I'm a first-time GM using the Fate Core system. I got into RPGs to help me work on my storytelling while having fun with my friends, so I've been GMing a homebrew campaign for about a year now. Unfortunately, my players also happen to be my friends who I usually talk to about my storytelling, so I've had little to no feedback on my campaign outside of a few other friends who I'm not as close with. Despite this, I think it's going pretty well so far.
However, I've recently run into a bit of a roadblock. There are too many NPCs in my campaign. My campaign is intended to be short (the only reason it's been going for so long is because we don't have much opportunity to meet up for game sessions), and is also very focused. There are about four plot arcs and a finale with intermissions (we're currently on arc three). My story is also set in a pretty unusual world (it's basically the afterlife with a few twists and turns), and without going into much detail, basically there's an overarching plot with characters that connect each arc and will be prominent in the finale.
My issue is that I've introduced too many NPCs that connect the arcs. It makes them difficult to get rid of easily. The nature of my world also makes it virtually impossible to kill them (again, afterlife), and it would feel too unnatural to put them on a bus, especially because the BBEG is a major threat and kind of a nutcase, so anyone with the ability to stop him would naturally want to. This is combined with the fact that most of my NPCs are very strong-willed, capable people (as I have an ongoing theme in the story about resisting oppressive power systems).
I don't want the campaign to feel cluttered with too many NPCs. As a storyteller, the idea of having characters who have no reason to be there irks me, but I can't exactly edit them out of the story since they've already been introduced. It's making it hard to keep track of the story and tell it coherently, and I'm worried in the future the amount of NPCs will cause my players to be confused and that they'll have a lack of emotional investment.
As I see it have a couple options:
- Find a way to take them out of the story. This will be difficult considering the setting.
- Give them a purpose so they don't feel like they're there for no reason, without making the story too cluttered with unnecessary plot points. The story is already pretty expansive, especially for a first-time GM, so I'm hesitant about this.
- Let them naturally fade into the background by not mentioning them/giving them anything to do. Basically they still exist in the narrative and are technically opposing the BBEG but really they're just wallpaper. Would probably be unnatural as they have pretty strong/prominent personalities.
Which of these options would be the most natural/least jarring for my players? And how would I do it? Or am I missing another option entirely?