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NPC skill levels


Soccercalle

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I was looking thru the skill levels of the pregens and the NPCs in the Starter and GMs Screen sets. A lot of the starter characters have some skills around 100%. For example Harmast has Broadsword 100 and Vasana has Broadsword 90. They are both 21 years old.

I then looked at some of the top NPCs. Queen Leika has Broadsword 105 at the age of 37. That seems very low. The first time she become king of the Colymar was 11 years earlier. She must have been a Wind Lord of Vinga already then (at 26) with a Broadsword skill of 90. I find it ridiculous that the most famous Vinga of the Colymar only has a 5% higher sword skill than a 16 year younger new Issaries initiate.

Ok. One can say that Leika is more of a leader than a fighter. But if you look at "Nameless" at age 34 the Broadsword level is "only" 120. She is described as champion of the Colymar already in "Sartar Kingdom of Heroes" that is happening in 2019. How can - maybe the best fighter in the Colymar - only have 20 more points than a new character. After having been champion for at least six years. 

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I noticed the same thing Soccercalle. Here's my two-part explanation.

  1. In the real world, the PCs are the focus of play and in-game, they are supposed to be people of destiny.*
  2. The NPCs don't use the same rules as the PCs.**

[Edit] Should the exact skill numbers ever be relevant, I'd probably increase a number of skills, stats, Rune Points, or whatever as seems appropriate.

 

* Well those who don't die are.
** Except for when they do.

Edited by Bren
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On 1/25/2022 at 12:45 PM, Soccercalle said:

Ok. One can say that Leika is more of a leader than a fighter. But if you look at "Nameless" at age 34 the Broadsword level is "only" 120. She is described as champion of the Colymar already in "Sartar Kingdom of Heroes" that is happening in 2019. How can - maybe the best fighter in the Colymar - only have 20 more points than a new character. After having been champion for at least six years. 

Once upon a time, the idea was to have the characters start green, this days they start quite powerful I( I, with a soupçon of irony) call them super heroes! As you note, they are pretty damn close, aren’t they? Otherwise everything Bren and Godlearner mention is true.  

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On 1/25/2022 at 11:56 AM, Godlearner said:

The higher the skill, the harder it is for it to go up, especially if you do it less often.

True, but doesn't explain the issue raised by OP, who is absolutely correct about the stats.

For example, Leika is 20% to go up in her Sword and Shield (and other weapons) each time she "rolls a check".  If she puts an Occupational check into sword every season, she will go up, on the average, 3.5% per year in sword.  (She will make one check and average 3.5 on the D6) 

It is around 15 years since she became a Rune Lord and went into Snakepipe Hollow.  Assuming she was 90% at that time (a minimal estimate), her sword skill in 1625 should be

     90 + 15*3.5 = 142.5% 

Instead, it is listed at 105%.  Now, one could argue that she might miss putting in an occupational check once in a while, as she is a busy Queen who needs to Orate, Manage Household, and Worship.  But still...  And that doesn't explain Nameless, who should be much better than listed.

Personally, I think giving stats to big name NPCs is a very bad idea.  I'd rather not see them at all.  But, if one is going to do it, at least make them reasonably fit the rules system.

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck
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4 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Personally, I think giving stats to big name NPCs is a very bad idea.

I disagree, I want them, even Argrath

4 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I'd rather not see them at all.  But, if one is going to do it, at least make them reasonably fit the rules system.

I fully agree

 

why I want the stats of Argrath, etc ... ?

Because I want to know the "scale" of stats. What are the stats (including magic items) of the man who will become a god ? the man who will destroy some empires and gods

Where are my players on this scale ? Are they really super heroes, just heroes, or already stronger than gods ?

 

In the same way, I want to understand what you need to have (speaking % and item) to survive a heroquest.

 

4 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

True, but doesn't explain the issue raised by OP, who is absolutely correct about the stats.

I agree too, don't understand the stats.

Reading Leika skills, it seems to me that snakepipe hollow is just not really dangerous except if I consider Leika was very lucky, or just a coward...

 

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On 1/26/2022 at 6:45 AM, Soccercalle said:

Queen Leika has Broadsword 105 at the age of 37. That seems very low.

It memory serves, back in the day Queen Leika's sword-name was "Leika Ballista" because she carried an arbalest (3d6+1 Damage) and became super-proficient with it.  Stack some blade venom on it and it was a damn near unstoppable combo.  For extra spice add multimissile.  Leika wasn't cowardly and it was no mistake about her having a low sword skill, because until she became a queen most of her fights were ended by decisive crossbow bolts in the opening rounds.  She used to have a crossbow skill well in excess of 120%.  If her outrageous crossbow skill didn't make it into the present stats, it is likely because she has had to put her crossbow away and be a more respectable Vingan matron, and odd mostali weapons are just not on.

Edited by Darius West
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27 minutes ago, Darius West said:

It memory serves, back in the day Queen Leika's sword-name was "Leika Ballista" because she carried an arbalest (3d6+1 Damage) and became super-proficient with it.  Stack some blade venom on it and it was a damn near unstoppable combo.  For extra spice add multimissile.  Leika wasn't cowardly and it was no mistake about her having a low sword skill, because until she became a queen most of her fights were ended by decisive crossbow bolts in the opening rounds.  She used to have a crossbow skill well in excess of 120%.  If her outrageous crossbow skill didn't make it into the present stats, it is likely because she has had to put her crossbow away and be a more respectable Vingan matron, and odd mostali weapons are just not on.

She still has the ballista in her write up. With a 125% skill. If she had more than 120 in 1621 it seems odd if she only has 125% in 1625. (Especially as all skill levels are higher in RQG).

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

It memory serves, back in the day Queen Leika's sword-name was "Leika Ballista" because she carried an arbalest (3d6+1 Damage) and became super-proficient with it. 

1 hour ago, Soccercalle said:

She still has the ballista in her write up. With a 125% skill. If she had more than 120 in 1621 it seems odd if she only has 125% in 1625. (Especially as all skill levels are higher in RQG).

Well, yes and no...

Spoiler

The “Ballista" is a allied spirit in a Comp Bow...

 

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I think what is missing is that real people (and therefore well designed NPCs) lose skills as we age. This is not in the system (and it is in only very few RPG systems) because players will scream bloody murder if they are losing their hard earned skills every year, but that is how it should be. 

People are used to getting weaker as they age, but they believe they should get more skilled, as there is much more personal involvement in that development. As anyone over 40 knows too well, that is not necessarily true. Constant use is critical, and even with constant use many skills reach a plateau in reality, even if our paper analogues can progress indefinitely.

Mechanistically I would propose lose maybe 1 point in 1000/skill weeks without exercising, or tweak the numbers to give you your own decline.  Occupational experience might count as exercise, but it may not. Another option used by other systems is to have a maximum combined skill level, usually dependent on intelligence, dexterity and will (POW). That would mean that to keep developing your sword skill, you have to start letting go of charioteering, cooking and Pavis Lore, specially after years without driving a chariot, visiting Pavis or cooking your own food. 

It was not important with rootless adventurers having adventures every week, and with a life expectancy measured in months, but the shift to seasonal adventuring puts age and the passage of time into perspective. 

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5 hours ago, JRE said:

I think what is missing is that real people (and therefore well designed NPCs) lose skills as we age. This is not in the system (and it is in only very few RPG systems) because players will scream bloody murder if they are losing their hard earned skills every year, but that is how it should be. 

People are used to getting weaker as they age, but they believe they should get more skilled, as there is much more personal involvement in that development. As anyone over 40 knows too well, that is not necessarily true. Constant use is critical, and even with constant use many skills reach a plateau in reality, even if our paper analogues can progress indefinitely.

Mechanistically I would propose lose maybe 1 point in 1000/skill weeks without exercising, or tweak the numbers to give you your own decline.  Occupational experience might count as exercise, but it may not. Another option used by other systems is to have a maximum combined skill level, usually dependent on intelligence, dexterity and will (POW). That would mean that to keep developing your sword skill, you have to start letting go of charioteering, cooking and Pavis Lore, specially after years without driving a chariot, visiting Pavis or cooking your own food. 

It was not important with rootless adventurers having adventures every week, and with a life expectancy measured in months, but the shift to seasonal adventuring puts age and the passage of time into perspective. 

I totally agree. But Leika and Nameless are under 40. And probably very active in the uprising after the Dragonrise.

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What I probably used too many words to say is that you cannot judge NPCs by PC standards, specially improvements.

PCs are among that 0.001% of people that may become heroines, or even, depending on your game, superheroines. Leika and Nameless had the possibility of becoming heroines once, but maybe after seeing how well that worked for Kallyr and Broyan and their peoples, they have let that option go. So they are skilled humans, but not the kind of monomaniacal obsessives that actually become heroes.

Monomania is someone who does not fight so often, but all seasons focuses on Sword fighting, when you are already at 100%, instead of enjoying that they are not fighting and dueling all the time.

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The difference between 90 and 120 is very significant. Remember, that if a 120 is against a 90 we drop the amount the higher skill is over 100 from both adversaries. So now it is 100 versus 70. Sure the 100 fails on a 96-00, but the 70 fails on 71-00. Within a few exchanges we should get a success from the higher and a failure from the lower, which can be lethal! 

And no, monomaniacal obsessives are not likely the sort of people that become heroes. They ended up being very skilled Johnny One Songs, and rarely have the magical edges (Rune spells, spirits, heroquesting boons, etc.) that more rounded characters are capable of getting.

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Remember that the pre gens are in the pack to give starting players a favorable taste if the game.  It is more fun to survive the adventure than to miss their first few attacks and get killed in their first game.  And the starter set does not have the rules for generating a starting character.  I do not think that is a chance omission.  

So the skill levels of NPCs vs the pre gens does not seem to me to be a game balance issue, instead it is a marketing issue.

Now when we get down to player generated characters, Leika and Nameless still outclass those in my campaign after about a RW year of play.  It is doubtful that they will still do so after another year, which is working out to be almost six game years.  But of course Leika still has the family political connections and will be on top.

Also reflect on this: Kings have to be generals. Successful generalship  requires primary  attention to command and control.  (Hell, even successful captainship does and that is why in the RW company commanders are issued pistols.)   Even if they are expected to physically lead at some point in a major battle they won't generate the steady stream of weapon skill checks that comes from skirmishes and adventures.  And it really makes more sense for them to put their cult and occupational checks into Orate, Insight. Worship, Etc than into another weapon skill check.

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23 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Shooting Blade Venom coated Arbalest bolts, from surprise (in order to have time to apply the blade venom) and then letting others cover her while she reloaded said arbalest?  Very very brave.

Very very smart actually.  AFAIK she did hand to hand as well, but if you own and arbalest, you should use it.  Nobody who enters Snakepipe Hollow is a coward imo.  Also I'm pretty sure that you can coat up your blade venom before going in.  I don't think it is so volatile that it has to be used on the spot.

 

Edited by Darius West
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16 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Also I'm pretty sure that you can coat up your blade venom before going in.  I don't think it is so volatile that it has to be used on the spot.

This depends on how paranoid you are about fumbling. Also, possibly how evil your GM happens to be.

I think our GM would laugh at the opportunity to pick up and throw one PC at another PC when they have a whole quiver full of poisoned ammo/weapons, with like a giant or something. Lol. 

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2 minutes ago, HreshtIronBorne said:

This depends on how paranoid you are about fumbling.

There is a saying I once heard from a very wise man on this very issue. It went something like "git gud scrub" 😀

Edited by Darius West
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6 hours ago, Darius West said:

Very very smart actually.  AFAIK she did hand to hand as well, but if you own and arbalest, you should use it.  Nobody who enters Snakepipe Hollow is a coward imo.  Also I'm pretty sure that you can coat up your blade venom before going in.  I don't think it is so volatile that it has to be used on the spot.

 

Never said she was dumb.  Just questioned somebody else calling her brave.

RQ2 Blade Venom lasts for just 15 minutes.  So not something to use way ahead of time.  Useful if you are about to ambush something and have 3-15 rounds to apply the Blade Venom.  Also, just cocking the Arbalest takes some rounds depending on the GM.  Difficult to make time for any of that in any "fair" fight.

RQG seems to have eliminated Blade Venom.  I say good riddance.  It was primarily used by power-gaming murder-hobo munchkins, or bad guys.

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13 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

Even if they are expected to physically lead at some point in a major battle they won't generate the steady stream of weapon skill checks that comes from skirmishes and adventures.  And it really makes more sense for them to put their cult and occupational checks into Orate, Insight. Worship, Etc than into another weapon skill check.

Yeah, agreed -- and if you check Leika's other skills, it tracks: she's got a bunch of other skills at 90%+ and a bunch more at 100%+ . She's not the best fighter but she's damn good. And she's damn good at a whole bunch of other things too. I'm less interested in whether Broadsword 125% would make more sense than 105%, and more interested in getting a general idea of what the NPC is about. In Leika's case, she's a fighter, a speaker, a tactician, a singer, a horse rider, a musician, and an Orlanth cult expert. Similarly, Nameless is quite quite good at more than one weapon, and has a few other notable skill specialties (90%+).

And if an NPC isn't powerful enough for a specific bunch of PCs, adjust the stats.

Edited by lordabdul
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On 1/25/2022 at 7:45 PM, Soccercalle said:

I was looking thru the skill levels of the pregens PCs.

I then looked at some of the top NPCs.

Good point well made.

A few observations:

I *think* but am not sure, that Leika and Nameless are all real player characters from Gregs RQii house campaign.  There was a jump in skill levels, RQiii characters were better than RQii characters, and RQ in G are even better.  Whilst I'd believe they'd been given a brush up for the RG in G, I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't changed significantly.

They might not need to, as RQ in G Player Characters are heroes.  Starting out, they are the same age of Kallyr Starbrow, when she did her Hero Quest for the star fragment set in her brow.  So that's probably a better standard to measure by.

On 1/28/2022 at 9:38 AM, JRE said:

I think what is missing is that real people (and therefore well designed NPCs) lose skills as we age.

Yes, but more significant if you are at the *very* top of a skill, then any time off and it immediately fades significantly.  

I can only speak of music. I'm not that good pianist and organist, and I can tell when I go away for two weeks holiday and haven't practiced.  Lock down meant I couldn't practice the organ for a few months, since the churches were shut, and it was depressingly rubbish when I started to play again.  My great aunt was a concert pianist, and the disruption WW2 meant she *never* returned to the same level.

I'd believe that were true also for athletic skills (music technique is just muscle memory).

18 hours ago, JRE said:

What I probably used too many words to say is that you cannot judge NPCs by PC standards, specially improvements.

I agree.  Should Leika's and Nameless's skills be higher.  Maybe, maybe not.  Ultimately they could whop my group's player characters with their skills as they are, so I probably wouldn't worry whether it should be 150% not 120%, 190% not 140%, it wouldn't make much difference.

And I doubt it's worth the game designers worrying too much about it, because it will depend on the different campaign style at every roleplaying table.  For people playing high level campaigns undoubtedly they should be higher, and for those playing lower level ones they should definitely not be.

 

As an aside, my RQii/iii characters, when they'd been knocking about quite a bit and campaigns invariably wound down, had typically got to around 80% or so in their best skills.  That for me was a sweet spot for the RQ game mechanics.  Fights or other contests would generally be resolved in a few rounds or rolls, when someone failed their skill or parry, the opening their opponent was waiting for, and hoping for a good roll/damage.

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14 hours ago, lordabdul said:

And if an NPC isn't powerful enough for a specific bunch of PCs, adjust the stats.

That's an important point.

 

10 hours ago, Stephen L said:

I *think* but am not sure, that Leika and Nameless are all real player characters from Gregs RQii house campaign.  There was a jump in skill levels, RQiii characters were better than RQii characters, and RQ in G are even better.  Whilst I'd believe they'd been given a brush up for the RG in G, I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't changed significantly.

They might not need to, as RQ in G Player Characters are heroes.  Starting out, they are the same age of Kallyr Starbrow, when she did her Hero Quest for the star fragment set in her brow.  So that's probably a better standard to measure by.

Their stats may not have changed, but it's also possible that their over all power has been decreased. An old article (from Wyrms Footnotes I think) provides stats for Ken Kaufer's PC, Londra of Londros. Based on Tales of the Wooden Sword, she adventured for a time with Nameless (or Naimless as it was sometimes spelled). Since her stats include a Defense score of 50% I assume her stats are for RQ2, not RQ3. She has multiple weapons skills in the 95% - 110% range - that's more weapon skills at mastery than a starting RQG character will have, but the range is close to what a good starting warrior character might have for their best weapon skill. So her best weapon skills are lower than

Magic is where Londra's real power lies. She's listed as a Runelord/Runepriest of Humakt and a Priest of Orlanth. Between personal POW, Allied and bound spirits, and crystals she has 60 MPs, some special crystals, and a lot of Spirit Magic. And for Rune Magic she has a whopping 63 Rune Points (yes that is six-three) and her Allied Spirit has 12 Rune Points of its own. As for her age, I'm hoping there is a misprint because the write up says the stats are as of 1617 and that she was born Godday, Disorder Week, Dark Season, of 1605. Which would make her all of 12 years old. She must have been initiated really young. That Argrath guy better watch his step. 😉

 

10 hours ago, Stephen L said:

As an aside, my RQii/iii characters, when they'd been knocking about quite a bit and campaigns invariably wound down, had typically got to around 80% or so in their best skills.  That for me was a sweet spot for the RQ game mechanics.  Fights or other contests would generally be resolved in a few rounds or rolls, when someone failed their skill or parry, the opening their opponent was waiting for, and hoping for a good roll/damage.

In the RQ2 campaign we (myself and the other GM) almost always used the RQ2 prior experience rules. For warriors types, that gave them 50% weapon skill plus their starting skill bonus so it wasn't unusual for characters to start with best weapon skills of 75%. We had multiple characters reach 90% or better with their best weapon skills after running through about as many adventures as the Duke Raus of Rone Borderlands campaign. But that was back in the 1980s when we had a lot more time to play. The PCs with very  extensive play time did end up as Rune level with skills as good or better than Leika.

Of course that's just a couple of data points. Anecdotally interesting perhaps, but only marginally relevant to what goes on at someone else's table. As others have said, the GM will have to decide whether to adjust NPC stats up (or down) based on what the PCs look like in their campaign.

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21 minutes ago, Bren said:

That's an important point.

 

Their stats may not have changed, but it's also possible that their over all power has been decreased. An old article (from Wyrms Footnotes I think) provides stats for Ken Kaufer's PC, Londra of Londros. Based on Tales of the Wooden Sword, she adventured for a time with Nameless (or Naimless as it was sometimes spelled). Since her stats include a Defense score of 50% I assume her stats are for RQ2, not RQ3. She has multiple weapons skills in the 95% - 110% range - that's more weapon skills at mastery than a starting RQG character will have, but the range is close to what a good starting warrior character might have for their best weapon skill. So her best weapon skills are lower than

Magic is where Londra's real power lies. She's listed as a Runelord/Runepriest of Humakt and a Priest of Orlanth. Between personal POW, Allied and bound spirits, and crystals she has 60 MPs, some special crystals, and a lot of Spirit Magic. And for Rune Magic she has a whopping 63 Rune Points (yes that is six-three) and her Allied Spirit has 12 Rune Points of its own. As for her age, I'm hoping there is a misprint because the write up says the stats are as of 1617 and that she was born Godday, Disorder Week, Dark Season, of 1605. Which would make her all of 12 years old. She must have been initiated really young. That Argrath guy better watch his step. 😉

 

In the RQ2 campaign we (myself and the other GM) almost always used the RQ2 prior experience rules. For warriors types, that gave them 50% weapon skill plus their starting skill bonus so it wasn't unusual for characters to start with best weapon skills of 75%. We had multiple characters reach 90% or better with their best weapon skills after running through about as many adventures as the Duke Raus of Rone Borderlands campaign. But that was back in the 1980s when we had a lot more time to play. The PCs with very  extensive play time did end up as Rune level with skills as good or better than Leika.

Of course that's just a couple of data points. Anecdotally interesting perhaps, but only marginally relevant to what goes on at someone else's table. As others have said, the GM will have to decide whether to adjust NPC stats up (or down) based on what the PCs look like in their campaign.

63 rune points at the age of 12. At 25 she could eat Ralzakark or Harrek for breakfast.

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1 hour ago, Bren said:

Magic is where Londra's real power lies. She's listed as a Runelord/Runepriest of Humakt and a Priest of Orlanth. Between personal POW, Allied and bound spirits, and crystals she has 60 MPs, some special crystals, and a lot of Spirit Magic. And for Rune Magic she has a whopping 63 Rune Points (yes that is six-three) and her Allied Spirit has 12 Rune Points of its own.

Don't forget that RQ2 NPCs list Common Runemagic among the spells that they know. Also, they have multiple castings of Runespells and have multiple stacked spells.

So, an RQ2 NPC with Shield 8, Multispell 3 and Teleportx3 would actually only have Shield and Teleport as Runespells in RQG. Whilst you could simply take the Rune Points across, that breaks the RQG rules on Rune Pools. Assuming CHA 21, 63 Rune Points could be broken down into 3 Rune Pools of 21 each, one for Orlanth, one for Humakt and one from HeroQuesting. Also, she might have awakened her Hero Soul, which gives her Rune Points, at least it does in my Glorantha.

1 hour ago, Bren said:

As for her age, I'm hoping there is a misprint because the write up says the stats are as of 1617 and that she was born Godday, Disorder Week, Dark Season, of 1605. Which would make her all of 12 years old. She must have been initiated really young. That Argrath guy better watch his step. 😉

That has been discussed before and her age is, I think, an error.

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