Author Topic: Mooks: How to judge level?  (Read 1577 times)

rejectedreality

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Mooks: How to judge level?
« on: December 08, 2015, 05:42:50 PM »
I've been running a Legend campaign for a few months now, and I've been trying very hard to be "honest" about levels. As in, I don't use the Bethesda model of leveling the world with the PCs. So if the level 8 PCs decide to go into a village in the middle of nowhere, they can totally steamroll it, and there magically be level 8 guards to provide a challenge. Similarly, if they stumble upon and happen to fight an elder dragon or something, it's still a level 17 elder dragon. I'm not gonna level it down.

So. I have been struggling with that, but that's not the point of the topic. The point of this topic is that I'm trying to figure out what different level mooks means "in-universe". I saw that levels 1-5 is typically mortal, and 16-20 is essentially on the level of gods. That makes total sense for fully statted characters, whether they're PC, NPCs, or enemies. But how does that work for mooks? Am I just meant to use mooks of an equal level of the party to keep them challenging? How does a level 20 mook make sense? They're on the level of gods, but they're nameless, non-influential, non-tracked guys? Basically, I have trouble envisioning a mook that's any higher than level 5.


Edit: Another reason I'm asking is that I plan to run an army vs. PC situation, with 200 level 1 mooks and a level 10 general vs. a group of 5 or so level 8 PCs. Don't really know what level mook a foot soldier should be. Is level 1 appropriate? As an example and reference point.

What does everyone think? Are the levels entirely mechanical, and meant to keep them relevant at all levels? Or do they have a place in the world, with a level 20 mook the supreme leader of molerats?
« Last Edit: December 08, 2015, 05:44:36 PM by rejectedreality »

Tim4488

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Re: Mooks: How to judge level?
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2015, 09:21:42 PM »
I think a Level 20 Expert could be the Supreme Leader of the Molerats, but a non-Expert Mook, probably not. I might think about it in terms of mooks that serve the gods or greater powers - the army of a deity might be vast and faceless, and any individual member of it could probably curbstomp most "heroes." Likewise, perhaps an Elder Dragon has created dozens of offspring, each relatively unimportant compared to the Dragon itself, but still threatening enough to destroy entire villages on its own.

Does that help any?
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sfriedberg

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Re: Mooks: How to judge level?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2015, 09:46:02 PM »
I can't answer your main question, but do have a suggestion for enriching your army scenario.  In the modern world, 200 guys is an large company or an undersized battalion, probably led by a major or lieutenant colonel.  That's a well-seasoned officer, and he/she will be assisted by two to four additional officers, each of whom will be assisted by four to six sergeants of various levels.  So level 10 is probably OK for the leader, but I'd toss in 2-4 level 7-8 subleaders and maybe 12-16 level 4-6 guys, with the remainder being level 1-3 mooks.

Something very notable about organized militaries is they do not fall apart if you stun-lock or kill the guy in charge.  The subleaders fill the command gap, and in fact, an "army" of 200 does not behave like a mob backing a boss.  Each squad or company can have its own objectives, maneuver independently, etc.  I think you will have a much more interesting encounter if you provide some of that aspect.  Also, you get a much richer set of army behaviors if more than one guy has 2nd circle (or higher) abilities.  I would give your players a visual clue (like uniform insignia) to tell the four main level bands apart, but not to tell what specific level a given mook is.

Because this is almost certainly too strong for five level 8 PCs, downgrade army leader levels from 10/7-8/4-6/1-3 to maybe 8/5-6/3-4/1-2 or 9/6-7/4-5/1-3.  (If you want the "general" to have some particular level 10 ability, you could handle that as a special.)  I don't know what the impact of the 170-some grunts will be.  If your level 8 PCs can shrug off their attacks entirely, the 8/5-6/etc is probably too weak.  Conversely, if the grunts can do steady damage each round, the 9/6-7/etc might be too strong.  Keep in mind that a 200-to-5 battle is likely to involve ranged weapons and also your party of 5 getting surrounded if they get into melee range.  Unless you set it up as 5 PC Spartans plugging an unflankable position and the mooks can only attack in single file ...

And I guess I will take a stab at your main question about high-level mooks after all.  Remember that "mook" is a simplified mechanic explicitly intended for quick-and-dirty use and that you can fluff it out to anything you need.  Mid- to high-level mooks could be played as robotic defenses, animated temple guardian statues, or a swarm of aggressive elemental flares.   They all fit the nameless, non-influential, non-tracked criteria, but can be arbitrarily tough.  What they won't be is especially interesting unless you take them out of (technical) mook territory and into more of an explicitly planned encounter.  Also, don't forget the minion, expert, elite, ace, miniboss, operative progression within the overall mook mechanic.  Those variations can have some serious skills.

rejectedreality

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Re: Mooks: How to judge level?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2015, 06:04:12 AM »
I think a Level 20 Expert could be the Supreme Leader of the Molerats, but a non-Expert Mook, probably not. I might think about it in terms of mooks that serve the gods or greater powers - the army of a deity might be vast and faceless, and any individual member of it could probably curbstomp most "heroes." Likewise, perhaps an Elder Dragon has created dozens of offspring, each relatively unimportant compared to the Dragon itself, but still threatening enough to destroy entire villages on its own.

Does that help any?

It does indeed. Never really thought of using mooks as just the faceless hordes of demons, since I always figured I'd have to stat out anything more than a basic human. It makes a lot more sense, now, to have higher level enemies. Except maybe when it's level 20, just because I kinda figure that's the strongest that anything can be (if they have Legendary abilities, even more so). Maybe that's just a balor that I don't really have a name or purpose for.

...

Thanks! Those are some good ideas. It makes more sense for the army to split up, and maybe try to flank the University that the PCs are defending. Probably try to tunnel under the Wall of Force that's protecting the place. Increases the work for myself, I suppose. I wonder if I should actually advise the party to split up, despite the conventional wisdom of "never split the party". Then again, they have some NPCs that are willing to help out. That'll probably just take care of a large chunk of the split up forces. Still, it'll be better than just "open field, 200 vs 5" situation.