NPC (enemies) special rules revealed to players yah or nah?

Hello looking for some input here. I am GMing a game and one of the players stated they felt the PC’s should have a list of all the enemies special rules EX how many dice they roll, exactly how much resistance they have, how much it takes to injure them, immunities etc, so that they new how many dice to buy to defeat them. I am afraid of this leaning more towards “metagaming”. As well as taking a large part of the actual feeling of acomplishment upon success allowing players to instead “buy a win” with exactly as much momentum as they know they need. Perhaps I am being more paranoid then i need to be though. I do not want to GM with the whole attitude of “because I feel this way”. The current example is this:
“The crew encountered a few worker/labor model androids that were secretly holding a freighter and its crew hostage that had been missing for 2 years, they scanned and accessed the androids and got the info that the androids were built for doing harsh manual labor, maintenance, and repair (on the GM character sheet this is reflected that they roll 4 dice for all fitness related tasks ( figuring 1 for each appendage 2 arms 2 legs) this was done with the idea of if they were simply attacked by a roll and no specification where they wanted to hit “injure them” but rather complicate them by yaking off an apendage and reducing the advantage these enemies start out with. The crew in this scenario is also all wearing “home brew” enviromental suits with muscle enhancement allowing them all to roll 3 dice themselves. The problem occured when they descided to surprise attack them on the bridge they (or rather 1 out of the 6) they took 1 out then when attacked in hand to hand were expecting dispite being told these units have enhanced physical attributes that they only roll the normal 2 dice (like any common simple enemy) and they have the advantage of 3 dice, and if they knew that the android would roll 4 they would of bought 1 or more dice to counter the attack.” *** as it was no one died or even sustained any injury but 1 player did get their suut broken***
I personally feel that the whole idea behind scanning and finding out somthing has any type of enhancment or quality is that you should assume there is a rule behind it to support this, therefore you should plan or gamble accordingly with your momentum. Especially since if you over succeed you get some of it back. Another example is if you scan target with your tricorder and find that is has strong armored plating and normal phasers will have little effect against it do you need to tell players that this is represented by lets say 8 resistance so they know just how much momentum to use to succeed at it or should that info be enough so that they know the need to modify the phaser, use momentum for added damage/penetration, or come up with a completley new aproach to the target. Any and all thoughts appreciated

I’ll preface this by saying that I only skim read the example (sorry)

I would personally never outright provide statistical information to the players, especially not for free. However, if the enemy is familiar, they may know more from previous experience. That’s what descriptive signposting is for - “This guys works his hand super quickly across the console, working twice as fast as a normal humanoid” - would suggest that this NPC might get multiple actions, or advantage on actions for example.

I’d also allow for the players, if they so wished, to attempt tasks to figure out some of this information - A doctor with the right information could probably work out how hardy and resistant a creature would be, as an example.

On the flip side, the GM should never mislead the players when it comes to things like rolls. I’d even probably go as far as to say that in a contested check, I would openly let slip the amount of dice I am about to roll, to allow them to adjust - “So this guys rolls… 4 dice because of that…”

Without prior knowledge, effort to find out or direct comparable interaction however then the characters are guessing as much as the players. Why would they know how many challenge dice Mr X’s modified disruptor pistol does?

I think this is a question of style of play. I tend to concur with @mattcapiche as I, too, am very reluctant with providing exact statistics. The exception would be a thorough scan. But even if players bought additional information with Momentum (obtain information momentum spend) I’d answer questions like “how strong are these androids” with “at least as strong as you, wearing your enhanced EV-suits, probably a bit stronger”. Where would be the fun?

However, it seems to be the case that one of your player expects you to lay out the chances ahaed. Maybe ‘beating the game’ is where they get their share of fun from? You might consider to do it, if it does not lower your fun and your other players’ fun.

Thus, in the end, it does come back to how you feel about it. If you as a group draw fun of this style of game where everybody has an informed choice about probabilities and can perfectly allocate resources – great, do it! If, in contrast, that would be too metagamy, then don’t.

I’m pretty much with @mattcapiche on this issue: Finding out is part of the game, but the GM should never mislead the characters (unless this is specifically used as a plot device and this should be handled with GREAT care…!).

But in essence it’s a question on what would be the obstacle your players want to beat. Do they want to beat the math with or without some guessing? If they’re regularly frustrated because they made an incorrect guess – then better don’t make them guess and outright tell them the numbers.

If they are okay with guessing unless they took time to scan (and even then, again, where would be the fun in knowing that some NPC had exactly this or that stat? In my opinion comparisons are best, because they tie into the narration not the crunchy part of the system!) then don’t tell them everything. Just be honest.

Oh, and, finally:

They cannot, I do not tell anybody. (But it is a lot.) :stuck_out_tongue:

I would not disclose any NPC statistics during the game. That’s entirely GM information. I also would not allow players to have cheat sheets with common NPC statistics. They should concentrate on their characters and on the role play, not NPC mechanics.

Also I doubt that knowing the stats is even that helpful. Sure you can mathematically optimize your dice roll, but even then there is enough randomness that this should hardly matter. After a few games the players will get a feel for common NPCs anyway. And if you catch a player do those kind of statistical calculations, spend some Threat to increase their Difficulty or create a Complication.

That said, the GM should attempt to build NPCs as “realistic” as possible, meaning a Section 31 agent should have roughly the same attributes as PCs, but can of course have any number of freaky Talents.

I liked your description of the androids that they are built with enhanced physical attributes. This should have been enough of a clue for the players to not get into close combat with them. Everyone should be familiar with Data and what he could do. As a GM, I would probably have reminded the player of the android’s supposed strength before they got into a melee. But if the player tries to interpret that wrongly in game mechanics, that’s just tough luck.

Scanning an enemy should only yield narrative descriptions, not game mechanics. The GM should attempt to describe the effect as realistically as possible, so that the players can draw their own conclusions.

Also, as a GM, I reserve the right to totally surprise the players by spending Threat. I may tease if beforehand, but I’m totally aware that the players are not prepared for this. In one adventure, the Crew chased a baddie around the ship. She was previously in the holodeck and the Crew saw that there were some panels and emitters missing. So later, the NPC “summoned” reinforcements through holo-emitters she took from the holodeck and installed around the ship. It would be a pretty boring game if the GM could not pull any surprises like this.

1 Like

As I roll all dice in the open, the players will see, which results on a d20 is a success, and they will see how many Challenge Dice I roll for the NPCs’ attacks.
I consider that obvious information, which becomes apparent as soon a the NPCs act.

Other abilities, like reducing Difficulty, bonus Momentum under certain circumstances, re-rolls, etc. will only be revealed, after the fact, when they actually come into play.

I never reveal a stat block, but using a tricorder or some psychological training they might get a good guess regarding some of the NPCs stats - but as that requires an action on the players’ side, this is often not a good idea during an action scene.

Threat Spends I only reveal when I make them. They happen, the players see how much Threat I use, so they know now about this special ability of the NPC.

As all 2d20-based RPGs are very “meta-gamey”, using Threat, Determination and Momentum as pure meta-game resources, the players need to be able to make informed choices on when and how much of those resources they want to spend or in case of Threat to generate.
Therefore keeping the number of Thread, the rolled Challenge Dice etc. secret from the players is not helpful. They need to know about it to be able to play this kind of game.

So I feel I should say the reveal that this android had 4 dice to roll was given right there during the roll off. The issue is should any enemy scanned be : here you guys go this is everything it can do - threat actions, bonuses, special rules, damage output potentential etc. It seems if this is the case you just lay the 2 sheets out together and roll off of them. Here is another example not one from our game:
“player A has descided he wants a peice of player B. Both players have played together for awhile and their characters know each other pretty well at this point. Through out a lets say year long campaign. The both have traded out talents acquired “home brewed” alien unique weapons/talents. Lets say before hand they both prepped for the skirmish as well looking at records, recalling encounters, and other shenanigans to better know their opponent. Should they get the stats of the other player he has a 17 at fitness security with a home brewed artifact that gives him an extra d20 and a blade that hits for 12 challenge dice and he has a hypospray that can gain back 5 stress upon use. Or do you give detailed descriptions of ***you know his blade seldom misses his target he has shown great prowess in multiple confrontations through out your time together acheiving feats beyond what you have seen any of his (insert species name here) has been able to do. You have seen he always carries his hypo spray with him and the miraculous elixirs within seem to make wounds close almost instantly.”
All of these have stats and rules but should each player see what they all are or should they have to use their judgement based on what they ascertain in description. “I have seen him wreck many an enemy with that blade. I bet if i get hit with it, it will hurt.” " Man he hits almost all the time and seldom fails his attack rolls he has a high hit chance i will need to take into consideration" “and boy i have seen use that hypo spray to bounce back in the heat of battle i need to figure out how to get that away from him or prevent its use”
Or do you just say OK boys sheets on the table and its a roll off?

In my game, player character sheets are always publicly available because have a website for my players. It’s just easier this way for me.

So in PvP, I wouldn’t mind if they had a look at that sheet. As you pointed out, they know each other pretty well. Depending on the nature of the encounter (in most cases I assume PvP would happen in the passion of the moment), I would not allow for the time to study the sheet. If you want to attack, do it. No time to read beforehand.

No, I wouldn’t recommend that.
Even scanning gives a player character only so much information, but certainly not non-obvious ones.
And it requires effort - a task that could fail, could create complications, etc.
Still, not giving away whole stat blocks, but certain informations the players are really putting work into finding out, seems to me a sensible middle ground.


In my games, too. All players know the character sheets of all other players.
Only in some Infinity games, where there is some “paranoia-like” conspiracy and counter-conspiracy thing going on, the character sheets are private.

I wouldn’t give out any exact stats, both because I think it detracts from immersion, and because as GM I might want to change direction on the fly, or spend some Threat and ramp things up, or otherwise adjust to the mood and small-m momentum at the table. I’d do my best to maintain the fiction - describe things out, and certainly reward scanning and investigation with information. Statements such as “You notice the robots can use all their limbs simultaneously at a speed much faster than a human,” and, “While their construction seems to be primarily built around construction, your tricorder scans indicate high levels of armor plating surrounding key systems,” and so forth.

Misleading characters has a place, but as said, needs to be done with care. If everything’s a surprise, the players will always feel like every encounter is a random crapshoot, and that spoils the impact of a good twist. If they’re never complacent, you can’t give them a kick in the complacency.

As a general rule, I have found it tends to work better to mask as many mechanics as possible and keep focus on the action and/or story, but as has also been touched upon, for some players, the number crunching and visibility thereof are part of the fun, and if that’s your table and you think it’ll make for a more fun evening, then let 'em crunch. I would just recommend trying to at least expose them to the other version first. You did also say “one of your players” - what do the others think?

1 Like

I think as long as you give some in-character indicators that things will be difficult (and an idea of both), there should never be a need for players to know exactly what an opponent is capable of. That said, there’s no problem with them figuring it out as the game plays out.

Although, in this case, you might want to say that the opponents are not playing on quite the same rules as the players - 4 dice by default is a heckuva bonus…

I feel i should put some of the scene in context. Yes 4 dice is a “nice” bonus i dont know about a heckuva bonus… based on other characters out of book with simple gauranteed successes these ones atleast have potential to fail as well as the scenario all players involved have a evironmental suit adding a bonus dice so they are all rolling 3 dice as well. I did however check with the rest of the group after several suggested it (thank you all by the way) it appears it is only the one player out of our 8 player group that has the issue. So it will remain with me (the GM) to continue using descriptive language to show the magnitude of the situation. I will need to add extra emphasis and added info on what presents itself in the form of a special rule.

My take- show, don’t tell. I won’t give them stats and rules references, but I’ll let on the narrative, observable side of the rules. Example- I have a Klingon duelist NPC who recurs, who favors a two sword fighting style. The players will get a description of her using her swords to parry and deflect, mitigating the impact of any blow they land, after which any damage they score will be modified by her resistance (armor + brak’lul if applicable) in addition to effective cover dice equal to the unmodified damage score of the blades (generally 2). Alternately, if she uses her offensive form, they get a description of her using the twin blades to weave through their defenses, with one followed by the other striking at them, then rolling damage based on the full value of one blade plus half of the damage for the other. (With her security score, in offensive form, she can land 9 dice with vicious 1, vs 6 in her defensive stance.)

It sounds like there’s a lack of player trust combined with a desire to metagame. However by giving the NPCs bonus d20s for free you’re essentially vastly increasing the Threat pool. 2 extra d20s is 3 Threat. Per NPC. On each roll. That’s a separate issue for me.

Now if the PCs scanned the enemies and used the Obtain Information spend, then I would definitely give them information but couched in non mechanical terms.

1 Like

Yes, simply “generating 3 Threat out of the air” is a crass deviation from the rules the GM is supposed to use.
Nothing wrong in spending that much Threat if the GM’s Threat pool is well filled by players generating a lot of Threat.

Or may the players get +2d20 for their dice pools for free, too? Then that might work out somehow.

Threat is intended as a tool for the GM to change an already established scene, e.g. by summoning reinforcements or making opponents more powerful.

If you setup an opponent like an android and describe them as having enhanced physical attributes (easily obtained from a scan), then it is totally legit to have them roll additional d20s for certain tasks at no Threat cost. So while those opponents are obviously very strong, it’s not unfair.


Yeah, as much as I’m not fond of the level of the bonus, it’s perfectly legit if they start the scene with it.

But given how you can use excess successes to boost both damage effects and the threat pool, it’s a generous advantage!

I am curious as to whether their threat expenditure is capped at 1 or 3 extra dice though. The upper limit could make them very powerful.

I agree that there is nothing wrong with that as design. They are a very dangerous opponent intentionally. Threat spends are intended for changing scenes on the go - it doesn’t assume that all in the universe are made equal.

If you wanted to balance them a little more, you could require an escalation cost threat spend to activate defense protocols or something like that? But you could also give then threatening X with the activation cost being equal to X

One thing I would allow, but nobody has thought of it in my group, yet, is using a combination of medical tricorder and a regular tricorder to gain some advantage against an enemy in combat by being able to adjust their equipment based on the biology of their opponent. Either by identifying offensive or defensive properties and how to overcome them.

So they have no threat expenditure. No ability to buy extra dice. They were mundane models designed and built for performing manual tasks. Unlike Data that had expansive training/protocols and abilities to do all kinds of things. They were “designed” in our universe to only do one thing but do it well - physical tasks. For instance they were not designed to use phasers so no bonuses there only normal 2 or fly a ship so no bonus there either nore where they designed to assess medical or science angles. Also the PC’s create an advantage by either attacking or disabling a limb and removing a dice. So 2 good attacks and it is back down to 2 dice