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Author Topic: Building a campaign: relative power levels
drl2
Street-Level Hero
Posts: 2
Post Building a campaign: relative power levels
on: August 9, 2018, 20:49

After having been away from the dice-and-paper gaming world since... well... let's just say that the last time I ran an RPG session, I'm pretty sure there were still people wearing parachute pants un-ironically... I've started an MP campaign among some family members who have been expressing interest.

So you might say I'm a little out of practice (in general, and in an MP-specific context) at putting together a session with a reasonable amount of challenge for the players. I read somewhere recently that a good rule of thumb is that a 20 CP difference between characters represents approximately a doubling in power, which is a helpful thing to know but seems to be only a small part of the picture.

We've started a campaign at the "low" (100CP) power level, and for the first session the characters encountered a crowd of henchmen who were on the verge of assaulting a group of civilians. The henches were randomly built "normals" (50CP), sprinkling them with an assortment of clubs, knives, and a firearm or two from the examples under Special Weapons. The characters were significantly outnumbered, so just in case things went badly I rolled up an NPC with a few extra CP of experience who could show up and help out if needed.

But he wasn't needed, and the PCs plowed through the opposition pretty easily (partly through the magic of an area-effect grapnel).

Next session I gave my henchmen smaller numbers but 70ish CP - amounting to a little armor and a blaster rifle for each - and a 100-CP leader along the same mold as the henchmen but with better stats. This was a bit more challenging, but still on the easy side. After the battle against this group, and being down a little on hits & power, they encountered another (100CP) villain who got surprise on them and lobbed an area-effect acid attack that knocked out all but one of them. (At this point, I had to pull out the unused PC from the first session.)

So I guess I'm looking for guidelines on balance - anybody have any other useful general rules of thumb for keeping things not-too-hard, not-too-easy?

Majestic
Cosmic Superhero
Posts: 3397
Post Re: Building a campaign: relative power levels
on: August 9, 2018, 21:49

It sounds like you're on the right path, and the best thing for getting that feel is trial and error. It's hard to throw out any specifics, as each PC is so different (not to mention each team), and the powers (though much more balanced in this version) affect things so differently.

Generally speaking, with such low-powered heroes, you'll probably end up taxing and challenging them more by throwing them up against a single villain that's significantly more powerful than they are. You want to be careful with this, of course, but in general the PCs in a team are far more than the sum of their parts, as they'll work together and there's X number of them and only one of you (running the villains).

It sounds like your first few sessions have gone pretty well, though, and hopefully your players are having fun as well.

V&V GM and player since 1982 (my current campaign is 22 years old); also run West End Games d6 Star Wars monthly, as well as the occasional The One Ring and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game

celestiale-
ditor
High-Powered Superhero
Posts: 99
Post Re: Building a campaign: relative power levels
on: August 10, 2018, 10:08

Balance is wonky and challenging. I played D&D at a convention once with the designer of the adventure, and our party of 1st and 2nd level charactera completely destroyed the climax battle that had nearly TPKed the game before us.

One of the advantages to using "mooks" and "minions" is that it becomes easy to "load balance" on the fly, as some might collapse easily (of the PCs are hacing trouble), or more might arrive as reinforcements (if the PCs are having too easy a time).

The dice will also play hod with balance, as the dice sizes are fairly small, and low rolls are common (which even a little Protection can completely ignore), but high rolls are just as common, and a few high rolls in sequence can have a shocking knock-down effect.

Majestic
Cosmic Superhero
Posts: 3397
Post Re: Building a campaign: relative power levels
on: August 10, 2018, 13:09

I will add, as somebody who has been running (and playing) a bunch of 5E D&D lately, that there's less concern with MP about accidentally killing off PCs at really low levels. In D&D a 'crit' (with an unlucky die roll by an adversary) can simply overwhelm a PC. V&V's crit system adds a lot of flavor and fun without this chance of an accidental kill of a new character.

V&V GM and player since 1982 (my current campaign is 22 years old); also run West End Games d6 Star Wars monthly, as well as the occasional The One Ring and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game

Hireling
High-Powered Superhero
Posts: 55
Post Re: Building a campaign: relative power levels
on: August 12, 2018, 22:39

Also, encourage them to fight Defensively, use cover, hold actions, do coordinated attacks, etc. These tactics can tip a fight in favor of a weaker group that is facing a larger single foe.

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