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gareth_lazelle

NPCs and Void Points

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Is it intended that NPCs receive void points? Or are they intended to be solely a player resource? 

The void point section on pg. 36 references "characters", not "player characters" or some such (though the sidebar could be read to infer player-only without explicitly stating it), and the NPC section doesn't mention them at all that I could find? 

They seem really powerful for mooks, but seem apt for some of the more powerful characters? Any thoughts? 

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I don't think they're intended to receive void points, but it's not confirmed either way. Personally I haven't had my NPCs benefit from them. There might come a situation where I think it's appropriate to let an NPC use a void point, I'm not saying this is a definite no-no, I just haven't seen such a situation yet.

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Maybe for a super important, central NPC of the campaign (think the arch-villain or equivalent), I'd give them one or two to up the challenge. But NPC mechanics typically do not account for them.

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Agreed. While I wouldn't say never, most NPCs shouldn't have Void Points in my opinion.

An opponent who did turn up with one or more Void points would need to have a reason for it. And when they spend them it should probably be obvious to the players (if not exactly the characters) that this NPC is special. In addition to being a very important NPC as Franwax suggest, I think another possibility is that they are somehow favored by Heaven (or Jigoku...) or otherwise "enlightened" or "spiritual."  Something like a Tengu NPC *might* fit this bill, even if it wasn't a super important arch-villain.

Certainly not every monk or shugenja deserves to get this special treatment!

Edited by Void Crane

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Got my Emerald Empire today and I found that Shoshuro Hyobu, governess of Ryoko Owari, has an ability that requires her to spend a void point to use. That confirms that extraordinary NPCs at least should be able to use void points. I'd still keep this extremely rare. 

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4 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

Got my Emerald Empire today and I found that Shoshuro Hyobu, governess of Ryoko Owari, has an ability that requires her to spend a void point to use. That confirms that extraordinary NPCs at least should be able to use void points. I'd still keep this extremely rare. 

Yeah, but unless her text notes that she is an exception in having void points, it does further muddy the waters in terms of working out what FFG intended, as it would indicate that void points are assumed for NPCs, 

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1 hour ago, gareth_lazelle said:

Yeah, but unless her text notes that she is an exception in having void points, it does further muddy the waters in terms of working out what FFG intended, as it would indicate that void points are assumed for NPCs, 

Sure, but this puts us in the same position as with strife for NPCs: how much are they supposed to have at the start of a scene? It's still going to be up to the GM to adjudicate. And this GM at least is going to lowball that number. ;) 

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4 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Sure, but this puts us in the same position as with strife for NPCs: how much are they supposed to have at the start of a scene? It's still going to be up to the GM to adjudicate. And this GM at least is going to lowball that number. ;) 

these numbers are like HPs in D&D; easiest thing to fudge :D

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5 hours ago, gareth_lazelle said:

Yeah, but unless her text notes that she is an exception in having void points, it does further muddy the waters in terms of working out what FFG intended, as it would indicate that void points are assumed for NPCs, 

I usually split it between 'Adversaries' and 'Minions.' Unless the generic profile of the minion indicates they have a Void-use ability, they don't have it. If they do have such a technique, they have 1 void.

Adversaries, like PCs, start the 'game' with 1 Void. In this case, they haven't made any checks or suffered from disadvantages off-screen, so they haven't gained any more. But if their disadvantage causes them to fail a roll, I'd give them one more (unless they had a Void of 1, naturally). Clearly you couldn't 'hide the TN' from the NPC, so they won't get Void Points that way.

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15 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

I don't think they're intended to receive void points, but it's not confirmed either way. Personally I haven't had my NPCs benefit from them. There might come a situation where I think it's appropriate to let an NPC use a void point, I'm not saying this is a definite no-no, I just haven't seen such a situation yet.

Given that the text on void points (p 36) says character - and page 22 notes that there are multiple kinds of character.

Quote

Void points are a resource that characters can spend to surpass their normal limits, exert extra effort, or activate certain special abilities

It doesn't specify PC.

page 309 gives this:

Quote

 

Adversaries behave like standard characters.

 

I'd submit that NPCs can and should have and use Void Points - but the only way they're earning them is by using their adversity, as their player always knows the TN, and they  don't have anxieties (so far; later might).

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8 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

I'd submit that NPCs can and should have and use Void Points - but the only way they're earning them is by using their adversity, 

I'm coming to agree that this is the rules as written, but I do wonder if it was just an oversight, 

That said, as was pointed out above, some foes seem very weak compared with their conflict rank, and this would help offset that, but does it swing too far the other way?

A pack of goblins with one VP each would be terrifying, and be a mess to track, certainly better if minions had group void perhaps calculated like their group composure is, though as written that would clearly be a house rule...

As for gaining void, pg. 36 also says that:

Quote

A character begins the game with Void Points equal to half their Void Ring, rounded up

So whilst they are hindered from accruing void, they can certainly have the points if you take that at face value. 

I'm also thinking that this might well be a reasonable thing for setting tone - if you want a very heroic tone for your game then it's probably inappropriate for all but major NPCs, but if you want to make things a little tougher for the PCs, then this is a reasonable place to do that, 

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13 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

Sure, but this puts us in the same position as with strife for NPCs: how much are they supposed to have at the start of a scene? It's still going to be up to the GM to adjudicate. And this GM at least is going to lowball that number. ;) 

I'd actually suggest that you eyeball strife in the same way that you would for fatigue, 

It you meet a guy that's exhausted then you give him some starting fatigue (or maybe a wound or condition if it's bad enough) , 

If he's at the end of his tether then you give him some strife (and maybe compromised or unmasked if it's bad enough) , 

No reason that any of these should necessarily be "reset" whenever you meet a character, I don't think that's contraversial? 

But I think this is more fundamental than that, if npcs don't get void then it's not a case of eyeballing. On the other hand, if it is part of the rules, then eyeball all you want (and I agree that low is probably better as a rule of thumb), 

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Some more food for thought, 

Page 40-41 in the "Learn to Play" rules booklet states the following:

Quote

Minions

... 

  • Minions may never have void points. 

And:

Quote

Adversaries

... 

Adversaries behave like standard characters, and may even have Void Points

However, neither part appears in the same section in the full rulebook (page 309), 

This is especially glaring in the latter case about adversaries, where the paragraph is otherwise printed verbatim, with only the clause on void points having been deleted (the Minions bit is significantly rewritten, but with Void Points excluded). 

I would say that this was conclusive except that it looks like the text was explicitly purged of any mention of void points, which suggests that it was deliberately removed (unless it's just hidden under the text box on the same page!) 

Edited by gareth_lazelle

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47 minutes ago, gareth_lazelle said:

I'd actually suggest that you eyeball strife in the same way that you would for fatigue, 

It you meet a guy that's exhausted then you give him some starting fatigue (or maybe a wound or condition if it's bad enough) , 

If he's at the end of his tether then you give him some strife (and maybe compromised or unmasked if it's bad enough) , 

No reason that any of these should necessarily be "reset" whenever you meet a character, I don't think that's contraversial? 

But I think this is more fundamental than that, if npcs don't get void then it's not a case of eyeballing. On the other hand, if it is part of the rules, then eyeball all you want (and I agree that low is probably better as a rule of thumb), 

Fatigue is fairly straightforward in my opinion - either there's a reason the NPC is running around a bit haggard, or he doesn't have any fatigue. It's straightforward because it's that way for the PCs as well, they will typically not have any fatigue unless something happened a short while ago. Strife and void points on the other hand usually are not at zero, and in my experience how they fluctuate can differ pretty significantly from one group to the next, or even from one player to the next in the same group. I find that I pass around NPC strife differently from one group to the next as well because of that. If a groups consistently looks for ways to wipe their strife, that's going to be par for the course for Rokugan too; if another group feels it's for some reason not appropriate to minimize their strife every step of the way, the NPCs in "their" Rokugan are likely to carry around some residual stress most of the time too. Maybe I'll start varying my NPC void point use a bit more as well, but unless they have a ability that calls for void point use I don't think I'll be inclined to have them benefit from void a whole lot regardless.

 

32 minutes ago, gareth_lazelle said:

I would say that this was conclusive except that it looks like the text was explicitly purged of any mention of void points, which suggests that it was deliberately removed (unless it's just hidden under the text box on the same page!) 

 That text from the booklet would be pretty much on the money for me. "May even have void points", as I interpret it, doesn't seem to indicate this is common.

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1 minute ago, nameless ronin said:

 That text from the booklet would be pretty much on the money for me. "May even have void points", as I interpret it, doesn't seem to indicate this is common.

Agreed, 

But as I say, the text was explicitly deleted between the LTP and the final release, that suggests to me one of the following:

  1. FFG has a versioning issue here, and the some edits to the LTP didn't make it into the core rules, 
  2. After printing the LTP document, it was decided that no NPCs get VP, and as it was obvious (not obvious) this part of the text was deleted, 
  3.  After printing the LTP document, it was decided that all NPCs get VP, and as it was obvious (not obvious) this part of the text was deleted, 
  4. An editing or layout error resulted in the explanatory text being deleted or obscured by mistake. 

Thing is, LTP documents are frequently stripped down and simplified, I'm hesitant to treat its word as gospel, though I do see it as strong evidence supporting that aproach. 

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On 2/5/2019 at 12:54 AM, AK_Aramis said:

page 309 gives this: "Adversaries behave like standard characters."

I'd submit that NPCs can and should have and use Void Points - but the only way they're earning them is by using their adversity, as their player always knows the TN, and they  don't have anxieties (so far; later might).

The other thing with this is that Adversaries, and NPCs of any kind that are written up by FFG, don't really behave like standard characters. They have no school ranks - even the non-generic ones that come from a specific clan background, like Shoshuro Hyobu - and they have abilities that are not available to PCs, for one thing. They seem to be designed for scenes, not for adventures - which only makes sense of course, but I'd say that makes for a good argument in favour of their resources and their pre-scene "baggage" to be handled differently as well.

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You can add void point to adversaries if you want, like you can give them techniques.

I mean, some techniques even require to spend void points.

If you want to give them no void point at the beginning of the scene, so be it, but nothing stops you from doing it.

I don't see the issue since in the game you basically write down the adversaries however you like since they have no logic to them in their stat calculation. To be fair, I am much more concerned with flawed, broken, unbalanced, unclear rules for the players and general play than however the NPCs are designed. The GM is not playing against the player, you can fudge your NPCs as much as you want, and the system basically tells you to fudge the NPCs by having an illogical stat distribution system and general skill trees (is it because your BadBushi NPC have 4 in melee that he also have 4 in meditation ? I mean, by the book yes, but nothing stops you from rolling less dice if you think it wouldn't make sense for the NPC to have that skill.)



short answer; do it if you want, it won't break anything.

Edited by Avatar111

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@AK_Aramis : I'm not sure how to interpret your reaction. I mean, FFG seems to drop this kind of comments in here and there that don't seem to make sense if you look at them in the larger context of the game. The generic Adversaries from the core book don't really behave like standard characters, but them being generic is maybe a little bit of a justification for that. However, now I have EE and all these named NPCs are school-less (I don't think a single one of them even has a Technique, though I could have missed one), they don't have the same advantages and disadvantages PCs do (which is kind of a bummer for Bayushi Manipulators for instance), they have demeanors affecting checks (which are great, but don't apply to PCs), and they use skill groups instead of individual ranks. I'm really happy with all these NPC writeups in EE (I'll be making a reference table, since that's unfortunately missing from the book), but they really do feel very different from some of the NPCs I created using standard character creation. Yasuki Nobuko on p. 129 has Air 4, Fire 2 and Void 1: is that an error or do Adversary stats not follow the general rules for Ring values (I'm guessing the latter, especially since without school their "starting stats" can be anything anyway)?

That line about behaving like standard characters just seems to be there to contrast with Minions, which have three explicit exceptions to the regular rules. Beyond that, I wouldn't know what to make of it.

Edited by nameless ronin

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8 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

I don't think a single one of them even has a Technique, though I could have missed one

Well, they do have techniques... except they're called "abilities" and are different from the ones available to PCs 😛

Even when the techniques have the same name, their effects are slightly different (in the CRB, the skillful ronin's Striking as Fire is actually good!)

Bottom line is, yes, even adversaries NPCs have different rules. It's still perfectly ok to give them a Void Point here and there, and even add some PC-compatible techniques - as suggested in the Templates - if it makes the challenge more interesting.

12 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

they don't have the same advantages and disadvantages PCs do (which is kind of a bummer for Bayushi Manipulators for instance)

I am not sure that it's such an issue for the Bayushi Manipulator... in any case, they would have to find out the disadvantage (with techniques or Air opportunities), and once they have, they can exploit it all the same. It does not really matter that the disadvantages come in different flavors; exploiting them still lets you reroll dice.

But that's an aside... I think you've got it right, overall.

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8 minutes ago, Franwax said:

Well, they do have techniques... except they're called "abilities" and are different from the ones available to PCs 😛

I expect this is really going to bug me, down the road. 😛 

 

8 minutes ago, Franwax said:

I am not sure that it's such an issue for the Bayushi Manipulator... in any case, they would have to find out the disadvantage (with techniques or Air opportunities), and once they have, they can exploit it all the same. It does not really matter that the disadvantages come in different flavors; exploiting them still lets you reroll dice.

It's mostly that they only have one disadvantage, while PCs have at least two. Only half as likely to be able to use the school ability.

Edited by nameless ronin

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11 minutes ago, Franwax said:

Well, they do have techniques... except they're called "abilities" and are different from the ones available to PCs 😛

3 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

I expect this is really going to bug me, down the road. 😛  

In some cases they're simplified, or have a numerical value 'baked in' where a school rank would sit for a PC.

In the Beta, it was much more explicit:

"Void Points: Adversaries can accrue and spend Void points in the normal manner (see Void Points, on page 21). They always start with 1 Void point, like PCs, and they may gain more during scenes in which they appear."

I honestly didn't register that that hadn't been carried through - I just always assume an adversary-level opponent has 1 void point unless they have a good reason to have more or less for a given scene.

 

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NPC do have techniques if you add a template to them.

Also, nothing stops you from making a full fledged character for major NPC that plays exactly like a PC. It is more work, but totally doable and doesn't break anything.

I really think this part of the system is super flexible. And I don't mind that!

I don't mind a malleable system. Though, I do not like when the rules are butched (like duels, or movements etc).
 

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18 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

@AK_Aramis : I'm not sure how to interpret your reaction.

It means I find your conclusion inconsonant with what evidence has presented, and expected  better. Either going with the preponderance or making a stronger case against it.

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