Just wondering…

Do you think that NPCs should follow the monster creation rules?

Or would you just drop stats, best educated guess like?

Sage LaTorra Adam Koebel Eric Nieudan Kasper Brohus Allerslev Tim Franzke Johnstone Metzger Eon Fontes-May Sean Dunstan Joe Banner I’m looking forward to hear your advice!

20 thoughts on “#DreadedWilderlands”

  1. I’d say yes, because for the most part most NPCs only need things to cover their motivations/simple abilities. Monster/NPC moves aren’t just moves to use against the PCs, they’re also guidelines for how that monster or NPC acts in general. Even if you don’t expect an NPC to get into a combat situation, it’s probably helpful to jot down an Instinct and a move or two just to help keep the creature’s “personality” in mind.

  2. I could see some additional questions / choices added to the creation for more non-combatant ‘monsters’. I’m not sure what off the top of my head.

    (Actually, I really like adding to / modifying the creation process in certain circumstances…)

  3. I guess it depends.  Is the NPC  they’re interacting with just a flavourful townsperson?  Then if the PCs want to carve a path through them, there isn’t much stopping them (but it might give you a Golden Opportunity to unleash the city guard on them), and if you want to use a GM move then you can use it through them (they deliver bad news, they fall victim to a terrible plague, they open the gate for the goblin horde, etc). 

    Are they part of a front, like Underground Criminal Organization?  Then the front gives them some stats and moves you can use.

    Are they actually a Monster?  Then they have their own individual stats and moves like a bugbear.

    Of course, there’s overlap here.  You can use a general GM move through a monster that’s part of a front.  It just gives you more options.

  4. OK. To clear things out a bit…

    The question arises for important NPCs in a sandbox-like setting. You want to have them ‘coz you know they might come in handy and you don’t want to have to do them on the fly and you have to be prepared for anything.

  5. I’d go with yes, given “following the monster creation rules” can be done in a matter of seconds, if necessary. Here’s an example from a game I GM’ed the other day:

    The party came across a troll crossing their path. We’d done some world-building previously and established there were trolls in the area, and I’d done some thinking about how these trolls might be different, but I’d not bothered to “stat up” anything in advance.

    So obviously, first I described what the troll looked like to the players, based on my prep: scabbed and scarred skin from the ash wastes; big as an ogre, but leaner; no weapons, but a very thick hide; carrying something bundled in it’s arms; seems to be ignoring the party and heading east.

    That’s pretty much all of the monster creation rules right there: description, size, instinct (to get what it’s carrying to whatever’s in the east) even the opportunity for a move or two (absorb a blow with it’s thick hide, maybe.) Damage dice, following the fiction for something as big as an ogre, would be at least d8 – maybe w[d8] since it’s been established this one doesn’t want to fight. 

    Finally, just to echo Sean Dunstan it’s going to be rare that an NPC is such an non-entity that they don’t have an instinct and a move or two, even if you’ve not written them down as such.

    Hope this helps!

  6. I don’t usually bother stating out non-combatants. If something comes up I just assume they have around 3 HP and can inflict d4 damage if they have a weapon. Coming up with stats on the fly is so easy that I really don’t feel the need to put the effort into NPC stats ahead of time, just notes regarding the fiction.

  7. I’ll kinda echo what’s been said: just fully describing the NPC is all you need to do, in terms of prep. If they’re important enough to warrant statting them up, then you can probably picture them in your head, right?

    Like, Old Bryson was a big mean warrior with hands like bear claws. Now he’s retired and drinks from sunup ’til moonrise and everyone wonders whether he can still fight at all, or if all he can do is drink.

    BOOM, if the players pick a fight you’ve established most everything you need to know and can easily eyeball some stats from it.

  8. You know what I think is more important than NPC stats? Custom moves for your NPC, that’s what. Like, “Old Bryson’s hands are big like bear claws. When You Get In Close To Bryson, he deals 1 damage to you just for being there.” or “Old Bryson was born fighting and has never stopped. Take -1 when engaging him in physical combat.”

  9. Bastien Wauthoz, here’s my take: you prep as much as you feel is necessary for you to portray a fantastic world, fill the character’s lives with adventure, and play to see what happens.

    I find that the process of “statting up” a major NPC (with instinct, moves, traits, and even numbers) gives me a better sense of who they are and what they can do and how they will act.  And if things go south and they become antagonists, that prep makes me feel comfortable playing said NPC as hard and as effectively as I should; I gave myself permission to do so when I statted them up. 

    With that said, I don’t stat up every NPC I think the PCs will encounter, and I’m perfectly comfortable statting up NPCs on the fly based on my initial impressions/interactions with them.

    So: do as much prep as you need to feel comfortable.

    I’m also not a huge fan of the hireling rules/stats & rules, and don’t find myself using them.  I think the hireling stuff makes a pretty hard and unnatural divide between antagonistic NPCs and “follower” NPCs.

  10. Something else to consider, if an NPC isn’t armed or a trained warrior then I wouldn’t even trigger Hack & Slash, I’d just say you kill him or knock him out. 

  11. “Stat up” is pretty open ended. See the Acolyte and the Tarrasque for example.

    If this is something you intend to write down for others then yeah, I’d give them stats, even if that just means instinct, description, and moves (in combat they’re a non-issue).

    Otherwise I’d just make sure I know them well enough that I can stat them up if need be, and note something down if/when it becomes important.

  12. Bastien will confirm that, but as I understand it, the Dread Wilderlands is intended as a future product.

    Bastien Wauthoz, I like that you don’t need many stats to define NPCs in Dungeon World, and I think your setting should reflect that. A solid description, an instinct and maybe a move.

    But you don’t want new GMs to be at a loss when they look at your NPCs. What I’d do is give guidelines at the beginning of the book, essentially summarizing everything what’s been said above.

  13. Eric Nieudan is right. #DreadedWilderlands is a modular sandbox tool I’m developping for Dungeon World. More about it later.

    Thanks to you all for your great advices!

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