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    Rules applying to NPCs and Monsters
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 405
    From: Canada

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    Fri Apr 08, 2005 6:58 pm  
    Rules applying to NPCs and Monsters

    One thing I find exceptionally annoying is when rule writers like EGG write certain rules, and then their own company's modules contradict them. A perfect example is the matter of potions-the Slave Lords module A3 has the assassin slave lord repeatedly 'sipping' his potion of invisibility in order to be able to backstab players.

    First off, how many doses does this potion have? Is the Slave Lord weakening the effects of the potion by taking smal sips? And what about the 2-5 segment onset time for potions? Is he standing around as he waits for the potion to take effect? If so, that seems like a pretty stupid tactic-the players have a chance to attack him, and if he vanishes, the party will know where he is, and be able to strike at him, albeit with an attack penalty. And the moment he strikes back, he reappears.

    If an NPC like Supreme Commander Hedrack has a bunch of potions, takes some of them with him, and drinks two or more at once, shouldn't he have to make a roll on the Potion Miscibility table? They could explode in his stomach. What kind of a leader would he look like then? Being seriously injured by mixing potions in your stomach sounds pretty stupid. Gives Senshock the excuse he needs to seize full power.

    If PCs try charming NPC wizards to get them to cast spells for free, there's a chance the spell could backfire due to the strain of the charm on the caster's mind. Does that mean that PC wizards are not the most desirable servants for vampires? If the vampire charms a wizard, and makes him cast a fireball, doesn't he run the risk of having the fireball blow up in his fanged face? PCs who use spells to charm others cannot order their victims to do things like "cast your most powerful spell!" since that would require a conscious choice on the charmer's part. Wouldn't the same be said for a vampire? It's easy to order a warrior to draw his sword and cut the heroes to ribbons. but what if the vampire doesn't know what kind of spells that wizard has memorized? Order him to cast a magic missile spell, and the wizard tries fruitlessly. The effort is wasted, given that no magic missile spells were memorized by the wizard.


    The upshot of all this is whether you think the rules above (all meant to keep PCs in line and prevent them from doing too many egregious things) should also apply to NPCs attempting similar actions. I would say yes, since otherwise it's blatantly unfair. If not, how do you justify allowing NPCs to do these things, when players are penalized for doing it, and rightly so?
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    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
    Posts: 3781
    From: So. Cal

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    Sun Apr 10, 2005 1:27 am  

    "Invisibility: This potion confers invisibility similar to the 2nd-level wizard spell of the same name. Actions involving combat cause termination of the invisible state. The individual possessing this potion can quaff a single gulp—equal to 1/8 of the contents of the container—to bestow invisibility for 3-6 turns."


    "Opening and drinking a potion has an initiative modifier of 1, but the potion doesn't take effect until an additional initiative modifier delay of 1d4+1 has passed. Only then do the full magical properties of the potion become evident. Magical oils are poured over the body and smeared appropriately; this imposes a speed factor delay of 1d4 + 1."

    These two quotes are from the 2e DMG. Though not measured in segments, the amount is exactly the same and parallels the 1e DMG exactly.

    Yep, we used to "gulp" invisibility potions all the time. You can drink a potion and make a half move, as drinking a potion only takes one segment. This is similar to how a wizard can cast a spell and then make a 1/2 move. It is up to the dm if you can both drink and then move, as well as move and then drink. I allow both, as tactics are a feature of the mostly 99.9% standard rules I make use of. In any event, there is no rules contradiction there. Round 1: sip potion and 1/2 move. Round 2: move and backstab. Round 3: sip potion and 1/2 move. Round 4: move and backstab. And so on. That is how it works. Moving silently on the part of the potion sipper makes it even more difficult to locate them(ie. pc's must make a sensing invisible creatures % roll to realize where the enemy even is).

    As to the charm person spell vs. a vampire's charm ability, I do not look on these effects in exactly the same way. The charm person spell is simply a magic spell, the vampire's charm is a supernatural innate ability. For simplicity, they are dealt with in the same way in game terms. I look on the vampires charm as more akin to domination. The mentioning of wizards being able to possibly break a charm if it is used to coerce them to cast valuable spells for free is just a means of keeping the unscrupulous from taking advantage of things in game terms too easily. The main reason for this rule is to disallow low level characters form getting lucky and charming a high level wizard and having the charmed wizard make really powerful magic items for the low-level characters for a pittance. Kind of powerful to allow that, particularly as it all stems from a measly 1st level spell. Hence the ruling on charm vs. wizards. Wizards are generally not of a mind to just make stuff, even for their buddies, so this violates the parameters of the spell. If a vampire wanted a wizard they had charmed to do this same thing, it would violate the parameters of the charm effect as well.

    As to ordering around a charmed wizard, any intelligent vampire (or wizard) would likely give a general order, such as "Protect me!" or "Blast my enemies with your spells!". The wizard will then do their best to comply with the "request" in the most suitable way, and with the most suitable spell or item in their repertoire.

    As to Hedrak, I'd say he only drinks two potions if one wears off or is dispelled, or if he is finally reduced to near death and the situation warrants the risk. He will probably not have to worry too much about the one turn period of danger for mixing potions that much. If Hedrak and his forces receive the BIG BEATDOWN, such that it only takes ten rounds to wipe out all of the nasty stuff in the Greater Temple and to be threatening Hedrak's life, by all means he would take the potion mixing risk. This is very unlikely to happen though as the combat involving Hedrak will likely go on for many turns rather than rounds.

    Some of these points are actual rules; some are my interpretations of existing rules. Sometimes rules are cut and dried; sometimes not. When they are not 100% clear, then you as the dm have to make a judgment on them based on how you want each rule or game effect to work in your game.

    For the most part, the 1e adventures do not contradict the rules with their situations. More often, an author wants to include a situation in an adventure that is difficult to represent in the rules, and so rules for the situation are simply created to suit the need. Sometimes they are simply there to facilitate the adventure. For example, the Smoke of the Little Death in the Slavers series.

    And what applies to the pc's certainly should apply to the npc's, but as a dm it is usually possible for npc's to achieve the same results using other means(ie. the wizard makes magic items against their will for the vampire, because otherwise the vampire will "drain" the wizard's captive daughter of her blood/life essence, or some other such vile and coercive threat).
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