View Full Version : appropriate difficulty for point-based systems?

2009-02-08, 11:11 AM
So, I've been a big fan of the BESM system and GURPS, mostly because of the flexibility that you can do in character creation. I've never actually had a chance to run these systems however, mostly because of the fact that my group is unfamiliar with the roll-under and point based creation. I picked up the BESM 3rd edition PDF file, and overall I liked the changes to the system.

I've been planning to strip the anime flavor out of it and go with an urban fantasy or cyberpunk setting, but I've been hitting a snag in my first round of playtesting with another friend for the combat sections: I'm having a very difficult time deciding benchmarks for what is an easy/medium/hard enemy. I'm mostly trying to do a generic template for each enemy, and then do some minor tweaking depending on the situation/response to player actions.

Now, BESM (mercifully) gives a general idea of player benchmarks, so I've got a good idea of where the players will be strength wise. For point based systems, does anybody have any tips for making appropriate combat challenges?

2009-02-08, 11:20 AM
Well, if you have actual players, start with easy enemies and bump the difficulty. When they start struggling, that's where you want them to be.

2009-02-08, 11:40 AM
Either have enemies with similar amounts of combat dedicated points as a group, or just eyeball it. I'm personally a fan of the second method. You might want to try Fudge or Fate first though, since its granular enough to make getting the difficulty down easier (although Fate is a bit overboard for just this, but it has stunts and aspects which can be swiped).

2009-02-08, 02:55 PM
With point based-systems, all you can really do is eyeball it. You can do the math and see if the PCs can take on what you have planned, but as anyone who's ever run a game will tell you, it's EXTREMELY unlikely that the players will do exactly what you expect them to do, so that work may (and probably will) be pointless.

You'll probably have to fudge the enemy stats for the first few encoutners, at least, until you can get a feel for what the PCs are capable of, unless you've designed those combats to be formalities (e.g. one side has no chance unless they become Dice Gods). It happened to me a couple times while I was running a BESM game last summer.

2009-02-08, 03:21 PM
Only level-based systems have "encounter balance." In most other systems, you need to use some sort of status quo -system. In RuneQuest, if my players want to go up against a Rune Lord, he's going to have Rune Lord level skills - skills over 90%, dozens of points of magic, iron armor, etc., along with a host of followers. If they want to fight a tyrannosaurus, it's going to have tyrannosaurus stats.

It's usually easy enough to eyeball threats, though. Who has the advantage of numbers? Who has better skills? Who has better weapons and armor? Who has stronger magic?

If you want the PCs to face 150% their number of enemies, you should probably make sure their efficiency is one step lower in most respects - armor, weapons, skills, magic...