View Full Version : Should the npc???

15 September 2005, 09:10 PM
My group and i are taking about whether the NPC(s) should know who in the pc party is stronger, bigger, more skilled etc, for when he does stuff. Like if he is highly skilled in hand to hand, he would only target the pcs who are also highly skilled?

Also, if facing someone 'weaker' should he use less dice than he has, so as to not 'overwhelm them'??

15 September 2005, 10:03 PM
I would say; No, th e npc shouldnt know the skill. At least not before they have met.

If the npc has been watching the PC's for a time or know them some other way... then they might know though... it all depends. A surprised security guard wouldnt know... but the bounty hunter that has been trailing them for a while might.

My npc's targets the one that appears to be most threat, they will fire on the wookie, before realising that the xexto was really the MA master...

Ace Calhoon
16 September 2005, 05:07 AM
Well, it sort of depends. They key here is to be fair to the player characters, and use common sense. There are a lot of excuses for an adversary to be able to size up the group: an experienced combatant might be able to recognize the way a trained martial artist moves, for example. But don't use this unless you also give the players an opportunity to determine the strengths of the villains (either as a roll, or through descriptive text).

Your villain can also use gear to determine strengths and weaknesses to a certain extent. While most characters would like you to believe that their stuff "is just there," perhaps in an extra-dimensional pocket or something, it does actually have to reside on their character's person somewhere. That Wookiee tech specialist will have dramatically different equipment from the Xexto martial artist. Just remember that if the NPC can do it, the PCs should have an opportunity to do so as well. Descriptions of NPCs will have to be fairly rich, at least if the players ask for them.

Other things can be inferred from the characters' ability scores... An 18/4D in strength, for example, ought to be visible. But again, the villain shouldn't be able to use this information if the players never have access to it.

Also, if facing someone 'weaker' should he use less dice than he has, so as to not 'overwhelm them'??

Well, do your PCs hold back when they are strong where their opponent is weak? Does the NPC have some kind of code of honor? Other than that, it usually comes down to the team using teamwork.

Of course, the D6 system gets kind of funky like that. Something that's a good challenge for a Wookiee will rip the average human being in half. A handicapping system will certainly make the game less deadly, and might be needed if the GM is stingy with character points.

16 September 2005, 05:31 AM
As a whole, I would say that an NPC should NOT be able to tell who is most skilled or trained in something particular. That is the trick of seperating GM knowledge from NPC knowledge. In very rare circumstances, there might be an individual that could gain information on some of the PCs, but if you do this more than very rarely, you're taking advantage of GM knowledge too much.

As far as dumbing the NPC down, I think it, as Ace mentioned, depends entirely on the NPCs standard procedure/code of honor/cocky attittude. I don't think I've done it very often. I've probably done it about the same as I've had the NPC know about the characters....once ever.

16 September 2005, 06:19 AM
I think a lot has been covered well by those above. I'd reinforce the point that all characters PC and NPC should only know what they can gather from their five senses (and what they judge from that information)...if they enemy looks strong, they probably are strong...the guy bristling with guns, hmmm, maybe he's the soldier.;)
If you wanna bring dice into this then I guess (D20) Spot, Search and/or Sense Motive would be appropriate...and Gather Info for their indirect sources.

16 September 2005, 07:05 AM
I ask, as it came up as part of a 'what a good gm should be' discussion in our group. One of the modules i ran at gencon, spurred a lto of discussion. As i had the baddie fight anyone. I rolled randomly each round to see who he 'targeted' and rolled ihs full skill. The table was 7 characters, 4 were "sheet" 7+, 2 were sheet "3 (or thereabouts" and the last was a newbie.

For a brief reminder of how the 'sheets' work... Everyone starts out as a sheet 1 character, until the end of the 7th game (average of 49 cp earned). Game 8 to 14, is sheet 2, and so on...

So the table average, iirc, was a 6 (meaning the baddie had 7 skills that increased). So i used his fullness when fighting, which seemed overwhelming to some for the newbie, and even the two sheet 3 characters (as one was a tech)...

Ace Calhoon
16 September 2005, 08:34 AM
The table was 7 characters, 4 were "sheet" 7+, 2 were sheet "3 (or thereabouts" and the last was a newbie.


Everyone starts out as a sheet 1 character, until the end of the 7th game (average of 49 cp earned). Game 8 to 14, is sheet 2, and so on...

This brings up an interesting twist to the situation, because you don't have the usual balanced group. As I understand it, you have characters that are literally hundreds of character points apart, presumably through no real fault of their own (i.e. they haven't been getting themselves killed continuously).

These characters really shouldn't be allowed into the same game (it's like having a level 1 character tagging along after a couple of level 15s in D&D), but I'm assuming the environment at GenCon requires this (never been, myself).

It's at this point that you have a decision to make: do you run a fun *game,* or do you run a realistic *role playing* session. In this case, the two aspects of the hobby are working at crossed purposes.

In most cases, realism dictates that the NPC should either kill the inexperienced characters quickly, or give them an equal roll. The one exception to this is if there's truely no chance of the lower-level character harming the villain, in which case they should be ignored completely. A difference in skill that extreme should be readily apparent within a round or two, to a skilled combatant.

This is realistic, this is role playing. But it usually isn't fun to have the choice of being wiped out at the whim of a die roll, or being ignored because you're so pathetic (unless you actually manage to kill the bad guy, somehow B)).

Personally, I'd weight the odds in favor of the bad guy attacking the more experienced characters. This still leaves a danger for all characters (helping to keep up excitement levels), but helps keep the danger proportional to the character's level. It isn't the cleanest fix, but I find it less jarring than lowering the NPC's power levels.

16 September 2005, 08:55 AM
Well, since we DO game at cons, we have people that are in the group, and have been part of it, since its inception (10 or so years ago). SO they are high as heck (20+ sheet level), many in the 10 to 16 sheet area, lots more in the 3-9 area, and are always getting new players coming in. In fact we DO encourage it, but as we don't know who will be sitting down, you can get that large disparity... like on one table, i had 2 newbies, 2 people who had played 5 or so sessions, 1 who was a sheet 4, one who was a sheet 6 (may have been 7) and one who was a sheet 17....

Ace Calhoon
16 September 2005, 12:08 PM
Okay, I think I'm starting to see how it works. I take it that these characters may have been created in other GM's games then? I.e. one player starts a character and hops from game to game as long as possible/desired...

Now that I have a better understanding of the situation (I think ;) ) my viewpoint changes slightly. The simple fact of the matter is that characters that far apart shouldn't be adventuring together, from both a role playing and gameplay stand point. From both perspectives, the new character is almost guarenteed to get killed, unless they're very lucky... It's like a raw recruit being sent on a mission with a group of navy SEALs.

I only see a few possible solutions. Of course, you may have much better ones, as I'm only talking from theory here, you have the actual experience.

1) Balance to the lowest factor. Make your villains and challenges just a bit stronger than the weakest player.

2) Establish that "the new guy" is to be protected as part of the plot of the adventure. Maybe if some of those guys with almost one thousand more earned Character Points jumps in front of a bullet or two, the new character might live. Maybe some new recruits were added to a veteran unit, and Alliance High Command is sick of getting smoking piles of ash back.

3) Play favorites. I still think changing the villains' stats one each attack is a little blatant, but adjusting attack probability might be less likely to break the illusion. Or perhaps the new guy ends up in a strategically advantageous spot fairly frequently. Or maybe he has godly gear for some reason. Whatever.

4) Adjust characters. This one... Probably won't work in your situation. In a normal game, I'd suggest bringing down the stats of the experienced characters or increasing the stats of the new characters. Doesn't sound like that'd work in this environment, however (especially since GenCon comes but once a year).

5) Keep the new guy out of the line of fire. Maybe he's a slicer, or a sniper who's waaaaaaaaaay over there. Either way, he isn't coming into conflict with a character monstrously more powerful than him.

6) Focus on role playing. This one... Probably won't work either. Star Wars just isn't Star Wars without the action.