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Balancing Encounters

posted Jan 04, 2013 03:43:22 by jackpersona42
Any recommendations on this? I'm in the early stages of writing up some more detailed combat examples, and was looking at pitting a few dwarves against a few elves, and wasn't sure if equal number would remotely mean equal power.

So, how do *you* do it?
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7 replies
bluefenix42 said Jan 04, 2013 03:53:52
Equal Action Points means more than equal numbers. 3 characters with 2 action points each can match up nicely against 2 characters with 3 AP each. You also need to consider combat skill - more than about 10% difference in average combat skill between sides is pretty significant. Then there's damage, hit points, and armor to consider, before you even get into how magic affects things.

Overall, "balanced encounters" are something of a myth in a game like this. Rather than aiming for the word "balance", I'd focus on the difference between "hard enough to be exciting" and "too hard/deadly".

For my own group, I've been testing the waters over time and experimenting with different stuff. For a party of 4 players, I tried throwing one or two rather large foes at them for one encounter, about 8 very weak foes for the next one, and a single foe with 6 AP per round for the one after that. Each encounter, I pay attention to how the players approached it, how beat up they were afterwards, and how lucky or unlucky they got. I'm slowly learning what tactics work and don't, but it's in an intuitive way that I can't explain clearly. Besides, your table is going to have a very different experience from mine, no matter what you do.
jackpersona42 said Jan 04, 2013 05:22:44
Yeah, the action point economy was my first assumption, but then I weighed the fact that two elves (3AP) versus three dwarves (2AP) would give the dwarves a significant advantage in total HP. I'd not added anything more than the basic folk magic that the book gives them, so that's roughly similar. The elves have better reach with their long spears, and their longbows have half the load time of crossbows. I guess that probably comes to roughly similar balance. I will give that a shot and see what I get for my trouble.
bluefenix42 said Jan 04, 2013 05:45:37
Sounds like you're thinking it through appropriately. Don't forget terrain and engagement distance either! Longbows may end the fight before it begins if the battle is on an open plain and there's a hundred meters or more to run across, but they'll be much less useful if the fight starts from close range (like if the elves and dwarves stumble across each other in a cave and start fighting from a mere 5 meters apart).
jackpersona42 said Jan 04, 2013 06:15:32
Very true! With moves of 4m and 6m, a 100m distance would take forever to close. No more than 20m separation at start makes much more sense.
Skoll said Jan 04, 2013 10:53:27
As bluefenix implied, experience is everything in this. Considering all the different variables I would say it's impossible to come up with a foolproof formula for a balanced encounter. In addition, you don't necessarily even want to aim for a balanced encounter. Some encounters may be trivial for the characters, while other may force them to retreat licking their wounds. I'd say it's more about balancing the rhythm of the scenario.

So just try out different things, and you'll learn.
RangerDan said Jan 04, 2013 11:05:39
Longbows may end the fight before it begins if the battle is on an open plain and there's a hundred meters or more to run across

Don't be too sure of that. At further than 60 meters out the Elves are at 2 step penalties to hit the Dwarfs (half chance). Up to 20 meters out they're still at only two-thirds chance. Add Passive Blocking from their shields and perhaps Armour and I think the Dwarfs can withstand a lot of arrow fire at longer ranges. It would admittedly take the Dwarfs forever to close the distance, plenty of time for the Elves to withdraw if they want to.
In melee I'd give the edge to the Dwarfs, especially if they brought their Great Hammers, for which the Elfs have no easy answer.

EDIT: Also, what Skoll said. Combat in RQ is less "mathematical" and predictable than level-based systems. The circumstances of the fight make a big difference.
[Last edited Jan 04, 2013 11:12:01]
jackpersona42 said Jan 04, 2013 18:51:17
All that time that the dwarves will take to close the range will give the elves a chance to aim, though, reducing some of the difficulty, right? I mean, not perfect by any means.

And hopefully the elves brought their long spears along with their bows, so as to keep the dwarven hammers out of reach.
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