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As I'm trying to recreate some characters, I'm finding a problem exists that I remember having even back in live days.


The issue is it's impossible to get some kind of consistent balance for my custom NPC enemies.


Basically, it amounts to this.  If I want to make an epic enemy, that the heroes need to pull out all the stops against, they're SO ridiculously powerful that they're practically oneshotting the player characters.  Then, if I make them lower rank, to reduce their absurd damage output, they become absurdly flimsy, and offer no real challenge at all.


For example, I created a version of my Tank character, the Canadian Shield.  I had originally planned on making all my NPC actual heroes and supervillains Elite Bosses, the logic being that WE are stronger than bosses, but weaker than Arch Villains.  However, I knew ahead of time that making Tanker type characters as EBs makes them too strong, so I started as a Boss and figured I could upgrade him as necessary.


As a boss, his attacks were doing 200-800 damage, on average.  This is enough to nearly oneshot my L35 Mastermind.  Considering he's got to face absorbing dozens of such attacks, there's basically no way for him to survive an encounter with the Canadian Shield as a Boss, let alone as an Elite Boss... and even thinking about making an Arch Villain... there's just no way.


Meanwhile, my NPC character based on my Electric/Traps Controller was obliterated almost immediately when created as a Boss.  The discrepancy between the power sets is pretty extreme, and the discrepancy between the ranks (ie. Minion through AV) is also pretty extreme.


I feel like a balance pass is desperately needed.

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It's not just rank you have to look at.  You can balance an EB/AV NPC character with your power selection for them.  I've run into similar as you and while MY character I am trying to recreate has Build Up, Aim, Darkest Night, or other such buff/debuff powers, and even though they are available to NPC in AE... I find it's best to not give them those types of powers because like you say, they'll one-shot the player.


You can still make a Tanker NPC and give it powers from the powersets you want - but look at what buff/debuff powers you give them.  Critters/NPCs in AE are more like we are and less like Critters in PVE.  The powers you give them work similar to the ones we get and not the dumbed down versions critters in PVE get.  For example, Invulnerable set's Invincibility... CoT demons get this power (or a version of it), but it is a mere fraction of what we get as players.  In AE, the NPC gets our version and it's much stronger - they get more Def and more ToHit than the PVE Critter version.  


When selecting your powers for your EB/AV NPCs (and even bosses too)... give them the "flavor" you want.  Don't just check off every power on the list, even though your character that you're recreating has them.  This should help you balance your NPCs.


Good luck!


PS - I'm also NOT saying to never use those buff/debuff powers - as the story goes, it may be part of that character that they have a super one-shot ability or a massive debuff that you have to be careful of.  There are already AVs/GMs in game that have this and you have to avoid it somehow, which is part of the challenge and fun of the game... you just have to warn the player ahead of time with the story that this will happen.  


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Ya, I always cherry pick the powers I want them to have, but even at that it's nearly impossible to properly balance them.  For example, the NPC version of Canadian Shield was doing more than 200 damage with Punch, compared to the 40 damage the actual character was doing... and that's when I made him as a BOSS.  Making him an EB or AV would only make things worse.


But, beyond that, there's the discrepancy between the types.  Canadian Shield as a Boss is an almost indestructible juggernaut capable of obliterating any PC in seconds, while Dr. Solomon the Controller is defeated in seconds himself, without being able to do much of ANYTHING to a PC.  I understand, it's likely difficult to balance things when you can have combinations not possible for players, but I still feel like a balancing pass is needed.

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  • 3 months later

So, a bit of an update.


I've been tinkering with some custom characters.  One uses dual pistols.  He's an Elite Boss.  My L23 Blaster took him on in an AE mission I'm working on, with Invulnerability active, so I could test things.  Fighting this boss was one of the things I need to test, because someone tried the mission and said he was weak and trivial to his L50 Sentinel.


In the time it took for my L23 Blaster (Beam Rifle) to defeat the EB, the boss had inflicted over 14k damage to him.  The Blaster has 628 health.  The boss was doing more than 200 damage with his most elementary attacks.  His heavier attacks were doing nearly 500 damage.


How are we supposed to balance our characters when they're so overpowered... and yet not overpowered for other characters.  It's daunting, and frustrating.

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It's a pain, yeah.  You can't really so I get the balance pass thing, I do.  I pretty much realised that when I write a level 25 AE, it's a challenge for an actual level 25, and I had to be happy with that.  The AE wasn't built to allow for characters that have our kind of resources and inf and sets.  


The only thing I like to do, which can be a little challenging, is for certain things I lock the max level at 43.  So incarnates cannot be used.  You might think 44, but a 44 lock where the player sets the diff at -1 will bypass that!  NPCs will be 44 and the player boosted to 45, and incarnates are back in.


(I've experimented but not published an "UBER MMs Enemy team", with multiple MMs capable of summoning multiple types of minion.  Getting attacked by one guy who flings Thugs, Zombies and Bots at you is crazy!  Alas, no XP for those guys.  Must find a "reason" to include one of those in an arc.  Sure, a farm but farms want XP generators and I don't make them anyway.)

Edited by Darmian

AE SFMA Arcs: The Meteors (Arc id 42079) Dark Deeds in Galaxy City: Part One. (Arc id 26756) X | Dark Deeds in Galaxy City: Part Two. (Arc id 26952) | Dark Deeds in Galaxy City: Part Three. (Arc id 27233) Darker Deeds: Part One (Arc id 28374) | Darker Deeds: Part Two. (Arc id 28536) | Darker Deeds: Part Three. (Arc id 29252) | Darkest Before Dawn: Part One (Arc id 29891) |

Darkest Before Dawn: Part Two (Arc id 30210) | Darkest Before Dawn: Part Three (Arc id 30560) |

 Bridge of Forever ( Arc id 36642) | The Cassini Division (Arc id 37104) X | The House of Gaunt Saints (Arc id 37489) X | The Spark of the Blind (Arc id 40403) | Damnatio Memoriae (Arc id 41140) X  The Eve of War (Arc id 41583) | Spirals: Part One. (Arc id 55109) |  Spirals: Part Two. (Arc id 55358) |  Spirals: Part Three. (Arc id 57197)

I Sing of Arms and the Man (Arc id 42617) | Three Sisters (Arc id 43013)

(Pre War Praetorian Loyalist.  Pre War Praetorian Resistance.  Pre ITF Cimerora.  Post ITF Cimerora. X = Dev Choice/Hall of Fame )

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