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Old 11-10-2018, 01:17 AM   #1
WaterAndWindSpirit
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Default Can the same NPC be both an Ally and Enemy to a PC?

Hello all.

So imagine a situation where a superpowered Phantom Thief with a code of honor who never endangered an innocent but is still a criminal looking to steal a very specific type of antiques gets in a weird relationship with a superhero. They are on opposite side of the law, but more often than not the Phantom Thief teams up with the superhero against a greater villain because while said Phantom Thief is ultimately on the wrong side of the law, he doesn't want some galactic conqueror/genocidal maniac/very dangerous supervillain running around and ruining his fun.

So whenever there's a world level threat around, the Phantom Thief is the superhero's ally, but when there's not a world level threat they're enemies.

Does that mean the Phantom Thief is both the hero's Ally and Enemy?

Thanks!
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Old 11-10-2018, 06:24 AM   #2
Dalillama
 
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Default Re: Can the same NPC be both an Ally and Enemy to a PC?

Yup, sounds right.
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Old 11-10-2018, 06:44 AM   #3
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Can the same NPC be both an Ally and Enemy to a PC?

You can certainly build it that way.

If the Phantom Thief is an Enemy, then there's some reason he has it in for the superhero, personally, and devotes some significant portion of his time and energy toward trying to "get" the superhero. (The meaning of "get" depends on what sort of Enemy he is -- probably Rival.) The Thief won't just ignore the super when they're not in direct conflict; he'll be actively working against him and causing him actual trouble or harm.

There will be stories (games) in which they're directly opposed. If the super wins, he may well be jailing his Ally and thus losing him. If he decides to let him go, there's a possible character conflict and perhaps development arc, as the super finds out he's not really as lawful and pure as everyone thought.

Then there's the case where both the Ally and Enemy appearance rolls come up at the same time. (Even if you don't roll, it's a possibility.) This could be a story where the Thief is setting up the super, or perhaps he decides (maybe as a mistake, or a moment of weakness) that this alien invasion is too good an opportunity to finally get superdude out of his hair, and so betrays his Ally. These games will be the trickiest to pull off.

There's a line in RAW about not having opposing traits, but if you think through them in advance to know how they interact, I think they can be interesting combinations.
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Old 11-10-2018, 09:22 PM   #4
David Johnston2
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Re: Can the same NPC be both an Ally and Enemy to a PC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterAndWindSpirit View Post
Hello all.

So imagine a situation where a superpowered Phantom Thief with a code of honor who never endangered an innocent but is still a criminal looking to steal a very specific type of antiques gets in a weird relationship with a superhero. They are on opposite side of the law, but more often than not the Phantom Thief teams up with the superhero against a greater villain because while said Phantom Thief is ultimately on the wrong side of the law, he doesn't want some galactic conqueror/genocidal maniac/very dangerous supervillain running around and ruining his fun.

So whenever there's a world level threat around, the Phantom Thief is the superhero's ally, but when there's not a world level threat they're enemies.

Does that mean the Phantom Thief is both the hero's Ally and Enemy?

Thanks!
No. The Thief isn't really out to get the Hero so what you've really got there is a situation where the Thief is the Hero's Ally, but the Hero is the Thief's Enemy.
In theory it would be possible to have a situation where the same character is both Enemy and Ally, but that isn't an example.
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Old 11-11-2018, 04:07 AM   #5
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Can the same NPC be both an Ally and Enemy to a PC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterAndWindSpirit View Post
Does that mean the Phantom Thief is both the hero's Ally and Enemy?
Depends on what the Phantom Thief does that actually makes trouble for the PC. An enemy isn't just someone the PC clashes with, it's someone who specifically seeks out the PC to cause him trouble.
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Old 11-11-2018, 05:56 AM   #6
Michael Cule
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Default Re: Can the same NPC be both an Ally and Enemy to a PC?

While I would encourage any GM to run an occasional 'we must ally though we hate each other' scenario, I would smack down any mini-maxing player who tried to pull this.

(Alan, if you're reading this I'm thinking of you! And you too Daniel!)

Trying to have it both ways isn't a lovely trait. Clear definition of character and situation should be there in the build.

It's up to the GM to bend the clear definition out of shape not the player.
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:57 AM   #7
Culture20
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Default Re: Can the same NPC be both an Ally and Enemy to a PC?

Catwoman. Sometimes bat-family enemy, sometimes bat-family ally, and sort of randomly determined.
Typhoid Mary. She’s bat-guano crazy, and switches between enemy and ally of Daredevil even within an adventure.
An Ally/Dependant combo is far more common, but a legit full-time enemy and ally combo is possible.
Imagine an ally djinn with summonable and minion, but the “rival” tier of enemy, always subverting orders to embarrass or inconvenience the player; it greatly reduces their utility, perhaps even more than an unwilling servant, because they will always be looking for ways to thwart you.
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