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Old 09-19-2018, 01:15 PM   #1
FeiLin
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Default Villain design material?

GURPS seems to have much information about creating PCs, such as templates, spell lists, and such, but is there similar information available on designing awesome/awful villains?

Like, take the mage template from the basic set. That's a great template - for creating a fresh magician, but how do I scale that idea up to fit the role of evil mage in a castle who is capable of summoning hordes of demons and throws meteor-sized fire-balls from his tallest tower? The way I would tackle it right now is just arbitrarily decide the fireballs deal Xd damage and he simply has all these demons ready, but that feels a bit inadequate, given the scope of GURPS.

Foot note: I'm primarily interested in low to medium fantasy, with splashes of high fantasy in sprawling cities and maybe some horror in parts of the story, but a good concept's a good concept, if inspiration could be found elsewhere (and fairly easily converted from say cybernetic hive-mind to demon overlord, or whatever the concepts are and what the fantasy equivalents would be)
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Old 09-19-2018, 02:25 PM   #2
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Villain design material?

How to Be a GURPS GM has one section on designing NPCs for an adventure.

In general, important NPCs would be designed just like PCs. First, come up with the concept. Second, find traits in the book that support that concept. Since they're NPCs, the point budget doesn't matter, and so you don't really have to calculate every ability precisely. But you do have to decide what those abilities are ("concept"). And it helps to define them in mechanical terms. Less important NPCs (like the mooks) might just have a partial definition of abilities just invented ("The guards have ST 11, DX 10, axe, skill-12").

Point values in GURPS are not a measure of combat power. They are closer to a measure of "story influencing power", but there are a lot of ways to influence a story that aren't how big of a fireball you can toss. All those non-combat skills and abilities can cause the PCs a great deal of trouble, even if the NPC wouldn't last three seconds in a duel to the death.

You can try to measure just the points that go into "combat traits", but those get a little tricky to define. Probably the simplest approach is just to look at attack damage and compare that to PC defenses, and conversely, look at the damage-avoiding abilities (DR, or magic resistance) in comparison to PC attack abilities. Don't forget to count number of maneuvers available to each side. Numbers matter. The big boss mob might need some adds or more exotic abilities to control the battlefield or have extra attacks to even that scale.

So yes, in a way you are simply deciding how many dice of fireball the NPC ought to throw, how many demons he can summon, and how tough those demons are. That's "concept", at least as far as the combat abilities go. Then you can stat it up and work out how much it costs. When the "combat points" total are way out of whack, then it's certainly a warning that you need to think harder about what's going to happen. But it's not a guaranteed TPK, either.

Tactics also matter. If the opposition is knowledgeable about PC weaknesses and smart enough to attack those, they're more threatening than a less well-directed mass of points, or one that matches strength against strength. Weak, numerous opponents that gang up on one target are more dangerous than the same number of that fight independently. Ambushes and surprise can make a big difference, as can terrain and range. And so on.

So it never really comes down to just comparing a "Challenge Rating" against the PC's "level". (Not that it really did in That Other Game, either.)

You could think along similar lines for the social and economic spheres of conflict. The wealthy, well-connected, mastermind NPC that rules a nation is probably going to attack the PCs via some method other than strolling into the tavern and letting loose with his fireballs (even if he can toss a good one).
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Old 09-25-2018, 12:27 PM   #3
FeiLin
 
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Default Re: Villain design material?

Great, thanks a lot! I guess it also takes a bit to get used to assessing NPCs (especially villains) power, combat as not.

Also, I saw Allies and couldn't help but seeing how expensive it would be to get an army of zombies, demons, or something.

If the villain is 500 points (it's a powerful sorcerer/necromancer that's threatening to take over at least parts of the world, after all), then 25% is 125 points for the allies and cost 1 point each. Frequency of appearance of 9 is most efficient for hordes (x1), and then adding Minion (+50%), Summonable (+100%), and even Special Abilities (+50%, although I'm unsure what exactly this last one actually implies), that's 1 x1 + 200% per minion. If I want to have 100, that's 12 points x1 + 200% = 36 points. If I want one million, that's 36 points x1 + 200% = 108, and that gives 1,000,000 * 37.5% per adventure, so roughly 375,000 zombies based on 125 points. Not bad, if I may say so...

Hmm, you know what, forget that NPC villain thing; I got some great plans for my next PC!
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Old 09-25-2018, 12:50 PM   #4
Imion
 
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Default Re: Villain design material?

Rule #1 of GURPS NPC Design: Don't sweat the CPs.

That goes for a lowly shoeshine as well as the BBEG of your campaign. If you wanted to represent every Lieutenant and Henchman in the BBEG's employ as an Ally you would need to have point values for them. That very quickly leads to a point where you would have to build very much each and every NPC the SCs have a chance to come across. That's overkill and, quite frankly, quite stupid. So you'd better just say that Mr Evil Guy has an army of undead servants and don't assign a point cost for them. Saves you some time to concentrate on things that are actually relevant.
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Old 09-25-2018, 01:07 PM   #5
edk926
 
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Default Re: Villain design material?

Yeah, just have the monsters work for the mage and not stat them up as allies. Then you can just throw whatever you want when you want. Have them have high loyalty to the mage.
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Old 09-25-2018, 04:04 PM   #6
Kelly Pedersen
 
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Default Re: Villain design material?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imion View Post
Rule #1 of GURPS NPC Design: Don't sweat the CPs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by edk926 View Post
Yeah, just have the monsters work for the mage and not stat them up as allies.
What they said, basically. In general, it's not a good idea to try to use point values to balance your NPCs, because points are designed to balance between PCs, not NPCs. Allies are a particularly good example of this, because there's a number of assumptions of how Allies will be used in the game that are baked into the point cost.

First, Allies are assumed to be NPCs, not simply extensions of the character who bought them. They either have their own motivations and goals, or they have disadvantages like Slave Mentality or Reprogrammable that means they require a lot of micromanagement. So the GM is always free to say "No, they won't do that for you", or have them behave inconveniently, or whatnot. Whereas with an NPC with Allies, the player is the GM, so that balance isn't there.

Second, Allies aren't automatically guaranteed to be replaced if the player spends their lives needlessly - if a PC sends waves of their minions against an enemy until they're overwhelmed by the bodies, that means the PC is probably going to have a lot fewer Allies afterwards (assuming the Allies even agree to do it, see the first point). But that's basically a long-term consideration, and only balances things if we assume the PC will continue to be played. An NPC will often be there in just one story, however, and thus doesn't have the same limitations on spending their own resources.
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Old 09-25-2018, 04:59 PM   #7
Phantasm
 
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Default Re: Villain design material?

Most of my NPCs are built with a few things in mind:

1) What are their physical combat abilities? This includes ST, DX, combat skill levels, offensive powers, weapons, DR, and Injury Tolerance.

2) What movement abilities do they have? This includes Flight, Ground/Air/Water Move scores, vehicle skill levels, and Acro/Aero/Aquabatics and Free Fall skill levels.

3) How much can they take before dying/passing out/running away/surrendering? While this includes DR and IT, it also includes HT, Resistances/Immunities, and other related traits.

4) What are their weaknesses. This is their disadvantages.

5) If an Ally or friendly NPC, does it fill a niche the PCs lack?
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Last edited by Phantasm; 10-03-2018 at 01:23 AM.
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Old 09-25-2018, 05:38 PM   #8
Dalin
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Re: Villain design material?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FeiLin View Post
GURPS seems to have much information about creating PCs, such as templates, spell lists, and such, but is there similar information available on designing awesome/awful villains?
The third edition of GURPS had a series of books (published in the '90s) for common character archetypes like warriors, wizards, and rogues. Each book included templates and dozens of sample characters at different point values. I believe they are all available as PDFs. Even though the rules have changed and thus the point values don't work out perfectly, I still mine some of these samples for ideas when I'm building key NPCs. As a player, I've never played in a 500+ point game, so I'm not especially skilled at crafting high-point characters. Finding examples can be very helpful.

You might find inspiration for your evil mage, for example, in GURPS Wizards. A few sample characters include Martheblio the Damned, a 390-point lich; Lord Rivak of Zang, a 500-point wizard overlord; and Focalor, a 750-point "duke of Hell."

Note that I absolutely agree with other posters who say that you shouldn't obsess over points and full character sheets for most NPCs. Mine usually exist as a short list of signature traits. Even so, I love perusing examples of builds to get ideas for interesting powers or combinations of abilities.
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Old 09-25-2018, 06:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Villain design material?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FeiLin View Post
If the villain is 500 points (it's a powerful sorcerer/necromancer that's threatening to take over at least parts of the world, after all), then 25% is 125 points for the allies and cost 1 point each. Frequency of appearance of 9 is most efficient for hordes (x1), and then adding Minion (+50%), Summonable (+100%), and even Special Abilities (+50%, although I'm unsure what exactly this last one actually implies), that's 1 x1 + 200% per minion.

Special Abilities might be fireball-throwing skeletons, or ones with magical healing
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Old 09-26-2018, 04:40 AM   #10
Michele
 
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Default Re: Villain design material?

GURPS 3e had GURPS Villains, which would be the ideal source - of ideas, because, as others have already rightly pointed out, it's not strictly necessary, or useful, to calculate the point value of these guys. At least, not in great detail.
Getting GURPS Villains used may be hard, but this is still floating around:
http://www.sjgames.com/pyramid/sample.html?id=1737

Pyramid #3/67 also offers ideas about villains. Just a few, but already compatible with 4e.

For smaller fry, you have GURPS Rogues. Again a 3e product, but the plus is that it's available in digital format.
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