Lots of games take different paths towards making the PCs feel more powerful, or for the game to come across as more cinematic. Many such games do this by placing a mechanical difference between types of characters. The PCs are always the top tier, and so are the important NPCs (you know, like the main villain and such), and every one else is something...less. Today, I want to show how you can use this in any game. Just be warned, it will work better in some games more than others.
What happens when Indiana Jones punches someone in a fight? They go down, and they go down hard. Really, unless the person is someone special, or the scene is supposed to be overly dramatic, generally speaking it only takes one shot for any action movie hero to drop someone.
Now, this can be explained in a number of ways (low level guards for one), but even that doesn't explain it all. You're left either assuming that the PC (the main character of the movie) is rolling endless critical hits, or that the bad guys are rolling botch after botch. That is, unless, you have another way of handling things.
The mook is your average, run of the mill, glass-jawed faceless security guard. They are the grunt troop in the evil army, the masses of goblins, or just the nobody thugs that are trying to mug you on the street. Mooks aren't meant to be much of a threat, at least, not unless they're in large numbers. So, how do you run a mook? It's simple: give them a low attack bonus so they don't hit very often, low-moderate damage so a shot can be survived but in a large enough quantity it becomes a threat. Defense wise, they should be easy to hit, and of course they go down with one solid blow. Don't even worry about damage.
Now, to use these guys you want to put them there in force. That way, every round the PCs can be dropping at least one of them and feel good about themselves.
The Super Mook
The Super Mook is like the mook with one key difference. Namely, it takes more than one shot to drop a super mook. Sometimes they are also more able to hit the PCs, do more damage, or otherwise do a bit better. This is the big fight that isn't quite worth it's own character sheet. A giant monster, the super tough nazi by the propellor plane Indiana Jones needs to get to. That sort of thing.
Now, you can do a super mook with hit points, which definitely works. However, I generally prefer to give them a number of hits they need to receive. Generally a high number, since PCs tend to all gang up on the super mook. Now, if someone rolls really high damage, give them extra hits. Let them really hit the super mook hard. But otherwise, just let it go and have fun with it.
A PCL is a Player Character Level NPC. By that, I don't mean that if your PCs are level 5 that this NPC is level 5. I mean that you build this character like you were building a PC, and give them all the same abilities and such that come with it. These are your rock star NPCs, the ones who are supposed to be just as scary as the PCs can be. Make them, and let the players know that any NPC with a char sheet is going to be something special.
Beyond that, have fun with things. Keep in mind that you are playing with a feel of power here. By letting the PCs simply one shot most people they fight, you are making it more of a big deal when someone doesn't just go down in one shot. Use this to play up the drama, and things will go a lot smoother.
As always, if you have other suggestions for handling this, sound off in the comments.
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