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wombat1

How do you create NPC's

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Straight forward enough question--how do the gamemasters and keepers on this forum create NPC's for use in their games.  It seems straightforward enough in Dungeons and Dragons--an 8th level Whasis has certain statistics, hit dice and so on.  In the BRP family it has always seemed less simple to me.  I I get that a beginning level NPC who is going to be somewhat important can be generated like a starting player character, and I get that the NPC gets whatever he needs to get his role in the story done, so that the heroic fighter doesn't have randomly generated strength 3.  But what about other statistics, and skills?  

So I am curious to hear how other game masters deal with this.

 

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I try to keep it simple as possible. Only assign skills and stats as you need them. Most of my NPCs have a single stat that they shine in and three skills. If they are combat NPCs they look something like this: Dex = x, Combat 30% whatever at 1d6, 10 HP (or whatever). Adjust where you need to. To me, skills and stats only make an NPC so interesting. Their relationship with the party is more important.

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I used to do a full stat-block, but long since moved to something rather like  Chaot's way of doing things.

I tend to vary my mooks a bit -- one might be a Strong Mook with STR=15 and a maul, and average DEX; another might be a Quick Mook with DEX=15 and a rapier, and average STR.  Somretimes a Stealthy Mook with only a dagger, who hides to attack from surprise...

But only when there are at least 4-5 mooks; for 2-3 I let them be the same...  They're only Mooks after all!

 

 

 

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Some BRP-like games provide some pregenerated NPC templates like 'Merchant', 'Guard' or 'Soldier'. Elric does this, as does Swords of Cydoria, and they are a good addition to any setting book. So it can be pretty easy --and especially, quick, to find the kind of NPC you are looking for, tweak the stats a bit or change the weapon/armour combination. Like Chaot says, you don't need to roll stats you don't need.

Another one I quite like is a sort of classification of skill ranges eg.

01-20 Poor

21-40 Average

41-70 Good

71-90 Very Good

90-100 Excellent

101+ Master (usually assigned rather than randomly rolled for NPCs)

Then you can say Knarth of Kelgar is Good with the cudgel and a Very Good blacksmith, but Poor at fast talking.

It's a bit like FATE but with a quick description like that you can randomise the exact skill level later with a d20/d20/d30/d20/d10 etc

As for stats I just roll 3d6 straight for all NPCs (well, maybe 2d6+6 for SIZ), and only if I need to know.

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I do a stat block and don't have a detailed skill list. I just have Primary skills that they are expected to have in their profession and secondary for anything else. If they have really high skills, then I add a Tertiary Skills.

Here's an example from a game I was running.

Imperial Templar

STR 15 CON 14 SIZ 15 INT 13 POW 11
DEX 13 APP 13 EDU 14
Move: 10
Hit Points: 15
Damage Bonus: +1d4
Armor: 10-Point Templar Armor 
Attacks: 
E-11 Rifle 45%, 2D8+3 (Impaling)
Vibro-Dagger 45%, 2D4+2+1D4 (Impaling)
Grenade (Explosive) 45%, 3D8 (Knockback) 

Skills: Primary Skills 45%, Secondary Skills 30%
Powers: None

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I have a suite of Perl scripts I've written over the years to generate PCs and monsters for various BRP games. The abbreviated output looks like this:

11 colin@rokk> ./mkbrppc.pl --genre=fantasy --profession=wizard --race=human | ./npcstatblock.pl 
Name: normal fantasy human wizard 
Characteristics: STR [13] CON [11] SIZ [11] INT [11] POW [14] DEX [10] APP [6] EDU [15] 
SCB: Combat 1% Communication 1% Manipulation 1% Mental 5% Perception 3% Physical 0%
Combat: Hit Points=11 Major Wound Level=6 
Stat Rolls: Effort 65% Stamina 55% Idea 55% Luck 70% Agility 50% Charisma 30% Know 75% 
Derived: PP=14 XP=6 FP=24 SAN=70% DB=NONE MOV [10]
Skills:  Knowledge Occult 56%, Perform Rituals 46%, Language Other 21%, Craft Skill 21%, Knowledge 1 40%, Knowledge 2 30%, Insight 28%, Persuade 36%, Research 50%, Literacy 64% 
Powers: 
 Cast 4 Magic spells of the player's choice.
 Each has a starting level of 11 %.
Or
 Cast 6 Levels of Sorcery spells of the player's choice. 
 These spells have no starting skill level. They just *work*.
Bonus Skills:    27      34     24     21  

Possessions:
Notes:
12 colin@rokk> 

 

The  'Bonus Skills' numbers can be used by the GM to increase existing skills or add new ones. Now, this wizard isn't exactly great but I can always re-run the script until I get a 'better' result. Most of the NPCs used in the Golden Grimoire (Stormbringer) and Magic World campaigns were generated using these scripts.

Colin

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I'm not sure where I saw it first, but some GMs routinely go for 75% of the PC's abilities. So, for a combat encounter, they simply assign three fourths of the PC's Combat Style to the opponents. That way the resistance will always be in the right ballpark. 

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2 hours ago, clarence said:

but some GMs routinely go for 75% of the PC's abilities

This was the basic idea I used for many years. Then I started using a graded opponent system:

Bad 25%, Poor 50%, Okay 75%, Good 100%, Better 125%, Superior 150% I used this for NPCs in many BRP based games for a long time, then got fed up with the maths and built a small ready ref table. This is my RQ one - its on a sheet of card - Abilities one side table on the other. The abilities were based on the King of Dragon Pass computer game mainly as they were simple. To make an NPC - say the players encounter a merchant traveller who is secretly a spy sent to trail them. I'd decide a couple of skills for flavour - Bargaining and Deception. I'd say they were Fair at Bargaining, but make them Very Good at deception giving them:

Bargaining 50%

Deception 80%

and that's the NPC fleshed out. If needed I'd add more later from the table. If it becomes major, I add it to its own index card with a name etc.

Primary abilities

Animals
Bargaining
Combat
Customs
Leadership
Magic
Plants
Wealth

Secondary abilities - best of
Deception (Bargaining or Leadership)
Diplomacy (Bargaining or Custom)
Exploring (Bargaining or Combat)
Farming (Animals or Plants)
Hunting (Animals or Combat or Plants)
Poetry (Custom or Leadership)
Prophecy (Magic or Leadership)
Strategy (Combat or Leadership)

 

Fair

Good

Very Good

Excellent

Renowned

Heroic

%

50

70

80

90

120

150

Spirit Magic points

D6 (3)

6 + D6 (9)

9 + D6 (12)

Shaman

12 + D6

15 + D6 (18)

18 + D6 (21)

Rune Magicpoints

Initiate 0

Initiate D2 (1)

Initiate 2 + D4 (4)

Rune Level 4 + D6 (7)

10 + D6 (13)

15 + D10 (20)

Helper spirits / allied spirits

 

 

D2 -1 (0)

D2 (1)

D4 (2)

D6 (3)

Magic Items

0

0

D2 -1 (0)

D2 (1)

D3 (2)

D4 (2)

Hit Points

12

15

18

20

22

24

Armour

4

5

6

8

10

12

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I only create full stat blocks for important NPCs. Otherwise, I tend to use a similar style for NPC stat block that Kphan2121 posted above. Occasionally I'll use an even simpler stat block for large groups of mooks, but mostly my NPC stat blocks are like Kphan2121's.

I did start using a RuneQuest encounter generator that's similar to the Mythras one posted above. I'm guessing programmed by the same person?!

Though I do like the table listed above by David Scott.

Now that I managed to log into the Mythras encounter generator that was posted above, I see it's the same one as the RuneQuest encounter generator! It is nice because you can create templates to use as a basis for generating encounters!

Edited by Skunkape

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On 16/01/2018 at 8:50 PM, wombat1 said:

Straight forward enough question--how do the gamemasters and keepers on this forum create NPC's for use in their games.  It seems straightforward enough in Dungeons and Dragons--an 8th level Whasis has certain statistics, hit dice and so on.  In the BRP family it has always seemed less simple to me.  I I get that a beginning level NPC who is going to be somewhat important can be generated like a starting player character, and I get that the NPC gets whatever he needs to get his role in the story done, so that the heroic fighter doesn't have randomly generated strength 3.  But what about other statistics, and skills?  

So I am curious to hear how other game masters deal with this.

I generate full characters sheets for major NPC allies and antagonists; I use variations of the old "Leader and Follower" sheets for specific bands of NPC's I feel I might need that sort of detail on, and most NPC's I rate as Minor, Average, Experienced, Heroic or Epic, as per page 221 of Magic World.

Historically I had a slightly more fiddly variant of the Magic World breakdown, but play testing of the MW idea made me realise that the extra detail was pointless cruft - if the NPC really mattered, I would have created a full character sheet and if they didn't, I only need the bare minimum data to make them function as an NPC.

Cheers,

Nick 

Edited by NickMiddleton
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I write up major NPC's exactly how I want them to be. Mooks, regular joes, the town guard, etc. I like to prepare a simple stat block for these groups which I can add some random color if I want, hence I made the Renaissance Combat Tracker which is in the download section.

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I wish I had a system that I have been using f or years, but to be honest I have just been winging it until recently. In all my rpgs, not just the d100 games. However, what I do now is put everything on a 4x6 card. The NPC may appear in my notes or in my campaign guide, but their stats and needed details appear only on their card.  I tend to skip characteristics unless necessary and concentrate on their relevant skills and "powers". A portrait if I feel saucy. I want to try that aspect out in a CoC one shot sometime soon and see how it works. 

Keeping track of my NPCs with the 4x6 card system has really worked well for me.

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I use my own cut down version of the character sheet that fits on half an A4 sheet. This has a stat block, hit locations AP/HP, commonly used skills list with spaces for advanced skills, weapon details and a space for notes (magic, passions etc.). 

As far as skills go I simply fill them in based on how experienced I perceive the NPC to be, if I’m unsure where to pitch a skill I check the relevant stats and refer to the character creation for their background and profession for more info. 

I’ll find the file and post it. 

 

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For a Weird War 2 game (but would work for any war oriented game I think), everyone gets broken down simply:

  • Basics (as in just out of first training) Stats all 10, Skills 30, Primary (usually weapon) skill 35
  • Regulars (additional time training) Stats all 11, Skills 40, Primary skill 45
  • Vets (seen combat) Stats all 12, Skills 50, Primary skill 55
  • Elites (Rangers, Spec ops, etc.)  Stats all 14, Skills 50, Primary skill 65;  more specialize elites don't gain more combat skill, but instead get more variety in their skill set, for example (generally), Pure combat types are highly trained and cross trained in combat tasks, Trainers get all that plus extra language, "knowledge", command and teaching skills, Specialist combatants would get things like underwater ops, extra demolitions, and related "knowledge".  Security types would have more intelligence skills, especially counter intelligence and tech skills to secure areas and clients, and depending on the situation, maybe even higher skills with combat for "lesser" weapon choices like pistols and hand to hand.

Often the NCO of the squad is one step up the scale in skill percentages.  The other way to differentiate among the types of troops are:

  • Normal: 1/2 Con + 1/2 Size for hit points and/or minimum armor (say,  d3/d6+1 for normal basics)
  • Tough: (as in tougher than normal selection), +25% more hit points and/or extra +1 with armor
  • Minor named: (moving away from the pure minion types), +50% over base hit points and/or extra +2 with armor (total, so this one would have d3/d6+3)
  • Named:  (bigger than the bit players, these are direct underling types) +75% over base hit points and/or upgrade of armor (say d4/d8)
  • Major named: (the main antagonists): +100% hit points (i.e. same as the players, Con + Siz) and definite armor upgrade, usually to the next die size and with an extra +1

Nothing new here, it is just me showing how I laid out what has been said above.  NOTE: that category bonuses and weapon/armor penalties are ignored (except in the case of the "named") and the straight percentages given above are directly used.

Doing it this way makes it real easy for me to set up generic 5 man squads (although it works for 8 or 10 man squads as well) using the NPC sheet on page 393 of the core rules.

 

Edited by Algesan
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