Saturday, January 15, 2011

#15: Fen Hydra

I’ve found that building multi-headed monsters is one of the biggest challenges in ‘balanced’ game design. It’s not so bad in D+D, where you just have each head attack each round; point-build systems like Resolute make such creatures (typically in my experience at least) difficult to balance; you have to purchase each attack separately, meaning that you build monsters that are way more expensive than they are powerful. Each head does only moderate damage, but the creature is so expensive to build that heroes of comparable level easily absorb most of this damage, rendering these foes less powerful than their allocated points would suggest.

It seems like the best way to handle this is through bonus attack, a +2 CP application. Since bonus attack gives you an extra attack each turn, and gives you a +1 shift to fighting to free some points up for it, this seems the best way to go. In general, the rules are going to say that you cannot purchase an application more than once; you can’t take root twice so that you get to cast two root spells each scene… the use of resolve already allows you to repeat spells you’ve already used, so this strikes me as redundant.

Except in the case of hydras. A five-headed hydra would take bonus attack four times, once for each head beyond the first. Let’s go with fighting +8 (bonus attack x4); might +7 (strike) for our hydra… this creature gets to attack five times each turn; it distributes +12 fighting among these bites (an average of just over +2 per bite), and deals +14 damage with every bite attack that strikes. Since you get to distribute your pools as desired, after seeing all the dice results, the hydra should be able to hit with its first and probably second strikes each round, maybe hitting with a third or fourth if it gets some lucky rolls. It’s rarely going to hit with all five heads each turn… but the odds of it getting a few hits goes up just by sheer volume.

I don’t see it making sense that the hydra takes the limitation that it loses one head at damage thresholds. While it would be easy enough to rule that it loses one head attack every 15 wounds (since 5x15=75, its total CPs), this seems awfully arbitrary (only hydras have this limitation… but they don’t get anything for it). I haven’t decided how to handle limitations for foes yet (since they don’t really care about hero points, which is why heroes take limitations…), so I'm not going to impose this on the hydra... for now...

Here’s our hydra:

Fen Hydra (75 CPs)
Fighting +8 (Bonus Attack x4); Might +7 (Strike); Stamina +6 (Invulnerability); Focus +4; Intuition +4; Speed +1; Water Breathing
- The Fen Hydra distributes +12 fighting among five bite attacks each turn; each successful bite deals +14 damage.
- The Fen Hydra soaks +6 from physical attacks and +4 from energy attacks.