View Full Version : NPC that stalks PCs

2014-07-11, 03:21 PM
So im writing an adventure for my PCs right now where (lone behold) they are saving a damsel in distress (or so it seems...). I have also created an NPC (Chaotic Neutral) who wishes to pursue the characters, if for nothing more than a good story. But he wants to stay out of sight to do it. The question is, do I allow for an occassional (perception) check to see whether or not the PCs notice him? Tbh, he is completely unrelated to the story at hand, and is really just a colorful character who is likely to help or hurt the PCs at a whim. I feel that by the climax of the adventure he would make himself known, but before then? How do you handle such situations at your table?

2014-07-11, 03:32 PM
Since it's mostly a roleplay encounter, you choose how you want to have it.

Make them roll perception checks. If they pass it, you decide whether they find the NPC, or they just get a glimpse of it, or maybe just see a moving shadow, or find broken branches when they thought they saw something moving. They may get paranoid, or ignore the thing. When you are ready to roleplay the encounter, have that perception check find the NPC.

2014-07-11, 04:27 PM
Thank you for the reply, especially with the examples! It definitely gave me a good idea of how to work it before we get together this week 😊

2014-07-11, 05:27 PM
I'd assume that the PCs are taking 10 (or any equivalent that represents an average 'attempt' at using a skill) on perception skills during travel. Rolls come for things that make them suspicious or wary, which then offer a chance to spot someone or something they hadn't seen before.

2014-07-11, 11:37 PM
Base your decision on his mechanic for stalking them. If he's gone ethereal to do it, they're not likely to perceive anything unless they've got the correct specific abilities. If he's physically trailing them, that could be another matter unless he's out of their league through some skill, spell or item.

For flavor, I'd be likely to have them find evidence of his stalking them without actually seeing him. You could even do something fun like have them show up at a tavern where people are talking about something they did when they thought they were alone and unobserved.

However, remember that most players will seize on seize on the clues you give them and pursue him to some sort of confrontation.

Cowardly Griffo
2014-07-12, 05:53 AM
I'm gonna have to disagree completely with the given advice of making the PCs roll perception to see if he's there or not. If/when you're ready for them to encounter him, don't even make them roll for it. Have him come to introduce himself formally, have him trip so badly that they can't possibly miss it... whatever works.

Point is, if you want them to meet this guy, and you have them roll for it, and they fail, and he consequently stays hidden... well, what kind of an outcome is that? It's not one where they meet the guy, that's for sure.

Caveat: if you have a plan for that failed roll, then sure, have them roll. Like if he's actually planning to be hostile as you said he might, that's a different thing altogether. Then, sure, have them roll to see whether he gets the drop on them or not. But if you just want to introduce him: well, then introduce him. :smalltongue:

But if the consequence of a failed roll is "nothing happens" and the consequence of a successful roll is "something exciting happens," either create an interesting, proactive failure condition or just let the exciting thing happen. Seriously. Nothing happening is boring. Dice rolls should always move things forwards in some way.

2014-07-12, 07:58 AM
(lone behold)

Do you mean "lo and behold"?

Jay R
2014-07-12, 09:27 AM
You can either set up a situation and let the mechanics determine what happens, or decide what happens and disallow mechanics that prevent it.

If you want to set up a situation in which they have a stalker, just to see what happens, then let them have Spot and Listen checks, and see what happens. Don't decide if he will be around for a long time; that depends on their rolls and their subsequent actions.

Or if you decide that he won't make himself known until the climax, then you've written a story, not a game situation. Don't have any checks until it's time.

The general rule is this. Never have the players roll a die unless it's acceptable for them to succeed, and it's acceptable for them to fail.

2014-07-12, 05:39 PM
Do you mean "lo and behold"?
Thank you for asking, that was bugging me.

2014-07-12, 09:25 PM
For some reason, this comes to mind. (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=780)

Seriously, though, I agree with Jay R. If you're running a simulation, dice-fall-where-they-mall type of story, or if "spotting things" is one of your PC's shticks, accept that the stalker is going to get found out and prepare for what happens if he's found out first try. If not, don't bother allowing a roll, or only allow a roll to spot evidence that there was a stalker, and let them get nervous. (Again, with that second one if they have good tracking abilities things are liable to go downhill in a hurry.)

Fiery Diamond
2014-07-13, 01:01 AM
Do you mean "lo and behold"?

Thank you for asking, that was bugging me.

It was bugging me, too. I was going to point it out if no one else did.

Rant incoming!

English has its share of strange phrases, many of which don't necessarily make sense at first glance; but seriously, most of them actually make semantic sense at the least. Too many people on forums type what they think a phrase they've heard sounds like without ever bothering to see if it makes any sense at all, which results in some rather bizarre permutations of common phrases. "Intensive purposes," anyone? [Seriously: Intents and purposes.] Or how about things that I can only assume people think are some kind of slang or verbal tic instead of actually thinking about what things are being said? [There is no "should of," "could of," "would of." That makes no semantic or grammatical sense at all. It isn't slang. It's a freaking contraction: "should've," "could've," "would've."] ... /rant

Jay R
2014-07-13, 08:35 AM
A lot of people learn new words and phrases from hearing them. No big deal.

For years I read the word "unique" as "un-ickwy", and didn't associate it with the word I heard as "Euneak".

Meanwhile, I like the idea of having the occasional Spot check only show them clues like footprints. But if you do that, be prepared for the party to decide to single-mindedly pursue the stalker.

You know he's not important until later, but they don't.

2014-07-14, 03:51 PM
Do you mean "lo and behold"?

Haha, thank you, that is what I meant to say, though I've never actually said/or written it before.
And thank you for the replies everyone, they've really helped me sort out how I should go about running this. We play again on Wednesday, and I will definitely be allowing (perception) to catch things like broken branches or foot prints, but the npc wont he officially found out until the climax.