Maggie Felsop - Adventurer's Matron


It was a fairy tale beginning. The fair, young maiden, who had been taught all the wifely skills of the time, was abducted by a horrible ogre from her rustic rural village... The result is a (mostly) useful NPC with stats for GURPS 3rd edition, though it could be easily converted to most other systems. Designed for Fantasy games, but again easily converted.

It was a fairy tale beginning. The fair, young maiden, who had been taught all the wifely skills of the time, was abducted by a horrible ogre from her rustic rural village. Fortunately, a stout warrior and his entourage came into the village and immediately upon learning of this tragedy, set out to teach the beast some manners, or at the very least, rescue the girl. The maid, of course immediately fell infatuated with the broad-shouldered, square-jawed hero. Upon observing her worshipping gaze and his graying hair in the polished armor of his associates, he immediately requested her hand in marriage of her father, who gave them a reasonably sized piece of property. There the happy couple settled down, raised a family, and lived happily a short time longer.

The couple had 4 children who grew up learning the arts and sciences crucial to a career in adventuring, a profession in which they all are still practicing, quite successfully by most measures. Unfortunately, the father of these children died, shortly after the youngest had left home, of choking on a bit of rabbit at a fair. Now the maiden of this story was deeply saddened by the loss of her husband, but not to the point of lunacy, so she did not throw herself off a cliff or drink hemlock or utilize any of the other methods of suicide preferred by girls of legend. Instead she sought to busy herself in order to forget her grief.

Now her whole adult life had been consumed with the chores common to the time regarding raising a family and keeping a home, cooking, sewing, cleaning, and other drudgery. She tried operating an Inn for a time, but found that there were relatively few travelers to her town and even when her home was at capacity, it still required only a portion of her time to tend to the chores and she remained sad, which didn't help business at all.

As it happened, one night a group of adventurers stopped by her Inn.

As it happened, one night a group of adventurers stopped by her Inn. They were beaten and bedraggled. After tending to their wounds, feeding them, mending their apparel and seeing them tucked in, she decided on a most unusual career. Two days later when the adventurers left her home, she did also, with the adventurers. For a year she followed them and made sure they ate well and stayed warm, and occasionally offering pointers regarding things an observer might notice, where an active participant might not. After the year, she noticed that the group was much better able to look after themselves, so she quit the group and joined a greener bunch, and has done this 4 other times, always joining a less experienced bunch.

Megan Felsop was first a housewife, learning all the skill associated with that most overlooked profession; Cooking, sewing, needlework, merchant, and gossip. She then became the medic and mother to fine adventurers, by necessity learning medical skills. Her husband, being a hero of some renown educated her in manners, writing, singing and dancing. Her initial foray into adventuring taught her quickly how to improvise when the thing you needed wasn't at hand. In her spare time, she started writing detailed accounts of the adventurers of her adopted "children". While she writes with all sincerity and adoration, many bards have discovered the humor or her style and accounts and her writings are in great demand, so she is seldom without money, though she needs little. She could be taken as an ally (50 pts, almost always available, but when the player taking her acquires 10 CP through play, she will leave. She may be "hired" but will only stay for about a year. She is not a servant or porter and will not carry weapons or heavy items, but might carry a map or other document if heroes can convince her that they would probably lose it. She carries a change of clothing, toiletries, her current craft project and journal, and a small bundle of candy in a shopping bag size wicker basket with handles. If a hero or non-monstrous animal is injured, she will fawn over it and see to its injuries, then feed combatants, and then mend clothing and equipment. She can be counted upon to embarrass heroes if she is with them when they meet someone "important" i.e. love interest, king, rival, etc by pulling a handkerchief from her sleeve and wiping smudge from the PCs face or licking her hand and smoothing a cowlick, or straightening a shirt or other "motherly" activity. When in a town, if left to her devices, she will find the local center for gossip and drink deeply of it. This can be used to point characters at clues they have missed. She carries a small knife, scissors, and knitting needles, but will not enter combat unless personally threatened.

Gossip is the domestic's version of Carousing.

New Skill
Gossip (M/A) Social
This skill is the domestic's version of Carousing. It occurs in markets, cafes, beauty shops, parks, at the well or across the fence or similar places where idle conversation occurs and "regulars" congregate. Anyone with the skill does not need to make a skill roll in their home area, where they are a regular, but must roll if trying to gain information through the use of a foreign area. Penalties will apply if the character is not of the correct norm for the setting. Penalties will also apply if the targets realize they are being picked for information. A failure of the skill roll usually indicates the target(s) don't feel comfortable around the hero.

Gossip may be obtained in almost any environment, provided the character is accepted by the other gossipers as one of the group (this may require acting and or disguise) and has a juicy tidbit to share. It should be noted that gossip is not always true, but generally has some seed of truth in it.

Example of use: Mary is investigating the murder of a young mother. She takes her nephew to the park and joins the other women near the swing set. To elicit information Mary might offer the tidbit that her secret lover was a suspect in her murder. A successful gossip roll might reveal that the victim was having an affair with the plumber. It might also reveal that she slept with any man bold enough to ask, or that she picked her nose, or flew on a broomstick.

New Disadvantage
Mother's Code of Honor (-5 pts)
A mother will always suspect accusations against her child, but will consider evidence. She will administer (and follow through) punishments justly, and according to what will best educate the child. She will ensure the child has clean, serviceable clothing and sufficient (or excessive) food. She will stand up to/tell off/ attack those that maliciously threaten their child. She will culture "good" habits and scorn bad ones. She will take great care to embarrass the child in front of their peers or persons considered important to the child.

It should be noted that Dependent: child is often taken in conjunction with this but as the child reaches maturity the dependency is normally bought off. This is not necessarily so with the Mother's Code. Examples of the code include Marie from the TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond" and Estelle Geddes in the film "Stop, or My Mom Will Shoot".

Maggie "Mom" Felsop
5'-6" 140 lbs, Gray Hair; Green Eyes; Age: 38;
ST 10 [0] DX 10 [0] IQ 11 [10] HT 10 [10]
Advantages: Intuition [15], Literacy [10] Common Sense [10], Strong Will +3 [12]
Disadvantages: Overweight [-5], Honesty [-10], Mother's Code of Honor [-5]
Quirks: [-5] Fusses over the smallest scrapes, Buys candy for heroes but doles it out sparingly, Always wears a house dress, Encourages people to try new foods, Shouts into combat "Be careful!".
Skills: Cooking 12 [2]; Tailor 11 [2]; First Aid 12 [2]; Diagnosis 9 [1]; Scrounging 12 [2]; Savior Faire 12 [2]; Physician 9 [1]; Singing 10 [1]; Dancing 9 [1]; Needlework 10 [1]; Gossip 10 [1]; Merchant 10 [1]; Writing 10 [1];

This application is primarily for Fantasy settings but Maggie could be a Landlady in a later setting or run a safe house.

This character is an example of why I don't like most GURPS NPCs.

From reading the above background and description, I got the impression that she was an extremely competent and helpful NPC, but when I look at her skills I find that she isn't worth taking on an adventure. I would consider her a dependent rather than an ally.

In Gurps a skill level of 12 is a talented beginner or someone with a little bit of practice. A level of 15 is professional and a 16 is an expert.

The above character has a MAX skill level of 12 which makes her a talentless drag to the rest of the group.

I do like the skills, especially Gossip, but I would have given her a skill level of 13-15 with maybe one or two skills at level 16.

Otherwise this is a great character.

So why not just change the stats you don't like?

I'm pleased that you liked the character and the concept.

I think it depends upon how you look at things. If you compare her to the munchkined goons that many players make, she is barely competent. For her 60 points she could have become much better at fewer things. Maggie is not designed to be a part of the "nemesis chomping machine of damage" you seem to desire for your games, but rather as an all-purpose spackle to fill in where the party might be lacking.

Maggie isn't taken on adventures, she goes with adventurers. If you have a PC or other NPC who can do what she does, she'll let them do it. If your party is capable of doing everything she does, she probably wouldn't choose to go with your party. Follower is a more accurate term than dependent or ally.

My Gurps 3rd ed. revised, page 45 puts 12 at "rather skilled". This is IMHO the appropriate level for her. She does not have advanced training in anything, just experience. Weapon skills are rated higher, 12 is only novice, but this NPC is generally a non-combatant.

For reference, 4th ed puts 12s at the upper edge of ordinary folks. 4th also give a +4 for "ordinary circumstances" giving her sucess almost all the time, barring critical fail results.

As a comparison, look to Alfred compared to Batman, significantly lower in point value and skill levels across the board, but Batman would be much less believable without Alfred. I am not comparing Maggie to Alfred (Alfred has way more points), but their roles are similar, except Alfred sledom leaves the house, but them Batmen seldom leaves town.


My point was not that this character is bad, but that this character is an example of a problem that I've seen with most Gurps NPCs. And that problem is that their skill levels and stats rarely match up with their history and description.

I understand that no one want NPCs who overshadow the PCs, especially if they are traveling together. But this character is described as extremely competent in certain skills. Take writing for example. She is described as a person who can and does make a living by writing. That makes her a professional writer and her skill level should be close to 15. I'd understand a 13 or 14, but not a 10. The average 7th grader can write at a 10. That's not even a talented beginner!

Changing one characters skills to match their description is annoying. Having to do it with every pre-made NPC in a book is insane. Why is this an issue?

My NPCs in Gurps are different. Merchants have a MINIMAL merchant skill of 15 and commonly have a merchant skill of 18 to twenty! Why? Because this is what they do for a living! They are constantly buying and selling things and have done so for years. Their other skills may suck, but they don't rely on those skills as much.

My knight character recently went up against the queen's personal bodyguard in the game that I am currently playing in. The GM gave these guards a skill level of 14 for all their weapons.

My knight has a 16 sword skill.

How can my 17 year knight have a better sword skill than the queen's personal bodyguard? That's insane! Especially considering that my knight's LOWEST skill is an 11!!

It's o.k. to give NPCs high stats and skills. If you desribe someone a certain way, make sure that they have the skills to back it up. The king's blacksmith is not going to have an 11 smithing skill. He'll have an 18 skill or higher! He'll also be strong as sin, probably a 15 or so.

Just make it realistic. The PC do not have to be better than everyone else that they meet. It takes more courage for an average person to do something heroic than it does for someone like one of Steven Seagall's characters.

Which story had the better character, Die Hard or Out for Justice? Lethal Weapon or Commando? Why, because these characters were realistic.

Die Hard had a cop named John McLain who was seperated from his wife. He was an average person who showed extraordinary heroism in extreme circumstances.

Leathal Weapon had Riggs and Murtaugh. Riggs was a killing machine with mental problems including suicidal tendencies, depression, and manic behaviour due to his wife of eight years dying recently in a car wreck. Mutaugh is an older cop nearing retirement who has a nice life, good wife, and great family. Who just wants to get by and retire quietly on his boat.

These characters are believable and realistic. They may have some skills that are higher than average, Riggs is a prime example of this, but they have a reason for their skills. Riggs was a sniper in an ultra violent branch of the Special Forces during Vietnam. He is really good at killing and his story, description, and skills all back that up.

Rambled a bit, didn't I...

Mainly why I don't use pre-gen NPCs... I make my own. That way, they will have the appropriate skills for their trades, just like Cal says.

And yes, they do tend to suck at things that they don't do on a daily basis.

Another example: take your typical professional athelete (NFL, NBA etc) and see where they are when they retire (or are forced to leave the game for whatever reason). Most don't have any other skillset beyond their professional game skills. Sure, Shaq would kill me in 1-on-1, but I bet I could build a better PC than he.

Oh man... how geeky was that comparison? Ugh.

it's ok, we still love you :-)

- reading a signature is silly -

Thanks. Not only showing my age, but my inner-geek, too? Well, so much as I have one (albeit not to the Python-degree mentioned elsewhere).

Personally, I do not use NPC's from other sources. I have read many, and use some ideas where they occur, and written a few which have or may soon appear in these pages.

For Joe Merchant to have a 18 skill, sticking to 3rd edition and being average (25 pts) Joe can spend 22 points on Merchant, leaving his IQ the same, and have some space left for hobbies etc. The book suggests a learning rate through "On the Job" Training of 2 points per year. So in your world, Joe will spend 11 years minumim in apprenticeship, so he can buy Wheat from Farmer Ted at a living wage profit. Keeping in mind that Farmer Ted likely has a 5 in Merchant.
Consider also that most merchants have to live with their customers (in the neighborhood, not the same house) and is likely to not get along if every season, he rakes in the bushels of cash, while Teds family has a steardy diet of gravel.

Also the carpenter next door, having spent 22 points on woodworking, now loses his shirt becasue Jow Merchant can buy his crap for next to nothing because Pete Carpenter didn't have huge amounts to invest in merchant.

Before leaving this, remember also that Merchant can be specialized for +5, so a 12 skill merchant specializing in Dungeon Loot would have a 17 where PCs are concerned but only 11 for other stuff.

My "average townie" NPCs (for the record) have one attribute at 12, or 2 at 11, a primary skill at 14, and 2 others at 11 or 12. Usually ads and disads to balance out, around 15 points worth of each.

Regarding your movie examples, Die Hard and Lethal Weapon were better because of writing, acting, and directing. And the writing eliminates the Kasey Rybek issues. That said, Mertag is not a 25 point average guy. His wife (writing 12?) is. Before you argue this point, she writes romance novels and while some might be excellent, as a genre, they are not "Great works of literature by masters". John McLain has at minimum jacked up his willpower in addition to above average atributes and cop skills. There are few action movies with average heroes and sidekicks. I might be inclined to suggest Mystery Men, Mr Furious, The Shoveller, and Blue Rajah, might be average, Bowler if you remove the skull ball. Spleen and the invisible kid have actual powers, even if they aren't "super" (as in glamorous).

It's impossible for an average person to have a 5 skill in anything that they put points into. They may default a skill to 5, but that's it. Your carpenter not only makes things out of wood, but he sells his services and has been doing so almost as long as he has been working with wood.

Gurps 3rd give 1 point for every 200 hours spent studying something (with a teacher). A two year apprenticeship would give an average person who only works eight hours a day for 360 days, a pretty mild apprenticeship, will earn 28 points.

A blacksmith apprentice could divide those point between blacksmithing, armourer, merchant, leatherworking, animal handling, and metalurgy. Divided equally, that puts four points in each skill with two left over for a specialized area. All of those skills are an Average (Dx/Iq) which means that they are +1 to the smith's stats. A few of these skills aren't required and the points can be spent elsewhere.

Such an apprentice smith would have two more years or so left in their apprenticeship with more and more time to try their own things and grow as a smith under the guidance of the master smith.

Even with all 10 stats, a typical smith would have higher, his skills would range from from eleven to fifteen by the time he were done. His merchant skill would be at LEAST an eleven. More than likely it would be a 13 or higher. No one wants to work for free, and a good smith can almost name their price.

A merchant, i.e. someone who is a merchant by trade rather than one who merely has the skill, is going to be better at haggling than the smith is. That is a fact.

But in Gurps, this is a contest of skill. If the merchant has a skill of 18 and makes his roll by 3, but the smith who has a skill of 13 makes his roll by 4, the smith wins and ges more money.

But if the smith loses the contest, he doesn't just give away his services for free, he just charges less.

Please bear in mind that circumstances favor the smith over the merchant and that these circumstances will count during negotiation. For example, since the merchant is just passing through, the smith may automatically raise the price of his work by 150%. After much haggling, the merchant MAY get the smith down to a fair price!

If the smith has a lot of work he may not WANT more work. This gives him at least a +1 to his merchanting skill. Likewise he could have a sick apprentice (or it could be an excuse), not have worked on that kind of project (armoury), or something else.

So people who have to sell their wares would have a 12-15 merchant skill (higher with specialization) as well as a higher level of craft skill while fulltime merchants would have a higher skill in merchanting.

Merchants who travel will need more than hobby skills to get by. They will spend points on animal handling, teamster, appraising and more.

I never consider or limit myself with cost.

In Lethal Weapon, Mutaugh's wife is a professional author who is making quite a bit of money with her romance novels. According to Gurps, that gives her at least a 15 skill level, and she is probably better than that given the popularity of her work. Stephen Kings is a master and has a skill level of at least 18. He taught English for a while and is probably better than that.

Robert Jordan can and has done more than write during his lifetime. You don't graduate from the Citadel to write fantasy novels.

25 point NPCs are useless. Especially if they are travelling with a party of PCs. They are dependents, not something remotely usefull in adventuring.

In the movies examples above, I compare the characters rather than the movies. The characters were what drove the good movies and destroyed the bad ones. No one cared about Casey Ryback. People care about John McLain.

Mclain may have had High Pain Threshold, but otherwise he was an average guy. That was his appeal. An average guy can be strong (I'd give him a 12 strength) and have good ideas. An average person isn't stupid (although, on average I'd have to say that people are).

Murtaugh's wife in Lethal Weapon may only be a 25 pt character. But you never know because you never see her do anything. We know that she has a default cooking skill that she never bothered to put points into and we know that she writes well. We also know that she was a very good mother, as all of her kids turned out great.

I never watched Mystery Men. It looked stupid. I did see the Da Vinci Code however. The main protagonist in that movie is a perfect example of an NPC in my world. He has very few skills outside of his extensive knowledge of history and symbology.

If you think about it, several characters in the movie (and book) fall into the highly skilled NPC arena. The cop that is chasing Langdon is skilled and stubborn. The assassin monk keeps appearing out of nowhere (and talk about high pain threshold and toughness!!!), Sophia is a cryptologist cop, which means that she passed the physical requirements of the police department and the mental requirements of a cryptologist! Even the crippled old man was an expert in history and turns out to be much more than several people can handle (I don't wanna spoil the plot for the three people left in the world who HAVEN'T seen/read/heard the story yet).

PCs in my world treat NPCs with respect and caution. They know that the NPC will probably be better than them at something.

The average City Watch member in my world has skills of 12. The seargent and commanders will have skills in the 12-15 range. Sword Masters have a minimum swordskill of 16 (and yes, I use the optional rule that a 16 give you two attacks per turn with that weapon if it readies every turn, which most swords do).

I don't sugar coat things and I never make NPCs unrealistic. If I played in the group that had this woman tagging along I'd either leave her in some town, leave the group, or kill her. None of my characters are tolerant of purposless dead weight. And that is what that character is with those stats and skill levels. Dead weight.

What kind of characters do the players have that make her worth keeping?


If you're out to play RPGs as utterly fair an impartial tactical simulations, aren't there a lot better games for that than GURPS?

D&D's got WAY more numbers, facts, figures, calculations, and tables. Grab the first edition books and a handful of supplements and you can argue statistics back and forth until the eyes of the most devout rules lawyer have glazed over from boredom.

Or if you want to get REALLY didactic, I have two words for you: Avalon Hill. Go dig up a few classics from that late, great godfather of wargaming. Squad Leader alone could keep you busy for years, quibbling over obscure references.

The whole point of HAVING a GM is so that he can react to developing situations and make personal judgement calls. If you don't like the numbers on an NPC, you change them!


And now for something completely different ...

Riggs' hand-to-hand style was Gracie Jiu-Jitsu -- the movie was choreographed by Rorion Gracie. This was one of the first movie appearances of the style before it became a famous in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships).

Calamar wrote,"I don't sugar coat things and I never make NPCs unrealistic. If I played in the group that had this woman tagging along I'd either leave her in some town, leave the group, or kill her. None of my characters are tolerant of purposless dead weight. And that is what that character is with those stats and skill levels. Dead weight."

I have always found that the NPC's relationships with the PC's to be the most improtant factor (both as a GM and a Player). I could care less whether a character could fry bacon with a broadsword or slay a dragon with a frying pan. If the character is enjoyable and adds to gameplay then I am all for it. There is no such thing as Dead Weight with a good GM or with a good group (unless, of course, you are actually carrying dead bodies...then you're on your own). I actually find the character to be an intriguing one. I would be more inclined to use her as an Aunt of one of the characters that needed to be escorted to the "Name Your Event" in "Wherever".

That being said, I have had NPC's that I have spent considerable time and energy creating only to have the PC's ignore them. I have also had a group take a young bar maid under their wing because she had an abusive father (and the bruises to prove it). Rest assured, Mara didn't have any skills to speak of and was rather clumsy to boot. She journied with the group until she was ultimately taken in by a Warden (Sheriff) far north of her homeland. This took place over several months. She didn't really have anything to offer, but the PC's still go out of their way to visit her when the opportunity arises due to the personal relationships she established with the others. Every now and then a pair of 2's wins.