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bpsalinas
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monsters vs players?

#1 Postby bpsalinas » Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:31 pm

I’m just about ready to run my gaming group through our first ever Savage Worlds game. I’ve got a nice little setting all lined up, some interesting NPCs and plot hooks, and a few nifty little rewards. But I’m stuck on one of the most crucial bits - monsters.

How can I tell how powerful a monster is relative to my PCs? For instance, if I want to use a Zombie from the SW book, how can I be sure I’m not going to totally wipe out the party? All of my RPG experience up to this point is with D20, so I’m used to each creature having a CR that tells me exactly what level player that creature is built for. But there’s nothing like that in SW that I can tell. How do you balance monsters in this system?

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Re: monsters vs players?

#2 Postby jblittlefield » Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:47 pm

bpsalinas wrote:I’m just about ready to run my gaming group through our first ever Savage Worlds game. I’ve got a nice little setting all lined up, some interesting NPCs and plot hooks, and a few nifty little rewards. But I’m stuck on one of the most crucial bits - monsters.

How can I tell how powerful a monster is relative to my PCs? For instance, if I want to use a Zombie from the SW book, how can I be sure I’m not going to totally wipe out the party? All of my RPG experience up to this point is with D20, so I’m used to each creature having a CR that tells me exactly what level player that creature is built for. But there’s nothing like that in SW that I can tell. How do you balance monsters in this system?


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Shark Nibbles #1 (With the roll of a die... -- Damage Ratings) ;)

This idea was originally posted by Clint Black on the PEG Forums. I liked it so much, that I now use it as a quick guideline to determining whether or not the encounters I create will pose a challenge to my players.

Until you become familiar with the way in which Savage Worlds functions as a system, it may be difficult to create encounters appropriate to the experience and power levels of the characters. In order to help out the fledgling GM—or those experienced GMs who are new to the Savage Worlds system—you should try getting a Damage Rating (DR) for your characters. This rating is then compared to the encounter to give a rough idea of the challenge level of your encounter.

To figure the DR, take half the character’s Strength plus the bonus from their "standard" weapon (i.e., the one they use the most). You can average individual DRs to figure out a DR for the group as a whole, then compare the overall DR to their intended opponent’s Toughness:

• If it's equal, then the characters have an edge over an equal number of opponents (Two Extras equal one Wild Card).
• If the Toughness is a point higher, then the fight should be about "even."
• If the Toughness is two points higher, then it will be a tough fight (One opponent for every two characters).
• If it's three points higher, the characters are in trouble (One Opponent for every four characters).

Of course, there are other factors to consider, such as arcane powers, Edges, and Hindrances, but the above method should give you a rough idea of how your players will fare against the things you decide to throw them up against.
Last edited by jblittlefield on Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#3 Postby RuneStriker » Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:49 pm

Check out the "with the roll of a die" column in Shark Nibbles #1 for the answer to your question.

http://www.sharkbytes.info/subpages/nibbles/Jan05_SharkNibbles1.pdf

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#4 Postby jblittlefield » Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:51 pm

SwampStalker wrote:Check out the "with the roll of a die" column in Shark Nibbles #1 for the answer to your question.

http://www.sharkbytes.info/subpages/nibbles/Jan05_SharkNibbles1.pdf


Or just read my post ... ;)

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#5 Postby RuneStriker » Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:59 pm

:x Doh! It wasn't there when I hit the reply button. Damn you JB, I should have known you were lurking, but I figured I might save you the effort.

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#6 Postby jblittlefield » Mon Feb 28, 2005 1:03 pm

SwampStalker wrote::x Doh! It wasn't there when I hit the reply button. Damn you JB, I should have known you were lurking, but I figured I might save you the effort.


Some people use automatic bidders on eBay to snipe the last second bid... I use it for posting replies... :twisted: :wink: :arrow:

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#7 Postby Clint » Mon Feb 28, 2005 1:08 pm

Just a quick note...

Orcs in SW are tough. Like Lord of the Rings Uruk-Hai tough. There have been a couple of instances where beginning GM's assumed a group of orcs with a shaman versus Novice PC's would be an equal fight.

The results were... enlightening. :o

Goblins are a good Novice Rank challenge, maybe with a single Orc leader. A group of orcs with a shaman... not so much. :wink:

Just wanted to put that warning out there.
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#8 Postby Bill » Mon Feb 28, 2005 1:31 pm

Don't forget that fights in SW can be deadly no matter who the "weak" creature may be due to the posibility of aceing the hit and damage. Even a weak Goblin that gets surprise (and possibly "The Drop") can put a legendary character DOWN with a high enough damage roll.

SW experience is NOT based on the trail of bodies you leave thus you can have more intelligent encounters, both ways!

If you have a weak encounter (say one goblin extra per character) have the goblins use tricks and good tactics (gang up if possible) against the heroes to show them that even these "easy" monsters are not pushovers in SW. Teach them the value of good tactics so they don't go the wade in and swing route, only to die :twisted:
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#9 Postby charliebananas » Mon Feb 28, 2005 2:54 pm

Tell me about it. The first week i ran savage cthulhupunk, my players came up against a small group of zombies, and instead of trying to out pace them, they went toe to toe, needless to say, the only character in the group with arcane background, ended up wearing a toe tag! :roll:

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#10 Postby Simon » Mon Feb 28, 2005 3:25 pm

On the other hand, an unbalanced fight in SW is usually not as deadly as in d20. With a very steep power curve, d20 fights that outclass the PCs almost always get someone killed. In SW, the PCs are likely to have a bit longer to figure out the fight's too tough, and get out of there.

Of course, there's always that goblin that rolls half a dozen aces.

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#11 Postby SlasherEpoch » Mon Feb 28, 2005 5:00 pm

In my experience, a Wild Card villain with a couple of Edges, some decent armor, and d10 Fighting and Strength can hold an entire party at bay if you think before acting a little bit.

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#12 Postby jblittlefield » Mon Feb 28, 2005 5:08 pm

SlasherEpoch wrote:In my experience, a Wild Card villain with a couple of Edges, some decent armor, and d10 Fighting and Strength can hold an entire party at bay if you think before acting a little bit.


Only if the party doesn't think ...

IME, the hardest thing to overcome is Toughness 14+ ... ;)

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#13 Postby Wiggy » Mon Feb 28, 2005 6:09 pm

SlasherEpoch wrote:In my experience, a Wild Card villain with a couple of Edges, some decent armor, and d10 Fighting and Strength can hold an entire party at bay if you think before acting a little bit.


I thought that playing Rippers. Big bad-ass werewolf already to rip some characters to death. Round one - player fires impaler withsilver bolt. 44 points of damage later the adventure is over.

Works both ways though. A coassack hit a player with a 2d8 rifle for over 30 poitsn of damage.

With dice involved, nothing is guaranteed.


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#14 Postby strongbif » Mon Feb 28, 2005 6:56 pm

I like the idea of a danger rating, but how should I handle a setting where most of the combat happens with ranged weapons (Bureau 13 for my group)?

Does half of strength and damage modifier really apply anymore?

I was thinking of applying the average damage of the firearms used to get the danger rating, but that pretty much always comes to 7. :roll:

I kicked around the idea of halving shooting skill and adding some sort of number based on firearms effectiveness, but I'm really too inexperienced to know just how to go about it.

Has anyone come up with a workable quick and dirty "dangerousness" estimate for ranged combat-heavy settings?
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#15 Postby Clint » Mon Feb 28, 2005 7:39 pm

Actually, you hit the nail on the head. There was an add-on to the above that basically said, use the average damage (disregarding acing) of ranged attacks for characters who depend on those.

For a mage with bolt, who can fire off a 2 or 3d6 version, you can average the damage of both for a 9, but that is more dependent on the player.

Hope this helps!
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#16 Postby Bill » Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:23 am

I think it was Clint who reminded me of this. Since damage aces if you are figuring average scores bump the result up by one point per dice. Thus a 2d6 shot would "average" 9 points with aces allowed. Still, with danger ratings ignoring the aces is probably a better idea :)
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#17 Postby sagaston » Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:16 am

Alternately, just set up the story in an interesting way and put a reasonable number of monsters for the situation. Just be sure to warn the players that they shouldn't expect to have a reasonable chance of taking on every bad guy they find.

Then don't worry about it.

If 2 zombies are guarding the gates, the PCs should make quick work of them. If they sneak into the Orc Encampment and come across 50+ Orcs, they'll have to be smart enough not to get into a fight.
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#18 Postby Clint » Tue Mar 01, 2005 10:06 am

Bill wrote:I think it was Clint who reminded me of this. Since damage aces if you are figuring average scores bump the result up by one point per dice. Thus a 2d6 shot would "average" 9 points with aces allowed. Still, with danger ratings ignoring the aces is probably a better idea :)


Actually, the "danger rating" system was specifically designed without having to average based on aces.

That's kind of why I didn't mention "average" when figuring melee damage and why I said "disregarding acing" when figuring the average for ranged attacks. :wink:
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#19 Postby Clint » Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:54 pm

Since I was asked, I thought I'd update my old recommendation above...

Until you become familiar with the way in which Savage Worlds functions as a system, it may be tricky to detemine if an encounter is appropriate to the abilities of the characters. To get a rough estimation, you can try getting a Damage Rating (DR) for your PCs. This rating is then compared to the encounter to give a general idea of how challenging an encounter may be.

Keep in mind though, no combat is guaranteed in SW; there is always a risk (as there should be in any dangerous situation) no matter what the capability of the opponent. Remember your "ace in the hole," bennies; the GM can adjust the flow of any encounter by the rate with which bennies are handed out to the players. To continue...

To figure the DR, take half the character’s "standard" damage dice (adding in any bonuses). For melee this would be half their typical weapon (i.e., the one they use the most) die and Strength die (a d10 Strength characer who usually uses a d8 longsword would have a 5+4=9). For ranged weapons, it would just be half the damage dice for the weapon (a 2d8+1 assault rifle would have a 4+4+1=9).

For variable damages, it's typically best to go with the maximum. A bolt can do 2d6 or 3d6 damage and a shotgun can vary from 1d6-3d6; in both cases, the DR would be figured off the maximum 3d6 value.

Then the GM can average individual DRs to figure out a DR for the group as a whole, comparing the overall DR to their intended opponent’s Toughness:

• If it's equal, then the characters have an edge over an equal number of opponents.
• If the Toughness is a point higher, then the fight should be about "even."
• If the Toughness is two points higher, then it will be a tough fight (One opponent for every two characters).
• If it's three points higher, the characters are in trouble (One Opponent for every four characters).

For purposes of this comparison, the opponents are figured to be Wild Cards as well, and for Extras, it should be considered that two are about equal one Wild Card.

Of course, there are other factors to consider, such as arcane powers, Edges, and Hindrances, but the above method should give you a rough idea of how your players will fare against the things you decide to throw them up against long enough to get a feel for the system.
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