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As a part of my on-going quest to be a better GM, I am looking for a tool, paper based or digital, that can generate solid NPCs rapidly. These could be used as one shots but I am looking primarily for those NPCs that are in the middle level. Not the big hitter NPCs and not the lowly fire-and-forget NPCs, but those that might happen to re-occur through out the campaign.

I find that my NPCs sometimes take on a generic sameness and I want to force myself to breakout of that.

With this tool I am looking for something that will give me both a minimum level of stats for the NPC, and provide some flavor text also that can assist in role-playing that NPC.

Thanks Group!

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

2e DMG:
On Page 114, there is a sort-of dual table. You can either roll d20, or d% to get general/specific traits.

3.5 DMG:
On page 128, there is a table with 100 traits. I'd suggest rolling once for the "fire and forget", and pick your traits for the Tier 1 villains. Maybe roll a few times.

I don't see any corresponding tables in the 3.0 book. I've never played 4.0, so I can't help you with that either.

On the Internet:
Alternatively, you could use the Character Diamond. After rolling a few values that fit your idea, you should have a pretty fleshed out character. I counted the number of traits, and it was 101. 4 rolls on a d% will get you a pretty interesting character.

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It just occurred to me that 2e has/had about 15 different versions of the core books. The book I have is the one with the wizard casting at a dragon on the cover. – Pulsehead Feb 18 '11 at 13:51
15? Surely you exaggerate. :) I count two, and the only change between them was layout and trade dress, not content. The page numbers did change though, yes. – SevenSidedDie Feb 24 '11 at 0:44
@SevenSidedDie, Ok, maybe a little exaggeration for comedic effect (that probably fell flat). – Pulsehead Feb 24 '11 at 3:13

The Seventh Sanctum has a wide variety of random generators for all sorts of gaming needs, including characters, settings, magic items, etc. The generators only produce descriptions, but for most NPCs, you don't actually need most of their stats, anyways.

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This is great! The descriptions of the Quick Generator are perfect one-line concepts for NPCs that I can stat on the fly. – SevenSidedDie Nov 3 '11 at 17:56

Wizards' site has a character background generator that could give you a good starting point for fleshing out your NPCs. True, it does not provide you stats, but you can easily infer them from the major events it generates and then, in case the NPC proves to be a returning one, fine-tune them in the long run.

The Myth Weavers site also has an interesting NPC generator that does provide you both stats (3.5) and a basic sketch of motivations / personality that you can build upon.

(If these are not to your liking, googling "NPC generator" brings up tons of other possible answers. ;))

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PCGen is a free java-based program.

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PCGen doesn't rapidly create NPCs for you, just gives you a tool to build them yourself. It definitely doesn't randomly generate personalities or roleplaying notes. – SevenSidedDie Jul 5 '12 at 17:58
@SevenSidedDie No, and that's often a feature I wish it had. Maybe I should see about adding it... – C. Ross Jul 9 '12 at 13:21

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