In Ghost Ops do NPCs get free attacks only on total Bullet Time failure or also on partial failure?

I have the original version of Ghost Ops (which uses Fudge dice), not the Savage Worlds version or the OSR version. This question is about that original version, but if you think the rules in one of the other versions can throw some light on this, please chip in.

On page 132 of the core rulebook there is an example of a failed Bullet Time action. The PC was attempting to shoot 3 NPCs in the head, and needed an 8 but only got a 6.

The book then has some more rules:

The Handler can decide that the Operator succeeded in some of the attempt. Maybe they barged the door and managed to get 2 of the attempted headshots off but missed the third. Failing a Bullet Time event places the Operator as prone for 1 round, allowing any Tangos free attacks. Deciding to attempt Bullet Time is risky but can be ultimately rewarding.

So, if the GM has said the failed roll can be partial success (hit 2 of the NPCs) and partial failure (miss the 3rd NPC), which of these applies?

  1. It still counts as a normal fail – the PC is prone and subject to a free attack by all three NPCs (assuming the two he shot aren’t dead or disabled).
  2. It still counts as a ‘reduced’ fail – the PC is prone but only the third NPC, who was not hit, gets a free attack.
  3. It counts as a success – the PC is not prone and the NPC/s don’t get free attacks.
  4. The GM decides on a case by case basis.

I’m hoping there is clarification for this question in one of the expansions, or in an updated version of the pdf (I only have a print copy). I’ve failed to find any errata on the internet.

Shifting Sacred Flame to Toll the Dead for Evil NPCs

The PHB makes it clear that radiant damage comes from the Positive Plane and is often associated with the Celestials of the Upper Planes, while necrotic damage comes from the Negative Plane and is often associated with Fiends and the Lower Planes

Damage Types (PHB196)

Necrotic. Necrotic damage, dealt by certain undead and a spell such as chill touch, withers matter and even the soul. Radiant. Radiant damage, dealt by a cleric’s flame strike spell or an angel’s smiting weapon, sears the flesh like fire and overloads the spirit with power.

Positive and Negative Planes (PHB300)

Like a dome above the other planes, the Positive Plane is the source of radiant energy and the raw life force that suffuses all living beings, from the puny to the sublime. Its dark reflection is the Negative Plane, the source of necrotic energy that destroys the living and animates the undead.

Several cleric spells allow you to choose your damage type between radiant or necrotic, and if spirit guardians is the exemplar, you would make this choice based on alignment.

Spirit Guardians (3rd level conjuration)

You call forth spirits to protect you…If you are good or neutral, their spectral form appears angelic or fey (your choice). If you are evil, they appear fiendish. On a failed save, the creature takes 3d8 radiant damage (if you are good or neutral) or 3d8 necrotic damage (if you are evil).

Destructive Wave (5th level Evocation)

You strike the ground, creating a burst of divine energy that ripples outward from you. Each creature you choose within 30 feet of you…take[s]…5d6 radiant or necrotic damage (your choice)

Forbiddance (6th level Evocation)

You create a ward against magical travel…the creature takes 5d10 radiant or necrotic damage (your choice when you cast this spell).

Other cleric spells do just one or the other type of damage, but there are enough of these that DMs and players making alignment-based choices can find appropriate damage types at most levels:

1st: Guiding Bolt (radiant), Inflict Wounds (necromancy)

4th: Guardian of Faith (radiant)

5th: Flame Strike (radiant), Holy Weapon (radiant)

6th: Sunbeam (radiant), Harm (Necrotic)

7th: Finger of Death (Necrotic), Symbol (Death) (Necrotic)

8th: Sunburst (radiant)

However, at the time of the printing of the PHB and MM, there were no official cleric cantrips that did necrotic damage. This led to NPC’s such as the Acolyte (any alignment), Cult Fanatic (any non-good alignment), and Priest (any alignment) being assigned for their principle offensive cantrip sacred flame, which does radiant damage.

Now that Xanathar’s Guide to Everything has made official a cantrip that deals necrotic damage (toll the dead), would it make sense to replace sacred flame in the stat blocks of evil NPC’s with toll the dead?

Are there any balance or other issues that arise with such a general change?

Or, would it make more sense to keep sacred flame, but to modify it so that the caster can choose the damage type, as in spirit guardians et al.?

Related: Are positive and negative energy from their respective planes inherently good and evil?

How can I play monsters and NPCs up to their potential?

In many cases discussions about balance in 3.5 will, inevitably, involve one side or another invoking an anecdote of the time they fought this monster, or a member of that class, and they didn’t suffer the problem being illustrated in the discussion at hand. In many cases it seems like these anecdotes come from a case of the monster or NPC not being played (tactically) or roleplayed (again tactically, since that’s part of 3.5’s roleplaying experience, but also in terms of personality) up to the potential illustrated by its ability scores, powers, and skills.

How can a GM learn to play these monsters and NPCs up to their potential?

Being the best animal I can: How to successfully convince NPCs as a wild-shaped druid?

I’m a relatively new player with D&D 5th Ed. and chose to play a druid. I’m still learning quite a bit about how the game mechanics and spells work. In one encounter so far, where I was wild-shaped into a goat (as bait to lure an enemy out (I’m a team player, what can I say?)) I was asked to roll a charisma check to determine if I was convincing.

Charisma is my lowest stat, favoring wisdom, intellect and dexterity to bolster nature, survival, animal, and archery related skills. I would expect that to be a convincing animal, one’s knowledge of how those animals behave, rather than charisma, is more important.

I read through the post "How easy is it to make the distinction between a druid in beast form and a normal animal?" and it seems that charisma is typically used for deception, bluffing, and acting. I think Aviose put it well in their answer, that the check depends on the type of animal and type of deception.

While I understand it is ultimately up to my DM, is there any "official" guidance on passing scrutiny when Wild Shaped?

Context clarification:

Our party was tasked with dispatching some unknown attacker that had been killing farmers’ livestock. Maybe wolves but possibly something more sinister. We surveyed the area and decided a farm animal that appeared to be lost and alone might have the best chance of drawing out the target. We positioned party members in various hidden locations in brush and trees while our putting-on-a-brave-front-but-actually-pretty-scared "goat" wandered out into the fields like a lost child.

The DM wanted charisma checks to determine whether this goat was convincing to the unknown nemesis or if it would suspect something strange. The first attempt failed (which became a point of humor), but a later attempt worked, and we managed to eradicate a few skellies.

Is there any official rule softening power checks to NPCs in Ravenloft?

My players have scaped Aggarath to find themselves in Falkovnia. They started to walk to south trying reach Calimshan (they came from Toril) and instead, approached Aerie and had their first battle with a elite patrol of Talons. The session ended there and I begun to think about next plot. I readed ‘Death Unchained’ and 2nd edition Ravenloft campaign books and was creating Aerie’s leader character, Rudolph, a young Talon of Taladas, ‘today’ 64 years old, when I realized he had to be already a monster (minimum stage X – demilord serving Drakov). Torture is an automatic power check (‘+’ in table 16 of ‘Domains of Dread’). Worst, the entire military of Falkovnia (just in Lekar, more than 3000 human beings), certainly is already partial physical monsters. Drinking Drakov’s potion is not a pass to commit torture without ‘punishment’ (mainly because the NPC knew what Talons do and choose to be above peasants). So, even with certain high death rates among military, any official rule softening power checks to NPCs in Ravenloft or Falkovnia is a nest of future darklords?

How can my PCs discover an NPC’s class if they are trying to hide it?

I’m pretty new to DMing and I’m working on writing a campaign in which it’s important to the plot that the characters not know at first that the BBEG is a multiclass wizard-warlock. Basically, this character is an Elf Prince who is widely known to be a modestly skilled wizard, but he’s also secretly taken on a warlock patron and is the leader of a small rebel cult.

Other than dropping hints about his patron, are there mechanics that can allow my PCs to discover his class, similar to a detect magic spell or an arcana check? I’d like to avoid relying on meta-knowledge like “oh, that’s a warlock spell” as much as possible.

Does this even make sense?

How can I use powerful NPCs without overshadowing the player characters?

I’ve been playing P&P for years and have taken my first tentative steps into DM’ing over the last year, mostly leading One-Shots. I am also a passionate world-builder and so I jumped at the chance to use one of my most developed worlds as a home-brew setting. For the most part, this has worked out well and the players like the setting – but I’ve started to notice a trend that’s troubling me.

The setting contains A LOT of NPCs and they range from “average joe” to “movers and shakers of the world” in terms of power and competence. And I find myself somewhat at loss how to handle interactions between the latter and the PCs. On the one hand, those NPCs are meant to be badass, smart and proactive and I want to do them justice. But on the other hand, I don’t want the players to get the feeling that they are being reduced to assistants or – even worse – spectators.

Avoiding them until the PCs are powerful enough to meet them as equals is an option, but I often run into the problem that the “here be cool adventures” and the “here be VIP NPCS” parts of the setting often overlap. So sure, I could send my players to clear out a monster-infested mine or retrieve stolen goods – while the NPCs prevent the brewing civil war, slay the dragon, fight a dead god… all off-screen. Yay?

I have used the “but our hands are tied!”-approach in the past, where powerful NPCs showed up but they were crippled/captured/bound by bureaucracy, which explained why they couldn’t do anything and needed the PCs help. This usually works, but I am afraid of overusing it. It gets kinda weird when characters that are usually competent suddenly can’t do anything every single time the PCs get involved. Plus, it would be rather hard to take them seriously after a while.

And the thing is: I like those NPCs. I spent a lot of time writing them. And I want to use them and I want to play them right and not reduce them to damsel/dudes in distress for the sake of the adventure all the time. (And, I admit it: I want my players to like them.) But the focus should be on the PCs. I want them to be the heroes, to have the spotlight and be awesome. They are the main characters and I want the story to reflect that.

So…. How do I manage that? How can I have a setting filled with powerful NPCs and still let the PCs be the main heroes, while still maintaining some logic?

How to deal with Mary Sue NPCs

This question is a bit different than the one here, because the NPC is not a jerk. In fact, they’re actually quite nice. However, this is not the first time the GM has done this.

In our game, we have a legendary NPC on our side who just gets more and more likable and perfect the more we play. The NPC, who was a surprise addition, is legendary, ancient, immortal, and a messenger of the gods who is the most likable, friendly, charming, powerful, and humble NPC to ever NPC. The GM constantly emphasizes how great this NPC is, how much they love them, and how much everyone loves them, especially how powerful they are.

The GM has done this sort of thing before, with another NPC who was basically the same thing, except less charming and more brutal. But again, the legendary, unstoppable, utterly broken NPC who was the most powerful NPC to ever be powerful and had to have the final killshot of the game, and made the whole game about them and their destiny.

I don’t want to just be a cheerleader to these people, but they’re obviously self-inserts, so I don’t want to offend. What do I do?

How do NPC’s of a faction know one of the party members is a member of their faction? (careful: minor spoilers in question)

I’m currently running LMoP for 4 players. One of them has already joined the Lords’ Alliance, and I expect another to join the Emerald Enclave in the near future.

I’m planning to run SKT next, and have already started reading the book. The factions are mentioned quite often, and usually in a way that if one is a member of the faction they can get free lodgings/special items/a special quest.

I wonder though… how would they know they are part of their faction?

  • Would they be wearing a symbol on their clothes (such as a pin)?
  • Would they have to explicitly state to the NPC that they are a part of this faction?
  • Or would the NPCs simply be already informed about the new member and his/her appearance?

Any other possibilities?

What is the name of this Ravenloft adventure where imprisoned PCs control NPCs in the past?

In this Ravenloft adventure, PCs suddenly find that they are now inhabiting the bodies of unknown characters at a ball held, as far as I remember, by Strahd von Zarovich at his castle.

How is this adventure called?

I remember the adventure being crudely formatted, so I’m not entirely sure it was an official one, but I’m writing anyway hoping that it was.