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Old 03-10-2021, 09:10 PM   #1
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Mook design

One thing I have not seen in any GURPS supplement is good guidelines for building minor NPCs who exist mostly—but perhaps not entirely—for the PCs to fight. I tried to whip up some guidelines—much of which seem a tad bit obvious, but I'm trying to be thorough here. I'm going to assume human mooks, and leave it to other people to add in adjustments for racial templates, if any.

The most important part of a mook's stat block is going to be skills, and the most important skills will be combat skills. Which ones depend entirely on the mook's role. Typical competent mooks will have skill levels of 12-13, elite ones 14-15, and marginally competent ones 10-11. It would get boring to send the PCs against totally incompetent mooks with any regularity, but occasionally it will make sense to have mooks that use combat skills at default. The next most important category of skills are skills that fit mooks from a wide variety of backgrounds and are likely to come up in Quick Contests with the PCs. It’s always worth thinking about which of these skills your mooks have, and at what level. Skills in this category include Acting, Detect Lies, Fast-Talk, Holdout, Interrogation, Observation, Search, Shadowing, and Stealth. Having mooks use Savoir-Faire or Streetwise to sub in for Acting/Fast-Talk may make more sense in certain situations.

A few other skills deserve mention. If a chase is likely, you’ll want to know the value for whatever skill the mooks will use for the chase (e.g. Driving or Running). If the mooks are specialists in taking enemies alive, giving them a point in knot-tying makes sense. If they have specialized training in escaping after being captured (e.g. a military SERE course), a point each in Escape and Lockpicking may make sense. If they’re the sort to break down doors to get to their targets, a point or two in Force Entry can make sense. Finally, mooks from a military background may have some of Camouflage, Leadership, Soldier, and Tactics (all of which have some combat utility even if they don't come up as often as other skills). Mooks can theoretically have other skills, but I can't think of any others that are likely to come up and actually matter, and if it doesn't matter it can be left off the character sheet. Maybe First Aid so the mooks can treat injured PCs if their goal is to take them alive? Would very much appreciate it if people can point out things I missed.

What skills / skill levels the mooks have can inform their attributes. They need enough ST to wield whatever weapons you've assigned them. Mooks selected for being big and strong might have a level of ST above that minimum—ones who need to be really big and scary might go as high as ST 13 even if that in some sense is overkill. DX matters less than DX based skills, but if a mook's best combat skill is 13+, it makes sense to give them DX two levels lower than that. IQ, Will, and Per 10 is fine for "dumb muscle", but many will have higher Will or Per (up to 12). Less commonly, higher IQ (again up to 12) can represent mooks who theoretically should have a fair number of points in IQ-based skills that you didn't bother writing down because the specific skills are unlikely to come up. HT up to 12 makes sense if you want your mooks to be able to take a hit or two before they drop—or if it will matter for footchases and similar.

Most advantages/disadvantages should probably be ignored—they make nameless NPCs too individualized and are unlikely to come up. Exceptions are things like Combat Reflexes (for experienced, harder-to-ambush fighters) or High Pain Threshold (like high HT, good for enemies who need to be able to take a hit or two). Night Vision 1-3 might make sense for enemies with experience fighting at night, though it can make the bad guys much tougher in fights that primarily take place in low light. On the disadvantage side, you want to stick to things that really make sense for the entire group—say, Duty or Fanaticism (unclear how likely the latter is to apply to a whole group in real life, but it seems often applicable in fiction). Some disadvantages that usually won't matter for mooks could be interesting in specific situations—say purposely making it easy for the PCs to outrun a group of guards by making them all Unfit. Any I missed?

Finally, Perks and Techniques will mostly be too finicky, but if you run a lot of mook fights, giving this group of mooks a special combat shtick could spice things up. And that's all I've got. What do people think?
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Old 03-10-2021, 11:43 PM   #2
corwyn
 
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Default Re: Mook design

How To Be a GURPS GM has two sample mooks - generic and elite - and the section on combat has some advice for combat traits.
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Old 03-11-2021, 10:00 AM   #3
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: Mook design

Quote:
Originally Posted by corwyn View Post
How To Be a GURPS GM has two sample mooks - generic and elite - and the section on combat has some advice for combat traits.
Those templates almost totally lack non-combat skills (except for leadership/tactics on the "elite" template). Which is fine in some situations but only if you want the mooks to be easy to sneak up on, terrible at sneaking up on the PCs, quick to give up any secrets under interrogation, and so on. I'm trying to come up with a somewhat more comprehensive approach.
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Old 03-11-2021, 10:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: Mook design

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Those templates almost totally lack non-combat skills (except for leadership/tactics on the "elite" template). Which is fine in some situations but only if you want the mooks to be easy to sneak up on, terrible at sneaking up on the PCs, quick to give up any secrets under interrogation, and so on. I'm trying to come up with a somewhat more comprehensive approach.
From GURPS Action 2 Exploits page 5:
Quote:
At the GM’s option, henchmen without character sheets
have an effective skill of 10 + absolute value of BAD: 11 at -1, 12
at -2, and so on. As with all BAD things, this is abstract. Actual
skill, equipment quality, extra time, and anything else that
might matter is all rolled into one handy number.
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Old 03-11-2021, 12:01 PM   #5
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: Mook design

@Tyneras: I'm aware of the BAD-based approach, but it's highly optional even for Action. And while in some cases it might make sense to have equipment quality, time spent, etc. grant large bonuses, in other cases this will have illogical results.

I'm tempted to create a Henchmen! wildcard skill, whose theme is "skills likely to be used in quick contests against PCs". Might act as Acting, Detect Lies, Driving, Escape, Fast-Talk, Holdout, Observation, Running, Search, Shadowing, and Stealth (edit: Boating too). "Basically, be sneaky, notice others being sneaky, participate in chase scenes, and escape when captured."
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Old 03-13-2021, 04:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: Mook design

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
I'm tempted to create a Henchmen! wildcard skill, whose theme is "skills likely to be used in quick contests against PCs". Might act as Acting, Detect Lies, Driving, Escape, Fast-Talk, Holdout, Observation, Running, Search, Shadowing, and Stealth (edit: Boating too). "Basically, be sneaky, notice others being sneaky, participate in chase scenes, and escape when captured."
I see "mooks" differently so I wont really comment on your methodology for deciding stats.

However this little gem was stolen by me before I bothered to reply :) I really like the idea of a pregen list of wildcards that a generic mook might just surprise us all by pulling out a skill success.

As the PCs get new skills its pretty easy to add counter skills as a wildcard.

As for how mooks are stat generated I tend more towards figuring out my baseline "everyman thats not a hero" and work from there. I base the NPC stats on what the world would have without a hero present, not based on challenging the PCs. Usually this means I need more of them, which to my mind reflects a common sense approach to gangs etc.

I prefer to challenge PCs less with an "equivalent lvl boss" and more with an equivalent structure. Occasionally there are things like an Old Dragon, but again those exist whether the PCs do or not.
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Old 03-14-2021, 08:01 AM   #7
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Default Re: Mook design

Once you remember that quick contests and the like most often include attributes, not skills, it becomes a necessity to give mooks attributes. And once mooks have attributes, you no longer need skills!

Something a mook is good at, like fighting, is simply DX+2. His backup way of fighting is DX+1. And whatever professional non-combat skills he has are DX+0 or IQ+0.
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Old 03-14-2021, 08:49 AM   #8
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: Mook design

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFix View Post
Once you remember that quick contests and the like most often include attributes, not skills, it becomes a necessity to give mooks attributes. And once mooks have attributes, you no longer need skills!

Something a mook is good at, like fighting, is simply DX+2. His backup way of fighting is DX+1. And whatever professional non-combat skills he has are DX+0 or IQ+0.
Quick contests involving DX, Will, and Per are reasonably common, I think. But what about IQ? And it makes a huge difference which professional non-combat skills the mook has—the difference between default and the 1-point level is much more significant than 1 vs. 2 points in a skill.
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Old 03-14-2021, 12:47 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mook design

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Quick contests involving DX, Will, and Per are reasonably common, I think. But what about IQ? And it makes a huge difference which professional non-combat skills the mook has—the difference between default and the 1-point level is much more significant than 1 vs. 2 points in a skill.
IQ can matter when the mook is being fooled via Acting and such
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Old 03-14-2021, 01:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mook design

Both Will and especially Perception are based on IQ, so unless you specify those separately, you'll want to know the mook's IQ.
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