Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > Roleplaying in General

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-13-2016, 06:08 AM   #1
vicky_molokh
GURPS FAQ Keeper
 
vicky_molokh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kyv, Ukraine
Default Mooks and Extras in Combats and Other Challenges

Greetings, all!

Today I'm going to ask you about your stance on Mooks and Extras. That is, NPCs who are very, very inferior to the PCs in terms of competence, usually presenting only a negligible threat, and usually presented without emphasizing/describing distinguishing traits like faces and names and the like. While the term 'Mooks' is usually applied to combat encounters, similarly low-threat low-competence opponents can be employed in noncombat scenes, such as crowds that are easily swayed by Glorious Talkative Protagonists, a bunch of players at a card table who fold early and leave the two worthy opponents to their duel of wits, or faceless enemy engineers who have trouble reverse-engineering the protagonist's invention.

Over the course of the most of my recent GMing, I did not have many situations where use of Mooks/Extras was appropriate: either the campaigns had little place for big confrontations, or the PCs were the underdogs.

But what about you? Do you use Mooks/Extras? What are the typical impressions of their use? The GM in a non-network tabletop campaign I played in (and the campaign before it) seems to be opposed to the concept of Mooks/Extras on principle, while my play-over-Internet GM used to have a style closer to my own (with few big confrontations and many situations where the opposition is equal or somewhat better than the PCs), only lately moving towards a more mooky style.

Thanks in advance for your answers!
__________________
Vicky 'Molokh', GURPS FAQ and uFAQ Keeper
The Eye of Eclipse Phase. A Discord server focusing on Roleplaying, Sci-Fi, Transhumanism, and discussion of other assorted topics, from tech to boardgames, from politics to philosophy.
vicky_molokh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2016, 08:25 AM   #2
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Mooks and Extras in Combats and Other Challenges

I don't think I ever use them. Certainly I don't do so by design.
__________________
Bill Stoddard

A human being should know how to live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse. Specialization is for insects.
whswhs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2016, 10:31 AM   #3
RogerBW
 
RogerBW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near London, UK
Default Re: Mooks and Extras in Combats and Other Challenges

I tend not to; in any role-playing situation I'm mostly interested in the people.
RogerBW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2016, 12:00 PM   #4
Icelander
 
Icelander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Re: Mooks and Extras in Combats and Other Challenges

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Today I'm going to ask you about your stance on Mooks and Extras. That is, NPCs who are very, very inferior to the PCs in terms of competence, usually presenting only a negligible threat, and usually presented without emphasizing/describing distinguishing traits like faces and names and the like. While the term 'Mooks' is usually applied to combat encounters, similarly low-threat low-competence opponents can be employed in noncombat scenes,
To me, the term Mook has a connotation that goes beyond receiving little camera time or expository focus or a massive competence disparity and presenting only a negliable threat to the protagonists. It also means that the character is designed to be violently dispathed by the progatonists and, usually, that the protagonists can rely on suffering little or no repercussions from using violence against such characters, even if such repercussins may occur when using the same violent means against other characters in the setting.

Killing Mooks will generally not result in legal trouble, social complications or pychological trauma. Protagonists who kill Mooks, especially if their actual messy deaths occur off-screen (even if it is clear that they are going to die in mere seconds due to the actions of the protagonist), can still claim with a straight face to be 'against killing' and not suffer any of the consequences that they would if they were to break their Vow or go against their Pacifism by killing a named character.

While this does not usually hold for small 'e' extras, those countless characters who inhabit a game world without performing a significant action or deliver lines beyond those common to service staff, it does apply to a certain degree when Extra is used with a capital 'E' as a term of art for something which is for all intents and purposes a synonym for Mook. A small 'e' extra, pretty much by definition, stops being an extra the moment he interacts with a protagonist in any significant way, most certainly including being involved in a violent altercation with him.

In light of this clarification on what the terms mean to me, I can state that I use extras all the time, but actively try to avoid using Mooks or Extras.

NPCs are very often much less competent than PCs in my games and some of them essentially pose no threat to the PCs if they were to attack them. I often run games where the PCs are cinematically competent heroes and it is pretty meaningless to be one of the best in the world at something if there is no benchmark of average performance to give a frame of reference.

Also, I generally want the campaign world to make sense and be filled with all kinds of people, most of them clustering around 'average' and only a few of them exceptional. This means that very competent PCs will spend a lot of time interacting with characters whose competence at whatever skill set matters for the interaction will be average or even below average.

A mouthy teenager with no combat skills, no weapon and a Will of 8 and the Cowardice Disadvanage is no real threat to pretty much any character in a modern covert ops or monster hunting game I've run, nor is he much of a challenge to compel to divulge any information he might have. By the same token, an average slave-conscript is no match for any PC in my fantasy game, where the PCs are 1,000+ point super-heroes with awesome magical gear that makes them pretty much impossible to hurt for a ST 10 person with a normal sling or long knife.

That being said, these characters won't be Mooks, because regardless of their power level, there is no implied licence to treat them as mobile scenery, killing them at will. If at all possible, I'd like to avoid them being extras, because as soon as a character steps into a scene so that he's noticed, I like to give them names, background, descriptions, etc. I don't always succeed, especially not in large battles, where magic that kills dozens gets thrown around, but I try.

In general, I aim to present NPCs as fictional people in a fictional world, not simply gamist challenges. And I try to encourage players to avoid meta-gaming thinking that makes their characters unrelatable monsters, i.e. valuing NPC lives only in relation to gamist or narrative concerns, i.e. power level or narrative function.

In my games, killing an NPC might not always result in negative repercussions, especially if the homicidal PC is strong-willed, has no Disadvantages that make him especially suspectible to psychological trauma from acts of violence and took care to kill in a legally and socially acceptable way (or hid the evidence very well), but there is always a possibility that using violence against a person, no matter how insignificant he or she appears, will result in severe consequences.
__________________
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!
Icelander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2016, 02:18 PM   #5
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: Mooks and Extras in Combats and Other Challenges

As you say, it depends on the campaign. You won't get a feel that the PCs are underdogs if they're casually walking over competition. But, you also don't get the feel that PCs are heroic or exalted if the enemies all rubber-band to their level of competence, and everything's a challenge. Mooks are useful for demonstrating that the average Joe, or even the average opponent, isn't a one-on-one match for the PC. This isn't just ego-stroking (though that's a component to consider as well), but it's necessary narratively to establish that the characters really are influential or powerful, and can easily solve mundane problems even if there are some non-mundane ones they'll be called upon to deal with. If the only conflicts they ever encounter are titantic struggles, then they might as well be level 1 characters killing rats outside of town.

You get a similar dynamic between the PCs, as well as between the PCs and everyone else. If the party has a combat monster and a social monster, then you need some social situations where the combat monster fails but the face glides through, just as you need those fights where the combat monster gets to rampage while the face man feels terrified and barely survives. If you can't show the difference between the PCs in the course of the game, then there effectively is no difference between them.

Similarly, you need to be able to show the difference -- if any -- between the PCs and NPCs, in particular the vast average multitude as well as the special named NPCs. That's where the mooks come in, in those settings where the PCs do have an advantage. In other settings, like horror or some post-apoc, the PCs are supposed to be not exceptional, and you need to show that as well, making mooks a terrible idea in those games.
Anaraxes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2016, 01:08 AM   #6
ak_aramis
 
ak_aramis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alsea, OR
Default Re: Mooks and Extras in Combats and Other Challenges

Yes, I use mooks. I treat most extr-type NPCs also as mooks.

I like the treatments in FFG SW, where minions (the mook type) become dangerous in groups.

Modiphius Trek may or may not have real mooks... the current draft does. And I like they way they're presented there
ak_aramis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2016, 10:41 AM   #7
Kalzazz
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Default Re: Mooks and Extras in Combats and Other Challenges

I totally use them, and would use more if I could.

1 - they let the party be cool to take foes down by the bushel basket

2 - they also importantly help the party look less like bullies, N many party members dog piling a single named foe? They don't look very heroic. Give said for a few dozen spear carriers? Less of a problem

I would use more, except technical limitations interfere. Running a 100 on 1 fight becomes an exercise in tedium rather than heroics. I sometimes use mass combat or swarm rules to compensate.

When I once ran a higher powered campaign, I used mooks and swarm rules extensively. If you wanted to cook dinner, you didn't roll at all. If you had cooking on your sheet, you were rolling it to cook something grand, like a banquet to impress the Empress, or a feast before battle for a 100,000 strong army in the field, or Iron Chef Immortals etc. Things where your mook chef is in trouble.

Combat wise? Your garden variety soldier doesn't even get stats, and might not pose a threat until he's in a swarm representing him and his regiment of buddies. Elite Royal Guards or Martial Artists might get stats, and die quickly like stormtroopers fighting PCs, but contrast with named Champions and other worthy foes

One PC was a general, and the player enjoyed naming the various soldiers under his command and inventing details about them . . . so that it was more meaningful when said soldiers met an inglorious death in service to the Empress
So an example battle might feature the 6 PCs, a friendly NPC sidekick of a PC, 2 swarms representing Imperial regiments, and a swarm representing a squad of Imperial Royal Guards squaring off with 10 swarms representing regiments of rebel soldiers, 10 swarms representing rebellious peasants, the rebel champion, and a swarm.representing a circle of rebel wizards

The duke leading the rebellion won't need stats in combat, he will be splattered if attacked by a party member, as he isn't personally a great warrior, but he will have Tactics and Persuasion skills, and the party may talk to him. So he isn't a mook, even if he isn't able to cross swords with a higher powered PC
Kalzazz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2016, 10:53 AM   #8
Kalzazz
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Default Re: Mooks and Extras in Combats and Other Challenges

The friendly mooks notably were very important to, not only did they help some, they helped illustrate that without the PCs help that the hapless outnumbered demoralized Imperial Army would be annihilated . . . if the army didn't starve or desert before even reaching the field
Kalzazz is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
extras, gming, mook, mooks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:43 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.