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Old 10-04-2017, 04:14 PM   #1
Eddie T
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Default NPC Skill Levels

I apologize if this has been discussed, I tried Search but I can't seem to get the board to recognize a "some search terms" or some AND search AND terms, and NPC Skill Levels returns pages and pages and pages and pages of not useful results.

For quick/mass NPCs, I'm looking at the typical Novice/Veteran/Elite structure most of the RPG industry uses. I'm going to plop them in a spreadsheet in Excel so I have some randomization but can basically just go to a tab and copy/paste the number I need and hit print. GURPS has a lot more situational and equipment modifiers than I'm used to, though. As such, I'm a little uncertain of where to put my thresholds for skills and wondering how you guys and gals do in your games (I completely get attribute and secondary characteristic racial norms).

Based on the Probability of Success chart, I'm thinking:
Novice skills are going to be 9 +/- 1 -> anything less than a 9 and I don't see them able to do much except with very lucky rolls
Veteran skills are going to be 11 +/- 1
Elite skills are going to be 14 +/- 1 -> I'm thinking this is a little high for a lot of non-combat skills but iffy if you take into account ranged weapons modifiers.

It looks like GURPS typically just uses 25-, 50-, or some other number of points for NPCs but I want to be able to give a greater number of skills to some archetypes/tropes and not worry about points totals at all.

For the why I'm doing it this way, my players are a...special...bunch. For some reason, they ignore main NPCs and focus on interacting with mooka NPCs. I've learned I need a little more preparation in that department with them.
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Old 10-04-2017, 04:31 PM   #2
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Re: NPC Skill Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddie T View Post
I apologize if this has been discussed, I tried Search but I can't seem to get the board to recognize a "some search terms" or some AND search AND terms, and NPC Skill Levels returns pages and pages and pages and pages of not useful results.

For quick/mass NPCs, I'm looking at the typical Novice/Veteran/Elite structure most of the RPG industry uses. I'm going to plop them in a spreadsheet in Excel so I have some randomization but can basically just go to a tab and copy/paste the number I need and hit print. GURPS has a lot more situational and equipment modifiers than I'm used to, though. As such, I'm a little uncertain of where to put my thresholds for skills and wondering how you guys and gals do in your games (I completely get attribute and secondary characteristic racial norms).

Based on the Probability of Success chart, I'm thinking:
Novice skills are going to be 9 +/- 1 -> anything less than a 9 and I don't see them able to do much except with very lucky rolls
Veteran skills are going to be 11 +/- 1
Elite skills are going to be 14 +/- 1 -> I'm thinking this is a little high for a lot of non-combat skills but iffy if you take into account ranged weapons modifiers.

It looks like GURPS typically just uses 25-, 50-, or some other number of points for NPCs but I want to be able to give a greater number of skills to some archetypes/tropes and not worry about points totals at all.

For the why I'm doing it this way, my players are a...special...bunch. For some reason, they ignore main NPCs and focus on interacting with mooka NPCs. I've learned I need a little more preparation in that department with them.
If you go with the concept that NPC's tend to be of a certain skill level for their expertise level, you might simply want to go with the concept that GURPS started off with ages ago (using GURPS BASIC SET THIRD EDITION REVISED)

Page 45:


6: Clumsy. An average man using an easy weapon for the first time.
9: Unskilled. A rookie in his first month of basic training.
12: Novice. An average man after a little study, or a talented beginner.
15: Veteran. A good, experienced fighter. You rarely miss.
18: Expert. You have a lot of experience.
20: Master. You could train others, and train them well.
25: Wizard. You could fight blindfolded.


Elsewhere on that same page, it talks about skill level and probability of success, where it lists Well trained at 14, Expert at 16+

So, I'd rate "Expert" at a range between 16 to 19, Master at a range 20 through 24, and "Wizard" as anyone 25+

People who don't know what they're doing would be skill 6 or less, and ranges of 7 to 9 would likely be deemed "rookies". Keep in mind, a modified skill of 8 or less means that a person has a roughly 1 in four chance of succeeding.

So, what I'd do is this: The Old GURPS had rules for generating NPC's on the fly and giving them skill levels through random die rolls. Page 84 gives you guidelines for generating the stats and random advantages/disadvantages as well as random skill levels. Randomly roll the attributes with 3d6, randomly roll the skill level as 1d6-3 for skill levels based on attributes.

If you're going to go with "Random die rolls" for attributes, I'd suggest using what amounts to a bell curve with a constant. For example, 2d6/2 + 7. Most attributes will be around ten-ish, as the average of 2d6 tends to be 7, which divided by 2, gives you 3.5. On the best roll possible (12), that gives a max stat of 13, and a minimum stat of 8.

If you're going to use a random "advantage" table and a Random Disadvantage table - you may want to create an advantage "+1 to Stat" or what have you. You might even want to consider using randomly rolled "talents".

Hope this helps.
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Old 10-04-2017, 04:56 PM   #3
Eddie T
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Default Re: NPC Skill Levels

Yeah, it does. Thanks!

I could have sworn I've seen something like that table in 4e, I've been flipping pages but apparently I am wrong.
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Old 10-04-2017, 05:09 PM   #4
Empada
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Brasília
Default Re: NPC Skill Levels

Well... I remember something about it, but I don't remember were.
IIRC it is:
8-9 skills you learned a long time ago, and don't use regulary (topics from School)
10-11 hobby skills and background skill
12-13 professional skill (most professionals, not specialized. Ex. a doctor)
14-15 expert level ( most specilaized and high risk professions. Ex. a Surgeon)
16+ master (life risk and high specialized professions. Ex. a Brain Surgeon)

the list probably have the 20+ and 25+ but I don't remember
also, these values considerate the +3 or +4 bonus for routine tasks, so a professional with only 12 would roll 15-16 for normal duty.

these modifiers are on Basic set for sure. the list maybe are on the Skill chapter

edit: look on basic set page 171 - Meaning of Skill Levels
and page 345 for task dificult
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Last edited by Empada; 10-04-2017 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 10-04-2017, 09:30 PM   #5
Rupert
 
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Wellington, NZ
Default Re: NPC Skill Levels

The relevant discussion in Character is in the box on B172. Don't set 'novice' skill levels too low - an attribute of 10 and 1-point in an average skill gives Skill-9, so about that should be the start point, IMO.

My rule of thumb for NPCs is:
Code:
Green/Novice         10
Regular/Experienced  12
Veteran/Expert       14
Elite                16
For a skill they might reasonably have, but not a core competency, I knock 2 levels off. I very seldom use 'Elite' levels for an NPC, as anyone that good is probably important enough to get written up fully, or nearly so.

IME in most modern and SF games even skill-12 grunts are viable foes for quite high-point PCs. Just give them sufficiently large guns and if necessary enough armour that they can't just be swept aside by a single area attack, and they're ready to go. In low-tech games skill matters more because parries and blocks are a thing while they aren't very important in most high/ultra-tech settings.

EDIT: Skill-14 is plenty for long range shooting. 14 + 5 (Acc of a decent long range rifle) + 2 (time) +2 (scope) + 1 (AoA - you're aiming, etc., so may as well) + 1 (Bracing) = 25. That's a 15- to hit at 100 yards without any particularly special gear. It also gives 10- to hit (so a 50% chance) to at 700 yards, which is pretty darned good. Or 12- to hit the Vitals at 100 yards (and on a 13 you still get a torso hit). Guns-14 is plenty for long range shooting.
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Last edited by Rupert; 10-05-2017 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 10-04-2017, 10:44 PM   #6
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Re: NPC Skill Levels

Just to give you an idea of how far a skill 11 goes in GURPS?

Recently, I ran an online cyberpunk campaign (Fantasy Grounds 2) where the player went up against an Augmented (biosculpting) ST 22 guy who had some problems thinking due to other attempts/experiments at making him an ultimate crowd pleaser in street fighting. Guy had ST 22 with what amounted to knives embedded in his hands (not quite as bad as Wolverine of course!)

With a skill of 11, all he knew was basically "Slash for face" with a telegraphic blow. This gave him a +4 to hit an area that was -5 to hit, so his modified to hit became a 10.

As GM, I figured the player character hero had it in the basket. I guess when using Dice, one should NEVER assume that at all - least of all, me! Long story short - it even looked like the player character had it in the bag when the NPC suffered an attack from the player character, a crit hit, and fell down because he failed his HT saving roll for an attack that was treated as a major wound. That the damage was only 1 point caused the player some real anguish! Down on his back, stunned for two seconds, you'd think "Red" (the NPC) would be put out of the player character's miser. Sadly, the player character just couldn't make it work.


Then it happened. Red made a Crit Success on an attack after rising to his feet, undaunted by the nearly expert brawling attacks of the player character. So, that used up the player character's "Defensive luck". Then it happened again, an automatic success. Player character went down with his head largely destroyed as the rippers hit his lower cheek orb area, penetrated his sinuses, and caused a massive bleeder. Needless to say, with the multiple death saving rolls required, one of them missed by more than 2, causing the player character to join the choir invisible (Monty Python reference for death).

Did I neglect to mention the player character had a skill of about 15 in Brawling, +1 for Combat reflexed +2 for Telegraphic attack recipient, and +3 for active defenses for a final Defense roll of 10+3+1+2 or 16?

So - learn from this example.. The Dice aren't always the player's friend when rolled in the hands of a GM. Granted, I could have FUDGED it, and lied about the rolls being made, but I figure if it is only the illusion of danger the player wants for his character, why bother rolling the dice at all?

So, it was a "fitting" end for a cyberpunk character. Ex-Cop who turned into a private investigator because he hated how justice could be bought at the police precincts. Going down to that "monster" was to be sure, anti-climatic, but the next time he runs a character against a Street Fighter named RED, with rippers, and body sculpted Biomass - there is going to be a certain sense of satisfaction in a rematch with a different character.
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:45 AM   #7
MrTim
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Default Re: NPC Skill Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Empada View Post
Well... I remember something about it, but I don't remember were.
It's a box on B172 in the English edition, with an extended version in How to Be a GURPS GM, p. 12.
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Old 10-05-2017, 10:42 AM   #8
Stormcrow
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ronkonkoma, NY
Default Re: NPC Skill Levels

There is also the advice on page 447 of Campaigns regarding assigning skill levels on templates. Skill 12 is good for safe professions; 14 is good for dangerous professions; 16+ is for astounding skill in any field. Also consider the realism of the campaign: more cinematic campaigns will have higher skill levels.

There's also the Listing Skills box on page 448, which lists skills by whether they're primary, secondary, or background. Primary skills are as above. Secondary skills start at 11. Background skills can be anything, but are usually lower than primary or secondary.
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Old 10-05-2017, 11:18 AM   #9
A Ladder
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Default Re: NPC Skill Levels

Here's a quote from Kromm about skill levels. I have this printed out next to my GM screen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
I'd aim for swaths that come as close as possible to 20% steps in probability of success, mirror the progression at -10 (the harshest recommended TDM on p. B346) for masterful end cases, and smooth over the discontinuity where they meet. I'd then associate these bands with the usual descriptors for power levels (p. B487) -- and note that I'm not associating skill levels with the power levels themselves, I'm just borrowing a familiar set of adjectives. Try:
7 or less
Unskilled (default users)
8-9
Feeble (beginners, humorous bumblers)
10-11
Average (most non-job skills for ordinary folks)
12-13
Competent (most job skills for ordinary folks)
14-16
Exceptional (the most seasoned of ordinary folks)
17-19
Heroic (extraordinary world-class experts)
20-21
Larger-than-Life (top experts from all of history)
22-23
Legendary ("typical" mythic figures)
24-26
Superhuman (outstanding mythic figures)
27 or more
Godlike (greatest mythic figures, gods, etc.)
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:38 AM   #10
Captain Joy
 
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Heartland, U.S.A.
Default Re: NPC Skill Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Empada View Post
Well... I remember something about it, but I don't remember were.
IIRC it is:
8-9 skills you learned a long time ago, and don't use regulary (topics from School)
10-11 hobby skills and background skill
12-13 professional skill (most professionals, not specialized. Ex. a doctor)
14-15 expert level ( most specilaized and high risk professions. Ex. a Surgeon)
16+ master (life risk and high specialized professions. Ex. a Brain Surgeon)

the list probably have the 20+ and 25+ but I don't remember
also, these values considerate the +3 or +4 bonus for routine tasks, so a professional with only 12 would roll 15-16 for normal duty.

these modifiers are on Basic set for sure. the list maybe are on the Skill chapter

edit: look on basic set page 171 - Meaning of Skill Levels
and page 345 for task dificult
Also look on page 12 of How To Be A GURPS GM. Also, buy that book.
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