Players Are Complaining - Gamma World Too Easy

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My players are complaining that GW is too easy and that the encounters are not challenging. I was wondering what I should do to change this. 

A little bit of background: Last session, the only time a character got close to death was because of another player's reckless burst attack. Otherwise, most other characters did not even get bloodied in the 4 hour session.

We are playing "Famine in Far-Go" with 4 characters. They entered the Chicken Factory at Level 4 and got to Level 5 just before the climactic show down encounter. It's not just combats; they are succeeding every skill challenge without a single failure.

Possible issues with my group that you might want to be aware of:
1) Party consists of: Gravity Controller/Seismic; Arachnoid/Temporal; Yeti/Radioactive; and Doppleganger/Android.
2) We are using every Omega Tech and Alpha Mutation card in the booster set. (I have a complete set, but every draw is from the GM's deck as the players have no cards.)
3) We are also using something equivalent to the D&D Fortune Cards for a little added boost. (These have been a fun addition to the game that doesn't add too much of an edge.)

Are the players seasoned vetrans of RPGs, do they focus on one enemy at a time?

Are you using all the monsters abilites as ruthlessley as you can?

Do you give out omega tech before every encounter, it sounds like you do and that might be part of the problem. 

If the answer to the first two questions are yes, then I would simply add a few more monsters.  If the answer is no, try using efficient tactics against them and hit them as hard as you can.

As for omega tech, you might just limit their access if they have too much.

 
Omega Tech can marginalize a lot of encounters, particularly if you hand out the amounts in Steading of the Iron King and Far-Go.  (The Temporal at-will also effectively removes the toughest monster from the fight at all times, but that's another thing altogether.  Between this one attack and the stockpile of omega tech they were sitting on, I just started assuming that the most dangerously looking monster would be incapacitated for most of the battle.)

I'll assume they like all the omega tech (as my players do) and would be slightly upset if the "well dried up" so to speak, so...

Simple solutions for upping the danger:


  • Increase everything in the encounter by 1 or 2 levels (just add a flat 1 or 2 to attacks, defenses, and damage; add +8 x (1 or 2) to HP). 

  • Add an extra standard monster or two.  If you find that your solos and elites get locked down a lot, add another to spice it up.  (Note that two well-designed solos can wreck a party, so I advise against that specifically.)  Sprinkle in some minion versions of existing monsters (1 HP, average damage, one or two powers at most).


Complex solutions for upping the danger:


  • Build in elite and solo condition protection.  (See links in my signature.)

  • Add auto-damage auras to existing monsters.

  • Apply origin-based templates to standard monsters.

  • Add triggered powers to existing monsters (note that this can cause a lot of overhead if you have any issues with the time and attention DMing takes).

  • Include traps and hazards on top of the existing monster budget.  See also auto-damage auras.

  • Consider in-combat skill challenges like a creature that has many resistances to damage that must be disabled while the party avoids or mitigates its attacks (obviously provide the non-skill-monkeys something to chew on).

  • One tool I like to use (albeit sparingly) is the players powers against one another.  Whether that's a triggered forcefield that makes the attacking PC reroll against an ally adjacent to the original target, or a psionic creature with mind-control that forces a PC to make a basic attack against an ally in range as a free action (I prefer this to the dominated condition, which is no fun for anyone).


Basically, add more out-of-turn, condition-independent damage sources.

They entered the Chicken Factory at Level 4 and got to Level 5 just before the climactic show down encounter.

You'll probably want to present them with higher level encounters (my own group seemed to have more fun doing the adventure at lvl 3-4).

Also: how many players do you have? The encounters are designed for 5 PC's, so if you play with 6 PC's you'll probably want to add another standard creature to each encounter

"Are the players seasoned vetrans of RPGs, do they focus on one enemy at a time?"

Some are, some are not. They do seem to employ pretty solid tactics, however.



"Are you using all the monsters abilites as ruthlessley as you can?"

There's the occassional ability that I might forget about - but it's pretty rare. Sometimes there's a triggered interrupt that I skip. There's a lot to keep up with.



"Do you give out omega tech before every encounter, it sounds like you do and that might be part of the problem." 

I give it out when the module says to give it out. I've started holding it back, however, because the players have been stockpiling it. (They think the encounters are so easy that they can get by using only At-Wills.)



"Also: how many players do you have? The encounters are designed for 5 PC's, so if you play with 6 PC's you'll probably want to add another standard creature to each encounter"

Actually, we have 4 and they are complaining that it's too easy.

Most of the encounters are easy to my group for three reasons:
1) We take turns GMing. Some of the players in our group have had little or no GMing experience so most of them overlook the enemies' tactics or forget about their traits, auras, or other awesome powers.
2) Good tactics. Some players in my group are experienced gamers and usually make smart decisions in how they approach encounters. A lot of us also like to use our powers in creative ways, such as using Mental push to force the low-charisma characters to not be rude during Interaction skill challenges.
3) Leaky fusion rifle. Somehow this omega tech keeps popping up in the hands of our radioactive giant and it destroys elites and solos before they can even do any of their special powers. Most of the GMs in my group are getting annoyed by it, so I removed that card from the deck until we reach 9th level.
Unless your party is moving about quietly, using SWAT tactics and hand signals, there's no reason why the npcs in the next room won't be ready when they enter. Use surprise liberally until they learn to travel quietly.

Your npcs should also be using tactics equivilent to their int levels. They should focus on one character as much as possible until unable to do so.

Also, I like to throw in one-shot AoE weapons into the mix. Three grenades or moletov cocktails going off will whittle down your pc's hp and when/if the party wins the day, the grenades are used up and don't end up in your overpowered party's hands.
I've found that Gamma World is a bit less consistent in encounter balance than D&D.  GW characers can often handle monsters significantly higher level than they are, or encounters well above their level.  Sometimes it's due to Omega tech or an Alpha mutation swinging the whole fight.  Sometimes it's just because they're a bit badass...

Also: How do you handle the Doppleganger and Temporal novice powers?  The former is a bit open to interpretation, and the latter is arguably overpowered...

 

 

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I have a temporal player in my group, and I just make sure that my elites and solos have condition removal and that I have one more standard monster in the group than the encounter budget calls for.  He gets to be awesome the whole time and no one suffers for it.
"Also: How do you handle the Doppleganger and Temporal novice powers?  The former is a bit open to interpretation, and the latter is arguably overpowered..."

The Doppleganger mostly uses it as a ranged version of a melee attack. So he will plant his doppleganger in a space 5 squares away, move (if necessary), and use Machine Grip to restrain a foe. Very occassionally, since the doppleganger can use the same skills as the PC, he will plant it somewhere to work on disabling a trap and leave the rest of the characters out of harm's way.

The Temporal is played by a new player who doesn't seem to understand the power of the teleportation of enemies and the importance of battlefield control. (Except once another player encouraged her to teleport an opponent into an acid vat.) Mostly she uses her Acidic Webs from her Arachnoid origin, which is pretty effective in its own right: Area Burst 1, 1d8+9 Acid Damage, and Immobilizing opponents.



"Unless your party is moving about quietly, using SWAT tactics and hand signals, there's no reason why the npcs in the next room won't be ready when they enter. Use surprise liberally until they learn to travel quietly."

Actually, the group is handedly succeeding on the skill challenges mentioned in the module so they can sneak from combat-to-combat. If anything, they're earning surprise rounds on their enemies. (Not that I'm going to make it any easier on them.)
If they are always succeeding skill challenges, just up the difficulty. If you're using medium difficulty challenges, make them face hard difficulty. Start applying rules for the skill challenges.

Lets say there is a skill challenge that can be beaten using a DC 19 Science or DC 19 Mechanics and you have one player that is really high on the science value. Don't let that player do all the rolls. Say "Only one success roll per skill per player." That way once the player succeeds in a science roll, the other players have to step up or that player has to start rolling mechanics.

I just started "Steading of the Iron King" with an online group I play with and they really breezed through the first two encounters. As such, I've been completely rewriting the rest of the encounters. We have a magnetic in our group so I have been having to compensate for how overpowered Lodestone Lure is.

Exploit their weaknesses. If you have players that all have great ranged attacks, force them into small rooms where they'll be forced in to melee. Likewise, if they're mostly using melee attacks, put them into open spaces where ranged enemies can get a couple shots on them and spread them out.

I just started the 3rd encounter of "Steading of the Iron King" with my group. Instead of the 3 badder steading guards and the two badder slave drivers, the encounter consists of 2 dabber sharpshooters (starting behind the table) and then a badder slave driver, a hoop warrior, and a porker warhog in the machine room. Furthermore, I made the rule that the machine cannot be damaged by ranged attacks (it has a protect shield on it) so if players want to destroy it by attacking it, they're forced into melee and forced to take the damage for hitting it.

The thing you just need to remember as a DM is that the encounters in the book are a base for you to build from. You do not need to run every encounter exactly as it states.

Learn your players strengths and weaknesses. Exploit their weaknesses. That makes surviving challenges and encounters that much more satisfying.
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