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[V5] Tips to create NPCs ?

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  • [V5] Tips to create NPCs ?

    Hi,

    I have a problem concerning the NPCs in the game : I was creating some of them for my chronicles, and in order not to make them too powerfull, I gave them 1 experience point by year of vampiric life.

    And I compared them to the vampire NPCs depicted in the chapters Antagonists. I noticed something : this vampires are way too strong for the "one year - one experience point" system I thought about. The Elesyum Harpy has something like 180-exp, the Anarch 250-exp, and the Noddist and the Sheriff surpass 400-exp.


    Does anybody has any tips to create NPCs and make it worthy ?

  • #2
    No, that seems pretty appropriate for vampires who are well over 100 years old. People obey the will of the elders specifically because the Elders are powerful enough to stomp them into the pavement, if they felt so inclined to do so. If Elders were only slightly more powerful than the youngsters, nobody would take them seriously.

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    • #3
      NPC Power is an issue in most RPGs because people often conflate XP Totals with Character Functionality. An NPC with 1000 xp more or less wasted on random skills, backgrounds, and attributes won't be able to hold a candle to the potential of a focused character build with only 100 xp.

      I have routinely traumatized my players using NPCs which are made using character generation rules or less than 50 xp post character generation. The Players keep coming back for more games so I guess it isn't a major problem for them, regardless how much they twitch when I mention certain NPCs. It is all about how you use the NPC that matters.

      Back in V20 a starting character assamite could hunt werewolf packs successfully simply by being played in the right way. A Tremere who used the Path of Conjuring was far scarier just by having a chemistry background and using some unusual chemicals or using chemical properties in creative ways. I know you are asking about V5 rather than V20 but the rule set doesn't really matter as much as how you approach the NPC design and implementation.

      Think about how to make the NPC fight smarter, rather than fighting by brute strength granted by xp totals. Of course you don't want to create a total marry sue, so you then add some specific short comings to the NPC. They could have a bias that routinely makes them under estimate the potential of a certain group or ethnicity, they could be techno-phobic and have a hard time dealing with technology, they could have an easily injured ego which means your players could manipulate the NPC into attacking some one else. You get the idea.

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      • #4
        I don't mean this in any snarky way at all... but why would you care about your NPC's experience point totals?

        Give them whatever you want. Seriously.

        It's your world... the PC's just live there.

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        • #5
          I always got the impression that set experience limits were really there to ensure that PCs were balanced, especially in large games, but NPC power levels were entirely at ST discretion.

          But I recognise that's likely not helpful in context to your NPC creation, so I'll recommend the same thing I'm using for my own currently-occurring NPC creation: put caps on the increasing of attributes, skills and disciplines, but don't cap their advantage/background/loresheet dots - there's only so fast that someone can build brainpower or learn the fine art of splitting engine blocks with werewolf faces, but vamps are big on influence and political networks, and it wouldn't be unreasonable to see an enterprising young Kindred have low double-digit ratings (10 to 20) in allies, mawla, retainers, status and so on by the time they hit ancilla age.

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          • #6
            When creating NPC's I tend to largely ignore experience points and stats. I make note of their generation, status, disciplines and things like merits and flaws and I give each one a single paragraph of info, almost like a bio. This then informs all my decisions when it comes to dice rolls that they might get involved with. I have over 300 NPC's floating around in my WOD, the vast majority of which are my own creations rather than being cannon characters. Giving each one their own character sheet or figuring out all their stats would be far too much hard work.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jeevesosiris View Post
              When creating NPC's I tend to largely ignore experience points and stats. I make note of their generation, status, disciplines and things like merits and flaws and I give each one a single paragraph of info, almost like a bio. This then informs all my decisions when it comes to dice rolls that they might get involved with. I have over 300 NPC's floating around in my WOD, the vast majority of which are my own creations rather than being cannon characters. Giving each one their own character sheet or figuring out all their stats would be far too much hard work.
              Over 300? Damn, son! And I thought having around 70 was a lot!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by GilbyTheFat View Post
                Over 300? Damn, son! And I thought having around 70 was a lot!
                Some of us -- and I'm going to go ahead and lump Jeevesosiris in with myself here -- are incurable world-builders.

                We keep at this shit even when we are in dry spells with no players.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Legendre View Post

                  Some of us -- and I'm going to go ahead and lump Jeevesosiris in with myself here -- are incurable world-builders.

                  We keep at this shit even when we are in dry spells with no players.

                  Yup, lumped in there with you my friend.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jeevesosiris View Post


                    Yup, lumped in there with you my friend.
                    Second person to jump in there.

                    There's a reason I have over a thousand hours on Cities Skylines, and more hours than I can count detailing the Kindred side of those settings as well.

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                    • #11
                      When doing this for V5 for the first time, I selected pictures I like, assigned generation & blood potency, discipline levels based on blood potency, and a dice pool for Physical, Social, Mental tasks. But instead of a dice pool, you could just use a difficulty. Including merits and flaws is a good idea, that I didn't do at that time.Then I wrote a very short blurb each vampire.

                      I used to try and follow the methods set forth in the various vampire sourcebooks and city books. But looking at the new Chicago by Night that process now seems to be too cumbersome and involved to be worthwhile for home games.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Murder-of-Crows View Post
                        But looking at the new Chicago by Night that process now seems to be too cumbersome and involved to be worthwhile for home games.
                        Have you considered using the CbN SPC template for the big cheeses and then using the method you outlined for the rest of the SPCs? That might allow some liberty to flesh out the really important folks without having to go nuts on every SPC.

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                        • #13
                          Personally? I do the NPCs history/background first, then let that be my guide of sorts about what kind of attributes, skills or disciplines he or she possesses.
                          What story do i want to tell of the city and the Jyhad, what elements of either does this NPC serves as a window for? This is the defining point for everytthing else, imho.

                          Anything relevant to the NPC characterization should be around 2-3, anything noteworthy, around 3-4, 5s are for those overwhelming talented/dedicated/experienced in their area of expertise and you can bet they will be infamous about it among the kindred if they didn't take some serious effort to downplay how good they are. 6+ is for insane monsters with the power to mess whole domains, regions or countries at the reach of their fingertips.

                          At least that's how i scale things when it comes to atributes, skills & backgrounds. With disciplines, 1-2 for relevant, 2-3 for noteworthy, 4-5 for "wow" should be ok, specially if you tinker with breadth instead of depth - or some discipline combos for "unique" tricks and aces in the hole.

                          You might count XP later, to serve as a gauge to compare NPCs of similar age so they don't end (too) unbalanced between each other.
                          But some unbalance is ok, to reflect things like degree of activity, talent, focus, torpor and other elusive bits that might affect a kindred's overall capacities.

                          Just my personal tips/method to this madness. Hope it helps.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
                            Anything relevant to the NPC characterization should be around 2-3, anything noteworthy, around 3-4, 5s are for those overwhelming talented/dedicated/experienced in their area of expertise and you can bet they will be infamous about it among the kindred if they didn't take some serious effort to downplay how good they are. 6+ is for insane monsters with the power to mess whole domains, regions or countries at the reach of their fingertips.

                            At least that's how i scale things when it comes to atributes, skills & backgrounds. With disciplines, 1-2 for relevant, 2-3 for noteworthy, 4-5 for "wow" should be ok, specially if you tinker with breadth instead of depth - or some discipline combos for "unique" tricks and aces in the hole.
                            That is both a very nice set of scales and an excellent explanation of how they are employed. I think that everyone has at least a *slightly* different notion of what the various levels stand for in terms of "how much better than the rest of the world are you?", but from a story perspective (which is a useful perspective you don't see often) this is fantastic. Thank you.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Legendre View Post

                              That is both a very nice set of scales and an excellent explanation of how they are employed. I think that everyone has at least a *slightly* different notion of what the various levels stand for in terms of "how much better than the rest of the world are you?", but from a story perspective (which is a useful perspective you don't see often) this is fantastic. Thank you.

                              I'm happy that they are entertaining and hope they prove useful to you too.

                              I guess years (read, decades) of dealing with NPCs with either little to no backstory/stats connect - or runaway special snowflake/dot wall syndrome - did help me with getting a solid sense of how i actually wanted NPCs to be like, at least.

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