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Subject: NPC Growth rss

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Derek Dyer
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A simple way to increase NPC abilities is to either set a certain amount of FP (like 6/13, 7/14, or even 5/11) assuming a 20 point game; and/or, whenever all players have upgraded to second, then 3rd tier.

There is no reason to restrict NPC's to only 3 tiers either.

Each time an NPC upgrades:
1) Increase it's movement by 1
2) +2 damage To Kill
3) Increase it's weapons and shields by one die size.
1d6->1d8->1d12->2d8->1d20
2 
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Chris
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I see a logic here, however part of the point of the way the NPC's work as I see is that there comes a point in time where they become a more appealing target. You don't bother with weapons on your Tier 1 ship and the Merchant plods along happily for an hour maybe. then after it's worth 5000 you start going after it as a more viable strategy with your new missiles etc. Levelling it up along with you may well always make it pointless to use as a FP option.
 
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Kip Kwiatkowski
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
I see a logic here, however part of the point of the way the NPC's work as I see is that there comes a point in time where they become a more appealing target. You don't bother with weapons on your Tier 1 ship and the Merchant plods along happily for an hour maybe. then after it's worth 5000 you start going after it as a more viable strategy with your new missiles etc. Levelling it up along with you may well always make it pointless to use as a FP option.
Agreed.

As I've said multiple times, just doing 1/1 die rolls evens the playing field in regards to NPCs significantly, without all the math and rules.
 
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Trent Boardgamer
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
I see a logic here, however part of the point of the way the NPC's work as I see is that there comes a point in time where they become a more appealing target. You don't bother with weapons on your Tier 1 ship and the Merchant plods along happily for an hour maybe. then after it's worth 5000 you start going after it as a more viable strategy with your new missiles etc. Levelling it up along with you may well always make it pointless to use as a FP option.


That pretty much sums up what I was going to say.

Varying the FP total of a game does seem to vary up how things work "best" so I'm not surprised to see comments like the OP's, but all in all I've been happy with how it's played out so far.
 
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Dan Licata
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What if the NPC ships would upgrade after they were destroyed? So they would make a tempting target, then after getting destroyed they would be less tempting but keep you thinking about upgrading again so that when the became more tempting you would have to be able to handle their new specs.

Not having played this yet I'm not sure how it would work but it seems like not having the NPC's level at all makes it so after you reach a certain point you can have your way with them after you reach a certain point.
 
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Derek Dyer
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Chris they'll still become a more appealing targets as the game progresses.

The Merchant will move faster thereby completing routes quicker (even if slightly). The enforcer will better be able to collect bounties, making it a credible threat to becoming an outlaw, and even if it's just collecting Scoundrel bounty... that Kr will stack up faster. The Scoundrel is not even a threat to someone with a Tier 1 shield, and while I know playstyles differ, It's rare enough for someone to forego a shield.

I'm going to be playtesting this, and I will let you know our results. I might add that it's usually been 3 players, and we'll always play to 20pts.

Kip, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to dismiss your post. I am not sold on 1/1; and I'm slightly annoyed that you would respond to this subjectively by saying "I'd rather use this houserule", rather than objectively about this houserule.

Trent, we will always play 20pt games, so I'm always going to look at the game through that lens. I understand shorter games benefit less from this rule, and even tracking the increase would be less valuable. However if you're playing a 13pt game, you could still upgrade NPC's to 2nd Tier at 6or7, they would simply never reach 3rd Tier.

Dan, while I like that idea, it does add in an additional thing to track. Now we would have to track on the card what Tier the NPC was after it was destroyed, rather than all NPC's being upgraded based upon FP reached. I'm not sure if it's worth that extra trouble...
 
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Derek Dyer
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Also this is a rough draft. The "Upgrades" needn't be uniform, and could be accompanied by an upgrade card for each NPC. Maybe the Merchant gets faster engines (especially considering it has no blaster)...

Further the NPC's could each get a (very) minor special ability. Like the Scoundrel can reroll one Blaster damage die, or if it ends it's movement within 6 spaces of the target Sell space, the Merchant can make a d6 roll and if it rolls equal to or higher than the amount of spaces needed it can push the engines to get there (and then repair of course).

I'm also interested in ideas to add to the NPC "AI". The only thing I've come up with so far is, a Tier 3 Scoundrel can attack the enforcer if doing so will get it equal to or farther away in movement. In other words, if the enforcer can be based by 3 or less movement, the Scoundrel will hit and run.

***It makes the Sellsword more useful too! Compelling more people to throw money at it, trade it around, and eventually target. Sometimes the Sellsword isn't found until later in the game, and at that point it's nearly worthless.
 
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M M
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This sounds like a solution in search of a problem. The NPCs work just fine.
 
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Derek Dyer
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I'm certainly leaning more towards "1/1", but not sold on it. Since my group is used to "arming at the end of current players turn" we may just stick with that, although there will certainly be another discussion about it on Sunday.

Sorry Mat628, this is *not* a Manufactured Problem. While I completely agree it's not a huge issue, and I could probably be convinced to agree that this is unnecessary... your use of a Buzzword makes me assume that you are simply Trolling. However I will respond further to anyone that might hold that opinion.

The fact is that NPC's are ineffectual. The Enforcer does not scare you into remaining lawful, and he should at least make you consider the choice. The Scoundrel is weaker, and he should be less compelling, but he should at least make you consider taking that sketchy job that would bring you into his reach (at least without committing to crime).

Honestly, the first couple of plays, people did take them seriously. In one of those games, Smuggler's Bay and Loath were prominent features of the system, and all of us decided to go outlaw rather than be targets... but that doesn't happen anymore, and I for one miss that. Once it dawned on us to ignore them (and the less gamey of our group quickly caught on) it's become more a chore to track them.

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE the existence of NPC's in this game. It's probably in the top 3 best ideas that make the game great. Further that they still serve most of the function they were designed to perform. The role of: "other ships in the universe to F with". As victims they surely fill that role. While I'm totally excited with people inventing even more powerful NPC's that are going to really target and put the fear into PC's... I'd really rather not have the original three be left by the wayside.

I have the Sellsword edition, an I'm including him in this "discussion/mod" but I'm not pushing him as a major thing because I know that some people don't have him, and I imagine if this goes on long enough, nearly all newcomers will not have him. Further, I will finalize some form of rules to this regard. I don't expect everyone to agree, but I can promise you that your opinion that it's unnecessary is unnecessary. The rough draft above is likely to be a pale comparison to the final, but I wanted to get the ball rolling and look for other ideas. Other people are welcome to adopt this rule (draft or final) as they will, or build upon it, or simply spark a radically different idea that works better for them. At the end of the day I don't expect us to be playing the exact same game.
 
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Dan Licata
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Calinor wrote:

Dan, while I like that idea, it does add in an additional thing to track. Now we would have to track on the card what Tier the NPC was after it was destroyed, rather than all NPC's being upgraded based upon FP reached. I'm not sure if it's worth that extra trouble...


I was thinking of just having different cards, lets say three for three different teirs like our ships. Each time one is destroyed they respawn bigger and better having learned from their mistakes, just put out the different card and discard the old one. Leaves a lot of room for changes with minimal impact on bookkeeping.
 
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M M
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As is, they aren't irrelevant. They are a decent proxy of ship abilities at Tier 1. As ships grow their abilities become less frightening. But they still represent that fly in the ointment that can cause people to spend energy or take a few hits that make them just that much more vulnerable to other players. Attacking others is about opportunity and the NPCs are one of the things which create that.

Part of the benefit of growing as a ship is to be able to handle bigger things. This goes for the rest of the game as well. Jumping through planetary shields and mining become less frightening with Tier 2 or 3 shields and larger hulls. Missions get faster to complete as you move up to Tier 2 or 3 engines and various ship-specific bonuses. Trading becomes more effectual and profitable as you can store more goods in your hold and have more seed capital to spend. All of these cause a snowballing effect on making things quicker and easier to do, missions especially.

NPCs are one of the necessary components to make a full-on attack strategy viable. Destroying other people is generally an unprofitable, and less fame rewarding, business. It works as a business model when you can, as you get bigger, continue to use the NPCs as a source for fame and profit. Even with a fully loaded gunship, killing the Enforcer and Merchant aren't guaranteed but are doable with a couple of turns. The Scoundrel generally is but die rolls sometimes go wrong.

If you want to use them exclusively as a threat and cudgel on people's behavior then what you say is plausible. But they have other places in the game and them becoming less of an obstacle is not unique but rather consistent with the game as a whole while being thematically sensical. As one becomes more powerful, one begins to outgrow previous threats.

Or, in brief, they work just fine.
 
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I could make a much stronger case that missions are broken and need to be scaled up. With upgraded ships they can become trivially quick and easy to complete. If you get a lucky card draw you can complete multiple of them per turn. And thematically you can that while escorting an ambassador to his conference was a notable accomplishment, and grew your fame, when you were a lowly, starting junket once you have become a captain of a starship, the event barely registers as worth mentioning.
 
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Dan Licata
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Mat628 wrote:
I could make a much stronger case that missions are broken and need to be scaled up. With upgraded ships they can become trivially quick and easy to complete. If you get a lucky card draw you can complete multiple of them per turn. And thematically you can that while escorting an ambassador to his conference was a notable accomplishment, and grew your fame, when you were a lowly, starting junket once you have become a captain of a starship, the event barely registers as worth mentioning.


Perhaps three teirs of missions for the three teirs of ships? You could draw from the mission deck tier that is the same as your current and/or former ship tier. So if you had a teir 1 ship you draw three cards from the teir 1 deck, a teir 2 ship you draw three total cards from the tier 1 and/or the teir 2 deck...etc.

I was thinking of creating some mission stories that is a pre-organized set of missions that tell a story. So as you finish one you would then be told what mission point you would need to reach next and then draw the next mission from that deck. They would put an emphasis on a story line that you could follow or not.
 
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Derek Dyer
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I didn't think about making new cards for them (facepalm), of course that's the way to go. Makes it even easier to add those additional abilities and AI tweaks too.

Mat, I used the term ineffectual. I agree they aren't Irrelevant, but for the most part they just interact mildly with each other, and are ignored by players (even when attacked by them) until a player wants to target them. Usually because they have a mission to do so, and occasionally because the NPC's has grown fat. Their relevance is providing more moving parts, moving targets, for PC's to interact with. If that's enough for you, then enjoy your game.

I don't want them to be a "cudgel", for that they would need to several magnitudes more powerful, more powerful even than Tier 3 PC's, and I don't want that. What I want is for them to make people mindful. That's why I provided the anecdote about Loathe&Smuggler's Bay.

These rules don't even make them that much more powerful, and they aren't going to be more powerful for most of the game. You'd think people were acting like I gave the Enforcer a Gatling Missile Launcher and Adamantium Hull...

I agree with you about Missions, but that is a topic for another thread.
 
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