Monday, November 4, 2019

Other NPCs







Other NPCs


Now that we’ve defined Villains and Monsters, there are pretty much everybody else.  This can range from allies, to store keepers, to that random guard that has to come running when you cause a commotion.
When it comes to these characters, the big question you must ask is whether you need to stat them out or not.   A good rule of thumb is, if you expect them to get into a physical conflict, then stat them out.  If you don’t, then don’t.  This will help reduce the “grinding aspect” when PCs attack everything in the name of XP.   

More often than not, just treat the NPC as a skill check or skill montage to get the desired effect.     You can easily give them a rough personality, if needed by consulting the random personality generator below.

Common NPC Archetypes


The following are common background and/or archetypes that can be used to flesh out your NPCs as needed. Yes, you can use these to flesh out PC’s if you want.

Absent Minded Expert:  While an expert in their field, this character is absent minded and a tad daffy.  This could lead to the character getting in danger time and time again and babbling information to the wrong people.
2d8
Personality
2
Absent Minded Expert
3
Arrogant Snob
4
Chronicler
5
The Destroyer
6
Commander
7
Crusty old Professional
8
Enigma
9
Guardian
10
Informative Lunatic
11
Inductee
12
Innocent In Distress
13
Mentor
14
Observer
15
Talkative Merchant
16
Tragic Fellow Hero

Arrogant Snob:  This person thinks the world owes them a living. Often connected to somebody of power and influence, this can be used to ruffle the PC’s feathers.  It gets more interesting when they can’t afford to abandon or kill the person.   This character could calm down over time if shown how to interact with others properly.

Chronicler: Suddenly the NPC wishes to follow the characters to record their story.  They will often ask annoying and personal questions, sometimes in the middle of battle.   Alternatively, they could be using the character as a “muse” for song and storytelling.

Commander:  This NPC is a natural leader and would be able to handle the issue, if they didn’t have other duties to attend to.  They may be the main contact for the party and the driving force for their adventures.

Crusty old Professional: This is the grumpy old person whom is an expert in their field.  They are cranky, sharped tongue, and is probably complaining about everything.  It’s up to you whether it’s all a façade and is hiding a heart of gold.

Enigma:  This NPC is primarily meant to be a trickster to test the wits of the party.  The NPC will give the party a rough time, but may eventually befriend and help the hero. 

Guardian:  Every so often, you need the cavalry or protection.  These NPCs are there to provide comfort and to act as protection in times of trouble.   While they probably can’t actually solve the problem in question, they can provide a place for the PCs to regroup and train.




Informative Half-Wit:   This NPC is friendly, happy and obviously a little crazy.  Over time, the NPC follows the group wherever they go.  They could even take a romantic liking to one of the PC’s.
                What this NPC could be anything from a simple half-wit, to a fallen hero, to a supernatural creature, to a lackey of either the local authorities or a main villain.  Sometimes, the Informative Half-wit is all of the above at the same time. Alternatively, this can also be used by having somebody come up to you in the street and just start blabbing away, obviously spooked about something.   

Inductee:  Everybody’s got to start somewhere.  An inductee is a young hero who must undergo some sort of challenge.  While this certainly classifies most starting PCs, in the NPC context it is a young character, who might take to Hero-Worshipping one of the PCs or the Party as a whole. 

Innocent In Distress:  This NPC is pretty sweet, charming, and in need of help.  They may choose to follow the party around for protection, and may get innocently into trouble, time and time again.  This can include males and females to make the party’s life more interesting, or often a child or teenager.

Mentor:  Sometimes an NPC is significant simply because they is the teacher or counsellors to a PC or the party.  Their job is to impart skills, training, knowledge or good old fashion insight.  Often they end up leaving their students in mysterious circumstances, leaving small clues to where they have gone. 

Observer:   This NPC represents a big mover and shaker, whether it is a government employee, an envoy from a major corporation, or a tribal liaison.   Often the character is a stickler for proper procedures and can often give unwanted advice, whether good or bad.  They may also be a trouble magnet by pulling rank when not satisfied.

Talkative Merchant:  Probably the common archetype in fiction is a chatty innkeeper, barkeeper or purveyor of wares.  They will have the information that the PC’s require, but will need something for their trouble.  This can range from a bribe, to buying expensive goods, to listening to their stories, or performing a “favour”.

Tragic Fellow Hero:  The PCs run into a fellow hero whose down on their luck.  They may have met the NPC in its past, or they may know them by reputation.  The NPC is a tragic figure whom may have just lost either his family or belongings to a villain. He’s pretty depressed and gloomy and will need help from the party.



 

Die roll (%)
Type
1-2
Curious
3-4
Pleasure Seeker
5-6
Precise
7-8
Studious
9-10
Mysterious
11-12
Talkative
13-14
Quiet
15-16
Foppish
17-18
Immaculate
19-20
Rough
21-22
Skeptic
23-24
Immature
25-26
Even-Tempered
27-28
Rash
29-30
Extroverted
31-32
Introverted
33-34
Materialistic
35-36
Aesthetic
37-38
Amoral
39-40
Daydreamer
41-42
Creative
43-44
Leader
45-46
Follower
47-48
Emotional
49-50
Emotionless
51-52
Humorous
53-54
Grim
55-56
Conservative
57-58
Liberal
59-60
Aggressive
61-62
Passive
63-64
Self-sufficient
65-66
Dependent
67-68
Romantic
69-70
Logical
71-72
Illogical
73-74
Frivolous
75-76
Aloof
77-78
Impaired
79-80
Distinctive Scar
81-82
Bad Breath
83-84
Strong Body Odour
85-86
Smells Like Perfume
87-88
Sweaty
89-90
Hand’s Shake
91-92
Bald
93-94
Tattoo
5-96
Limping
97-98
Twitchy
99-00
Squinty

Giving NPCs Traits


If you need to give a personality and/or unusual feature to an NPC in a hurry, just roll on the following table to give some color.

If you want to add some quirks to your own PC, you may pick or roll on this chart a couple of times if you wish.








Using NPCs


Okay you have an NPC.  What can you do with them?

Quite a lot actually

Background enhancement:  A simple encounter with an NPC could very well flesh out the world.  Often NPCs are stereotypes that personify the average Joe or Jane in a particular area.

Exposition:  All adventures have to start somewhere, and an NPC is as good as any.  They could be your employer, hiring you for a job.  They could be the survivor of a terrible monster attack.  They could be even be a newscaster from FNN news letting you know of a great problem and a call to arms.  

Family Connections:  Having NPCs that are related to a PC are also fantastic for fleshing out backgrounds.  They can range from the black sheep that everybody hates, to loving parents that tentatively support your lifestyle.  This gives yet another tool to add color.

Vendors:  Goods and services are always needed and a colorful NPC to provide these services will make such transitions fun as well.  Don’t be afraid to use opposed skill checks for bartering and the like.

Victim:  An NPC can be a victim of a villainous plot to spur the PCs into action.   This doesn’t necessarily mean death.   Another example is the Scapegoat, a person that has been convicted of a crime they didn’t commit and needs the party’s help.  If the party is generally good, it might drive the storyline based on their own moral code.

One Last Point – the NPC’s Place


Despite all the hard work of the GM, there is something that must be remembered. 

Never sideline the PCs

The PCs are the heroes. If the other NPCs could perform the task expected of the PCs, the PCs would not be adventuring.

If a NPC must tag along with the PCs, it should be in a support role.

Good Examples of Support NPCs include
·         The healer that keeps the party patched up, but is a pacifist.
·         The friendly mechanic that keeps your equipment upgraded.
·         The agent whom keeps the jobs coming your way.
·         The salesman that always has what the party needs.
·         The security robot that is left behind so the party can adventure.
·         The crack pilot/driver that drops off the PCs into the danger zone.
·         The news reporter that interviews them after the mission.
·         The archaeologist or scientist whom identifies their anything they find.

Generally let the heroes be heroes.  The world was specifically created so that they can be so.

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