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  • Stating NPCs

    I started my RPG nightlife with 1e Requiem. So the assumptions and conventions of Onyx Path Publishing are my default.

    However, I am a convert to 5e and DM as often as I ST.

    One thing that has jumped out at me is that the general design of DnD doesn't expect the DM to make characters using the same rules as the players. NPC and such get monster stat blocks. This highlighted for me that I had defaulted to building all my NPCs in VtR games as with the same constrictions as the players.

    And this got me thinking: is that the intent of the design and what do others do?

  • #2
    I just wait until an NPC needs to make a roll and give them an appropriate dice pool, writing it down for later consistency. Absolutely no need to fully stat out 90% of NPCs.

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    • #3
      I usually go with a normal, best at, worst at system for most npcs.


      (he/him/his)


      Backer #2010

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      • #4
        If the NPC is meant for social use, I'll just put down a couple major personality traits: I mostly use CofD core's virtues and vices for inspiration for that, whether or not the NPC is mortal. If they're meant for combat use, I give them "best, worst, average" die pools, like Elves said. And for vampires in particular, I'll put down a rough sense of what disciplines they can use.

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        • #5
          So fast and loose is the general consensus?

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          • #6
            Looks like it. I'll scale it up based on importnace though. Nameless things, super simple named but not that important rough idea of personality, etc. Prince of the city, closer to a full sheet. That kinda thing.


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            Backer #2010

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            • #7
              I see the utility in that. Yet, though I can't fault it, I am surprised to realise I might have been over prepping my game worlds.

              Related then: Do you stat your world?

              I currently have a game going and as part of figuring it out, I have mind maps for each bloodline/family and every dot has a gender and covenant. So I know how many Carthian Venture there is, and their family relations before I know anything else about them. Next step, in my view, is given each vamp a basic profile: Mask, Dirge, Aspiration, Notable Traits, Entrouge.

              I feel all this is needed because politics depends on knowing the players. Plus, I find it shallow if a vamp can't at least name their rival.

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              • #8
                I'm running a play by post of the Changeling JumpStart right now and Ill share my notes for that, especially for characters that I have made outside of the JumpStart.

                Spoilered since I have players here who shouldnt look (I mean you Draconis ):


                Nevermore

                Characters
                Renee, Summer courtier, Suit of armour with fluer de lis



                Passyunk
                Motley thinks they might be Privateers

                Drive by shootings at nevermore

                Autumn court has been growing a goblins fruit (pruple fungus) that makes people restless, this helps them control peoples routes about town and generates a general sense of unease that makes harvesting fear Glamour easier.

                Spring court is harvesting desire from people waiting for cheese steaks, while the Summer court takes advantage of the rivalary between Pat's and Geno's (they do the same at the stadiums further south)




                Monarchs
                Summer King - Jazzer - Ogre - loudmouthed blowhard, tall with a large belly and gray hair.

                Contracts
                Paralyzing Presence
                Fae Cunning
                Vigilance of ares

                Summer mantle
                Armor 5/5

                Defense 6 (Wits 5/Dex 3 + Athletics 3)

                1 lethal damage


                Autumn King - Pusher - Darkling - Lebanese immigrant, now a pale thin stretched, almost ghastly sight to behold.

                Contracts
                Unravel the Tapestry

                Spring King- Alex 'The Hat' Christian - Wizened who's head is just a top hat with glasses. Likes to throw lavish parties


                Winter Monarch - Corinn(e) - bi gender (sometimes presents man, sometimes woman), water elemental (mantle makes it icy ) based rapier carrying, very reserved


                Other changelings

                Hammy - Beast( Hamster) - small of stature but talks a big game (and does so quickly) (Summer court)

                Tarzania - a wild woman, she spent her Durance surviving a jungle filled with prehistoric and fantasutcial creatures

                Maybach - Wizened - mechanic, posh but overraught about it , hunched with stringier hair and a pair of goggles instead of eyes, leather gloves for hands

                Armslenght - Shark person (agender) - there's also a cult like gang of 'the shark of South Philly' who secretly worship them

                Paulie - very mischeivious, a literal troll (which he actually finds quite funny, at least on the surface)

                Rue Bella - fancy looking lady with a dress made of blood, Fairest Gristlegrinder of the Autumn Court

                Contracts
                Witches intuition

                ??? - a Darkling Bright One

                Turt and tort - twin Gremlins, no one is sure if they were twins before their Durance, or even related. And given the way they work tigether, it's possible they aren't two separate people at all

                Mon Sakna - a dark skinned almost bestial looking creature, with bright points of stars on his skin and tail

                Simone - Helldiver


                Edit: I should add, since this is a PbP, I have time to add details as needed when a character comes up. For a in person or voice game, I'd wanna be a bit more detailed with numbers and contracts.
                Last edited by ElvesofZion; 06-14-2019, 04:07 PM.


                (he/him/his)


                Backer #2010

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
                  I see the utility in that. Yet, though I can't fault it, I am surprised to realise I might have been over prepping my game worlds.

                  Related then: Do you stat your world?

                  I currently have a game going and as part of figuring it out, I have mind maps for each bloodline/family and every dot has a gender and covenant. So I know how many Carthian Venture there is, and their family relations before I know anything else about them. Next step, in my view, is given each vamp a basic profile: Mask, Dirge, Aspiration, Notable Traits, Entrouge.

                  I feel all this is needed because politics depends on knowing the players. Plus, I find it shallow if a vamp can't at least name their rival.
                  I do, personally. I like having an idea of how large the overall population for a splat in a game setting is and how that population is split up among factions and the like. At the very least I tend to have the numbers worked out, with names and more details coming in as the NPC in question garners more facetime with the players.


                  "Pay no attention to the man behind the Storyteller!"
                  New Haven - 2e nWoD game set in southern Maine
                  Graven Lore - 2e multi-venue nWoD game

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
                    I started my RPG nightlife with 1e Requiem. So the assumptions and conventions of Onyx Path Publishing are my default.
                    Incidentally, Nightlife is the name of a less-known cousin of sorts of oWoD as a whole. Little bit of funny, random, useless trivia.


                    Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
                    So fast and loose is the general consensus?
                    Depends on occasion and mood, i would say - sometimes a NPC will just emerge in a certain way from your imagination, inspired by something else you had in mind - and well, if you already have some numbers, merits and such in mind, why not jot them down on paper or a txt/doc/whatever file? Sometimes i do full-on sheets, sometimes a key dice pool or two and leave at that. In fact i remember some of the Covenant-books having NPCs whose stats were very much the latter option.

                    I would say it's all a matter of convenience and dedication on a particular ST's part. More detailed NPCs tend to stick more in one's memory and so make it easier for one to mmake distinctive in the table and improvise with, at least in my personal experience.

                    Also, being sincere here, i have something of a habit of stealing NPCs from whichever sources strike my fancy and tweak to the setting i'm making.

                    For example, once when i assumed a friend's Requiem game set in Rio de Janeiro, i procceded to add a bunch of low- to mid-tier figures to the city - and well some of them were very much stolen Vampire: Bloodlines, though in most cases they would go through interesting changes as they made the jump from VtM to VtR (like Nines Rodriguez becoming Rodrigo Nunes, a Toreador black capoeirista and streetcar driver of the 30s with strong Carthian and sambista ties, or the Janete & Teresa being two literal souls dividing one body and a Dragolescu, the childe of my version of Strauss, to boot).

                    Some NPCs i make to define a local court or covenant's pecking order, some to serve as windows in time, exposing elements of a city's real life or supernatural history (for example, the "crias de chumbo" aka "childer of lead", a whole generation of people in the 60s-70s, rescued - bloodily, messily - from the military dictatorship's hideouts and embraced by Carthians & Dragons, as retaliation to the mess government intervention was making on their prefered herds and areas of influence among youth and intelligentsia), a few to add complications and twists - and in many cases a mix of two or more of these things.

                    So, overall i would say just go with your gut or convenience.
                    Last edited by Baaldam; 06-15-2019, 12:08 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
                      I started my RPG nightlife with 1e Requiem. So the assumptions and conventions of Onyx Path Publishing are my default.

                      However, I am a convert to 5e and DM as often as I ST.

                      One thing that has jumped out at me is that the general design of DnD doesn't expect the DM to make characters using the same rules as the players. NPC and such get monster stat blocks. This highlighted for me that I had defaulted to building all my NPCs in VtR games as with the same constrictions as the players.

                      And this got me thinking: is that the intent of the design and what do others do?
                      The Storyteller system intended PCs and NPCs to use the same character model. Early stat blocks for the Storytelling system followed this model, but by about 2006 we were starting to stat NPCs according to what we wanted them to do, which often meant shorter stat blocks focused on particular strengths and weaknesses.

                      By the time of the Chronicles of Darkness core book, we'd gone to mainly doing the "most frequent pools" method, but we put in a couple of frameworks for making NPCs at different levels of detail.

                      Overall, building NPCs from the same framework as PCs often makes them easier to visualize, but it's cumbersome.

                      When I run, I give NPCs Mental, Social, and Physical dicepools as I need them. These pools are usually slightly higher than PC pools to reflect that I don't give the NPCs skills.


                      Cavaliers of Mars Creator
                      Retired CofD Lead

                      Check out my guides to Vampire and my indie games!

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                      • #12
                        I personally give my NPCs sheets like PCs, but with a few differences:

                        I don't really bother with the Merits, other than give them Merits that would actually come up during interaction with the PCs.

                        For example, an Invictus Prince will probably have some Social Merits that might be useful when dealing with the players and his dots in Status might matter so I will add those to, but it isn't really going to matter how many dots in Contacts, Allies and Retainers he has. I just leave that off the sheet and give him whatever I want, whenever it serves the story, basically, because really, it isn't unfair to assume an Invictus Prince can have as many Contacts and Retainers as he wants, whenever he wants (perhaps not in a smaller city, but I'm assuming we're playing in a big metropolis here).

                        For smaller NPCs, like rival neonates, this might be a different story. A neonate isn't going to have all the Retainers and Contacts in the world, he might have one or two, but that's it. So at that point I'll consider what resources this neonate NPC actually might have and put those on his sheet.

                        I also never bother writing down which Blood Sorcery rituals or Scales of the Dragon the NPCs know. I give them dots in CrĂșac, Theban or Coils if needed, but when it comes to actual rituals, I'll decide which ones the character knows in the moment when it becomes relevant.

                        Touchstones is also not something I bother writing down for the NPCs, not beyond the first at least. I always give each vampire NPC one Touchstone in case the players use Auspex or otherwise try to acquire that information, but beyond that, I don't bother.

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