Not a particularly dramatic idea this week, but it comes with a fun spreadsheet.

This is an expansion of the idea presented in a previous post about letting players turn NPCs into PCs when their characters die or for side missions, designed for Dirge. As usual, it will probably work with any modern D20 game with minimal tweaking.

The Basic Idea

When you introduce friendly NPCs that can join the players’ community:

  • Determine ability scores for the NPC. These should have a decent degree of variability (so the NPC winds up with core strengths and weaknesses), but should probably approximate a lower point value than PCs get. For example, if PCs are made with 20 point buy, the NPCs can be made with 10.
  • Figure out which stance and skills those scores favor. While it’s fun to make the occasional NPC that has horribly mismatched skills to innate capability, the players are less likely to be interested in that NPC as one that can contribute in a real way to the group.
  • Buy the basic starting ranks available to the character in several appropriate skills (in Dirge, starting ranks are equal to Intelligence). Don’t make any choices of feats or other options unless required to by the plot.

When a player decides to turn that NPC into a PC (either permanently or as an alternate character):

  • Allow the player to allocate the NPC’s feats (and other options, if applicable).
  • Grant one additional point of stats (per point buy) per time the players receive an advance until the character has equivalent stats to a starting PC (e.g., if PCs get 20 point buy, and the NPCs are made with 10, award one point for each of the first ten times the players get an advance while the character is active). This represents the previously background character growing into a protagonist once on screen, but keeps the players from just hopping between NPCs for one session as they might if they got the point boost immediately.

The Spreadsheet

The spreadsheet is available here. It just spits out stats, stance, and six skills. Use those as a guide for developing the NPC’s basic identity, and use the random namer of your choice.

Examples

The following are stats are examples of 10 point characters produced by the spreadsheet:

Determined
Character
Str 12 (+1), Dex 13 (+1),
Con 12 (+1), Int 10 (+0),
Wis 8 (-1), Cha 14 (+2)
Athletics +2, Handle Animal +4,
Leadership +5, Negotiate +4,
Stamina +2, Survivalist +2
Determined
Character
Str 10 (+0), Dex 13 (+1),
Con 10 (+0), Int 11 (+0),
Wis 13 (+1), Cha 13 (+1)
Handle Animal +4, Heal +3,
Leadership +2, Negotiate +3,
Perception +3, Stamina +1
Tough
Character
Str 10 (+0), Dex 11 (+0),
Con 16 (+3), Int 10 (+0),
Wis 10 (+0), Cha 9 (-1)
Athletics +1, Intimidate +2,
Leadership +0, Mechanic +1,
Stamina +6, Survivalist +5
Tough
Character
Str 17 (+3), Dex 10 (+0),
Con 10 (+0), Int 6 (-2),
Wis 10 (+0), Cha 13 (+1)
Athletics +4, Intimidate +4,
Leadership +2, Mechanic +1,
Stamina +1, Survivalist +1
Fast
Character
Str 12 (+1), Dex 10 (+0),
Con 11 (+0), Int 13 (+1),
Wis 15 (+2), Cha 7 (-2)
Acrobatics +3, Athletics +4,
Criminal +2, Heal +3,
Perception +4, Stealth +2
Fast
Character
Str 10 (+0), Dex 16 (+3),
Con 10 (+0), Int 10 (+0),
Wis 10 (+0), Cha 10 (+0)
Acrobatics +6, Athletics +1,
Criminal +5, Drive +4,
Leadership +1, Stealth +5
Vulnerable
Character
Str 11 (+0), Dex 10 (+0),
Con 9 (-1), Int 13 (+1),
Wis 10 (+0), Cha 15 (+2)
Computers +2, Handle Animal +5,
Leadership +4, Negotiate +4,
Profession +5, Sciences +3
Vulnerable
Character
Str 10 (+0), Dex 10 (+0),
Con 10 (+0), Int 16 (+3),
Wis 10 (+0), Cha 10 (+0)
Academics +6, Computers +6,
Electronics +5, Handle Animal +2,
Heal +2, Sciences +7
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