Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-06-2013, 02:40 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 02:48 PM.
LostWormOnItsWayHome is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2013, 02:50 PM   #2
ErhnamDJ
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
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.
__________________
"For the rays, to speak properly, are not colored. In them there is nothing else than a certain power and disposition to stir up a sensation of this or that color." —Isaac Newton, Optics

My blog.

Last edited by ErhnamDJ; 01-06-2013 at 02:54 PM.
ErhnamDJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2013, 02:58 PM   #3
LemmingLord
 
LemmingLord's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Default Re: High GM burden - Time saving tricks?

I like the seven sentence pc:

http://dndfluff.devhub.com/blog/6864...-sentence-npc/
__________________
Villain's Round Table
LemmingLord is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2013, 04:26 PM   #4
simply Nathan
formerly known as 'Kenneth Latrans'
 
simply Nathan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Wyoming, Michigan
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).
__________________
Ba-weep granah wheep minibon. Wubba lubba dub dub.
simply Nathan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2013, 04:43 PM   #5
Bruno
 
Bruno's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Canada
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.
__________________
All about Size Modifier; Unified Hit Location Table
A Wiki for my F2F Group
A neglected GURPS blog
Bruno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2013, 05:25 PM   #6
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?
LostWormOnItsWayHome is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2013, 05:52 PM   #7
DanHoward
 
DanHoward's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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.
__________________
Compact Castles gives the gamer an instant portfolio of genuine, real-world castle floorplans to use in any historical, low-tech, or fantasy game setting.

Last edited by DanHoward; 01-06-2013 at 06:01 PM.
DanHoward is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2013, 05:55 PM   #8
ErhnamDJ
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: OK
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.
__________________
"For the rays, to speak properly, are not colored. In them there is nothing else than a certain power and disposition to stir up a sensation of this or that color." —Isaac Newton, Optics

My blog.
ErhnamDJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2013, 10:54 PM   #9
Peter Knutsen
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Europe
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.
Peter Knutsen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2013, 11:06 PM   #10
Peter Knutsen
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Europe
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.
Peter Knutsen is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
npcs

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:16 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.