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46

He's in a booby trapped iron safe. He's safe. He's also trapped. His situation has a number of upsides: He's in an iron safe. The same walls of iron that kept him out, keep everyone else out. If people can attack him through the safe, it's not particularly safe, is it? His situation has a number of downsides: He's in an iron safe, The enemies don't need to ...


44

Start every character with at least one relationship to another character: The blacksmith is opposing the baron and that's why there is a white rose in his window. The apothecary joined the cult of Orcus and will sell poison. The guard is in love with the girl selling apples at the southern market. The beggar hates One-Eyed Tim for destroying his marriage ...


36

You can't quickly create depth. Depth is the result of long-term development. What you can do is create interesting, memorable and dynamic characters who will be more likely to feature in the story long enough and prominently enough to develop depth.Your best bet to develop rich and interesting NPCs is to come up with a lot of simple "NPC seeds" who perform ...


33

An interesting villain has: Motivations for doing what he does. There's this cliche, "nobody thinks of themselves as evil." That's not true for all settings, but I think it is fair to say that very few villains are just evil for the sake of cackling. So you should figure out what's driving your bad guys. Shades of grey. The degree depends, again, on the ...


28

I've been on the receiving end of a bunch of bad negotiations in RPGs. Real life negotiation training helps, but there's also some RPG specific aspects to keep in mind. Often, the problem is that there's some adventure hook that requires the PCs to do something that's totally stupid. "Hi, you're level 10, would you like to go on a fetch quest for 100 gp?" ...


27

There are many reasons why NPCs built as PCs work differently than those built as monsters. 4e is carefully balanced and designed to make encounters interesting, and PC-class NPCs disrupt this design. Some reasons: They have far fewer hit points, but have more ways to regain hit points They do less damage with at-wills and have the potential to do much ...


23

The best approach, I think, is to separate the players and the NPCs by Plot! The NPCs get kidnapped, detained, lost, side-tracked, bogged down, diverted, or called away, but in a way that is meaningful to the players. They are not just “put on a bus” in the TV Tropes lingo, but somehow the plot separates them and reuniting becomes a major ...


21

One quick way to do this is to give them a single defining characteristic. It's easy to remember and record, so you (and the players) will be able to identify them quickly. Stuff like: Sniffles when talks Overly obsequious Nervous Pompous Dictatorial Unassuming Distracted Lecherous etc. Visuals can also work, if you describe the person as having some ...


21

The problem with in-game solutions to out-of-game problems is that the players can as easily catch the whiff of metagaming as the GM can (and there are more of them to "roll Sense Motive"), whether it's actually metagaming or not. If it is an out-of-game problem, them detecting subterfuge by the GM to bring them back in line can make them resentful of the ...


21

Execution is Key This is a cliche because a lot of stories do it. A lot of stories do it because done well, it can add something to the story. Done poorly, it just becomes silly and makes the players feel like they don't really have any impact on what's going on. So, think carefully about what you intend to use her for before bringing her back. Don't do it ...


19

Cut Scene If it is truely a detailed narrative, I consider it a "cut scene" - as made popular by video games - I: Pre-record it, sometimes using family members for other voices Include background music and sound effects Provide a written summary after playing the scene for the group Interactive Fiction If the scene is important has several NPCs and the ...


17

Warn them in-game. Have the PCs overhear chilling stories in a bar about what happened to those who made fun of the sheriff. Have them encounter a man with half of his face badly burnt, and have this burnt man tell them he should never have made that joke about that wizard. Reinforce these stories by showing these unfunny people take a joke very, very ...


17

You can, but you can use other audio quirks too. Quirks define an NPC or a character and if you are sufficiently gifted to be able to impersonate a libertarian communist monkey juggler's voice (or whatever is required) then go for it. The problem is that more than likely unless you're a talented voice actor your array of voices you can do is likely to be ...


16

Actually, the Leadership feat would work well for this. Leadership grants a cohort (a single high level follower) and followers (several low level ones). You could take the cohort and simply never claim the low-level followers.


16

You've already given the answer I would have: summarise conversations between 2+ NPCs. I'd add that summaries can end with or be interspersed with spoken (not summarised) exchanges where the PCs have an opportunity to interject. If the spoken lines are obviously things the players would want to respond to, you don't have to do anything special to prompt ...


16

Creatures' skills are listed at the bottom of their info sheet/card. Creature sheets have ability modifier + half level, which is what you should be using, already calculated at the bottom of the sheet. For example, a level 14 lich necromancer has the following ability stats at the bottom of his/her monster sheet: Skills: Arcana +18, History +18, Insight ...


15

PCs don't have nearly enough HP to deal with a group of PCs attacking them. A L2 rogue can one shot a L2 or even L3 PC of nearly any build. L2 charger thief (vanguard weapon, Light Blade Expertise, Surprising Charge) can do 2d8+3d6+7 dmg (1d8+41 on a crit) with a to hit of +14 (assuming CA) considering that the best L2 PC has an AC of 22 (Knight with +1 ...


14

I like Jared's rule of 3 things. For me, in general, it breaks down like this: Sense Drive Hook Sense: Pick one sense way of describing them...sight is the most common but smell works too and touch is fairly uncommon. Drive: Pick one drive they have, something they want. Hook: One other detail, something you think is cool or something that links them ...


14

Creating an alien mindset is a matter of contrasting them with our own (else what are they "alien" to?), so what informs us? Social – we break down in isolation Tribal – we have a monkeysphere that limits our ability to grasp (or care about!) the scope of our actions' impact Hunted – we are prey who just happen to have brained our way to the top of the ...


14

Ask them if it is what their characters would actually do. You don't have to be heavy handed with this, or warn them of the consequences out of game, but it can often clarify things. Players love to make jokes, and presumably you don't want to take that way from them. By reminding them of the line between player and character, you might help restrict ...


14

As described, I don't think your character actually meets the definition of a GMPC. [The GMPC] starts out an important NPC to travel with the party and fill any missing roles no one else wants to play. It's almost like the GM has a Player Character of his own, thus this concept has come to be known as the GMPC. (emphasis mine) The character you have ...


13

Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium has a section on Hirelings (starting page 136). Page 138 has a table of cost/day for each given level of hireling (from 15 @ level 1 to 125,000 @ level 30); the same page says a Mercenary is the standard Hireling rate x3 (meaning a level 1 Mercenary costs 45gp/day, and a level 30 Mercenary costs 375,000gp/day). The ...


12

For this I like to start in the same place that I approach new cultures in real life. Food! Everything about a culture initially developed around means of supporting the civilization that the culture infests. Usually this is very very very food-centric. Imagine if one of these two cultures you mentioned is focused around grain. They make a lot of bread ...


12

It certainly sounds like you've covered the main points. Here are a few extra considerations to bear in mind: The Council of Primogen. This probably overlaps heavily with "local covenant leaders", but not entirely. Influential clan members are worth considering, and covenants with little local power may not have a representative... or may only have a ...


12

Neither the player inside nor the NPC outside have any line of sight or line of fire. If they don't have magical or psionic means to target him without seeing him, it seems pretty clear that he can neither be attacked nor attack himself. Edit: As the potential owner of said safe, let me say that if you think someone can poke a sword through the cracks at ...


12

You're trying to railroad the game when the players are telling you very loudly where they want the campaign to go instead. Take them there. If the NPCs are boring you, that's a different problem. Be sure you're making NPCs that engage you and not just your players. You have to enjoy the game too. To run an interesting socially-focused game, you might need ...


11

simplest answer: make the player a part of the NPCs creation process. this is a trick I use a lot: I would say "The Baron enters the room" and then I point at one player and say "give me one detail about the Baron", he'll say he's very tall, i point at the second player and say "How can you tell whats his main strength?" and the player would say "you can ...


11

In your particular example, I think you triggered an Ackbar-Alert by having a powerful NPC guy want to know a whole bunch of details about them. If the players get the idea that they're setting themselves up to be at a disadvantage vs a foe, they're never really going to volunteer for things. If you want them to deal with dudes, you need to bend over ...


11

The most important aspect of an NPC is presenting a persona that the players can interact with realistically and consistently. Stats will not do that - they'll help and give you guideance on what a character can and can't do, and for some GMs (and possibly systems, but that's debatable) that is essential - but it's not required. Believe me, I generated ...


11

Typically, this sort of thing is handled by DM fiat. If you want one of your NPCs to craft a magic item, then they can. The whole reason that XP costs for that kind of thing exist is to make it so players don't have an unlimited supply of powerful magic to mess around with, and that's not a problem with NPCs. In addition, specific XP values are very ...



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