Let’s make a high-level character. I was thinking about this while driving around earlier, since I have the Little Prince and star imagery in my head (from an unrelated thing), I’ve made him a moon elf prince who fell to the realm from the dark side of the moon. His mother is the demigoddess of dreaming. His name is an anagram of the word dreaming. He seeks to do things in the real world, and has put himself into exile from the dreaming lands of his mother.***
Medrigan the Moon Elf Prince - Noble Wanderer 5
Armor 7; Hits 50; Move 40’; Blade (7)
Might 4 (5); Mind 3 (4); Reflex 2 (3)
Tags (6): Defender (+1 to armor checks); Luck; Nature; Persona; Two Weapons; Warrior
Amulet of Stars (Mind +1); Boots of the Four Winds (Reflex +1); Girdle of Strength (Might +1)
Blade of the Crescent Moon (6+1 damage; 1 mana; grants mystic with common magic only); +1 attack per round due to hasted weapon.
Gem of Lunar Affinity grants 1 mana to cast healing word (restoring 7 hits).
Enchanted Elfin Scale Mail (5+1); Elfin Enchanted Shield (+1 to Armor)
Let’s have Medrigan take on two Manticores
Manticore - Large Fierce Mythical Beast 4
Armor 5; Hits 28; Move 60’ (Fly 90’); Bite (6) + Tail Spikes (6/30’)
As he is moving through the mountains, two manticores surround him, descending from above. He draws his blade and prepares for battle. Initiative. He wins. Round 1: He approaches the first manticore and attacks twice, hitting both times. The manticore makes both armor checks, so he deals 2 and 2 damage, leaving the manticore at 24. The first manticore attacks twice, missing both times. The second attacks with the bite (missing) and tail spikes, getting a natural 12, dealing 8 damage. Madrigan makes his armor check, soaking 7. He loses 1 point, and is at 49. Round 2: Medrigan attacks again, hitting twice. The manticore makes one armor check but fails the next, suffering 9 damage; it is down to 15. They both attack; The first one lands a natural 12 (bite) and 10 (tail). Medrigan gets a natural 12 to soak the first, so he suffers no damage. He makes the second armor check, so also soaks all of that damage. The second attacks, hitting with the bite but missing with the tail. Medrigan soaks all of that damage. Round 3: Medrigan hits twice, once with an 11, so deals 8 and 7 damage. The manticore makes both armor checks, so suffers 3 and 2 damage, for 5 total. It is down to 10. The first manticore hits with its tail getting an 11, but Medrigan rolls a 12 on his armor check; he soaks it all. The second hits with the tail only, but Medrigan again soaks it all. Round 4: Medrigan only hits once, but uses his luck ability to re-roll the second attack, and now hits. The manticore makes both checks, so only suffers 4 hits. It is at 6 hits. The first manticore hits with the tail on a 12, but Med counters with his own natural 12, suffering no damage. The second manticore attacks, hitting twice. Med makes both armor checks, so ignores the damage. Round 5: Med attacks twice, but only hits once, albeit with a 12. The manticore makes its armor check with a 12, so Med only deals 2 damage. I’m going to rule that the manticore is dead, because I’ve already learned what I needed to from this so far…
Because this battle is a slow, non-fun slog. Med is going to win, but it’s going to take FOR. EV. ER. Not good. That’s the bad news. The very, very good news is that this is not a game design problem (at least, I hope it’s not) - it is a creature design problem. I’ve been thinking of building creatures the same way I build characters, which tries to keep both armor and damage output relatively balanced for a front-line combatant. Ideally, the squishier characters will be able to deal out a bit more damage, but will also be squishy and will not be able to soak as much. We’ll see how that plays out down the line, but as for this battle, I need to re-work the manticore. Let’s decrease armor a bit and increase damage output a bit, and see how that changes things.
Manticore II - Large Fierce Mythical Beast 4
Armor 3; Hits 28; Move 60’ (Fly 90’); Bite (11) + Tail Spikes (9/30’)
Let’s get it going again and see…
Round 6: Med attacks twice, hitting once. He deals 7 damage, and the manticore fails to soak, so is down to 21. The manticore attacks twice, hitting with the bite for 12. Med makes his armor check, but still suffers 5 hits, and is down to 44. He’s taken some damage. Okay, then. Round 7: Med hits with two 11s, dealing 8 and 8 damage. The manticore makes both armor checks, soaking 3 from each, so it suffers 10 hits. It’s down to 11. It attacks twice, but misses both times. Round 8: Med hits twice for 7 and 7; the manticore makes both armor checks (one with a natural 12), soaking 3 and 5 hits. Med deals 6 damage, leaving the manticore at 5. It attacks twice, hitting with the bite for 11. Med soaks his 7 armor, but suffers 4 hits and is down to 40. Round 9: Medrigan hits once for 8 damage. The manticore fails its armor check, and is dead.
Okay. That was MUCH better. That was a simple change. Medrigan would earn 20 xp for that. Balance is restored. I think that it’s going to be a good idea to get rid of the rules about the edges for different level encounters; those rules are not going to be needed to maintain balance between different levels, because the damage output for upper level monsters is going to scale up fast enough that low-level characters will be at a pretty big disadvantage against giants hitting for 16. I mean, if a giant 5 that deals 16 hits rolls a 12, it deals 18 hits with its club; if Medrigan fails his armor check (very unlikely, but it happens), he suffers 18 damage, which is about 1/3 of his total hits. That's considerable. Even with his best armor check, Medrigan is still suffering 9 hits against that natural 12. If Medrigan is traveling with a wizard 5 with 25 hits and armor 2, that wizard can get taken out in two hits pretty easily. That wizard is also able to deal 20 hits with his arcane storm spell, so the giant could be taking pretty heavy damage on his end... espeically if he suffers -1 edge to resist the damage type of the spell (ice magic against a fire giant). The giant might have 50 hits, but they are going to rip through each other in a few rounds. I don't really mind that.