powerful NPCs

From: Andrew Joelson (joelsona@cpdmfg.cig.mot.com)
Date: Wed 08 May 1996 - 15:32:24 EEST


Ian Gorlick says:

>Martin Laurie:
>> I find that they [powerful NPCs] ... are useful duex ex machina at times.
>
>Which is part of why I don't like them. Deus ex machina (when the protagonists
>are rescued by forces from completely outside the narrative) is a crutch for
>poor plotting. If you allow yourself to use it, then you tempt yourself to be
>sloppy when you create your scenarios. I won't accept it in any fiction I read,

>therefore I won't tolerate using it in my scenarios.

        The care and feeding of powerfull NPCs requires a lot of work, and
if you don't do it right you'll know soon enough from your player's reactions.
I have two particular examples of this.
1) D&D (shows how long ago this was) group were drafted by the potty old
    wizard to do a job. He tattoo'd them magicaly so that he could always
    figure out where they were. If they were going too far from where HE
    wanted them to go, the demon L'Lori would show up and give them a tongue
    lashing. L'Lori never did anything but act as courier; mostly for
    instructions from the wizard, occasionally with some gear the group was
    going to need (never in combat). One day the group said "We can take
    L'Lori", and found out that she was pretty wimpy....
2) Rupert von Harl was much more powerfull than the rest of my RQ group, as
    he had been around for eight game years. I asked the judge if he really
    wanted me to take him out again? "Yes, if he's along I can do a few more
    interesting things without snuffing the party." This was sort of like
    the powerfull NPC, since no one else could keep up with Rupert. But we
    started running into bands of broos with human shamans leading them, etc.
    Suddenly our enemies had leaders, and powerfull ones (as you would expect).
    After the broo combat above, the guys gathered around saying "I killed
    three broos!", "I killed four Broos", "I killed three broos and rescued
    Kalon when he was about to be killed", and Rupert's comment was "puff...
    puff..I just finshed off the shaman...puff..puff...anybody need help?"

Balance is the key; it's got to be believable.

                Andrew

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I
Andrew Joelson joelsona@cpdmfg.cig.mot.com -+-
AKA Rupert von Harl, Seven Mothers/Yanafal Tarnils and Humakt |
"Contradiction? No, I always did tend to kill chaos creatures anyway." /

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