Games where only Player Characters have stats

edited April 2016 in Story Games
I’m hoping to get people's input on this:

• What games are there where only player characters have stats? I can thik of Trollbabe and PBTA games. Nothing outside of NPCs has a number associated with them specifically. Apocalypse World just has a universal spread of results (6 or less, 7-9, or 10+).

• In systems where only the player rolls, are NPCs generally stat-less?

• In your opinion, what are the advantages to systems where only PCs have stats? I can think of a few (at least in theory): reduces book keeping; faster task/conflict resolution; easier to create NPCs as needed.

• In contrast to the last question, what are the disadvantages?


  • Numenera has a really simple number for the monsters and NPCs. Mechanically it makes it easy to make encounters for an adventure. The problem is all the monsters tend to blend together for the GM. At least that is how I felt about buying the bestiary and seeing the same basic number shown over and over with little variation. Yeah, the art was great, so were the descriptions, but I missed the mechanics being different. I come from a DnD background so take that with a heavy grain of bias.
  • edited April 2016
    I've GMed a game of my own using a single AW move: "whenever a player rolls a miss, something interesting happens" and then using all sorts of monster abilities I found interesting and challenging. The result is a really fast paced game where you can still focus on tactics and roleplaying, as these affect the outcome more than the dice (especially if you rule that really good ideas are an automatic sucess and don't block players too much about what can be done and what not)

    Disadvantage: players and GMs who actually want a more deterministic way to say if something goes or not, to feel their tactical effort actually matters will totally experience a broken immersion on systems like this.
  • In My Life with Master, the PCs have stats (Self-Loathing, Weariness & Love) but the Town they trouble with their antics also has stats (Fear & Reason); every roll is made using various combinations of those numbers and NPCs (including the Master) have no stats of their own.

    Best Friends has no stats for NPCs: the GM makes a quick judgement on whether the PC's stats are sufficient to achieve success against each NPC and if not, the game's mechanics are invoked to see what the outcome is.

    From the GM's point of view, having NPCs without stats greatly reduces the handling time in the system: they have fewer numbers to juggle and focus more on what's taking place in the narrative. It's also a great help to put the whole responsibility for success or failure on the PC's shoulders: it would devalue their role if the villain lost because they made a couple of bad rolls at the crucial moment.

    Dead of Night, a popular horror game on the British RPG scene, does officially use stats for NPCs, but the way the game is designed makes it very easy to cut the monster stats out: when a PC attacks a monster, they roll to Assault, but when a monster attacks them, just get the player to roll to Protect. This makes the game run a little faster and increases the burden for the PCs, as whatever happens, they only have themselves to blame.
  • Great Ork Gods has no monster stats. At most you have a rule where big bad monsters need to be beaten twice in escalating succession.

    The major problem with stat-less NPCs is that you have no mechanical differentiation between them so it is down to either GM Fiat or mere characterisation to distinguish between them. This works well in GOG because so much of the traditional power to define things is passed off to the players and because it's utter lack of seriousness in tone means it simply doesn't matter but I think it would only work in a fairly niche set of games.
  • Some positive sides of not having stats:
    × Ease up the prep.
    × Less for the game master, if existing, to think of.
    × Brings less focus on the mechanics for games that aren't about that.
    × It's unnecessary to have stats on NPCs, actually, so having no stats addressees this issue.
    × Brings more focus on the characters (i.e. players) as active participants.

    My own game This is Pulp has no stats for the opposition. The game is played through three acts, and the game master got six tokens for each new act to spend on dangers in the scenes. Any action taken by a character to overcome the danger removes a token. When the tokens are gone, the scene ends. The game master repeats doing this until all tokens are gone, and all acts are played out.

    There is more to the game, but that's the structure of it.
  • Danger Patrol Pocket version
  • I think The Pool may have been one of the first to really take this concept to the limit, and it's really a lovely game.
  • Unisystem (Buffy, Conspiracy X 2.0, Angel) is a good example of a game where only the players roll but the NPCs still have (very standardized) stats.
  • Thank you, folks.
  • Rickard already enumerated most of the advantages I can think of.
    I'll only add: it makes MUCH easier to build a gmLess game :)

    Case and point: FateLess is just like that.
  • I have Tactical Ops already, and dig it. I will get Fateless at some point to look at how the ideas have evolved, but I'm not super crazy about Fate. :)
  • Tokyo Brain Pop (the game formerly known as Panty Explosion Perfect) has a single stat (popularity) modified by details on your character sheet.
  • edited May 2016
    I have Tactical Ops already, and dig it.
    W00t :D
    I'm glad!
    I'm not super crazy about Fate.
    Then you might be interested (if you haven't already) in reading this article: Why Less is More 01 Being.

    But regarding your specific request: if you already know TOps then FateLess doesn't change much in that one place.
    NPCs are part of the fiction.
    Anyone can "highlight" something about them making it into an Aspect.
    And that's it... NPCs have no other "statistics".

    Pretty much the same as in TOps... what there you call Details, in FateLess are just Aspects :)
  • InSpectres is another classic.

    And, of course, all the games where the PC:s don't have stats, either. I don't think I've seen a game where the PC:s don't have stats but the NPC:s do, though.

  • • What games are there where only player characters have stats? I can thik of Trollbabe and PBTA games. Nothing outside of NPCs has a number associated with them specifically. Apocalypse World just has a universal spread of results (6 or less, 7-9, or 10+).
    I don't see Polaris mentioned in this thread! (and, really, any games by Ben Lehman I'm aware of, as far as they include stats at all: Bliss Stage, The Drifter's Escape)

    Primetime Adventures, of course.

    Grey Ranks.

    Breaking the Ice, though that's maybe a no-brainer. Shooting the Moon, if playing with 3 players (but with 2, you have an important, statted NPC).

    IIRC, The Clay that Woke.

    Remember Tomorrow: individual NPCs don't have stats, though Factions do - and individual NPCs usually get their screen time when acting for their factions.

    The list goes on and on…
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