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Old 05-30-2006, 01:16 PM   #1
Artifex
 
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Default What is a good challenge?

Hey folks, I was wondering about this one of this days, and I thought about bringing some other voices into the discussion...

In D&D we have CR - Challenge Rating - that is a measure of how challenging a creature - or another type of challenge - is for a group of characters. CR takes into account the average ammount of power that a group of characters would have and how difficult it would be to beat it.

My point here is: what makes up a good challenge - what should the point total be - for a NPC/Monster or group of NPCs/Monsters for a 4 150-points GURPS group?
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Old 05-30-2006, 01:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: What is a good challenge?

There's no way to gauge it. D20 levels ultimately measure combat capability. I'm not ragging on that game for being "less of a RPG" than GURPS, but it's pretty hard to refute the claim that a D20 level measures little beyond pre-combat buffing, combat, and post-combat healing. GURPS points rate academic knowledge, artistic skill, long-term strategic thinking, social capability, social rank, technical expertise, etc. If your four 150-point PCs are The World's Best Accountant, The World's Best Philosopher, The World's Best Sculptor, and The World's Best Wagon Repairman, with maybe 10 points of combat skills between them, then a single, rabid skunk is going to be a threat.

The best thing to do is to make sure that damage, combat skills, modified active defenses, and DR are roughly comparable. If not, then the side with higher ratings in an area should either have lower numbers or lower ratings in another area if the encounter is meant to be fair. Don't overlook specialization, either. If your four 150-point PCs are all battle mages, then a single tough warrior with Magic Resistance 20 might be able to defeat the lot of them. If they're four 150-point karate masters, then an intangible, life-draining spirit they can't hit will kill them all. Points don't mean much; you have to check every single special ability against every single other one.
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Old 05-30-2006, 01:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: What is a good challenge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artifex
My point here is: what makes up a good challenge - what should the point total be - for a NPC/Monster or group of NPCs/Monsters for a 4 150-points GURPS group?
It's really impossible to say. A 150 point character in GURPS can be a total noncombatant or an absolute combat monster, and trying to rationalize an appropriate challenge based upon point totals is just not possible with GURPS.

That being said, coming from a D&D background, GURPS characters in fantasy/ medieval setting are much more vulnerable to being outnumbered than their D&D counterparts. A D&D fighter at high levels can take on literally hordes of enemies -- this is generally not the case in GURPS.
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:37 PM   #4
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Default Re: What is a good challenge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookman

That being said, coming from a D&D background, GURPS characters in fantasy/ medieval setting are much more vulnerable to being outnumbered than their D&D counterparts. A D&D fighter at high levels can take on literally hordes of enemies -- this is generally not the case in GURPS.
Very true. OTOH, GURPS has a far more developed map-and-minis tactical combat system than D&D -- one that does a fair job of accounting for bottlenecks, long weapons, facing, posture, etc. Using those rules, it becomes possible for very tough fighters to defeat hordes handily with good tactics. For instance, I've seen the six PCs in my own campaign take on 100+ foes at a narrow, partially blockaded doorway . . . prevail against 40-50 foes by forming a wedge against a wall . . . use missiles to reduce bad odds to equal odds . . . that kind of thing. The trick is to avoid getting blindsided, because while a sneak attack is a few points of bonus damage against many HP in D&D, it's a fight-stopper in GURPS. Critical hits behave the same way, which is why heroes in the cinematic mode should always have Luck.
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: What is a good challenge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artifex
Hey folks, I was wondering about this one of this days, and I thought about bringing some other voices into the discussion...

In D&D we have CR - Challenge Rating - that is a measure of how challenging a creature - or another type of challenge - is for a group of characters. CR takes into account the average ammount of power that a group of characters would have and how difficult it would be to beat it.

My point here is: what makes up a good challenge - what should the point total be - for a NPC/Monster or group of NPCs/Monsters for a 4 150-points GURPS group?
The CR system is pretty lousy. A 4th level bard is supposed to be an even match with a Skeletal Chimera. A boat load of little Cr critters can be utterly ineffective combatants but mathematically produce more xp than a not as massive but still large number of higher CR monsters.

In the end it's nothing more than guesswork done by game designers who have no idea what sort of characters you've got in the game what sort of magic items supplied from supplements written by a different publisher.

You're better off making your own estimates based on your more thorough knowledge re: the PCs.

Point value in GURPS is an approximation. Where GURPS differs from D&D is that GURPS does not try to tell you that monster X is a match for party A.

Your best bet is to keep copies of the PCs with you and play out combat before you go to the game. You can spot any inherent flaws in your combat plan, and eliminate say the +10 DR after noting the max damage of your toughest combatant is 1d+3 or drop that vulnerability to electricity if you have a wizard with a lot of electrical spells.
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: What is a good challenge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm
Very true. OTOH, GURPS has a far more developed map-and-minis tactical combat system than D&D -- one that does a fair job of accounting for bottlenecks, long weapons, facing, posture, etc. Using those rules, it becomes possible for very tough fighters to defeat hordes handily with good tactics. For instance, I've seen the six PCs in my own campaign take on 100+ foes at a narrow, partially blockaded doorway . . . prevail against 40-50 foes by forming a wedge against a wall . . . use missiles to reduce bad odds to equal odds . . . that kind of thing. The trick is to avoid getting blindsided, because while a sneak attack is a few points of bonus damage against many HP in D&D, it's a fight-stopper in GURPS. Critical hits behave the same way, which is why heroes in the cinematic mode should always have Luck.
And the cinematic advantages are not to be under emphasized. A 3rd edition weapons master who couldn't hit a neck on a 14 is pathetic. When what you hit goes down and stays down, your odds against large numbers gets a lot better.
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Old 05-30-2006, 03:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: What is a good challenge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookman
That being said, coming from a D&D background, GURPS characters in fantasy/ medieval setting are much more vulnerable to being outnumbered than their D&D counterparts. A D&D fighter at high levels can take on literally hordes of enemies -- this is generally not the case in GURPS.
Actually, a high level D&D fighter, without magic equipment, is fairly vulnerable to being taken down by hordes of enemies. A high point value GURPS character is easily as lethal.
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Old 05-30-2006, 03:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: What is a good challenge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony
Actually, a high level D&D fighter, without magic equipment, is fairly vulnerable to being taken down by hordes of enemies.
I respectfully disagree.

Q: How many Kobolds can a naked 20th level fighter with an ordinary sword defeat?
A: Lots. Lots and lots and lots.

It is true that in D&D the whole "Challenge Rating" thing assumes "standard" amounts of magical equipment are assumed, but I don't really see how that negates the point that I made.

Quote:
A high point value GURPS character is easily as lethal.
I suppose that depends on what you consider a "high point value".
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Old 05-30-2006, 03:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: What is a good challenge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookman
I respectfully disagree.

Q: How many Kobolds can a naked 20th level fighter with an ordinary sword defeat?
A: Lots. Lots and lots and lots.
Assuming kobolds with slings (1d4) and that the 20th level fighter has a total AC of 12 and 150 hit points, the kobolds need to hit him about 60 times. We'll give him Expertise as well, so his effective AC is 17. A level 1 kobold warrior has an attack bonus of +3 with a sling, and thus needs 14+ to hit (35%) for an average of .875 damage/rd/kobold.

We will put him up against 30 kobolds. We will assume they are reasonably intelligent, and thus somewhat dispersed, so the fighter only kills two per round. We will give the fighter first attack.

Before dying, the kobolds get 28+26+24+22+20+18+16+14+12+10+8+6+4+2 attacks, or 182 attacks, for a total of, on average, 159 damage.

If you prefer melee attackers, kobolds are obviously inferior, let's go with humans. Humans Warrior-1s with long spears do 1d8+1 with an attack bonus of, likely, +3 (assume attack focus). Their ideal dispersal results in 16 of them being able to attack at once, and the fighters gets to kill 3. If that happens, of course, the fighter is flanked, and he's taking 40+ damage per round.

Quote:
I suppose that depends on what you consider a "high point value".
For a 20th level fighter? 500-1000.
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Old 05-30-2006, 04:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: What is a good challenge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony
For a 20th level fighter? 500-1000.
Zowie. Hrm. I wonder what one could do with (say) a 750point warrior build like that.

the important things, I'd think are

1. some sort of protection from criticals. This is what can end a fight on an otherwise impervious foe

2. Some soft of protection from flanking/rear hex attacks. Dancing shield(s)? Dancing weapons?

3. Any sort of thing that would allow you to dispatch more than one opponent in a round.
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