Player - Enemy Balance

A question regarding the supreme skill of GMing: Challenging players without overpowering them.

If there are three players, how many simple enemies (no extended task) should I put in a group for challenging yet manageable conflict (skirmish)? Given that the players got the hightest drive at 8, skill at 7 and the enemies’ drives are at 5/6 and skills at 6.

Also extended tasks against complex enemies. Are you even creating single individuals (like bosses/minibosses)? How would I create one or two Sardaukar, who need extended tasks to defeat, in order to challenge my players? Both with fight skills at 8 and shields with quality 1 - what about the quality of their offensive assets, should they have better swords to threaten the players more?

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My combats are fairly light in Dune, but I have run quite a few in STA which is close enough to carry over.

My rough rule of thumb is that a default mook squad should be 2 x number of players. This is normally straightforward for the players to beat without a combat dragging on too long.
If I want to up the difficulty I will add 1 or 2 points to their stats or give them a lieutenant character who has higher stats and better equipment (Armour or Phaser in STA, so a shield, etc in Dune).

The corebook has a Sarduakar NPC (pg 288). One should cause pain to an average party, but at 3-1 they will still take them down without too much trouble. Two would give a party a serious challenge depending on how combat focussed they are.
Alternatively you can use a reskinned Duncan Idaho (pg 248) whose stats are fairly similar but who has much better talents for use on his own.
Both of these have the Master-at-arms talent so when they appear you can throw down a couple of threat and narrate how their knives sing as they are pulled out of their sheaths…

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This is one of the things Threat does very well.
If the PCs are having too easy a time, its time to spend some Threat.
Trickier to balance if the opposition is too tough though.


It works both ways: if the opposition is tough, the players can spend momentum or give threat to increase their odds

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