A character in an RPG whose decisions and actions are handled by the game-master or a designated assistant. An initialism that stands for "non-player character."

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55
votes
23answers
4k views

How can a GM quickly create interesting, engaging NPCs?

What techniques do people have for coming up with interesting personalities and histories for non-player characters? I'm mostly interested in the GM side of things. I don't want to do a ton of prep. I ...
35
votes
12answers
2k views

How do I create a great fantasy villain that inspires the party to rally against them?

In my early years of GMing it was simple enough to say that the badguys were evil and that was all the justification we needed. They are attacking the village because they are evil, they are stealing ...
34
votes
6answers
1k views

How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight?

One of the assumptions I make as GM is that the players should always be in the spotlight. Sometimes the players find themselves in a situation where they watch NPCs speak to each other. I don't ...
30
votes
6answers
1k views

How can I learn how to negotiate as an NPC?

I'm a new GM in D&D 4e. I've quickly found that I perform very poorly when I'm portraying a negotiation between the PCs and one or more NPCs. Even when they have common ground and could easily ...
21
votes
5answers
574 views

How do I use God as an NPC while being sensitive to players' real-life religious beliefs?

I'm currently running a 3-year long campaign that is coming to an ending in which God is likely to appear as an NPC. Since this is the end of the campaign I won't need to manage it for very long, but ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Please stop giving the town sheriff a noogie!

Related to this question but more closely related to this question. How can I get my PCs to not cause a single or small handful of characters to become the butt of a joke when that humor could easily ...
17
votes
8answers
423 views

What's a good method for making cultures differ?

Just read through a great question (on getting players to play in line with their characters' cultures) and it got me thinking: What do you do to make the cultures in your setting differ? Let's say ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Why shouldn't I use fully statted PC characters as NPC antagonists in D&D 4E?

According to the DMG (187), NPCs in 4e seem to be run as a weird sort of template halfway between a monster and a PC - you don't generate an actual character with a full array of powers and feats. Is ...
15
votes
8answers
3k views

The players focus too much on NPCs and ignore the plot, what do I do?

I'm currently playing a young supers game with friends using Savage Worlds as our favored system. The plot really hyped them, they loved the first allied extras, and with time they asked me for more ...
15
votes
4answers
666 views

How could I have a sidekick/squire in DnD3.5?

In Mutants and Masterminds you can purchase a side kick as a feat. I'm rolling up a knight, and I want a squire, using a similar game mechanic. Is there anything like this in DnD, other than ...
15
votes
7answers
428 views

How to I create material (on the fly) to support plot changes?

In both pre-plotted adventures and more story-telling ones, a lot of situations occur where monsters/npcs/magical items/geography appear, which wasn't thought of beforehand. I.e. I do not have the ...
15
votes
1answer
364 views

What game is this method of NPC generation using playing cards from?

It uses a standard deck of playing cards. Thirteen cultural influences, laws, or taboos are assigned to the ranks of the cards, and the suit determines whether the character is an exemplar of that ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

How to voice an NPC?

As a GM should I put a different voice if, for instance, the NPC is an old sick man, or if it's a kid or even a member of the opposite sex? What advices can you give me to enrich NPC acting?
13
votes
5answers
520 views

Truly alien NPC races

How can I make intelligent NPC races that are truly alien? They need to be: Culturally non-human. They need to be stranger than any sort of human culture that already exists. Rational. Behaving ...
13
votes
9answers
648 views

How do you make a new NPC likable?

The players in my campaign will soon rescue a woman who's been trapped in an awful dimension (think Jumanji, if that helps) for ten years, and bring her home. After 2 sessions, they'll realize that ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

How do I handle large conversations with multiple NPCs?

To begin I've read How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight? but I don't believe that it answer my question, because it focuses more on dialog simply ...
12
votes
3answers
304 views

Are there well-stocked repositories of well-built PCs?

I've searched the Internet many times to no avail attempting to find a good source of well-made PCs for D&D 3.5 (or Pathfinder). Is there one out there? As a DM, when I want to throw in an NPC ...
12
votes
3answers
368 views

Contacts, and how to use them?

I'm starting a 5e shadowrun campaign for the first time and running into some issue with what I've read on how contacts function. Basically, I'm trying to find out how to leverage the contacts of ...
11
votes
7answers
320 views

Cameo Characters?

There are some good books in the Forgotten Realms library. Do you use cameo characters form these books? If so how do you balance them with your campaign? I know there was a campaign that came with ...
11
votes
2answers
482 views

Reducing a monster below CR 1

There are many instances in Pathfinder and other 3.5 based systems when you might need to reduce a monster below 1 or 1/2. For example, if I'm using a CR 1/2 monster from a 3.5 source in Pathfinder, ...
11
votes
2answers
441 views

Tips for keeping track of NPC stats and conditions

Is there a good paper based solution to keep track of NPC stats so they are avaliable when you need them in-game but don't take hours to keep up to date? I have a bunch of NPC notes and lists of ...
11
votes
4answers
356 views

How do I make a large organization of villains memorable or likeable?

I'm currently preparing a levels 1–30 D&D 4e campaign based on the .hack// games, where players become trapped inside an online game where a sentient program plans to become God. My main ...
10
votes
10answers
1k views

How to use a GMPC for the good of the campaign?

I find myself prone to creating GMPCs. For the unfamiliar, a GMPC is an NPC that the GM has a special fondness for, much like a "Mary Sue" in fiction. They are often overpowered, have plot armour, a ...
10
votes
2answers
398 views

One-sentence NPCs

A while ago ChattyDM and someone else ran a couple contests where people submitted one-line NPCs. The collection of submissions was free to download, but now that I want to use it my google-fu has ...
10
votes
1answer
500 views

Are there any guidelines or samples for creating Henchmen or Villains?

Going over the Game Master's Guide for 7th Sea, I can't find any information on creating henchmen and villain NPCs (other than the villain-specific arcana, and the special damage rules for henchmen). ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it a bad idea to steal characters from other media?

Sometimes I need a character type, say a lawyer and I start thinking about lawyers I know from TV or movies, like Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad. I have this general urge to just straight up rip the ...
9
votes
6answers
423 views

Can the GM give control over a support NPC to the players?

If there was a group with only 2 characters, and an NPC with a missing skill set was presented, would it be feasible at all for a player/the players to control the NPC in question, or should this only ...
9
votes
3answers
468 views

Should I give skills and full stats to NPCs?

Some friends have asked me to master a game for the first time. We are going to play All Flesh Must Be Eaten (It's fun, easy and rules are not as important as actual roleplaying). I have created the ...
9
votes
1answer
213 views

Where are a monster's skills?

If you grab a goblin for example, and the goblin test to escape it says to have it make an acrobatics or athletics check but I can't seem to find where it says there skills? Any help?
9
votes
2answers
313 views

How to convert a Pathfinder NPC to D&D 5th edition?

In trying to convert Rise of the Runelords for an upcoming 5th edition game. Monsters I'm simply going to swap out with the equivalents in the Monster Manual, but are there any guides for converting ...
9
votes
6answers
708 views

Tools for tracking NPC/PC relationships and attitudes

I have always had difficulty keeping track of NPCs, their attitudes and their relationships with each other and the PCs. I find relationship webs/diagrams are helpful, but find them difficult to keep ...
8
votes
2answers
380 views

Do birds cry? Or, how to play interactions with intelligent non-humanoid beings

Currently I have a campaign where the highly capable antagonist has a weak spot: A very beautiful, highly intelligent, jocund and unfortunately pretty spoiled raven which is also able to speak. The ...
8
votes
1answer
390 views

Mechanically, how do I prepare a village of not-quite-vampire-thrall monk NPCs?

What I need I need to build one or more NPC character sheets, or cards, for the monk/ninjas in a fortified mountain monastery whose order was (and still is) founded by an ancient vampire lord, who is ...
8
votes
1answer
292 views

Does No-Key the Mushroom King appear in any Exalted 2nd Ed Sourcebooks?

No-Key the Mushroom King was originally a canon NPC from 1st edition Exalted in the book Creatures of the Wild; notably, he was the only person to have defeated Octavian the Living Tower (a 2nd Circle ...
7
votes
3answers
816 views

How much would it cost to hire mercenaries for a couple days?

My team has been tasked with defending a high value target on a lightning rail train. They're fairly certain that the train will be hit hard and are considering hiring mercenaries to flesh out the ...
7
votes
6answers
313 views

How do you come up with attribute values and skills for your NPCs [on hold]

I have been playing PnP for some years now and also had one session GMing (my first) and I discovered that my biggest problem wasn't creating a world, inventing scenes or reacting fast if my players ...
7
votes
4answers
270 views

How to create meaningful relationships with NPCs

How do I help the PCs to create meaningful relationships with NPCs? Maybe it is a result of my group playing too many one-dimensional adventures trying to find whatever MacGuffin they are after each ...
6
votes
10answers
2k views

Is bringing a major villain back from the dead a bad idea? [closed]

I have a major villain that the players killed a long time ago* in a previous campaign. Is it too clichéd to bringing her back? Is there anything I should avoid if I do so? Is it just lazy? I am ...
6
votes
3answers
775 views

Should I give my players the stats of the NPCs they control?

I'm running a game of Savage Worlds in which my players, as seems to be the norm in the system, end up in command of a group of human and kobold soldiers. As with most things in Savage Worlds I want ...
6
votes
2answers
602 views

How much XP do monsters or NPCs have for spending on spells and item creation?

How much experience do monsters, NPCs or other generated creatures have for the use of spells and item creation? When a demon uses wish, how does it spend XP, and from what pool does it draw on? Is ...
6
votes
1answer
226 views

What is commonly known about Bruenor Battlehammer?

My Fighter is a proud Dwarf from the Mithral Halls. He is a history buff, with proficiency in history, a personality trait of "I know all the stories," and a perfectly healthy obsession with the ...
6
votes
1answer
478 views

How can I create more compelling villains? [closed]

A consistent issue with the games that I've run comes through with villain characters. Not just at the end of an adventure, but overarching villains; movers and shakers of the world. I notice that I ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Armour rating inside an iron safe

In one of my games, a character has inadvertantly locked themself in a booby-trapped iron safe. When the safe sprang-shut it triggered an alarm to summon NPCs that try to attack the player. The ...
5
votes
3answers
338 views

How to reveal plot hooks & other information when NPCs' survival depends on secrecy?

I think that these two problems have a common element that's not being addressed in their answers. The things that the PCs are pursuing basically exist as part of secret societies, in which divulging ...
5
votes
2answers
196 views

Do NPCs understand target priority strategy? [closed]

Most everyone agrees that the strategy of attacking "the squishies" first in a combat scenario is generally the best idea, except in some specific exceptions. Often, then, the decision on whether or ...
5
votes
3answers
154 views

Should Savage World Allies be made as Wild Cards?

I've been reading the basic manual on Allies and Extras, and it seems it's intended for such characters to work as non-wild card characters. I'm playing a Super Powers game with friends, and they ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

How much experience should a vampire of a given age have?

I'm creating a setting for a Kindred of the East chronicle and I'm not sure how many discipline points or virtues characters should have. There was an old trick in V:tM that consisted in giving an ...
5
votes
2answers
257 views

Will using NPCs as allies overshadow my PCs?

As I was working on my D&D 4e campaign, I created a few NPCs to connect with my players, some of them intended as travelling companions of the PCs. Their backstories and knowledge hook into the ...
5
votes
1answer
367 views

How do I handle a PC - NPC?

In my online game, it's often hard for me to handle NPCs with the loads of characters we have so sometimes I ask or a player volunteers to play some of them. The issue is though, that one player ...
5
votes
1answer
91 views

What stats should King Wolf have?

Some PC's in my game may possibly be going to pick a Fight with King Wolf of Ussuran legend (from Nations of Theah #7: Ussura). While not expressly impossible for them to win, I have about 4 ...