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Old 01-27-2013, 07:11 PM   #1
Rasputin
 
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Default [DF] Fast NPC stats notation

I've been crunching through making a sandbox game document for DF (see Robert Conley, the Welsh Piper, and Jeff Rients for most of the advice I've used so far), and I've understood a simple advantage of D&D: the fast notation of race, class and, most important to this, level. By contrast, with GURPS, all the little things that make up a "level" are spread through dozens of advantages and skills, as well as attributes.

How much information do we need to note if we just want a quick note of how nasty this guy might be if the players choose to pull out the swords on him? I've fiddled with a couple of bang skills for this purpose, but they only solve part of the problem. The issue is how much other detail we need. Which advantages do we list? Do we list all attributes, or just have a generalized "Attribute" listing with one or two exceptional attributes listed next to it?

(The special bang skills with which I came up are one near the normal bang skill, but including ALL skill points and points in talents other than combat skills, and another one called Fighting! which is Average instead of Very Hard and includes all the points put into fighting skills and covers all those skills. Thus, the Ninja template as represented in Ninjas becomes Ninja!-15 (DX+0) and Fighting!-17. For NPCs, this works well enough. I don't know if I'd use it for PCs for any reason.)

Also, one thing that comes into play is that there are loads of items needed for defenses. There are three active defenses though about half of everyone won't have Block, DR and DB (for those who have Block) as well as having to note HP and HT. (By contrast, for whacking someone, you need a weapon skill and damage.) Is this all really needed, or is there a corner one could cut?
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:13 PM   #2
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: [DF] Fast NPC stats notation

I actually do everything in a compressed statline. I was about halfway through writing a blog post about it, but I'll excerpt it here. Say I have a DFM1 Troll:

Trolls (ST 20 DX 13 IQ 10 HT 12 HP 20 Will 10 Per 10 FP 12 Speed 6.25 Move 6 SM+1 Dodge 10 Parry 11(x2) DR 0 Bite-15 2d cutting C grapple on SM+0 Claws(x2)-15 2d+1 cutting C-2 IT(NB,NV) Regen Dark Vision Stealth-15 DFM1 p.31)

That's all I need to go on for monster stats. It's long for a generic NPC, but not terribly so. For guys with gear, just note it. I'd write, say, Dodge 10+DB, Parry 10+DB, Block 9+DB and add "medium shield DB2" to the end of the writeup.

While the "Ninja-17" thing seems like it would work pretty well, I personally needed something for monsters, too.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:16 PM   #3
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: [DF] Fast NPC stats notation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasputin View Post
I've been crunching through making a sandbox game document for DF (see Robert Conley, the Welsh Piper, and Jeff Rients for most of the advice I've used so far), and I've understood a simple advantage of D&D: the fast notation of race, class and, most important to this, level. By contrast, with GURPS, all the little things that make up a "level" are spread through dozens of advantages and skills, as well as attributes.

How much information do we need to note if we just want a quick note of how nasty this guy might be if the players choose to pull out the swords on him? I've fiddled with a couple of bang skills for this purpose, but they only solve part of the problem. The issue is how much other detail we need. Which advantages do we list? Do we list all attributes, or just have a generalized "Attribute" listing with one or two exceptional attributes listed next to it?
1-3 weeks ago, there was a thread with a similar theme, to which I replied based on general statting-up of minor NPCs, with a bias towards peaceful/urban campaigns. So that's not usually useful for you.

For DF, there are several options for simplifying.

One is to simplify brutally and combat-obsessively. Each NPC gets three stats, separated by hyphens, e.g. 14-11-12. The first number is melee attack, the second number is ranged attack, the third number is defence. Next you note three more numbers, melee attack damage, ranged attack damage, and number-of-shots for ranged attack, e.g. how many arrows the guy has.

Next line again HP: x FP: y DR: z, MV: w, although you might want to omit FP (MV is for Move, number of yard-hexes per second).

Such an NPC can defend an unlimited number of times per turn, and we don't know what kind of defence he uses each time. If you don't like that then say that he's at a -1 cumulative penalty per defence after the first in the same turn, thus his first is at 12, 2nd at 11, 3rd at 10, 4th at 9. Or a cumulative -2 penalty if you want to be harsher. Or no penalty, but he must pay 1 FP per defence he employs (or 2 FP if you want to be really harsh).

You can also combine IQ and PER and tactics and WL/morale/courage into a single stat, and just call that IQ. Most foes are IQ 9 or 10.



Another possibility, that covers more than just fighty fighty stuff, but may still be suitable for DF, is to assign each NPC an in-world role that eithe boils down to 1-2 words (15 letters or fewer) or can be abreviated (to 3-7 words).

You then define the NPC has having one rating for Primary skill, one for Secondary, one for Tertiary. Primary are those skills that are core to his role, e.g. Assassin or Spy or Ranger or Innkeeper. Secondary are those that are peripheral to his role but still relevant. Tertiary are nifties and irrelevant ones that it might make sense for him to have. Obviously Secondary should be lower than Primary, and Tertiary should usually be much lower than Secondary (usually at 1 CP level, or even at Dabbler Perk level).

For a typical mook-grade NPC, it might be Orc Raider 13/10/8. Note the use of slashes to distinguish from the attack-ranged-defence scheme employed above. Orc Raiders primarily bully and extort defenceless traders, so it makes sense to assume that for them, a melee weapon is on the list of Primary skills, but Shield is only secondary (their victims rarely fight back)

That method requires you to be intellectually able, psychologically willing, and contractually empowered, to make extrapolative assumptions based on the role. You can always, of course, write a cheat sheet with the 5-20 most common roles, and define on that sheet what the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary skills of each role is, and use that sheet for as long as you need it, until you feel ready to improvise and assume. For a modern era espionage campaign, common roles might be Cop, FBI, CIA, Secret Service, MIB, Elite SpecOps, Merc, Shin Bet, ex-KGB and Mafia.

To simplify further, you can drop Tertiary.

To add more detail, you can give each NPC stat (each stat presumably being used for a flock of capabilitistically identical NPCs, in most cases) a specialty for Primary, one more for Secondary and one for Tertiary. With this scheme the Primary specialty skill is 3 higher than the Primary skill rating, the Secondary is 2 higher, and the Tertiary is 1 higher.

For the Orc Raider NPCs, you might define Axe/Mace as the Primary Specialty, JAvelin as the Secondary Specialty and Stealth as the Tertiary Specialty. Thus they are 13 for all Primary Skills except Axe/Mace for which they are 16, they are 10 for all Secondary Skills except Stealth for which they are 12, and they are 8 for all Tertiary Skills except they have Stealth 9.

You still need to record Move and DR, and for this kind of scheme should probably record separate IQ, WL and PR
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: [DF] Fast NPC stats notation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadkiller_Dog View Post
I actually do everything in a compressed statline. I was about halfway through writing a blog post about it, but I'll excerpt it here.
That doesn't seem bad, at least for monsters, you're right. I have my stuff in a 26,000+ word Word document (plus a few other Evernote files for things I haven't integrated yet), so I keep copying and pasting monster stat blocks and editing them. But yours is good for a quick scribble, which is often what you need when you have not planned for an encounter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadkiller_Dog View Post
While the "Ninja-17" thing seems like it would work pretty well, I personally needed something for monsters, too.
This is what I was thinking for NPCs:

Attribute 12; IQ 15; FP 20; Speed 6.00; Move 4; Dodge 8; Parry 9; DR 1; Wizard!-15; Fighting!-13; Artillery Mage Spells!-19; Magery 4; Quarterstaff-13 1d crushing; Lightning-17 1d-1 burning/FP (up to 4/second) Range 50/100; Fireball-18 1d burning/FP (up to 4/second) Range 25/50; Explosive Fireball-17 1d burning explosive/2 FP (up to 4/second) Range 25/50.

Basically, he casts spells in the idiom of Artillery Mage at 19-(prereq count/3), cast the three listed spells to do damage since they're his favorites (though they seem redundant to me; it's off the top of my head), he fights with his Quarterstaff or other wizardly fighting deals (like Innate Attack) at 13 and does the listed damage, does other wizardly things (like Thaumatology or Hidden Lore) at 15, and, when he needs an attribute for a default or an HT roll, uses 12 unless it's obviously IQ, which uses a 15. I did list his power Advantage, since that also indicates power level too. I wondered how much would be lost at this resolution, which doesn't seem like much for some guy who is going to fight, taunt, and die.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:25 AM   #5
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: [DF] Fast NPC stats notation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasputin View Post
This is what I was thinking for NPCs:

Attribute 12; IQ 15; FP 20; Speed 6.00; Move 4; Dodge 8; Parry 9; DR 1; Wizard!-15; Fighting!-13; Artillery Mage Spells!-19; Magery 4; Quarterstaff-13 1d crushing; Lightning-17 1d-1 burning/FP (up to 4/second) Range 50/100; Fireball-18 1d burning/FP (up to 4/second) Range 25/50; Explosive Fireball-17 1d burning explosive/2 FP (up to 4/second) Range 25/50.
That's okay, although I'd spell out the attributes. It's way easier to parse out ST 12 DX 12 IQ 15 HT 12 FP 20 than Attribute 12 and then go look for exceptions to that.

Otherwise that's pretty good, I'd use that.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:00 AM   #6
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: [DF] Fast NPC stats notation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadkiller_Dog View Post
That's okay, although I'd spell out the attributes. It's way easier to parse out ST 12 DX 12 IQ 15 HT 12 FP 20 than Attribute 12 and then go look for exceptions to that.
Yes, I think parsing might be problematic too. Best to spell the stuff out, unless much is won by consending it.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: [DF] Fast NPC stats notation

I can't read those stat lines at all, unfortunately. Never could read the D&D ones either though, so it's clearly the general format rather than this specific instance.

As a result, I stick to a hybrid between DF-Style "Monster" statblocks and the NPC cards format from Basic Set. You only get 4 per page (much less space-efficient) but since I can't make head nor tails of the super-condensed type it's a sacrifice I'm quite willing to make.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:47 PM   #8
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Default Re: [DF] Fast NPC stats notation

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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
I can't read those stat lines at all, unfortunately. Never could read the D&D ones either though, so it's clearly the general format rather than this specific instance.

As a result, I stick to a hybrid between DF-Style "Monster" statblocks and the NPC cards format from Basic Set. You only get 4 per page (much less space-efficient) but since I can't make head nor tails of the super-condensed type it's a sacrifice I'm quite willing to make.
Would it help readability for you to add some lines and cells, so that it becomes more table-like? As in MS Word-style tables or HTML tables?

I think it would be easier for me. If each stat always lives in the exact same cell, relative to the other stats, and relative to the overall structure of the cell-complex, it'd speed things up for me.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: [DF] Fast NPC stats notation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
Would it help readability for you to add some lines and cells, so that it becomes more table-like? As in MS Word-style tables or HTML tables?

I think it would be easier for me. If each stat always lives in the exact same cell, relative to the other stats, and relative to the overall structure of the cell-complex, it'd speed things up for me.
Absolutely. Making it a basic table would definitely help. As-is, they'd be slow to write and slow to use. Sure, you save some in terms of physical space, but I put all that sort of thing on a wiki, so 'physical space' has essentially zero utility for me. I'd much rather it be fast to write and fast to use.
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:18 PM   #10
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Default Re: [DF] Fast NPC stats notation

Just bob the stats on a spreadsheet, only takes a few cells and you can over 100s of enemies.
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