Simplified NPCs

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This is a house rule from Epsilon, for use with Both Editions of Exalted. The article was edited by Democritus.

To allow the Storyteller to quickly create anatagonists and allies for his game without balancing long lists of Charms and Experience costs. Instead, NPCs are created with a truncated stat block that creates a very sketchy character. Storytellers can further refine this statblock in play, adding more detail as and where needed.

Character Sheets for this system were created by Democritus and can be downloaded from www.dcs-designs.de.

Create an NPC

The few following easy steps are enough to create an NPC using this system:

  1. Determine the three Stats
    1. Physical
    2. Social
    3. Mental
  2. Determine other Traits
    1. Permanent Essence
    2. Willpower (and Willpower Pool)
    3. Weapons
    4. Armor
    5. DVs
    6. Health Levels
    7. Motivation
    8. Charms

The three Stats

When creating an NPC you assign them only three stats, which are used for all dicerolling purposes, including Ability rolls in their relevant field. These stats are:

1. Physical
Use for almost all combat-related pools. Also use when making any involving Strength, Dexterity or Stamina.
2. Social
Use primarily in social combat pools. Any ability roll using Charisma, Manipulation or Appearance uses this pool.
3. Mental
Used with any roll using Intelligence, Perception or Wits, such as Join Battle for example.

These stats are purposefully inflated, often beyond what could be easily acheived using base Attribute and Abilities. This system justifies these inflated dicepools by assuming the NPC is using some combination of Excellencies, scene long Charms, Artifacts, stunting and Virtue channeling to acheive these pools. As such, the Storyteller should not assign the NPC any bonus related to these nor should they assign the NPC any Excellencies or Charms that do nothing more than boost dicepools, add successes or so on.

Assign Stats based on challenge

Using this system you can create a rudimentary challenge rating for an NPC encounter by controlling how many dice the NPC is assigned in the three areas. To determine how much of a challenge the NPC will be take a PCs highest rating unmodified by Charms in the relevant area. Then add or subtract dice to get the relevant score.

COMPETENCE USAGE DICE POOL COMPARED TO PCs
Solar/Abyssal Lunar/Sidereal Terrestrial
Extremely Weak Meant primarily as cannon fodder and non-threats -5 dice -4 dice -3 dice
Weak Meant to serve as inconveniences more than actual problems +0 dice +0 dice +0 dice
Challenging Meant to challenge players but be overcomeable with judicious Charm use +5 dice +4 dice +3 dice
Powerful Meant to push the NPCs resources to the limit and require creative thinking to overcome +10 dice +8 dice +6 dice
Extremely Dangerous Meant to be beyond the players ability to overcome without epic circumstances +15 dice +12 dice +9 dice

For every additional increment of dice added to the NPCs pool, the PC will face greater and greater challenges overcoming them. Twenty dice or more over the PC is almost insurmountable as an advantage. Use increments of 5 dice for Solar/Abyssal Exalted power levels. For less powerful player character you may want to adjust the values accordingly: Dragonblooded use increments of 3 dice, while Sidereals and Lunars use increments of 4.

Note: If you don't want to assign dicepools based on your PCs' dice pools, usually in an attempt to achiece verisimilitude for your setting you can set the dicepools based on the type of being encountered. See the Appendix 1 for an example table of possible primary, secondary and tertiary dice pools.

Other Traits

To round out the character you should assign a few other important stats.

1. Permanent Essence
Generally this should be 1/5 or 1/4 the characters maximum Dicepool, or 1 for Mortals. The character gets 10 times their permanent Essence in motes. Any motes above and beyond this are assumed to be tied up in commited Charms, artifacts, frequent use of Excellencies and so on.
2. Willpower (and Willpower Pool)
Willpower is set to five by default. These points are used to pay for Charms and Combos. Any points beyond that are assumed to be used for Virtue Channels and so on. Also optionally choose one Virtue to be rated at three. This has no mechanical effect on the characters stats but can be useful to know for Social Combat.
3. Weapons
Choose one weapon for the character. Use the characters Physical stat as the baseline for the weapons Accuracy and Defense, adjusting accordingly. The characters Damage trait should be equal to permanent Essence + weapon damage. In unarmed combat you can just assume that Acc = Physical, Def = Physical and Dam = Essence.
4. Armor
Choose a set of armor for the character. Add the characters Permanent Essence to the Bashing and Lethal soak of the armor. Thus, unarmored character have Bashing/Lethal soak of Essence.
5. DVs
Calculate the characters Dodge DV (one half Physical+Essence, round up or down as appropriate), Parry DV (one half Defense, round up or down as appropriate) and Mental DV (one half Social, round up or down as apporpriate. If you want to differentiate between Mental Dodge and Parry DV add Essence to Social before halving it for the Mental Dodge DV. Mental Parry remains Social/2).
6. Health Levels
Note the character's Health Levels. These typically are the standard seven but feel free to add Ox-Bodies for elder creatures.
7. Motivation
Select a Motivation and one or two Intimacies.
8. Charms
Select a few choice Charms for the character. Do not choose Charms that add dice, successes, reduce target numbers or otherwise adjust the characters dicepools. The base stats of the character (and their truncated Essence pools) already assume the effects of these Charms have been applied. Instead select a few Charms you think would be useful for the character to have.
Try and go for signature effects, stuff with personality rather than sheer utility. You shouldn't sweat stuff like prereqs. Just assign a few Charms and be done with it. This can be as simple as "Anything in the Solar Melee tree" to somethign as complex as "the character knows Elemental Bolt Attack, With One Mind, Dragon-Seared Battlefield, Auspicious First Meeting Attitude and Bestow the Saffron Mantle" or whatever you prefer. Generally speaking for short encounters anything more than four or five Charms is more information then you'll need.

Once you have put these finishing touches on the character you're finished. Ideally, this should take about five minutes and most of that time will be spent scanning Charm lists for a few signature effects. The more familiar you become with the Exalted rules system, the less time it should take all told. You'll find that the more you use this system the less you have to write down. Eventually it should be possible to create characters completely on the fly.

Tricks and Tips

The following tips make use of these NPCs even easier:

1. Assign Martial Arts Styles
A trick for combat encounters is to simply assign the NPC a Martial Arts style. Say "They know all Charms of the Dreaming Pearl Courtesan" or "they have mastered Water Dragon up to the Form" and so on. This instantly gives the NPC some personality and gives you an excuse to use all those funky martial arts effects at the same time.
2. Keep the stats!
If you're writing down NPC stats, keep the stats. Ideally the stats for almost any NPC should fit on a 3x5 index card. If you don't bother naming an NPC you can reuse the same stats repeatedly.
3. Social Combat Styles
Create a few "social combat styles". These should be collections of three to five Social Charms that work well together. Just assign these Charms in clusters when creating characters. For instance, a "Solar Trickster" style could be Memory Reweaving Technique, Irresistable Salesman Spirit and Heart-Compelling Method.

Downloads

Examples

Appendix 1: Assign Stats based on type

You can use this alternate method to determine the three stats based on the type and experience of being encountered. Consult the following table and then assign the different priorities (primary, secondary, tertiary) to the different stats (physical, social, mental) to define the final pools.

TYPE DICE POOL SPREAD
Primary Secondary Tertiary
Mortals: God-blooded, thaumaturges, beastmen etc.
Extra 5 dice 5 dice 5 dice
Extra, elite 8 dice 5 dice 5 dice
Heroic 9 dice 7 dice 5 dice
Heroic, elite 13 dice 8 dice 5 dice
Celestials: Solars, Lunars, Abyssals and Sidereals
Young (0 to 1yrs) 15 dice 12 dice 9 dice
Trained (10 to 20yrs) 17 dice 12 dice 10 dice
Experienced (20-50 yrs) 19 dice 14 dice 11 dice
Veteran (50-100yrs) 21 dice 16 dice 13 dice
Elder (100-200yrs) 23 dice 18 dice 15 dice
Experienced elder (200-500yrs) 25 dice 20 dice 17 dice
Veteran elder (500-1000yrs) 27 dice 22 dice 19 dice
Ancient (1000-2000yrs) 29 dice 24 dice 21 dice
Grand ancient (2000+yrs) 31 dice 26 dice 23 dice
Spirits: Gods and Elementals
Essence 1 5 dice 4 dice 3 dice
Essence 2 10 dice 7 dice 5 dice
Essence 3 15 dice 12 dice 7 dice
Essence 4 20 dice 15 dice 10 dice
Essence 5 25 dice 19 dice 13 dice
Essence 6 30 dice 22 dice 15 dice
Essence 7 35 dice 26 dice 17 dice
Essence 8 40 dice 30 dice 20 dice
Essence 9 45 dice 34 dice 23 dice
Essence 10 50 dice 38 dice 25 dice
Deathlords
general, young 29 dice 24 dice 21 dice
general, old 31 dice 26 dice 23 dice
focused, young 46 dice 19 dice 9 dice
focused, old 50 dice 20 dice 10 dice
Demons
First Circle 15 dice 7 dice 7 dice
Second Circle 20 dice 10 dice 10 dice
Third Circle 25 dice 20 dice 15 dice
Fetich Soul 35 dice 30 dice 25 dice
TYPE DICE POOL SPREAD
Primary Secondary Tertiary
Dragon-Blooded: Dynasts and Outcastes
young 20-50yrs 15 dice 10 dice 5 dice
experienced 50-100yrs 16 dice 12 dice 6 dice
elder 100-200yrs 20 dice 15 dice 10 dice
ancient 200+yrs 25 dice 20 dice 15 dice
Focused Celestial: Solars, Lunars, Abyssals and Sidereals
young (0-10yrs) 18 dice 12 dice 6 dice
trained (10-20yrs) 22 dice 13 dice 6 dice
experienced (20-50 yrs) 26 dice 14 dice 7 dice
veteran (50-100yrs) 30 dice 15 dice 7 dice
elder (100-200yrs) 34 dice 16 dice 8 dice
experienced elder (200-500yrs) 38 dice 17 dice 8 dice
veteran elder (500-1000yrs) 42 dice 18 dice 9 dice
ancient (1000-2000yrs) 46 dice 19 dice 9 dice
grand ancient (2000+yrs) 50 dice 20 dice 10 dice
Ghosts
Essence 1 4 dice 3 dice 2 dice
Essence 2 8 dice 6 dice 4 dice
Essence 3 12 dice 9 dice 6 dice
Essence 4 16 dice 12 dice 8 dice
Essence 5 20 dice 15 dice 10 dice
Essence 6 24 dice 18 dice 12 dice
Essence 7 28 dice 21 dice 14 dice
Essence 8 32 dice 24 dice 16 dice
Essence 9 36 dice 27 dice 18 dice
Essence 10 40 dice 30 dice 20 dice
Dragon Kings
young 15 dice 10 dice 5 dice
experienced 16 dice 12 dice 6 dice
elder 20 dice 15 dice 10 dice
ancient 25 dice 20 dice 15 dice
Fair Folk
Commoner 18 dice 9 dice 9 dice
Noble 20 dice 15 dice 10 dice
Great noble 25 dice 20 dice 15 dice
Unshaped 25 dice 25 dice 25 dice

Other more unique beings such as Behemoths should be defined ad hoc. There is no specific system to use for those creatures.