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Old 04-29-2017, 01:55 AM   #1
flyingwombat
 
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Default Dependents

I have GMed GURPS for years. I know that Dependents are NPCs. Until now, I haven't had to deal with Dependents. For an upcoming game, one of my players wants to run both his character and its Dependent.

Has GURPS GMs out there faced this situation? Advice sought.
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Old 04-29-2017, 02:37 AM   #2
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Default Re: Dependents

A few things:
-Dependents are NPCs so it is the GM that controls them like any NPC.
-The frequency of appearance is an important factor, a too high such basically means that the whole campaign turns into a "help the dependent"
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Old 04-29-2017, 03:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Dependents

Quote:
Originally Posted by weby View Post
A few things:
-Dependents are NPCs so it is the GM that controls them like any NPC.
-The frequency of appearance is an important factor, a too high such basically means that the whole campaign turns into a "help the dependent"
I agree wholeheartedly about this.

In my experience, any Dependent with a Frequency of Appearance of 12 or 15 makes the entire campaign ultimately about them. Even an appearance of 9 can sometimes make the campaign feel like, "Dawn's in trouble; it must be Tuesday."

To counteract this effect, ask him if he's also planning to take the Dependent as an Ally. This way, when the NPC shows up, the players won't be groaning with "we'll have to get this character out of trouble again, will we?"
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Old 04-29-2017, 06:12 AM   #4
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Default Re: Dependents

I've had the arrangement work out well. Once. With a trusted player, I let her play her character's dependent (little sister). The understanding was that I was temporarily offloading GM duty to her, but could take it back at any time. When I did so, there was no argument. The rest of the players understood what was going on as well.

The net result was a dependent who had a deeper personality than I had time to develop. The other PCs grew attached as well. There were no hard feelings anywhere. When it was time for the little girl to be threatened, no players were put out, because everyone knew that was her game purpose. And, with her being a deeper character, everybody cared more.

If you're missing any link in this chain, it won't work. You need a trusted player who won't object when you suddenly take control back. That player ALSO needs to be a strong enough player to make the other players like the dependent. All the other players need to understand ans appreciate the situation. If the other characters resent the dependent, that's not necessarily a problem.

It even led to a good plot point once. The dependent was mind-controlled at one juncture. When I had her do something odd, the player respectfully mentioned that this went against the established character. I agreed and had her do it anyway. This intimate familiarity was a good thing.
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Old 04-29-2017, 07:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: Dependents

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingwombat View Post
I have GMed GURPS for years. I know that Dependents are NPCs. Until now, I haven't had to deal with Dependents. For an upcoming game, one of my players wants to run both his character and its Dependent.

Has GURPS GMs out there faced this situation? Advice sought.
I recommend asking one's self this question:

"Do I normally write adventures where I could make use of a PC's Dependent?"

The obvious use is replacing an NPC or string of NPC's you would have otherwise created for the role... or sometimes other "plot device" moments. If you have the luck or the skill, as a bonus you'll save yourself some effort but get a more compelling story out of the entire deal. ;)

However, allowing the player to also run the Dependent is a horse of a different color. I won't completely nix the idea, but it's probably best reserved for very specific combinations of player, PC, and NPC Dependent. Sounds like khorboth found such a gem.
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Old 04-29-2017, 07:18 AM   #6
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Default Re: Dependents

Quote:
Originally Posted by khorboth View Post
With a trusted player... I was temporarily offloading GM duty to her, but could take it back at any time.
This description matches my thoughts. You can let the player handle most of the routine activity for a Dependent or Ally, but there has to be that understanding that even if the player is often choosing their actions, the GM can always overrule that.

One practical reason is that the GM knows things that the NPC knows, but that the player doesn't. There will often be actions that the NPC would take that the player can't really choose. That's not railroading; it's just the fact that the player and GM are working with different sets of information.

The player doesn't control their dependent. They have temporary delegation of the workload. They may often have that delegated to them, but that responsibility ultimately lies with the GM, and will just as often be resumed by the GM.

Design is also the GM's province. Munchkin players designing Allies and Dependents can treat them as extensions of their PC, carefully interlocking two sets of traits to cover deliberate holes in each other, assuming they can always act together, two halves of one whole. Using the Ally math, this is basically a fistful of free character points, with a free level of ATR thrown in as a bonus, so it can be tremendously abusive. Separately designed characters will have a lot of redundancies and overlap, as each need to exist as viable independent entities.

(If you really do want to build a character that's some sort of inseperable multiple meld person, Mercedes Lackey animal companion style, then consider building that with just one set of CP. Take a look at Duplication and variants.)
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Old 04-29-2017, 11:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: Dependents

Thanks guys! I have been in communication with the player. Turns out he left out the Dependent is a loved one. That changed things considerably.
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Old 04-29-2017, 12:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: Dependents

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantasm View Post
To counteract this effect, ask him if he's also planning to take the Dependent as an Ally. This way, when the NPC shows up, the players won't be groaning with "we'll have to get this character out of trouble again, will we?"
I'm in a Space game where I do exactly this with my PC's girlfriend. The GM allowed me to create the Ally/Dependent and when I built her, I did so with the expectation that she would be an adventure magnet. In fact, my PC actually calls her "Trouble" because of this fact. The way we do it is that, when the Ally frequency comes up, she's useful to the adventure (with her being a fantastic social operator), but when the Dependent frequency pops, she's the source of trouble, whether it's because she's gotten kidnapped or just needs help and so on. This works well for the game and I recommend it.
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Old 04-29-2017, 01:01 PM   #9
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Default Re: Dependents

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingwombat View Post
I have GMed GURPS for years. I know that Dependents are NPCs. Until now, I haven't had to deal with Dependents. For an upcoming game, one of my players wants to run both his character and its Dependent.
I've done this as a player, sort of. I made a character who had a wife and three teenage children: a group of dependents, up to 50% points, loved ones, frequency 6 or less. Initially they were a simply a way of being different, because none of the other five characters in the game had families or even spouses.

After I'd played the character a bit, I started to get more idea about the dependents via his traits, had an attack of creativity, and presented the GM with sheets for all of them, all less than 50% of the main character's points. They've been elements in the background, and very rarely part of scenarios. I get to play them when they have speaking parts, unless the GM needs to tell us something I don't know. Hum, can I remember how many times they've come up? The campaign has had over a hundred sessions, so I may have missed a few.

The wife's liquor shop was the starting point for one scenario. That shop and the flat above it have been scenes in slice-of-life events, and one revelation about a member of the family. I wrote an in-character letter to the wife trying to explain a city that was very different from what we're used to. She's had maybe four speaking parts.

The son, who's eldest, has been in the Navy most of the time, and has never had a speaking part. The elder daughter has had a couple of speaking parts, and a mini-scenario of her own, played via e-mail. The younger daughter hasn't spoken in play, but I feel her influence on the rest of the family. Letters from all of them get mentioned occasionally.

This is more associated personalities than any of the other PCs. I don't think they disrupt the game; they occasionally add complications. There are two associates of other characters who have bigger effects on the game, who are an Ally and a Patron.
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Old 04-29-2017, 01:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: Dependents

One method we've used in a game I'm in is to have another player run the PC's Dependent, at least in an "extended scene". Mostly this was so that the GM could run a number of NPCs who were unsure of the PCs (and the Dependent) while the player could run the regular PC and no one would have to be talking to themselves.

We also fairly often have PCs run other NPCs for similar situations.
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