Here's how I'm doing balanced Combat Encounters

This has worked so far for me, at least up to level 12 with a party of 5.

I’m including the jpg of the xp table I use.

PLEASE NOTE: To make this work, you must use a split xp system. This means that, if your party kills a single creature worth 50 xp, and it’s a party of 5 players, they’ll each receive 10 xp. This slows down players leveling up a little, but it gives the GM a loooot more flexibility with their encounters. A single strong NPC wont level up the party anymore.

Anyways, to continue:

To use this xp table.

  1. Determine the average party level
  2. Determine how hard you wish the battle to be. (V. Easy / Simple / Average / Hard / Deadly)
  3. Match the PC level with the difficulty level on the table I’ve given you.
  4. Multiply this number by the number of PCs. (Include any friendly NPCs in your calculations but NOT the dog from the Dogmeat perk.)
  5. This is your xp budget when determining what creatures to put in the combat encounter.

A couple of things to keep in mind: Encounters that give advantages to the enemy that the PCs do not get, or disadvantages to the PCs that the enemies do not suffer. (It’s dark, and the enemies can see in the dark but the pcs can’t / It’s in an irradiated area but the enemies are immune / an ambush / the enemy is secure behind cover or otherwise in an advantageous position) These kinds of encounters should be considered 1 level higher in danger. This doesn’t mean to give the PCs more XP (Though you’re free to do so if you wish). It’s just a way to make sure you don’t wipe your party. Don’t set a Deadly enounter XP budget, then put the enemy behind cover and night vision goggles.


Also, on the subject of grouped NPCs: As a general rule, try to make sure you know when you’re going to use grouped NPCs in a combat encounter. For every 1 or 2 creatures you add to the group beyond the first, I’d recommend “using up” xp from your budget as if you had added another creature of that type / level to the battle.

For example. 1 radroach is worth 10 xp. But 4 radroaches would use up 50 - 60 xp. (10 per radroach, + another 10 or 20 xp for adding to the group.)

This is because groups of even level 1 creatures can be rather deadly. They can end up dealing nasty damage to a high level PC, while the pc can really only take out 1 of them at a time (unless they start chucking boom booms but that gets expensive so w/e)

Anyways, I hope that helps people. It’s not perfect but it’s worked for me so far!

Balanced Encounters


Thanks, I’ll try this out my next session. :slight_smile:

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I don’t want to be negative. I’m glad you’re trying to help other GMs balance encounters. That’s awesome. But I don’t think this will be very useful. This game has a ton of factors that make combat very complicated.

Consider something as simple as Piercing. A party of five characters all have 2 Phys DR. Let’s say they fight a pack of five creatures with the exact stats as Radstags, but these creatures have no Piercing Damage Effect. And let’s also say the party beats these critters in 4 rounds.

Now they go against 5 real Radstags, with the exact same HP, DR, Dmg, Attack TN and XP value as the other critters, but with the Piercing 1 Effect. Each Radstag has 5 dice damage and so will roll an average 1.67 Piercing with every successful attack. Five Radstags attacking against Defense 1 at TN 8 (and therefore hitting 64% of the time) for 4 rounds will do an average 21.33 extra HP loss to the party just from Piercing.

The party has gone from winning a fight to barely surviving it, just because of one Damage Effect. Meanwhile, a party with no armour wouldn’t notice any difference in the two fights whatsoever.

XP is tied to HP and Attack TN, so it’s the most important single factor we have, but I just don’t think it tells us that much. I don’t have some better way of working this stuff out. I’m playing with the numbers and it’s very complicated. Blast, Burst and Spread are so hard to quantify. We’ll see if the GM Toolkit can help.

Anyway, thanks for the chart. Sorry to criticize.

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Very good things to keep in mind, though as OP stated, this has worked for their table for quite a bit.

No system is perfect, but this is one way of doing it, eh?

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Hey there. First off, thank you kindly for your response. I didn’t feel you were criticizing, merely bringing up factors which concerned you. For that, again, I thank you.

You bring up a good point with all the variance damage effects can cause in a combat encounter. Sadly, I don’t feel there’s any real way to quantify those abilities with numbers, especially when you start adding other x factors on top of them. (For example, Piercing with a high TN vs a low TN, adding Blast, spread, or any other effects.) The numbers just get too crazy.

And this is coming from someone who LIKES crunching numbers and breaking things down to their component parts to see if they can re-constitute it.

So, your point is perfectly valid.

The thing is, because those things are a little difficult to quantify, I decided to just go with the loose narrative feel of the game that has been presented (Pre-GM toolkit). Thus, I didn’t take it any further than the table I presented above. I’m working under the assumption that the staff at Modiphius have, in general, hammered out what makes something a harder challenge than another thing. So I based my table solely off of the XP gained by defeating a creature.

To be clear, what I presented above is not at all meant to be an exhaustive tool to meet all the needs of any GM in any scenario, but more of a starting point. I have found that, even using my own system, there are adjustments required here and there to make it fit.

But so far, it has worked as a good starting point for building an encounter. You seem like a numbers kinda guy too. I’d encourage you to give it a test run for yourself, and if you do, let me know what you think, including any constructive criticism or further ideas you may have for it. Heck, maybe you can further improve on the, admittedly, basic idea I had here.

God knows I’d love a more complete and defined encounter builder.

Sorry for the long winded reply. Your feedback is genuinely appreciated! Cheers!

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I like long-winded replies. If you don’t mind an even longer one in return, here’s my data for all the combat encounters I’ve run so far.

4 Level 1 PCs vs 6 Level 2 Molerats
= 25.5 XP per player
Diff: Simple

4 Level 1 PCs vs 6 Level 5 Radstags
= 57 XP per player
Diff: Hard

5 Level 1 PCs + 3 Lvl 7 Brotherhood Knights vs 1 Lvl 5 Mr Handy + 5 Lvl 3 Caravan Guards
= 19.75 XP per ally
Diff: Average

5 Level 2 PCs vs 10 Level 3 RadTurkeys
= 48 XP per player
Diff: Simple (no Armor)

5 Level 2 PCs vs 10 Level 3 Proectrons
= 48 XP per player
Diff: Average (Armor 4/3/Immune)

1 Level 2 PC vs 1 Level 2 Boxer
= 17 XP per player (maybe 34? Boxer was min/maxed with 9 STR, 9 AGI, Heavy-handed)
Diff: Hard

5 Level 2 PCs vs 1 Level 10 Jet Dealer
= 14.8 XP per player (maybe 29.6? Jet Dealer had Life Giver Rank 2 for 35 HP)
Diff: Average

5 Level 3 PCs vs 6 Level 5 Ux-Ron Warriors + 1 Lvl 10 Ux-Ron Commander
= 68.8 XP per player
Diff: Average

5 Level 3 PCs vs 18 Level 2 Pig Rats + 6 Frag Mines
= 61.2 XP per player (this was a small dungeon where the party could rest, so maybe it was 3 encounters at 20.4 XP per player?)
Diff: Simple

5 Level 3 PCs vs 6 Level 4 Reavers + 1 Lvl 6 Reaver Leader
= 46.2 XP per player
Diff: Average

4 Level 3 PCs vs 8 Level 2 NeighborBots
= 34 XP per player
Diff: Average

4 Level 3 PCs vs 2 Level 2 NeighborBots + zone of poison gas
= 8.5 XP per player
Diff: Very Easy

4 Level 3 PCs + 1 Level 2 NeighborBot vs 6 Level 2 NeighborBots + 1 Level 7 NeighborBot Leader
= 30.8 XP per ally
Diff: Hard

1 Level 4 PC vs 1 Lvl 3 Cage Fighter
= 24 XP per player
Diff: Simple (PC was a Super Mutant with STR 11 and Melee 4, Tagged)

1 Level 4 PC vs 1 Level 3 Boxer
= 24 XP per player
Diff: Average

2 Level 4 PCs vs 8 Level 2 Wrestlers vs 3 Level 3 Cage Fighters (in a free-for-all wrestling Royal Rumble)
= 48 XP per player???
Diff: Hard

5 Level 4 PCs vs 10 Level 1 Cultists + 2 Level 6 Mercs + 1 Level 10 Cult Leader
= 52.8 XP per player
Diff: Hard

2 Level 4 PCs vs 1 Level 3 Beast Lord + 1 Level 10 AtomiLion
= 49 XP per player
Diff: Hard

5 Level 4 PCs vs 25 Level 1 Radroaches (using grouped NPC attacks)
= 50 XP per player
Diff: Hard (The bugs were defeated using 3 frag grenades. Without those, this would’ve been much harder.)

Being a numbers person, I’ve started using a pair of big ol’ equations to balance encounters. But the system I’m using is cumbersome and incomplete. It doesn’t account for Defense, it goes wonky if Piercing is greater than Armor, and doesn’t account for a bunch of other factors. And it only gives results for a Simple-to-Hard encounter, I’m not sure how best to tweak it for difficulty. But, I’ve liked the results so far.

[([Party Avg Damage Dice * 5 / 6] * [(-0.0025 * Party Avg Attack TN * Party Avg Attack TN) + (0.1 * Party Avg Attack TN)]) - (Enemy Avg Armor - [Party Avg Dmg Dice * 5 / 6 * Party Avg Piercing Rank / 3])] * #Players * #Rounds of Combat = Total Enemy HP

And then the opposite is true:

[([Enemy Avg Dmg Dice * 5 / 6] * [(-0.0025 * Enemy Avg Attack TN * Enemy Avg Attack TN) + (0.1 * Enemy Avg Attack TN)]) - (Party Avg Armor - [Enemy Dmg Dice * 5 / 6 * Enemy Avg Piercing Rank / 3])] * #Enemies * #Rounds of Combat = Total Party HP

If I ever figure out a system that works reasonably well for Defense and all the Damage Effects, I’ll automate it into a Google Sheet where you can input your party stats and a few enemy stats and it’ll spit out an encounter. But I don’t know if that will ever happen.