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#1 Whitestone

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 05:22 PM

Greetings all! I'm a first time GM (of anything, much less EoTE) with a bit of experience playing before running a group of absolute newbies. They're all great players so far, they're extremely happy to be playing (they badger me almost daily to set up sessions sooner), and we have no serious complaints.

 

One thing I have a really big question on is the idea of GMPCs as opposed to NPCs. We've dubbed this "Pulling a Chewbacca" (a la Darths & Droids' Chewbacca after GM takes him over) because of how the GM is able to have some fun with a dedicated character. My big question is "can it be done?"

I've realized some of the risks involved. I am by no means a controlling GM (especially in tandem with how abstracted the game already is) and I am doing my very best to "flesh-out" the character in mention so thoroughly that he would do things I never would (like running into a room full of baddies because he's brash even though I know they're there.)

Given the story I have cooked up for them, it seemed, at the time, only appropriate to at least provide them with a significant companion character. My party of 5 currently plays in a YT-1300 that they just...I guess the word would be "leased" to an illegal do-gooder mercenary outfit based out of an an old Starbolt assault carrier from the Clone Wars. The character's backstory is that he is going to be their assessment officer in the next couple missions before they officially are integrated into the organization. He himself is an up and coming officer in the Squadron with lots of talent but precious little actual field experience (Gran [from AoRB] /MercSoldier). He's a very good theoretical leader and a competent light marksman in CQC situations, but again, has no field experience to speak of (I qualified this by giving him 200 XP, 100 of which went into characteristics, 85 into talents, remnant 15 into skills).

I guess my fear is that he will, whether I attempt to or not, lead the party. He has very high Presence and Leadership, but is not supposed to be "the face." He's supposed to be a fighting politico, of sorts. My intent was for him to be sort of the tactical support. I really don't want to draw away from the PC focus, but I don't know how else to incorporate this character short of cutting him or replacing him with a cam-droid. Regardless, I would like to do a GMPC because I LOVE playing, but so far nobody on my college campus or within my group of friends is confident enough to take over the job of GMing (which I simply like as opposed to all caps LOVE.) What are your thoughts or questions?



#2 Ghostofman

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 06:28 PM

I'd say rebuild him as a nemesis level NPC (we can help if you need)

There's a few reasons, first just to get you into the habit. As a gm you'll be making and running NPCs a lot, so might as well start now. You can continue to run him the exact same, you just get to redo his stats to perform the function you want, and nothing more, which is important because.

Don't outshine the players. We've all done this, and eventually you will too, but you can at least take measures to try and prevent it.

Other then that, relax. If you need to adjust his stats and tone him down, or beef him up, you can, but you don't have to worry about obligation, or tracking xp, or anything else. Just run him as you need, and when its his time to move on, he can, and you can move forward as a better and mor confidant gm.
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#3 2P51

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 08:10 PM

I've done it with great success but use it mostly as a springboard for my inner Dwarf in fantasy games, and to use my Dwarf/Scottish brogue for laughs.  I don't drop hints typically at all.


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#4 kaosoe

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 08:10 PM

I often times play a GMPC, but I certainly don't play the face. Interacting with other NPCs should be the PCs job, not another NPC. That and I hate talking to myself in a game.


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#5 Desslok

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 08:47 PM

This question comes up every so often, so its not as uncommon as you'd think. My group has a rotating GM for as long as I can remember, meaning that one crew member is suddenly a GMPC at any given time. When I'm running, I'll usually come up with a contrived way to keep her out of the action ("Oh, look - she's sick and has to stay on the ship"), kidnap her and turn her into a MacGuffin or just have her stay in the background. Very rarely do I have her act as a mouthpiece for GM ideas or intervention, and we all kind of accept this a "eh, it's cool."

 

A little bit metagaming on our part, but it seems to work fine. 


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#6 CaptainRaspberry

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 06:54 AM

By my reckoning, every NPC you run is a GMPC, it's just that most of them don't require much fleshing out -- the thugs, the stormtroopers, the maintenance techs. You should be maintaining a stable of important NPCs, however, that have just as much depth as a player character might and can be used for creating/carrying out missions, act as support for player groups, and, if necessary, be sacrificed Whedon-style to show the PCs how close to home the current storyline hits. In that way ,they're a step above normal NPCs, and so might be considered GMPCs.

 

Honestly, the only reason to create a consistent GMPC that travels with the group is if they're missing some aspect of their group. The best example would be a group that has a pilot but lacks anyone with high skills in Astrogation, and the pilot either can't or won't raise his skill. As a result, I'd give the group an astromech droid that acted as an NPC, making Astrogation rolls and maybe getting involved slightly in missions, but only enough to support the group -- never to actually give them a direction.

 

The only trick to remember: never take victories away from the PCs. In the astromech example, if one of your players rolls a check to discover what hallway the bad guys went down, don't roll your droid into the spotlight and have him show everyone; whichever character made the roll, she should be the one to make the discovery.


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#7 MKX

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 08:28 AM

I do it as I co-GM with another fella.

My PC was mostly an active technical support career anyway, so its easy enough to step back and let the others do the hard work and decision making. I still am 'at risk', will help out where I can and expect to be cut in on loot, profits and have an opinion when it comes to doing things.

For the most part though as an GM of star wars, I just an adjudicate/referee when it comes to rules and direction, with the sheer amount of NPC's and goings on though its really pressing on how much stuff I can multitask in my head and keep track of, so its best to let PC's do the hard yards in most cases.... besides, there's sometimes up to 8 of them at the table at any one time which is enough to drive anyone to madness.



#8 MrHotter

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 08:56 AM

I use GMPCs a lot in my home game. I don't need them when I play with my bearded guy group because we have 4-5 players and we play the game mostly for the action.

 

When I play with my family we'll have just one or two players depending on if my daughter and I can get my wife to play. That game is story heavy and the GMPCs are part of the crew. There is a lot of background revelation and relationship building in the game (that's what I get for having all female players).

 

Here are the general rules I try to follow for my GMPCs:

  • Keep them simple. Don't have multiple page character sheets with a long list of talents they can use. Like someone else suggested, you can use the stat block from a rival NPC for their abilities.
  • Let the players roll for the GMPCs if they want. I don't want the players directly controlling the GMPCs, but I let them roll the dice for any actions they take. That way the players are not sitting there watching me play.
  • Don't have the GMPCs overlap skills that are important to the players. If the player is a pilot, I don't want to add another skilled pilot to the team.
  • Do let the GMPCs bring important abilities to the group that the PCs do not have. For example, if the PCs have no mechanical skills then a repair droid or a Jawa stowaway would be nice to have around.
  • Don't have the GMPCs solve problems for the PCs. The GMPCs in my game could offer information that I was going to tell them anyway (like 'you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy'), but they will not do things like point out hidden areas that the party missed or put clues together. They will however use their skills when asked to by the players.
  • Don't bring the GMPCs everywhere the players go. If they don't need to be there, leave the GMPCs guarding the ship or waiting for orders to pick them up. I don't want my players to think of the GMPCs as an extension of their character sheet. 
  • Don't give the GMPCs any power over the players. The PCs should be the boss when it comes time to make decisions for the group. But also...
  • Give GMPCs their own motivations and goals. If the players think that the GMPCs will do whatever they are asked, then they're not very interesting characters. Don't let the GMPCs take abuse unless that's part of the story (like droids or slaves).

Of course everyone will have their preferences, and what works with one group will not work with another. My powergaming group would put any GMPC I put into the group on the end of a stick and use them to set off traps.



#9 Whitestone

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 04:35 PM

All good input. Ive been considering everything and decided to at the very least just drop the previously mentioned GMPC as he is far too much of a face character. Currently working in something considerably different.

One reason I want to do this is that my players want me to. They're all 100% new to this, know nothing of tabletops, and need a little visual aid to help the RP part of their new RPG. So far with the published missions (Ive been weaving my personal campaign into a number of the published missions) there are a lot of throwaways that I havent had a chance to really work with as my PCs either neglect them or instantly kill them. As they were about to flee Teemo's palace, Thweek stepped out to shoot at them. Our Trandoshan MS cooly blew him away saying, in character, "sorry, Thweek. But youre a d****e." That so far...has been the pattern. Its been hilarious to watch, but a little distracting for 2-3 of the players.

#10 2P51

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 09:03 AM

If they're all new to RPGing then you probably don't have any choice but to provide input in some manner, if for nothing else, than to show the kinds of approaches and mentalities they need to have.


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#11 Whitestone

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 11:27 AM

If they're all new to RPGing then you probably don't have any choice but to provide input in some manner, if for nothing else, than to show the kinds of approaches and mentalities they need to have.


This was exactly my original intent in doing this. Normally I wouldn't, but considering the average experience level of my players, they could use some help broadening their imaginations so they feel less limited.

#12 2P51

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 11:48 AM

Using a NPC for gameplay example and to provide information to players as a plot hook is really your job as the GM, so I would say carry on.


My group's Obsidian Portal campaign site: It's All in the Trigger Squeeze


#13 Whitestone

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 09:51 PM

Good news. Due to me being almost entirely drained from classload and finals projects, my most adept player has agreed to finally take over as GM for a little. I can now play my Demo/Enforcer Sullustan with impunity!
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