Welcome
Welcome to designmechanism

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest, which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community, you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content, and access many other special features. In addition, registered members also see less advertisements. Registration is fast, simple, and absolutely free, so please, join our community today!

When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

Postby Runeblogger » Sat Apr 01, 2017 5:31 pm

Hi,

In the samurai campaign we're playing, the 4 PCs have been exploring a hidden valley full of monsters from Japanese folklore. They didn't expect to encounter so many monsters, so they fled. Now they are going back there in our next session, but one of the PCs has managed to get the help of two samurai warriors. But then there's another one who at the end of last session decided he wanted to recruit as many mercenaries as he could (about 20!). :?

So I ask you fellow GMs, how to handle this situation with way too many NPCs in the party while at the same time being fair? :(

OK, just right before the session ended, I realized there are almost no mercenaries in medieval Japan. The only warriors you can try to hire are ronin, bandits or pirates, perhaps also very low-key samurai clans. The PCs are right now in a foreign province in Kyushu, whose ruling clan is preparing for war against the neighbouring province. So it is very likely that all available ronin have been already recruited by the opposing local daimyos.

I don't like the party to go back to the valley with a bunch of NPCs. Firstly, it's a pain to keep track of all of them in a combat scene. Secondly, I think it kind of detracts from the sense of danger of exploring the valley when you are surrounded by your 22 guards. Now, how likely do you think it is for the bandits the PC is hiring to turn against him? How long or how difficult would you make it for this PC to recruit bandits? :?:
User avatar
Runeblogger
 
Posts: 86
Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:31 pm

Re: When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

Postby Matt_E » Sat Apr 01, 2017 5:42 pm

Hmm. Well, first off, if upon further consideration the previous outcome beggars credibility, you could insist on retconning it now, before you go any further. If there are no ronin just hanging out looking for work, so be it.

You also could simply admit to the player that you're not comfortable with so many NPCs. There could be reasons not to do that, though, so let's leave it at that--an idea.

If you do end up allowing a whole herd of NPCs, you could use the alternate rules for Underlings (or even Rabble) to track them.

The hirelings will only be useful as bodyguards for as long as they last. :twisted: Feel free to tee off on them with monsters galore. Watching them get slaughtered should make quite an impression on the PCs, and their players.

Make it hard to hire ronin, but easy to hire bandits. They will turn on the PCs whenever you prefer. :-D If they take heavy losses, they are much more likely to turn on the idiots who put them in this situation. Bandits might attack the PCs, or just steal all their stuff and leave them defenseless in Monster Alley, far from civilization. That's the thing about bandits: You can't trust them.

Finally, bandits might pretend to be ronin, to get hired... That is a dangerous game to play, though. Probably they would have to deem their boss a great fool to tell lies along those lines. If any true ronin were to find out, there would be hell to pay. I think a bandit would not pretend like this if the employer had any sort of military ties--which all of your PCs do, if I recall correctly.
SECRETS OF BLOOD ROCK is here. Check out Old Bones Publishing on DriveThruRPG.com!
User avatar
Matt_E
 
Posts: 1040
Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:00 pm

Re: When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

Postby Runeblogger » Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:09 pm

Yes, 3 PCs are samurai (2 warriors and one shinto priest). The 4th one is an ainu who's aiding them. And he's the one behind the hiring idea.

The main problem is, in the valley they have so far had encounters with 3 giant spiders or 6 wolf spiders. So now, increasing the amount of enemies per encounter just to present an exciting match would seem jarring. However, if the 4 PCs together with 10 NPCs have to face 3 or 4 giant spiders, the party will crush the opposition too easily. Even if 1 or 2 NPCs flee after seeing the monsters.
User avatar
Runeblogger
 
Posts: 86
Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:31 pm

Re: When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

Postby Matt_E » Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:22 pm

Yes, I think I understand. It's a problem of escalation.

You might want to check out my supplement "Interludes: Stalked on the Mountainside". It seems to me that you could adapt it to your purpose here. That would whittle down those pesky NPCs... Note that you could combine it with any other threats that the party might meet on its journey through the valley.
SECRETS OF BLOOD ROCK is here. Check out Old Bones Publishing on DriveThruRPG.com!
User avatar
Matt_E
 
Posts: 1040
Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:00 pm

Re: When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

Postby soltakss » Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:31 pm

How much do the NPCs cost? Hiring 20 people sounds very expensive. They are going into Monster Valley, surely they would up their rates by quite a bit, so the PCs would be paying 5 times the normal rate.

What is to stop the NPCs from renegotiating half way throuigh the scenario?

Also, if they have a big party, why would the monsters attack? Better to keep them away and let the PCs wander the valley without harm. They will eventually let the NPCs go and be lulled into a false sense of security, then you strike.

Alternatively, have the NPCs picked off one by one. A guard falls into a pit and is impaled on spikes. Another is seduced away by a beautiful woman dressed in white who is hollow when seen from the back. Another is pulled away by tentacles. Two more start fighting each other and kill each other. Another just disappears overnight. A Ronin appears and challenges one of the guards to single combat, if he wins he kills the guard and repeats the next day, again and again.

The guards will either run away or charge a lot more for the danger.

As a player, I would expect NPCs with the party to be useless, cowardly or betray me.
Simon Phipp - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982.

RQ Merrie England (Medieval RPG): http://merrieengland.soltakss.com/

RQ/BRP: http://www.soltakss.com/index.html
RQ Alternate Earth: Group: http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/alternateearthrq/
soltakss
 
Posts: 434
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:45 am

Re: When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

Postby Pat_Henry » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:34 pm

Tear a page from Pete's "Gods That Walk" from Monster Island. One good attack from the colossal lord of spiders and spider-kind, Kumongu, should settle your samurai army's hash.
User avatar
Pat_Henry
 
Posts: 375
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:52 pm

Re: When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

Postby nDervish » Sun Apr 02, 2017 6:09 am

Runeblogger wrote:Firstly, it's a pain to keep track of all of them in a combat scene.


Although I haven't used it personally, Ships & Shield Walls seems like a natural solution to that, since you're talking about numbers which are getting into more of the "military unit" size range rather than "handful of specialist PCs".

Runeblogger wrote:Now, how likely do you think it is for the bandits the PC is hiring to turn against him?


Depends on how they're treated, how well they're paid, and how loyal/trustworthy they are at baseline. Definitely a situation to either find or improvise some morale rules!

Runeblogger wrote:How long or how difficult would you make it for this PC to recruit bandits?


Depends on how large the market is that they're recruiting from. If you tell me the city's population, I can look it up in the ACKS hiring tables.

Runeblogger wrote:The main problem is, in the valley they have so far had encounters with 3 giant spiders or 6 wolf spiders. So now, increasing the amount of enemies per encounter just to present an exciting match would seem jarring. However, if the 4 PCs together with 10 NPCs have to face 3 or 4 giant spiders, the party will crush the opposition too easily. Even if 1 or 2 NPCs flee after seeing the monsters.


Your gut feeling is right: Don't increase the number of enemies based on the party size. That would make no logical sense.

However, 3 or 4 giant spiders aren't going to attack a company of 26 men. Animals, especially predators, aren't that stupid. They want an easy meal and they don't want to get hurt or killed in the process. So maybe the company will notice the spiders watching from the trees or something, but the spiders won't attack and, if attacked, they'll flee if possible. (Of course, if a man or two breaks ranks at the sight of them and runs off into the forest, he's just nominated himself for the post of "dinner"...)

With that many men, you're not going to sneak up on anything, but that's a good thing, because the major advantage of marching through dangerous territory with an army isn't that you'll roflstomp every minor threat you fight, it's that you don't have to fight the minor threats in the first place because they'll see you coming and get out of your way.

And, if you do naturally roll an encounter with something that seems likely to be willing to take on a force that size, then don't forget that they're likely to have heard the company's approach, too, which makes an ambush likely. That's the disadvantage of a big, noisy army...
nDervish
 
Posts: 216
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:55 am
Location: Lund, Sweden

Re: When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

Postby Runeblogger » Thu Apr 06, 2017 1:14 pm

Thanks a lot to everyone for all your suggestions! :D

I think I'll end up limiting the number of bandits and ronin the character can hire. To begin with, they don't have all the time in the world, because they have already enlisted to samurai NPCs who will go to the valley only to retrieve the corpse of a samurai of their clan. And these two won't tolerate wasting precious time! (and let's see what they think about hiring bandits!). Another measure is the fact they are in a foreign province (down in Kyushu) that is preparing for a future battle against the neighbouring province. So I guess that, if a foreigner (and a "filthy hairy" ainu on top of that!) in that situation then starts hiring bandits, the local samurai may well think he and his party are enemy spies! :twisted:

So, if a koku is the minimum measure of rice a man needs to eat for a year in order to survive. What part of that do you think it costs to hire a ronin/bandit for a fortnight? 1/4? 1/8? 1/10? :?:

On the other hand, when they get to the valley, I'll do what most people here have suggested: the groups of 3-4 spiders and other monsters will hide if they see they can't win. The valley is in a thick magical fog, anyway (in there, you can only see clearly 20 m around you ), so slowly windling the party is certainly a good strategy. BTW, the monsters are commanded by a big monster who can spy everything from above at certain places.

Oh, and I hadn't told you: the PC doing the hiring does not want to tell the mercenaries what they expect to face. So, does anyone have any suggestions for morale rules for the bandits/ronin? I feel that if I handwave that, some of my players may complain.
User avatar
Runeblogger
 
Posts: 86
Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:31 pm

Re: When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

Postby Matt_E » Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:53 pm

First, decide whether you want the Morale check to be an Opposed or Unopposed roll. If you want an Opposed roll, then you need to pick an opposing skill, of course. :-) If an Unopposed check is fine, then you could repurpose the rules for the creature traits Intimidate and Terrifying, to see what happens to those who fail the check. You should also consider penalty grades, for the spooky surroundings and however many comrades have been eliminated, and Augmentation (like a relevant Passion).

Oh, does Ships and Shield Walls have rules for Morale? I bet it does. :-)
SECRETS OF BLOOD ROCK is here. Check out Old Bones Publishing on DriveThruRPG.com!
User avatar
Matt_E
 
Posts: 1040
Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:00 pm

Re: When PCs bring many NPCs to the party

Postby nDervish » Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:45 am

Matt_E wrote:Oh, does Ships and Shield Walls have rules for Morale? I bet it does. :-)


Why, yes, it does. :-) (Why didn't I think of that earlier, when I was suggesting both using S&SW and using morale rules?)
nDervish
 
Posts: 216
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:55 am
Location: Lund, Sweden

Next

Return to Game Reports & Play Experiences

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron
suspicion-preferred