Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Modest Proposal for Modeling NPC Conversations

   As I stated in my previous post, NPC interactions in solo play require a means to limit the DMs omniscience.  What I'm looking for is a system that will let me determine degree of success the party has in obtaining information and the type of information they obtain.

Degree of Success
   Way back in the 1980's when I was attending a Safety Officer course in the Navy, the instructor informed us that in the real world, plagiarism is a form of research.  He was being a little over the top, but the gist was don't reinvent the wheel, if someone is doing it right use their system instead of building one from scratch.  In the context of degree of success in gaming, I'm turning to Mythic, I consider it an invaluable resource for solo play and a great aid for regular play.  I won't go into a lot of detail, but the core of Mythic is the Fate Chart which indexes Ability (Acting Rank) against Difficulty.  It's non-system specific, so it uses adjectives instead of ability scores, here's a snippet from the table..
Difficulty Class
Acting RankAverageAbove Average
Average10  50  91 7  35  88
Above Average13  65  9410  50  91

Interpreting the table - each cell has three numbers, the center number (larger) is the target for success.  Rolling that number (on percentile dice) or below indicates success.  Rolling above the number indicates failure.  The small number in front indicates what must be thrown to achieve exceptional success, the trailing small number indicates exceptional failure.  For example, a character with Average Strength would have a 50/50 chance of smashing through a flimsy door.  Rolling anything from 11-50 indicates that the character succeeded.  Rolling from 51-90 indicates they failed but may try again.  From 01-10 is an exceptional success, smashing the door into splinters and probably gaining surprise.  From 91-00 is exceptional failure, not only is the door still intact, but they hurt themselves in the effort.

Determining Acting Rank - I'm using ACKS for solo play and it's not skill based so I'll use the character's Charisma score, with a +2 for the Diplomacy and Mystic Aura Proficiencies if they have them.  I will not give them a bonus for a high Charisma score as that is already factored into the Fate Chart.  So to transfer Ability Score (+ Proficiency) to the Fate Chart Adjectives

Ability Score+Acting Rank
7-8Below Average
13-14Above Average

Difficulty Class - Getting information is not easy, especially if the parties aren't already acquainted.  So default will be High, but I'll readily modify it for bribes, purchases or other favors done by the party for the NPC.

What Do They Learn?
Depends on the type of NPC, RENPCs (Rear Echelon NPCs) will know general answers to 1d3+1 questions.  iNPCs (NPCs living in the dungeon) will know detailed answers to 1d4+2 questions.  If which questions are being asked aren't obvious, I'll roll a d6 (1) Who, (2) What, (3) Where, (4) When, (5) Why and (6) How.

Exceptional Success
For RENPCs, they have the knowledge chances of an iNPC.  Essentially, you lucked out and asked the one guy in town who knew exactly what you wanted to find out.  For iNPCs, they know detailed answers to all questions, they may be a former ally or disaffected employee of the villain.

Exceptional Failure
For RENPCs, they make sh*t up and ask you to pay so you think it's valuable.  Don't expect to see them around if you make back out of the dungeon.  For iNPCs, they'll either tell you something to get you into trouble, like 'The door isn't trapped' or they'll immediately hie off and let the bad guy know to expect you.

What's on their mind?
The last piece is what do the NPCs want to talk about.  As I discussed in the earlier post, iNPCs want to discuss getting rid of their heavily armed visitors.  RENPCs will inform the party of Background Events and Rumors.  I'll post a generic table of those later.

1 comment:

  1. My scene 24 notes contain a bit of similar thinking:

    Q: do they have a good lead? Unlikely: 39, Yes.
    (1-2 person 3-4 place 5-6 thing)