Handling Other NPC's in Combat

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HunterGreen
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Re: Handling Other NPC's in Combat

Post by HunterGreen » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:08 pm

There is a table very similar to Halbarad's that's part of the adventure "Of Leaves And Stewed Hobbit" in Tales from Wilderland, so that approach is certainly "official" -- in fact, I was thinking of posting it until I saw someone else had already covered that ground. If it bothers you that this doesn't allow for the skill level of the ally-NPC to come into play, you can always give some NPCs a +1 or -1 to the roll.

Of Leaves and Stewed Hobbit simplifies things farther by having the ally NPCs fighting a different set of goblins than the PCs, but it wouldn't be hard to use the same approach by letting the results of the ally NPCs affect some of the same enemies as the PCs.

I'd also allow a PC to use a combat task like Protect Companion on an NPC if the circumstances warranted it.
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Glorelendil
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Re: Handling Other NPC's in Combat

Post by Glorelendil » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:13 pm

I guess the question is, for whose benefit is the dice rolling? For whom does it make the game more fun? If the answer is the LM because sometimes it's fun to 'play' a character then...well, that's fine, because the LM should be having fun, too. But it should at least be acknowledged that this is the case.

By the way, one other technique I've seen used is that each time a player rolls a Gandalf or Eye of Sauron it influences how the LMCs are faring.
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Halbarad
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Re: Handling Other NPC's in Combat

Post by Halbarad » Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:49 pm

Indeed Glorendil, the LMs enjoyment is quite often forgotten about. LMs are people too. :)

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Re: Handling Other NPC's in Combat

Post by Halbarad » Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:54 pm

@Huntergreen

It was that table that inspired mine, as I'm sure you've guessed. That particular one is situation specific though, where I have attempted to put together something that can be used on the fly in almost any situation.

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Majestic
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Re: Handling Other NPC's in Combat

Post by Majestic » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:52 pm

I think your table is excellent and makes a lot of sense, Halbarad! It's very similar to the one in Tales, and it allows for a quick resolution to keep things brisk, while allowing for a certain amount of randomness.
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Falenthal
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Re: Handling Other NPC's in Combat

Post by Falenthal » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:38 pm

What I like is to have different options, depending on the situation and what I (as LM) am looking for in terms of narrative by including an NPC in a combat.

If I introduce Radagast, Gandalf, Beorn, etc in a combat situation, I'm pretty sure I won't allow the NPC to die because of some bad rolls. I won't even bother giving them Endurance points. Their role in the combat will be very much controlled by me because of some dramatic reason. See, for example, the role of Gandalf in the last adventure of Ruins of the North. They will either become a mechanic effect that helps the heroes ("everytime a Gandalf is rolled, everyone recovers 1d6 Endurance points because Radagast is healing you with his magic"), or someone who is doing something important while the players keep the enemies at bay.

Other times, I will introduce NPCs that can be killed because that uncertainty is where the drama is. Then, I might use a table like Halbarad's (very good stuff!) so that the PCs really take actions to prevent the danger of death. Protect Companion could target the NPC, Rally Comrades would recover his Endurance too, Engaging his enemies to try to kill them before they hit the NPC,... In this situation, of course, my adventure should contemplate both outcomes: the surviving and the death of the NPC. This way of handling and NPC would be interesting in rescue missions, and with secondary NPCs the players have becomend attached to. Think of Amaleolda when defending the Black Tarn against an attack by Giant Spiders, for example. Her death wouldn't change the Darkening of Mirkwood campaign in the core plots, but could be a very, very dramatic turnpoint for some heroes.

Still another situation would be where the present NPCs aren't important, but the fact that good (anonymous) people die when battling the Shadow is important for me. Then, I can use the system of "1 Free People dies when someone rolls a Sauron, 1 Shadow creature dies when a Gandalf is rolled". The escorts from Bree at the Ringfort, in Of Leaves And Stewed Hobbit, could very well fulfill this role. Players don't want them to die, of course, but if they do, the plot isn't compromised AND the drama is increased.

And finally, in some situations, I don't even bother about the NPCs. I don't use any system or mechanic to keep control of how they are faring in a combat. I just describe their situation to the players as I see fit, or how best suits me, and go on with the heroes actions.

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Rich H
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Re: Handling Other NPC's in Combat

Post by Rich H » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:19 am

Falenthal's post is on the money here; the game offers flexibility in approaching how to handle NPCs in combat so LM's really should take advantage of that and not get tied into one way of doing things. I've used a table, like Halbarad, in situations where its fun to 'let the dice fall where they will' with regard to the mortality of an NPC; this is fine - the mechanics can often enhance the emerging story more so than GM fiat, unless of course putting such an NPC in jeopardy is what the LM wants; that's fine also. Other times, using magical effects or other bonuses on the result of a 'G' rune are great for when characters are accompanied by a high powered NPC - what happens to them isn't really the point of them being around, but how they aid the PCs is, so some mechanics to support that can add to the game.

Yep, Falenthal's spot on. Great post.
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HunterGreen
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Re: Handling Other NPC's in Combat

Post by HunterGreen » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:30 am

Glorelendil wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:13 pm
I guess the question is, for whose benefit is the dice rolling?
For me, what it may do is take some of the pressure off of me as the Loremaster to have to figure out the outcome in a way that's fair and not unbalancing, while I'm already busy doing a combat and all my other loremaster duties. Perhaps that's only because I'm still relatively new to this system, and after a while, I'll feel perfectly fine choosing the results of ally NPCs by fiat. But I'm letting dice determine the outcome of enemy NPC actions, so I don't know why it's so weird to be letting dice determine the outcome of ally NPC actions.
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Rich H
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Re: Handling Other NPC's in Combat

Post by Rich H » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:41 am

HunterGreen wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:30 am
For me, what it may do is take some of the pressure off of me as the Loremaster to have to figure out the outcome in a way that's fair and not unbalancing, while I'm already busy doing a combat and all my other loremaster duties. Perhaps that's only because I'm still relatively new to this system, and after a while, I'll feel perfectly fine choosing the results of ally NPCs by fiat. But I'm letting dice determine the outcome of enemy NPC actions, so I don't know why it's so weird to be letting dice determine the outcome of ally NPC actions.
There's a lot of fun letting the dice do this. Did it with Pendragon, no fudging and no fiat allowed; its still the most fun (and therefore best) campaign I've ever run. Now that did fit the brutal nature of the game, particularly in the early eras of play, which TOR may not share but I still think there's lots of options and excitement that dice rolling for NPCs can bring to the table, like Falenthal's post outlines.
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Re: Handling Other NPC's in Combat

Post by Stormcrow » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:18 pm

HunterGreen wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:30 am
Glorelendil wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:13 pm
I guess the question is, for whose benefit is the dice rolling?
For me, what it may do is take some of the pressure off of me as the Loremaster to have to figure out the outcome in a way that's fair and not unbalancing, while I'm already busy doing a combat and all my other loremaster duties.
I find it easier to say "So-and-so is off battling his own orcs" than to come up with stances and target numbers and Endurance values and so on for So-and-so. When the battle is over, all I have to do is announce something plausible: "So-and-so killed three orcs, The last one stabbed him with a spear before going down, but the wound isn't life-threatening."

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