A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#26 Post by Eder » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:10 am

Eder wrote: Actually, a very fast, effective way to create an "average" character, but one fit to a theme, is:
1) Assign the following scores: 16 14 13 12 12 11 10 9 9 8 7 5. It's probably easier to start from the low ones, and they'll tell you a lot about the NPC. Try it out.
2) Add 2 to two scores, and subtract 2 to two scores (potentially the same, cancelling out), to "sculpt" things more to your choice.
3) If female, +2 AUR, -2 STR.
4) If of significantly heavier-than-average build, +1 STR, -1 AGI; if significantly lighter-than-average, -1 STR, +1 AGI.
Let me give an example. I'll just try to stat 4 of the NPCs from FFF14 based on this method, and a very superficial (and thus possibly incorrect) reading of their personality. Note that this produces "average" NPCs (stat-wise, blabla) and I never said that every NPCs should be average -- they should not. So this is not a better way to stat the NPCs in FFF14, particularly, as Sageryne pointed out, if they are meant as PCs for one-shots. I just wish that in the Harn corpus as a whole there were more "average" and more "below average" NPCs.

Perfumer: a young, intelligent attractive widow, a capable perfumer who's scared off many suitors by being too "independent".
I'll give her highish INT, CML, SML, and WILL. I'll give her lowish STR, STA, and AUR. I'll mark as +2F and -2F her "female" modifiers.
STR 05(07-2F) STA 08 DEX 10 AGI 09 EYE 11 HRG 10(8+2) SML 14(12+2) VOI 10(12-2) CML 13 INT 14 AUR 07(5+2F) WIL 14(16-2)

Knight Patrician: a cruel psycopath skilled both at swordplay and at intrigue, but somewhat easily manipulated.
I'll give him lowish WIL and ...CML, but highish DEX, VOI, INT and AUR, and decent STR and AGI.
STR 12 STA 10 DEX 13 (11+2) AGI 12 EYE 09 HRG 09 SML 08 VOI 14 (16-2) CML 07 (05+2) INT 14 AUR 13 WIL 07

Ilviran Priest: a clubfoot, but intelligent and good at convincing people. A good herbalist, and good at drawing.
I'll give him definitely high INT, VOI and AUR. I'll give him poor AGI, and generally lower physical stats; good SML and EYE though.
STR 07 STA 07 (09-2) DEX 11 AGI 05 EYE 12 HRG 07 (09-2) SML 12 VOI 15 (13+2) CML 08 INT 16 AUR 16 (14+2) WIL 10

Knight Inquisitor: a noble knight, a man "of action, not prayer". A good example of how to make an "average" NPC a strong knight.
Prioritizing WILL, STR, DEX, and AGI, I'll give him decent STA and EYE and a truly terrible AUR. Not a likable person.
STR 16 STA 12 DEX 14 (12+2) AGI 14 EYE 11 HRG 08 (10-2) SML 07 VCE 09 CML 09 INT 08 AUR 03 (05-2) WIL 15 (13+2)

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#27 Post by MDMann » Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:32 pm

One small correction. You're not talking about stat spread or range but skew or skewness.

I've not plotted it, but at a glance your examples look like a normal distribution with a positive skew.
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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#28 Post by Kara » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:58 pm

Peter the skald wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:34 am

For me as previously said, Artwork and background are enough; possessions, skills and stats a bonus; adventure seeds appreciated but to date never used.
I have used FFF both as GM and player.

When GMing, the words of the backstory and the summation by the art are the most important. Next the hooks and the artwork. Then possessions. Then the skills, with stats last. In fact if a stat is needed and does not fit the description or how I have been portraying the NPC then I change the stat to fit the words.

As a player at a con, the skewed stats were much appreciated so that one did not feel a total klutz.

So, overall for me the current balance is about right, even though by strict 3d6 criteria it may well not be. I measure things by how useful they are in a game rather than the mathematics of it all.
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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#29 Post by GunnarGreybeard » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:28 pm

Kara wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:58 pm
So, overall for me the current balance is about right, even though by strict 3d6 criteria it may well not be. I measure things by how useful they are in a game rather than the mathematics of it all.
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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#30 Post by Sageryne » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:59 pm

Hello Eder,
Eder wrote:One thing I am somewhat wary about is, however, the legal issues that (as far as I understand) still plague Harn. If I understand correctly (and really, I do not want to stir up a wasp nest, here, just asking for information) Kelestia and CGI still have legal positions that are mutually incompatible even for fanon: in other words, no matter what I do, I am going to violate the rights that at least one of them claims to have. I understand that they are unlikely to press those claims, but still, this is terrain I would rather not tread...
Between 9 March 2001 and today, 31 October 2017, I (in collaboration with many other amazing writers, artists, mappers, and editors) have released 46 fanon articles totalling 879 pages. I am in regular contact with CGI (for whom I have also written several articles for professionally) and with KP (whose leadership I count among my good friends). I have never had a single problem, legal or otherwise, with any of the fanon I have written. In fact, I discussed fanon specifically with Tom Dalgleish (most recently in May) and Robin Crossby (before he passed away) in person multiple times.

There are many other HarnFans who have also written fanon without a single problem. Despite the legal issues between CGI and KP, Harn has a long tradition of being fanon-friendly. Our community is small, but very supportive of fan contributions. KP has never challenged fanon released in the CGI-inspired format; CGI has never challenged fanon released in the KP-sanctioned format. As long as you acknowledge both, you will be fine.

If you would like to create some of your own NPCs, I would be more than happy to help with layout. Art gets a bit expensive, so you would be on your own to source that, though many other fanon articles have found ways of getting around that with copyright free art.

I think you have some good suggestions for more average and below average NPCs. As others have pointed out, the art, biography and adventure hooks are a big part of the overall package as well.

FFF 15, just released today, was completely written by authors other than me and released under the Harn Writers' Guild banner. I am a big believer in new perspectives on Harn. That is why I wanted all female writers to write a dozen new all female FFF characters...to get a different take on characters than I would write myself.

TTYL

- Kerry
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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#31 Post by Rothesay » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:40 am

Sageryne wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:59 pm
Between 9 March 2001 and today, 31 October 2017, I (in collaboration with many other amazing writers, artists, mappers, and editors) have released 46 fanon articles totalling 879 pages.
8O

Knew it was a lot, but wow Kerry! :D

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#32 Post by Sageryne » Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:03 am

Hi Matt,

To be fair, I had a lot of amazing collaborators. The FFF series especially has whole issues that were written by other authors. I just helped out with layout.

Still, even I was surprised when I added it all up. Excluding the FFF series, I have written 31 articles totalling 519 pages. I also took an approximately six year hiatus between 2011 and 2017 where I didn't release anything. I was burnt out and needed something new.

I have a great gaming group here in Ottawa and I threw myself into GMing. I ran a Day After Ragnarok (pulp apocalypse) campaign, a 2.5 year long The One Ring (Lord of the Rings) epic campaign, and a post-Endor Star Wars campaign, etc. I wrote tons for those games, but that was more GM notes rather than finished articles.

After my last campaign finished, I told my group I needed a break. We are still gaming, but with other players taking over as GM. This helped me recharge my Harnic batteries. Now I am back and writing new articles for CGI (including Guthe Bridge and On The Edge) and have got back into writing (or at least layout and editing) for fanon.

TTYL

- Kerry
Well, my days of taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle. - Mal, Firefly.

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#33 Post by Rothesay » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:37 am

Did a quick tally of my own. Not counting articles where I did a piece of heraldry or two, or minor contributions, I have 19 articles at 103 pages (a few are just maps). The three articles nearing completion will add about 40 pages to that total which is interesting in itself.

I think others might have a little more, but clearly, you're in a class by yourself Kerry. 8)

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#34 Post by MDMann » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:27 am

Two articles. One with Peter. 10 pages. :o
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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#35 Post by Leitchy » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:41 am

And I promise I'll turn it around this week, Michael!

God, I am SO bad at this. I know I can edit, and edit well, but I just put things on the back burner and leave them there so long!
:cry: :cry:


As for fanon, there's 390 individual items available for download, totaling 1.25GB.
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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#36 Post by Rothesay » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:03 am

Leitchy wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:41 am
As for fanon, I'll do a count tonight when I get home, but I think there's something like 350+ items available for download, totaling about a gigabyte or so. I'll change these to more precise figures later. :)
That in itself is amazing and a testament to the commitment, creativity, and productivity of this community. 8)

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#37 Post by Eder » Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:33 am

Kara wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:58 pm
As a player at a con, the skewed stats were much appreciated so that one did not feel a total klutz.
I think this highlights the problem very well, proving (part of) my point. If 13 feels average, 16 just "good" and 9 low, because the typical "published" gong farmer has at least as many stats at 16+ or above at 9 or less, then how will a PC with average stats feel? As Kara aptly wrote: "a total klutz".

GMs then need to artificially inflate stats of PCs just to make those PCs feel "normal"; and having a truly "hero-proportioned" PCs appears impossible. I would stress that this is not a problem I have with FFF in particular: it's a problem with virtually every canon and fanon product for Harn; and it's indeed its commonality that makes it particularly pernicious. I would never have raised the issue if FFF had been the only series that did it, because in that case FFF would have clearly been a "league of extraordinary gentlemen".

Hence my suggestionl: if you are publishing an NPC, either avoid statting him (which is perfectly fine!) or check the stats you were thinking to include: If they turn up to average 11 or more (before adjustments for race, age etc.), either lower them, or make sure you stamp EXCEPTIONALLY GIFTED all over the description (ok I am exaggerating a bit, but you get my point). This is particularly addressed to canon publishers: stat inflation in your NPCs degrades the player experience, and thus devalues your products.

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#38 Post by Sageryne » Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:41 am

Hi Eder,

Like I said before the thread went off on a tangent, I would be more than happy to assist with the production of some examples of the type of characters you are thinking of. It would be useful to have some stat'ed up examples with an associated bio to give people some examples of what you think average or below average NPCs should look like.

I will even make an effort to find some temporary art to go with it.

Fire me an e-mail, krmould@yahoo.com and I will be at your disposal to do layout and formating. If you are still concerned with legal liability, I will be happy to take the risk for you and leave the author's name simply as anonymous.

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#39 Post by Eder » Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:59 am

Sageryne: that's very nice of you! I really appreciate it. Let me see what I can come up with, I'm not promising anything. My original plan was a larger number (101!), of less detailed (2 per column, i.e. 4 per page) NPCS, one fifth average (stats at 10.5), one fifth slightly below (10), one fifth moderately below (9.5), one fifth significantly below (8.75, this is about what you get with 4d6-keep-lowest-3), and one fifth terrible (8).

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#40 Post by Sageryne » Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:09 am

Hi Eder,

Are you planning to just do the stats/skills? I think it would be useful to do up at least a brief bio (one - three paragraphs) to put a written description to flesh out the dry stats. I also think some adventure hooks, that demonstate how you would see the NPCs interacting with PCs would be cool to.

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#41 Post by Eder » Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:17 am

Sageryne wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:09 am
Are you planning to just do the stats/skills? I think it would be useful to do up at least a brief bio (one - three paragraphs) to put a written description to flesh out the dry stats. I also think some adventure hooks, that demonstate how you would see the NPCs interacting with PCs would be cool to.
I actually was thinking about
a) 1 paragraph of stats, maybe crucial skills (I'm a bit hesitant to do *every* skill);
b) 1 or 2 paragraphs of description - generic, so that the character can be placed "anywhere", with the occasional exception; and
c) 1 paragraph of hooks, to both PCs and other NPCs of the set.

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#42 Post by Sageryne » Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:03 am

Cool, sounds good. We can work together to come up with a clean, easy to read format.

I think there is a definite requirement for the "normal" folks who (by definition) should be the majority of the people you meet.

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#43 Post by bbailey » Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:17 am

A couple of points:

For someone who has claimed in past posts to own very few "recent" (post-1990) canon publications, you seem to have done considerable analysis of "virtually every" canon product. I'd be interested in seeing your research.

You are applying "statistics" in what I find to be a very odd way. In some places, you are saying that characters should balance out within themselves, with their stats averaging out to 10.5 or so. But that's not how people work. In game terms, attribute scores are a measurement of a person's abilities relative to everyone in the world. One character's agility score shows how agile they are compared to everyone else, not how agile they are compared to their own other attributes. Across humanity overall, the measure of any given attribute should form a bell curve between 3 and 18, but a given person's attributes will not. In the real world, I don't think you'll find that a person's strength in one area (relative to the world's population) necessitates an equal weakness in another (again, relative to the world).

Given that, you are drawing a very broad conclusion from a very small sample size. There are very, very few individuals with stats in canon publications (maybe dozens?), to the point that they are statistically insignificant. If stats were given for every individual in a settlement or kingdom, I expect the bell curve for each attribute would be closer to the expected distribution. In short, canon publications, and fanon for that matter, are not intended to represent a statistically accurate cross-section of humanity.

This is very similar to how in past posts you used the four manors in HârnManor (a ridiculously small sample size) to make the sweeping statement that the Hârn portrayed in post-1990s HârnWorld publications is somehow more wealthy and less gritty than earlier.

Hârn is a game world and the published HârnWorld material is intended to provide a framework for GMs and players to role-play a game. The published settlements are samples, a small fraction of the entire world, as are the people in them. They are not meant to provide statistically accurate models that you can extrapolate a bigger picture from.

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#44 Post by Eder » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:16 am

bbailey wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:17 am
A couple of points: For someone who has claimed in past posts to own very few "recent" (post-1990) canon publications, you seem to have done considerable analysis of "virtually every" canon product. I'd be interested in seeing your research.
I use obscure divinatory means. But if you don't trust me, go ahead, and prove me wrong. I challenge you!
Since, as CGI, you have access to all your products, just find one post 1990 product with at least four (human, for simplicity) NPC profiles, such that the average stat for all human NPC profiles in the product is 11 or less.

(If it was a ploy to get me buy more of your stuff, it was clever, but it failed :))
bbailey wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:17 am
You are applying "statistics" in what I find to be a very odd way. In some places, you are saying that characters should balance out within themselves, with their stats averaging out to 10.5 or so. But that's not how people work. In game terms, attribute scores are a measurement of a person's abilities relative to everyone in the world. One character's agility score shows how agile they are compared to everyone else, not how agile they are compared to their own other attributes. Across humanity overall, the measure of any given attribute should form a bell curve between 3 and 18, but a given person's attributes will not. In the real world, I don't think you'll find that a person's strength in one area (relative to the world's population) necessitates an equal weakness in another (again, relative to the world).
Then let me state it in a non-technical way. I am stating that people who lack either strengths or weaknesses or both are the exception. Every "normal" character should have both strengths and weaknesses. Those who don't represent a tiny fraction of the population. It's ok to occasionally present one such exceptional character, but he should then be described as exceptional. If you are not representing an exceptional character, you must assign both strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise, it's like describing a 5 foot tall, 300 pound character as "just your average dancing girl".
bbailey wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:17 am
Given that, you are drawing a very broad conclusion from a very small sample size. There are very, very few individuals with stats in canon publications (maybe dozens?), to the point that they are statistically insignificant. If stats were given for every individual in a settlement or kingdom, I expect the bell curve for each attribute would be closer to the expected distribution. In short, canon publications, and fanon for that matter, are not intended to represent a statistically accurate cross-section of humanity.
...
Hârn is a game world and the published HârnWorld material is intended to provide a framework for GMs and players to role-play a game. The published settlements are samples, a small fraction of the entire world, as are the people in them. They are not meant to provide statistically accurate models that you can extrapolate a bigger picture from.
This is a crucial point.
Suppose almost all your published characters had several well-developed psionic abilities; and not just mages or powerful leaders, but everyone from the "generic" caravan guard (a single profile for a dozen of them), to the local innkeeper, to the generic "servant" (a single profile for a score of them) to drunkards and knights and maidens fair. The whole gamut of society, 98% of them with several well-developed psionic abilities.
Do you think you could seriously claim "Ah, but we never stated that the psionically gifted are anything but a tiny minority of the Harn folks. We published over a hundred characters from all strata of society, and all but 2 have strong psionic abilities, but really, there are hundreds of thousands of folks on Harn. Who could you come up with this ridiculous notion"?
bbailey wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:17 am
This is very similar to how in past posts you used the four manors in HârnManor (a ridiculously small sample size) to make the sweeping statement that the Hârn portrayed in post-1990s HârnWorld publications is somehow more wealthy and less gritty than earlier.
It's quite dissimilar, in fact.
My claim was about how the rules in HarnManor produce manors ridiculously more wealthy than previous rules, and previous products, suggest.
The four manors in HarnManor, being built by the rules and not being particularly wealthy "within those rules", showcase that if you base your manors on HarnManor, you'll generally have unrealistically wealthy manors in contrast with older canon.

To make a simpler example, it's as if your new rules had made characters taller then the old rules.
Uh. Actually HM3 humans are taller than HM1 humans ...
..but only by half an inch. But let's say your rules had generated human height as 20d6 + 40 inches, and you had indeed given four example characters: one 120 inches, one 100 inches, one 104 and one 116 tall. So all between 8 1/2 foot and 10 foot tall. My "ridicolous claim" about Harn folk being giants would not be based on the examples, but on the mechanics (even though the examples are a fair reflection of the mechanics).
Last edited by Eder on Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#45 Post by MDMann » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:41 am

I can propose a solution. Windsorise all the characters and you'll end up with characters with unexceptional stats. Say a character has a stat of 5 or 3 it becomes a 7 whilst a 15 or 17 becomes a 13.
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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#46 Post by Munin » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:56 am

Eder wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:33 am
Kara wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:58 pm
As a player at a con, the skewed stats were much appreciated so that one did not feel a total klutz.
I think this highlights the problem very well, proving (part of) my point. If 13 feels average, 16 just "good" and 9 low, because the typical "published" gong farmer has at least as many stats at 16+ or above at 9 or less, then how will a PC with average stats feel? As Kara aptly wrote: "a total klutz".
The problem to which Kara is referring doesn't have to be with the stats relative to anything else, it can easily happen with the stats in a vacuum. Part of the issue is what "average" really means when stats/skills are applied to conflict or task resolution within the system.

Part of the issue is that there is a (reasonable) expectation on the part of the putative player that their character isn't going to suck at those tasks with which he or she should be proficient. If my character is a "professional" potter, you would not expect me to routinely fail a make a pot. Similarly, if I am a "professional" yeoman, you would not expect me to routinely fail to hit a stationary target with an arrow at 30 paces.

But that's not really how HMx works. "Average" stats tend to produce relatively crappy SB, which means that you either need to bump skill allotments to compensate, or bump stats such that the resulting opening skills aren't pathetic. Playing characters that fail (especially at tasks for which they are supposedly skilled) a high percentage of the time (where "high" is an admittedly subjective term) is not a lot of fun, especially in a convention setting where prospective long-term character advancement isn't a mitigating salve to your current suckitude.

I don't know about you, but I don't play RPGs to be a dirt-farmer. PCs should be special, distinctive, and (frankly) exceptional. What's that quote? "Heroes are rare; they just happen to all be PCs."
Eder wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:33 am
GMs then need to artificially inflate stats of PCs just to make those PCs feel "normal";
Again, I posit that this is not a problem with the source of the NPC but rather with the rules system being used. If you want to take that as a direct criticism of HarnMaster, I'm OK with that.
Eder wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:33 am
stat inflation in your NPCs degrades the player experience, and thus devalues your products.
This is more than a stretch, it's outright disingenuous. In most cases, your players are never going to see your NPCs stats, so what does it matter? But let's set that aside for a moment and examine this the other way round.

Of what particular benefit is it to create NPCs whose mean attribute scores are average? Of what particular benefit is it to create NPCs whose mean attribute scores are below average? How do you (as the GM) intend to use these NPCs? How do you intend to use their attributes? In what ways will their attributes come into play mechanically (or non-mechanically) during the game session? How will the players substantially interact with those attributes? If an NPC has a very high (or very low) score in an attribute that is not crucial to the story being told (e.g. a very high/low SMELL score for an NPC the players are probably going to end up fighting), is that important? How important is it? If the players never encounter the NPC's above-average sense of smell, will their suspension of disbelief be destroyed? Or if the NPC has abnormally high STR, AGI, END, INT, and other combat-related attributes (with which they might actually be interacting), will they knowingly nod to themselves and think, "yeah, he may look and fight like Superman, but I'll bet he has a $#@! sense of smell, a weak aura, and a singing voice like an over-croaked toad."

FWIW, and totally an unsolicited opinion, each character having 16 different character attributes is stupid. Some are clearly more important/useful than others, and randomly generating a bunch of stats that are never going to get used is a waste of everyone's time. So trying to track whether the mean across all of these scores adheres to some statistical norm also has the look of pretty intensive and pointless navel-gazing.

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#47 Post by Leitchy » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:29 am

My own personal take on this is that most NPCs don't need any stats at all, just a description (personality, life situation, that sort of thing). If they are a potter, then they'll be better at potting than other people. If they are a farmer, they'll have knowledge of how cows operate (you know what I mean...)

Having said that, it can be useful for a GM to have access to a generic NPC with generic stats. But I doubt there's anything useful to be gained by "analysing" anything! Especially other publications...

Just write up what feels correct to you. Whatever you do, other GMs will use what you wrote, or adjust it to suit themselves, or not use it...and there's no way for you to know which unless they tell you. :)

So I don't see any reason to worry about being "correct", 'cause there ain't no such thing.
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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#48 Post by Eder » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:10 am

Munin, I just won't quote the whole passage, because it's too long. So forgive me if I am misinterpreting your thoughts.

1. You say that the problem with average stats in one-shot adventures is that they tend to make PCs fail at tasks at which they should succeed at. I have not encountered many of these situations. There are probably two things that we are doing differently.
The first is that Harn "by default" creates rookie PCs for campaign, the hero's journey and all that; but, particularly for one-shots, nothing prohibits you from creating older more experienced characters. I find it strangely mind-bending to say that, to have PCs to succeed at tasks that the average master should succeed at, the only solution is make them apprentices of exceptional talent (in fact, to make everyone an apprentice of exceptional talent) rather than a normal master.
The other is that the GM can always assess the difficulty of a task, and if it looks like something that the "average" professional should succeed at almost automatically, he should either give a substantial bonus, or assume that above a certain ML even MF is a "sort-of-ok" win. The Value Enhancement table and similar tables in weaponcraft, ship construction etc. are fine examples.

2. You say that you don't play RPGs to be a dirt-farmer. Again, I have two issues with this.
The first is that I play Harn to play a gritty game. There are many other games that are better suited for "inherently exceptional" PCs, but Harn is one of the best for nitty-gritty penny-counting. The 16 attributes, and sunsign bonus etc. are part of that. Of course, this is an issue of taste, to each his own. You may find that the free, lightweight Risus works better for you (it's really a fantastic system). Maladan Harabor: I-will-be-king 4, Sheriff-of-Meselyne 3, Others-are-tools 2, Royal-bastard 1.
The second is that (and I may not have been sufficiently clear on this) being exceptional is a matter of comparison. In Nobilis, you play beings who can just shoot down the sun with an arrow; but exactly because of this, a Noble who shoots down the sun is not exceptional save perhaps for his idiocy. The easiest way to make PCs exceptionally talented, is to make almost all NPCs they interact with of unexceptional talent. If published NPCs have scores of 18-20 in their 3-4 "work" stats (ok, an exaggeration), PCs will feel just second-class. Which brings us to the third point.

3. How is a 13 HRG PC (proud of being in the top 25%) going to know that every single guardsman in the caravan has HRG 16? Well, there are two possibilities. The first is that your PC does not interact meaningfully with those NPCs in terms of HRG; maybe he only has one big fight with them and the din is such that nobody can hear much. In this case, you are right, you really are not using the stat at all, so really, ANY value is as good as any other: from 3 to 18, or in fact from 01 to 30+. The second possibility is that your PC will interact meaningfully; perhaps not at vital tasks, but those guardsmen will catch words that he did not, will hear that tell-tale "crik" when he does not etc. A 1-point difference is going to be hard to tell apart, but 16 vs. 13 is already Sindarin vs. human. As a GM, I would emphasize that, in that company, he's the deaf guy. Players don't like that, because they feel that they should be special. Of course, you can avoid doing that, and fudge the numbers when hard mechanics are at play ... but then, isn't it better to just assign those guardsmen a plain 11 in HRG?

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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#49 Post by Targan » Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:39 am

The various iterations of the Harnmaster rules sets are my favourite systems of all time (and I've been playing RPGs for more than 35 years, so I do have a great many points of reference). I love Harnmaster's grittiness, but I have absolutely no expectation that players will enjoy playing run-of-the-mill, average characters. I make them well aware that their characters are exceptional. It's why I've been an enthusiastic adopter of Bill Gant's house rules regarding character generation.

NPCs are a slightly different story, and there's definitely a romantic attraction in the idea of a simple man, not gifted with exceptional attributes, making the best of his life and providing for his family in the face of grinding mediocrity, perhaps even occasionally rising above and doing something heroic. But when it comes to NPCs that are obviously candles burning slightly brighter in the world, I'm happy for them to have some higher-than-average stats that have helped them to make their mark and stand out. I think my PCs and players recognise when NPCs likely have some exceptional stats.

I guess it comes down to the flavour and tone you and your players are looking for.
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Re: A call for more "average" and "below average" NPCs!

#50 Post by Rothesay » Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:52 am

I'm not really sure what's going on in this thread since I cannot see certain posts. However, from what I can see, it appears many are being buffaloed. The putative notion of the thread is by no means the intent. :wink:

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