The Unified Friend Theory
by Depraved Elf
Some of you may have noticed . . . or maybe not, who knows, really . . . that Dependents, Allies, and Patrons all imply roughly the same relationship with different degrees of competence on the part of the PC and NPC. Others may, like me, have found that the costs given for dependents and allies of relatively advanced PCs/NPCs does not fit all that well with character conceptions. The solution, he said, chortling with glee as the kettle came to a boil, is obvious.
Put 'em all on the same scale. When your son grows up, he's your ally, not your dependent. See, for example, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Therefore, for your delight and delectation, the following table is offered:
FRIEND range cost Dependent: -100% + : -16 pts. Dependent: -75% – -99% : -12 pts. Dependent: -51% – -74% : -6 pts. Dependent/Ally: -26% – -50% :+/-1 pt. Ally: -0% – +25% : +5 pts. Ally/patron: +26% – +50% : +10 pts. Ally/patron: +51% – +100% : +15 pts. Patron: +101% – +200% : +20 pts. Patron: +200% – +500% : +25 pts. Patron: +501% + : +30 pts.
Reading the table:
The general class of friendly person is listed down the left side. Cost, down the right side, is the basic cost before frequency modifiers (also before the Dependent importance modifiers). The range given is the major difference in this system and that given in Basic; it assumes that not all characters are 100 pts., and evaluates the friendly individual based on *relative* competence. The values remain the same for a 100 point character, but for characters built on 75 or 150 points, the values of dependents and allies are modified to 75% and 150% respectively of those in Basic. This means that less-experienced characters must have much less competent people as dependents, while more experienced characters consider their relatively more competent friends "dependents."
Three notes on the table:
Dependent's importance Appearance Frequency Acquaintance: times 1/2 15- : times 3 Friend: times 1 12- : times 2 Beloved: times 2 9- : times 1 6- : times 1/2
Friendly groups should be calculated roughly from the above, if you examine the assumptions of the various tables in Conan and Basic carefully.
The above table works best for individuals. It is not wise to add together the values of a group of characters: two 50-point characters are not the same as one 100-point. The value placed on groups should be a function of attachment to the group, not to attachment to individuals. The ally groups introduced by Conan are an example.
In the mass, in game terms, groups have three major characteristics. 1) Average experience of members (character value). 2) Size of the group. 3) Group assets. Each of these characteristics needs to be considered in isolation, before considering problems of frequency.
The basic characteristic should probably remain the average experience. The table provided above provides the basic values. As a rule, any ally or patron group should have an average value of less than 5. 1 is probably ideal.
Size of the group, however, should be a step-wise function, as should assets.
SIZE ASSETS 1: * 1 1: *1/4 2: * 2 10: *1/3 4: * 3 100: *1/2 8: * 4 1,000: *1 15: * 5 10,000: *2 31: * 6 100,000: *3 62: * 7 1,000,000: *4 125: * 8 10,000,000: *5 250: * 9 500: * 10 multiple of 1000: * 11 starting wealth 2000: * 12 (use inverse for dependent) 5000: * 13 10000: * 14 25000: * 15
For example, a group of ten bruisers, average character value fifty percent of character's, have basic value +1, *5 because there are ten, and total assets equal to ten times starting wealth, *1/3, gives a total point value of 2. If they show up all the time (which is likely), they cost the PC 6 points.
Second example. A police force of two hundred, average CV 50% of character's, so +1*8, assets in this case 1,000 times starting wealth, and showing up fairly often, 8 points. In a police campaign, they always show up, and are worth 24 points.
Another example. A school full of children, average point value approaching zero. 50 children. -12*6. Ten times starting wealth, importance as acquaintance, and showing up rarely. 72*3*1/2*1/2. 54 points. If they were the more likely important as friends, 108 points.
Final example. Major governmental organization, average value 50% of character, but GM decides they are worth basic 2 because they relate strongly to what he does. 500 operatives, *10. Assets, 10,000 times starting wealth, *2. Frequency fairly often, *1. Total 40 points. This brings up the question of what happens if this group gets on your ass. See digression #2.
It should be obvious that although the number game gives bigger increments, the variation in resources is probably controlling. Not that many organizations have over one thousand active members; the table is not intended to include bureaucratic paper-pushers. But a major patron-style organization will be quite well-funded, and is rarely less than one hundred active members, so the multipliers work in a fashion that can make a useful patron extremely expensive.
The importance of a person to whether they are considered a dependent or not brings up the whole issue of the 'highly competent dependent.' This is, in GURPS terms, a contradiction; if a friendly-type person is dependent, they have to be weak and need protection. But if Conan is in love, it doesn't really matter that Belit is wonderfully able to take care of herself, man-like, he still wants to protect her. This is most obvious in the case of the beloved, but still has an effect, in game terms, for friends and acquaintances. Consider this a special case of impulsive behavior, or perhaps the minor delusion (that the object of affection is not competent). Give it a basic cost of -5, and require that the PC act as he's told in Basic--defend with your life (for the beloved), even though this person may actually be more competent than you. Which may mean that you jump into a fight that you can't handle, though your beloved can, because you have to protect the beloved.
Enemies can be calculated in much the same way that friends can. The difference is that an incompetent enemy does not cost character points, and should be produced only with the GM's permission as an act of comic relief. Think of Wile E. Coyote. To calculate an enemy's value, calculate as for friend, and reverse the sign (from plus to minus or from minus to plus).