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Firefly: The Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: Bounty Hunter NPC rss

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George Krubski
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Inspired by some of the recent conversations on the boards, I revisited some of my NPC ships over the weekend. I don't want to get into the Merchant/Pirate stuff because is was more complicated but I was relatively happy with the Bounty Hunter... except (and this is a BIG exception!) for the lack of interaction.

Here are the basics.

STARTING LOCATION

Bottom left corner of the original map, directly opposite the Firefly logo.

LEADER

Use any Leader (I prefer Jubal Early), or assume that the default bounty hunter has +1 to all skills.

IMPROVEMENT

The Bounty Hunter begins the game with 1 RP (Reputation Point) and gains another RP for each successfully delivered Bounty. (Use of RPs will be explained later)

THE BOUNTY HUNTER TURN

The Bounty Hunter acts at the end of the turn, after all players have gone.

* The Bounty Hunter moves 4 Sectors (note: If you wanted to make the BH more active in a multi-player game, it could move 2 Sectors after each player rather than 4 Sectors once per round)

* The Bounty Hunter may not enter a Sector that contains a Reaver Cutter.

* On his turn, the Bounty Hunter (BH) will move toward a destination as determined below:

1) The nearest Drop-Off point if he has a bound fugitive. If he arrives, he immediately turns in the Bounty (card and bounty removed from game) and receives +1 RP.

EXCEPTION: If there is another face-up Most Wanted at the same location, he will not move. Instead, he will stay at the same location and collect additional bound fugitives, one per round.

EXCEPTION: For a Cortex Alert, the BH will attempt to claim all revealed targets before turning in, first at the current location, then at others.

2) The nearest location (Supply Planet or player ship) with a revealed Most Wanted bounty target if he does not have a bound fugitive.

SUPPLY PLANET: If the BH arrives, he immediately binds 1 fugitive and receives +1 RP

SHIP: If the BH arrives, a SHOWDOWN to bind the fugitive follows.

3) The nearest location (Supply Planet or Player Ship) with the largest concentration of Wanted Crew. In other words, if Simon Tam is the only Wanted Crew at Persephone, but a player has 3 Wanted Crew on their ship, the Bounty Hunter will dog the player ship.


SHOWDOWNS

During a SHOWDOWN, the BH has a base strength of 2 + RP + any skill from the leader. If skills vary, the BH will always choose the best skill, except in the case of a Kosherized test, in which case he will chose from Tech or Talk.

The BH automatically succeeds at Boarding Attempts unless the target ship has an Upgrade or special ability that defends against Boarding Attempts.


DEFEATING THE BOUNTY HUNTER

Whenever he loses a SHOWDOWN, he loses an RP. If this would send him to a negative value (not zero), he is removed from play.
 
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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Interesting!

It has a bunch of similarities to the "Interceptor" NPC in my set of solo NPC rules. One of the ways I tried to keep the interaction up in my rules is that it churns the Bounty Deck a bit and ignores cortex alerts.

Great work. I will give it a try soon.
 
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Bill Saunders
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I like it! It would definitely change things up.
 
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George Krubski
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Now, in play, the BH worked fairly well, "leveling up" at a rate roughly to the player ship(s).

There were, however, a few issues that cropped up in playtesting.

1) Lack of interactivity. The BH went on his merry way, collecting bounties, but even though he crossed paths with player ships (I was actually playing 2 different ships for the initial test), nothing happened. The changes of a player ship having an Active Most Wanted bounty was slim.

2) What happens if there are no face-up Most Wanted Crew? This ALMOST happened, but by good fortune, the right cards came up to keep the BH going.

So the BH goes to the biggest concentration of Wanted folks. Then what?

3) Although this did not come up in the game, should morality play a factor? I have thoughts on it, but that's probably a discussion for another day.


I'm thinking there me be a few possible solutions. For example:

* When at a location with Wanted (but not Most Wanted) Crew, the BH rolls a die. If the result is equal to or less than the number of Wanted Crew at the location, the BH attempts to claim one (at random), then deliver to the Alliance Cruiser.

This would give the BH more to do, would increase interaction, but might also make Wanted Crew too much trouble to have onboard.

* If stymied, the BH can spend their turn to "refresh" the Most Wanted.

* For the Moral angle, perhaps a randomly determined Moral BH won't attack a Moral PC and perhaps he frees Moral Bounties (we had discussed at some point the idea that Haven at Deadwood would be an interesting location for such drop-offs)
 
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George Krubski
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reverendunclebastard wrote:
Interesting!

It has a bunch of similarities to the "Interceptor" NPC in my set of solo NPC rules. One of the ways I tried to keep the interaction up in my rules is that it churns the Bounty Deck a bit and ignores cortex alerts.

Great work. I will give it a try soon.


Rev,

I definitely fine-tuned some of my older ideas with what I saw in your most recent house rules.
 
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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gwek wrote:
reverendunclebastard wrote:
Interesting!

It has a bunch of similarities to the "Interceptor" NPC in my set of solo NPC rules. One of the ways I tried to keep the interaction up in my rules is that it churns the Bounty Deck a bit and ignores cortex alerts.

Great work. I will give it a try soon.


Rev,

I definitely fine-tuned some of my older ideas with what I saw in your most recent house rules.


One of the fun things about the rules I wrote is that if there isn't an available target for a wanted card, you dig through the supply deck where the leftmost wanted card is and put it in the discard pile. Given that I play Jude's solo rules, so the decks are not primed at the beginning of the game and I start with no crew, these crew showing up in the supply discards can be gold for me. Several times I have found myself racing the Interceptor to hire the crew and then fight off the Interceptors attempt to jump my bounty.

I love reading other people's variants, this game is such a beautiful sandbox it really does encourage this kind of game-building by us, the fans!

All of your posts and variants have been the inspiration for developing my NPC rules, thanks! Still hoping to order a set of "local color" cards one of these days.
 
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George Krubski
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I know that a lot of folks love Jude's solo house rules. If I'm being honest, I'm not one of them. To me, making the game longer isn't always the same as making it more challenging. I'd rather play more shorter games myself. But, hey, different strokes, right? I can see how our different preferences would impact the fine-tuning of our ideas.

I did think about the idea of the BH flipping over supply cards, but backed away from it primarily because of thematic stuff. I can buy that if different captains (the players) are competing for the same resources, word might spread about what's available at a given location (which is how I mentally envision the discard piles), but if a bounty hunter is skulking around looking for his target, the same would not apply.

Having said that, I can definitely see how, if you're not priming the pumps, it would be an excellent option. Heck, even WITH the pumps primed, there's often not enough stuff revealed on the table!
 
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John Coxon
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I have an idea that may solve the dilemma of ensuring the bounty hunter always has something to do.

If there are no revealed most wanted bounty targets, you could have the bounty hunter fly towards the nearest supply planet mentioned on one of the non-cortex bounty cards. (i.e. nearest known to be harboring a fugitive)

As long as no revealed wanted bounty targets appear while he's en-route to his destination, once he arrives there he could draw 3 cards from the supply deck and drop them into the discard pile. The bounty hunter would repeat drawing cards each time it's his turn until one of the following occurs:

1) He finds a fugitive matching an active bounty. Once this happens, the fugitive is apprehended per the rules in the original post.
2) A fugitive matching an active bounty has been revealed elsewhere. The bounty hunter will begin flying to the nearest revealed fugitive matching an active bounty.
3) The bounty card he was trying to fulfill is no longer available (e.g. the bounty cards get refreshed do to a player encountering the reshuffle card in the alliance nav deck). In this case, the bounty hunter will start flying towards the nearest supply planet mentioned on one of the remaining non-cortex bounty cards.

The nice thing about this method, is that the bounty hunter always has something to do, and as a bonus he helps to pump cards into the discard piles on various supply planets.

If you find it takes him too long to find bounty targets, you could add a second bounty hunter to the game, or simply increase the number of supply cards he can draw per turn.
 
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George Krubski
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Thanks, John. I think that's essentially how Rev's works. Thematically, I don't love the idea of NPCs needing to draw cards... but maybe it is the simplest solution. On the other hand, drawing cards = not interacting.
 
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John Coxon
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I agree they share similarities in the overall concept but the implementation has some significant differences.

* His rules don't limit the number of supply cards the bounty hunter can sift through each turn, and I don't believe the cards get added to the discard pile. I assume you have to reshuffle the deck once the fugitive is pulled out.
* His bounty hunter always works off the left-most non-cortex bounty card, instead of the one with the nearest supply planet to the bounty hunter's current location.
* I believe his bounty hunter has to keep pursuing the same target even if a closer one happens to get revealed.

I haven't played through everything yet, so I'm sure I may have missed a few things. It's hard to say without testing which method is more balanced or plays out better.
 
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George Krubski
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Good point on some of the differences.

I find that one of the challenges -- and I'm not saying that I've done this better than others -- is trying to keep it as streamlined as possible.

It seems so simple in my head. And the Merchant stuff is much more complicated!
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Steven Miller
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I know what you mean Gwek, You play around with your own rules until they seem easy and streamlined in your head. But trying to play Revs on the weekend highlighted how much I went back and back to his rules to be sure about the order of things. I was hoping to avoid that by having mine do the same things as normal players (mostly) keeping your head in the game.

Bounty Hunting is such a situational thing to do, that its hard to Player Emulate. I would only do it myself if it happened to come up in a game, not actively pursue the bounties. But that's just me, others can make quite a living out of it though.

I'm really liking this dedicated Bounty Hunter ship idea, and think it's close enough to run alongside my P.E. Ships. Could be interesting as my AI do take cards from the supply decks. But here in lies the catch, I'll be fiddling around getting AI to bounty jump the other AI ships, etc, but what does that really add to my game? It just removes a card from play. We have the corvette now that can do that. We all might be putting a lot of effort into a system that sees little payback.

Deep down I want to include bounties somehow, and this Dedicated ship seems to be the best way to do it. I want to have that risk / reward decision from hiring a wanted crew. Knowing that I've got that extra target on my back. Maybe this AI needs to be activated when you hire or claim a crew with a current bounty, putting pressure to deliver them or gear up to protect them?

I haven't offered much solutions here, but I am am stewing over all these ideas. Hopefully it cooks into a delicious meal ;-)
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George Krubski
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You raise some good points. Like you, I clearly love to fiddle with the game, but there are times that I think I have a great idea, then go "Well, what's the point?" For example, I've been playing with "Loyalty tokens" and "Crew relationships" from very early on. Even though I've come up with some options that I like, even *I* barely use them when I play!

With respect to the nature of what an NPC bounty hunter might look like... In one of my threads about various NPC ships (existing and theoretical), I noted that my take, at least, on the Merchant and Bounty Hunter is decidedly different from existing ships (as well as a Pirate Galleon I was toying with): the NPC ships from the official game exist largely to spoil your day, whereas the NPC Bounty Hunter and Merchant(s) basically have their own "lives."

So I guess one question is how much of that ship's "life" is worth seeing? In one sense, I feel like it's fun to watch another ship traveling across the board and sorta competing. On the other hand -- so what?

If we consider the idea that, as players, we are really only concerned with the "life" of the Bounty Hunter when he intersects our path, something more akin to by NPC card for OTT may be more in order.

The card is below, but the basic upshot is that Ott is a jerk who shows up under certain circumstances to try to steal jobs from you and generally make your life miserable.



BTW, if you like Ott, head to my gallery and look for a few cards of the same color scheme. CAPSHAW is a brain-blown tech trader who can point you toward potential treasure trove and GOVERNOR TOURANT allows you to trade information on Reavers (Alert tokens) for Alliance favors.
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Bill Saunders
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Those are fantastic! I just read all three and think we are definitely going to add them to our next game. I like the idea of some not-quite-contact contacts for some minor flavor. Nice job!

Any thoughts for a wandering preacher on Haven?
 
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George Krubski
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I definitely like the idea of an "NPC Card" for Haven... which probably necessitates changing the Governor's location (both Dragon's Egg and Three Hills would put him closer to Reaver Space).
 
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Carl Hanson
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When you say SHOWDOWN 10+, do you mean that you roll a Showdown where Ott's base is 10+ a die roll?
 
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George Krubski
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No, it's a static target number, like a skill test, so only the player rolls. I made it a SHOWDOWN rather than a skill test of a specific type to allow folks like Jubal to have some benefit in a solo game.
 
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Carl Hanson
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Okay. That makes sense from all angles now that I understand what you are getting at.
 
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George Krubski
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Basically, the idea with Ott is that he shows up randomly to steal jobs... and makes the end game a little more challenging. This isn't necessary in something like a 4 person game, but can add a bit of spice to a solo or 2-player game.

Originally, I think he may have specifically been a house rule for First Time in the Captain's Chair, making the delivery of money to Niska something more than just arriving at Ezra.
 
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Bill Saunders
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Naturally, I thought of more work for you...the Carrion House... It wouldn't really need a leader, since Corbin ran it in the show, but it could just be a random station floating around in the 'verse that causes serious problems if you fail a showdown or something. You could probably model it after the bounty hunter, making it where it steals upgrades or cargo, kills crew, or damages drive cores or varies depending on the results of the encounter. It could also get stronger in a similar fashion to the bounty hunter. Movement would be different, though, maybe not even in any one location, but triggered by certain events.

You know, knowing you, this is probably already in the works.
 
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George Krubski
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Not in the works yet, but it reminds me a little of my "unique Reaver Cutters," where one of them was a "ripper" that would try to attack the ship itself rather than kill people.

On the other hand, I've been looking at my extra ships from Shadowstar Corsairs and wondering what I'm going to do with the space station...
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Dave Rowley
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gwek wrote:
On the other hand, I've been looking at my extra ships from Shadowstar Corsairs and wondering what I'm going to do with the space station...


Sounds like a good plan...
 
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Bill Saunders
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You could set things where there is a ship that represents Ott's location, and it only moves when he is summoned by a bad roll. Once in a location, maybe there are some difficult piracy options you could undertake against him? After a successful one he is again removed from the board until summoned again?
 
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