NPC Combat Spending.

Hey all,

I have a big issue with NPCs spending on attacks against the players. I'm a GM that doesn't like player death very much, generally if the player does something stupid i'll punish them through story (and with 'sources of stability'. NBA gives a myriad of options to get evil), but I hate the idea of a good roll means you're out of play. Frankly I work hard to write and prep the games so a character dropping out hurts me just as badly. 

The spending of points by NPCs in a fight seems almost malicious - the GM is overtly saying "I've made the out of game decision to hurt you". Players also need to ration out their points through a scenario while NPCs can flush everything for the scene they are in. 

I thought of a few options:

1. Random spend. 
Add a die to your roll either using a novelty d6 or make a mental table. a 1-3 means no spend, a 4= a spend of 1, 5=2, 6=3 or thereabouts. 

2. Spend by emotion.
Since it's assumed npcs and players alike are equally competent in their combat abilities, the npc swill spend when under a type of stress (that is beyond the scope of a firefight). If enraged they might pour in a few points to target the source of their anger, or if men are dropping around them like flies their fear may merit a spend. Otherwise they don't spend at all. This feels less 'arbitrary' to me.

3. Spend for FX
Only use the points to justify special actions like multiple shots and so on. 

Ok granted sometimes I'll make a spend just to keep the action interesting, or if the players need to tone down the cockiness, regardless of above. 

Has anyone else found this an issue?

[Sorry if I've reiterated a previous question but I've browsed the forums and the web and people have voiced this in some shape or another without much of a solution.]


  • 4. Predetermined spend.
    Decide in advance how a certain NPC spends. "The securtiy guards spends 2 points every turn" or "the bikers spend 3 points on the first turn, then 2 points every other turn".

    If you want to add randomness to it, you could create cards with prepared spending schemes that you draw at the start of a fight.


    The issue have been talked about before.
    I think the popular angle was that it was unfair to the players; as most NPC:s wouldn't be returning they could spend every point available, while the players need to save something for the next fight.
  • "Players also need to ration out their points through a scenario while NPCs can flush everything for the scene they are in."

    Did you read the advice on pg. 52, under Opposition Spends?

    Here's the text:
    "How should the opposition spend its points in a contest or a combat? Keep in mind that gun-toting mooks don’t know they’re disposable meat shields: they think they will survive the whole adventure, and will save their points accordingly.

    In general, most foes start a contest by spending 1 point, then escalate if they haven’t gotten results. Innate predators, like vampires or hit men, may start out with 2-point spends. Cornered animals, or angry or fearful
    foes will spend whatever it takes to guarantee a hit: 4 or more points. Careful foes will spend minimally, to
    conserve their strength for the long haul: 1 or even 0 points unless cornered or desperate.

    You can change this up for the sake of drama or variety in the game. Perhaps a truly hardened badass starts out with a move intended to crush his foes (spends 3), then slacks off to judge the result (spends 1), then increases his effort again (spends 2): a spend pattern of 3/1/2. Animals might start at 2, then taper off to save their strength: 2/2/1/1."

    So while the GM shouldn't be malicious in using meta knowledge to spend points, they should present NPCs with a modicum of common sense, so players can be rewarded for playing smart - finding cover, gaining advantages, and NOT relying on dice rolls (PC or NPC) when they don't have to.

  • Cheers for the feedback. Haven't actually run the game yet need to see how the glove fits. 
  • To 2nd Dreamstreamer, try following the Opposition Spends text. PCs generally have WAY more points in key skills and NPCs especially mooks, have way lower health. I think you can balance it.
Sign In or Register to comment.