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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Feng Shui: Scaling Enemies

I have run 3 combats using Feng Shui 2 rules --  a mook fight, a Named fight and a Boss fight -- and here are my thoughts on scaling NPC stats to match PCs.
Mooks
Not only do my players easily chew through 3x their number in mooks, they've done so while also fighting a Featured Foe for each PC. Now, I'm not suggesting that mooks need to have their deadliness increased; they're pretty much designed to be speed bumps and cannon fodder. What I am saying is that since the days of first edition, "3xPCs" has been the standard amount for a challenging encounter and, let me tell you, my players are not challenged by that amount.

At some point when I can't think of anything to run I'm going to have an arena combat session where I throw an improbably number of mooks against them (say, 6x) and see if it's a challenge or not.

Alternately, mooks could be made more challenging by using this table on p.200:

My PCs have an average attack and defense AV of 14, so maybe all my mooks ought to have an Attack of 10? That would also make them more threatening in a fight but still go down pretty easily. I'm going to try this the next fight they have.

By the way, this chart is going to get a workout in the next two entries.

Featured Foes
The rulebook tells you to pick a type of featured foe. Do not do this. This will result in boring fights. 

Instead. make the FF in exactly the same way you would make a player character. Given how character creation in FS2 is archetype based, this isn't at all a chore; your biggest hassle is swapping schticks around to make things interesting. Oh, and make sure your FF has as many schticks as the PCs. 

Invariably, some of you are saying "But what about keeping track of Chi, Fortune or Magic points?" To this I reply:
  1. You're a GM. If you can keep track of how many wounds the NPC has and what shot it's on, you can keep track of their Chi/Magic points. 
  2. I have yet to see a Feng Shui fight take more than 3 sequences, so if you want to just ignore NPC ChiFortMag expenditures, that's perfectly cromulent. 
  3. Remember than gun schticks don't cost any Fortune points, and there are many kung fu paths where the first few schticks do not require Chi. Hell, the entire Path of Wushu requires no Chi expenditures. You could do quite well with a martial artist who only has Hands Without Shadow, Claw of the Tiger, Hammer Punch and Horse Stance. 
Also, be sure to use the chart above to keep Attack and Defense AV parity. 

Bosses
My six players (with only one advancement) went up against three bosses and not only wiped the floor with them in an epic fight*, but did this while 1) suffering no deaths or KOs of their own and 2) while refusing to engage one of the bosses (she was the ghost of a family friend who had been bound against her will to serve a Lotus sorcerer). So yes, bosses definitely need an upgrade. 

First,  make them like player characters, above. Make sure they have advanced like the PCs have, and if you want to give them, say, an extra schitck for each additional PC you expect them to take on, I say go for it; this would be a good place for Foe Schticks. Don't forget the two free schticks that all bosses get. 

Example: Sneezy Teng is built as a Killer, so he gets 5 gun schticks. The PCs have received an advancement from attuning to a Feng Shui site, so he gets another schtick. Then I expect he's easily a match for 2 PCs at once, so I give him an extra schtick. All told, he started the session with 9 schticks. 

Second, use the damn chart, above, to reach parity. 

Third,  use the Boss creation rules on p. 199 to boss-ify them. 

Fourth, if it makes sense, give some bosses body armor. 

Finally, consider (merely consider) allowing Bosses to spend Fortune points to enhance their rolls like PCs. I'm not saying you should do this; but if a fight is going too easily in your players' favor, a boss could always pose dramatically and announce that the kid gloves are off...

Is it possible that this makes bosses too tough? Perhaps. If so, the GM can always over-rule the result of Death Checks and declare that the PCs were defeated and left for dead, but survived. 

Uber-Bosses
I haven't run a combat with one of these.... yet. But I have plans. Oh, I have plans, and I have been learning from previous combats. Muahahahahahh.



* It's worth noting that there were mooks in the fight, but the majority of them had been drawn off by a well-planned distraction on the part of the players. I didn't have any Featured Foes in the fight, because I honestly thought three bosses and a theoretical flood of mooks (fresh waves kept entering the crowded apartment each sequence) would be enough. 

As it turns out, the fight was indeed epic, and adding FFs would have only complicated and confused things IMO. We didn't need more enemies, just higher quality ones. 

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