most versions of BRP that use major wounds also use random armor protection, something that greatly increases the leathiality, while versions of BRP that use hit locations tend to use fixed armor protection.

Yep, the random armor linked to the Major Wounds rule is the main reason of my dislike of the rules: Lethality is way too much random for my tastes.

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4 hours ago, Kloster said:

Yep, the random armor linked to the Major Wounds rule is the main reason of my dislike of the rules: Lethality is way too much random for my tastes.

I think part of the problem is that not only is the armor random, but as it is handled with a single die, meaning it has a linear distribution, so any value is as likely to come up as any other. I believe that if the random armor rolls used two dice, and had a bell curve, the random armor method would work out a lot better. For example, instead of plate with helm protection 1D10+2, it could protect 2D6, or 2D6+1 or 2D4+3 or some such. That would still keep the "chink in the armor" effect of the random method while making armor more useful.

Another possible way to accomplish the same thing would be to do something like roll three armor dice but take the middle one. So if someone in full plate (1d10+2) would roll 3d10s (say 2, 6, 9) and take the middle die (6) as his roll. This would keep the range the same, and still allow for the occasional extreme results, while making armor more likely to work.

 

I think it's worth noting that the versions of BRP that use Major wounds with fixed armor (Pendragon, Call of Cthulhu) seem to go over better than those what use random armor.

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Completely agree here. And the example you cited is probably the less problematic for me: Most, if not all the other armors (i.e. not plate + helm) are 1D something -1, which means the 0 is as likely to occur as any other number. Completely random lethality. 2 or 3 dices and a bell curve would, as you say, solve a good part of the problem.

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I suppose there's no substitute for experience when it comes to threat lethality. I'm trying to spin up a couple BRP fantasy ideas, and I remember being envious when Loz or Pete said they could just eyeball those sorts of things due to having played BRP incarnations for seventeen more years than they'd been alive.  ;)

 

I do wish there was even a "threat up" indicator for the harder monsters, kinda like Savage Worlds has with its "Smilin' Jack" graphic by the monster name.

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21 hours ago, AldebaranFire said:

I do wish there was even a "threat up" indicator for the harder monsters, kinda like Savage Worlds has with its "Smilin' Jack" graphic by the monster name.

Here is a simple method: Compare the monster's average damage roll to the average hit points of a PC (typically 12).

If it is less than half the PCs hit points, then it's a minor threat ( 1/4 point)

If it is equal or greater than half the PCs hit points, then it is a serious threat (1/2 point)

If it is equal to of greater than the PCs average hit points it is a lethal threat (1 point)

If it is equal to 1.5 times the hit points or greater than a deadly threat (1.5 points)

If it is twice or more of the hit points it is an overkill threat. (2 points)

Add another half point for each 1/2 multiplier of Hit Points

 

This won't be prefect but should prevent a GM from inadvertently outclassing the PCs. 

 

 

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On 8/18/2019 at 6:00 PM, AldebaranFire said:

Pretty slick, Atgxtg, I'll keep that in mind! Thanks!

It's just a quick and dirty method for estimating relative ability. It doesn't take much into account but it probably okay for the general run of the mill monsters, which tend to have low to moderate combat skills and no magic. 

Factoring in for skill, magic, and tactics can completely alter this. For example one character with Bow 100% who is across a ravine might be far more dangerous to the PCs than a tiger. That's why any formula for determining how dangerous a given opponent  is can only an estimate. There are too many factors, especially those that are relative to the characters or to the situation that need to be accounted for. 

 

Edited by Atgxtg

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