The following sections describe the actual process of creating an antagonist. This is standard information applicable across genres and types of foes, and so does not vary much regardless of the application. These rules can also be used to create non-player characters (NPCs) as well, the terminology of antagonists is only used as they are the most common types of characters made this way. Most NPCs will never need stats of any variety.
Sentient or Beast
The first step in building an enemy is to determine whether this enemy is sentient or not. Humans and other similar species are capable of understanding complex ideas, making plans based on abstract knowledge, and passing that abstract knowledge on to their decedents. They primarily make decisions based on knowledge and experience and very rarely on pure instinct. They can design, make, use, and improve technology as well as express complex ideas in the form of speech or other artistic manner. Enemies of this nature are created with the three attributes of Mental, Physical, and Social. These are not broken up further into the smaller component pieces as they are for player characters (Physical becoming Strength, Agility, and Stamina, for instance) because, while enemies of this type have the capacity for all the breadth of human interaction, but the nuances are unnecessary.
The other broad category of enemies are beasts and other non-intelligent foes. Enemies that fall into this category are creatures who primarily act on instincts not reason and knowledge and who, while possibly capable of advanced social interactions (wolves, bees, etc) they do not have the ability to think or communicate abstract thoughts. These advanced behaviors may even involve a degree of communication, however this communication still boils down to simple ideas like "food here," or "danger nearby." Enemies of this nature are created with the three attributes of Power, Finesse, and Resistance. These are not broken up further into the smaller components as they are for player characters (Power becoming Logic, Strength, and Presence, for instance) because, while these enemies have a limited use for mental or social attributes, it is not great enough to warrant the extra complexity.
But occasionally an enemy will make it difficult to decide. Is the dragon, unicorn, or android truly sentient? Or are they just extremely advanced types of beasts? The main thing to keep in mind in these cases is the implications. A sentient dragon is not just a force of nature but a creature with a plan, thoughts, dreams, ambitions. If these are not implications you want to explore, it is probably better to leave them as simple beasts who only seek food, shelter, and reproduction. However, if these types of enemies have become uninspiring or do not represent a great enough threat then you may want to go the other direction. The choice you make here will have huge impact on the setting and the world you are building.
Building Blocks of a Foe
When building your foes, whether sentient or beast, each has to have a certain array of attributes, skills, and abilities to make them playable. This is set-up very quickly, however. Antagonists do have Power Levels like player characters do, however they do not use them the same way. Power Levels for antagonists are used to actually set the ranks in the attributes, skills and abilities the character has, and these values may be modified by the level of the hierarchy they occupy (see below).
This whole chapter may be more depth than you are seeking. If you want a fast and dirty method of creating enemies, simply use their PL for everything. Just make a small adjustment based on their level (Minion is PL -1, Elites are PL +1) and then double that value for their Competence for any roll they are involved in. In other words, a PL 2 minion would attack with a 12/- ((PL-1) x 2), while a PL 2 elite would attack with a 16/- ((PL+1) x 2).
In general, each antagonist has one attribute which is considered their primary and one that is considered their inferior. These are treated differently depending on what level the enemy occupies in the hierarchy, but they are generally tied to the PL in some way. Dodge is determined by combining Mental and Physical, or doubling Finesse, while Discipline is determined by combining Mental and Social, or doubling Resistance. Movement is double the Physical or Finesse attribute, or quadruple that attribute if the creature is quadrupedal, a flier, or a swimmer.
Because of the reduction of complexity in general across the antagonist rules, the skills have likewise been pared down. Pick only the skills that would be important to the antagonist. Professions, Expertise, or any other similar skill is unnecessary to such an antagonist or NPC. Remember, most of these antagonists will only be seen for a few turns. Any skills selected for them have ranks equal to their PL. The following list of skills are the ones allowed to antagonists.
- Athletics: Based on Physical or Resistance.
- Combat: Combines Close Combat, Ranged Combat, and Grappling. Based on Physical or Finesse.
- Deception: Based on Social or Finesse.
- Hacking: Only for sentient creatures, unless a very unique setting. Based on Mental.
- Influence: Can be used on animals as well, taking the place of Animal Handling. Based on Social or Finesse.
- Intimidation: Based on Social or Power.
- Leadership: Based on Social or Power.
- Parry: Based on Physical or Finesse.
- Perception: Based on Mental or Finesse.
- Pilot: Only for sentient creatures, unless a very unique setting. Based on Physical.
- Stealth: Based on Physical or Finesse.
- Teamwork: Based on Mental or Finesse.
- Tracking: Replaces Survival, primarily just the active parts of that skill. Based on Mental or Finesse.
When it comes to abilities, this is very genre and setting dependent. In the most general of terms, however, antagonists should have no more than their PL in ability ranks unless there is a good reason. This is also dependent on their hierarchy level, of course, and can be adjusted up or down. Advantages should not be given to antagonists unless it is of extreme importance, such as a major point in their back-story or why they are opposed to the troop. As for Gear, assign this as suitable for players of the same Power Level.
Also note that an antagonist only has one condition type, and mental, physical, and social damage, as well as any condition based abilities all work on that single track. This means that antagonists who get hit by all 3 different types of damage would have taken up three different condition slots. Unless the antagonist is meant to be a Mastermind (see below), it is not uncommon for a enemy to be dispatched fairly quickly. The type of damage that fills the final condition slot will determine the final fate of the character. This means that a physical attack will kill them or knock them unconscious, a social attack will cause them to flee in fear or perhaps surrender, while a mental attack would see them confused, or delusional.