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Old 02-03-2021, 02:03 AM
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Southernap Southernap is offline
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Default NPC generation

Okay, so the question of the day is NPC generation.

Trying to get some other stuff built up before my gaming session comes together. Trying to build a stable of both stock and "story" NPCs. Wanted to ask what is everyone's favorite way to go about it for both?

I am going to be using V2.0 rules, but have all three major rule sets (V1, V2.0, V2.2). There isn't much change between NPC generation between the two major version. At least for the idea of stock character generation. Draw two cards from a standard deck of cards. Then pick if they a novice, experienced, veteran, or elite status. Assign some basic stats and skills in to sort of fill in for what their stock role will allow. As the book says, the easiest way is a 3x5 tabbed note card and just draw as required to have my players face. That is some fun for an hour of just creating everything from the generic faceless goons, to the random shop keep, doctor, vagabond, etc that I sort of expect my players to run across. These all are disposable and can easily be recycled fast.

Rather its the "story" NPCs are the ones with the names and they are the plot points. It is here where I am getting stuck and wish that GDW has some speedier way to create some of these sort of folks in the game. What I am looking for is a way to create one of these larger and maybe recurring characters that has more than just some basic combat skills or basic level attributes.

The only way of the top of my head is to actually roll through character creation, but instead of letting randomness of the dice pick out some of the skills and life choices is make these choices myself.
To explain that better, say I want a town leader who maybe has a honorable but greedy motivation is high in the charismatic skills like persuasions and leadership but low in say farming or even combat skills, has attributes all over the place.
So I would just be picking off the charts and building the character that way.

Or would it be better just to roll up some characters like I would as if they were going to be characters I would actually play, but try and make them to become NPCs instead. So try and roll up an espionage themed agent to say represent a CIA/DIA/KGB NPC that will be a thorn on the side of the players for part of my campaign? See where my dice lead me and file them away for later use.

What says the crowd? What have your experiences been in this situation as a GM?
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Old 02-03-2021, 02:06 AM
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Oh and I should add while digging around for some random dice rollers. I happen to find this random card puller that can allow you to pull 2 cards randomly from a deck of 52. Might be useful for some.
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Old 02-03-2021, 05:23 AM
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I think to a certain extent it depends how detailed you want your NPCs to be. For your town leader Id be inclined to allocate him / her levels what I deemed to be the relevant skills. For example Id maybe give them Leadership: 10, Persuasion: 10. For a village mechanic Id do the same but allocate them levels in Mechanic and Machinist, maybe Electronics, etc, etc. Then maybe a few others dependent on their background - e.g. is s/he former military - if so add Small Arms 6, or maybe Heavy Gun if they were artillery. If the village relies on horses a lot for transport add levels in Riding and so on. Id look at maybe giving them competency in four or five skill levels.

You can probably get a feel for what levels to give them by how you imagine them. A super charismatic head man would warrant a higher skill level than someone whos muddling along as best as they can.

Id only roll an NPC up in the same way as a character if I wanted them to be a Star NPC, preferably one that would play a recurring role in the campaign (like the example you gave of the CIA/DIA/KGB dude - that I would roll up). If I was rolling in the same way as a character though Id make the choices myself rather than rely on random dice roll. In particular Id choose when the War was going to start and motivations (Ive rarely used the rules as written to randomly draw motivation cards for NPCs - Id almost always choose based on how I imagine the NPC).
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Old 02-03-2021, 05:52 AM
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This random generator tool i made needs work (as some traits are opposite and some should be dependent on others), but I find it interesting to look at the strongest and weakest traits and try to imagine the person.

https://games.juhlin.com/tools/traits.html

Eventually I will pull out the traits that are related to attributes (fine coordination and coordination = dex/agl) and for example Articulateness would be dependent on charm (CHR) and so on.

The traits are pulled from a list that was used in westworld to describe how the -- SPOILER - highlight text to view --
robots
-- END OF SPOILER -- acted. Names are generated from US Census data.

Edit These are some of my thought on how to match up traits. (I made them generic as I hope to have this work for many games)
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Last edited by kato13; 02-03-2021 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 02-03-2021, 02:48 PM
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Default Hybrid Model

To save time and effort, I generally stick to a hybrid approach combining the v1 playing card system for motivation and personality, and the v2.2 NPC rank system (Elite, Veteran, Experienced, etc.) for ability/skills. In my experience, that's all a Ref really needs, even for a major/recurring NPC.

I really like the playing card system. As a GM, one can use it to generate random NPCs; as a content creator, it's a simple, elegant way to describe pre-gen'd NPC for Ref's. For example, if an NPC's cards indicate selfishness and cowardice, the rest of his/her personality is pretty easy to figure out.

The v.2.2 NPC rank table gives a simple breakdown of ability/skill levels for various ranks of NPC. That's all you need for skill check rolls. I differentiate a bit based on NPC role, so an Elite level NPC doesn't have elite ranks in all skills, but only in skills that apply to their particular role, and so forth. For example, an Elite infantry NPC would have elite ranks in infantry combat skills, but not for air/sea/land vehicle operation or non-combat skills. An Elite civilian doctor NPC would have elite level in medical skills, but novice skills in combat.

Anyway, I've found this combo saves a lot of time on major NPC creation, but still results in fairly rich, easily playable NPCs.

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Last edited by Raellus; 02-03-2021 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 02-07-2021, 10:36 PM
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Thanks all definitely food for thought as I am trying to get back into gaming and find some other way to make for some fun over the weekends or week days with friends via our electronic links.

I think I will probably use the rules as written for some generics NPCs (you know the goon squads or the basic merchants or the traveling hobo the players may run across). I might go through the whole rolling up some NPCs as if they were characters for my "Star NPCs" that I want in the campaign with maybe emphasis on certain skills depending on the need as I am drafting the campaign.

This is the hardest part I think of any TTRPG. Is coming up with some good non-players to fill out the world. It was nice in V2.0 for GDW to come up with some stock character types for GMs to photo copy and use. Still it would have been more interesting if they found a way to have some better way or even a quick worksheet, NPC character sheet to create some more indepth NPCs.
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