darl_loh
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NPC stress and panic

Sat 15 Jun 2019, 05:26

Anyone have any ideas how to handle this? Given how lethal the system is, I feel reticent to leave this entirely up to my own fiat. A NPC panic at an inopportune time could easily spell death for a character. Similarly, an NPC keeping it together could totally save a character. This is probably less concerning in cinematic play where players expect to end playing a different PC than started. But, would be more concerning in a campaign play where the players are more attached to their characters.

Here is something I am thinking of.

Each NPC is assigned a Will score, representing their Willpower. Most are 2, with weak-willed being 1, and strong-willed being 3, with maybe truly exceptional (Ripley) being 4. When an NPC takes an action, if they roll 1s = or > Will, they make a Panic roll. Their Panic roll is 6-current Will +d6 + 1 extra d6 for each 1 rolled above their Will. NPCs permanently lose a point of Will when they are broken, or certain traumatic story circumstances occur (a buddy dies, something catastrophic happens, etc.)

For example, Reid is Will 2. She shoots her shotgun at an alien and rolls a 6, but 3 x 1s. This triggers a Panic roll. Her current Will is 2, so 6-2 = 4. So she rolls 1d6+4 +1d6 because she rolled 3 x 1s, one more 1 than her will of 3. She rolls a 4 and a 2, with +4 = 10, so gets the FREEZE Panic effect. If she had only rolled 2x1s, and her first d6 rolled a 4, that would be 4 + 4, totally 8, for a TREMBLE Panic effect.

Thoughts?

EDIT: added example
 
Konungr
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Re: NPC stress and panic

Sat 15 Jun 2019, 06:58

I would never give any supporting cast a score you expect Ripley to have. The players are the Ripleys. The supporting cast are the supporting cast.

I would also never run or play any Alien game in cinematic or campaign play where the players were not at very real risk of death. What is the point of playing Alien if the horrific monsters from space are not killing people?
 
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CynicalMo
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Re: NPC stress and panic

Sat 15 Jun 2019, 17:02

On page 69 of the starter kit it reads:
NPCs AND PANIC
STRESS LEVELs are only tracked for PCs, never
for NPCs, and NPCs never make Panic Rolls—
instead, NPCs panic when the GM deems it
appropriate. Panicking NPCs can increase the
Stress Level of PCs nearby. This is up to the
GM's judgement.
I'm ok with it this way. It's all about the feel of the game. I'm not trying to help or hinder the PCs. I could care less if they succeed or fail, I just want them to have the best darn experience doing either.
 
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CynicalMo
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Re: NPC stress and panic

Sat 15 Jun 2019, 18:14

As a follow up the less rolls and math that I have to worry about as the GM the better. I tend to want to focus on the story rather than worry about a ton of different mechanics.
 
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aramis
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Re: NPC stress and panic

Sat 15 Jun 2019, 20:05

If you're going to mechanicalize NPC panic... 
Keep it simple. 
PC makes panic check? (1d6-(unpaniced friendly characters in scene)) panic. PC panics? make that minimum 1 NPC panics, with them.
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Konungr
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Re: NPC stress and panic

Sat 15 Jun 2019, 20:18

Id make it easier then that.

You think an npc might panic. Do a luck roll.

Ask the players highs or lows.

Roll d100. The more extreme you roll the better or worse it is.

Example: players say highs.

1-50 the npc panics. The closer to 1 the worse the panic and the more of a hinderance it is to the party. 51-100 they don't panic with 51 barely keeping it together and 100 Stealing their resolve and maybe even being a rock for those around them reducing stress by 1.
 
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aramis
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Re: NPC stress and panic

Sat 15 Jun 2019, 22:35

That's not actually simpler, Konungur.
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Konungr
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Re: NPC stress and panic

Sun 16 Jun 2019, 02:41

That's not actually simpler, Konungur.
If you say so. The luck roll doesn't require an equation (albeit the one you suggest is a simple one) and acts independent of the players panic. The d100 luck roll is a great mechanic to use in any game where anything comes up that is not covered by the rules or you don't remember the rule for. It's quick, it gives the players some form of agency (even if it just amounts to calling heads or tails) and it can impact anything with a built in sliding scale. I am not sure I have even seen anything be simpler.
 
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lupex
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Re: NPC stress and panic

Sun 16 Jun 2019, 10:32

How about roll a stress dice, on a 1 the npc panics, on a six the npc is fine for a while. Anything else helps the Gm to role play it out.
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aramis
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Re: NPC stress and panic

Mon 17 Jun 2019, 21:39

That's not actually simpler, Konungur.
If you say so. The luck roll doesn't require an equation (albeit the one you suggest is a simple one) and acts independent of the players panic. The d100 luck roll is a great mechanic to use in any game where anything comes up that is not covered by the rules or you don't remember the rule for. It's quick, it gives the players some form of agency (even if it just amounts to calling heads or tails) and it can impact anything with a built in sliding scale. I am not sure I have even seen anything be simpler.
It substitutes a quantitative (X many) for a very ill defined qualitative. Instead of "Panic or not" it becomes "what kind of panic does a 38 correspond to?" It also has the side issue of bringing another type of die (albeit a common one) into the mix. THe formulaic method resolves with 1 die per NPC, as well, allowing batch rolling, of the same kind needed for play,

The kind of panic of an NPC should be a GM call; heck, with the right group, it should be for even the PCs. PC's get special because not all panics are equally bad for the PC. I know one of the kids I'll be running for tends to have PC's flee at the first reasonable excuse; the random result is beneficial there to prevent her from always choosing flight, and me from punitively saying "full aggro, please"... she'll get a mechanical nudge to expand her RP envelope, and I won't be responsible for her character pulling a rambo when in a bad spot. (She'll see a full aggro as worse than flee, even if it's actually better due to 1 vs 2 threats... but her perception will always, assuming no changes in personality, be that flight is preferable.
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