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Organizational Bodyguards
Power To The Peeps, Power To The Dream

I think this has been chatted about some directly and indirectly in the past few months, but I wanted to toss up a post for posterity and discussion.

Large organizations which have money, power, influence should have a communal pool of maybe about 3 well statted, well geared bodyguard NPC's. Ideally these should be using memento loot code so that there isn't an incentive to just use them as loot troves, and instead use them as a RP tool. There is the possibility to enable a lot of really neat, really cool, and potentially a lot of really fun RP using existing code. Let me lay out a few examples of things I'm thinking of.

Powerful crime family has a handful of powerful, influential PC's in it, but they play at differing times, some are on vacation or unable to RP. This leads to a situation where the under-staffed families sometimes feel, or are, permanently camped for the loot and prestige of killing them. What if they had 2-3 really solid NPC's in their HQ that Family member X could ask to bodyguard and walk with them? Now instead of just being easy pickings, there's an actual tangible risk to engaging them because they are member of a powerful organization.

Megacorp has a security team with a few NPC's in it that are perhaps better outfitted than your normal hall monitor guard. Players of a certain rank should be able to task these NPC's out for the basic grunt work of taking bullets for some high-level suits or talent in their organization. Either because their players are not specced into combat, or because the 'good' combat characters are not available, as mentioned above (taking break, schedule conflict, etc.) Now the talent or manager can go visit potentially dangerous places and RP with different sorts with some level of confidence that they aren't going to get slam-dunked without tangible risk.

Now, the limitations are really what would make this from a overpowered problem waiting to be exploited to something that could be more interesting. Without going into super specific details, I'll mention the following things that should be considered:

(In no order)

1) NPC bodyguards shouldn't be lootable, rippable or otherwise setup in a manner where someone leading them to be 'accidentally' necksnapped winds up in any currency being generated or moved.

2) NPC bodyguards should have the basic code options that existing NPC's with this function have: Verbs of: Follow, guard, attack, enter/exit vehicle, stay, etc.

3) There should be OOC rules for their use similar to what other coded NPCs with similar function have. They're guards, not people for you to have murder whoever you want, be used to do unthemely things, etc.

4) They should have gear befitting someone whose job it would be to guard their respective PC's. Not top tier stuff, not garbage. Attention to be paid to weapons as well, as some would be better suited for this sort of thing than others.

5) They need to have protection from very easy to access, cheap methods of getting 'free' necksnaps.

6) Probably should have a max duration that they can be taken out for a whole bunch of reasons.

Ideally, if it would be possible, just make them actual mementos that the people with access can call up dynamically, and just set a fixed despawn timer. Maybe add a voice line or two to the guards along the lines of "30 minutes sir, before the next shift change." or "We have urgent business back at HQ in 15, we should get moving." At the end of their timer they just exit existence like every other memento.

In summary:

Add solid bodyguard mementos you can spawn as a member of large or powerful organizations and roll around with for X amount of time. Give them some actually solid gear (not best in class or close, obviously) but they should be actual threats if you get them on your character. Have them despawn and be unlootable so it's not an invitation to lock them up in random places or to treat them like vending machines. Give people who can be trusted (read, been with the org more than 2 weeks) access to them to use as they see fit. If they abuse them, take them off the access list and slap them ICly for wasting org resources. Otherwise let a player or players use them as they see fit, just so long as some common sense OOC rules are being adhered to.

Please discuss.

NPC's don't RP and are ultimately not great for the game. The most meaningful and powerful thing you can is RP to make allies - I don't think we should deflate that concept. In a game about haves vs have-nots, the number of PC's you can bring to the table can and truly does matter. This is why topside player count vs mix player count is such an important balance.
I might not have been clear about the numbers- I think that they should be used to supplement players, not replace them. There's existing orgs that have simple guidelines of "You take this many people, you get this much NPC support to go with it."

Something along those lines would be ideal.

As for the balance in player ratios- I fully agree, but I'll say I don't think this is just a mix vs topside issue as it is an issue of some orgs that should feel badass don't feel empowered to be the badasses that they are for a lot of reasons often boiling down to logistics or burnout. If Team Omega Foxtrot in the mix has three times the players than team Gamma Bravo and they're hostile, it stifles RP. Yes, people should feel the pressure to recruit and make allies- but that takes time, sometimes weeks, months, or years (oof) because not everyone who walks in the gates wants to RP Motherfucker Ascclapper the third supersolo, and recruiting might not actually be possible.

We've experimented with shoving people around before and sometimes it works, sometimes it really doesn't and winds up further exasperating existing issues. If we have a org filled to the brim of bad boys and bad girls, we don't need them, but when things are lopsided, it could go a long way to bringing life to otherwise dormant players in factions.

I just don't see it. PVE is rampant and kinda dilutes the meaning of combat in-game. The game is PVP and the vast majority of people are afraid of it. Adding more NPCs will only make this worse. I think the clear alternative is using the PC Mercenary org that is present for this entire purpose.
Replacing NPC power with PC power devalues players' efforts and struggles to organise PC-based events and disincentivises them. Why would I spent time befriending, paying, manipulating or RP'ing with players one through three to have a strong team when I can just keep my head down the allotted time period and run with some beefy NPC's. It would also be open to abuse and make already potentially hard targets even harder and PC-heavy power bases even heavier. I appreciate NPCs make the world more alive, but I do not think they should be ever used as a replacement for PCs.
Incredibly sorry for double post, but I mean replacing "PC power with NPC power"
devalues players' efforts and struggles to organise PC-based events and disincentivises them

I would say that the community gatekeeps players more than staff or NPCs do. I see players going absolutely apeshit with swarms of NPC's regularly and nobody is suffering because of it. On the contrary, all it's doing is generating content for a wide swath of the playerbase. Players struggle to organize events over divide lines because LAWL KIRBIES IN DA MIX, getting stigmatized for interacting with questionable sorts publicly, or just for sheer petty ass politics.

One of the things I'm trying to get at is that while divide and theme are great and all, there comes a time and a point where it's just a club to beat people over the head with and not a set of guidelines and principles to follow. While NPC's can't be RPed with, they can work to facilitate a lot of RP that otherwise wouldn't happen.

How many times have you gotten shaken down by a street thug with eight of his bruhs in the background and went along with it because not doing so means you're going to lose everything on your person right then and there? Or a tiny tyke flexes and uppercuts three weight classes up because he's got some G's at his back? This is what I mean by facilitating RP. Could all those street people be PC's? Sure, but who wants to actually just sit around 18 hours a day making sure random people don't fuck off on their 'turf?'

I think you've come full circle, Talon.

The magic is that you don't need to be doing any of that shit. That's what the NPC's do, in theory, when no one is looking. Sure, an outlier will cause shit and you'll need to get involved BUT you want PC number because you want to do things with meaning. None of those arbitrary gang tasks have meaning. You need to reach for goals that you aren't even presented with in these scenarios and maybe the game is failing to advertise that.

At the end of the day, NPCs don't tell stories. PC's do.

I second Reefer's latest post, simply because it means I do not have to write it out in my own words.

I would also add, that if this is a universal thing and factions vs factions with the NPC's it adds nothing other than you have more bodies that could Red text, and worse in a fight, you will always target the PC over the NPC's because ooc they have more inherent value. Which would be akin to meta.

I am not going to say more on it, I am not a fan of the idea as a whole, but it has raised some challenges that might get addressed in other ways, and I hope other ways are considered.

Personally, I actually like the idea of the archetypal monstrous powerhouse being an unassuming bar tender or flower seller on the surface. It makes me think of John Wick 'OH just a guy with a puppy' 'YOU BEAT UP WHO?!?!'

But that's just me.

I like organizational NPCs and bodyguards because I think an issue with syndicates is that people always do the meta math in their head that even if a syndicate is a syndicate thematically, a syndicate is only ever up to three people, two of which are often not combatants.

Gangs, however, have weak NPCs that can follow it's members around that act like a walking reminder of factional power. I think most combat players know that a endbie can roll an entire horde of these NPCs without breaking a sweat, so they aren't actually going to tip many fights, but I greatly admire the difference in roleplay they do affect.

Good gangers use their NPCs to help in their roleplay, and that'd apply here as well. No, NPCs don't RP. But they can be an RP tool. There's a laundry list of ways they can be used for better RP. Just simply seeing someone of importance show up flanked by two organizational bodyguards changes the tone of interactions with them significantly, even if you can still destroy them.

I feel like both sides of this argument could be fixed, because I agree with Reefer/Fopsy, and Batko.

Create these NPCs, sure. Then give them the ability to say no, report to superiors (just staff taking note of them coming out to play, becuase they shouldn't be used as frequently as Gang NPCs, I think), and walk back to base when given orders that are unlawful under corporate/council law.

Some things that come to mind involve changing how the mentioned commands work differently for these NPCs.

Attack: A player ordering a CorpSec NPC to initiate combat in topside sectors not on sovereign ground automatically says no, walks away, and reports to higher, unless combat is already under way. This forces the PC to be engaged upon, or to engage in combat first, which is a whole certain kind of look you probably don't want in topside RP.

Guard: A guard will refuse to guard an exit if not on sovereign ground unless you bribe them. Literally pay them from your own pocket. And even then they won't do it in public places. Private rooms? Offices? Your apartment? Sure. Guarding the exit to VS when you work for NLM? Guard this exit so fools can't leave Okey Dokey? Not a chance, I'm going back. Boss won't like hearing about this, and I ain't fucking around in the Hall's jurisdiction.

Follow: Only as long as the superior is having them act in a manner befitting corporate law.

Enter/Exit: NPC immediately reports to higher if PC attempts to remove them from topside sectors for any reason. "Boss, this baka just hit the tubes and we're driving down Fallout right now in his/her/their vehicle x." NPC also has automated responses telling the PC to 'turn the fuck around, I didn't sign on for this.' and the like.

Stay: If the NPC is left in one place for more than ten minutes without orders, they return to base.

Reporting to higher is simply staff checking the NPC log. Anytime one of these NPCs gets a command to follow, it pings staff, who get a scroll of RP from the time follow was issued until they return to corporate grounds.

Now you more or less have NPC security as an RP tool and not free muscle, yes?