Putting the Character in NPC March 04, 2016 19:46

One of the best perks of being the Narrator for a saga is the ability to play and control all the NPCs the adventuring party will cross paths with. From friendly to hostile, these characters are what make the world feel alive, and players can get a lot of entertainment from interacting with an NPC they like. If you think the idea of coming up with these personalities is daunting, allow me to put those worries to rest. Here are a few tips that you can use if you find you are drawing a blank on an NPC.

Copy and Tweak

One way to generate personalities is to take inspiration from characters you have seen or read. Think about what made them stand out to you, and try to emulate them as best as you can. If you are new to Narrating, this may be a good way to help you become comfortable playing the many personalities your party interacts with. When you do this for a while, you can begin mixing and matching your character inspirations to create some new and interesting personalities.

For example: say you begin taking inspiration from classic literature. You want a clever NPC personality and a passionate NPC personality. You decide to bone up on your reading and emulate Sherlock Holmes for the first character and Victor Frankenstein for the other. As you become more familiar with narrating, maybe you decide to mix the personalities together, combining the cunning of Holmes and the passion of Frankenstein. You now have a new personality to use.

Simplify Yourself

One method of generating character personalities is to reflect on yourself and take a single aspect as inspiration. Are you passionate about painting? Maybe your NPC is an art connoisseur, or an inspired painter full of wonderlust. You might decide your NPC should be passionate about a different kind of art. Maybe you have a strong disgust toward insects, and you really don’t like warm weather. Well now you can take that and create an NPC off that aspect. Once you get the hang of this, you can start using personal aspects that you don’t have. Rather than being disgusted by insects and disliking warm weather, maybe your NPC is disgusted by horses and dislikes dry weather. Using this technique can help in a pinch, while also allowing you to create your own characters as you give them more aspects over time.

Use your Party’s Characters

No, I’m not saying you should take their character sheets and play those characters. What I mean is use your players’ characters as inspiration for your NPC personalities. A good way to make an NPC they will enjoy is to make one that mirrors some of their interests, quirks, or even speaking patterns. On the other side, a good way to make a villain is to make them the opposite of a player character. If one of your players is playing a noble knight determined to prove himself the living ideal of honor, then a good villain would be one that puts up a facade of honor, while acting shady and dishonorably taking the party down. This method can help to generate some interesting NPCs as you try to think in opposition of your party. Of course, it’s all in good fun. No story is complete without a good dose of conflict.

Using these tips you may find your Tephra games are more enjoyable. Go ahead and try experimenting with accents, speech patterns, and word choice. If you have a favorite NPC or two that you have used or seen used in your games, feel free to share them with us down below. I would love to see what you can come up with.