From: "Kevin Wilson"
Subject: [GM-7thSea] How to Build a Villain, Lesson 1: Timing a Villain
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 14:08:45 -0700
Ok, some folks sound like they're having trouble building Villains
that are challenging, but not deadly. Here's a crash course, with some
light statistics involved.
Lesson 1: Timing a Villain
When I send a Villain at my Heroes, I know how long he or she will
last in combat and how much damage they'll dish out in that time. At
least, I know the most LIKELY answer to these two questions,
barring a Hero dropping all his XP in a berserker frenzy, or the like.
I do this by figuring out how often the Heroes will hit him, and how
often their hits will do damage. That answers how long he'll last when
I take into account the # of Heroes.
Then, I work out how often he'll hit the Heroes, multiplied by how
long he'll last, and that gives me how much damage he'll do to the
group.
Now, remember, I'm speaking in vague statistical terms here. When I
say "The Villain will last 3 Rounds before being beaten." I mean,
"AROUND 3 Rounds".
Now, here's how I do this:
[Quick and dirty math follows. If you want to cut to the chase, or don't
know what the heck I'm blabbering about here, skip down to the ***'s]
------
First, a quick and dirty look at how tough TNs are to hit...
A Hero will be able to hit a TN of 5 pretty easily for every point in his
Trait.
Thus, a Finesse 3 can pretty much always hit a 15. A challenging TN is
about 7-8 per Trait point, so a medium Finesse 3 roll would be a TN 25.
Mind you, with Drama dice, Knacks, and Free Raises, that can inflate
things upwards, sometimes dramatically if a Knack is high enough, but
this is a reasonable estimate to start with.
Below is a quick chart. Easy will be hit most of the time, medium a fair
amount of the time, and hard, well, some of the time.
Trait
Difficulty 1 2 3 4 5
Easy 5 10 15 20 25
Medium 7-8 15 20-25 30 35-40
Hard 10 20 30 40 50
------
Now to figure out how long the Villain will last....
Most starting 100 HP Heroes I have seen start with a 2 Finesse and a 3
Attack Knack, for 5k2. It is safe to say that this will hit a TN 10 pretty
much
all of the time, a TN 15 a lot of the time, and a TN 20 a bit less than
half
of the time (the Hero needs an exploding 10 to succeed, which happens
50% of the time when rolling 5 dice). A TN 25 is pretty hard for this Hero
to hit,
since even with an exploding 10, the 10 reroll + the highest other die must
add
up to 15. (a 6 on the re-roll at least, which, in that instance, reduces
your odds
to a mere 25% chance of success or so. The real odds of success are likely
closer to 15-20%.)
When you factor in the usual 2 Panache, a TN 25 means each hero will hit
the Villain once every other Round or so (generally speaking).
------
Now to determine how much damage the Villain will do...
Most Heroes I've seen get 3's in their important Defense Knacks, for a TN
of 20. I want the Villain to hit them fairly reliably, so I'll give him a
Finesse
of 3, and a Panache of 2. About 3/4 of his attacks are going to hit, so
he'll
hit 3 times every 2 Rounds. This lets him hit the Heroes once or twice a
turn, dishing out 4k2 damage (typically about 10-17 Flesh Wounds, which
a Hero with a 2 Brawn can usually shrug off once, but not twice.)
I'll give him a Brawn of 2, so, if 1/2 of his Hits do a Dramatic Wound, and
he
gets 3/2 Hits per Round, then he'll inflict 3 Dramatic Wounds every 4
Rounds.
------ *** ------
So, in conclusion, to time my Villain...
In order to have a challenging, but not terribly lethal Villain, (versus
Heroes
with 2's in their Traits) I give him a TN of 25, a Finesse of 3, and a
Brawn
and Panache of 2.
To Sum the Reasoning up:
The Heroes can hit the Villain every other Round, probably inflicting
a Dramatic Wound every other hit (1 Dramatic Wound / 4 Hero Rounds).
The Villain can hit the Heroes 1-2 times per Round, inflicting a Dramatic
Wound every other hit (3 Dramatic Wounds / 4 Villain Rounds)
It is now possible to 'time' the combat by adjusting the Villain's Resolve.
(This is the amount of time before the Villain becomes Crippled, on
average.)
Resolve 1: 4 Rounds / # Heroes
Resolve 2: 8 Rounds / # Heroes
Resolve 3: 12 Rounds / # Heroes
Resolve 4: 16 Rounds / # Heroes
Resolve 5: 20 Rounds / # Heroes
etc.
If I have 4 Heroes in my campaign, and I want the fight to last about 4
Rounds (inflicting 3 Dramatic Wounds to the Heroes, remember the 3/4
ratio) then I give the Villain a Resolve of 4. After that, the Villain will
be
crippled and will want to flee, since his hit rolls will suck somewhat more
than usual.
Mind you, that's if the Villain is alone. If he has Brutes and maybe a
Henchman, I'd probably bump his Finesse down by 1 to reduce the
amount of punishment he dishes out. (He'll hit 1/2 the time, for a 1/2
ratio of Dramatic Wounds...ie, he'd inflict 2 Dramatic Wounds by
himself in the 4 Round combat mentioned above.
So, at the end of Lesson 1, we have good starting Traits and Defense
Knacks for the Villain:
Brawn: 2
Finesse: 3
Wits: 2 (arbitrarily assigned, I've built his defense into him. If I want
him to
parry more, I'll lower his TN and raise his Panache and Wits. It's
all a style thing.)
Resolve: 4
Panache: 2
TN: 25 (Ie, a 4 in Parry, Footwork, and maybe Balance. If the Heroes get
him into a bad situation through ingenuity, let it go down to about
a 15, but if they try to rules-monger you, keep it at 25.)
-----
Let me reiterate one last time, these are approximations, and don't reflect
the endless ingenuity of players, nor do they reflect exact statistics.
It's
just a starting point, and is meant to show you that it's possible to
always
build a Villain who is a challenge, but not lethal, no matter how 'weak'
the
starting characters might seem.
Lesson 2 will discuss Stupid Knack Tricks.
--
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