Have you ever created an amazing place for your campaign only to discover that you don’t immediately have a collection of NPCs to fill it? Or have your PCs ever stumbled into a place you haven’t had time to fully develop as a living, breathing part of the campaign?
Well, why not take out a handful of dice and roll up an instant NPC! Or in this case, an “Insta-NPC”!
The Insta-NPCs product line is designed to offer one or more tables to roll on to figure out a little something about the NPC you’re pulling together.
Villains. Without them, what’s a hero supposed to do? Han Solo needs his “wretched hive of scum and villainy” to be discovered in. The Dread Pirate Roberts wears a mask and at best will kill poor Westley in the morning. And who else is going to cut a man’s heart out with a spoon than the Sheriff of Nottingham? Robin Hood is just a homeless guy who likes camping without him.
As GMs and storytellers, we know our villains have to be there. Whether it’s your PCs who are the villains or heroes fighting against villainy in your worlds, that interplay between good and evil – that *conflict* between opposing viewpoints – is very important to crafting compelling stories at and beyond the game table. But what makes them compelling?
Insta-NPCs #3: Scum and Villainy, Inc. hopes to provide one answer to that question by providing a table-based method of discovering the reasons behind a particular villain’s behavior. The tables focus on five main areas: origin, goal, methods, role, and emotion.
For example, let’s take poor Garag, an orc with a penchant for accidental destruction. His career began as a youngling in the tribe when he tried to help a stranger injured on the road and in the process of “saving” him, caused howling pain and the spillage of a great deal of blood loss (Origin: “Good deed gone bad”). As a result, he gained some status in the tribe as a vicious warrior. He liked the feeling (Goal: “Recognition”) and decided he couldn’t stop now. He grew over time to fit his reputation, gaining strength, weapons, and brute force methods of damaging his enemies (Method: “Physical might”). But under it all, he’s still the scared little youngling who just wanted to help (Core Emotion: “Insecure”).
How does he interact with the PCs? As a reason for them to gather a posse to destroy his orcish raiding party (Role: “Catalyst”). The vicious orcs under Garag’s leadership have become a huge problem for a local village on the edge of their territory and the PCs have been contracted to take out the threat…
Meanwhile, on the other side of the galaxy, let’s look at Ninuby, an alien from the Omega quadrant who somehow stands to get in the PC’s way on an upcoming mission on the outer worlds. Ninuby was picked on as a kid. Puny, pale blue, and not at all the standard for physical excellence demanded by the hive mind, he was kicked out of the nest and left for dead (Origin: “Childhood trauma”). He barely survived through his wits and was taken in by one of the minor species on his planet. But Ninuby never forgot (Goal: “Revenge”). He grew and explored his new environment, learning through trial and error of the flora his hive avoided like the plague. Nearly dying a time or two, he decided he would use these naturally-occurring elements to destroy the hive from within (Method: “Corruption”). He seeks nothing less than the complete destruction of the people who exiled him to die (Core Emotion: “Devastation”).
How does Ninuby get in the way of the PCs? They’re delivering goods to the hive when Ninuby’s plan goes into action and must stop the attack somehow or be unable to leave again (Role: “Obstacle”). The refueling crew in the hive were among the first to suffer from the strange poison being introduced from the outside world and hive leaders are wondering if the PCs are at fault…
Like all Moebius Adventures supplements, Insta-NPCs #3: Scum and Villainy, Inc. is designed to be system- and genre-neutral. This 8 page PDF includes five tables with examples, a worksheet, some guidance on creating villainous groups, and a small organization you can use right away.
This is the next in a series of short, system-neutral supplements from Moebius Adventures designed to encourage more creative descriptions in your games. Be sure to check out everything else that’s available to stimulate your imagination!