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Old 07-18-2010, 09:09 PM   #1
OddGamer
 
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Default Combat balance?

A friend of mine is looking into creating a new world and is thus considering systems in which to run adventures in said world. The two under consideration are GURPS and the d20 system (well, the OGL system, you know what I mean).

The main attraction for the d20 system is balance (combat balance). My friend can go into the Monster Manual, pull out a ready-made creature, modify it slightly, and then have a fair idea of how tough it is because of the CR (creature rating) for said creature (the level a group of four would likely need to be to take on one of them, if I'm not mistaken, d20 isn't my forte).

The problem with GURPS is thus: How do you figure out if a given creature X is appropriate in difficulty for player/party Y? Is there such a method? Does anyone know how accurate/reliable the CR ratings from the d20 system are?

Thanks for your input.
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Old 07-18-2010, 09:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Combat balance?

Quote:
The main attraction for the d20 system is balance (combat balance). My friend can go into the Monster Manual, pull out a ready-made creature, modify it slightly, and then have a fair idea of how tough it is because of the CR (creature rating) for said creature (the level a group of four would likely need to be to take on one of them, if I'm not mistaken, d20 isn't my forte).
Maybe, kind of. Sometimes. There's all sorts of flaws and inaccuracies with the 3.5 CR system. And stats from one d20 RPG that use the CR system (say, D&D3.5) and another (maybe d20 modern) are inconsistent anyway, due to having different assumptions as to what PCs look like in the respective games
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Old 07-18-2010, 09:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: Combat balance?

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Originally Posted by OddGamer View Post
modify it slightly,
"Slightly" is a severe understatement, IME. Between Hit Dice, Monster Levels, Templates, and Class Levels (not to mention the number of monsters encountered) this can take hours per encounter.

Quote:
The problem with GURPS is thus: How do you figure out if a given creature X is appropriate in difficulty for player/party Y? Is there such a method? Does anyone know how accurate/reliable the CR ratings from the d20 system are?
I addressed these questions here, recently.
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Old 07-18-2010, 09:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: Combat balance?

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Originally Posted by OddGamer View Post
The problem with GURPS is thus: How do you figure out if a given creature X is appropriate in difficulty for player/party Y? Is there such a method?
Nymdok has developed a method for balancing combat encounters (that should be stickied or something since people keep asking this question) but it isn't as easy as looking at a CR rating.

http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=63693 [melee]
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=68760 [combat matrix]
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=69532 [worked example]

One trap to not fall into is the idea that point totals equate with combat ability. The standard example being that while a 500 accountant can collate spreadsheets in ways you can't imagine he'd lose in a fight against a 25 point thug.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OddGamer View Post
Does anyone know how accurate/reliable the CR ratings from the d20 system are?
AFAIK, they fall apart with parties of the wrong size or that use an unexpected mix of classes. At least that was what tended to happen with CR in D&D.
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Old 07-18-2010, 09:28 PM   #5
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Default Re: Combat balance?

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Originally Posted by lexington View Post
AFAIK, they fall apart with parties of the wrong size or that use an unexpected mix of classes. At least that was what tended to happen with CR in D&D.
it also false a part when the CR in the monster manual is wrong... like say the Oger... it his a lot harder than it's if you follow the CR chat for it, it will one shot
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Old 07-18-2010, 11:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: Combat balance?

The reason why you can "balance" D&D, is because character creation is very limited and the party assumes 4 players one of each major class type.

GURPS gives you freedom. That includes the freedom to have 4 PCs, none of whom have any combat skills at all...but who are really good at sneaking and fast talk.

I think everybody has their own method of judging combat difficulty. Dungeon Fantasy 2 has some tips from Kromm...of course, DF tends to have some very similar base assumptions to D&D.

I personally tend to thing the best thing to do is look at the character sheets of the PCs. She where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Run some practice combats by yourself with the PC character sheets and your possible NPCs. Run some practice combats with the actual players to see how they fight together (bad tactics can sink a group of powerful PCs...good tactics can save a group of weak PCs).

Then adjust.

Because GURPS is surprisingly simple...this isn't too hard to do.

You don't need much more for an NPC than:

Thug. Leather Armor DR2. ST/HP 12. DX 11. IQ 9. HT/FP 10. Broadsword-14. 1d cr (thr) 1d+3cut (sw). Parry: 10. Speed: 5.25. Move: 5. Dodge: 8.

(I did all of that in my head, except for the Broadsword damage).

Now this thug would probably would be really easy versus a PC with heavy armor...or a really defenses...or really great skills. The Thug might be way too hard for those PCs with very few combat skills. Might be way too easy for a mind control sort.

Try it out...see how it goes. If the thugs don't do enough damage...up their strength a point or two. If the thugs can't get through the PCs defenses...add a few more thugs, which forces multiple defense checks and limits the utility of retreat. These things are really quick to adjust. They can be adjusted in the middle of a campaign. Start with people you think would be easy and then turn the knobs as you go.
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Old 07-18-2010, 11:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: Combat balance?

My D&D GMs laughed when I brought up this same point. They still wind up having to modify the encounters, beefing up the monsters or pulling their punches to avoid a TPK. I can recall a couple of encounters where they added 50% more monsters to make it an even fight, and another where they had to play dumb so the dragon didn't wipe the six characters in the party. Approximate to within a factor of 1.5 isn't really more precise than you can get just by looking at the combat stats in GURPS. Either way, it takes knowledge of the system and experience to generate a balanced encounter for your group.
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Old 07-19-2010, 12:02 AM   #8
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Default Re: Combat balance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lexington View Post
Nymdok has developed a method for balancing combat encounters (that should be stickied or something since people keep asking this question) but it isn't as easy as looking at a CR rating.

http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=63693 [melee]
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=68760 [combat matrix]
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=69532 [worked example]

One trap to not fall into is the idea that point totals equate with combat ability. The standard example being that while a 500 accountant can collate spreadsheets in ways you can't imagine he'd lose in a fight against a 25 point thug.
I also offer this thread.
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=71254 Attack and Defense notation.

Its true, the method that Ive devised is not as easy as CR (or so Im told, I havent played (A)D&D since Unearthed Arcana and the Masters Set). As GURPS has no charachter levels or classes, it cant be.

It has however given pretty reliable 'ballpark' numbers to those who have used it.

As always, if you do use it, feel free to contact me by PM or email and let me know how it worked for you.

Nymdok
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Old 07-19-2010, 01:31 AM   #9
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Default Re: Combat balance?

For the said purpose, using Nymdoks approach, I created a speadsheet that should do the math for you to create balanced combat encounters easily most of the time. Please see Melee Combat Balancer.
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Old 07-19-2010, 05:23 AM   #10
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Default Re: Combat balance?

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Originally Posted by trooper6 View Post
GURPS gives you freedom. That includes the freedom to have 4 PCs, none of whom have any combat skills at all...but who are really good at sneaking and fast talk.
GURPS also gives immense freedom in combat options. In Dungeons and Dragons you might outmaneuver your enemy, get behind them, and deliver a few more hit points damage than expected over a round or two.

In GURPS if you get behind your enemy you can bypass his defenses to deliver a lethal blow. The GMs carefully planned edgy sword play ranging all over the battlefield turns into a single hit kill thanks to clever play.

If you want predictable combat play DnD, if you want player choices making the difference between life and death play GURPS.
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