NPC’s, Choices, and Complications Oh My!
Part 1 Here.
I am ALWAYS looking for a way to improve as a GM. I know I’m a decent GM and my players generally have fun with what I run, but I want to continue to grow and expand in both my story-telling capabilities as well as the challenges, be it monster encounters, traps, puzzles, or whatever, that I put them up against.
I really want to stretch my boundaries this time around.
The last DnD campaign I ran I let each player create an NPC that was important to them, and tell me why. They could be any class, but could not go beyond a level requirement. They also didn’t NEED to have a class. It could be Linda the Barmaid who always has a piece of info for a character, etc.
My players really liked this since they got to create and add something to the world, and it was a person that they made real.
So I’m doing that again.
I’m also going a step further by using a tool that I heard in the Return to Northmoor Podcast (I believe Meta Episode 1 or 2). I have created a list of 12 NPC’s and given a little background personality on the character as well as a tidbit of info that expands on the character.
The players will choose one of these NPC’s and explain why and how this person is important to them (again this doesn’t need to be detailed, nor do I want it to be), what “tension” is in the relationship, and then the player will add another tidbit of info to the character.
The info that they add cannot contradict what I have laid out, and if two players chose the same NPC they must discuss it together so they don’t contradict one another.
I like this mechanic because it is taking something I have created and adding to it and making it theirs. Hopefully I’ll get some good stuff out of this. At the end of this post will be the NPC’s I created. Feel free to use them if you like them
The next piece that I glimmered from the Northmoor Podcast was turning a little bit of the GMing over to the player. It isn’t a HUGE amount of control and it, again, allows the players to take the world and make it theirs.
I have talked to my players and told them that I want mature and serious suggestions. Also no lame cop-outs.
Here’s an example:
You are in a noisy bar with a ruckus crowd. As you and your companions sit around a table drinking and arguing over the days events a man saunters up to the table. *point at a player* This man angers you, with his brazen attitude to dare walk up to your table. Who is he and why does he anger you? Give the player 3-5 min to think, unless they are quick on their feet and go from there.
I really like this mechanic. It still allows the GM to be the GM, but puts the players in the seat of the story crafter, even for a moment. Their creativity gets to shine and will add a whole new layer and dynamic to the game.
Twists and Complications
This is something that Mouseguard really turned me onto and something I will keep utilizing in my Pathfinder Game. I like the idea of offering a complication to the current events or a plot twist when a player fails certain skill checks to keep the plot moving along.
Sometimes I will let the player choose whether it will be a complication or a twist and other times I’ll be the evil DM and choose. MWA HA HA.
Hoosh.. This length of this post is worthy of that Crazy Chattering Canadian. 😉
Next– Action Points– wha?
Here’s those NPC’s
In Reliant Justice:
1. Varyan Hessert (H (Varisian), M, 30, Rogue- lvl 4)- Proud, playful, and strong. Information broker for Reliant Justice. He travels throughout Galt finding out all the info he can about his home. *Varyan has a secret crush on Hannah Wynn. He has cared about her for years but thinks that she couldn’t love a muddy street rat.
2. Elwynn Wayfinder (E, F, 100, Ranger- lvl 3)- Secretive, Anti-social, and lost. Elwynn lost both of her parents and her sister to the angry mobs of Galt when the revolution first started 40 years ago. Since then she has been withdrawn and aloof, but looks for away to unite the land she was born in so no one else suffers. *After the death of her family Elwynn was a prostitute in Isarn, catering to some of the most surviving noble families of the time. She worked for The Bordello, which is still in operation today.
3. Zu-Haajaa (H (Keleshite), F 16, Summoner- lvl 2) Not much is understood about Zu-Haajaa, save that she has been exiled from her homeland and has a burn on her right cheek, that mars an otherwise beautiful face, showing her status within Keleshite territory. What is more strange is Zu-Haajaa’s ability to summon a strange beast from another plane of existence that seems to love and protect her. *Zu-Haajaa doesn’t talk much and nothing is known about her being exiled from the Kelesh Empire. The symbol burned onto her right cheek is from an ancient noble Keleshite dialect, “Heretic, Kill.”
4. Maror the Just (D, M, 44, Paladin- lvl 3)- Maror came to Galt after receiving a vision from Torag to come and protect Armoren Byranthos. Maror is a stout and iron willed dwarf that cannot stand the hedonistic chaos that Galt seems to enjoy so much, but he will follow Armoren Byranthos will, within reason, for he knows Torag has chose him for a special purpose. *Maror is uncomfortable with Zu-Haajaa and her ability to summon a creature from a far plane. He tends to keep her at an arms distance and never actively goes on any sort of mission with her, unless ordered by Armoren Byranthos.
1. Bobkins Odkin (G, M, 76, Sorcerer- lvl 6)- Owns a shop, Tinker Tock, in Isarn that sells oddities from all over Golarion. Bobkins love mischief and is always seen whenever a mob assembles, often times yelling the exact opposite of their chants. Bobkins has been brought before a Final Blade a total of 8 times, but each time he simply fades away while laughing. *It is believed that Bobkins has incited some of the riots that have ripped through Isarn with a well placed spell or simple use of charisma, then sits back and watches. No prove has ever linked him.
2. Hardin Steeltooth (D, M, 60, Barbarian- lvl 4)- Hardin has such a love for metal crafting that he had his teeth covered in steel (Masterwork). He owns a blacksmith, Hardin’s Hard Hitting Hammer, and spends most of his day creating weapons for the various Galt war machines. *Hardin has started a dangerous pit fighting arena underground with Targrak. Both make quite a profit from the venture.
3. Targrak (HO, M, 25, Barbarian- lvl 5)- Targrak leads a group of thugs, called Tooth N’ Nail, through the streets of Isarn. He revels in conflict and the Citizen Constabulary usually gives Targrak a wide birth, although the reason for this is unknown. *It is rumored that Targrak was a slaver from the River Kingdoms and fled to Galt after having a run in with Absolom Mercenaries.
4. Vivian Demmis (H (Taldor), F, 21, Bard- lvl 4)- Vivian has had a hard life. She was abandoned by her parents at a young age and grew up on the streets. Vivian turned to prostitution and other forms of entertainment to survive. She still works as a whore and is one of the enforcers for The Bordello. She also exchanges info with Varyan for a price. *Vivian is best-friends with Elwynn and desires more than just a business arrangement with Varyan. She has considered joining Reliant Justice, but her apathy and love of coin has held her back.
1. Neteela (Drow, F, 135, Ranger- lvl 7)-“Neet the Battle Wench”- Runs the caravan that travels throughout Galt, River Kingdoms, Brevoy, and Taldor. Strong-willed, fair, but quick to flair up and discusses things with her fist and bow. She is famous for her aptitude with a bow, her exotic dark skin, and her giant black dire wolf that never leaves her side. *Neteela is insecure about being a Drow. She was banished from the Underdark for not adhering to the Drow way. She is feared and hated above for what she is. She tends to lash out at anyone who treats her differently.
2. Happen Ankle Biter (Halfling, M, Barbarian, lvl 4)- Happen has long been tortured by people for being small. It is probably due to this he developed such a mean disposition and quick temper. Happen was being hurt by some thugs in the River Kingdoms and was close to death when Neteela came across the scene and saved him. Now Happen serves as main guard escort for Neteela and is one of her closest friends. *Happen is terribly vindictive and will hunt down anyone he feels has wronged him. He has been arrested by various law enforcements in the caravan trading route for excessive force.
1. Hannah Wynn (HE, F, 50, Cleric of Shelyn Church lvl 2)- Young, beautiful, and innocent. Hannah seeks out beauty in the world. She came to Galt after learning of all the creativity that Galt once held. *Hannah has lost her abilities as a cleric recently because she has become disillusioned with all the death and chaos in Galt.
2. Nym Sorrowfield (E, F, 125, Cleric of Calistra, lvl 6)- Also known as the “Mistress of Pain and Pleasure.” Nym is the local priestess of Calisttra and the face of The Bordello, although many believe that someone else runs it from the shadows. Nym is what everyone wants in a woman, and what everyone fears in a person. She is sexy, sensual, and caring, but the next moment she could bury a dagger in your heart without blinking. Many believe that she so embodies the qualities of Calistra, and is so infused with her powers, that she is one of the Gods chosen children. *Many people fear Nym because of her knowledge of the goings on of all the various groups in Galt and Isarn. Some believe that she has an extensive network of spies and assassins around the country and into the other territories.