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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 77 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Statting, NPCs and GNS  (Read 9599 times)
Epoch
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« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2001, 05:07:00 PM »

The family tree thing is important.

I just realized yesterday that, if one of my PC's dies, the following are the most likely heirs to the throne:

His traitorous-half-brother-in-exile
His full aunt
His double-half-aunt
His eldest half-uncle
His eldest half-uncle who has an interest in the throne
His eldest surviving half-uncle who is unquestionably legitimate
His eldest half-aunt who is also unquestionably legitimate and is older than his eldest surviving uncle who is unquestionably legitimate
The son of his eldest (now-deceased) unquestionably legitimate half-uncle (who was older than his eldest half-aunt)
His double-half-first-cousin
His half-first-cousin-plus-half-nephew

...is it any surprise I don't have time to stat the NPC's?  I have to work on my mathematical proof that it's not possible to graph the family tree in two-space!

[ This Message was edited by: Epoch on 2001-12-05 20:08 ]
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lumpley
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« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2001, 06:23:00 PM »

Hey, would anybody mind if we expand the question?  When is it important to stat PCs, and when can you get away with not?  The same circumstances?  Different ones?

Also, I wasn't counting, but are we seeing the old DIP/DAS [Develop In Play / Develop At Start] split?

Sometimes the quality of discussion around here is so high I can't even blink.

-lumpley Vincent
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Laurel
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« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2001, 09:34:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-12-05 21:23, lumpley wrote:

Also, I wasn't counting, but are we seeing the old DIP/DAS [Develop In Play / Develop At Start] split?


I think so.  I'm a proud member of the DIP squad, and don't stat my NPCs.  I'm 'fair' to my players in the sense that I try to create antagonists that challenge but don't destroy them, and rely more heavily on storytelling than dice rolling to keep things balanced.  

Quote

Sometimes the quality of discussion around here is so high I can't even blink.


I feel that way too and like a little fish who thought she was a big fish til she jumped in this particular little pond :smile:
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Blake Hutchins
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Posts: 614


« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2001, 09:42:00 AM »

I've adopted a technique borrowed from the NPC write-ups in Tribe 8, namely to identify the highlights of the character, whether they be stats, skills, dice pools, personality aspects, or whatever.  I try to keep them to three for simplicity's sake.  If I have a major scene approaching, I try to map the limits of what I'm going to improvise, more as guidelines to keep me in synch with the story than anything else.  My rule of thumb is to keep any stats or numbers on one side of a one page "cheat sheet," with everything in legible, easily scanned format.

I have a friend who runs DnD 3e and devotes at least eight hours to preparation for a single session.  I'm in awe of that, but there's no way I have the time or inclination to do that amount of work for a weekly game.

Best,

Blake

[ This Message was edited by: Blake Hutchins on 2001-12-06 12:44 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2001, 09:52:00 AM »

Blake,

I follow that same strategy for Hero Wars and for most other games, when possible. In Hero Wars, it's especially easy because character game-features are a series of descriptive words anyway. In other games (RuneQuest is a good example) it's practically impossible; one is almost certain to violate the system-integrity, which I like to preserve.

After a character has been in play, I then find it very easy to round him or her out with full game-writeups, adding stuff that got improvised in or revising the original idea, or whatever. After that point, the NPC is "cemented" and becomes a solid piece of what's going on, in system terms.

Of course, sometimes I have a really solid NPC all set before play, just because I liked the character and enjoyed working out the details. But I've found that well into the play series, about half of the really solid NPCs were "vague-then-cemented," and about half of them were "cemented-before-play." It seems to go either way.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2001, 10:04:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-12-06 12:52, Ron Edwards wrote:

In other games (RuneQuest is a good example) it's practically impossible; one is almost certain to violate the system-integrity, which I like to preserve.


Ah, thank you Ron, that's the phrase I was looking for.  I don't like to violate the system-integrity, either.

Jesse
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2001, 10:57:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-12-06 13:04, jburneko wrote:
Ah, thank you Ron, that's the phrase I was looking for.  I don't like to violate the system-integrity, either.


?!?

I go into Champions battles with nothing but a character concept (I remember making up a character, The Ape, after a battle had started, and the bad guys were going down too easily). Interestingly, from a balance POV in battle, any good Champions GM knows that point totals have little to do with the outcome of a battle. It's Active Point limits for powers that keep characters in line. I design powers on the spot to make them challenging but not overpowering. I just make up each stat as I need it.

I guess I'm violating the system integrity, whatever that means. But it's fun. Where is the harmful part? Even when my Players figure out that I'm making something up? Make it up before, make it up during, what difference is there? Mistakes? Well, that character is an exception to the rules (might make for an interesting plot development). If I really goof up...well, oops, have to make a small change. That's the price you pay for making prep time a tenth as long and ten times as interesting. IMO.

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2001, 11:25:00 AM »

Mike,

We're talking about personal preferences based on time and creative styles, not general guidelines. This is exactly what I meant way up in my first post on the thread, that GNS perspectives aren't going to provide guidelines for one's preferences in this regard.

No one said a word about what you should or shouldn't do. This "system integrity" thing is no more than a desired personal-constraint that Jesse and I share.  Cool yer engines.

Best,
Ron
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Ian O'Rourke
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« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2001, 01:33:00 PM »

I'd actually go as far as to say that having to worry about too much 'system integrity' is what puts me off some games. Basically, third edition D&D has so much relating elements that hang off each other it drives me insane.

I find that game hard to play without exhaustive stats.

Anyway, slightly off topic for the thread so I'll stop :smile:
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2001, 02:20:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-12-06 14:25, Ron Edwards wrote:
We're talking about personal preferences based on time and creative styles, not general guidelines.


Yes, this is, of course, about preferences. And I apologize if I sounded didactic. I just want to point out that people can save a lot of time if they just skip the stats step, and it has never, under any circumstances, been a bad thing for me.

That having been said, I like to stat. From a theoretical POV. I don't actually do it much anymore, but I used to spend hours just writing up characters which I had no idea if I was ever going to use. Now that's a waste of time (though a fun one). What it did for me is make me adept at figuring out how to stat on the fly. Which I find infinitely more useful than pre-statting.

Mike
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #25 on: December 06, 2001, 04:22:00 PM »

Quote
Ron Edwards wrote:

Quote
Blake Hutchins wrote:

I've adopted a technique borrowed from the NPC write-ups in Tribe 8, namely to identify the highlights of the character, whether they be stats, skills, dice pools, personality aspects, or whatever.  I try to keep them to three for simplicity's sake.

I follow that same strategy for Hero Wars and for most other games, when possible.
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Joe Murphy (Broin)
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« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2001, 05:54:00 AM »


I use three different NPC methods, I think. I haven't yet used much of the GNS in my games, so they may not be all that analyzed.

Whenever I come across a new game, I tend to stat up a few dozen characters. This familiarises me with the ins and outs of the system and sometimes shows me chargen pitfalls my players might encounter.

Often, these test characters become a folder of NPCs I can pull out in-game. As I've spent an hour with each character, I'll have an instinctive feeling for their style, voice, techniques, etc, and they haave fully-developed stats. They'll often have sketches and ties to other NPCs noted.

Less important NPCs (the bartenders and shopkeepers) tend to be devloped completely on the fly. These tend to have two personality traits. One trait may be, say 'Friendly'. The other trait directly opposes that trait, or twists it somehow. The friendly shopkeeper may be paranoid till a bond of trust evolves. The cop may be dutiful but weak-willed. The sailor may be optimistic, but with a tragic past. These NPCs can develop from those seeds quite nicely.

If actual statistics for these NPCs are required, I tend to give 'em a rating in Thinking/Talking/Fighting. These approximations work fine for simple interactions.

Finally, I sometimes have my players develop NPCs. In a recent supers game, I had my players begin the session by scribbling up 'a superhero military team' or 'a villainous team themed around the circus' or whatever. We recorded these alphabetically on index cards.

These NPCs would often later be encountered, or referred to in newspapers, etc. These NPCs have simple, approximated stats as before, and were just typically just background flavor.

Joe.
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