Thursday, May 26, 2011

Diceless NPCs, Done Better

In the last playtest report of Heroes of Destiny, I noted that the method by which I set up NPCs to not use dice wasn't effective. Upon reflection, I believe a large part of this is because while I did remove the physical act of rolling dice, I didn't substantively remove the need to manage resources enough from NPCs. In effect, I took out the time required to generate the resource, but the real work in running NPCs remained. Thus in play they weren't any easier to adjudicate.

So, in redesigning them, what I really need to do is take the work out of running the NPCs, not the dice. They're not the same thing. How to do that? Well, if my goal is to make combat roll just like non-combat actions, it means they need to work like any other obstacle. That is, NPCs aren't lists of stats, but target numbers that the PCs need to hit. An NPC's attack score is really just the TN the player needs to make on his defense roll, and his defense score is the difficulty for a PC's attack roll.

In theory, this removes the resource management problem from NPCs. Instead, the GM just needs to get the roll tallies from each player in turn, compare them to the target numbers that are the NPC's stats, and give back the information. Damage is based on how much the PC fails his defense roll.

What about special abilities? Well, I don't know yet. I'll get back to that. Not forgotten, but not for now. That's a little detailed given that there's a lot of basic system work that still needs rework.

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