Building an Encounter

Building an Encounter #

A typical encounter is intended to involve a number of single-strength enemies equal to the party’s level, with four encounters per Quick Rest. However, most encounters shouldn’t just be this: use mooks and double/triple strength enemies regularly to keep things interesting, in addition to enemies from lower and higher levels. For different-level enemies, see the chart below.

Mooks #

Mooks have a number listed next to them for any given group. Typically there will be 3 mooks in a group for level 0-4 enemies, 4 in a group for level 5-7 enemies, 5 in a group for level 8-10 enemies, and 6 in a group for level 11+ enemies. A group of mooks is equivalent to a single-strength enemy in encounter budget.

Mooks do more damage on average at the start of an encounter, but their strength will drop as each mook does. They’re resistant to effects that apply conditions or ongoing damage, but are more vulnerable to multi-target effects.

Double/Triple Strength #

As can be assumed from the name, a double-strength enemy counts as two single-strength enemies, while a triple-strength enemy counts as three.

In many cases (especially when they’re the only or one of few enemies) the damage from a double or triple strength enemy will be split into multiple attacks. This creates less of a damage spike on hit, but allows more chances to hit and activate Natural X results.

Enemies that are a high enough level to count as 2 or 3 same-level single-strength enemies count as double-strength or triple-strength if it would benefit them (for effects that specify a double-strength or triple-strength enemy).

More or Less Encounters #

In many cases, it might make more sense to either increase or decrease the number of encounters per full rest. Typically, you should balance the encounter as if the party had one extra person for every encounter less than 4 you aim for, and one fewer person for every encounter more than 4 you aim for.

Fewer encounters in a day decreases the value of Encounter/Spend X Power abitilies and increases the value of Daily abilities, and vice versa.

Unfair Encounters #

As a GM, you should not feel limited by these guidelines. Feel free to up the difficulty on an encounter in situations where it would make sense, but don’t overdo it for any given encounter and don’t overuse this discretion. Adding extra Threat is a good way to do increase difficulty of an encounter without changing numbers too much. Remind players occasionally that they can retreat and take a campaign loss if a situation seems truly hopeless.

Reinforcements/Extra Effects #

Sometimes, there will be a complicating factor that results in reinforcements or extra bonuses while in effect (like a gate being open or an artifact being activated). Until dealt with, this circumstance can give effects like:

  • At the start of a round, add 1 mook to every group of mooks that’s still around.
  • At the start of a round, increase your Threat by 1 (to a maximum of your starting value).
  • Give every enemy Escalator.
  • Escalation counts as 0 for PCs.

Feel free to come up with your own effects. If you do this, make sure that the encounter is still beatable (though it can still be difficult, see Unfair Encounters above) without engaging with this extra factor. The PCs should always have a way to mitigate this circumstance.

Enemy Equivalents #

The chart below will help you determine what a balanced encounter would look like. The number should total up to roughly the number of players within 0.5 or so for a balanced encounter (don’t be too strict about this, variety in difficulty is good as long as it makes sense narratively).

Enemy Level vs Party Level Single Strength
or
Group of Mooks
Double Strength Triple Strength
2 Levels Lower 0.5 1 1.5
1 Level Lower 0.67 1.33 2
Same Level 1 2 3
1 Level Higher 1.5 3 5
2 Levels Higher 2 5 8

Sample Encounters #

These are balanced for 4 player characters. For more or less players, either add or subtract single-strength enemies or groups of mooks or upgrade or downgrade enemies between single-strength, double-strength, or triple-strength.

For situations where you only have 1 or 2 enemies, make sure to give them multiple attacks. Note that most triple-strength enemies have abilities to blunt the effect of Conditions; if you upgrade an enemy to triple-strength, you might consider giving them an ability of that sort.

Raiding Party

  • 2x group of mooks, same level
  • 2x single-strength troops, same level

Squad with Leader

  • 4x single-strength troops, one level lower
  • 1x single-strength leader/spoiler, one level higher

Significant Threat with Minions

  • 2x group of mooks, same level
  • 1x double-strength troop/wrecker, same level

Paired Terrors

  • 2x double-strength, same level
    OR
    2x single-strength, two levels higher

Three Terrors

  • 3x single-strength, one level higher

The Boss

  • 1x triple-strength, same level
  • 2x groups of mooks, two levels lower

Horde

  • 6x group of mooks, one level lower