NPC Combat

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rgrove0172
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NPC Combat

Postby rgrove0172 » Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:58 pm

This is a question reguarding a situation Im sure you've all encountered in your gaming. I remember fretting over it years and years ago in my first game of D&D and its still here today.

Your playing with 2 buddies, they are each running a character and have 5 or 6 NPCs in thier group. Suddenly they are beset by crittters and the fight ensues. You spend a few moments with each player, detailing the events of thier own combat round then turn to the NPCs.

To do them justice, actually utilize the skills, feats, abilities and what not of those carefully crafted extras, it would take 10 minutes or longer while your players sat there waitiing. You cant tolerate that, it would ruin the pace of the game and destroy the excitement youve managed to create in the setting. So ... you fudge it.

You glance at the NPCs, take a look at thier opponants, maybe toss a die or two and extrapolate an outcome.

"Ok, you notice the other members of the party are locked in combat, you can hear the grunts and cries of the swirl all around you. Looks like the big Gunderman has smashed one of the things to the ground and another lies bleeding at the feet of the thief. Beloshe, the archer, however has dropped his bow and is furiously defending himself against two of the things that have him pinned against a tree."

The players all nod and then quickly embark on thier next round of battle.

Exciting? sure, but face it, you made it up!

Is this the way you run your games? Should it be? Should there be a system to quantify the results of combat outside the immediate influence of the players? Should a dedicated game-master actually play out all those NPC? Or if an particular action, such as a combat, doenst involve the player character directly does the GM have the right to just WILL it in any manner that best fits the adventure?

Comments?
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NPC battles and brawls

Postby Evil_Trevor » Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:53 pm

The whole point of RPG's is that the players are the heroes of the tale, NPC's are just the bit players so the game concentrates on the actions and outcomes of the P.C.s which means that the NPC's can be fudged as much as a G.M. desires.

Method 1. The NPC's hold thier own while the P.C.'s fight doing 'average' damage every other round and taking some damage roughly proportional to the p.c.'s (no dice rolling)

Method 2: if you have only 1 or 2 Npc's then give them an initative attack and damage roll. but don't dwell on thier combats

Method 3: With large numbers of NPC's just describe anything that impacts on a p.c. and roll 1d6 to see if npcs win or lose 1-3 they win 4-6 they lose, if the NPc's are better than the opposition roll 1-2 lose 3-6 win) one roll for all of them.

Method 4: try either a skirmish or full wargames system for big battles !
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Postby Sutek » Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:18 pm

I prefer having players run 2 characters to having 2 PCs and 5+ NPCs in a party. Inevitably, they pick a favorite and play that character predominantly, using the second character for skills and abilities that are party useful instead of character heavy.

With lots of NPCs, I justt kill 'em off. Lvl 1-3 goons are a dime a dozen in Hyboria...
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Postby Krushnak » Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:28 pm

if its a 'named' npc such as one vital to the adventure then i usually give them a proper round otherwise i generally just make it up to suit the style and pace of the current combat. an exciting and tense encounter is alot more fun than one that spends most of the time rolling dice for the npc's.

usually anymore than 5 npc 'mooks' on either side then i use the mass combat rules for them and roll their attack and damage as a unit.
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Postby Bjorn the Barbarian » Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:42 pm

I'm with Sutek in that I have each player run two PCs as well. This seems to work out best and the players seem to enjoy the fact that they can play two totally different types of PCs if they wish. 8)
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Postby Oly » Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:43 pm

I tend to try and avoid having large numbers of NPCs with the party, thankfully it's not happened that often. When it has occurred I use the techniques that others have already highlighted. For large group combats I'll use some quick mass combat system to handle them, bigger NPCs will get their own "proper" rounds.

As for feats well I don't usually bother with them for NPCs. Named ones might have a feat or two that they'll use as a signature but mooks, as a rule, won't.

When I've had a small number of mooks with the group I occasionally allow the players to take one or two of them each. As a rule I try and avoid that though and just deal with it myself using the methods above.
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Postby rgrove0172 » Thu Oct 12, 2006 5:33 pm

Thanks for the response! Its always been a hassle for me. Ill spend a lot of time detailing the NPC, not only as I think it adds to the flavor and depth of the game, but its fun too! Then, when the game is in session, I find myself almost compeletly ignoring the details and just chucking these extras aside right and left like so much fodder. I always remind myself to forego all the details and just do the "Basics" for the NPCs, but its a habit I have a hard time breaking.

Very large battles, with maybe 20 or more guys per side are a breeze with any of a number of mass combat systems. Its those small groups that cause a problem. 4 or 5 party members against 12 mooks for example. Just big enough to really slow things down but not big enough to abstract.
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Sutek
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Postby Sutek » Thu Oct 12, 2006 6:09 pm

Think of this point also: More hangers-on means more people to split the loot with. Sometimes "accidents" can happen and in a combat, with all the confusion, anything can happen...

:wink:
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rgrove0172
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Postby rgrove0172 » Thu Oct 12, 2006 6:58 pm

I suppose part of the problem is my tendency toward military actions in my games. My players are frequently soldiers of some sort, common enough in the militaristic Hyborian age. I rarely have your typical "adventure" party, but rather a group of fighting men. So an inordinate number of my games in the past have included these large groups of NPCs.
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Postby Bjorn the Barbarian » Thu Oct 12, 2006 6:59 pm

Sutek,

I like the way you think. :twisted:

"There is no honor among thieves." -- Unknown
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Sutek
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Postby Sutek » Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:26 pm

Thieves?!?!?

There's barely honor amongst anyone if you're playing this game right...

LOL
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Postby Bjorn the Barbarian » Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:11 pm

That is true. I'll rephrase .......

"There is a lack of honor among certain adventurers." This should be PC enough. :lol:
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Sutek
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Postby Sutek » Fri Oct 13, 2006 3:13 pm

Personally I prefer: "Honor is relative."

:lol:
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Postby DaveNC » Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:27 pm

With a small number of players, we'll usually have each player play two characters, instead of having a bunch of NPC around. If there still isn't enough characters for a particular adventure, we'll just pare down the number of obstacles/oponents to make it a little more even. If we do have some NPCs in the party, we'll have them "lock up" one opponent for the majority of the battle, taking and giving minimal damage each round until combat is over. They won't really contribute much to the combat, unless it is done on pupose to advance the story.
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