November 11, 2012

Enemy Mine

A long while ago when I first talked about enemy design I brought up how the priority there is always simplicity. GMs have a lot to do already, making the creation of every single enemy a long and arduous process is only complicating things further. This has to be balanced with the need for a breadth and wealth of options for them, so that any two enemies chosen at random will be, well, different.

Currently we're working with so-called Aberrant options, the fifth element to the PC's traditional four. There's a lot of neat ideas woven into them, such as Aberrant Upgrades being weirder takes on the usual PC abilities in order to represent things like planes or fortresses, or just inversions of what you would usually expect of them to fit more traditional rpg conventions such as bosses with multiple forms or that eat away their minions.

But while they were great at offering more options, they weren't exactly helping solve that 'simplicity' issue. So I started from scratch with Enemy design, with the following objectives in mind:

-Crafting a bunch of bad guys should be doable in under an hour.
-There should be a clear distinction between the lower tier baddies and the higher tier ones.
-Following from above, throwaway mooks can be interesting but don't need to. High-end bosses must be interesting.
-There should be a better sense of balance for how many PCs each enemy is worth.
-They should be able to represent things that aren't traditional giant robots - Giant Monsters, Tanks, you name it
-Whether their abilities are exclusive or not, and whether they can use the same stuff that PCs do are both negotiable.
The Results

NPCs come in Combatant (pilot) and Non-Combatant (nonpilot) flavors, much like before, but they also come in three sizes which are Grunts, Rivals, and Bosses. Elites weren't quite pulling their weight in the end, so off to the chopping block they go. With only three of them I can balance them more tightly, so that a Grunt is half a PC, a Rival is a PC, and a Boss is two PCs.

Then there's Features, which are standalone abilities with a good and a bad side to them. For instance a plane with the Flyer Feature ignores Terrain rules, whether they are detrimental or beneficial. Features cost no UP and are used to represent things that aren't traditional giant robots - vehicles, buildings and mobile bases among others. While they're not usually available to PCs, exceptions can be made for someone who wants to play a landbound Zoid or a regenerating Kaiju.

Now on to the changes proper! Because Rivals are still basically like PCs, I'll stick to Grunts and Bosses.


-Do have a Nature now
-Have a total of 10 PP for spending on Skills or Traits
-No Genre Points (or Powers) whatsoever.
-Choose one type of Plot Armor for them, increase it by 2 ranks at the end of each Arc.

-Don't have an Archetype at all, though they do get a Chassis.
-Get 10 UP to spend on anything that isn't a Weapon.
-Get two Custom Weapons.
-You choose a combination of Evasion and Accuracy, Armor and Threshold, or Energy and Penetration and increase both of those at the end of every Arc by 1.

They're pretty simple, and you can make them even simpler if you don't give their weapons any drawbacks and pick some of the Features that make them even easier to manage such as Squad - so you don't have to worry about Maiming at all because every Threshold Level lost there is a kill.


-Start with one type of Plot Armor buffed up by 5.
-Have either three Skills at +5, +3 and +1 or four at +4, +3, +2 and +2.
-Have up to ten PP in Traits.
-You choose Fitness and Grit, Intellect and Drive, or Empathy and Wisdom to increase them by 1 rank at the end of every Episode Arc.

-Start off with toughened up Chassis with an enhancement of 5 to a combination of Evasion and Accuracy, Armor and Threshold, or Energy and Penetration.
-Have one Boss Power, one Boss Archetype, and one Boss Weapon by default, which are a bit like the old Aberrant options but stronger because they get less of them.
-Get the same number of Genre Points that PCs have, but gain two more with each Threshold Level lost instead of one.
-Are immune to Maiming and instead for each Level of Threshold that they lose they gain another Power, Archetype or Weapon - only one of those, not all three.
-Enhance every Attribute by 1 for each Episode Arc that has finished, even past the usual limit of 5 enhancements.

This way crafting a Boss is not about juggling what to do with, like, 75 XP or something time-consuming like that but about choosing which amazing stuff they start off with, both for pilots and non-pilots. To keep the fighters interesting throughout the whole encounter, they also gain more abilities as they get more beat up, and also more Genre to keep themselves alive with. Note that they do not get the usual PC abilities, and particularly important is that they do not get the six Default Genre Powers. They are very strong, but they lack the versatility of PCs.

There's a sidebar for converting Boss stuff to UP (or to trade in other Powers for Boss Powers) in case you want to give a Grunt or Rival something from the Boss packages. Balance starts to go haywire there, though, let alone if you consider actually allowing a PC to take any of these things, so that's for experienced users only.

I have been very busy so I couldn't get it done before then, but I'll try to have 1.4 up by next Sunday.


  1. Oh boy oh boy. I can't wait till sunday for the new goodness

  2. My group is gathered right now and waiting for the release.

  3. And yet, no release :<
    Btw. I have a question concerning Transformation upgrade. Ie. base form of my gear is Dynamic, and I wish it to become Destroyer upon transform. Is it possible, or maximum point value of the Core must be the same for every form?


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