Monster Damage and Character Armor

From what I've seen monster damage seems very low. Most low level creatures do 2-4 points of damage and I have a player in my group who will be starting his first tier character with 4 points of armor. Does this make him impervious to most weapon attacks from these creatures or am I missing something.

I get that some damage ignores armor.



  • It looks like you're right. I don't have expierience as a GM myself but there was a discussion about such a case before.

    I think you have to find other ways to "harm" this character:

    - Monsters attacking as a group and thus becoming a higher level with more damage
    - Ambient damage from the environment which passes right through the armor
    - GM intrusion where an attack becomes armor piercing...and it was poisionous aswell...
    - Mental attacks against his Int. Pool ignore the armor.
    - Strange weapons ( in the hands of the opposition) that paralyse or move him down the damage track.

    Depending on the armor itself you can make it worn out and become useless etc.

    Still, the occasional Tier 1 appropriate foe (a Level 2 or 3 Bandit) wont be a suspenseful encounter for this char. without you trying hard to actually hurt him.

    But he doesn't even get experience from killing
  • On another note, remember: In Numenera combat usually isn't actually about combat.  It's about some other goal that the enemies are in the way of, so...

    • Even if the PCs can beat the enemies easily, it costs them time, maybe too much time...

    • In an escort mission, it's not the PC getting hurt that really matters.

    • An opponent that can't hurt the PCs can still run away and find someone who can.

    There's plenty of ways to make mooks that have no chance of victory still be meaningful as long as you think beyond the scope of the fight.
  • You could also create a mob of said low level creatures and inflict damage two levels higher.
  • Someone who starts out with 4 Armor at Tier 1 has put a considerable amount of resources into combat. They should not be invincible by any means, but it's alright for them to really shine during combat. It's kind of their thing. The other PCs will have to pick up some of the slack for them when swords are not drawn.

    It's also important to keep in mind that the encounter guidelines are fairly loose and meant for typical PCs. Mr. Tough Guy is not a typical PC. He also won't be getting that much tougher - Armor values stay relatively static across tiers. Armor 5 or 6 is pretty much as tough as you get. 
  • Even if Mr. Tough Guy is basically immune to getting hurt by your typical broken hound/etc., it's a good bet the rest of the people in his party are not.  Sure, he can engage as many enemies as he likes, but the softer, squishier members of his party are still up for being hit.  Also, if he is taking hit after hit after hit, I'd use GM intrusion to say, "Sorry, after taking 20+ hits, your armor is mangled scraps.  Please repair/buy new." 
  • Yes, it means he will be very tough to kill with monsters up to level 4 who only use physical attacks.  This guy will chew them up.  Depending on his other skills though he may or may not be a one trick pony, but he's sure handy to have around when things get ugly.  

    If he's getting attacked by a lot of monsters, he will eventually roll badly on some defense rolls, perfect time for a GM intrusion to make the fight interesting if it has gotten dull.  But all in all, sounds like this PC is loaded for Bear.
  • Yeah, I've been looking at making another Glaive character. Ivan, the Tough Glaive who Fuses Flesh with Steel. And wears chainmail. 4 points armor at tier 1! At 6th tier, 7 points armor...Seems rather broken, until something has fire breath or lightning attacks or somesuch. And then it seems unfair to the poor sad player. "I swore I had a speed pool...Where'd it go?"
  • Here's what I came up with as the "ultimate" armored character:

    Tier 6 Tough Nano who Fuses Flesh With Steel

    Tier 1: +1 from Tough, +1 from focus, +1 from Ward esotery, 1 level of armor training, wears Light armor

    Tier 2: 1 level of armor training, wears Medium armor

    Tier 3: Substitute +1 from Fusion Armor for focus ability, 1 level of armor training, wears Heavy armor

    Tier 4: Substitute +1 from Fusion Armor for focus ability

    Tier 5: Substitute +1 from Fusion Armor for focus ability

    Tier 6: +1 Armor from focus, +2 from Usurp Cypher (Force Field), +4 from Usurp Cypher (lvl 5 Force Field Projector), wears artifact Battlesuit for +6 Armor.

    Grand total: 19 Armor. (Not counting situational bonuses from other esoteries such as Energy Protection.)

    Combine that with the character advancement option that gives +2 to Recovery rolls per Tier and he's rolling d6+18 per Recovery.

    That's a tank-mage!
  • He still wouldn't last that long against a Dread Destroyer :-)
  • so classic the ultimate throw down......lets see who wins

  • Well, since we're pulling stuff out of our backsides, let's say that he's also got every form of Energy Protection esotery imaginable, Adaptation to environmental hazards (which a working battlesuit actually does), unlimited XP to fend off GM Intrusions and a cypher carrying case artifact loaded down with singularity projectors to deal with the DD.  Or, heck, just 43 levels of Effort to one-shot it with a mindslice (10 levels to zero the difficulty, 33 levels for +99 damage).

    It's just an exercise in theory, guys.  Yes, we can stipulate that any character can be destroyed by GM fiat.  They can be hit with mental attacks, or teleported into the sun, or thrown into a black hole, or the whole universe can just evaporate in a false vacuum collapse.  Or maybe Anthony Fremont will come along and wish him into the cornfield.

    Still, a nano with a ton of armor, adaptation, appropriate energy protection, teleport to escape immediate range and enough fire-power to out-damage its regeneration could give a DD RAW a run for its money, barring the GM "I Win" button.
  • This is one of those classic questions that also tends to come up in supers RPGs, and ultimately the answer is creativity. If sapient foes find that normal weapon attacks aren't effective, they'll try other tacks. They'll grapple and pile on, pinning and restraining such an opponent. They'll lasso and net them. They'll ambush and drop boulders on 'em. They'll use gas-based cyphers. They'll threaten those the character cares about. They'll shove them into deep water, etc. Direct physical attack damage is only one way in which a character can be hurt, hindered, killed, or otherwise brought low.

    That doesn't mean it should be easy, however, or that such a focused character shouldn't be able to shine (if at the expense of other situations) but ultimately there are always other options.

    Michael Adam brace said:
    so classic the ultimate throw down......lets see who wins


  • As Petteri said, there's ways around it.  I have 2 glaives both of which have decent armor.  At Tier 1, they had about 3 armor between their base and cyphers and fought some broken hounds.  A Tier 2 broken hound is not a threat with it's DR 2 attacks and 4 damage, but a pack at Tier 4 doing 8 damage was a threat.  I had them fight 2 packs of 6, and they didn't have much AOE capabilities; it was pretty effective.

    Later they fought Boregal, which does 6 Int damage.  Armor doesn't protect against Int damage.  It was a pretty epic fight and they felt very threatened.

    I try to mix it up; give them some easy fights where their strengths come into play so they feel powerful, then change it up with something that bypasses their strengths and is creative.  there's an artifact at the end of Beale of Boregal that is a rod that when it hits discharges energy and does Speed damage; kind of like a cattle prod.  That's another option; that would also bypass armor.
  • Hi, I'm new here (and no native speaker, so excuse occasional awkward English). I've game-mastered Numenera for the first time this week, and I ran into the armor problem right in my first session. I played "Vortex" with the six pregenerated characters and a group of largely rpg newbies on a mini-convention.

    Since several of the pregenerated characters had effectively 2 or 3 points of armor, they were pretty much invulnerable to most of the antagonists of the adventure. The fights dragged endlessly, with the PCs hitting only about half of the time and being hit as often, but shrugging it off. No encounter was the slightest threat to them, and the big problem was quite definitely armor.

    I've read a lot of the suggestions in this thread, but to be honest, they're not very helpful to me. As a GM, I really don't like to come up with things like "hey, intrusion - your opponent finds a weak spot in your armor; also, I just decided that his sword is poisoned." To me, that feels like cheating a player, who has, after all, invested into his armor points by making certain decisions when generating his character. This player has decided that he wants his character to be hard to harm. I really don't like to have events conspire against a PC to negate that decision - it feels unfair, and it usually strains believability. But if creating a character that is hard to harm actually results in creating a character that is virtually invulnerable to any but the most formidable foes, I'm practically forced to act like this. Either that, or just declare that the PCs win the fight anyway and forego rolling the dice (something I did halfway through to of the three fights in Vortex).

    Did someone come up with a fix that doesn't involve targetting armored characters specifically with GM intrusions or antagonists that ignore armor? As I said, these strategies create the impression that events conspire to rob that character of his advantage, which feels both unfair and unbelievable.

    I'm really in love with the Numenera setting, and I also liked the system at first view, seeming like a stripped-down D&D that took some inspiration from the Gumeshoe and the FATE systems, which both work really well for me (D&D not so much ...). But after playing it for the first time, I feel like it may just depend to much on the GM actively looking for ways to hurt the PCs. That's something that just doesn't work for me - as the GM, I don't want to be the guy who's out to get them; I want the rules to be tough enough to make for challenging conflicts, without having to resort to arbitrary intrusions to make it harder for them.
  • I would caution anyone from seeing a situation like the one described above and focusing on finding ways around the armor value.  The problem is that the character has specialized in a narrow area (though just having heavy armor is not particularly specialized).  There is a good chance the player did this because she wants to feel invulnerable.  If every encounter has some trick to get around the armor, they player may feel cheated.  Occasional armor bypassing encounters can be fine but you don't want to negate player choices by simply working around any you find inconvenient.  

    I would recommend only using creatures that bypass armor about ever one in three encounters.  Other times just have creatures begin to ignore the invulnerable character (if they are intelligent enough to do so).  Mostly, diversify encounter types so that all of your players can feel similarly powerful in different contexts and against different challenges.  

    At its heart, Numenera and the Cypher system are like super-power systems where players are going to feel quite powerful.  This is a feature, not a bug.  That being said, you want to embrace ALL players feeling powerful at times and sharing the spotlight rather than one player breaking most encounters.
  • Hear hear.

    Scott Robinson said:
    I would caution anyone from seeing a situation like the one described above and focusing on finding ways around the armor value.  ....

  • I just wanted to mention that I played my second session of Numenera last weekend, and this time, the system worked beautifully ... I think the main difference was that the players were mainly exhausting their pools by using effort, instead of getting damage. That seemed kind of strange at first, but it obviously works.

    I think the first time around, the problem was that the only thing the characters tried to achieve during battle was to defeat their opponents; and if you want to do nothing but that and have lots of time and a good piece of armor, it really makes little sense to spend any effort. Just keep rolling until you have finally worn your enemy down. Pretty boring.

    However, as soon as the characters want to achieve something else while doing battle, and they want to achieve it rather sooner than later, they will have to spend effort, and thereby become vulnerable. In my last session, that happened several times: the PCs trieb to enter a structure before their enemies, they tried to manipulate a numenera while being attacked by a guardian robot, and they tried not to get hit by a metal globe spewing deadly fire while having to stop a bunch of fleeing cultists ...

    So, I think the key to making battles interesting in Numenera ist that there need to be complications that force the players to spend effort if they really want to get what they're going for.
  • I saw somewhere on here a houserule that went:

    A successful attack always inflicts at least 1 damage.

  • Don't forget that damage is only the smallest way to reduce a pool.
    The problem is coming from D&D or other such games is players are not used to spending hit points,they want to horde them. Give it time, they will learn to spend them.

    I think the minimum 1 dmg on a successful attack is a terrible idea.
    Give the players more challenges to over come or encourage thinking outside the box and spending stats in other ways. Picking a lock, interacting with an NPC, working on a numenera device, stealthing around something that will kill them, stealing, breaking things, fixing things, selling items, political maneuvering, avoiding the law, being the law.
    Effort can be used on any roll in the game, so spend away.
  • I agree with John...remember the focus of the game is on discovery.
  • edited July 2015
    I know it's an old thread but here is one of my solution to the armor issue: cyphers. Yes, the players have cyphers, but so does their enemies. A bunch of level 2 bandits may be easy for a bunch of though guys... Now, give two bandits some kind of explosive cyphers and another one a one time use ray gun and the fight will be already much more fair (or downright lethal if the bandits planned an ambush)! Bonus point: it will show the players that cyphers are pretty common and they should use them a lot.

    And about the example above with the char with a battlesuit armor... Well, if as a GM you authorise your players to get battlesuit armors, you brought this upon yourself. You always have to think very carefully when you introduce an artefact. Don't give them lightly and don't give them randomly (and give max one per character through a whole campaign, at least it is my take on this). Poor GMs are often blaming their players or the system while they are the only one responsible of a campaign going haywire (and that's ok, every GM had some of these, just learn from it).
  • edited August 2015
    Like Monte wrote in Numenera Corebook: Damage is not what's the most important thing. Getting hit has many other consequences other than dmg.

    Maybe that ultraterrestrial snake-like being does only 5 pts of dmg and you have 4 armor but when you get hit his strange poison moves you instantly down on Damage Track by 1 and makes all rolls you make for next round harder by 2 or maybe your own shadow starts attacking you.

    Hell he can even move players down by 2 in damage track. I guarantee your players will avoid getting hit by him regardless of his dmg even if it's entirely absorbed by armor because it could put them at death's door with a single bite or outright kill them if they were already impaired. That what makes players more guarded.
  • Some attacks also ignore armor, or worse degrade it by a level if you fail your defense roll. Bad guys can use Pierce, etc in their attacks too. Just don't use it too frequently.
  • In 'Fear the Ocean', when the PC's were fighting the sea creatures in the village; they realised that the creatures did minimal damage vs. armour.
     "Great, we can easily kill them"
    Unfortunately, they then found that when killed, the creatures burst open, releasing poisonous gas which they had to avoid breathing.
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