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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 ...


41

Start every character with at least one relation. 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 to Lilly Hill twenty years ...


33

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 ...


26

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?" ...


26

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 ...


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 ...


20

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


13

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 ...


13

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 ...


13

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 ...


13

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 ...


13

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


10

Start with the many characters and actors of film, television, and literature. Take a trait from each of several, whatever strikes your fancy, combining them into a new person. It helps to start by listing names and 3 or more distinctive features, such as voices, famous roles, etc. If you are afraid the party might recognize Ellen DeGeneres or Christopher ...


10

First of all, I found that there are two types of NPCs: throw-aways and reoccurring. I usually don't sweat it too much on throw-aways because they aren't going to come up again. They'll probably be given one standout trait that is fairly superficial, such as a lisp or an intense love of rabbits. Then they are gone. Reoccurring NPCs require some more effort. ...


10

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 ...


10

"Like" can take a number of forms, each of which can be achieved in a different way. One of the most reliable ways to get the players to like/respect an NPC is trust. Set up multiple scenarios where the NPC takes a big risk in trusting the players and having it payoff, and vice versa. This is the classic, "I got your back" situation, used very frequently ...


10

Looking in the compendium, there do not seem to be rules for this. That said, if you're running Eberron, you might take a peek in the campaign book and see if there is something more specific to the setting. However, there are rules for pocket change and how much a major and minor purchase might cost that are pegged to the level of the character. In ...


9

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 ...


9

It can be fun, for sure, but when doing this you have to be careful, and remember that in the books those characters may be the stars, but in your game it's the PCs who are the main characters and the stars. It becomes even more tempting than ever to run the game for your NPCs instead of for your PCs when the NPCs are popular literary characters.


9

You can base them on existing cultures that you're familiar with. For example, southern China, western Africa, and northern Argentina have vaguely similar climates (very vaguely!), but radically different cultures. You probably don't want adjacent cultures to be quite that different. Alternatively, pick different choices for: Hair style. (Short hair or ...


9

Short answer: Never do it on the fly, unless you're experienced. As you're new to GMing, the best thing you can do right now is prepare. Take all the time you need to find abilities, skills, spells, gear and whatever else you need for your NPC's before the session. Build them in a believable, solid manner (and don't forget to name them all! :D ) As far as ...


9

I believe the most effective approach to this would be to build your species from the ground up. When you try to make something "sufficiently alien", you are implicitly starting with humans as your baseline and making variations to that theme until it is different enough to meet your criteria. While this approach may work, it's usually not very effective ...



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