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NPC Profiles - (edit: and advancement costs.)


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#1 LuciusT

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 08:05 AM

This is a pet-peve of mine and some folks will probably disagree… but one the things I hated most about Dark Heresy was that the PC careers could not duplicate the NPC profiles in the back of the book… a starting PC Scum could not have the same skills and talents as a NPC Dreg, the lowest of the Imperial low. Sadly, Only War seems to follow in this tradition.

I looked at the Guardsman, Ogryn, Ratling, Storm Trooper and Commissar profiles in the Adversaries and NPCs chapter and compared them to the equivilent Specialities in Character Creation (treating Guardsman as Weapon Specialist). I disregarded Regiment modifiers, since those are highly variable, and I know that will throw off my  totals somewhat. Nevertheless, the results did not please me.

The Guardsman has roughly the same Characteristics as a starting character but appears to have spent 2800 experience points on skills and talents (including 800 exp(!) for Nerves of Steel).

The Orgyn has +18 more Characteristic points than a starting character (and has an outragously high - for an Ogryn - Intelligence of 22). Disregarding the exp spent for those, he has spent 1200 experience points on skills and talents.

The Ratling has 18 fewer Characteristics points than a starting character, and has spent 2800 experience points on his skills and talents.

The Storm Trooper has roughly the same Charactersitics as a starting character but has spent 5900 experience points on skills and talents.

The Commissar has 55 more Characterisitics points than a starting character and has spent 10,300 (!) experience points on skills and talents. He also has the Talent "Cold Hearted" which does not appear to be listed in my book.

From this alone, I think the entire Adversaries and NPCs chapter needs to entirely reconsidered. IMO, your millage may vary.



#2 Luther Engelsnot

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 08:13 AM

I think the cause for that is, that the NPC Profiles are definitly not made with the rules for PCs in mind or follow the creation rules of them. I never put much thought in this circumstance, but I just wanted to say that Cold Hearted is a proof reading error. It is the Black Crusade equivilant of Chem Geld, so you should mentioned it in the proof reading section.


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#3 Musclewizard

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 08:47 AM

I don't think that's really a problem.
An NPC Comissar is not the same thing as a PC Comissar and the same goes for all the other NPCs there.

If it really bothers you all that much you could write up correct profiles or try to post the errors in the profiles in the Proofreading Subforum though I doubt that this would be a priority of FFG.



#4 LuciusT

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 09:00 AM

Musclewizard said:

An NPC Comissar is not the same thing as a PC Comissar and the same goes for all the other NPCs there.

Why not? Why shouldn't a PC be able to create a character as good or better than the standard one included in the NPC section. After all, the PCs are the heroes of the game. OK, maybe the NPC Commissar represents a more experienced Lord Commissar backing up the unit Captain, but if so, it should say that and maybe give me stats for the guy backing up my Lieutenant. At the very least, my Weapon Specialist should be as good or better than the other generic grunts on the line.

As for writing up my own stats, yeah I could… but if I have to WTF is the point of this chapter?



#5 Cifer

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 09:38 AM

Apart from Cold-Hearted, could you please rephrase the problem? Yes, starting characters are really starting characters and others in the middle of their careers will have higher stats. So what? The guardsman profile isn't called "rookie guardsman".

I think you should take the opposite direction here: If you don't want rookies that survive their first missions mostly by luck and quick thinking, but veterans, buff up the PCs and hand them a couple thousand XP to round out their profiles. Otherwise… the NPC profiles are meant for use in the whole campaign - it's the PCs that grow and will eventually surpass them.



#6 Musclewizard

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 10:27 AM

LuciusT said:

Musclewizard said:

 

An NPC Comissar is not the same thing as a PC Comissar and the same goes for all the other NPCs there.

 

 

Why not? Why shouldn't a PC be able to create a character as good or better than the standard one included in the NPC section. After all, the PCs are the heroes of the game. OK, maybe the NPC Commissar represents a more experienced Lord Commissar backing up the unit Captain, but if so, it should say that and maybe give me stats for the guy backing up my Lieutenant. At the very least, my Weapon Specialist should be as good or better than the other generic grunts on the line.

As for writing up my own stats, yeah I could… but if I have to WTF is the point of this chapter?

The point of the Chapter is to provide the GM with Profiles for typical allies and aversaries, what else?



#7 LuciusT

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 10:34 AM

Cifer said:

 

Apart from Cold-Hearted, could you please rephrase the problem? Yes, starting characters are really starting characters and others in the middle of their careers will have higher stats. So what? The guardsman profile isn't called "rookie guardsman".

 

 

So, when I see a profile labeled Guardsman, I expect to see an average Guardsman. When I create a character who is a Guardsman, I expect to create an average Guardsman.

The notion that starting characters are green rookies is fine, though I don't believe it's explicately stated and that it goes against all the arguments that Support Specialists have been with their Regiment long enough to have assimilated their Homeworld traits.  The notion that the Guardsman profile is a more experienced character would be fine, except that it's 2800 exp. That's 7 sessions or about 2 months of play if you're group meets weekly. After two months of games, I expect my PCs to be a little better than the generic NPCs who surround them, not finally catching up.

Ultimately, the problem is that my PCs are the heroes of the game… not the mooks. The generic NPCs are the mooks. I expect them to be creating heroes. Sure, I could start them with 3000 exp instead of 600, so that they can make average Guardsmen… maybe 5000 so they can make heroes… but frankly, if that's what I'd need to do, why does the game start them at 600? Alternatively, the good folks at FFG could bring skills and talents of the Guardsman NPC template back to something a little more in line with a starting Guardsman. Could I do that? Sure… but if I'm writing my own game, why am I paying FFG another $40 or $50 for theirs? The art isn't that good.



#8 LuciusT

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 10:35 AM

Musclewizard said:

LuciusT said:

 

Musclewizard said:

As for writing up my own stats, yeah I could… but if I have to WTF is the point of this chapter?

 

 

The point of the Chapter is to provide the GM with Profiles for typical allies and aversaries, what else?

If typical allies are that much more powerful than my PCs, in what way are my PCs the heroes of the game?



#9 Musclewizard

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 10:41 AM

LuciusT said:

Musclewizard said:

 

LuciusT said:

 

Musclewizard said:

As for writing up my own stats, yeah I could… but if I have to WTF is the point of this chapter?

 

 

The point of the Chapter is to provide the GM with Profiles for typical allies and aversaries, what else?

 

 

If typical allies are that much more powerful than my PCs, in what way are my PCs the heroes of the game?

You are aware that you don't have to be powerful to be a hero?
I'm not really sure how else I should reply to this but where's the story if the PCs are the most powerful beings right from the get go?

I mean sure there's a story in there but in general most stories have a main character (or more than one) and they are faced with situations that are larger than them (i.e. they are not strong, smart, loving, successfull, whatever enough to overcome them from the get go).



#10 Cifer

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 11:01 AM

@LuciusT

The generic NPCs are the mooks. I expect them to be creating heroes. Sure, I could start them with 3000 exp instead of 600, so that they can make average Guardsmen… maybe 5000 so they can make heroes… but frankly, if that's what I'd need to do, why does the game start them at 600?

Because you don't need to. It's an option. This is still Warhammer we're talking about. Grim, gritty and all that stuff. And more to the point, this game is Only War. It's not Rogue Trader where you play the captain of a flying cathedral on his way to even more ludicrous riches. It's not Black Crusade where you're trying to overthrow a few worlds and become a Daemon Prince. And it's not Deathwatch where your gene-engineered superman is usually all that stands between a planet and some vile xeno threat.

This is Only War. You're one of the uncounted billions of guardsmen that are expected to die for the Emperor. Any tales of heroism to be told here start not with "How these supermen with their incredible gear and super-duper skills saved the day" but "How these completely ordinary men and women managed to do something extra-ordinary by being the right people at the right place in the right time".

And if you want to go for heroes in the greek sense of the word, just slap on a few thousand XP. Problem solved.



#11 vogue69

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 11:15 AM

Cifer said:

@LuciusT

The generic NPCs are the mooks. I expect them to be creating heroes. Sure, I could start them with 3000 exp instead of 600, so that they can make average Guardsmen… maybe 5000 so they can make heroes… but frankly, if that's what I'd need to do, why does the game start them at 600?

Because you don't need to. It's an option. This is still Warhammer we're talking about. Grim, gritty and all that stuff. And more to the point, this game is Only War. It's not Rogue Trader where you play the captain of a flying cathedral on his way to even more ludicrous riches. It's not Black Crusade where you're trying to overthrow a few worlds and become a Daemon Prince. And it's not Deathwatch where your gene-engineered superman is usually all that stands between a planet and some vile xeno threat.

This is Only War. You're one of the uncounted billions of guardsmen that are expected to die for the Emperor. Any tales of heroism to be told here start not with "How these supermen with their incredible gear and super-duper skills saved the day" but "How these completely ordinary men and women managed to do something extra-ordinary by being the right people at the right place in the right time".

And if you want to go for heroes in the greek sense of the word, just slap on a few thousand XP. Problem solved.



#12 HTMC

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 11:21 AM

 I've never had a problem with NPCs (especially enemies) being individually more powerful than PC counterparts. If you look at almost any RPG gaming system, GM-controller characters are usually more powerful than the PCs on a 1-to-1 basis. In traditional fantasy campaigns, "bosses" are usually almost as powerful as the entire PC group combined-- and that's exactly the point. The big advantage that PCs have is that they're working in a group, and in combat and many other situations the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

You'll notice especially that the Ogryn, Stormtrooper, and Commissar are listed as "Elite" versions, which is the 40kRPG version of bosses (or at least subbosses). Despite having better stats, they don't have things like Fate Points, they don't have the chance to advance in skills or gain new talents, etc.

In my experience as a GM, even if each of my enemy NPCs are individually more powerful than the PCs (and even when they outnumber them) the PCs in my group almost always win, regardless. If these NPCs were statted identically to PCs, it would be even more of a push-over. 

This isn't to say your view isn't legitimate, because the big thing with traditional RPGs is that unlike electronic ones, they can vary a lot from group to group. All I can say is that in my experience both as a player and GM this stat difference has always been positive, and I've never been bothered by it. And as the explanation on pg. 244 notes, they're merely suggestions anyway, so if you need to modify them or completely make your own, you're free to do so :-). 



#13 LuciusT

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 07:25 PM

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#14 Morangias

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 10:35 PM

LuciusT said:

 

 

If typical allies are that much more powerful than my PCs, in what way are my PCs the heroes of the game?

Here's the thing: they're not heroes, they're protagonists. By design, their importance is in the fact that the limelight is pointed at them, not in their unique skills or high virtues.

Unless the PCs choose to be heroes. Which doesn't really require any skills, just the right attitude.


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#15 LuciusT

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 01:19 AM

Morangias said:

LuciusT said:

 

 If typical allies are that much more powerful than my PCs, in what way are my PCs the heroes of the game?

 

 

Here's the thing: they're not heroes, they're protagonists. By design, their importance is in the fact that the limelight is pointed at them, not in their unique skills or high virtues.

Unless the PCs choose to be heroes. Which doesn't really require any skills, just the right attitude.

I agree to disagree.



#16 DJSunhammer

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 01:27 AM

You are both right in a sense. A campaign can be many things, a ragtag band of heroes or a ragtag band ordinary joes with guns.



#17 LuciusT

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 02:13 AM

You know, pondering this in the clear light of morning, I think part of my problem isn't who powerful they NPC profiles are… because they aren't really. OK, the Commissar is impressive, but OK, yeah, he should be. The Guardsman just has a lot of skills and that Nerves of Steel talent. The problem is those skills and talents are exspensive. Nerves of Steel is 800 experience points (!) all on it's own. That's all the exp from two standard 4 hour sessions (using the abstract method).

I don't own Black Crusade (yet) but thanks to Amazon.com's preview feature, I've glimpsed some of the advancement costs in it. They are a lot cheaper. The most expensive skill advances are half what they are in Only War. So I wonder why the difference? Do folks with experience with Black Crusade find those costs too cheap? Does Black Crusade recommend fewer experience points for sessions? Or is Only War just pricing advances too high?



#18 Luther Engelsnot

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 02:31 AM

As far as I can see they both give the same amount of xp (500 for a four hour session with the abstract method), but the xp pricings vary a lot. But Black Crusade is not everything cheaper. It is true that characteristcis were a lot cheaper, when you are not aligned to the right chaos god or even opposed.
But the skills for two aptitudes are cheaper that being aligned to the right chaos god. Rest is of course more expensive. But you also had lots of unaligned skills that you could never get cheaper. Talent are the same for aligned and two aptitudes, but for the rest more expensiv in Only War.
But I think you also must keep in mind that the systems aligned, unaligned, opposed a lot different that the aptitudes. In Black Crusade it was nearly impossible to start aligned, so no cheap advances at the beginning of the game, there are in fact lots of skills, talents and characteristics that were unaligend all the time and never got really cheap and if you aligend to one god, two other were opposed.
I think therefore in Black Crusade it was on the hand a rather static how much you pay (all unaligend talents, skills and characteristcs) and on the other hand highly variable (all talents, skills and characteristics that were aligned to a god). So the prediction how much you could buy was depend on a lot of factors like how many corruption points you get, if you were aligned, if you even reached to aligned status and when you reached it etc.
In Only War on the other hand you have your static advanced depend on your specialisation and regiment and know from the beginning, which is cheap, which is expensive and can advance rather cheap in certein areas. I think that different must also keeped in mind and therefore I am not sure, if that really is a mistake or maybe done on purpose


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#19 Morangias

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 03:33 AM

Two things you should know about Black Crusade:

1. Due to how Alignment system works, the lion's share of these advancements is bought at the medium cost. If you buy enough advancements from one god's list, you can get the rest of the advancements on the list for the cheap cost but the lists of two opposing gods become expensive for you. Buying only aligned advancements is hardly ever an option, save for perhaps Tzeentchian psykers.

2. Black Crusade is not a game designed for long campaigns. Game Master's Kit introduced some rules for prolonging gameplay, but generally heretics burn out pretty quickly. Once your character hits 100 Corruption, it's game over for him, and you gain Corruption for almost anything you do. Gain certain Talents? Corruption. Succeed in a mission? Corruption. Perform blasphemous rites? Corruption. Get killed and burn Infamy (BC's equivalent of both Profit Factor/Logistics/Influence and Fate Points)? Corruption. Fail a mission? Corruption. It's a one-way train and it's going fast.

That's why it makes sense for heretics to advance more quickly than loyalists - with the aid of Chaos, they rise like shooting stars and fall right after that.


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#20 LuciusT

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 03:56 AM

@ Morangias

I am enlightened. Thanks. However, I still think I prefer the fast advance scheme. Honestly, since my group only meets twice a month at the best of times, the slower advancement scheme is an issue for us. Going by what you say, if we played Black Crusade I doubt anyone would ever reach 100 Corruption… we wouldn't play frequently enough or long enough.

I guess if it's only an issue for me, I can always award more exp per session and start players with more exp or with more skills. Still, the extreme difference between having two aptitudes vs one or worse zero, makes it a crazy case. If I awarded 600 exp per session, one character might advance 3 skills while another was saving up to buy a single advance. All the NPC profiles have several zero aptitude advances (the afformentioned Nerves of Steel being just one). It seems like they wanted a flexible, free form system… but they also wanted a restricted, focused system at the same time. What we seem to have is a restricted system with the illusion of flexibility. We had that in Dark Heresy with Elite Advances. We just have clearer guidelines and they found a way to avoid the lengthy Advancement charts now.






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