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Old 01-06-2013, 11:54 PM   #11
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErhnamDJ View Post
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]
Compared to other RPG systems, such as any edition of D&D or AD&D, GURPS' attributes are very strongly clustered. A great many of the humans living in the OP's world falls within the 9-11 range in terms of DX, HT and IQ.

ST varies a bit more, but can usually be derived - assumptively derived - from what the NPC does. If this NPC has Farming-11 and he's old, then chance are he's a farmhand who hasn't made any strategic decisions about the running of the farm on which he works, ever, and that pegs him as a labourer, which suggets high ST, but mitigated a bit by his "old" tag.

The point is, when you don't write a trait value down, it's because that trait value is as expected. If IQ isn't specified, then it's 10. If Will isn't specified, then it's 10.

Unless there's selection pressure for the social role or profession that the NPC is in. Among scholars, it's reasonable to assume that average IQ is 11. Among ascetic monks, it's reasonable to assume that average Will is 11, or maybe even 12.

But if the GM is willing and able to make such assumptions, then there's a lot of stuff that doesn't need to be written down, for minor NPCs. Because possible to derive - again, assumptively - attributes and other traits on an as-needed basis. Even easier on a group basis.

Let's say you have a group of 5 city guard NPCs, whose main duty is to patrol the city market during day time. It's reasonable to assume that they average PR (Pereption) 11, due to a combination of job selection and the fact that GURPS sees attributes as being trainable ("if you use your eye muscles a lot, they grow stronger"). What else might be reasonable? Might one of them have Danger Sense? I don't think so. Danger Sense is a high-cost and fairly cinematic Advantage, and would be more appropriate to occur with some random chance in a group of NPC body guards, e.g. if you have 6-7 highly competent royal body guards, as a GM you might arbitrarily decide there's a 40% chance that one of them has Danger Sense.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:06 AM   #12
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Based on the OP's campaign needs, he could try to figure out what's important to know about minor NPCs.

I like knowing how smart and perceptive they are (in GURPS that's IQ and PR), while Will itself strikes me as much less important. I also like to know if they have any moral foibles that the PCs can discover and exploit, e.g. something to do with sex (the Lecherous disad, or something else) or recreational drugs (again, GURPS has a variety of possibilities, and more possibilities that aren't well-covered in its disad system).

Combat with peacefully encountered NPCs is very unlikely, so it could make sense to assign them a single Fight rating. Using GURPS' system of Poor, Good, Fine, Very Fine, assigning ratings based on realism and in-world role, it could be something like this:

Poor
An old or physically feeble civilian
ST 8 (look up Swing/THrust damage, and include it for easy reference)
combat skill at defalt from DX 9 (again, look up the default from 9)

Normal
A normal civilian with no combat training or at best limited milita training, or a former warrior who has become aged and weak.
ST 10
combat skill as if it defaults from DX 11 (not saying that he has DX 11, just that defaulting from 10 gives a too low value, and putting 1 CP into it based on DX 10 gives a too high value. Also, this is RAW-legal because he can just use the Dabbler Perk.)

Fine
A trained warrior or soldier, nothing special, just your average Orc, Viking or city guard.
ST 12
Combat skill based on 2 CP and DX 11 (and he probably has DX 11)
(For a warrior retired due to a disabling or crippling injury, keep ST and DX, lower skill investment to 1 CP, and add a disad such as Chronic Pain, Lame or Wounded.)

Very Fine
This is an elite warrior, usually one who has a name and at least local fame, although of course very elite NPCs, such as Kings or ArchDruids, may be guarded by several dozen such speciments without these needing individual names.
ST 14
Combat skill based on 8 CP and DX 12

It might be useful to add slightly more detail, e.g. include both a Melee Weapon and a Shield skill, maybe give the VF dude (or dudette) 1 CP in Brawling and also give 1 CP in some highly useful Technique (that can also represent cultural flavour). But either way, pre-calculate as much as possible, so that you minimize the during-the-session workload.
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:58 AM   #13
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Even though it requires some time, I have found it very useful to memorize a lot of the advantages, disadvantages and skills in Basic. I have the odd habit of making all my NPC's with points, just as regular PC's, and it's a huge time-saver that I know what most traits do. Gurps Character Assistant is an extremely valuable tool in this respect.

It is, though, not in any way necessary, as a lot of people have stated, to stat out NPC's fully. It also has some drawbacks, like keeping track of their progression. NPC's are people too, and also work to improve skills and accomplish goals and ambitions. With 100+ NPC's, this can take time.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:41 AM   #14
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

For some NPCs, I don't bother with anything other than what ErnhamDJ had further up in the thread; namely "Old Man, Farming-11". Then, if I need an attribute score, I roll 3d, sometimes plus or minus something. If I need a skill I decide he should have (e.g. it came up that the farmer knows how to drive a wagon, and the PCs want to hire him as a teamster), I either set the skill in question to 12 or roll 2d+5. If I need a skill he "shouldn't" have, he gets it at default. Generally I don't do that much, though, since it's more interesting if an NPC has surprising skills - it tells you something about the farmer's backstory if he also has Thaumatology-14.

You can even generate combat-relevant NPCs this way, if you like, though it requires some more knowledge of the system, like basic damage and weapon damage modifiers. It can be useful if the PCs start mucking around somewhere you don't have prepared, though.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:04 AM   #15
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

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Originally Posted by Jovus View Post
You can even generate combat-relevant NPCs this way, if you like, though it requires some more knowledge of the system, like basic damage and weapon damage modifiers. It can be useful if the PCs start mucking around somewhere you don't have prepared, though.
This is truly the crux of it. Having this handy 'guidelines' to improv NPCs quickly is useful for when the PCs decide to go off the rails in combat or otherwise. This is why some of us decry the rigorous statting of NPCs as a fools errand. You cant ever stat them all.

When we say that as GMs we 'build a world' we dont mean that we stat and backstory every NPC for the same reason we dont stat and backstory every deer, dog, oaktree or mushroom.

Could we stat up an oaktree with a complete char sheet? Sure, but at the end of the day, its just a regular old oak tree. Sure someone could use Plant Empathy or commune with plants or someother such power, but even that player is not likely to chat with every tree in the forrest.

You see most of what we work up as GMs (certainly in my experience) is that my players wont discover 75% of the things that I work up for play (Subplots etc), I do those things for my own sake and if they find them and pursue them, GREAT, if not, I can sometimes recycle it for use elsewhere in the campaign.

See the game is OURS. Not mine. I build the playground, if they choose to ignore the monkeybars, they still can have a great time on the merry-go-round, swing set, or wibbly wobblies. As long as we're all having fun, the work I put into the monkeybars is not wasted. There may come a day when they say 'Hey...how bout them monkeybars!', but if they dont, then I still had my fun 'upfront' by GURPSing up the Monkybars and there being a story to be discovered within.

GMing kind of has a weird definition of 'fun' :)

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Old 01-07-2013, 11:08 AM   #16
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

While I loathe the use of templates for PCs (there're dozens of them scattered in the various gurps book) I find them useful as starting points for detailed major NPCs.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:11 PM   #17
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fnugus View Post
Even though it requires some time, I have found it very useful to memorize a lot of the advantages, disadvantages and skills in Basic. I have the odd habit of making all my NPC's with points, just as regular PC's, and it's a huge time-saver that I know what most traits do. Gurps Character Assistant is an extremely valuable tool in this respect.
I don't think trying to brute-force memorize the list of advantage and disads, and what they mean, is going to help the OP much.

People's memories work differently, but one solution that might work for the OP is to actively sit down and write a cheat list of every single advanage and disad that can occor in the world in which his campaign takes place, i.e. none of the supernatural ones that for whatever reason are metaphysically impossible. But including all the Meta-Traits.

Write down each trait, on paper or in a TXT or word processor file, whatever works best, along with an as short as possible reminder sentence of what it is that the trait does.
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