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restlesshead
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed 10 Jul 2019, 01:33
Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Estimating encounter or adventure site difficulty?

Wed 10 Jul 2019, 01:41

Is there a rough guide or formula for estimating how difficult a combat encounter will be for a group of characters of a particular size/experience?

I understand that the purpose of the game is not to present players with challenges tailored to their ability. I want my players to epxerience encounters that range in difficulty (including some that they must flee from if they are to survive). That said... As the GM, I want to have a rough idea of what they are getting in to, and it would be nice to know if an adventure site I've created is likely to kill them all or not (or worse, be too easy).
 
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faun
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu 23 May 2019, 20:02
Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Re: Estimating encounter or adventure site difficulty?

Wed 10 Jul 2019, 04:23

you'll probably get different answers from anyone you ask. Here are some thoughts I had but only because you asked.
I like to be surprised as a GM at the creativity of the players. I had encouraged the character creation rule on page 33. 
Every talent has three ranks. You normally
start the game with rank 1 in each talent, but
you can choose to forgo one general talent for
starting the game with rank 2 in another.
This gave us some crazy ass beginning characters. Blood Mage Wizards that can bind demons, druids that can do amazing damage, fighters who can do horrendous damage by ignoring the armor, Death Mage wizards who can stop the beating heart of a strong foe, minstrels whos warcry removed nearly all the dice from their opponents. 
Also many of the group were prepared because they had played other OSR games and knew that avoiding and encounter was a success conclusion to an encounter. A lesson DnD groups will learn if given a chance.
When I developed the pre planned things *(I do less of that now then I did at first) I found that having a WP pool for the humanoid opponents was a great equalizer. By having a warrior on the opponents side with a Rank 2 Path talent almost always made him the target as soon as I called out using it, plus the looks on the characters faces was priceless. I also found that monsters should be the same strength total as the group /2 for a strong battle, /1 for a very hard battle, x2 an impossible battle. those are only a rule of thumb, a group of whiners only have str 1, but they have no problem letting a tunnel collapse on the group if they want to kill them. I freed myself from thinking like that when they bound my first demon, now I don't nerf any longer.The random encounters also are really well done, so I am trying to mimic that style on the fly with adjustment. I also like to reskin creature codex or other games monsters so that has been a blast.
i feel that part of the problem with DnD is all the meta gaming, CR control, testing trials, and such that says as a player if I see something charge because it is a battle I can win if I'm decisive and we combat well, if we run we don't get xp or gold so never retreat, never surrender. This makes me sad...
 
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restlesshead
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed 10 Jul 2019, 01:33
Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Re: Estimating encounter or adventure site difficulty?

Wed 10 Jul 2019, 16:49

Thanks Faun, that all fits with what I was expecting... just having a rough guide of how foe's Strength translates into effort is good.

p.s. - Thanks for the fun game at GoPlayNW (assuming that was you)! Where did you find those alternate character sheets?
 
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faun
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu 23 May 2019, 20:02
Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Re: Estimating encounter or adventure site difficulty?

Wed 10 Jul 2019, 18:29

Thanks it was me at GoPlayNW, and I had a great time too. I found a link in someone's bio and they posted a link to their folder, not sure who, but here's the link Reconfigured Character Sheet
 
SpandexAndy
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed 31 Jul 2019, 19:12

Re: Estimating encounter or adventure site difficulty?

Mon 05 Aug 2019, 09:34

Perhaps what is missing is a way for the players to gauge the strength of a monster. I do a lot of reskinning of monsters. So when I describe a scaly creature salivating acid and shambling, the players don't know if I am describing a reskinned troll or a reskinned minotaur. There is a big difference in difficulty between those creatures.

I know some people would be very opposed to this, because of the meta gaming and the fact it momentarily breaks the immersion ... but I'd be happy, with a suitable Scouting check, to let the player ask me 2 questions from a list like this:
What is its Strength?
What is its Armor?
What is its Agility?
Describe one unusual power of this creature?

Then they can judge for themselves what they are getting into. It gives them info to work with. Rather than waiting for the first attack to land and the players to look at each other and say, "Well shit, this is going to be a lot harder than we thought." Their characters are experienced adventurers in a world where monsters are real - they should be able to gauge the relative strength of monsters.
 
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Ebrim
Posts: 116
Joined: Tue 30 Jul 2019, 22:51

Re: Estimating encounter or adventure site difficulty?

Fri 09 Aug 2019, 04:12

Perhaps what is missing is a way for the players to gauge the strength of a monster. I do a lot of reskinning of monsters. So when I describe a scaly creature salivating acid and shambling, the players don't know if I am describing a reskinned troll or a reskinned minotaur. There is a big difference in difficulty between those creatures.

I know some people would be very opposed to this, because of the meta gaming and the fact it momentarily breaks the immersion ... but I'd be happy, with a suitable Scouting check, to let the player ask me 2 questions from a list like this:
What is its Strength?
What is its Armor?
What is its Agility?
Describe one unusual power of this creature?

Then they can judge for themselves what they are getting into. It gives them info to work with. Rather than waiting for the first attack to land and the players to look at each other and say, "Well shit, this is going to be a lot harder than we thought." Their characters are experienced adventurers in a world where monsters are real - they should be able to gauge the relative strength of monsters.
Are they experienced? Have they fought a troll before? Probably not unless in your game they have fought a troll. Maybe they've heard stories but stories can be pretty misleading - it's a fun use for lore though. :)
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