Monday, August 31, 2009

I've Identified a Difference Between My Gaming Philosophy and Others'

Reviews of No Dignity in Death and People of Pembrooktonshire continue to trickle in (including private emails and IMs) - today has a batch of reviews on Chgowiz's blog here - and I notice a common element of the reviews.

"Some DMs might quibble that no stats are given for the NPCs, but that makes this book useful in that its system neutrality makes it accessible to all." - from the review linked above.

"I was mildly disappointed that Raggi made no effort to place these NPCs within the game context of D&D and its clones/simulacra..." - from the Grognardia review.

Those are just the publicly available comments of that sort.

The "system neutrality" is a by-product of my philosophy, after-the-fact residue, not an intentional feature of the book.

Everyone is 0 level (with maybe, maybe, a half dozen examples that are level 1, and that one magic guy who would technically be higher level but it now old and senile and is effectively just a normal guy that remembers just one spell), with generally average stats, and those with better stats made obvious in the text. And 3/4ths of the people under thirty being a bit more physically gifted and a bit less mentally gifted if you're using that one character in your version of the town.

And that's spread between the two adventures.

Stats for everyone else would look like this:

Bob Jones, lvl 0, STR 12 INT 9 WIS 9 DEX 10 CON 12 CHA 11

... repeated literally over 100 times with only the most minor of variations.

It didn't even occur to me that people would wonder if and how any of these people were statistically unusual (and I figured that People of Pembrooktonshire was included in the last line of the Overview on page 3 of No Dignity in Death). In my games, leveled characters really don't fit into or exist within society very well. Town guards, kings, important people... level 0, with few exceptions.

Oh, and Shorten also gave me a plug here. Much appreciated!


  1. That does seem to be the exception, not the rule, for NPCs that are going to factor into the game to any great degree. The note about no stats was important if some DMs might want to know about that - and maybe you could add a note in the intro, if you do a second printing?

    Personally, it doesn't matter to me, if they need stats, it's an easy 1d6+9 to see where they fall, if I need them.

    I will note that you didn't comment if you were inspired by the 137 OSR folks... and who matches with whom. ;)

    You're welcome and thank you for the plug back.

  2. Check the legal fine print in PoP.

  3. Actually, I have your same gaming philosophy (as pertains to Normal Men) as yourself. Your NPCs are simply a bit more creative than mine.

    : )

  4. I'm actually reading People of Pembrooktonshire now. Short of killing everyone and burning the town to the ground, (which I could actually see a frustrated party doing if the poor DM tried to use this whole supplement at once) I can't think of any reason anyone would need them.

    For the record, though, books of quest hooks like this make *wonderful* inspiration. I'm already looking for an excuse to use the three cows or the glassblower...

  5. I don't own the works in question, but consider a lack of stats or other stuff a plus rather than a minus. I'm not currently running a game, but if the players are picking fights with every blacksmith's apprentice or stable hand, coming up with stats for them on the fly really isn't a problem. In my experience, 99.99% of the time, such information for townies and non-combatant NPCs is just useless. If they are exceptional NPCs whom the players are likely to cross swords with, I usually try ro fill out a 3x5 index card and refer to that rather than flipping back and forth between pages of the notes