Thursday, June 15, 2006

Nobody here but us chickens... and Here's Why: On NPCs

and Navy, and Marines, and Army, and Scouts, and Merchants, and... Other.

I'm having a little temptation away from my LBB123-ness on account of Supplement 4, Citizens of the Imperium.

I like a lot of it. But I'm holding fast.

Any character types not in LBB1, I'll make up. It's a nice, standard format to follow, and that'll be no sweat. My notional players are unlikely to carp.

And anyhow, I don't know that really need that involved a system for generating NPCs.

My assumption is that Travellers - PCs primarily - are remarkable individuals. They're accustomed to taking risks. They have abilities beyond the norm - either unusual skills, or unusually high ones. Spacer services and the Military tend to produce a disproportionate number of these, because their skill sets are conducive to high adventure, and because the nature of their service lends itself to the uprooted lifestyle Travelling calls for.

For spacer and military NPCs, then, standard chargen is useful, though not necessary. It's pretty safe to say that *average* ship crews aren't going to often be much more skilled than your *average* PC.

For redshirts, all you need are three numbers and standard armament. Weapons skill 0 with what they have on hand. Ship crews, by and large, will be skill-1.

For groundhogs, I'm inclined to give them 1 skill level per "term," loosely defined, plus they might have 0-level skills appropriate to their world and tech, along with possible higher levels in their profession. A thirtyish broker on a rich tech 8 world might have admin-3, ground car-0. A crooked one might have admin-1 bribery -2. No muss, no fuss, no worries. The main thing is to provide color: the general personality and all.

Patrons, generally, need more embellishment. But I don't see needing CharGen for them much. Assigning appropriate skills and attributes seems best.

As for particular skills - prospecting, for instance - these I'm inclined to adjudicate as they come along, rather than try to do anything all-encompassing.

I have a card-box full of generated characters in the 6 "services"- anyone who's done Traveller at all does. And I'm inclined to adapt some of them to NPC roles: not necessarily based on their service, but on their skills and abilities. Service, I may change to suit. That babyfaced Navy Ensign with a knighthood might be usable as rolled, but he might make a better "professional" noble, or some other sort of functionary.


Blogger KenHR said...

Yeah, you make a good point. NPCs don't need to be run through chargen unless they're really important or exceptional. While it's fun to tinker with the chargen system and create new professions, it's not really necessary.

I've taken to calling Jack-o-T the "pulp hero" skill, as it lets a character have a better than normal chance to accomplish just about anything. The presence of that skill alone says to me, "PCs are exceptional."

In my game, I've settled on offering LBB1 characters up front, with the alternate professions from Supp4 available if a player thinks to ask about it (e.g. "You know, I really want to play a scientist-type guy."). If they don't, I stay mum!

11:48 AM  
Blogger MTU: The Festrian Empire said...

Hmm. I can see that approach working (S4 under-the-counter.) Though I'd first maybe suggest that the Scouts are always looking for xenologists...

1:21 PM  

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