Beginning Character Level

I'm not talking here about anything as silly as D&D-style character levels, but rather how a brand new 150-point starting character stacks up in the great scheme of things. The answer, briefly, is "pretty well".

For a start, your average townsman will have all his or her stats at about 8 and be SPD 1, they probably won't have any Weapon Familiarities at all (so they're probably at -3 OCV if they try to hit you with anything besides a fist), and any skills they have will tend to be those useful in a (relatively) safe urban setting, like Trading or Bureacratics. Guardsmen, rural peasants and street thugs will be a little more dangerous, having some sort of weapon skill and a little more STR, but they're still only going to be at a humble SPD 2. It's not until you get into the ranks of elite soldiers with a few combat levels and an extra point or two of SPD that normal people are likely to pose any sort of threat, one-on-one.

But there's the rub. People know about Heroes. They know they're hopelessly outclassed, so if they have any sense at all (and if they can't, or won't run away) they're going to be attacking you en masse if at all possible, from behind you and at range — or at least from behind a prickly hedge of long spears.

So much for humans and their ilk. What about monsters?

Simply looking at raw point values is seldom a very accurate guide to how dangerous a critter might be, but at least it's something concrete. Let's see how some of the "classic" monsters stack up:

Beholder (298pts)
These are one of those monsters that traditionally tend to make PCs think carefully about taking some other way around. Its point value is only 298, about the same as two starting heroes, so in theory those two should have a 50/50 chance of winning an even contest — however, it has abilities that can take a PC out with one shot at range and its hide is as good as plate armour when it comes to taking damage. Those two optimistic PCs would be very lucky to come alive out of a straight fight with a beholder. See what I mean about point values being misleading?
Dragon (520 to 918pts, or more)
Dragons are supposed to be mighty foes, and so they are with strong attacks and defences, and their flying ability gives them excellent battlefield mobility. However, though they're fast and powerful, they're still vulnerable to being overwhelmed by sheer numbers, just as Heroes are vulnerable to swarms of ordinary guards, thugs or minions. One-on-one you're going to need some powerful magical help to have any hope of surviving a fair fight with even a lesser dragon.
Giants (200 to 653pts)
The puniest of the giants, going just by their point value, should be a decent threat for a beginner Hero. In reality, they're not as dangerous as they seem; sure, they're mighty strong and can deal out a lot of damage at a time, but their size is their undoing — they're a lot easier to hit than most Heroes, they're not particularly adept at hitting things themselves, and they're no quicker with their huge weapons than any beginner adventurer is likely to be. Even one-on-one I'd give odds on the adventurer, and if the poor old giant is double-teamed he's got little chance unless the dice run heavily in his favour. The greater giants are a lot more dangerous, but that's basically because they're more of an even match for the Heroes in combat and magic use, while having the advantage of their enormous strength as well.
Goblin (32pts)
At a puny 32 points, nobody would expect a goblin to be very dangerous, except maybe to an old grannie in a walker. And they'd be right, a single goblin is hardly worth crossing the road to Smite With Righteous Anger. But when did you last see just one goblin? The problem with these little bastards is that they come in hundreds, and then they are dangerous.
Orc (43pts)
Ditto for orcs — hardly dangerous at all singly (so long as you don't turn your back on them) but a real threat in numbers. And they're always in numbers.
Vampire (696pts)
OK, here's a monster who really is as dangerous as its point value would make it appear. One of the problems with vampires (and there are quite a few problems with vampires) is that even if you find yourself doing well against them, they always seem to be able to get away. It's very frustrating.
Zombies (178pts)
One zombie should be about an even fight for one Hero, judging by points alone. As usual, that's not really the case; a newbie adventurer shouldn't have too much trouble dispatching a single zombie — eventually. Zombies are pretty durable, and take a lot of chopping to bits before they stop moving, and that's the big problem. Zombies rarely wander about singly, and where there's one there's bound to be more — probably a lot more.

So, those are just a few of the old monster stand-byes, and as you can see in most cases they out-point your brand new adventurer, sometimes quite substantially. However, as we've seen, point values aren't everything when it comes to effectiveness, and adventurers have one huge advantage over many monsters: they travel in packs, like ravening wolves. Consider a standard party of four, with SPDs of 3,3,4 and 4 — that's 14 potential attacks every Turn. Even if a critter has a huge attack and a monstrously high SPD, the team is going to have the advantage every time. All the poor old monster can do is try to take as many down with him as possible.