Design · Kickstarter

The Design of NPCs

The NPC (or Non-Player Character) is a crucial part of almost any role playing game. It is someone with agency just like the characters which the players are running, but it doesn’t belong to any of them. It is run by the referee instead.

Often it isn’t necessary to have much written down about the NPCs game statistics. It is only when some kind of conflict seems likely that you may want to have some statistics to hand. Ideally these would be fairly straightforward to use and easy to scale to allow for threats at different levels of the game.

I’ve had experiences in some other RPGs where creating an NPC was a long, tedious job, and making them appropriate as antagonists at different stages of the game could be even more time consuming. So I wanted to make sure that the NPCs in Starguild were easy to pick up and use, and very easy to modify as foes with different degrees of difficulty.

The following picture (and the single page downloadable pdf) shows one page from the ready to use NPCs. The basic stats are for Novice (level 0) characters.

How to read the sheet

At the top of each is the generic name, and a brief discussion of what that kind of person is, what they normally do.

Then you have three columns, one each for Passion, Intellect and Physique. Next to that is the ability bonus associated with that ability. This is used for making any untrained skill checks associated with that ability.

The second row shows the basic saves for each ability. If they are wearing any armour or have any general bonus to saves this number will be higher than the ability bonus. There might be an * to indicate that they have a save specialty which will be expanded upon in the notes (e.g. the Rancher has a save specialty against Coercion. Her normal social save is +0, but it is +5 against attempts to coerce her, whether through intimidation or taunting.

The third broad row shows trained skills under their appropriate ability, with the +5 bonus for being trained already included.

The Notes row includes any skill specialty, save specialty, social edge which increase the TN of a social attack, or any other relevant advance which that generic type of NPC has.

The Conflict row shows, in order, the kind of conflict actions which that particular NPC is likely to take should conflict arise. You can see that the Suit will normally start with Sow Distrust, moving to Dissemble and ultimately Peacemaker if they have to. Ranchers on the other hand are likely to start with intimidate, and then move to their revolver, with their knife as a backup weapon. In each case it gives the total bonus to skill checks and the TN for the save to avoid consequences for each attack form.

Increasing their level

Since these start as level 0 Novices, moving these up to any level is simple. You just add the desired level to their ability bonus, saves, trained skills, specialties, Conflict attacks and conflict TN. For experienced NPCs you would add +2 or +3. For Veteran NPCs you would add +4 or +5. For Elite NPCs you would add +6 or +7. For Legendary NPCs you would add +8 or +9.

exampleNPCs

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