I'm planning a game where there is about a dozen important NPC actors, with some more less important ones. "Important" means that even if they are not directly involved in current events, they play a large role in the world which cannot be discounted and their existence is obvious to anyone in-character.

However, I know that humans count 1-2-3-many and can only focus on 6-7 things on average at the same time. If I introduce a lot of NPCs, at some point my players will be confused who's who and who was that guy again?

I'm looking for technique or paradigm that allows me to marry the ideas of approachable player space and multiple important NPCs.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So the question is on hold, but no feedback is given. Welp. \$\endgroup\$ – eimyr Feb 21 '16 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ The hold reason, "Too Broad," is feedback. Like it says, "There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format." How can we tell which potential answers would work for you? \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Feb 22 '16 at 0:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't say why it's too broad though. I have no idea what exactly makes it too broad, so I can't improve it. \$\endgroup\$ – eimyr Feb 22 '16 at 11:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I can't speak for everyone, but a good solution would probably need to take your players into account, would need to account for the kind of functions your NPCs have in your games, and would need to fit with whatever existing method(s) you use for tracking campaign developments. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Feb 23 '16 at 22:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Too broad" doesn't need much of a why. It's too broad because there are many potential answers. Can you narrow it down? What aspect of "many NPCs" are you having trouble with? Remembering their names, personalities etc? Deciding whose quest to follow? Tracking their relationships with each other? Each of those could be its own, smaller question, which we could give more concise answers to. \$\endgroup\$ – anaximander Apr 7 '16 at 12:02

My experience is that the players will fall in love with a few NPCs and the rest they will quickly forget about. I once ran a campaign in which the player was part of a military unit of 20 people. I wanted them to get to know most of the troop. So to help them keep track of the name I gave them a Visio drawing of the command structure of the unit. Each player had this paper as part of their character sheets, and they kept their own notes on that sheet of paper. This worked out nicely.

Another thing I recently did was that I asked the players to vote for which NPCs they wanted to be more important to the story than they currently was and which ones they wanted to have less focus on. This does not help the players keep track of the NPC, but it allows you to focus on the NPCs the players would like to hear about, and thereby increase their buy in to the story.


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