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Thread: Boss Mob equivalent for table-top gaming?

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      Neyjour is online now
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    Default Boss Mob equivalent for table-top gaming?

    In MMOs the "big bad" is called a Boss Mob. Is that appropriate to use in table-top gaming, or is there some other equivalent term that's used?

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    Guild Artisan eViLe_eAgLe's Avatar
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    In the imageboard I use people refer to the Big Boss is BBEG (Literally Big Bad Evile Guy)

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    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    I use 'main villain', but MMO terms do get used in tabletop games - such as 'tank', etc. I don't really have fixed terms for specific persons and archetypes and never needed them. Use whatever name works best for you.
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      Neyjour is online now
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    Thanks very much guys.

    I think I'll go with "BBEG". I Googled that and it seems to be the proper/official term for it.

    Thanks again!

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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    Nah, there's no such thing as "official."

    "Big Bad" was, as far as I know, a term coined in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I don't know who appended "Evil Guy" to it, but I suspect it was to differentiate the initials from the hundreds of other things "BB" could mean.

    The Big Bad isn't necessarily the biggest physical threat, though. A chessmaster-type villain like Lex Luthor isn't going to go toe-to-toe with the heroes because he doesn't stand a chance in that situation. In terms of the "boss fight" (to use the video game term) a mastermind's henchman is likely to be more relevant. I am likely to shorthand such a minion as a "sergeant" in my planning notes.

    My players can call the opposition whatever they like, although if they fall into video game speak, they're likely to earn a malevolent frown from me. I prefer to discourage reframing my scenarios in video game terms because that tends to cause them to devolve into purely tactical problems instead of narratives.
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      nightwind1 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midgardsormr View Post
    Nah, there's no such thing as "official."

    "Big Bad" was, as far as I know, a term coined in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I don't know who appended "Evil Guy" to it, but I suspect it was to differentiate the initials from the hundreds of other things "BB" could mean.

    The Big Bad isn't necessarily the biggest physical threat, though. A chessmaster-type villain like Lex Luthor isn't going to go toe-to-toe with the heroes because he doesn't stand a chance in that situation. In terms of the "boss fight" (to use the video game term) a mastermind's henchman is likely to be more relevant. I am likely to shorthand such a minion as a "sergeant" in my planning notes.

    My players can call the opposition whatever they like, although if they fall into video game speak, they're likely to earn a malevolent frown from me. I prefer to discourage reframing my scenarios in video game terms because that tends to cause them to devolve into purely tactical problems instead of narratives.
    Ah, a kindred spirit.

    When D&D4 came out, I was immediately driven away from it by all of the MMO/Videogame style references.

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    In our games "Boss Mob" for an adventure/encounter, BBEG for the story-arcs main villain/s

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      Neyjour is online now
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    The creatures and monsters I want to note on my map are more of the adventure/encounter type rather than the main villains. So...I guess BBEG is not really appropriate then?

    It looks like there's quite a bit of prejudice against MMO terms, so I'm hesitant to use "Boss Mob". What about "Boss Monster" instead? Or can you guys suggest something else?

    Surely there must be some kind of standard/commonly-used term for this, that's specific to table-top gaming?

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      Larb is offline
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    I don't really think there is a universal term. There are plenty of adventures where a certain NPC fits the role of the area boss especially in site-based adventures (adventures that take place almost wholly in a specific location such as a dungeon, ruin, village, etc). And even I informally refer to them as a boss sometimes.

    But in an actual module (at least all the ones I have written or read/run) they tend to have extensive write-ups on their motivations and it's pretty clear they are the leader or most powerful NPC enemy present so you never really need them to be explicitly labeled as the "boss".

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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    When I'm writing a scenario, the pivotal scene isn't usually based on the toughest opponent, but on the most important objective. That may or may not involve a tough bad guy, but if it does, I'm typically just as happy if my players find a way to go around it or otherwise achieve the objective while avoiding a risky "boss fight."

    And of course, there's the problem that my players tend to very quickly neutralize the uber-tough opponents (usually several scenes before they were even supposed to have the fight) and then get their heads handed to them by what was supposed to be a chump. Powerful evil wizard? No problem. Pair of low level orc flunkies? Two dead PCs. (Made worse because that was only the second scenario of the campaign. I handwaved it to let the PCs survive with serious injuries instead of dying.)

    The thing about tabletop games, though, is that every writer wants to be unique. It's a hobby filled full of people who see the way "everyone else" does it and then decide to go a totally different direction (with varying results). So outside of the more formal D&D School, I'd be rather surprised if gamers managed to agree on any particular designation for particular kinds of opponents.

    And speaking of D&D, 4e's DM Guide did offer up a list of monster roles: Brute, Controller, Lurker, Soldier, Leader, Artillery, Skirmisher, Solo… There may be one or two others; I don't recall. The "Solo" monster is roughly equivalent to a boss in that it's supposed to be as tough as five ordinary monsters, but that's because it usually shows up alone and still needs to be threatening to a group of PCs. Those roles serve as a way of more easily discussing and planning encounters formally.

    In your own planning, and even in communicating with your group, whatever parlance you find most comfortable and useful is the one you should use. It's true that many gamers frown on video game jargon entering tabletop gaming, but speaking solely for myself, I also cannot stand to see people use the word "toon" in reference to their character in EVE Online. It totally ruins my sense of immersion to have such metagame ideas intrude into my roleplaying. My viewpoint is my own, though, and you shouldn't let it ruin things for you. If you want to use terms like "mob" and "aggro" in your games, then do it! Don't let us sticks in the mud cramp your style!
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