Thursday, January 2, 2020

Running intelligent foes - over at The Monsters Know

Nice post on running intelligent foes at The Monsters Know:

Intelligent Enemy Tactics

It's not really new advice, if you've been around gaming as long as I have. But it's a good, readable, and linkable source for it.

One idea I've toyed with for intelligent foes is to allow them a chance to retroactively plan for PC approaches. The GM can roll, say, an IQ roll with a cascading penalty for repeated attempts (-4 is probably workable). If successful, the monster did have something useful planned to forestall that PC tactic. A failure means exactly that - it wasn't ready.

Alternatively, make it a "Gizmo" - 5 points per use for "Tactical Gambit." Each use allows some retroactive planning using the creature's intelligence and native abilities to be ready for a situation it could have reasonably planned for had the GM thought of it ahead of time.

This can be a good way to do unplanned encounters with intelligent foes that would reasonably have planned. Because GMs don't always want to just wing it when the PCs veer left and end up in some area or situation the GM just didn't have time to plan for.


  1. Sure... I don't bother with all that personally. I just ask myself, "Did this foe have time to plan or have preparations in place based on what it could know?"

    If my answer is "Yes", it does. If my answer is "Yes, but I don't have time to think of preparations", then I 'adjust' some numbers to reflect the foe being better able to take advantage of the terrain or situation. A +1 here or there, a -1 on the PCs here or there (to represent prepared terrain, or specifically practiced attacks and defenses), and a "this foe was unprepared" can appear as though it was prepared for the PCs arrival all along.

    Inversely, I also reward PCs with bonuses or their foes with penalties when the PCs properly prepare for specific foes, so it does tend to come out in the balance.

    1. I like the idea of bonuses, too, although for me, I'm a little too potentially inconsistent about applying them. And my players would argue for bonuses if they knew their actions could result in them. It's better for my games to make it all a GM function behind the screen, solely focused on the bad guys, with indirect modifications.

      But a bonus might be the right answer for others!

    2. "And my players would argue for bonuses if they knew their actions could result in them."

      The bonuses are in line with "Take the Teamwork Perk" and "Take this Special Slayer teamwork Perk" (for a +1 on a specific Set-Up or Combined Attack), or "Take the Surefooted (Slippery) Perk and let the Wizard Grease up the floor"; so yeah, my Players totally can get those bonuses. As for penalties, that's what Grease, and Glue, and other such terrain alteration things do.

      Mystic Mist with patches of Clear, Glue, and Greased areas? That's tailor made by the PCs to wreck a careless horde's day.

    3. I'd just let the PCs do that, then, and enforce the as-written effects of their actions. Maybe I'm not following, but why give bonuses on top of that?

    4. I don't.

      My point was if I don't have time to prepare in advance of PC action, but decide the foes would have prepared, they just get bonuses and impart penalties, and here are the reasons (icy floors where the gobbos all have Sure Footed, etc)...

      And then if the PCs want to prepare, sure. But they do so through //actual preparation//, ie buying up traits to represent they've trained for these situations.

      I rarely bother to fully stat up NPCs, so I don't actually bother putting traits on them.


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