One place where I diverge from the Hackmaster Development Team is that I like rules to build my 0th level NPCs. While there’s certainly value in “Make your NPC however you want, giving them whatever scores they need”, I prefer having a bit more structure to help guide me on what’s likely and reasonable for a given character; penetrating rolls may make for unusually talented characters, but the structure gives me comfort.
To that end, I have created these rules for mechanically describing 0th level characters of all sorts. A GM is, of course, free to use these rules in some places, yet ignore them in others… if you need there to be an expert carpenter among the bandits, then there is… but their purpose is to provide a framework for what an NPC of a given age might be capable of.
Character Generation or Growing Up Normal
Step 1: Receive BPs. NPCs, like PCs, begin with 40 BP.
Step 2: Generate Ability scores. While rolling 3d6 in order is still suggested, a 0 level NPC receives NO bonus BPs for keeping their stats in the rolled order.
Step 3: Choose a race and alignment. The race may modify ability scores; those modifications should be made now. If the racial ability modifiers would reduce a score below 1, the score remains at 1/01.
Step 4: Finalize Ability Scores. If you choose, you may spend BPs to increase attributes, as with PCs.
Step 5: Calculate Starting Honor. 0 level NPCs begin with a penalty of 4 to Honor. Unlike PCs, a negative or 0 Honor does not preclude the character, but any negative numbers in honor are raised to 0.
Step 6: Determine Priors and Particulars. Unchanged from PC generation step 7.
Step 7: Determine Quirks and Flaws. While not necessary, giving an NPC a quirk or flaw can help make them memorable, both for you and the PCs. As a bonus, NPCs get full BPs from cherry-picked quirks and flaws; if you need an NPC to be blind, they are blind, and it is blind fate (i.e. the GM) that determined it, not a player looking to cage some extra build points.
Step 8: Determine Skills, Talents, and Proficiencies. 0 level NPCs who pursue weapon specialization do so at 8 BPs per category per level.
Step 9: Roll Hit Points. The default Hit Die for 0 level NPCs is 1d6, in addition to Constitution and a bonus for size.
Step 10: Record Combat statistics.
Step 11: Finalize the character; give them money, equipment, and other accoutrements as befits their character.
This represents a character of about starting age; just entering adulthood, as defined on page 135 of the GMG.
After Growing Up
Subsequent to character generation, people advance and grow, improving their skills with experience, and learning new ones as they go along. To represent this, Human 0 level NPCs gain 3 BP per year after maturity; a human is counted as mature at 18, and so a 21 year old NPC Human would have an additional 12 BPs to spend on skills. For other races, this should be prorated according to their longevity. Accordingly
Dwarves: 3 BP per 2 years
Elves: 1 BP per 10 years
Gnomes: 1 BP per year
Gnome Titans: 1 BP per year
Grel: 2 BP per year
Half-elf: 2 BP per year
Sil-karg 2 BP per year
Half-orc 3 BP per year
Halfling 2 BP per year
If the GM wishes to represent some specific, formal, training the NPC might have acquired, they may attend a kobar, university, guild, or some other source of formal training. Once at maturity, and once again per 15 BP acquired due to age, the GM may choose to have the NPC attend some sort of formal training, and roll on the Formal Training Event table in the GMG.
This process is obviously much longer than the standard “Determine a name, race, and a couple of salient skills”, but it can be useful for NPCs that are intended to be important (for example, torchbearers, alchemists, or others the PCs will interact with frequently), or as a means to advance NPCs when time skips or long campaigns demand that 0th level NPCs become more than they were.
NPCs and Honor
The Honor of NPCs doesn’t vary that much; unless they’re involved in some risky business, their honor will remain steady for a long time. Every time they receive BPs (once per year for most races; once every two or ten for dwarves and elves, respectively), their honor resets one point towards 11 + their honor modifiers for Charisma and Looks.