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[DitV]Proto-NPCs?

Started by Simon Kamber, March 31, 2005, 09:41:39 PM

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Simon Kamber

Just got my hands on the dogs book today (yay!), and reading through it, I've come across something I don't quite understand.

As far as I understand it, the rules call for the GM to create a set of proto-NPCs before play, and only connecting them to actual NPCs in the game. As far as I can see, he's even supposed to assign the traits to the trait dice during conflict.

Now, I'm sure this makes sense somehow, as I've come to understand that the other oddities in the game do, but how? Doesn't it:

A) Put stress on the GM to come up with more stuff while playing and getting more factors to fit together, something that the GM, from my experience in other games, is already quite busy doing.

and

B) Create a sort of circular process where the GM encounters a situation in a conflict, then assigns a trait to the NPC relevant to the situation in order to bring said trait into the conflict and gain dice?
Simon Kamber

Doug Ruff

I'm not one of the resident experts, but: DiTV isn't like those other games.

It helps if you look at Town Creation as the heart of the whole system (in a lot of other games, this would be a throw-away section on 'scenario design' or, heh, 'storytelling').

Because of the Town Creation rules, the GM doesn't have to spend most of their time making things fit together. It's all there, waiting for the players to ride into the scene.

And, if you've spent 3 hours statting up all of your important NPCs before the play session, what are you going to do if the players don't want to meet them? The temptation is there to introduce the NPC anyway, even if it doesn't fit with what the players want. Even if it doesn't fit with what you want now that you know what the players have decided to do.

So, having a set of proto-NPCs takes that pressure away. The players want to talk to the Steward? bang, there's his template. The players decide to talk to the old guy who lives by the railroad instead? Same thing, exactly the same thing.

And the circular thing you mention, I reckon it's the same thing. No twisting the conflict so that you can bring your cool NPC abilities into play. You assess the situation, decide what the coolest thing would be to happen, and you make up the trait on the spot.

So, it's not a drawback, it's a design feature. That's one of the many reasons I love this game - no more meaningless NPC rosters!
'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'

sirogit

Asigning proto NPCs is a pretty damn near effortless job. Of course I used the online proto-NPC generator, which handled the creation portion, and than I just looked for which of the proto-NPC's has fitting Stats, and atleast one appropiately high trait or relationship, write it in andthere it goes.

Sometimes it can make some pretty powerfull NPCs. I picked a proto NPC that had 6d6 Acuity, 3d6 Heart, 1d10 Relationship with greed, 1d10 relatioship with workers, and 2d8 Trait "Elegant public speaker", all of which were extremely relevant to the conflict and encouraged the player to back down rather than escalate the conflict.

But the power of the NPCs is generally checked by how appropiate the GM thinks that Stat block etc. would be a good fit for the NPC.

TonyLB

Oh, what an interesting way to do it.  Whenever I need a new NPC for a conflict I just write the relevant name on top of whatever my next block of stats is.  Sometimes I find out surprising things (like discovering that a little girl has the raw Will to escalate profitably to violence and brutality, if she must) but it always seems to work out.
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Joshua A.C. Newman

Quote from: TonyLBOh, what an interesting way to do it.  Whenever I need a new NPC for a conflict I just write the relevant name on top of whatever my next block of stats is.  Sometimes I find out surprising things (like discovering that a little girl has the raw Will to escalate profitably to violence and brutality, if she must) but it always seems to work out.

Well, I like the "choose the next in line" except where it clearly doesn't make sense. The town doctor has 2d6 Acuity? No. Next? 4d6. That'll do. In this particular case, it mattered because that doctor was trying to save a Dog's life; not enough dice means the Dog dies. I really wanted those dice.

Usually, though, I love the freedom of just jumping to the next one and coming up with traits like "I'm a selfish prick - 2d10". It guides the narration pretty well when the traits are focused on the conflicts in question. It also makes the NPCs non-pushovers, which is important.
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.

kaeru

Hello everyone. This is my first post here. I've run DitV once now, which was my first "indie rpg" experience. Before that, I played a lot of Call of Cthulhu. I live in Utrecht, The Netherlands, and work as an interaction designer with a web design agency. My real name is Kars.

On proto-NPCs: I think it's a design feature as well, and a great one. During my first session, whenever my players would start a conflict with one of the NPCs, I would just ask them: what would be a fitting set of attributes for this one? Then, we would go through the line of traits and relationships, and the players would suggest things to fill in there. When the NPC was done, we'd launch into conflict.

I haven't tried waiting to fill in the traits and relationships as they come into play. I'll try that the next time we play.

I emphasised co-creation a lot during the session, mainly to break our old CoC habits. This was one great way to do it.

Also, I think the use of proto-NPCs helps in having the GM follow the players' lead as to what's (or who's) important. I told them this explicitly at the start of the session as well. Filling out the NPC together reinforced this statement, in a way.

The players really caught on to the idea quickly. They loved coming up with all kinds of stuff during play., stuff that "normally" I would decide as the GM. We had an enormous amount of fun with this. I think it was largely due to the design of DitV. So Vincent, if you're reading this: thanks for creating an incredible game.

Finally, this approach actually puts less stress on me as a GM. I don't have to worry about coming up with stats for every conceivable NPC the players will run into. Instead, I can just sit back and relax to see where they'll take the game.

Honestly, running DitV for the first time has been a more relaxing experience (with respect to the GMs organisational obligations) then running a session of CoC with years of experience. Go figure.

Regards,

Kars

Simon Kamber

Well then, seems it's another of those features which seem odd to the rest of us, but work well in the game. Thanks for the replies!
Simon Kamber