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DaverWattra

Do you let your players see NPC stats?

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I usually keep NPCs' stats hidden from players, but in this system I can see some upsides to showing the players these stats.  I like the strategic choices that result from the dice system, and I can imagine that these choices would be more interesting if the players had more information (for example, they could make better-informed decisions about when to spend Threat to inflict strain on NPCs).

How much do you show your players about NPC stats, and why?

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I don't make a specific effort to keep NPC stats secret; mostly the PCs will quickly get an idea once I start rolling dice (I roll in the open). However, I never show them the stats either, as in "look at precisely what this NPC has going on" because that's not information the players need. I can easily picture how doing that would lead to a lengthy debate among my players on how to "best" deal with that particular NPC, with any rules lawyers among them demanding a detailed breakdown of my every dice pool and making sure I keep proper track of the NPC's strain levels. No thank you.

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Nope on showing off an NPC's stats.

Main reason is that if the players don't know what numbers or stats an NPC has, I can very easily adjust those numbers on the fly if an encounter proves to be too challenging or too simple.  At the same time, if a player is able deduce what certain stats are, generally from opposed rolls targeting the NPC, that's all well and good, but I don't blatantly announce "Imperial Captain Such'n'So has a Willpower of 3, a rank of Discipline, and a rank of Nobody's Fool, so the difficulty for your Deception check is 2 reds and a purple" either; instead it's "okay, so your difficulty to use Deception on Imperial Captain Such'n'So is 2 reds and a purple" and then adding setback or boost dice with a description of why those dice are being added.  Also a case of if I've given my NPC a heavy blaster pistol and two ranks of Point Blank and their suddenly doing far too much damage to the PCs, I can discreetly drop the weapon down to a blaster pistol and no ranks in Point Blank, with the players being none the wiser that the 3 point shift in damage wasn't anything other than earlier attacks simply having better results.  It's the rare player that enjoys being on the receiving end of a curbstomb battle when the opponent isn't one the major heavies of the setting (Vader in Star Wars, Strahd Von Zarovich in Ravenloft, Doctor Doom, and so forth).

Granted, if it's a common NPC like a stormtrooper or a street thug, while I don't broadcast what stats they have, but I figure most of my usual players have a rough idea of their stats anyway since we've all taken turns GMing for this system.  But with minions, I can easily adjust the number of minions in a group, so I occasionally try to keep the exact number of minions in a group vague.  I don't always remember to do so, but then I tend to be fairly conservative in number of minions in a group for most encounters, preferring to use larger numbers of minion groups in most instances as opposed to smaller numbers of bigger minion groups.

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While I don't actively show them, I often use the standard MPC's from the Encounter Cards, with slight modifications for variety and situational needs.  I don't worry to much about it.  For more original GM created characters I usually don't broadcast the stats, so I can modify as needed and keep some surprises.

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On 26.6.2017 at 4:07 PM, DaverWattra said:

I usually keep NPCs' stats hidden from players, but in this system I can see some upsides to showing the players these stats.  I like the strategic choices that result from the dice system, and I can imagine that these choices would be more interesting if the players had more information (for example, they could make better-informed decisions about when to spend Threat to inflict strain on NPCs).

How much do you show your players about NPC stats, and why?

The system has a mechanic for this, players can spend advantages to gain informations about the encounter. You should feel free to give out stats or specific descriptions about the scene which allow your player to make such strategic decisions. 

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As a player, our GM will occasionally give us the stats for a particular difficult critter after we have defeated it.

But if it's a recurring villian or group that we're likely to face in the future?  Heck NO!!!!!

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   Most stats I keep under my hat, but a proper explanation hits more systems than this one. My players don't need to know if my Inquisitor is going to blast them with Unleash or disappear with a well-timed Misdirect, or if the D&D Wizard is going to Dominate the Fighter or Conjure an Elemental.

   However, things like to-hit numbers I'm more than willing to give them. This system bypasses it for the most part, but most don't. Some GMs want to keep everything secret, to keep the players guessing. In my opinion, this is a mistakethat eats up time and spoils the narrative.  The orc warlord's Armor Class is a number, not a mystery to be solved. If the players don't have basic info, the back and forth with the GM is wasted on confirmation.

"I attack... 14."

"Okay, that's a hit. How much?"

"Eleven damage."

"Cool, you killed him!"

   Now, that's okay, but if the players have a few pertinent pieces of information, they're more able to take the narrative reins.

   "Okay...  *Player rolls dice and compares numbers on his own* Sweet! I leap at the orc warlord and run my sword clean through his chest, bringing him to zero hit points!"

   It's faster and more descriptive, and all you lose is the big mystery of "What's his AC and HP?" And if the most interesting thing about your villain is a pair of numbers, you have some work to do.

Edited by The Grand Falloon

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In the past I never let them see the NPC stats, but what I noticed was that the group couldn't tell the difference between NPCs that I was trying to use to deter them from those that they were suppose to attack. So they would try to attack whatever they felt like, then when they got hurt, they got frustrated. Maybe that's on me as a GM for not narratively explaining how tuff the NPCs were, but slipping them some details such as soak & wound threshold really makes them own their decisions. So now I give them more information. There are Pros/Cons, but right now I leaning toward revealing more than concealing.

 

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I also do not show the stats to my players. but i give them hints like: That triple shot dude looks really injured or very bad, but only if a player performs a check to for a visual "inspection" of an target.

So they can actually have a rough idea how badly they injure someone or somewhat. We had a fight against a big Krayt Dragon, after the first shot which caused 8dmg i said: "It looks like the beast is not even recognizing your shot and prepares its attack" 

So that helps a bit for them to find out if they should run or fight :)

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5 hours ago, Darth Poopdeck said:

In the past I never let them see the NPC stats, but what I noticed was that the group couldn't tell the difference between NPCs that I was trying to use to deter them from those that they were suppose to attack. So they would try to attack whatever they felt like, then when they got hurt, they got frustrated. Maybe that's on me as a GM for not narratively explaining how tuff the NPCs were, but slipping them some details such as soak & wound threshold really makes them own their decisions. So now I give them more information. There are Pros/Cons, but right now I leaning toward revealing more than concealing.

 

I try to 'aim' for narrative info.  Several fire teams of Stormtroopers, a few SGTs and what looks to be an officer or two as well.

Gaggle of space thugs, one stands out as well dressed.

Group of mercs, differences?  You notice one clearly has a long range comm and there's a dude with him. etc

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On 30.6.2017 at 6:13 PM, 2P51 said:

I try to 'aim' for narrative info.  Several fire teams of Stormtroopers, a few SGTs and what looks to be an officer or two as well.

Gaggle of space thugs, one stands out as well dressed.

Group of mercs, differences?  You notice one clearly has a long range comm and there's a dude with him. etc

This has always been my go-to solution to this particular problem as well, and it works very well.

If there are 4 stormtrooper minions guarding an entrance I say something like, "You see four stormtroopers standing around the entrance". Nothing special.

If I want to communicate to my players that there aren't run-of-the-mill minions I'll instead say something along the lines of. "You see four stormtroopers have taken positions surrounding the entrance. Two are covering the entrance while the other two are further out keeping an eye on their surroundings. They've picked good positions and are spread far enough apart that two of them won't be dropped by the same salvo. They seem to know their business."

Players pick up on that sort of thing pretty quickly.

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No to the stats of enemies, beyond what is necessary for running the game. If the players enjoy puzzling it out through play, let them, but other than that try not to encourage metagaming.

Yes for verbal descriptions that give you hints as to their general stats.

"An unusually burly Trandoshan wearing some form of modified battle armor. His heavy blaster rifle is nearly as scarred up as he is, but he holds it like an old friend." Probably tells you that this isn't some mook, and gives you some hints as to what he's probably good at. Brawn and shooting stuff. Probably extra tough too, since I mentioned armor and scars. Versus "he's a trandoshan with a heavy blaster rifle." A mook with a big gun.

Once the enemy is a non-issue there's no harm in letting the players in on the stats if it's something interesting. How the hell was he so tough? Well, he had 4 brawn, superior armor, implanted armor, the armor master talent, and a few ranks in Toughened and Druable. That's why the pilot's fancy autofire blaster pistol was pinging for pretty much nothing.

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18 hours ago, Spatula Of Doom said:

No to the stats of enemies, beyond what is necessary for running the game. If the players enjoy puzzling it out through play, let them, but other than that try not to encourage metagaming.

Though a lot of the basic informations are less about metagaming and more about having information about the game world. 

Example: If your target wears a kevlar west certified for Type IIa , advertised as "bullet proofed" against 9mm nato fire and you know the west, you have a pretty clear expectation what kind of weapon you need or where to aim to overcome that west. This covers basically the soak value and basic damage of the weapons. Sure, might cost advantages or a knowledge check in some cases, and sometimes your character might just not know the specific pieces of gear, but in general those game stats represent just knowing the equivalent stats of the equipment in the game world. 

An experienced starfighter ace will know which ships can one shot his ship in normal circumstances and which ships might take a while, even when maybe his player does not. Those are good moments to just downright tell the player the stats and consider them as public information. 

Now, that little guy, who has cybernetic armor, a hidden bodysuit as armor + hidden cybernetic brawn enhancements? Guess what, you might just tell your players the wrong stats. "Looks like a pretty average human in a suit to you." 

Edit: 
Or to put differently: When hiding the stats of adversaries starts to blindfold the player characters to obvious informations you are overdoing it. The narrative solution is naturally always better, but sometimes it can be very convenient just to tell the players the stats to give them an idea of what their characters know.  

Edited by SEApocalypse

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Sharing NPC stats with players is a bad idea. The primary reason why it's a bad idea is that the game immediately stops being a role-playing game and becomes a weird tactical game. In Dungeons & Dragons, we called it "weird chess," what with the grids and the little figurines.

Think about it this way: everyone at the table is, more or less, speaking in character, describing what their characters are doing, and sharing in the group thought-space construct that makes up a shared narrative. Suddenly the GM say, "A stormtrooper runs at you. He has a 2 for every attribute and carries a weapon that you know causes 12 points of damage."

That fictional thought-space has imploded under the weight of statistics and all narrative momentum has come to a screeching halt. Everyone is suddenly engaging the left side of their brain and are calculating probability. No one is contributing to the group narrative. Once the mechanical resolution section ends, it takes time to return everyone fully to that fictional construct.

The whole point of a narrative role-playing game is that it's supposed to eliminate the fiddly, granular task resolution. When you start breaking down targets into probability ranges, it re-introduces the fiddly, granular task resolution of trad games.

In the rare instance where a player is unsure or just has to know where they stand, a GM can say something like, "You've fought soldiers carrying these types of armaments before. You feel confident you can successfully defeat them." 

Edited by Concise Locket

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I vote "No" for telling the stats.

as many mentioned, the game starts to become a strategic game the moment the players now to much numbers.

In my group the players are able to figured out most minion stats rather quick (or if standard stormies well they just know the stats) an it is always bothering when they start to discuss how they should try to annihilate them e.g.: "ok they are 5 with 5 HP each, the lightsabers ignore theire soak so we'll need 26 hitpoints to clear the mob... you should go first and try to hit with linked of your doublesaber if you get three successes they are toast.

but it is fun when ever I adjust those minions a little bit... just on HP more and: "after hitting the group very hard your looking into the heavy blasterrifle of the last nearly untouched Enemy... "

 

For for rivales and nemesis they have it a lot harder to find out, and then we are back in the narrative roleplaying.

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I let them know soak (when it comes up, which is hardly ever—they've got lightsabers), will sometimes note that an NPC is at, say, 7/15 wounds or 3/10 strain—which mostly just helps me keep track and helps them know when they're In Trouble—and relevant talents as they come up. So if someone's upgrading dice, I tell them why.

I give more info than most GMs, I think, but it's not a problem with my players. It might be with some parties, of course, but those aren't parties I'd personally want to GM for anyway. 

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Generally no. But I won't try to hide them either. Few times (mostly at the beginning) I have had to downgrade opponents during the encounter, as those **** droidekas were tougher than I anticipated. Adn that wouldn't have been possible with open stats.

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