What is a good way to have NPCs interact with each other without it feeling clunky? Say I want to have 2 or more NPCs be a part of the dialogue with the party as a means to reveal plot to the players. It seems strange to me that NPCs would interact with PCs but not with each other. However, it does come across awkward if a GM is basically talking to himself by having two NPCs exchanging conversation. Is there a way to have NPCs interact without it coming across as awkward?


3 Answers 3


My players are usually so chatty that it's hard for me to get a word in edgewise. Still and all, it has come up occasionally.

I try to make sure each NPC has a distinctive voice. (If I can't, I just pepper it with lots of "Boris says..." and the like.) If the NPCs are part of a larger conversation with the PCs and one NPC needs to respond to something the other said, I just go with it, assuming one or more of the PCs is going to pipe up next.

If, however, it's going to be more than two or three back-and-forth responses, I'll drop back to my "GM Voice" and describe the conversation.

PC1: Can you tell us how to get to Mulberry Street?
NPC1: Jus' take this 'ere street down to the corner and turn left.
NPC2: Oi! Don't send them that way. Ol' Poxxy got stabbed there yesterday!
NPC1: 'E didn't. 'E was jus' havin' you on.

They spend the next several minutes arguing about alternate routes and Poxxy's idea of a joke, but eventually you get some directions that won't leave you totally lost.

If the PCs aren't involved in the conversation, I would simply just describe it.


I would say it depends on what your players want to play.

Do they want more action/adventure oriented play? Then just give a summary of the exchange. This playertype would easily get bored, if you tried to play out a whole conversation. Next thing is that this type of player would like to be the hero, so they want to be part of the conversation (not necessarily but mostly) and not just sitting by.

If, on the other hand, your players are more story/character oriented then play it out. It's a unique opportunity to give characters flavour through choice of words, agitation in speech and voice acting. It needn't to be superior voice acting, but even a french accent can enhance every atmosphere.

If you're planning to go through a whole conversation with your NPCs, it's possible to give hints on how to solve a problem. The players won't get every single one of them, but they needn't to since it should make their life a bit easier and not be the method to solve their problems.
To achieve this you should distinguish your NPCs. Try different pitches for every NPC, different accents, different speech styles so every NPC could be recognized just by talking. If you get the feeling that your players are confused which NPC said what, just throw a bit of "Jim said" in and let it be part of a narrative.

But as stated above the whole procedure depends on the playstyle of you and your players.


In my experience the most fluid way to handle this is to summarize conversation between NPCs:

"Gorlon and Snip exchange glances. It's obvious that they hadn't thought you'd be so stubborn. They start arguing back and forth, with Gorlon adamantly saying they should refuse your offer, and Snip guardedly suggesting that it might be worth accepting. Do you interject, or let them keep arguing?"


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