Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Training Groups of NPCs

Over the many many years which I've played my Rogue/Warlock, Zalekios, he has often run into a group called the Dragon Forged. Truth be told, I don't even recall our first encounter. I believe they tried to accost me on the road, followed by a healthy dose of torturous murder on my part. If I recall correctly, I was so annoyed with their attempt to burgle me, that I performed the closest thing to a good deed which Zalekios has ever attempted. I rooted out their evil plan to trick the nation of Alamon into going to war with their southern neighbor, Mulgran, and foiled it simply to spite them. Alamon awarded me with a rather rare artifact, and I believe I'm still considered a minor hero in that kingdom, since I never had a second adventure in that area.

The Dragon Forged have been a pebble in my shoe ever since. And as I've gained higher and higher levels, my dealings with them have become ever more comical. Most recently I was awakened by one of my goblins and alerted to the fact that my tower was under siege. I look out over my balcony, and what do I see but two small warbands of Dragon Forged, impotently attempting to break down my door. So I spend a few rounds lobbing Eldritch Blasts at them before I get bored, jump off the third story balcony, and attack the low-level twats in melee.

What? Zalekios has a wisdom modifier of 0. It's ROLE PLAYING. >.>

The rabble is dispatched quickly enough, and I'm left wondering why my GM would waste time on such a pointless little skirmish. I actually made sure I kept a few of the pests alive, just so I could torture them and hopefully discover why the GM had chosen to send them against me. But first, I resolved, I would finish my night's rest.

Yet no sooner had I laid my evil head to my evil pillow, than I was awakened yet again. I seriously considered killing the goblin this time, but Zalekios is trying to work on conserving his resources better, and I resisted. The goblin had a good reason to awaken me anyway: there was a dragon circling the tower. Thinking my GM was sending me a somewhat more deadly challenge, I rushed to the balcony, skeletal hands glowing black with eldritch might. But the dragon didn't attack. It alighted on my balcony, and morphed into a human shape.

This dragon, as it turned out, was the dragon in 'Dragon Forged.' Apparently his goal all along has been to cause all the great nations on the continent to go to war with each other, and continue warring until nothing is left but ruination. Being Chaotic Evil himself, Zalekios is fond this this notion. The dragon had also noticed that, given his follower's repeated failures, and my repeated pwning of them, that perhaps I was just the psychopath to lead him to victory. He offered me a position as his chief lieutenant, with complete command over the forces of the Dragon Forged, to the end bringing about the catastrophe we both desired.

It took me a few days, but I came up with a rather solid plan I think. It's not only multi-layered, but has fail-safes which kick in if some element of the plan fails. Made me feel like god-damned Xanatos. The details of that plan, however, may be written about at a later date after I've had an opportunity to see how the plan unfolds. However, one of the elements of the plan was that I required the Dragon Forged to not suck. To that end, my GM and I worked out some simple rules for training large groups of NPCs. I'm not sure if I've seen rules for anything like this in any official supplements, so they may be of use to you if you are ever in need.
  • A character can train a group of NPCs in any class that character has at least 3 levels in. For example, a 4th level rogue / 2nd level fighter can train a group how to be rogues, but not how to be fighters.
  • A group of NPCs can never be trained to a class level higher than 2 levels below the current class level attained by their teacher. For example, a 10th level rogue can train a group of NPCs to be level 8 rogues, but not level 9 rogues.
  • Each level requires [2 * The Level Being Trained To] months. For example, training a group from level 6 to level 7 requires 14 months.
  • Training costs [1000 * The Level Being Trained To] gold pieces. For example, training a group from level 6 to level 7 costs 7000 gold. This cost is for training only. Items such as training equipment etc. Any cost for food and lodging of the trainees would be extra.
  • Training more than 10 people at a time adds a 2% failure rate for each additional person. For example, if you're training 10 people, then there is no failure rate. However, if you're training 11 people at once, then you must roll a D%. If you roll 1-2, then the training fails and the materials and time is wasted. Training 12 people at once has a 4% failure rate, training 13 has a 6% failure rate, and so on.
  • Hirelings can be used to train groups in classes which they have.
  • New Feat: "Teacher:" Characters who have this feat only need to spend half as much money when training groups of NPCs.
  • New Feat: "Improved Teacher:" Characters who have this feat reduce their failure rate for students above 10 to 1%. (11 students has a 1% failure rate, 12 students has a 2% failure rate, and so on.)

I quite like the system. At first glance, and for our game, it balances well. Each level of training comes with a cost in both time and money which keeps the system from being abused to create massive armies. Also, note that this system says nothing about loyalty. Simply that skills are imparted from one high level character, to multiple lower level characters. If the GM is feeling particularly dickish, he or she could simply have the students turn on their teacher once they have nothing more to learn.

I'm sure the system has numerous flaws, though. It was really just slapped together by the two of us chatting back and forth one evening. I'd be interested to hear anyone's thoughts on what flaws it has, or how it could be improved.

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