building largish NPC groups: how to do this efficiently?

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serendipitous
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building largish NPC groups: how to do this efficiently?

Post by serendipitous » Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:55 am

First, thanks just so much for all y'all's help. My players seem to be having a grand time.

Next up for my players, who have come out of a tech-ed out version of "Frozen in Time": they have stumbled into the encampment of intelligent yeti who had them drop their weapons & are offering food & fire for the night. Unbeknownst to my players, these 18-20 yeti are a rescue party pursuing a slaver caravan which has taken a group of yeti children (to train up for a fabulous show at a particularly important festival in the warmer climes).

The party will be very motivated to help b/c they killed the mother yeti of one of the captured children and, though they don't know the fate of the child, they already feel guilty. Obviously they didn't tell the yeti group about this, they just said they "couldn't prevent" the death of the mama yeti & returned the contents of her pack to the group which included a shell-locket with a picture of the yeti tyke.

The yeti have allies: sentient, intelligent direwolves. Players haven't met these yet, I think they'll be necessary to pull off the heist.

As I conceive of the caravan, it has about 7 sleds (each drawn by 6 snow-hounds) and about 16 elven outriders on skis; 16 dwarf guards on the sleds; 10 human-basic traders/caretakers for the contraband.

I'd be grateful for any information you think is important/leveraged, and esp. am wondering:
1. How the heck do I make the yetis easily distinguishable for my characters? I figure 2-5 need real personalities + names. Names for everybody, though? T-shirts with numbers on them???
2. How do you come up with stats for a group of NPCs like this? I have some sample yeti stats from my original module, shall I just give them to all the yeti?
3. Similar for stats on the caravan.
4. How shall I stat the yeti children? At least one will be a sort of pre-teen leader; one will be a tot; the rest are up in the air, I was imagining about a dozen of them so that they outnumber my 7 players.
5. For story purposed it would be nice to have some non-yeti-child slaves on the caraven, too. Maybe something exotic, has to be native to the arctic region. If you have ideas I'd love to hear them. Especially I'm looking to make a non-sympathetic/evil slave creature so that we have good folks and bad folks on both sides.

Thanks in advance for help with this. My players are grateful, too.
"... and also: the willingness to stand firm, and also: where does one learn to stand firm? in what kind of school or university?" -- Bolano, 2666

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GnomeBoy
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Re: building largish NPC groups: how to do this efficiently?

Post by GnomeBoy » Fri Jun 19, 2020 12:59 pm

serendipitous wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:55 am
1. How the heck do I make the yetis easily distinguishable for my characters? I figure 2-5 need real personalities + names. Names for everybody, though? T-shirts with numbers on them???
So, maybe 2 or 3 are "important" in some way that is needed to drive what you're doing. Give them names, and a little personality note or two and figure out their motivation/goals.

Then just have a list of names you can pull from, if you even need them. When I make notes for a session, I usually have a short list of names jotted down, in case I need it.


serendipitous wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:55 am
2. How do you come up with stats for a group of NPCs like this? I have some sample yeti stats from my original module, shall I just give them to all the yeti?
I'd use all the same stats, unless you want to make the leader/main interactive character different in some way. Other uniqueness could be handled on the fly... "(oh, right, I said one of them has a peg-leg! ...um -5' movement) Ol' Peg Leg is trailing behind the group slightly, but just as willing to fight alongside you!"


serendipitous wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:55 am
3. Similar for stats on the caravan.
I'd just pull some stats from the stuff on page 432. If they're demihuman, elf/dwarf them up a little, if needed.

I am strongly in the camp that NPCs do not need to be the same as PCs, even for demihumans, i.e., dwarf NPCs don't have to have shield bash attacks nor Deeds for example. Class abilities are for player characters.

That said, there's no reason they can't have cool abilities you invent as parallels to Class abilities. Like maybe one of the Dwarfs smashes his own shield in rage and attacks with the jagged edge of it in combat, doing extra damage or something. No bonus to hit, not doing it as a second attack, but a bigger damage die than normal for a shield attack, or maybe the same 1d3, but with +2 added in...


serendipitous wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:55 am
4. How shall I stat the yeti children? At least one will be a sort of pre-teen leader; one will be a tot; the rest are up in the air, I was imagining about a dozen of them so that they outnumber my 7 players.
I'd use the yeti stats, but scale them back logically. Like, teens may have as much HD as adults, but younger than that, start dropping the die size as they get younger. The tot might have 1 hp.

They may not have as much AC adults, not being as 'trained' in avoiding things/seeing things coming. Depends on the culture.


serendipitous wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:55 am
5. For story purposed it would be nice to have some non-yeti-child slaves on the caraven, too. Maybe something exotic, has to be native to the arctic region. If you have ideas I'd love to hear them. Especially I'm looking to make a non-sympathetic/evil slave creature so that we have good folks and bad folks on both sides.
I dunno about another type of "northern children" but maybe they have some captured some cold-climate creatures to show off?
https://appendixm.blogspot.com/search/label/cold
...
Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be 100+ DCC Monsters

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Raven_Crowking
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Re: building largish NPC groups: how to do this efficiently?

Post by Raven_Crowking » Fri Jun 19, 2020 2:06 pm

SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

serendipitous
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Re: building largish NPC groups: how to do this efficiently?

Post by serendipitous » Fri Jun 19, 2020 3:51 pm

GnomeBoy, thanks for specific suggestions + your link to cool creatures. Am re-reading carefully, taking notes.

Likewise Raven_Crowking, very useful link & those do look like great creatures to include in the slave caravan.

I'm really grateful, was a bit daunted but I've already told the players about the gazillion yeti so I'm committed to doing something nifty with them.
"... and also: the willingness to stand firm, and also: where does one learn to stand firm? in what kind of school or university?" -- Bolano, 2666

serendipitous
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Re: building largish NPC groups: how to do this efficiently?

Post by serendipitous » Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:14 am

brief update: first session, with lots of yeti, went well! This was my "session 0" + intro to adventure. I clearly have a lot to learn, so that's humbling! and the players had a good time with the yeti + went gloriously off-script. I had to call a bio-break and brainstorm with my husband, but all went well in the end. Next up will be other creatures + monster. Thanks so much for the help.
Last edited by serendipitous on Wed Jun 24, 2020 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"... and also: the willingness to stand firm, and also: where does one learn to stand firm? in what kind of school or university?" -- Bolano, 2666

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Raven_Crowking
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Re: building largish NPC groups: how to do this efficiently?

Post by Raven_Crowking » Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:29 am

serendipitous wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:14 am
brief update: first session, with lots of yeti, went well! This was my "session 0" + intro to adventure. I clearly have a lot to learn, so that's humbling! and the players had a good time with the yeti + went gloriously off-script. I had to call a bio-break and brainstorm with mu husband, but all went well in the end. Next up will be other creatures + monster. Thanks so much for the help.
Awesome!

And congratulations on a successful game!
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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GnomeBoy
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Re: building largish NPC groups: how to do this efficiently?

Post by GnomeBoy » Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:46 am

Glad to hear it went well! :D
...
Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be 100+ DCC Monsters

bygrinstow.com - The Home of Inner Ham

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