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Thread: NPC levels

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    Administrator Green Knight's Avatar
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    NPC levels

    Note: This thread is inspired by the ongoing Chamberlain thread.

    To me the NPC levels assigned in the various BR products seemed haphazard at best. When looking at all the BR products that were made, it seems to me that there were very little thought given to what were reasonable character levels.

    Well, with 3E this bothered me even more than it did in 2E. 3E is more internally consistent than the previous edition, so the great variety in levels really started to bother me. I wanted some consistence for NPCs' personal power and the arrival of 3E was a perfect opportunity to do something about it.

    So, for my RoE PBeM campaign (using 3E) i started assigning levels anew...the rule of thumb was that no regent be under 6th level unless there was a really good reason (youth, incompetence, whatever). At the same time there would be no regents over 10th level...unless there was a really good reason. And no "normal" mortal NPC would be allowed a level over 15th (I think Aeric Boeruine was allowed to be a 15th lvl Fighter, but that was the highest).

    I really didn't look too closely on the level assigned to various BR products, nor what classes they had. I looked more at their descriptions and how they fit into the campaign. I also wanted there to be a certain link between personal power and domain power...but not absolute, if the situation warranted it there were weak characters with strong domains and vice versa.

    Aeric is mentioned above. A powerful fighter with a powerful realms. Avan was also pretty simple. He turned out a 12th level noble. Others needed more though. Siele Ghoried (a female IMC) was also made a Noble/Rogue 4/3 to reflect that IMC she was the rightful heir to Ghoried province and had a fair bit of diplomatic skill and a nice upbringing. Aelies got to be 20th level...but I nerferd his spellcasting a bit by giving 4 druid levels Jaison Raenech were to have a special place in the campaign, so he got a serious boost to Bbn 1/Fighter 13 (to allow him to fly into mindless rages). And so on.

    It should be noted that I also gave thought to the lower levels AND the VERY high levels. I decided that 2nd level was the average for a trained adult, working up to about 5th level for skilled (and often older) professionals - for example a skilled soldier in a standing army would be a Warrior 2, a trained and bloodied knight a Fighter 4, the old Gamekeeper an Expert 5, etc. Some exceptions here too - the master smith of Baruk-Azhik might be an Expert 12 for example.

    I had some very high lvl NPC too. Aelies was mentioned above. The Chamberlain was one such too (but he wasn't really that much of a combatant despite a very high level). And then there were Epic character...Rhuobhe (25th) and the Gorgon (30th level) are obvious examples. The Emerald Queen also got to be a (low) Epic level character.

    Now, I'm not saying this is the RIGHT way to assign NPC levels, I'm just arguing that even the Wiki NPCs should be subject to some regimen aimed at providing internal consistency. It seems less useful to the average player to have access to NPC descriptions that are "all over the place" with regards to design philosophy. I just looked at the Gorgon and found him having 46 character level + various blood and other abilities, I'm sure his CR is over 50

    Actually, with the benefit of hindsight, I probably would have toned ALL levels down a bit. But 3E was new at the time and I wanted to get a spread of levels. And it was internally consistent and that was a major boon to me....and I think the Wiki could benefit too.
    Cheers
    Bj°rn
    DM of Ruins of Empire II PbeM

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    So... are you basically advocating that Realms should have Challenge Ratings?

    A realm with a certain amount of power has a ruler with a certain level?

    I always thought that the realms were basically divided along the lines of blood line ability, rather than level. This was because in 2e, the level of the ruler didn't really matter for the purpose of who was a better ruler - few skills/proficiencies, no real way to increase those, no way to increase ability scores, etc. Instead, it was about getting enough regency based on your blood score.

    3e BRCS made it so that level is a bit more important for the purpose of realm management - thus the noble class, for instance - although any player can create a character at about 2nd or 3rd level that can maximize their regency gains for almost any realm anyways.

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    A large powerful realm is going to be the target of major internal issues if its ruler is 'a child'. I'd expect that in the event that Avan, Ghoere, Boeruine died with just a L1 heir, the nobility et al would make sure that either a more worthy candidate took the throne, or was at least set-up as the 'key advisor'. Boy-kings make for great novels but lousy administrators. Low level regents should be temporary one way or the other.


    Regents who have ruled their realm for a long time need to be high enough level to be competent at facing pretty much any challenge they will meet - otherwise how did they keep their throne?


    This need for competence also holds true for ability scores (any Int 5 regents out there?) bloodline (they should be able to get at least half the RP generated by their realm), diplomatic skill, etc.


    Any ruler short on one of these personal attributes, like a realm short on one of gold, soldiers, etc) is going to be short lived.

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    Administrator Green Knight's Avatar
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    Side note: It also depends a bit on how heavily the DM/players buy into the "Hero-Kings" thingy. If rulers are not only rulers, but ALSO heroes (or villains), then it makes even more sense to make them stand out. And this being DnD character levels is THE way to make a character a somebody
    Cheers
    Bj°rn
    DM of Ruins of Empire II PbeM

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    Junior Member Capricia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    A large powerful realm is going to be the target of major internal issues if its ruler is 'a child'. I'd expect that in the event that Avan, Ghoere, Boeruine died with just a L1 heir, the nobility et al would make sure that either a more worthy candidate took the throne, or was at least set-up as the 'key advisor'. Boy-kings make for great novels but lousy administrators. Low level regents should be temporary one way or the other.


    Regents who have ruled their realm for a long time need to be high enough level to be competent at facing pretty much any challenge they will meet - otherwise how did they keep their throne?


    This need for competence also holds true for ability scores (any Int 5 regents out there?) bloodline (they should be able to get at least half the RP generated by their realm), diplomatic skill, etc.


    Any ruler short on one of these personal attributes, like a realm short on one of gold, soldiers, etc) is going to be short lived.

    That's over generalizing somewhat. I've seen lower level or low blooded regents inherit thrones by force or accident and cope just fine. I've also seen higher level regents do a piss poor job of running their realm. The level is just a number, the higher it is the easier it can be to control the larger realms. Ultimately a player who can role play, act with diplomacy and work with intelligence and forethought can do very well with a lower level (but reasonably well created) regent.

    I have a pet peeve about obsessing over levels and abilities. I'm a book keeper, I deal with numbers all day. I game to role play, not crunch numbers.

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    Administrator Green Knight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by epicsoul View Post
    So... are you basically advocating that Realms should have Challenge Ratings?

    A realm with a certain amount of power has a ruler with a certain level?

    I always thought that the realms were basically divided along the lines of blood line ability, rather than level. This was because in 2e, the level of the ruler didn't really matter for the purpose of who was a better ruler - few skills/proficiencies, no real way to increase those, no way to increase ability scores, etc. Instead, it was about getting enough regency based on your blood score.

    3e BRCS made it so that level is a bit more important for the purpose of realm management - thus the noble class, for instance - although any player can create a character at about 2nd or 3rd level that can maximize their regency gains for almost any realm anyways.
    Not quite that exact, but I am implying that as a general rule (exceptions will apply) a powerful domain should have a powerful ruler. I also tend to think that any powerful domain that has a competent ruler should also have a decent blood score.

    I don't use the BRCS so this is not a factor here. Internal consistency is. And I would disagree that character level was not important in 2E. Regents are not just rulers on the domain level...they are characters that also interact on the "hero" level.

    So there should be at least some links between domain power - character power (and perhaps blood power as well). NOT a fixed formula...just some guidelines to make making NPCs for the Wiki more internally consistent. IF, for any reason, a good story-driven reason exists for the guidelines to be broken...that's just very good...
    Cheers
    Bj°rn
    DM of Ruins of Empire II PbeM

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capricia View Post
    That's over generalizing somewhat. I've seen lower level or low blooded regents inherit thrones by force or accident and cope just fine. I've also seen higher level regents do a piss poor job of running their realm. The level is just a number, the higher it is the easier it can be to control the larger realms...
    Of course it is an over-generalisation - although I was considering NPC's only and hadn't considered applying it to PC's. For NPC's - which is what all characters are before taken over by players - there should either be a match to the realm, or a reason for the mis-match, even if the reason is metagame (your wizard realm is crappy, so I'll give your PC extra levels to compensate).

    A novice PC's skills can as you say get over-powered by a veteran players skills and vice versa - resulting in the L15 PC with high diplomacy who writes in broken english or insults everyone around them and the L1 rogue with no strategy skill who uses 20 years of playing warhammer et al to slaughter an opposing army. For the DM trying to consider the realms before the players come along the stats are all they have so the stats have to dominate.

    Besides as a GM actively running upwards to a hundred NPC's (or even more!), roleplaying each of them as well as the Player will roleplay their dozen of so PC's is hard - the poor DM has enough trouble with the book-keeping side of BR as it is.

  8. #8
    Are there any specific regents you have in mind to take a look at? Khinasi might be an example of some higher level people. There are a bunch of rulers and advisers at level 10 or above.

    I would think that when we are talking about maxed out levels of each domain that each domain would need to be taken into consideration. Khinasi it might be more acceptable to have a few higher level wizards. Brecht might have more higher level rogue/guilders.

    -BB

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    The question to me I suppose is 'at what level should PC's be interacting directly with these people' - once that is agreed we can set level accordingly.

    Past L12 or so I find gameplay suffers a lot in D&D, below L6 or so the characters have yet to prove themselves 'head and shoulders' above the common folk so don't fit as rulers. Other people find that it's L12 before PC's start to 'hit their stride'. What sort of level to other people see regents as?

    i.e. should a low/med/high level opponent be L5-10/8-12/10-15, or 1-4/3-6/8-12 etc?

    I can see some games where the issue would be raising NPC levels not lowering them - it depends a lot on whether people like Darien Avan as 'end campaign' foes, or 'mid campaign' foes.

    If they are mid-campaign foes then beefing them makes the 'real foes' need to be epic level, if the campaign is to unite Anuire then they should be the end game foes themselves.

    The wiki lets us make several versions of the same character, but each build takes time to build that could be spent on other things...

  10. #10
    I think ultimately it might be too hard to set levels for all NPC's. I feel their might be too many seperate opinions on what is a good level. Nothing wrong with that of course as all DM's tailor campaigns to fit their tastes.

    I would say lets create a list of NPC's people feel are too high of a level and work from there. We can debate each one on their own merits. If we feel in general they might be too high of a level we can add a note on the Wiki that the community feels the level might be a bit high and offer a more resonable level. Or reverse it and have the community level listed but note what the original level was.

    If people think this is a good idea let me know and I will list out the Khanasi people with levels above 10.

    -BB

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