GameMastery Guide Preview: NPCs and Early Copies!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Okay, okay, okay, let's get back on track here. We've been buzzing about shipping the Advanced Player's Guide a lot here, but that book's still in the distant future. Let's get back to what's in the near future: the GameMastery Guide.

First up, I promised last week to talk a bit about one of the most versatile weapons in this veritable arsenal of GMing goodies, the NPC Gallery. Chapter 9 of the GameMastery Guide sets GMs up with statblocks for more than eighty of the most commonly used NPCs in fantasy gaming. From acolytes to watch captains, these pregenerated statblocks are there and ready to use for whatever you might need them for, whether a PC decides to take a swing at the king or you need a bandit encounter right now. These NPCs give you all the details you need to use them, along with suggestions on what you might do to further customize them and what other NPCs they might hang out with to make encounters of varying CRs (a bandit lord with two sellsword bodyguards is a CR 12 encounter, for example). The organization on these is also pretty cool. Rather then page after page of alphabetized stats (meshing together beast master, beggar, and bounty hunter), we've grouped them in families that might naturally work together. For example, under city watch you get a guard, a guard officer, and a watch captain—forgoing the need to flip pages when the PCs get tackled by the guard and their commander—while later under the heretics header you get a cultist, a conjurist, and a cult leader, giving you an entire cult without the need to ever turn the page. But for when you need NPCs for a specific CR encounter or are looking for the perfect NPC, we also give you rundowns of the entire 80-plus NPC list organized both by name and CR. Check out a third of this list and a few of Alberto Dal Lago's incredible illustrations for the section below. If you ever hated having to cobble together stats on the fly or changed a game to avoid using stats you didn't have prepared, your life as a GM just got way easier. That's what the GameMastery Guide is all about after all.

Illustrations by Alberto Dal Lago

In other preview news, there seemed to be some disbelief last week about whether or not the picture we showed off of our printers' proof of the GameMastery Guide was real or not—or at least whether or not it was a copy of the full book or a mock up filled with blank pages. I'll let the following put the matter to rest.

And if you want to hear even more about the GameMastery Guide, tune in to episode 10 of the Know Direction podcast, where Ryan Costello graciously lets me go on and on and on about all the reasons this book will change GMs' lives for the better.

As for the next GameMastery Guide preview, next week... things get weird.

F. Wesley Schneider
Managing Editor

More Paizo Blog.
Silver Crusade

Someone has to say it.

MAKE MY MONSTER GROW!!!

ahem

Cool art on these guys though! :)

Player Interactions seems to look to cover ground a bit more frankly than 3.5's DMG 2... I can already ID two characters from Darths & Droids going off of that preview page.

Some of those sample NPCs being so far apart from each other in terms of page numbers has me curious about what will be found around each one. edit-Ah, nm. Finally got savvy to that picture only showing a part of the chart. I'm still curious about the NPCs that are in the same "families" as Doomsayer, Torturer, and Village Idiot.

Dark Archive

Next time I'm going to add "Won't believe it until I'm holding the book!" when I imply it might not be real! ;-)

I agree Mikaze, a lot more covered ground.


Awesome! This ships tomorrow right?


Something by you guys designed to help DMs is a great development. There's space waiting in my mailbox for this!

Liberty's Edge

Episode 10.... when will it air? Started looking for it last week.
I can only recommend that podcast, great show.

Dark Archive

S-W-E-E-T. 'nuff said.

Liberty's Edge

Stegger wrote:

Episode 10.... when will it air? Started looking for it last week.

I can only recommend that podcast, great show.

It's going up later today, Stegger. :)


This is really RC's day (as I'm listening to AA.)


Joys of owning a B&M retail outlet; already got copies on hold! Told 'em as soon as they were in, I wanted 'em! ^_^

Dark Archive

Rubs his hands together excitedly. More NPCs, I can always use more NPCs. Between the village idiot, the cannibal, and the princess I bet I could put together a pretty interesting adventure.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
This is really RC's day (as I'm listening to AA.)

New Know Direction and new Atomic Array on the same day? It's like Christmas!


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I am sooo looking forward to this!

Liberty's Edge

Jam412 wrote:
Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
This is really RC's day (as I'm listening to AA.)
New Know Direction and new Atomic Array on the same day? It's like Christmas!

Just wait until you hear everything Wes has to say about the GMG.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Maybe I am missing something, but one of the NPCs on that list indicates "Conjurer" as its class. What is that? A new class in the GMG? Or just a specialist Wizard?


Most impressive thing here to me is the inclusion of tables that actually list potions by name, so you don't have any more arguing about which spells can be made into them! We did the same thing on Sunken Empires: New spells? These are the ones that qualify as potions! No more flipping around between the spell listing, the magic item chapter and the brew potion feat!

Dark Archive

MaxAstro wrote:
Maybe I am missing something, but one of the NPCs on that list indicates "Conjurer" as its class. What is that? A new class in the GMG? Or just a specialist Wizard?

My guess is that it's a conjuration specialist wizard.

Dark Archive

Ryan. Costello wrote:
Jam412 wrote:
Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
This is really RC's day (as I'm listening to AA.)
New Know Direction and new Atomic Array on the same day? It's like Christmas!
Just wait until you hear everything Wes has to say about the GMG.

Well post up the episode and we can. :)

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
MaxAstro wrote:
Maybe I am missing something, but one of the NPCs on that list indicates "Conjurer" as its class. What is that? A new class in the GMG? Or just a specialist Wizard?

As I understand it, there won't be any new classes in this book. Advanced Player's Guide is really the book for that.

That said, I'm super stoked about the many NPC stat blocks. Should be very helpful to us GMs. Of course, I could've used them 5 days ago when I had a bunch of city guards fighting the heroes. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

MaxAstro wrote:
Maybe I am missing something, but one of the NPCs on that list indicates "Conjurer" as its class. What is that? A new class in the GMG? Or just a specialist Wizard?

Yup; "conjurer" is just a short way of saying "Wizard specialized in the conjuration school."

Contributor

Ryan. Costello wrote:
Just wait until you hear everything Wes has to say about the GMG.

A huge thanks to gentleman and scholar Mr. Costello for letting me ramble on and on about this book. I had a blast and Ryan was a fantastic host. Can't wait to give it a listen!

Contributor

Mikaze wrote:

Someone has to say it.

MAKE MY MONSTER GROW!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! ETC. Awesome.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Only 80-plus stat blocks? I'll be interested to see what happened to the other 30ish or so.

SO.

MANY.

STAT BLOCKS.

(it may have just been shaved down by having 3 per group instead of 4)

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

I hope the spellcheck underlines aren't in the finished book!

Scarab Sages

Jason Nelson wrote:

Only 80-plus stat blocks? I'll be interested to see what happened to the other 30ish or so.

SO.

MANY.

STAT BLOCKS.

(it may have just been shaved down by having 3 per group instead of 4)

Pif, I did 145 on that Children of Westcrown thing. I SEE THEMS IN MY DREAMS.

Contributor

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
I hope the spellcheck underlines aren't in the finished book!

What, you don't want those in there? I thought they'd be super helpful!

OF COURSE THEY'RE NOT IN THE FINAL BOOK!!!!!!

:P

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Jason Nelson wrote:

Only 80-plus stat blocks? I'll be interested to see what happened to the other 30ish or so.

SO.

MANY.

STAT BLOCKS.

(it may have just been shaved down by having 3 per group instead of 4)

Three per group. We sort of forgot that having an illustration of each type of NPC effectively eats up the room for that 4th stat block.

The left-over stat blocks are in our vaults on our computers, waiting for another chance to see the light of day. If folks really like having NPC stat blocks set up like monsters... let us know!

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:
If folks really like having NPC stat blocks set up like monsters... let us know!

So long as they're fairly generic (ex. some guards, a few thieves, some bandits, but no Rognar the Godsborn Manslayer (but a half-orc rogue/barbarian would be fine :p )), yes please!

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:
If folks really like having NPC stat blocks set up like monsters... let us know!

I would really like to see this made available. Like the Bonus Bestiary, only with NPCs. The Bonus NPCiary?

Contributor

Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:
I would really like to see this made available. Like the Bonus Bestiary, only with NPCs. The Bonus NPCiary?

We'll see! At the moment we're not looking to add additional projects or new ways to challenge our editors and developers. In general we always try to make sure we have more content than we need - as opposed to not having enough - but there's still a LOT of work that would go into making any unpublished statblocks worth purchasing or downloading.

More likely than some slapdash, unproofed, undesigned PDF is adding any overage into a future thematically appropriate product - but we have no plans for that at the moment. Rest assured, though, that nothing is wasted, and our freelancers are well paid for all of their efforts...

...And their discretion.


Some of those characters seem to be a bit high level. Is the average torturer, traveling merchant or archeologist really 7th level? Seems that a 7th level example of one of those professions would be actually pretty exceptional.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

lordzack wrote:
Some of those characters seem to be a bit high level. Is the average torturer, traveling merchant or archeologist really 7th level? Seems that a 7th level example of one of those professions would be actually pretty exceptional.

Depends on your game. This is why there's a LOT of choices for NPCs in the book.

Also, low level NPCs are easier to whip together, and therefore not as necessary to have predone stat blocks.

ALSO: The NPC guide is filled with dozens of low level stat blocks already. If you're looking for low CR NPCs, that's a good book to pickup. The NPC stats in this book are intentionally built to cover a wide spread of CRs, from CR 1/3 or so up to CR 14 or so.

Liberty's Edge

Know Direction episode 10 is live!

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:
I would really like to see this made available. Like the Bonus Bestiary, only with NPCs. The Bonus NPCiary?

We'll see! At the moment we're not looking to add additional projects or new ways to challenge our editors and developers. In general we always try to make sure we have more content than we need - as opposed to not having enough - but there's still a LOT of work that would go into making any unpublished statblocks worth purchasing or downloading.

More likely than some slapdash, unproofed, undesigned PDF is adding any overage into a future thematically appropriate product - but we have no plans for that at the moment. Rest assured, though, that nothing is wasted, and our freelancers are well paid for all of their efforts...

...And their discretion.

Tru dat. The author gets paid for the assignment... whether or not the assignment ever ends up seeing the light of day. It might show up in a later product. Or it might get round-filed. Or it might get massaged into something rather different by the time it appears.

I had probably 4 pages of stuff from the Campaign Setting that got zapped by the page count monster, 30-odd extra stat blocks here, etc. It happens. That's part of being a pro about it, though; not getting your knickers in a twist when the editors or developers take your original turnover in a different direction (including the 'recycle bin' or 'deep storage' directions). You had a job and you did it the best you knew how and then you let it go and wait with curiosity to see what it'll look like when it comes back. And you got paid for it, so you move on to the next job, which in my case is...

Spoiler:
Do you even have to ask? Of course it's

EXPLOSIVE RUNES!!!

P.S. Sometimes the eds don't necessarily love what an author turns over too, so having some extra does help compensate for any necessary slicing and dicing that needs to be done. If a chunk of your turnover blows chunks, then the eds have extra material to cover it up! Yay cover-ups! :)

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

lordzack wrote:
Some of those characters seem to be a bit high level. Is the average torturer, traveling merchant or archeologist really 7th level? Seems that a 7th level example of one of those professions would be actually pretty exceptional.

For most of the "families" of character types, there was one low level (1st-2nd), one mid (3-5), one medium-high (6-9), and one high (10+). Some families were all lower level, and some all mid-level.

Trust me, there are puh-lenty of basic archetypes. If the one with the *name* you're looking for seems a little too high level, you should have little trouble finding the *function* you're looking for in a differently named NPC with pretty similar relevant skills.

Liberty's Edge

Mikaze wrote:

Someone has to say it.

MAKE MY MONSTER GROW!!!

I prefer the original Bandora of course.

The Bandora Song!

Liberty's Edge

Ryan. Costello wrote:
Know Direction episode 10 is live![/url]

And a great show indeed - so much information about the upcoming core rulebook!!

Please do another one on the APG :-)))

Liberty's Edge

Stegger wrote:
Ryan. Costello wrote:
Know Direction episode 10 is live![/url]

And a great show indeed - so much information about the upcoming core rulebook!!

Please do another one on the APG :-)))

Thank you, but an interview is only as good as the answers the guests gives. Wes was loaded with juicy information and ready to pour it out.

As for the APG, I spoke with Jason Bulmahn about it in Know Direction 007, but the APG was much more a work-in-progress versus the practically-released GMG.

Grand Lodge

James Jacobs wrote:

The left-over stat blocks are in our vaults on our computers, waiting for another chance to see the light of day. If folks really like having NPC stat blocks set up like monsters... let us know!

Yes please!

I usually prefer generic NPCs that are handy for quick reference and will stat out unique personalities myself. But, yeah lots and lots of interesting generic NPCs is VERY useful.

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