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Old 08-11-2020, 08:40 AM   #1
hcobb
 
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Pacheco, California
Default Paper Tiger NPC problem

A lot of the published (and yet to be published) adventures include NPCs with 41+ attribute totals and limited talents, spells, and equipment.

A player character who campaigned until she was fifty years old would be very likely to have an attribute total in the low 40s, but she would combine this with a bunch of other abilities. (Master Dagger Staff of Mastery with four other enchantments, cough)

So how should GMs handle these unbalanced NPCs?

I see two steps to this. While the PCs are "low level" these high attribute low talent NPCs can be treated as being narrowly focused with a hubris that blinds them to training outside of their narrow lane. When the players spot this weakness they either take the NPCs down, or use them to advance their own goals.

Once the PCs reach demigoddess levels themselves the GM can add in logical allies, abilities, and gear to rebalance the NPCs.
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Old 08-11-2020, 09:18 AM   #2
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Paper Tiger NPC problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
A lot of the published (and yet to be published) adventures include NPCs with 41+ attribute totals and limited talents, spells, and equipment.

A player character who campaigned until she was fifty years old would be very likely to have an attribute total in the low 40s, but she would combine this with a bunch of other abilities. (Master Dagger Staff of Mastery with four other enchantments, cough)

So how should GMs handle these unbalanced NPCs?

I see two steps to this. While the PCs are "low level" these high attribute low talent NPCs can be treated as being narrowly focused with a hubris that blinds them to training outside of their narrow lane. When the players spot this weakness they either take the NPCs down, or use them to advance their own goals.

Once the PCs reach demigoddess levels themselves the GM can add in logical allies, abilities, and gear to rebalance the NPCs.
I would say the way for a GM to handle such unbalanced NPCs is to not create them in the first place. The Legacy Edition is more nuanced than the 'classic' edition in this sense; it used to be that you created powerful characters (NPC or PC) by jacking up stats until they seemed mighty. Now that path is blocked but other, subtler ways are opened - a wider pallet of talents; staff powers; XP based lesser wishes; etc. My feeling is that GM's should be using these for NPCs in the same way players have to use them for PCs. Not only because of the fairness issue (as I've recently written in another thread) but also because it just doesn't make use of the interesting possibilities of the current system.
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Old 08-11-2020, 09:30 AM   #3
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Paper Tiger NPC problem

As a side note, I've been very satisfied with using the 'Supers' system from the Legacy Edition Companion when I want to create an exceptional NPC but don't want to do it using magic items. This amounts to a structured way of declaring this NPC is a supernatural being who can do things mere mortals can't, but I like doing so in a way that has some mechanical structure and reason to it.
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Old 08-11-2020, 05:16 PM   #4
Tenex
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Default Re: Paper Tiger NPC problem

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Originally Posted by larsdangly View Post
I would say the way for a GM to handle such unbalanced NPCs is to not create them in the first place.
I concur. It is up to the GM to create a balanced, believable world. The published stuff might need reworking by the GM who is "on the ground" so to speak. I've never in my gaming life ever used a commercial product without modification.
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Old 08-11-2020, 06:59 PM   #5
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Paper Tiger NPC problem

Honestly, nearly everything published to-date pretty much paints within the lines. Tolenkar's Lair includes several NPCs who have unattainable stat totals, and Death Test 2 has a couple of orcs with stats that will raise your eyebrows. But otherwise you can come up with a ready explanation of pretty much everyone. One possible more recent exception is the Lich from the first Adventures book; he doesn't look much like any imaginable wizard + the stat adjustments that come from being a Lich. But really you have to look pretty hard to find NPCs that are out of the scale of the power range obtainable by PC's
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