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Old 04-17-2013, 07:52 PM   #11
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Default Re: [DF] Solving for N

Quote:
Originally Posted by Faolyn View Post
Anyone know a good way, except via eyeballing, to figure out the methods used in determining N in the DF adventure? I really like the idea and am in the process of making my own random encounter tables.
Many have tried, their broken minds laid waste in the sands of this forum.

Eventually, someone will post a link to a good thread that put a lot of thought and effort into this process. Unfortunately, I don't have the link nor remember enough of its contents to perform a good search.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
Oh, certainly. That's what I do myself. However, within the context of a published adventure which might be purchased by people who didn't want to spend money to be told to make judgement calls, we needed something more precise.
I have no idea how well your N calculator works in actual practice, so all I can personally grant you is an 'A' for aspiration. I know how insurmountable the challenge was designing just that loose guideline. Glad it was included, and you're very right, some people don't like to buy supplements just to be told to wing it. Even those highly-experienced with GURPS, like me. Of course, it doesn't bother some others. You're writing for all types.

I have no idea how the Pathfinder/D20 Challenge Rating works in practice, either. There are complaints, I've read.

However, the point is those respective designers have such a mechanic. We now have something of the equivalent, something sorely lacking until MotFD, what I consider the other, more important half of DFM1. I may never run the adventure, but Lord knows I'm using everything else in the book.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: [DF] Solving for N

One adventure series in D20 (I believe it was the Bluffside series/setting?) had various modifiers to selected encounters.

So, for instance, if you had a multitude of divine-power characters (clerics, paladins), an encounter with undead may end up shifting from zombies to ghouls. Or if you had trap-springer types (rogues, bards), the locks on a door may be masterwork instead of common.

Not every encounter. Not even half of them, IIRC. Still, it gave the DM a chance to make things challenging, and to let the players shine (e.g., the party would have died against the ghouls, but the Turn Undead managed to keep one away long enough to win).
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:03 PM   #13
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Default Re: [DF] Solving for N

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stripe View Post
Many have tried, their broken minds laid waste in the sands of this forum.
It is is a peculiar obsession of Nymdok.
Quote:
Eventually, someone will post a link to a good thread that put a lot of thought and effort into this process. Unfortunately, I don't have the link nor remember enough of its contents to perform a good search.
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=68760
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=73190
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=71254
Counter argument:
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=71271

Quote:
I have no idea how the Pathfinder/D20 Challenge Rating works in practice, either. There are complaints, I've read.
In my experience in 3.5 it worked perfectly at low levels and became progressively more unwieldy and less accurate at higher levels. I eventually ended the campaign early because I was tired of the work that had to go into encounters (one of my personal challenges was to run it "by the book") that weren't actually guaranteed to be "balanced" in any meaningful way.
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:10 PM   #14
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Default Re: [DF] Solving for N

When we started to play D&D for first level characters N Goblins would be a fair encounter, N Orcs tense, and N Gnolls a TPK. By the time we stopped 2N Bugbears, N Ogres, or N/2 Hill Giants were challenging but fair. Player skill is everything.

And D&D is much easier to balance than GURPS. There are no roleplay reasons not to optimise your characters for combat. The largest variable is equipment.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:03 PM   #15
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Default Re: [DF] Solving for N

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
Oh, certainly. That's what I do myself. However, within the context of a published adventure which might be purchased by people who didn't want to spend money to be told to make judgement calls, we needed something more precise.
And I think you gave a fine starting point - I was just noting that you still need to use those basic adjustment tactics to fine tune things, especially when (as the OP is) you are unsure of the right course. Even with the DF templates there is so much variability in party composition and player/GM skill for there to be any "one size fits all" rule in GURPS. So start with N... but keep an option for 2N or 0.5N if your players need more/less challenge.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:33 PM   #16
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Default Re: [DF] Solving for N

Given that N will be variable even for the exact same party depending on the situation, I suspect it's easier to game things out crudely than to try to come up with a formula. You'll miss things the PCs can do, and the PCs might miss things that are obvious to you, but it will get crudely representative results.

Or, you can be old-school and not worry about whether the fights are balanced ;)
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:36 PM   #17
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Default Re: [DF] Solving for N

I know it is absolutely no help to anybody, but in GURPS I just do what makes sense. If enemy troops patrol in platoons then the PCs will encounter platoons. If the rumor is that a family of five trolls live in the cave, there will be five trolls in the cave. If a fight is especially easy or hard for the PCs, I'm not overly concerned as it's the PC's choices that led them there.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:46 PM   #18
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Default Re: [DF] Solving for N

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Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
I know it is absolutely no help to anybody, but in GURPS I just do what makes sense. If enemy troops patrol in platoons then the PCs will encounter platoons. If the rumor is that a family of five trolls live in the cave, there will be five trolls in the cave. If a fight is especially easy or hard for the PCs, I'm not overly concerned as it's the PC's choices that led them there.
This is a really good point. In my experience players usually want their characters to be John McClane. They don't care if you beat on them, shoot them, stab them, whatever as long as they come out "winning" in the end. In fact half the fun of combat seems to be that they get to show how awesome they are and if they get hurt doing it it only adds to the cool factor. The flip side of this is that sometimes PCs want to be able to talk their way out of it. Doing the reverse in either situations only leads to unrest amongst the players.

I've also found that when I plan for a encounter to go pear-shaped (and it does) the players tend to like it even more if they've mostly succeeded in previous combats. After all heroes don't win all the time why should they?
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:21 PM   #19
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Default Re: [DF] Solving for N

Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
I know it is absolutely no help to anybody, but in GURPS I just do what makes sense. If enemy troops patrol in platoons then the PCs will encounter platoons. If the rumor is that a family of five trolls live in the cave, there will be five trolls in the cave. If a fight is especially easy or hard for the PCs, I'm not overly concerned as it's the PC's choices that led them there.
This is generally the best policy. If you're designing a DF dungeon, it should be "how it is" and make sense. If it's a party of thief-types going into a trap haven, well, that makes sense. But if the same party hears about a dungeon with tough monsters and magical opposition, they had better recruit some appropriate help. If they don't, tough. Or if they don't do their research and get hosed? Tough. So long as they KNOW going in that this is a possibility, and so long as they're not railroaded into death, and/or there is a way to succeed.

It's way more fun to occasionally decide "heck, this is beyond us -- let's sell the info and do something better with our time". I've had parties in and out of DF style games do this. Fine by me. It's more interesting and leads to good roleplaying possibilities.

Also, when you're running a campaign in a point buy system, or even a level system with lots of choices at higher levels, the characters diverge enough that gauging encounter difficulty becomes more and more of an art than a science. So N becomes "fuzzier" in general the more choices PCs have to choose from. In practice, even with templates, this happens immediately in GURPS, but will happen eventually in any system that grants lots of choices to characters as they advance.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:13 PM   #20
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Default Re: [DF] Solving for N

Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
I know it is absolutely no help to anybody, but in GURPS I just do what makes sense. If enemy troops patrol in platoons then the PCs will encounter platoons. If the rumor is that a family of five trolls live in the cave, there will be five trolls in the cave. If a fight is especially easy or hard for the PCs, I'm not overly concerned as it's the PC's choices that led them there.
That's reasonable for a sandbox game, but for a prepared adventure, it should be designed so the characters expected to play the adventure can reasonably succeed, without too much time-wasting extraneous stuff. That means that expected fights should be beatable and shouldn't feel like a waste of time (this doesn't mean all fights have to be challenging, but there should be a reason to play out the fight, rather than declaring that the PCs win).
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