Creating Challenging Named and Unnamed Characters

One of the things that I haven't come across described very well is how to create a challenging named character. What's the best way to go about this, especially as your characters begin to advance in stats and shticks. I haven't made it all the way through all the additional source material, so if this in a book some where feel free to point me in that direction. :slight_smile:

My PCs have just been through BoF and it didn't seem to really challenge them in the least, and these are newly created characters. The first session

They even managed to dispatch with Ta Yu fairly quickly, not completely of course as he made his escape to appear in the next session.

The thing being now that I'm writing some of my own material and coming up with characters, at the same time I'm not really sure where to start on the end of creating characters that will be challenging to my PCs but at the same time not so powerful that they're overwhelming, especially on the named character's end.

This also brings up the idea of the unnamed characters as well. I always kind of imagine the unnamed characters as essentially weaker versions of the named characters they work for. They do some of the same things, just not as well and without as many/any shticks. This isn't really a question on making them a challenge but not making them too strong or too easy for the PCs as well.

So far fights have taken one sequence or less. Is this normal? Should I be throwing more mooks at them or beefing up named character's toughness so they don't get beat down quite so quickly?

The groups I've run for so far have been fairly big, around 5 or 6, so this may be why fights are going especially quickly, 5 or 6 people can dish out more damage than 3 or 4 can in the same amount of time. Should adjustments be made accordingly depending on party sizes?

Just some general questions from a rather n00b GM. This is my first time running anything, not just Feng Shui. :slight_smile:

Well welcome to RPGs and Feng Shui in particular, I don't have a WHOLE lot of experience myself, but really like these lighter, simpler rules systems.

From the way I read the various eye-catching points of different FS notes and such, unnamed mooks are roughly 1/3 to even 1/4 the potency of a PC, so for every PC, you should have at least 3, and I'd say 4 mooks, though I think Robin's formula tends to be 3, but then he adds in named characters which evens it out.

Compared to average citizens, who have little to no combat ability or useful attributes, mooks are still about 1.5 to twice as potent, so a PC is worth approximately 6-8 "normals", or 3-4 mooks.

Mooks and unnamed normals disappear on Outcomes rather than being reduced in Wounds, therefore are essentially even less potent than the above formula make them out to be, in my opinion, even with weapons, especially since they also have no Toughness or armor (usually). They're more like temporary enemies than actual combatants - nuisances.

Named characters, as you note, still tend to not, overall, at least in BoF, match a PC, on average, so let's say a Minor Villain (henchman) is worth about 1.5 a PC and a Standard Villain (Ta Yu maybe?) is worth about 1.75, with a Major Villain being about a PC's match, maybe a bit higher and only Elite Villains actually outclassing PC's significantly? Giving PC's the most credit, the formula comes out to be:

1 PC = 8 normals = 4 mooks = 1.5 Minor Villains = 1.75 Standard Villains = 1 Major Villain = .75 Elite Villain

So if you have a group of 6 PC's, you'd need a combat to contain about 24 mooks worth of enemies, or 18 mooks worth plus 2 Minor Villains or some similar equivalent. That is about the mix that BoF's opening restaurant fight scene uses.

I tried to do a point-buy breakdown for stats and skills and schticks for all the PC types and Named Characters and unnamed, to get an idea of how they matched up, but it's kinda inconclusive and subjective.

There's actually a whole section on this in Out for Blood- for mooks and named characters.

I always make the villains have a point or two more AV than the party average, but that's mostly to cut down on book-keeping. The size of the party is also an important factor.

One thing you can bear in mind is that you can adjust the difficulty on the fly. More mooks can appear as back-up if there are too many, or some of them flee after most of their buddies have been beaten. If a named opponent seems like too much of a pushover, have them hulk up after they've taken a licking (possibly by reversing the AV penalty for Wounds). Alternatively, if they seem too strong, give the PC an opportunity to blindside them using the scenery of destroying an item of power.

Rubber-banding like this too much can be unsatisfying- I wouldn't recommend doing it just because the dice have been good/bad or the players have come up with some effective stunts. But it's a handy way of correcting a small mistake in prep if you gauged the difficulty wrong.

Not all starting characters are equal in terms of taking down unnamed characters. Lets go though the math.

A killer with 4 levels of Carnival of Carnage, a Speed of 7, a Guns score of 15 and an average roll for initative might have a 10 for his first action. If he only shoots mooks, whose difficulty is 7 to hit if they don't dodge, he needs a 10 or better to take them out. That is going to happen unless the negitive dice explodes, which admittedly happens 1/6 of the time. So, he might well expect to take out 8 or 9 unnamed characters on average.

A scrappy kid whose Martial Arts is 13 and Speed is 10, and who has Crane Stance and Wing of the Crane, given an average initative roll, might have 13 actions. If none of the unnamed characters do active dodges, he needs a 12 to take them out, and might expect to do this twice in a sequence.

On the other hand, the scrappy kid might use an action to do an impairment attack on Happy, spend a fortune dice to change it from a 50% chance of sucess to closer to 80% and Happy has a -3 to his dodge for the next however many rounds. If the other 5 characters get in an attack in while Happy is impaired, each would do 3 points more damage than they would have otherwise. That is 15 points of damage.

So, if the villians are not active dodging and your players are using good teamwork, one sequence seems about right. If the villians are active my experience, that lengthens combat by a bit.