I’m coming late to the RPG Blog Carnival this month, but better late than never, right?
NPCs are an area where I either go very deep or very shallow. For example, a common theme I have in running a game is putting an Inn/Tavern in every town and there always happens to be an old man or woman at the desk or available when someone rings the bell.
This old person inevitably was a) cranky, b) hard of hearing, and c) difficult to deal with. So whenever the PCs would try and find a room for the night, they’d have to verbally spar with the desk jockey.
Desk clerk (DC): “Eh?”
PC: “We’d like a room for the night.”
DC: “A broom for flight?”
PC: [speaking up] “A ROOM FOR THE NIGHT.”
DC: “You don’t have to yell… I’m not deaf you know… I have a couple of rooms with one bed in them, but all 5 of you might have to draw straws… or there’s the [mumbles] common room…”
Yes, I like to torment my players. It’s part of the fun of being a GM.
On the flip side of the coin are characters like Lady Dagor, the female knight in charge of the Order of St. Greggor – a group of knights seeking the destruction of all demons in the world of Immortals’ Wake.
In her case, I always had a mental image of Sarah Douglas as Ursa (Zod’s second in command) in Superman II, but a bit shorter and wearing a combination of chain and plate mail. She buries her contempt for civilians well, but holds them somewhere above pond scum in the order of things.
Dagor focuses on two things. Firstly, she studies all the battles between the knights of her order and the Changed demons who control raw elemental energies. She feels she has a better understanding of how her enemy operates than they do in many cases and far more knowledge than many of the organizations also studying the demons (including other church members, the House of the Magus (mages), and the Chasers). This feeling of superior knowledge is both a good and a bad thing.
Secondly, she focuses on strategies for capturing, testing, and killing demons. Using her knowledge of how they operate and many of their tactics, she finds weaknesses to exploit and is constantly instructing those under her command to test such weaknesses vigorously in the field.
Lady Dagor is a stern task master and a good soldier, but also knows how to play the political game. As the first woman in charge of the militant order of the Church of the Mother, she knows she is empowered to do just about anything in the name of the Church. But even with this knowledge, she obeys the letter of the law and will rarely break with church doctrine.
It was her laugh that I settled on first. A haughty, full-bodied laugh that has been practiced and perfected over the years to throw off allies and enemies alike. She has few friends, and only “befriends” people if it is politically or strategically necessary.
But at the bottom of this superiority complex and the haughtiness, she devoutly believes in the teachings of the Mother. What she is doing is right on every level and that gives her the strength to do what she must. Is she evil? Not from her perspective. But from other people’s perspectives? Yeah, probably.
Some NPCs, like Athena from Zeus’s head, come fully formed in my mind when they appear. Others sneak up on me. And others just pop up like that damn innkeeper. “Eh?”
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