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Npc Level - All NPCs are created equal, but some are more equal than others
Epitaph uses a challenge banding system for NPCs, one that gives each of them skill bonuses in a particular range. In order to reflect that some NPCs should be more (or less) challenging than other NPCs at that range, we use a system of NPCs levels. Most NPCs will be classed as 'normal', but some will receive a different classification that adjusts their relative health and damage.
It gives us precision over how we can present challenges to players. We could simply layer on skill levels to add a challenge, but that has numerous knock-on effects - you would be destroyed in seconds versus an enemy with ten thousand levels of a melee skill, and you'd never be able to hit one with that amount of dodge. This system allows us to band the skills around achieveable targets whilst still being able to adjust challenge.
Critters have no skills, and very few HPs. They will fall to a single hit in most cases.
Minions have all the skills of their challenge band, but a quarter of the HPs of a normal NPC and do a quarter of the damage.
Weak NPCs have all the skills of their challenge band, but have half the HPs and do only half the damage.
Brute NPCs have twice the HPs of a normal NPC, and do twice the damage.
Elite NPCs have four times the HPs of a normal NPC, and do four times the damage.
Boss NPCs are unique (although they will reload), and are massively more powerful than even elites. They come with vast pools of HP and special attacks that are unavailable to other zombies. On the plus side, they also tend to provide special items that are likewise unavailable elsewhere..