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1/11/2018 9:41 am  #1


Some NPC questions

I played the hell out of AD&D in the 80's, but honestly haven't returned to it until AS&SH. (Now I'll never leave again!)
Because of this I'm still getting my mind back around some of the concepts of class/level systems. 

Does anyone use the NPC classes from the old Dragon Mag for NPC's in AS&SH? Does anyone have a newer resource for NPC classes?

What do you do if you want an NPC with a few special skills, say a Police Inspector, Temptress, Bounty Hunter, etc.?

In AD&D I remember there were class/level NPC's walking around everywhere, but AS&SH seems to relegate most NPC's to 0-level, with levels 1-5 saved only for leaders and truly skilled individuals. Does this sound correct? (I'm in agreement with this line of thought, and its what I defaulted to back in the day as well.)
If this is true, and I'm making a generic troop of say Hyrkanians, who are noted as being some of the best archers, especially horse archers, would it be more in line with the game to make them all level 1 fighters and give them bow mastery, or to make them the standard 0-level but give them +1 hit and damage with short bow? Or, make them 0-level and forget the whole bow thing?

I'm just trying to entirely wrap my head around NPC design.


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
 

1/11/2018 10:05 am  #2


Re: Some NPC questions

The vast majority of NPC's in 1e are assumed to be 0 level "normal men" (which means not only that they haven't gained levels, but that they can't gain them); it's later versions of the game that have a lot of non-adventuring "classes" with levels (3rd level "experts" and "nobles" and the like). Comparing Swampgate and Hommlet, I don't believe AS&SH is greatly different from 1e in this respect. There are some classed NPC's of various levels, but most are "normal men" of 0 level.

If I wanted to give an NPC special skills or abilities, I would just do so; NPC's in Old School games don't have to follow the same rules as PC's. I probably wouldn't give 0 level NPC's any special combat bonuses. They might have a fearsome reputation against other 0 level NPC's, but in my view even 1st level fighters are "chosen of the gods" (until the gods decide to let them die from a giant centipede bite, of course) and should be able to put 0 level combatants in the shade. Just my opinion!

Last edited by Blackadder23 (1/11/2018 10:07 am)


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

1/11/2018 10:21 am  #3


Re: Some NPC questions

Blackadder23 wrote:

The vast majority of NPC's in 1e are assumed to be 0 level "normal men" (which means not only that they haven't gained levels, but that they can't gain them); it's later versions of the game that have a lot of non-adventuring "classes" with levels (3rd level "experts" and "nobles" and the like). Comparing Swampgate and Hommlet, I don't believe AS&SH is greatly different from 1e in this respect. There are some classed NPC's of various levels, but most are "normal men" of 0 level.

If I wanted to give an NPC special skills or abilities, I would just do so; NPC's in Old School games don't have to follow the same rules as PC's. I probably wouldn't give 0 level NPC's any special combat bonuses. They might have a fearsome reputation against other 0 level NPC's, but in my view even 1st level fighters are "chosen of the gods" (until the gods decide to let them die from a giant centipede bite, of course) and should be able to put 0 level combatants in the shade. Just my opinion!

This: even 1st-level PC's are a cut above the vast majority of NPC's, and only truly extraordinary NPC's should have a class and level above 0. With respect to the Hyrkanians example I'd probably describe them using Parthian shots, other trick shots, etc. (i.e., some of the AS&SH advanced combat maneuvers) without penalty, but no bonuses. Leaders would be the only ones with a class and level, much as followers attracted by PC's of high level.


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

1/11/2018 10:24 am  #4


Re: Some NPC questions

Thanks BA23 & Rhialto, that aligns pretty well with my thinking/hoping on the subject. 

Last edited by Grimmshade (1/11/2018 10:25 am)


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

1/11/2018 1:41 pm  #5


Re: Some NPC questions

Building the NPCs using character classes is actually one of the things I dislike in the AS&SH modules. I don't mind giving more HD for veterans and leaders and whatnot, but I virtually tream them as monsters and not characters. Shopkeepers, peasants, and townfolk don't even get 1 HD - they're just zero level, 1d4hp folks.

 

1/11/2018 2:28 pm  #6


Re: Some NPC questions

HI Grimmshade, excellent question. It looks like BA23 and Rhialto beat me to the punch. I use this as a rough gauge for level demographics in Hyperborea. I hope you find it helpful, it uses Conan and Thoth-Amon as examples. 


  • 0th: Most able-bodied humans
  • 1st: 1 in 12 - The best in an extended family
  • 2nd: 1 in 40 - The best in an estate or hamlet
  • 3rd: 1 in 100 - The best in a tiny barony or village
  • 4th: 1 in 200 - The best in a small barony or large village
  • 5th: 1 in 500 - The best in a barony or large village
  • 6th: 1 in 2,000 - The best in a march or town
  • 7th: 1 in 6,000 - The best in a county
  • 8th: 1 in 10,000 - The best in county
  • 9th: 1 in 30,000- The best in a small duchy or big city
  • 10th: 1 in 100,000 - The best in a duchy
  • 11th: 1 in 500,000 - The best in a principality
  • 12th: 1 in 1 million  - The best in a small kingdom or large principality
  • 13th: 1 in 2,500,000 - The best in a kingdom
  • 14th: 1 in 7,750,000 - The best in an empire

This gives a useful sense of scale and of threat level. For example, a 14th level wizard can threaten a kingdom. A 10th level fighter can threaten a duchy. A 9th level assassin is the terror of a city. A 6th level thief preys on the residents of a barony. It also lets us benchmark some famous heroes based on their reputation and area of operation:

  • Bilbo, most famous adventurer in the shire, was a 6th level Thief.
  • The Castellan of the Keep on the Borderlands, lord of a march, was a 6th level Fighter.
  • Sir Tristan, the best knight from the county of Cornwall, was a 7th level Fighter.
  • Robin Hood, hero of Nottingham County, was an 8th level Explorer.
  • Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, the best thieves in Lankhmar, are a 9th level Explorer and 9th level Thief.
  • Sir Gawain, the best knight from the principality of Orkney, was an 11th level Fighter.
  • Beowulf, who arrives to deal with the threat to the small kingdom of the Geats, was a 12th level Fighter.
  • Lancelot and Roland, the best in all of Dark Ages England and France respectively, were 12th level Fighters.
  • Merlin, the best magician in all of England, was a 12th level Mage.
  • Conan, conqueror of the kingdom of Aquilonia, was a 13th level Fighter.
  • Thoth-Amon, most powerful sorcerer-priest in Stygia, was a 13th level Chaotic Cleric.
  • Achilles, the best warrior on either side of the largest war of Antiquity, was a 14th level Fighter.
  • Elric, most powerful sorcerer of the vast Melnibonean Empire, was a 14th level Spellsword.

Last edited by Brock Savage (1/11/2018 2:29 pm)

 

1/11/2018 3:05 pm  #7


Re: Some NPC questions

Ynas Midgard wrote:

Shopkeepers, peasants, and townfolk don't even get 1 HD - they're just zero level, 1d4hp folks.

I used to feel the same way until I revisited old school material like City State of the Invincible Overlord. It dawned on me that in a big city, it's reasonable to assume that retired adventurers would often run the shops or taverns frequented by active adventurers. That being said, I agree that most peasants, shopkeepers, and townfolk are gonna be 0 level plebes.

 

1/11/2018 3:10 pm  #8


Re: Some NPC questions

Brock Savage wrote:

Ynas Midgard wrote:

Shopkeepers, peasants, and townfolk don't even get 1 HD - they're just zero level, 1d4hp folks.

I used to feel the same way until I revisited old school material like City State of the Invincible Overlord. It dawned on me that in a big city, it's reasonable to assume that retired adventurers would often run the shops or taverns frequented by active adventurers. That being said, I agree that most peasants, shopkeepers, and townfolk are gonna be 0 level plebes.

If you look at 1e cities like Lankhmar and Waterdeep, there are certainly a fair number of retired (and not so retired) adventurers. But there are also hundreds of "normal men" (at least) for every classed NPC. The proportions you cited a couple posts ago seem reasonable to me.


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

1/11/2018 6:19 pm  #9


Re: Some NPC questions

Brock Savage wrote:

I use this as a rough gauge for level demographics in Hyperborea. I hope you find it helpful, it uses Conan and Thoth-Amon as examples.

Thanks much, extremely useful! I will show this to my group, so they understand how lucky they are to be 7th level...http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

1/11/2018 9:38 pm  #10


Re: Some NPC questions

Thanks Brock, that's a pretty useful guideline.
Making higher levels rare just makes Class/Level systems work better. It's easy to see how Level represents high skill, etc. that way.


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

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