a villain's TRUE Power Level??

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a villain's TRUE Power Level??

Post by Demongg » Sun Jul 11, 2004 5:45 pm

Hey All,

I've been thinking recently... When you build Villains and Oppoenent NPCs do you think that you SHOULD or should NOT count in all the "extra" roleplaying type character build bits into the overall power point. power level cost?

I build a super villain brick called "Manslaughter", Manslaughter is mostly a power brick ready to kill, maim and destory things and people. But as part of Manslaughter's background I build in that he was a concert pianist prior to his "accident" that drove him insane and pumped him with power.

So... I want to build Manslaughter at PL12... I add in his KNOWLEDGE: Symphony +5, PERFORM: Piano +7, etc...
He will likely NEVER use those type skills against the Player Characters in adventures for little more than roleplaying notes (if that).

Would you "waste" the points to put them in "extra" skills like that for villains you build?
Or just assume that many of those type - non-combat points spent are flavor stuff.

My point is I often build NPCs that aren't as powerful as their PL would lead you to believe since many points are spent in those type areas.



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Post by Padre » Sun Jul 11, 2004 6:12 pm

I too give NPC villains skills that they are probably never going to use against the heros. My reasoning behind that is some time down the road a villain might become an ally with the hero against a greater evil, or the bad guy could just change to being good.

Just my thought on it
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Post by The Crimson Commander » Sun Jul 11, 2004 6:23 pm

like DD´s advesary the gladiator that is currently working as a costume/fashion designer :D

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Post by quill » Sun Jul 11, 2004 6:34 pm

I give my NPC's 'useless' skills as well, because in theory shouldn't the PC's also have skills they aren't using in combat? Granted if you are playing with a bunch of combat monsters where everyone is ex-special forces, loners or been training their whole lives to fight crime, then you may have problems.

Of course you could always do an adventure where they get captured by the Maestro along with Manslaughter for whatever reason ...and the Maestro offers to free whoever can play music that he likes the best

"Don't worry guys I have a decent ability modifer and what would Manslaughter know about classical music? "


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Post by farik » Sun Jul 11, 2004 9:35 pm

Add another voice to the "spend the points" camp. Admitedly my opposition might come to 163 PP which means they are still PL 10. Remember an NPC can always be built on 15xPL+14 PP if you need to.
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Post by The Trapster » Mon Jul 12, 2004 12:58 am

Do what makes you happy. :)

I'd spend the non-combat points as in your example.

But, the image of the Heroes entering the Opera House past the bodies of the dead, while hearing a piano thundering out the 1812 overture, and then the reveal of the homicidal maniac on stage... .
It's worth the points. (Joker-esk)

I'll have to use this idea myself.
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Post by Old Sparky » Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:39 am

I agree with quill in that PCs should generally, to an extent, also have some skills devoted to non-combat purposes... that is, if they plan on having a secret identity with a skill-related career. A janitor gets off easy in not really needing any skills, but but an art dealer or actor or stock trader should all have some skill ranks to explain their profession (or else, as GM, I'll make the character's secret identity life very difficult).

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Post by Marshal Law » Mon Jul 12, 2004 5:06 am

Give 'em whatever skills you fell appropriate. If that increases their PL, what of it?

(a) Because of the infinite variety of power combinations that your players and villains may possess, PL is not a reliable measure of how much of a threat a villain is to a given group of PCs.

(b) Villians (or other NPCs) do not wear labels that say "PL X, PP XX"

These two facts taken together mean that for NPCs, PL is pretty much an irrelevance, serving only to put a maximum cap on their powers.
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Post by d4 » Mon Jul 12, 2004 5:11 am

exactly. and it's not like you get more experience for defeating a higher PL opponent, like in D&D or other d20 games, so you're not hurting anything really by bumping the PL a notch to add in some noncombat stuff that helps better define the character.

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Re: a villain's TRUE Power Level??

Post by Dr. Nuncheon » Mon Jul 12, 2004 5:50 am

Demongg wrote:Would you "waste" the points to put them in "extra" skills like that for villains you build?
Or just assume that many of those type - non-combat points spent are flavor stuff.
I'd do the same thing that your players do. If they build super-optimized killing machines, then I'm going to do that, too. If they spend points on background skills and the like, then I will as well.


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Post by TerraFan » Mon Jul 12, 2004 1:47 pm

It really depends on how you define what a PL is. Is Power Level an indicator of how powerful someone is, or is it an indicator of how powerful someone could be???

When you are getting ready to challenge your players in an encounter, you don't look at PL level. You look at relevant abilities and powers.

Let's say that you have a group of PL10 characters and are planning an encounter for them. If you want to put them up against a PL 15 baddie who's powers are at 15 the your players wil have a harder time than the same character who is at PL 15 but who's powers at at say 10-11. It's a whole different ball game at that point.

If you want to run an investigation type challenge, and the PC's have little to no investigation skills, then a competent NPC of lower PL will give them a run for their money.

If it's a combat encounter, look at BAB, BDB, damage that can be delivered and damage that can be taken.

If it's any other type of encounter, look at relevant skills and powers that would be appropriate.

Another thing to consider is how 'red-lined' your characters are. Do they have a narrow power suite that compliments (for example, a character who has a maxed damage save and high regeneration - what little damage he takes goes away soon) or a broad range of powers.

Without taking a look at all of these things, PL in and of itself tells very little.

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Post by heratyk » Wed Jul 14, 2004 6:22 pm

The same is true of PCs. a super-munchkin can be much more powerful than a poorly-optimized character of the same PL.

What you're looking for is something like a Challenge Rating. PL can be a rough guide, but in the end, you probably have to go with your own judgement. Particularly if the villain has powers that exploit the heroes' weaknesses or negate their strengths. For instance, if he has protection higher than most the characters' damage, he's too powerful, unless the heroes have sufficient non-damage attacks, drain/disrupt, etc.