PC Power Balance

One of the perennial problems encountered by SHs is the fact that any given group of characters for a session can easily contain vastly different levels of mights for a given type of action. This is most problematic in combat, where a gross power imbalance doesn't just mean failure, it can mean death.

The solution is to find ways to offer each character challenges which they can reasonably hope to succeed at without making things either too easy or too difficult for the rest of the players present.

Like with handling PC variety, the best solution is typically to make sure you have more than one element for the PCs to interact with. It's hard to make a single bad guy both tough enough to fight off a high-powered character without also making her too difficulty for lower-powered PCs to hit. However, if there are several bad guys, each with different mights, the PCs can each take on a villain closer to their power level and have a realistic chance to succeed and contribute to the overall combat.

Alternatively, creating ways for PCs to contribute in combat without having to go toe-to-toe with an evenly matched opponent can make for a more realistic challenge than a carefully matched set of opponents who just happen to be the right size to take them on.

Remember that players can take extra actions at a penalty to their mights, so a way to level the playing field can just be to give the higher-powered characters more targets to focus on. If they take on two or even three opponents, their mights quickly start to fall in line with the lower-powered characters in the room, they're just taking one two or three bad guys at once. Just be sure you have enough opponents to go around.

If the characters have skills beyond combat, or magic which has other uses than just dealing damage, creating challenges for them to handle separate from the fighting can let them contribute on either end of the scale. A magic ritual that can only be undone by a strong mage or clever thief may give the higher-powered PCs something to focus on while the lower-powered characters keep the crazy cultists off their backs. Likewise, if the lower-powered PCs have hostages to rescue (and locks to pick or cages to break), they have something meaningful to do while the higher-powered PCs fight the massive monster in the room.

In the end, what matters is that everyone who tries to contribute to the situation has a chance to do exactly that. It can be frustrating when you can't do anything to help, or if you feel like you could solve the whole problem with a wave of the hand, making everyone else's participation meaningless. Neither outcome is very fun, and fun is our guiding star here, so make sure everyone can do something to help, and that it actually does measurably help.

For more on the subject, refer to the PC Imprint section on the importance of letting characters leave a dent.



Advanced : Go to Advance Story Hosting Page
SH Course : Go to SH Course Main Page

Categories