Encounters & NPCs

Encounters & NPCs

The worlds run with The Imperial System will invariably be populated with people beyond the players, and creatures other than humans. This final part of the rules covers how we handle non-player characters of all types.

Stats

Everything in TIS will have stats, for the same things the players have; people, class, size, cohesion, HP and so on. All of these are based on the level of the NPC, which lets you create characters able to challenge your players, without making it impossible for them to achieve their goals.

An NPC's level can be anywhere from 1 to 12, and through some very simple calculations, gives default stats. The numbers are:

Level Stats PM Damage Cohesion
1 5 4 10
2 8 5 20
3 12 7 30
4 15 8 40
5 19 10 50
6 22 11 60
7 26 13 70
8 29 14 80
9 33 16 90
10 36 17 100
11 40 19 110
12 43 20 120

Physical manipulations, professions and skill are left to the GM to decide, based on what makes sense for the NPC. However, suggestions are given in the bestiary for each of the types of creature the players might encounter. For the player peoples, anything is possible.

HP

This gives the suggested total HP of the creature's armour and personal hit points. The specific value is given by the type of creature and the people/species it belongs to.

Armour

Some creatures have natural armour, due to thick hide, scales or just being incredibly tough. Others may wear actual armour like the players themselves, which can be similar or thicker/thinner, depending on the creature.

Armour stats give their total resistance to weapons, and are detailed in the usual Blunt/Slashing/Piercing format.

Attacks/Abilities

NPCs may well be armed. Their weapons work the same way as player weapons. Note their size, level and ranges. Attacks are always melee unless stated as Ranged.

Skills & Items

These, like the detail for Physical Manipulation, are left up to the GM to decide on the fly. For example, if the players encounter a noble, you might decide as you describe him that she wears a golden torc on her left arm, which denotes status. Equally you might decide that she's particularly skilled in negotiation, and therefore give her a bump in roll targets for any negotiation-related Diplomacy checks. Make a note of these things as they come up, but don't sweat them too much.

Encounters

In any adventure run with TIS (or any other RPG system), encounters should have three parts: a link to the campaign's past, to give it relevance, a foreshadowing of the future, to drive the story forward, and a simple (although not necessarily initially clear) objective. Regarding the last, the party can either succeed, partially succeed, or fail, and so you need to be able to deal with any of those. It's entirely possible that your incredible bad-ass villain is going to be taken down by a low-level party, because they came up with something incredibly clever that you just didn't consider. Don't deny them that victory. Equally, it's possible that your clear, simple objective is actually something that they just don't see, or totally subvert in some way. You need to be ready to improvise when that happens too.

So the first thing for encounters is to ground them, set an objective, and have some ideas as to what to do if things go sideways.

Setting an Encounter

When creating an encounter, firstly write down the objective in its simplest form. Things like "bring the two sides to peace", "sneak in and retrieve the item", "kill the monster" or "stop the illegal activity" all work well. There's a clear, simple aim to be achieved, and obvious conditions for success, partial success and failure.

As for pitching the difficulty, because TIS has no concept of an overall level, instead watch how the party are doing, and set it as something appropriately challenging given how they're dealing with what they're facing.

Due to the party always rolling, and the Skills system, it’s quite possible something that would be very difficult for one group will be simple for another, because a party member will have spent time gaining skills in something that makes the challenge a breeze. For example, if the task is "track down the Grazelle*", often a party will be making Knowledge and Diplomacy checks, having to talk to people who may have seen it as it travelled and so on. However, if one of the party spent time with the Grazelle as a child, and has long ties to them as an adult, then they could have Skill in Grazelle culture and habits. This would make the task far easier for that party.

Rewarding the Players

A challenging objective should always result in the story moving forward, but also in delivering growth to the characters in the story. These can come in the forms of skill & experience, or loot items, such as weapons, armour, money, trinkets or possessions.

They might also gain status or favours, depending on if they’re performing a task for others, who are in a position to reward them with such.

* Not something that appears in the game - I just made that up. However, feel free to use the name and invent the Grazelle if you’d like