'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Showing posts with label In Her Majesty's Name. Show all posts
Showing posts with label In Her Majesty's Name. Show all posts

Monday, December 10, 2018

NPCs: A Codified Approach to the Man on the Street.

In a general session of play, you as GM may have a series of NPCs that you are aware of. A cast of characters you expect your players to interact with. You have an idea about them and how the interaction will go. You have at least some idea of how the social encounter will work. This article is generally not about those cases, although it may act as a guide to flesh those characters out if you generally haven't and have trouble figuring out how you want to role play them.

This is an approach to NPCs that will hopefully help you have better social interactions between your players and the cast of characters that populate your world. Not just the few have prepared in advance but everyone the PCs encounter. They are, after all, representing people with their own lives and aspirations, even if the PCs only encounter them during a single session. I am going to present a basic framework to help you give your NPCs more life, more direction, which in turn will allow you as the GM to role play them better.

It's easy to want to boil these encounters down to a single roll of the die or an opposed test and go from there, and I won't tell you this doesn't have it's place. Instead this framework will allow you to use these rolls and give these NPCs desires to resist, or be difficult. Should the random guy on the street be as willing to help as someone the PCs have known, will bribing them be a way to get more information? I believe that simply boiling the encounter to a simple set of dice rolls is short changing a potentially rich encounter that may lead down different paths. Maybe that dancer they just tried to get information from is actually in cahoots with the villian and is laying a trap for the PCs? The possibilities!

The Framework

I see us needing to have a few known things to really flesh out the NPCs: What do they want? What is their disposition towards the players and what motivates the them? Certainly you can answer more questions about them, but I think knowing these three simple things will allow you to really add some realism to these people.

The Disposition of the NPC

If we accept the NPCs disposition is separate from their personality or charisma, then we must define it. Mechanically I see a scale, in the middle I see someone who is neutral, who just doesn't care. They might help. They might not. For this I think a simple social test at a basic difficulty is a fine way to determine if the NPC will be somewhat helpful or disinterested. I don't see this as an outward showing by the NPC towards the players, simply a concept of how easily they can be swayed.

As we move away from the middle of the scale we get the two basic dispositions you might encounter: positive and negative. One end of the scale is an NPC who thinks of the PCs as good friends and is willing to help them, go out of the way for them, maybe even endanger themselves. On the other end is an NPC who is openly hostile or rude to the PCs. Someone who hates them and who might become something more to them in an antagonistic way in the future.

I would probably leave the far ends of the scales alone for random NPCs unless the PCs have had numerous positive or negative dealings with the NPC.

What does the NPC want?

What the NPC wants can have a direct impact on their disposition. If they want to steal or cause harm to the PCs they are more likely to have a negative disposition towards the PCs. Is the NPC someone who wants something from the players? Is he a merchant looking to sell, or perhaps someone who needs something recovered? Or do they just want to be left alone to go about their business, that is probably the case of the neutrally disposed NPC.

Knowing what the NPC wants is something we should determine first and from there we can use this to determine a more accurate disposition for the NPC.

The Motivation of the NPC

The thing that motivates the NPC is something a player can use to change her disposition in their favor making social encounters easier? Is it money? Money is probably a motivator for a lot of people and is the easiest one for the players to figure out. Bribing someone with cash can be the easiest way to change there disposition towards a character. Of course there is probably a few people out there that will see an attempted bribe as an insult and may move disposition away from the players.

Maybe something else motivates them though, which could make things more interesting: family, friends, trinkets, food, jewels. You can use these to help flesh out the NPC. If the NPC is motivated by jewels, perhaps she is adorned in several of them, or mentions them in conversation. Likewise someone motivated by fine wine, might be overweight, or have a winejug with them. These small details might be picked up by the players making observation tests to determine more information about the NPC.

The NPCs motivation might not be something useful at all. The motivation of someone not motivated by money, who will do anything for their family, might not be useful to the players, unless they can determine that and are willing to do something....unsavory.

Quick Random NPC Tables

Now that we have a framework to build NPCs from, sometimes when the players encounter someone, or force and encounter with someone you will need to determine something about that NPC beyond basic stats. A few quick tables and a roll of a few D6 can generate this quickly and easily.

You can of course simply pick how you want the NPC to act, or build their framework however you want, but we all like rolling dice.

What do they want?
1 - Left alone (+)
2 - Left alone (-)
3 - Help finding something (+)
4 - Help finding someone (+)
5 - Rob the PCs (-)
6 - Lure the PCs into a trap(--)
Disposition
1 - Negative
2 - Negative
3 - Neutral
4 - Neutral
5 - Positive
6 - Positive
Motivated by Money?
1 - No
2 - Yes
3 - Yes
4 - Yes, but expensive
5 - Yes, but expensive
6 - Expensive and insulted by low offers
Other Motivation
1 - None
2 - None
3 - Delicacies
4 - Jewels
5 - Trinkets
6 - Family

So we roll 4d6 and consult the tables to describe the social aspects of the NPC. You will not that under the column, "What do they want?" each entry has a (+) or a (-) on it. Each + or minus will shift the disposition one direction, one step. So a (+) would move a hostile disposition to neutral and likewise a (--) would move a positive disposition to a negative one.

Lets see this idea in action

Your players are on a mission to rescue the king's beautiful daughter, the Princess of Zamora. They haven't simply ridden out to the evil Wizard's mountain as you expected, instead they have decided to hit the local tavern and see if they can glean any information from the tavern goers.

You are not really prepared for this, but as a good GM you have a set of generic human stats just in case, but of course these are not all generic people. The party warrior approaches someone at the bar and engages them in conversation........You as the GM, quickly roll 4d6.....and roll: 4,4,5,6. Suddenly the random generic tavern goer is someone in need of help, perhaps his own kin has been taken by the wizard, or maybe a more mundane kidnapping, either way as the PCs approach he sees warriors and maybe hope in finding his lost friend or family. He will react positively to the PCs, at least initially, although he *IS* motivated by money, he is expensive, but can also be swayed by family.

Now we have more than just a block of stats, now we have a somewhat fleshed out NPC that we put together at the drop of a hat with a few rolls on a very basic set of tables. How many options these tables get is limited only by you imagination and the world the NPC lives in.

Until Next Time. Keep it Weird!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Episode 34: The Rope Bridge.

The rope bridge is a classic in adventure scenes. It even has it's own entry on tvtropes.org, have a look, http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RopeBridge



Do you have one or two built for your D&D, Pathfinder or other RPGs? If not you have come to the right place. I am going to show you how to build a pretty simple bridge from basic materials: a bamboo matt, some XPS Styrofoam, chipboard and glue.

You can build it exactly like I did, or you can use this as inspiration and go your own way. The sky is the limit, or maybe the depth of the chasm is limited only by your imagination.

The video is available now on my YouTube channel, so swing by and have a watch!


Monday, April 18, 2016

Great Magics of the 1890s: In Her Majesty's Name.

This past Sunday the Skirmish club got together and played a three way scenario devised by one of our members.


Each player was given a primary and secondary objective and a starting point.  Initiative was randomized via a small deck of cards.  This deck also included effects such as Dust, Darkness and Wind.

I believe VP were awarded as.
20 - Primary
10 - Secondary
5- Leader kill
2- Regular kill



Our original deployment.  Three companies approach the ruins of an old temple.  Rumors say that within it are objects of great magic.

Central Asian Agency deployment.

Our first moves.

Mongols ride for the cover of the forest, feinting towards the breech in the wall to gain access to the magic items.  The objects are secondary to me though, striking down the enemy and killing their leaders is my primary goal.  Crush your enemies.  See them driven before you.  Hear the lamentation of their women.  Sadly my dogs took a bullet, but being the troopers they are, remain in the game.

Second round, Mongols continue their feint, Jeremy's forces split moving through the gate and towards the temple, I rush my dogs in to attack and pin some forces effectively splitting his forces.  On our right Greg moves his units unmolested up to the walls and proceeds to gain entry into the temple complex.  Dust clouds sweep into the valley causing reduced visibility and essentially reducing ranged weapons.  This favors my units.

Dogs rushing into combat!

Mongol leader continues to move towards the entrance! 

Mongols move into the attack, pressing their advantage of strength into Jermey's now split forces.  The Dust has settled but Darkness has settled across the land causing confusion and reducing ranged combat again.  Gregs forces continue to take up firing positions on the wall while I fight against Jermey's forces in hand to hand.

Result of the close combat results in one of my dogs dying as well as Jeremy losing two of his units.  The Mongol leader pulls Jeremy's two other units away from their search for treasure.


(I think I missed a turn of combat in here, pretty sure I eliminated Jeremy's leader in my leaders first move across the trees, freeing the dog to attack)

The next round sees howling winds sweep down causing a small amount inaccuracy to long ranged weapons, but generally does not effect any of us.  The Yeti also moves into combat to help the war dog.

The Mongol leader leaves Jermey's last two isolated units to cross the trees and enter combat

Greg's firing positions.  This turns poorly as conditions finally favor shooting and he begins to unload arc cannons on us.

The Mongols move in and attack the robot, on moving into combat each Mongol has a +8 to hit, but with only a -1 to pluck rolls they fail to do more than harass the machine.

The next round sees the Yeti free and able to move into combat.  Also enjoying a +8 to attack rolls and a -2 to pluck the group finally brings down the Robot.

(The next round has the Mongols ride out into a line and open fire on Greg's leader, but as he retreats into cover we are unable to score a hit.  Unfortunately I am not so lucky and an arc cannon lights up a horseman and he falls dead)


Now I have two options.  Flee the field as I have no chance of killing the rest of Greg's forces or......Charge into combat against his leader. 

I choose combat.

Our first round ends in s stalemate, and in the second round I lose initiative, but I am able to move my war dog into combat as well.

The unfortunately proves bad for me as his attack kills my leader first before my Mongols manages to bring down his leader.

At this point Greg has not managed to uncover any of the Magic Items, and despite killing a few of my guys my victory point total is higher at the end due to a lot of bloodshed and killing of leaders.  One as an objective and one just as a combat.

Overall it was a fun game with decent rolls on my side, Jeremy was just learning the game and getting his forces split really hurt him, as well as a few rounds of reduced range.  I enjoyed the initiative system combined with battlefield effects.

The reduced range gave me a fairly large benefit I think.  Half of my units don't have ranged weapons and the ones that do, don't use them that much. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Central Asian Agency - IHMN

Quite a bit of progress on my company for "In Her Majesty's Name".

First up, a mission statement:

A loose confederation of governments with interests in the steppe regions. Using their collective strengths they attempt to recover supernatural and technological marvels before the West.


What this means?  I am largely ignoring the politics of the steppe region.  In my world the governments there openly fought over their interests in that region, but globally knew the West was a far greater danger and so formed a loose alliance.  Mongols, Russians, Tibetans.


First up:
Mongols.  I have been detailing my horse painting, but as our first game approached I moved onto the riders.



Mongols on their temporary steeds for painting.  Various stages.

Mongols painted and pinned to their horses.  Riding into battle.
Next up:
Tibetans.  I have very few fantastical elements in my force so I went a little more fun with my Tibetan guys.

Yeti with a base coats of various blue colors.


Yetis more or less leady to kick some ass.



Finally:
Russians.

Nothing even remotely close to completed here.  I have on the table some riflemen from Siberia and a female heroine to lead the company.
Central Asian Agency.




Friday, March 11, 2016

Horses.

The clubs next planned set of rules is "In Her Majesties Name".  Essentially a VSF/Steampunk type ruleset.  It is set in the 1890s with the World's powers seeking new technology and artifacts.

My band will be an alliance of those types found around Central Asia, not wholly a government that existed, or that on the surface were talking hospitably in those days.  In the back rooms, in the dark corners, an alliance was reached and a band of Russian and Mongols formed to seeking power for both their people.

The current band is planned as a unit of Mongols (Mounted), a unit of Siberian riflemen (foot), some dogs and a couple of yetis.


The first few posts in this series are going to focus on the Mongol side of things and the first will go over horses.



Basic horse crazy glued to cavalry base and then smoothed out with 2 part putty.


Base with Vallejo Grey pumice added for texture.


Horse blocked out in a Black Brown for a base color.


Horse with color layers built up over the body of the horse. Saddle and reins painted as well.


Black wash applied at creases.


Umber and soft tone washes added to entire model.


Essentially finished model.  Ended up redefining the reins again, as I felt the washes diluted things too much.

Finished horse.