Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Enemy: Bodkin Archer, also CER: Reverse Engineer An Encounter

If you might be like me and you have difficulty gauging how much challenge is appropriate for a situation, then metrics like CER can be pretty helpful. You can see how in a previous post I used the system to renegotiate the difficulty of a challenging thought.

The Experiment

Right now, I am trying a little experiment though. I'd like to see how hard it would be to start with the CER breakout of a monster, and reverse it until we create something we can use in GURPS. Let's say using the previous article for reference on trying to "right-size" an encounter that we want to shoot for something with a CER of 10. This is a monster that isn't too difficult for even a starting party, but, we are just pulling a number out of the air and seeing where we can go with this. Let's take a look at this template that looks at all the attributes that add up to the total Combat Effectiveness Rating of an opponent.

Attack Skill0Active Defense0
Affliction0Damage Resistance0
Fatigue Points0Hit Points0
Total Offensive Rating (OR)0Total Protective Rating (PR)0
DQVIII - Bodkin archer
Bodkin Archer

We have 10-ish points we are looking to distribute around this table. Let's see, what can we use as a weakish, but not completely worthless enemy? I somehow feel like looking up Dragon Quest VIII right now and pulling an early game enemy out. I just do a look on a wiki, and Bodkin Archer is the first somewhat interesting thing at the low end of the pool.
So let's look at this guy. He seems lightly armored, and very obviously, he is using a bow. Note that a bow almost always does impaling damage, so we need to account for this guy spending a large portion of his ten-ish allotted points on the impaling damage of his bow. Let's take a look at his lore.
Diminutive but resourceful monsters. Upon encountering an enemy, they keep their distance and let fly with long-range bow and arrow attacks.
So, he likes to keep away and shoot, he's a little cowardly it sounds like, so maybe we can get some points back by giving him a weak will. He also looks like he might have a hard time defending himself, so we might be able to get some points there.
But a bow is going to require a hefty investment in a lot of categories. So let's first start with a bow that requires the least strength. He's tiny after all, so maybe we can get away with a short bow... let's say a 9 ST short bow, so he can do 1d-2 imp. That will mean we have 3 points in the damage box. He has a cloth armor and tough skin, which combined seem to give him 2 DR all over as a guess, so let's put that in too.

Attack Skill0Active Defense0
Affliction0Damage Resistance2
Fatigue Points0Hit Points0
Total Offensive Rating (OR)3Total Protective Rating (PR)2

We are halfway committed now, weapons with aim give a big bonus to skill too, so let's account for that. Tactically, this guy looks like someone who would hang out in the back while more up close and personal enemies run interference, so he doesn't need too much skill because he can take time aiming, so I'll give him a somewhat low 12, which makes the attack skill a total of 5 due to the aim bonus of the short bow. I said this guy might be a coward, so let's give him just a teensy bit less will. Because he is a weak enemy who doesn't want to fight too hard, let's take some out of Hit Points as well (We lowered his strength a bit anyways) He is also a tiny bit slow too, so we can take some out of there.

Attack Skill5Active Defense0
Affliction0Damage Resistance2
Fatigue Points0Hit Points-1
Total Offensive Rating (OR)7Total Protective Rating (PR)0

OK, we are just about at the limit here. We held back a bit earlier on his skill because of the big acc bonus, so let's pump up the DX a bit. Maybe he's more wiry than I thought?

Attack Skill6Active Defense2
Affliction0Damage Resistance2
Fatigue Points0Hit Points-1
Total Offensive Rating (OR)9Total Protective Rating (PR)2

Hey, this guy is 11 now, right in the ballpark. So working out that stat block, we have this now:

ST: 9HP: 9Speed: 6
DX: 14Will: 9Move: 6
IQ: 9Per: 12
HT: 10FP: 10SM: -1
Dodge: 9Parry: 10DR: 2
Short Bow (13): 1d-2 Impaling
Traits: Cowardice, Damage Resistance 1 (Tough Skin)
Skills: Bow-13

If we want to add some flavor to this guy, it says in the previously linked wiki article that he is liable to be carrying cloth armor pieces (probably SM -1), cheese, and very small amounts of money. These might be things a player can find after defeating him. He also looks humanoid enough that a player might try negotiations with him if it suits them, so we should probably make a note of that as well. Also, he is obviously an archer, so we might borrow some advantages, disadvantages, or skills from any of many existing ranger templates to round him out even more.


It is possible to use CER to start with a ballpark, and engineer an enemy backwards. We have demonstrated creating an interesting weak enemy working backwards from a description. I think I should try this again with a very high-powered enemy as well to see if this is more or less helpful, but I think it helped generate a very interesting weak encounter, something that I think kinda gets brushed over because it isn't as glamorous or cool as a boss fight, even though it might be just as important. Starting with a weak enemy, and then being able to slowly augment it into higher power levels is also an option so that one might capture the JRPG feel of progressively stronger variations on a theme. We could, for example, take this template, and later say, "we now want a 25 CER version. Let's throw on Fast-Draw, give it a stronger weapon, maybe give it some melee capabilities, and make it less of a coward." And later a near ultimate 50 CER iteration with Heroic Archer, Tactics, and Traps.

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