Grouped NPCs (Saga Series spoilers)

So, for my Correctors hack of the Mouse Guard RPG, I’m going to have a group of NPCs that I want to have be effected by something. How would I handle that? How do I turn a group of people into one stat set?

To be specific, I’m figuring that there could be an entire group of settlers who I need to roll for if they get hit with a flash flood or are moved to riot or something.

What obstacle are the guardmice trying to overcome?

Not sure yet, but the Correctors could be facing a rioting group of 20 settlers, the settlers turned purposefully against them, they might be running like a panicked herd, or they might be attacked by packs of mindless corpses.

So, set an obstacle for each of those circumstances. Have the players test against the obstacle to overcome.

Or, if these “settlers” are denizens of this world, assign them a Nature rating and use that in versus tests against the players.

But how do you manage larger groups as a unit. Is that not possible? Can I not make a “crowd NPC” or should I just guess at the ob?

Well, it depends.

First option is just to set an obstacle for overcoming the problem.

Second option is to create “crowd NPC” animal with a Nature score.

Third option is to create individual “Settler” animals each with a Nature score and have them help one another in versus tests or conflicts.

It depends on the situation in the game. I prefer options the first and the third, myself.

Gotcha. I like those options, too. Here’s what I wound up writing (better-formatted here):

Corpse ambush
The things that could get in the way of the mission:

  • A First of the Last Warmaster with a corpse-band of 2 to 4 specialized Molarian warrior-slaves
    ** Warrior-slaves: Nature(First of the Last) 5, Will 2, Health 6, Resources 1, Circles 2. Skills: Fighter 5, Scout 2, Straggler-wise 4. Traits: Tall (1), Bodyguard (1), Thorned (2)
    ** Warmistress Baatet Daarcha: Nature(First of the Last) 5, Will 5, Health 6, Resources 6, Circles 7, Fighter 5, Orator 5, Deceiver 4, Militarist 4, War-wise 4. Traits: Suspicious (2), Cunning (2). Gear: Heavy armor, axe

  • Possible follow-ons include:
    ** Corpses taken
    ** Panicking settlers

Should I be more detailed than that or is that ok? Would you mostly wing it? Overall, have I overdone or underdone my session planning?

If you want a mob to be like a single adversary, I’d go with a crowd NPC (much like a swarm in D&D 4e) with a Nature of 4, 5 or 6, whatever is appropriate. However, if you want them to act as a neutral or friendly unit for some task or other, I’d go with Luke’s choices but…

… Can I why, with the latter, you would be making rolls for NPCs to be affected by floods or whatnot? Either they are or they aren’t, and your choice as to which is based on hitting the players’ BIGs. The players then make the rolls to resolve the situation.

Huh. Good point, Rafe. I think it’s just that I haven’t created a Mouse Guard scenario yet, so I don’t know if I’m doing it right, basically.

Well, in terms of writing up a session, know roughly what the purpose is (what the players will write Goals around). Knowing their Beliefs and Instincts, what 2 hazards can you place in their way to challenge their characters en route to pursuing The Thing? Try not to over-prepare, and don’t write too much. My session notes look like this:

Hazard 1: Environment (Journey)

  • Pathfinder test, Ob 6 (Spring Nature)
    –> Twist: Flash Flood (in Player X’s hometown - his friend is trapped. Also conflicts nicely with Player Y’s “No one mouse is more important than the mission” Belief)

Hazard 2: … Etc.

I only try to keep one conflict per session, with the other tests being normal, versus or using Complex Obstacles. Sometimes you wind up with two full conflicts, which is fine so long as they’re for different things (Chase and Fight, or Negotiation and War, etc.). Some players enjoy the full conflicts. If yours do, keep ‘em rollin’, but shake things up a bit. With 4 different Hazards, there’s lots of room to pull 2 as your main ones, and keep the other 2 in your back pocket for twists.

Hope that helps a bit and doesn’t detract from the thread.

Patrick, that’s helpful. So I’m guessing I probably did more work than I need to, given your example above.

Well, a big part of it is personal preference, as per any RPG. I’ve always been pretty improvisational and on-the-fly, so my plans are quite simplistic, generally. That said, I actually write prep down for MG! I don’t for BW (or most other games).

I find MG doesn’t really require lots of prep, regardless of your GM’ing style. It probably shouldn’t take longer than 10-15 minutes to plan a GM’s Turn for a session. There are only 4 things you need to nail down, after all.

Note that “prep” as I’m using it doesn’t include worksheets to track your players’ BIGs, friends and enemies.

I write a one-liner for each of Weather, Wilderness, Animal, Mouse. I then pick two as my two events, and have the other two ready as immediate complications. Usually, I use a simple guide of no more difficulty nature than the lower of: (best attack skill + Number of Mice) or (Best Defense Skill+Number of Mice). If I’m making multiple opponents, reduce the nature by 1 for each additional opponent. If I want it hard, add 2, and easy, subtract 1.