NPC Power!

Sending NPCs on Quests – NPC Power!

Player Characters are not the only people that can make a difference in the campaign storyline. Often, there is too much to do for any single group of PCs to take care of. Sometimes, a little help is needed by NPCs and cohorts.

Cohorts and certain allied NPCs can venture out on their own to accomplish objectives independent of the PC party. All NPCs have specific talents and abilities. You would probably not send your average paladin on a mission to infiltrate a Thieves’ Guild. And likewise you probably wouldn’t send a wizard to participate in a jousting tournament. Some cohorts and NPCs are better suited for specific missions and can complete an assignment that plays to their strengths much faster than someone that isn’t strong in that area.

An NPC or cohort that goes out on his or her own (or with a party of other NPCs or cohorts) is on a Quest.

Eligible NPCs

PCs cannot send just any NPC on a mission. Cohorts can be sent on virtually any mission, so long as the cohort believes he has a decent chance at surviving. Followers are not as loyal as cohorts but may be sent out to accomplish certain objectives. They are willing to take fewer risks than cohorts.

Certain allied NPCs may be persuaded or paid to tackle certain missions for the PCs subject to GM approval. A mercenary company might be willing to sign on to help clear some orcs or bandits that are plaguing a local noble’s estates but they will likely refuse an offer to attack an orc tribe deep within the Blood Plains regardless of how much they are offered to do so.

NPC Quest Statistics

All NPCs have basic statistics that are used for interacting with the world around them…. skills, armor class, base attack bonus, feats, etc. While such information is useful in tactical situations and encounters, it really does not provide an accurate portrait of how the character may fare in the course of an adventure. As such, each NPC that is eligible to go on Quests has its own pool of special attributes that will determine how good he or she is at different kinds of missions. For every class level an NPC has, he or she has one point to put into Quest Attributes. Creatures that do not have class levels but that are eligible to go on Quests have 1 point to put into a Quest Attribute per Hit Dice that the creature has. An NPC that has both racial Hit Dice and class levels receives a point to distribute among his or her Quest Attributes for each racial Hit Dice and Character Level he or she has. Quest Attributes for each NPC will be assigned by the GM, and should reflect the character’s statistical strengths.

There are five Quest Attribute Point types.

Combat – This Quest Attribute is a measure of a NPC’s ability to conquer foes in battle. This could be by force of arms, brute strength, natural weapons, or powerful offensive spells or supernatural abilities. Characters with high ratings in Combat will shine in missions where enemies need to be put down.

Cunning – This Quest Attribute is a measure of the NPC’s ability to deceive others, sneak around, our outsmart foes. Characters with high ranks in Cunning will shine on missions of infiltration, theft, and spying.

Influence – This Quest Attribute is a measure of the NPC’s ability to persuade others. This could represent high charisma or skill with negotiation, a talent for threats and intimidation, political connections or numerous well-placed friends, or a lot of personal wealth to throw at problems. Characters with high ranks in Influence will shine on Quests to persuade allies to join a cause, to threaten away rivals, secure contracts or supplies, increase or decrease morale, turning enemy agents into double-agents, or to solve disputes and uprisings by non-lethal means.

Lore – This Quest Attribute is a measure of the NPC’s educational knowledge and skill. This could represent high levels of schooling, extensive travel experience, or skills gained over a career. Characters with high ranks in Lore will shine on Quests to find locations of lost ruins or artifacts, track enemies, solve riddles, research spells or solutions to mystical questions, or designing and building equipment, traps, or structures.

Magic – This Quest Attribute is a measure of the NPC’s ability to use magic, spell-like abilities, or supernatural powers to accomplish a wide range of non-combat feats. This could represent access to divination magic, illusions, healing powers, to fly, or the ability to transform objects or people into other things. Characters with high ranks in Magic will shine on Quests to upgrade magical defenses, locating people, sending messages over long distances instantaneously, curing diseases or healing the injured, spying, or overcoming the magical defenses of enemies.

NPC’s may have ranks in some or all of these Quest Attributes, depending on their level.

For instance, a 2nd level mercenary warrior that is eligible to go on Quests may have 2 ranks in Combat.

Meanwhile, a 5th level wizard may have 1 rank in Combat, 2 ranks in Lore, and 2 ranks in Magic.

Mythic NPC’s and Quest Attributes

NPCs that have mythic ranks gain an additional point to spend on Quest Attribute points equal to the number of mythic ranks that they have. In addition, they add an extra 1d6 on all Quest Attribute skill checks to determine progress.

NPC Quest Teams

Some Quests will require more than a single NPC to tackle, or the quest may need to be completed more rapidly than a single NPC could. Multiple NPCs can be assigned to the same Quest. They add their ratings in the relevant Quest Attribute together to determine their progress in completing their assignment.

There are some problems to teams. Assigning people that are too different can lead to mistrust and miscommunication and endanger a Quest. And sometimes sending a lot of people can result in NPCs getting in each other’s way. The following tables show pentalties or bonuses that can be applied to a team’s total Quest Attribute score. If the net modifiers put the team’s Quest Attribute at a 0 or less, then the team has been paralyzed by internal bickering, distrust, and backstabbing. No progress can be made on the Quest until something is done (removing problem team members, adding new members that can raise the total value of the Quest Attributes to at least 1.

Circumstance Name Modifier
Alignment is opposite on the Law/Chaos scale -1 per opposing pair of Team Members
Alignment is opposite on the Good/Evil scale -1 per opposing pair of Team Members
Racial hatred, cultural bias, or other emnity -5
Quest Team is injured, ill-equipped, or has low morale -2
Quest Team has too many members for task -1 per person exceeding the maximum

For instance, if two Lawful Good NPCs were assigned to a team with a Chaotic Evil NPC, the team would suffer a -4 penalty to all of its Quest Ability checks (-2 for opposite alignments between one LG and the CE NPC and -2 for the other LG NPC and the CE NPC). If the two Lawful Good NPCs were hisskarssi and the Chaotic Evil NPC was a chromatic dragon (racial enemies), then the penalty to their combined Quest Attribute would increase to -9.

Quest Difficulty

Each Quest has a difficulty assigned to it and requires a certain total points in one or more attributes to be reached. A single quest could be completed in a day or could last weeks or months.

The threshold for a Quest is set by the GM and based upon the relative DC of the encounter and the number of NPCs expected to be needed. Some quests may have a maximum number of NPCs allowed. Sending a group of 200 NPCs to infiltrate a thieves guild is probably going to draw quite a bit of suspicion.

The more difficult or time consuming the Quest, the higher the DC will be.

Traveling to a Quest

Before the NPCs can start their Quest, they first need to get there. If the Quest location or objective is 500 miles away, the NPCs that are sent to accomplish it must find some means of getting there. PCs or NPC organizations can pay for teleportation, or the NPCs can travel to the location on foot or by horse. If a Quest is local, then no travel is needed and the NPCs can begin the adventure without delay. Use standard distances and travel speeds to determine how long it takes an party of NPCs to arrive at the Quest location.

Reading a Quest

A Quest will look like this:

A) Driving Out Orc Marauders
B) Orc marauders have raided the lands around the city of Fairday in Miles Hostiam, burning communities and killing the residents and stealing livestock and possessions. Someone needs to track down the orcs and drive them away before more lives are lost.
C)
D) COMBAT: 96 and LORE: 32
E) Danger: High
F) Reward: 10 Influence (Miles Hostiam) and 3,000 decar

A) Quest Name – The name of the Quest.
B) Quest Description – A quick description of what the quest is and why it needs to be done.
C) Maximum Participants – If there is a maximum number of people that can go on the Quest without getting in the way, that is listed here.
D) Quest DC – This is the Quest Attributes the Quest requires and the total points that must be achieved before the quest is completed.
E) Danger – Describes how dangerous the quest is. The possible ratings are as follows:

  • Impossible – The Quest is extremely dangerous and the likelihood of victory is slim. Death or capture of NPCs in the Quest party is very likely. Rewards, however, are high in return. Add 80% to the Fate check once the Quest is completed.
  • Lethal – The Quest is very dangerous and can result in the injury or death of NPCs. Add 50% to the Fate check once the Quest is completed.
  • High – The quest is dangerous and is likely to result in injury or possibly death to an NPC. Add 25% to the Fate check once the Quest is completed.
  • Moderate – The Quest is dangerous and may result in injury of the NPCs on the Quest Team. The Fate check is not modified once the Quest is completed.
  • Low – The Quest is not particularly dangerous. NPCs are likely to return without injury. Subtract 25% from the Fate check once the Quest is completed.
  • None – The Quest should not pose any danger at all to NPCs on the Quest team. Subtract 50% from the Fate check once the Quest is completed.
    F) Reward – This is the reward that the surviving NPCs receive for successfully completing the Quest. It could be cash, items, or capital. If it is capital, the location it is tied to will be added in parenthesis. It may be possible to transfer to another location subject to normal capital rules and GM determination.

Quest Resolution

Each day, every member of a Quest Team may add their rating in one relevant Quest Attribute to one of the Quest DC numbers. A party member may have ranks in multiple Quest Attributes called for, but each day of questing the NPC may only dedicate his full value in one Quest Attribute to the total. The NPC may, if he wishes, add half of his value in one Quest Attribute to the DC and half of his value in a second Quest Attribute to a second DC. Any fractions are rounded down as normal. Generally, no one NPC can participate in more than 2 Attribute functions.

The Quest continues until all of the Quest DCs have been met. Once that happens, the NPC team has put all of the requisite work into completing the Quest and have reached the moment of truth in their mission – a boss fight, the final negotiation, or the final pocket of resistance. It is the Fate check roll that determines how many NPCs return from the Quest and how healthy they will be. The result of the Fate check roll is modified by the number described in the ‘Danger’ entry of the Quest as noted above.

NPCs may choose to abandon a Quest or retreat. If this happens, all of the NPCs return from the Quest uninjured and whole, but any work done towards the Quest by the team is undone. A new Quest team or the same Quest team will have to start over if they attempt to complete the Quest again.

Once the Fate check is made, NPCs can no longer choose to retreat from the Quest.

The Fate Check

Once the Quest Attribute DCs for a Quest have been met, the Fate check is used to determine the ultimate result of the mission. Roll d100, adding any modifiers for the Danger attribute of the Quest entry and consult the chart below.

Modified Check Result Quest Result
0 or Less The Quest was a fantastic success. All NPC members of the Quest Team return at full health. In addition, the NPCs receive and split 150% of the listed Quest award. News of the success spreads, and all PCs receive 1d6 points of Influence capital.
01 – 25 The Quest was successful. All NPC members of the Quest Team return with full health. In addition, the NPCs that were part of the Quest Team receive and split 125% of the listed Quest award.
26 – 50 The Quest was successful. All NPC members of the Quest Team return at full health. All NPC members of the Quest Team receive and split the listed Quest reward.
51 – 60 The Quest was successful. NPC members of the Quest Team return with 90% of their maximum hit points. All NPC members of the Quest Team receive and split the listed Quest reward.
61 – 70 The Quest was successful. All NPC members of the Quest Team return with 75% of their maximum hit points. All NPC members of the Quest Team receive and split the listed Quest reward.
81 – 90 The Quest was successful. All NPC members of the Quest Team return with 60% of their maximum hit points. All NPC members of the Quest Team receive and split the listed Quest reward.
91 – 100 The Quest was successful, but there was a cost. All cohorts and major NPC members of the Quest Team return with 50% of their maximum hit points. 25% of the followers/hirelings/minor NPCs die (or do not return) and the remainder return with 50% hit points. All surviving NPC members of the Quest Team receive and split the listed Quest reward.
101 – 110 The Quest was successful but there was a great cost. All cohorts and major NPC members of the Quest Team return with 50% hit points. Half of the followers/hirelings/minor NPCs die (or do not return) and the remainder return with 50% hit points. All surviving NPC members of the Quest Team receive and split the Quest reward.
111 – 120 The Quest was successful, but there was a dire cost. All cohorts and major NPC members of the Quest Team return with 25% hit points. Only 25% of the follower/hirelings/minor NPCs survive, and those that do are at 25% hit points. The surviving NPC members of the Quest Team receive and split 75% of the listed Quest reward.
121 – 130 The Quest was successful but required great sacrifice. All cohorts and major NPC members of the Quest Team return with 25% hit points. All of the hirelings/followers/minor NPCs on the Quest Team are killed, captured, or wander off. All NPC members of the Quest Team receive and split 50% of the listed Quest reward.
131 – 140 The Quest was successful but required tremendous sacrifice. There is a 50% chance that one non-mythic cohort or major NPC is captured or killed in the course of completing the Quest (GM discretion). Surviving cohorts and major NPCs return with 20% of their maximum hit points. All of the hirelings/followers/minor NPCs are killed, captured, or otherwise do not return. All surviving and free NPC members of the Quest party receive and split 50% of the listed Quest reward. The surviving NPC members of the Quest Team are not available for adventuring nor are they eligible to go on Quests for 1d3 days while they recover from their ordeal.
141 – 150 The Quest may or may not have been successful. If there is at least one member of the Quest Team alive and free when all of the rolls and checks associated with this Fate check category are resolved, then the Quest is completed and won. If there are no members of the Quest Team alive or free, then the Quest has failed and no reward is collected. There is a 75% chance that one non-mythic cohort or major NPC is captured or killed in the course of completing the Quest (GM discretion). Furthermore, there is a 25% chance that another cohort or major NPC (mythic or non-mythic) is captured or killed as well (roll for both results, even if the first roll results in no capture of an NPC). Surviving cohorts and major NPCs return at 20% of their maximum health. No hirelings/followers/minor NPCs on the Quest Team survive or return from the Quest. The surviving members of the NPC Quest Team receive and split 50% of the listed Quest reward. The survivng NPC members of the Quest Team are not available for adventuring nor are they eligible to go on Quests for 1d4 days after they return while they recover from their ordeal.
151 – 160 Pyrrhic Victory or Crushing Defeat. The Quest is successful as long as at least one member of the NPC Quest Team is alive and free once all Fate check rolls are resolved in this category. If there are no members of the Quest Team free or alive when all rolls for this category are completed, then this Quest is a failure and no Quest reward is collected. There is a 75% chance that one non-mythic cohort or major NPC is killed or captured during this Quest. there is also a 50% chance that a second cohort or major NPC (mythic or non-mythic) is captured or killed, and a 10% chance that a third cohort or major NPC (mythic or non-mythic) is captured or killed as well (roll for all results, even if one roll results in no capture/death of an NPC). Surviving cohorts and major NPCs return at 20% of their maximum health. No hirelings/followers/minor NPCs on the Quest Team survive or return from the Quest. The surviving members of the NPC Quest Team receive and split 50% of the listed Quest reward. The survivng NPC members of the Quest Team are not available for adventuring nor are they eligible to go on Quests for 1d6 days after they return while they recover from their ordeal.
161 – 170 Failure. The members of the Quest Team have met with disaster and the Quest fails. The Quest must be attempted again. All of the hirelings/followers/and minor NPCs on the Quest Team are lost. There is a 75% chance that one non-mythic cohort or major NPC is captured or killed (GM discretion). There is a 50% chance that a second cohort or major NPC (mythic or non-mythic) is captured or killed. There is also a 25% chance that a third cohort or major NPC (mythic or non-mythic) on the Quest Team is captured or killed. Any surviving members of the Quest Team receive and split only 10% of the listed Quest reward. The survivng NPC members of the Quest Team are not available for adventuring nor are they eligible to go on Quests for 1d6 days after they return while they recover from their ordeal.
171 – 179 Disastrous Failure. One cohort or major NPC is captured or killed (GM discretion). There is a 50% chance that a second cohort or major NPC is captured or killed. There is also a 25% chance that a third cohort or major NPC on the Quest Team is captured or killed. Any surviving members of the Quest Team receive none of the listed Quest award. The news of the disaster spreads far and wide, reducing the Influence capital of each PC by 1d6 points. The survivng NPC members of the Quest Team are not available for adventuring nor are they eligible to go on Quests for 2d4 days after they return while they recover from their ordeal.
180 Tragedy. Not even a minor victory can be associated with this Quest. The Quest is a failure. The entire Quest Team that went on the Quest are captured or killed (GM discretion). The NPCs on the Quest Team do not receive any of the listed Quest rewards. Each PC loses 2d4 points of Influence capital. This result could open up the door for future adventures or Quests to rescue or resurrect fallen cohorts and major NPCs.

Spending Capital to Aid Quest Teams

A well-equipped and supported Quest Team has a much greater chance of success and is likely to complete their Quest more quickly than they could without help.

PCs may allocate points of Capital from their resources to support Quest Teams. The Quest Team must have a way of transporting the capital to the Quest location (transportability is subject to GM approval). Assigning a lot of points of capital to a Quest Team could slow them down (if they have to carry large loads of scrolls and magical items for instance, they may need to take a wagon with them).

One point of capital gives one NPC on the Quest Team a +1 bonus on his associated Quest Attribute for that day.

As an added bonus, points of Magic capital spent on a Quest will reduce the Fate check by 1% per point of Magic capital spent (maximum 10% reduction). This represents the assortment of magical items the Quest Team brought along that may give them a powerful edge.

The maximum amount of capital that any given NPC may spend on any day is limited by the settlement size. If the Quest does not take place in a city or settlement, treat it as a thorp.

Capital types can be used to support only certain types of Quest Attributes as follows:

Capital Type Quest Attribute the Capital Can Support
Goods Combat, Cunning, Influence, Lore, Magic, maximum 1 Goods/Quest Team member per day
Influence Influence
Labor None or GM Approval
Magic Combat, Cunning, Influence, Lore, Magic

Goods – A well-equipped party has a much better chance of success. Whether the party is stocked up on food and beverages, tools, spare clothes, parts, or fine elven textiles for trade, a good stock of goods is important to just about any Quest. Each member of the Quest Team may only use up to one point of Goods each day.

Influence – Influence can be useful in swaying people and gaining allies. Influence capital can be used to enhance Influence Quest Attribute rolls as long as the Quest takes place in a location that a PC has Influence stored. Influence is hard to transfer from place to place, and may not always be available for use on Quests.

Labor – Generally, Labor capital cannot be used to modify Quest Attribute checks. Laborers will not often venture beyond the safety of civilization and are unwilling to venture into the dangerous territories or forgotten ruins. Labor generally cannot be used to augment Quest Attributes, but may be able to in certain circumstances. The GM gets final approval of when Labor may or may not be used.

Magic – There is a spell or a magical item for just about any circumstance. As such, points of Magic capital can be used to augment any Quest Attributes of an NPC. Furthermore, each point of Magic capital spent to augment a Quest will reduce the Fate check by 1% (up to a maximum reduction of 10% for any one Quest).

NPC Power!

Edge of Darkness: The Broken Circle Lord_Telarus