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Old 12-30-2009, 07:08 AM   #11
Nymdok
 
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Default Re: Resolved,There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC

I am the 'game relevant' stat guy.

Points are meaningless to NPCs. A 50 point NPC (no ads/dissads etc) with all 50 points in Sword is more than a match for almost any PC of twice or even 5 times that point value.

It is not important that NPCs, great or small, have similar point values. It is only important that they follow the same rules.

To that end, I stat up NPCs to game balance, and I stat up powers so I can be sure they are consistent with GURPS game mechanics. ANYTHING else I apply is purely academic. In a horror game does it matter that Jason Vorhees is Dead Broke? Of course not, so something like that wouldnt even make on a stat sheet.

This is also why I have abandoned the notion of applying numeric skill level values when posting here and instead try to identify how to scale up and scale down creatures to suit parties of various strengths as i did in this zombie thread.

Stating up the Powers also serves other benefits.

Can I do that?
Sooner or later your PCs will see an NPC do something and they will covet that ability. Having the work done ahead of time and consistent to the system allows you the option of saying Yes and knowing what to charge them in CP for the power.

How can he do that?
Its an easy way to silence players who feel that the game might be unbalanced towards NPCs and assures them that the rules behind the screen are the same as the rules in front of the screen. It helps keep them from feeling overwhelmed by bad guys.

Show Me how that Works
This final one is kind of 'me' specific but I note it because it still has value. My daughter is away at college, and the rest of my players (including my son) are in their late teens and preparing for college. Using the individual ability builds is a great teaching exercise. It teaches them a little about how to GM and gives them a better idea of the Power-Advantage-Limitation and Attribute-Skill-Technique structures that are so fundamentally important to GURPS. In this way, if they are off at college and either Join or start a GURPS game, they can do so with a firm grasp of the mechanics.

Nymdok

Last edited by Nymdok; 12-30-2009 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:46 AM   #12
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Default Re: Resolved,There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nymdok View Post
I am the 'game relevant' stat guy.

Points are meaningless to NPCs. A 50 point NPC (no ads/dissads etc) with all 50 points in Sword is more than a match for almost any PC of twice or even 5 times that point value.

It is not important that NPCs, great or small, have similar point values. It is only important that they follow the same rules.

To that end, I stat up NPCs to game balance, and I stat up powers so I can be sure they are consistent with GURPS game mechanics. ANYTHING else I apply is purely academic. In a horror game does it matter that Jason Vorhees is Dead Broke? Of course not, so something like that wouldnt even make on a stat sheet.

This is also why I have abandon the notion of applying numeric skill level values when posting here and instead try to identify how to scale up and scale down creatures to suit parties of various strengths as i did in this zombie thread.

Stating up the Powers also serves other benefits.

Can I do that?
Sooner or later your PCs will see an NPC do something and they will covet that ability. Having the work done ahead of time and consistent to the system allows you the option of saying Yes and knowing what to charge them in CP for the power.

How can he do that?
Its an easy way to silence players who feel that the game might be unbalanced towards NPCs and assures them that the rules behind the screen are the same as the rules in front of the screen. It helps keep them from feeling overwhelmed by bad guys.

Show Me how that Works
This final one is kind of 'me' specific but I note it because it still has value. My daughter is away at college, and the rest of my players (including my son) are in their late teens and preparing for college. Using the individual ability builds is a great teaching exercise. It teaches them a little about how to GM and gives them a better idea of the Power-Advantage-Limitation and Attribute-Skill-Technique structures that are so fundamentally important to GURPS. In this way, if they are off at college and either Join or start a GURPS game, they can do so with a firm grasp of the mechanics.

Nymdok
I tend to do something similar. Most powers, spells, etc., I usually work out in detail, for the reasons above, and also "so I know how it works" and "because I just enjoy it."

I've found that for most NPCs, you really don't need all that much information. I even wrote up a program using Inspiration Pad Pro, a freeware program I heartily recommend, that generates what I call "quick & dirty NPCs." It rolls four basic stats, a general reaction modifier, an occupation/profession (which implies the skills they are likely to have), overall skill levels, etc. (I don't even bother with advantages and disadvantages...I assume they are rolled into the reaction modifier, skill levels, etc.) About a dozen pieces of information overall. If I copy them over to Word and print them up, I can fit about a dozen of them on a page.

I can tweak a character to fit the story in a few seconds (raise or lower skill levels, etc.) if I have to. If I need more detail than this, I can flesh the character out more, but I'm finding that for most NPCs, the guys with whom the player characters will have a couple of interactions or a couple of fights, and who then goes offstage (or is killed) and doesn't show up again, I don't need much more than this.

What it boils down to is that for most NPCs, you can get away with...

* Who are they?
* What are their four basic stats?
* What do they do for a living?
* How good are they at what they do?
* How well or badly do people usually react to them? (due to status, appearance, etc.)
* Do they have any other skills, etc. worth mentioning?
* What are they doing/thinking/etc. when the player characters first meet them?
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:03 AM   #13
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Default Re: Resolved,There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mgellis View Post
....I can tweak a character to fit the story in a few seconds (raise or lower skill levels, etc.) if I have to. ...

What it boils down to is that for most NPCs, you can get away with...

* Who are they?
* What are their four basic stats?
* What do they do for a living?
* How good are they at what they do?
* How well or badly do people usually react to them? (due to status, appearance, etc.)
* Do they have any other skills, etc. worth mentioning?
* What are they doing/thinking/etc. when the player characters first meet them?
Because I game balance by probability, I spend ALOT of time before hand tweaking those untill I think theyre just right and beating Excel spreadsheets into submission. It was a bit of work at the start, but its something Im getting better at and Im starting to see greater and greater dividends. The down side to that is of course that tweaking 'on the fly' is not really something Im wont to do because it doesnt take mcuh nudge to end up on the wrong side of the 3d6 bell curve that drives GURPS.

These are good questions!
They help you define NPCs and keep them relevant to the game. Its easy to go from GMing to writing, especially in the planning stage. If you've taken your 'Shop Merchant NPC' and written a 10 page background for him, you may be out of scope! :)

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Old 12-30-2009, 08:09 AM   #14
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Default Re: Resolved,There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC

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Originally Posted by Nymdok View Post
Because I game balance by probability, I spend ALOT of time before hand tweaking those untill I think theyre just right and beating Excel spreadsheets into submission. It was a bit of work at the start, but its something Im getting better at and Im starting to see greater and greater dividends.
I may be in the minority, but I feel that preparing a well-modeled simulation is a worthwhile task in and of itself. Edit: And thus I like the notion of content creators bashing spreadsheets or other data models until the simulation is robust and accurate - regardless of whether it's simulating a fantasy or a reality.

Unfortunately I have a lot of nice simulations that will probably never see the gaming table.

Game stats often do not translate well between rule systems, and I suspect that they are seldom more than rough drafts.

Then again, the original Fallout CRPG was supposed to be in GURPS. If I could manage to convince some aspiring game writer to use my over-detailed stat blocks in a computer game, I might actually get some game player to get some benefit out of them.

Time will tell whether the games of the future re-discover realistic simulation as an end in itself, or whether they will move toward a more iconic tendency.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:11 AM   #15
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Default Re: Resolved,There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC

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Originally Posted by jeff_wilson View Post
"There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC" - I'm seeing this opinion (with which I do not agree) expressed more frequently than previous here, and I would like to see if users can post informed reasons for having it when there are several rules like the long-established Allies and Enemies that require the opposite behavior.
I don't have the time to stat up every NPC, vehicle, or power. Don't know if that qualifies as an "informed reason" or not, but my prep time is spent on crafting plot elements, researching locations, and trying to figure out how to deal with the last curve ball the players threw at me. Statting up Joe the Bartender isn't a productive use of my time IMO.

I will produce several "stat lines" -- notes to guide the mechanical elements of NPCs which are intended to be significant. HP, a combat skill or two, or their resistance to a PC's favorite attack are likely to be all I write down.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:19 AM   #16
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Default Re: Resolved,There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC

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Originally Posted by NineDaysDead View Post
I'd go with "There is no point to giving detailed stats to anything that PC's can't get their hands on"; ... The reason for having this opinion is simple: It's to reduce the GM's workload!
I would have to say that my major reason for advocating TRPGs over computer games is that in a TRPG the player-characters can potentially get their hands on anything.

To steal a term from Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced "chicks send me high," ) statting every detail of a game world can sometimes lead to deeper flow.

In a simple game, like Doom, guards might be unrealistically stupid. Players might break their flow as they notice how stupid the guards are.

In a more realistic game, like No One Lives Forever or the original Deus Ex, enemies might try to use stealth to avoid being spotted, or might break stealth by whistling. The added detail adds more immersion for some players. (On the other hand, some very popular games *lack* this realism; Dragon Age: Origins seems to be very popular, but the world strikes me as clunkily flow-breaking.)

My former GURPS group used to compare TRPGs to Grand Theft Auto III, in that they could jump off my railroad tracks and the game would still provide just as much flow.

Unfortunately, when the level of detail that I consider appropriate is so overwhelming that I don't have time to recruit table-top players, the entire table-top enterprise can get displaced by quicker, easier, lower-commitment forms of gaming, including board games and computer games.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:30 AM   #17
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Default Re: Resolved,There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff_wilson View Post
"There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC" - I'm seeing this opinion (with which I do not agree) expressed more frequently than previous here, and I would like to see if users can post informed reasons for having it when there are several rules like the long-established Allies and Enemies that require the opposite behavior.
It boils down Quality of Life and Work.

How many hours can you afford to spend prepping for a game?
I try to spend almost up to 2-4 hours a week on game prep in between everything else. Bottom line spending more than that per week cuts into more important things. (don't let your game prep "steal" away more valuable use of your time)

Although I do have a ton of game material I already made and work on for catharsis that I can go back on when I had more free time.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:37 AM   #18
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Default Re: Resolved,There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by riprock View Post
I may be in the minority, but I feel that preparing a well-modeled simulation is a worthwhile task in and of itself. Edit: And thus I like the notion of content creators bashing spreadsheets or other data models until the simulation is robust and accurate - regardless of whether it's simulating a fantasy or a reality.
I don't know that its a worthwhile end unto itself, but I DO know that its definitely worthwhile for gaming purposes. Its a powerful tool and prevents shameful 'dice fudging' which is, to me, synonymous with cheating.

Probability determines the value of all Game Mechanics in any system that uses cards,dice or any other random element
.

Role Playing is a player pretending to be someone else, but ROLL playing is you attempting to suceed at tasks within the systems Game Mechanics.

The commodities that you purchase to help with that success are the skills and abilities on the sheet. The currency that the players use are Charachter Points. This currency is Worthless to NPCs but the value of affecting probability is NOT worthless.

This is why game balance is SO important to me(and why you can see me bang on about it in various threads). It is the only way I know of that I can ensure that the value/utility/flexibility is right for my party.

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Old 12-30-2009, 08:46 AM   #19
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Default Re: Resolved,There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff_wilson View Post
"There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC" - I'm seeing this opinion (with which I do not agree) expressed more frequently than previous here, and I would like to see if users can post informed reasons for having it when there are several rules like the long-established Allies and Enemies that require the opposite behavior.
Hmm.. I do not stat things out completely that I don't need.
I do rather think of one or two personality traits or quirks (that I can game out) than the merchant's riding skill (that I probably can't).

Similarly, restricting one's own imagination (as a GM) by what can be built from powers or achieved with published spells is playing the game the wrong way around imo.

I don't particularly care if the sudden onset of a storm thoughout the land couldn't possibly be afforded by the evil mage's FP reserves as long as it fits the image and story. Magic should be magic, not mechanic.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:47 AM   #20
Nymdok
 
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Default Re: Resolved,There is no point to statting up anything that is not a PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff_wilson View Post
... and I would like to see if users can post informed reasons for having it when there are several rules like the long-established Allies and Enemies that require the opposite behavior.
There are exceptions.

As allies and enemies ARE point based, they ARE confined by the currency of character points. This is largely WHY i disallow those.

When a Player is allowed to Take Ally/Enemy what they are essentially telling the GM is 'Make a Charachter and You play Too!'. Allies/Enemys are NOT NPCs in the normal sense, but are GM-PCs. You MUST stat them out, in totality, for them to have ANY real meaning or appropriate value. Otherwise, as noted above, a PC risks having a 50 point enemy with all 50 points in broadsword who will turn the Character into a PEZ dispenser on the first blow.

Nymdok

Last edited by Nymdok; 12-30-2009 at 09:10 AM.
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