NPC classes for players to increase challenges.



Feb 01, 2004 18:38:26
One thing that I've notice in the Ravenloft game that I'm running is that the players are having trouble with visualising the fear and horrors that their characters are experiencing. How on earth, they ask, would a great axe wielding barbarian or a trained fighter ever gross out over a pool of blood or a dead body?
Well, they probably wouldn't- they're adventurers.

What I'm thinking of doing is eventually running a game where all of the players use NPC classes, and play ordinary townsfolk. Simple commoners, guardsmen and educated doctors (even the occasional ghosthunter, or adept).
The game would obviously not have as many combat oriented challenges- it would, however, have more roleplaying and psycological encounters.

I'm hoping that with the percieved decreased power of the PCs, that they would act more appropriately to the horror setting and would consider solving problems through non-violent means (which most of my players can't even comprehend).

What do you think. It wouldn't be a long campaign, nor would it be a very epic game.

I'm thinking about (for the first time at least) making the players roll to randomly determine their classes. I'd probably make the commoner class advance 10% or 20% faster than the rest of the classes (due to its weak nature, and the simple lifestyle of the commoner making any simple challenge seem significant)


Feb 01, 2004 20:00:01
In my game once played expert/commoner multiclass, and once an aristocrat.
I have home rule - the commoners earns twice more xp that any other PC class, other NPC classes earn 1.5 more xp.

The NPC classes have too low powers and traits and playing them not so interesting - so I advice you not focusting your company on NPC - better rise challenges foe PC - there was same effect.

In my games I also roll randomly for classes. There are some suggestions: roll d100 for your character and consult with entry for his domain in Gazeteer

1 commoner
2-10 any NPC class
11-50 any common in that domain class
51-75 any uncommon in that domain class
76-90 any rare in that domain class
91-99 any very rare in that domain class
00 any class

Afcourse you can take any class "lower" than your roll if you wish (so when rolling 53 on classes you can take any common or uncommon class for that domain)


Feb 01, 2004 21:01:09
having everyone begin as NPC classes is always an idea. If you don't want vetrans of the horrors of the world, this option surely can help bring home the fact that Ravenloft is scary.

if you do this, i would suggest the players needing to find some other adventurers to train them how to become more than what they are.


Feb 01, 2004 22:26:57
Another option is that you have them start off as say 0 level characters, perhaps similar to Commoners in stats. From there you allow them a few skill points to place wherever they wish, sort of to personalize their Commoner.

Then you could allow them access to other skills or feats or abilities as they discover them or use them. Say for Open Lock, a Commoner learns how to do it more and more via using the skill and picking locks...


Feb 02, 2004 1:47:28
If the campaign was going to be long term, then I would allow the players to gain levels in PC classes (through proper exposure, training, or self discovery). I'm thinking, though, of just running this as more of a short term thing, just to emphasise the horror aspect of Ravenloft, so I would probably restrict the players to the NPC class that they started with.

As I said, and did Lordik, I'd like to increase the amount of XP gained by NPC classes. Do you think that it should be as high as 50-100%, higher, or lower?


Feb 02, 2004 21:07:48
There is plenty of potential in running a "mini-series" type campaign with NPC classed PCs. I'm pretty sure the RL DMG speaks on this point and has an idea or two for implementation. The arristocrat, expert and warrior are IMO all roughly on the same footing. The adept IMO is a little bit tougher at higher levels by virtue of weilding magic and the commoner is (obviously) a lot weaker. As a DM tweaking experience points is part of the job. Award what is needed to keep your storry on pace. The only relative tweaking I'd do (between different PCs) is to award extra xp to commoner xps (+50% to +75% I'd guess)...though from what you've said, its likely your players won't be too keen to play a commoner when they could be aristocrats.

I suspect that you can achieve the same effect by running a party of very low level PCs (3 and under) against foes they can't possibly hope to beat in a fair fight. Vampires make a poster children for this because they are so vulnerable during daylight - a 1st level common (in theory) could stake a 20th level vampire that gets arrogant and sloppy in its defense. On the other hand at night that commoner had better be burried in a cart of garlic sequestered in a church. If you can find it the old Mystarra product Night of the Vampire, it is absoluetly perfect for this.

I don't advise you randomly assign classes to your players. I know as a player I'd hate that. Though I love RPGA classic modules, at home I play to express some part of my alter ego. Not someone elses. On the other hand you're perfectly within your rights to set parameters for what concepts work in your world.

If you want to instill a little unreasonable fear in your PCs remember to keep things (1) threatening, and even more importantly (2) mysterious, and above all (3) interesting. The PCs shouldn't know how to defeat the enemy (often because they can't identify it) until the very end. They also need a stake in the outcome so they don't pull up their tents and run. Even the toughest barbarian cracks when people start vanishing and he doesn't know what to smash with his axe.

You might also do better to recruit your players rather than force them into a reaction they feel is inappropriate for their PCs (and lets face it "Tanks" as a group probably aren't squeemish about blood). At the start of the camapaign have each player come up with something their PCs *IS* afraid of. Just as some people IRL can't stand spiders or being inside a confined space so too can even the most heroic PCs have quirks.

EXAMPLE: The player of Thrundak the Barbarian (or Bob the Fighter/Ranger/Paladin) says okay (maybe after some grumbling) that his PC hates icky grave soil because of XYZ in his past (perhaps even metagaming a little that there aren't too many times you could use this against him). Now, the time comes when you want to foreshadow something. Rather than a little blood or a "wine stain" leave a footprint or two behind with a hint off "grey/death smelling/moist/wormy earth". Or perhaps for a more brazen attack on the psyche, rather than a threat scralled on the wall in blood, have Thrundak hear about a desacrated grave. Later thatnight his room is covered 3 inches deep in grave soil. Maybe his bed has been replaced by a coffin. No one at the Inn knows how it was done and the Inn keeper is none too pleased. People start whispering and looking at the PC in fear. No one wants to share his doom. Like that he's a pariah. Even an OOC reckless player who plays IC a Barbarian with an INT of 8 and WIS of 6, will get the message.

-Eric Gorman


Feb 04, 2004 2:19:16
Don't forget that in 3E the NPC classes are already getting double xp.
The challenge rating for creatures with NPC classes is less than that of one with a PC class, and so the ECL of a group of NPC classes heroes would likewise be lower.
So a group of four would have an ECL of 1/2 giving them more xp than a group of PC classed of the same level who would have an ECL of 1.

You might also start them as higher level than 1 to give them just a tad more hit points, but add a few years to their age if you do this.


Feb 04, 2004 6:40:04
Posted by HvF: You might also do better to recruit your players rather than force them into a reaction they feel is inappropriate for their PCs

Cool idea. It never occured to me to change the object of horror.

All great ideas people. Thanks.

Like i said, I'm now in the middle of a game, and so wont be able to do it for a while, but now I'm really looking forwards to this (even if I don't have them use NPC classes).