With all this talk of the game on the player end, I forgot the GM. I should know better, seeing as how that's usually where I'm parked in any given game.
I said at the very outset of this project that I wanted to keep things simple for the GM. Making everything diceless was largely an outgrowth of that endeavor. However, that goal still remains very much in place now that I've put dice back into this game. But, how to do it when the GM has to roll dice for every NPC action?
I don't know. So let's not make him roll dice for every NPC action. That seems like a pretty good start.
Just because the game uses dice doesn't mean the GM has to use dice. The existing gift rules grant automatic successes toward certain ends, using them more heavily for NPCs than PCs seems like a great way toward simplifying things for the GM. In fact, we can probably get rid of that whole Threat thing. I had to put that in to introduce a level of variance exchange to exchange, but now with dice on the player side, player results will vary on their own, meaning if the NPC numbers remain constant results will still differ.
Boom, done. NPCs are now just fixed numbers, placing all the die rolling on the player side. Players roll defense against a fixed NPC attack score, and they roll to attack vs a fixed NPC defense score. We can keep Fight for a health meter, since that works just as well here as it did before. Instead of taking down a Threat level, it can reduce the NPC's stats instead. Yeah, this creates a death spiral effect, but as long as the NPC puts up a good fight in the beginning I'm okay with that. Something I've learned from D&D4 is that fights that go on too long lose their pizazz. Let the players waste an NPC after he gets in a few good hits and I think everyone will be happy.