NPCs over time and EXP points


Rules Questions


If you want to know why I am asking with more detail, read the last few paragraphs after the ----- :

I once saw something on how to determine how much EXP an NPC could earn over time based on their activity (Active, Normal, Inactive). I recall there was also material on idle PC's, a cool idea where such "out of shape" PC's earned a kind of negative level(s) that could only be undone by earning back negative exp, but it didn't take a lot of activity to get them back - I think it was 100exp per out-of-practice level, or maybe 200. Now that I have a need for this material, I can't find it! Is this buried in a book, was it an article, or from another game system? Are there any rules on NPCs earning EXP over time in Pathfinder?

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I have an adventure in development that is sort of an unfriendly Brigadoon-ish concept. A mountain community was affected by an event over 200 years ago where all the males in the area of affect - about a 5 miles radius - ceased aging (still mortal, just not growing old or dying of old age). This community was sort of split between "good" and "evil" motivations as time passed - especially toward visitors - and there is a sort of cold war between them. As the females died of old age, the surviving Citizens realized they could not procreate, and if one left the 5 mile zone that person began to age at 1 year an hour until they reached their true age. There were only a few long lifespan races in the rural community, who left long ago.

Now, the idea of a predominantly human community never aging (and having secrets to keep and reasons not to share this information) has been completely inactive for 200+ years is untrue. Guards still guard, they still have to deal with rare visitors, local monsters, and the crafts people (experts/commoners) really have time to focus on expanding their skill sets. I would think almost no one within the community would be low level, even the NPC classes. The question is, what's a fair basis to determine how many EXP the residents would have earned over 200+ years?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
2bz2p wrote:
The question is, what's a fair basis to determine how many EXP the residents would have...

Whatever will make the game more fun. If you are planning this to be a high level encounter, then lots. If you want low level PCs to be able to defeat them, then not very many is the right answer.

The experience point system is how PLAYER characters advance. NPCs advance and gain levels as the GM decides based on the needs of the game.

Liberty's Edge

In short to answer your question; NPCs do not gain or use EXP in any way shape or form, that's a system for player advancement only.

If you want to achieve this kind of function, you'll be wholly in homebrew territory I think.


Yeah, NPCs don't use experience points and coming up with a system to have it happen just doesn't serve much purpose in my opinion.

These NPCs are whatever level you want them to be. But isnce they're long lived I'd take that into consideration and make there minimum level somewhere around 5. Most of them are still probably only NPC classes like expert. While they might have lived a long time to have a lot of experience, they also aren't straying from their 5 mile range. They have a lot of repetitive experiences.

I'd make minimum level 5 and just decide to let other NPCs be of whatever level you want them to be for however they're going to interact with the party.


Themetricsystem wrote:

In short to answer your question; NPCs do not gain or use EXP in any way shape or form, that's a system for player advancement only.

If you want to achieve this kind of function, you'll be wholly in homebrew territory I think.

I see rules for NPC advancement sprinkled into books here and there, leadership give Cohort NPCs experience. I've seen modules with NPC's advancing based on EXP too (again, a portion of what the PC's would get). So EXP plays in there somewhere. I like logic in the world building, a 5 year old shouldn't be 20th level just because, and a human farmer who made it into his 50's should not be a 1st level farmer.

What's your opinion - no ECL yet, just a setting - would there be a level/exp range for just being alive and practicing for that long?

Man I wish I knew where to find that old info......


Claxon wrote:

Yeah, NPCs don't use experience points and coming up with a system to have it happen just doesn't serve much purpose in my opinion.

These NPCs are whatever level you want them to be. But isnce they're long lived I'd take that into consideration and make there minimum level somewhere around 5. Most of them are still probably only NPC classes like expert. While they might have lived a long time to have a lot of experience, they also aren't straying from their 5 mile range. They have a lot of repetitive experiences.

I'd make minimum level 5 and just decide to let other NPCs be of whatever level you want them to be for however they're going to interact with the party.

That's useful. I can extrapolate from that, take a typical hamlet and beef it up the EXP of 5 levels, Keep the NPC classes the same, warriors, not fighters, etc. Advance the leaders by EXP, gives me a framework. Thanks!


Dave Justus wrote:
2bz2p wrote:
The question is, what's a fair basis to determine how many EXP the residents would have...

Whatever will make the game more fun. If you are planning this to be a high level encounter, then lots. If you want low level PCs to be able to defeat them, then not very many is the right answer.

The experience point system is how PLAYER characters advance. NPCs advance and gain levels as the GM decides based on the needs of the game.

My hope is the discovery of the extra-skilled people of this village IS part of the fun. I also want the PC's to be a little intimidated at first, threatened, why are the constables here so good - it's not a military post... Why are there no women? Why is that 16 year old kid so smart, skilled and tough? Sort of the flavor of the whole thing. Then as the PC's rise in level, they might get the upper hand.

At least I hope that will be fun. Challenging, but fun.....


2bz2p wrote:
Themetricsystem wrote:

In short to answer your question; NPCs do not gain or use EXP in any way shape or form, that's a system for player advancement only.

If you want to achieve this kind of function, you'll be wholly in homebrew territory I think.

I see rules for NPC advancement sprinkled into books here and there, leadership give Cohort NPCs experience. I've seen modules with NPC's advancing based on EXP too (again, a portion of what the PC's would get). So EXP plays in there somewhere. I like logic in the world building, a 5 year old shouldn't be 20th level just because, and a human farmer who made it into his 50's should not be a 1st level farmer.

What's your opinion - no ECL yet, just a setting - would there be a level/exp range for just being alive and practicing for that long?

Man I wish I knew where to find that old info......

On the cohort, they have rules for gaining experience because it's basically just another PC character. And since the GM doesn't directly control it (this is kind of contentious topic) the needed to specify how the cohort levels up while hanging out with the PC. If the PC sends the cohort to go craft items instead of adventuring with the party, it should be obvious that they're not going to level with the party.


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In real life, people gain skills at varying rates. Intelligence is a part of this, but also talent (at least in the area they're talented in), drive, access to training (whether self-taught or taught by someone else, and you probably learn faster if someone helps), whether they have been exposed to relevant challenges, and so forth.

For this situation, I would suggest the following house rules:

Most NPCs have a "cap", not necessarily to levels, but to skill points. So say no more than 8 ranks for a typical NPC, if they live a long time (which these will). After they have gained the maximum ranks in one skill, they instead switch to another skill. After a few hundred years, there will be many fairly high level characters (5th, in this example, compared to the more typical 1st to 3rd), but with a broad rather than deep skill distribution.

In addition, skills get rusty with lack of use, although Pathfinder does not emulate this. I'm picturing a doctor, who used to be a blacksmith, carpenter, and scout. I'd give them 8 ranks in Heal and 4 ranks in the other skills. They used to have more in the non-doctoring skills, but those have gradually declined.

NPCs with PC classes would gain levels faster and don't rust as slowly. A two hundred year old fighter is a high level badass, with items made by their village's two hundred year old wizard. In fact, the village "PCs" might consume so much magic (in terms of scrolls to add to spellbooks, components for items, etc) that this might be noticed. They can't send a wizard to be "apprenticed" elsewhere as that wizard would quickly turn to dust, and inviting a senior mage to tutor them would quickly reveal the secret.

High level, but not top level. This community is small, with a low talent pool. They also probably don't face the kind of challenges needed to change a 10th-level fighter into a 20th-level fighter (as an example). Still, even a small number of 10th-level characters can deal with any mundane threat (bandits, goblins, and so forth) without needing to ask for assistance from outsiders.

These characters would get attached to their life. Picture a stealthy druid who summons animals whenever a threat approaches. A high-level cleric could use Planar Ally for some serious magical firepower. A high-level bard spreads rumors that there's an unkillable monster around, which reduces the number of threats, but might attract the occasional fairly high-level villain party.


Kimera757 wrote:

In real life, people gain skills at varying rates. Intelligence is a part of this, but also talent (at least in the area they're talented in), drive, access to training (whether self-taught or taught by someone else, and you probably learn faster if someone helps), whether they have been exposed to relevant challenges, and so forth.

For this situation, I would suggest the following house rules:

These are really good points of reference. In this particular design, the skills accumulated would never get too "rusty", but the idea you need a guy with +8 blacksmith skill to get to +9 - yeah that does not make a lot of sense. They would develop skills they lack, a blacksmith with a solid heal ability. Further, there would likely be more odd pair ups, the baker being fetched to help that blacksmith with an armor repair (another clue to the PCs, the apprentices are awfully good at something else) to aid one another on tougher projects or situations.

Thanks for these notes!


instead of getting rusty with skills think of the skills as retrained into other. after all there is a mechanic for that.


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The rules 2bz2p are refering to are from old D&D, either second edition or 3rd. They would of been in a Dragon Magazine and not any of the actual rule books. Purely optional system.

Also to point out that most Elves don't get above 5th level. Even the ones that die of old age. High level characters are a product of their environment. If you can be complacent and live in a rut for centuries then you'll get comfortable and stop pushing yourself to get better.

PCs are suppose to be special. If you follow the timeline for most APs the PCs go from level 1 nobody to 16+ in an average of 2 years. That is freakish in a world where the vast majority of NPCs are less than 3rd level. Most of the stated out rulers and their supporters are around 10-12th level.

One of the APs has a Lich that has been in a laboratory experimenting for 20,000 years but its still only 12th level. 12th level is kind of low level to become a Lich in the first place. But 12th level fits into the story where a 20th level Lich would be an end-game boss.

As Dave Justus said, make the NPCs whatever level fits your adventure. The dog wags the tail, making the NPCs whatever level 'logically' fits them is the tail wagging the dog. Do what is right for the game.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If it helps, I sometimes conceptualize EXP and character levels as a measure of 'fate' or 'destiny.' The more significant a character is to the world the more 'destiny' they have, thus the more levels they have.

For PCs of course, this is measured by overcoming the challenges the world (GM) has placed in front of them (and this also makes it work as a game), but that isn't the only way a character can be significant, being a King makes someone automatically important to the world, and hence he is higher level than others.

Obviously this is sometimes circular, a high level wizard is significant because they are a high level wizard, and a since they are significant they are high level, but it works out. It also helps explain why the Archmage is high level but his elven friend at who just researches in a library is lower level even though he is as smart (or smarter) and has been wizard far longer. Being, or becoming, significant to the world equates to being higher level.

This is of course completely 'meta' and doesn't have anything to do with the mechanics you choose, but it might help you with an internal consistency of how the world works that makes it align with the game mechanics.


I came across Dave the Commoner the other day. Might give you some inspiration.


2bz2p wrote:
I once saw something on how to determine how much EXP an NPC could earn over time based on their activity (Active, Normal, Inactive). I recall there was also material on idle PC's, a cool idea where such "out of shape" PC's earned a kind of negative level(s) that could only be undone by earning back negative exp, but it didn't take a lot of activity to get them back - I think it was 100exp per out-of-practice level, or maybe 200. Now that I have a need for this material, I can't find it! Is this buried in a book, was it an article, or from another game system? Are there any rules on NPCs earning EXP over time in Pathfinder?

What you are looking for is in the Downtime rules:

Earn XP wrote:

If you’ve missed a campaign session or otherwise fallen behind in XP compared to the other characters, you can spend downtime adventuring to help catch up to the other PCs. Usually downtime adventures feature encounters that are much easier than you’d normally expect as part of a group. For example, a 5th-level character might clear zombies out of a crypt or assist some lower-level adventurers with a problem that’s a little too difficult for them.

Spending 1 day of downtime adventuring earns you XP as if you had defeated an opponent whose CR was equal to your character level. For example, if you are a 3rd-level character, you would earn 800 XP. You do not earn any treasure or other capital for downtime adventuring.

If using this downtime activity would increase your XP above the highest XP value among all the PCs in your party, it increases your XP to that value instead; any XP earned beyond this amount is lost. This activity allows you only to catch up, not to get ahead.

/cevah


That's an interesting source, but not the one I originally saw (likely for 2nd edition). Still, it gives me a measure if development to look at.


I checked my 2nd Ed stuff.

The only thing I found from was:

Player's Handbook wrote:

Chapter 12: NPCs

Followers
... Unlike most hirelings, followers can increase in level (although this occurs very slowly since they act only as soldiers). All followers in a unit advance to the next level at the same time....

/cevah

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