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Old 01-06-2013, 03:40 PM   #1
LostWormOnItsWayHome
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Default High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Hi there, I'm pretty new to GURPS. I've had the book for years but have never run a game. Since I'm at a point in my life where I don't have enough time to actually RUN games (since they require a semi-regular schedule for both planning and the games themselves) I have taken it upon myself to plan for many mini-campaigns that I will run once I'm done university.

First, my greatest experience in tabletop RPGs has been in Heavy Gear/Silhouette and Dungeons and Dragons 3.5/Pathfinder, with 4th edition DnD being shortly behind those two.

What I'm finding is that there is a lot of burden on the GM when planning for GURPS. I expected this, and I'd like to say it's not a problem, but... it sort of is?

My MAIN problem is actually with NPCs. I've found the character sheet to be insufficient as it lacks the necessary space for all relevant information. I searched for but found no alternatives that lived up to my hopes of what an ideal character sheet would look like, and I in no way have the necessary skills to make my own (both from a system comprehension stand-point and from a technical skill stand-point).

Part of my problem is that there are just so many advantages, disadvantages, skills and techniques that I can't really remember them all, so just writing down 'Single-Minded' on the sheet won't help me much when I'm running a game. As a result, I've been attempting to make my NPCs electronically using Google drive and I'm filling in notes on how each trait works on the actual 'sheet'. This is very time consuming.

I tried out the Character Assistant, but once again I was dismayed that there was no option for displaying trait details on the character sheet.

Do people have a method for generating NPCs at a decent rate that does not require memorization of their relevant traits?

Are NPCs necessarily less complex (mechanically) than their PC counterparts?

When building NPCs do you start with a rough idea of how many points they should be worth, or do you just add traits and ignore point value?

Any time saving tricks that aren't directly related to NPCs?

Thanks for your help.

Last edited by LostWormOnItsWayHome; 01-06-2013 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:50 PM   #2
ErhnamDJ
 
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Location: OK
Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

The biggest time saver I've found is understanding when it's dramatically appropriate to leave out, or skip over, certain bits that would take up a lot of time for no benefit.

Like the example of the NPCs. Once you know your setting, and you have the major players statted up (which you should have before the game begins), you shouldn't need to do more than write down three or four game statistics for new introductions.

Say the characters meet a mysterious old man. It could be as simple as writing down:

Old Man
Farming-11
Ugly
Mysterious in manner [-1]
Likes telling tall tales [-1]


That right there can be a very interesting encounter. You write down something like that in your notes and you can write down any other important details you come up with as you go along. You don't need to fill out all of his skills. You don't need to put down that he has his son-in-law as an ally or that he's worried about his mare. Those are the kinds of details you'll want to let yourself fill in on the fly as the characters converse with the old man.

Point total and all that doesn't matter for NPCs. Not unless you decide to allow one of the players to take them as an Ally, and even then I wouldn't do any more than guesstimate at what value they are. The Ally rules are too rigid, I think. Point total doesn't give you any idea at all of how useful the Ally will be.

Even for enemies they'll be fighting in combat, you only need to put in the important part.

Random Swordsman
Broadsword-12
Shield-10
ST 11
Has a longsword and medium shield

Done! That's all you need right there.
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Last edited by ErhnamDJ; 01-06-2013 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:58 PM   #3
LemmingLord
 
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

I like the seven sentence pc:

http://dndfluff.devhub.com/blog/6864...-sentence-npc/
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:16 PM   #4
johndallman
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LostWormOnItsWayHome View Post
As a result, I've been attempting to make my NPCs electronically using Google drive and I'm filling in notes on how each trait works on the actual 'sheet'. This is very time consuming.
Previous posters have the main measures, but a simple trick is to download the GURPS Lite PDF (or buy the Basic Set: Characters in PDF) and cut-and-paste from there rather than writing your own notes.
Quote:
Are NPCs necessarily less complex (mechanically) than their PC counterparts?
Not necessarily, but it's very common. They are almost always less complicated than experienced PCs, who tend to build up clever tricks.
Quote:
When building NPCs do you start with a rough idea of how many points they should be worth, or do you just add traits and ignore point value?
Unlike some game systems, GURPS points totals have only a very vague connection to combat power. It is not necessary for NPC point totals to be matched to PCs - although if you find yourself designing 1000-point villains for 125-point PCs to oppose, there's likely to be a problem.
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:55 PM   #5
Maz
 
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LostWormOnItsWayHome View Post
Do people have a method for generating NPCs at a decent rate that does not require memorization of their relevant traits?

Are NPCs necessarily less complex (mechanically) than their PC counterparts?

When building NPCs do you start with a rough idea of how many points they should be worth, or do you just add traits and ignore point value?

Any time saving tricks that aren't directly related to NPCs?
First and foremost. Never, bother about statting up NPC's exactly. Don't bother about points at all unless you really need it for some reason (such as an Ally or Enemy). This alone should lift a huge weight from your shoulders.

To give a little more details; There are generally 3 types of NPC in any RPG.

1) Minor "faceless" NPC's.
2) Talk NPCs.
3) Enemies.

Minor NPc's are the random stable-boy, waitress and so on. You almost never have to stat them up at all. If the PC's tries to make them do something or for some reason need them to make a roll, just assume they have between 9-11 in whatever then need to roll. Or just make whatever the PC's try ,work if they have the right skills for it.

Talk-NPC's are all the ones the PC's are supposed to have a none-violent encounter with. Here I suggest the same as ErhnamDJ. Only stat the traits you really need for the encounter. In general though I tend to always stat up the 4 base attributes, as you then have something to base things on if unexpected things happen (like the PC's suddenly attack the peaceful ambassador...like they do).

Enemies, supposed to be there purely for combat I find actually need the most details. You need ST, DX, HT and often also Per and Will (to counter stealth and intimidation/magic). And you also need basic speed, move, dodge, weapon skills, combat relevant advantages and so on. Potential disads that influence their combat-style might also matter as well as exact armour and weapons. It depends on how detailed you run combat of course.
But again. Points matter not. To balance encounters takes learning points can never be an indicator.
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:26 PM   #6
simply Nathan
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErhnamDJ View Post
Even for enemies they'll be fighting in combat, you only need to put in the important part.

Random Swordsman
Broadsword-12
Shield-10
ST 11
Has a longsword and medium shield

Done! That's all you need right there.
Actually, you'll want a bit more than this; you'll want to note, at the very least, what his final Block score is (10 in this case) and his damage using a longsword 1-handed (IDK, I don't have that weapon in any of my books).
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenneth Latrans View Post
Actually, you'll want a bit more than this; you'll want to note, at the very least, what his final Block score is (10 in this case) and his damage using a longsword 1-handed (IDK, I don't have that weapon in any of my books).
Block, parry, dodge, damage, damage resistance. Health, usually. Unless you assume 10.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:25 PM   #8
LostWormOnItsWayHome
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Alright, this has all been very helpful.

Do most of you do critical NPCs and main antagonists in much the same way, or is this advice in regards to one-shot meet-em-and-kill-em or talk-at-em-and-leave-em sorts of NPCS?
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:52 PM   #9
DanHoward
 
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

I use GURPS Character Assistant to generate important or recurring NPCs. Otherwise I just include basic stats, like above, a line or two of character description, and any major items being carried.

For generic NPCs it is a good idea to keep a card box full of pre-generated ones: Guard, Farmer, Innkeeper, Bar Maid, Shop Keeper, Peddler, Steet Thug, Pick Pocket, Blacksmith, Carter, Woodsman, etc. Then use a random name generator and you are all set. You could shuffle them into a deck and use them for random encounters too.

Edit: I'd like to have a folder full of generic locations too: Inn, Shop, Temple, Smithy, Shack, Farmhouse, Townhouse, Gatehouse, Guardtower, Windmill, etc. Still working on that.
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Last edited by DanHoward; 01-06-2013 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:55 PM   #10
ErhnamDJ
 
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LostWormOnItsWayHome View Post
Do most of you do critical NPCs and main antagonists in much the same way, or is this advice in regards to one-shot meet-em-and-kill-em or talk-at-em-and-leave-em sorts of NPCS?
Well, it depends on how much I think they'll come up in the story. I might only have the names for some of the major players in the world, and then I can develop them more over time as they come up.

For some of them, say the king, I might have an incredible amount of backstory for them without having any game statistics at all.

Whereas the bounty hunter that's going after the party might not even have a name, but he's definitely going to have a complete set of game statistics.

I'm always trying to do exactly as much work as necessary. If I'm not going to need to know something, then I'm not going to waste time on it.

Think of it as like you're writing a novel. The author doesn't know who the main character's mother's best friend is unless that's important to the story somehow. It's just not practical to come up with those sorts of details.
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