From the last post, you’ll see that my campaign uses urban settings a lot. Many of the NPCs are developed and the PCs all have a decent idea of what is going on in the city, if not the world. At first, this was mainly to help me come up with semi-believable characters that would later be used in published content. After all, if we were playing in the city a lot, I would develop more characters and businesses and more importantly, inter-action between them. Think about your city/setting. I’ll bet you have more developed then you think.
Why does this matter? Because coming up with ideas can be tough. We’ve published Forge of Imagination and Character Foundry to help you come up with plot ideas and character ideas, and people buy them because often all you really need is the spark of an idea. Here’s how it all ties: Need a plot device, but you’re blocked? Think of a character in your setting/world that you haven’t used for a while, then advance their story. Did the party help a baron recover his kidnapped daughter? Maybe the baron needs more help, or the daughter is about to be married, or the daughter has her own daughter now and that princess was kidnapped. Does the party always hang out at a particular bar where they know the owner and bartenders? Maybe the brewery that supplies them needs help. Maybe the owner has come into a treasure map. OK - This probably sounds really difficult, like these ideas are no easier to come up with than any others, but they are, because you have some idea of who these NPCs are and what they care about.
Recent update in my campaign world - One of the top weapons trainers (a gladiatorial coach) hasn’t been used in a while, but had been an every week part of the campaign. OK, here’s a former slave who won his freedom and now trains freemen to fight, either in the arenas or on adventures. How to advance him? Well, he’s single, so let’s get him a wife. Where is he going to meet chicks? Well, he buys one. That part was pretty easy. I had a character; what was the next stage of his life cycle? OK, so now what? Well, I just added a slave woman to the city, and she needs a back story. Slave back stories aren’t that tough to develop. So, eventually he learns her language and learns that she was taken from her homeland and was separated from her child. He actually cares for his slave wife and wants to help her find her child, so he wants the party to help him. Would I have thought - let’s go after slavers in order to save a child? Probably not, but simply by advancing one seemingly forgotten NPC, I got a spark.
So, what’s new in the lives of the kings, merchants, innkeepers, captains, miners, bandits, priests, and healers in your world? Anything new there that could make for a cool adventure? It doesn’t have to be an ally’s life you’re advancing. What about the villains? Did any get away? Want to give any of them younger brothers who are out for revenge? You already spent the time creating these characters, why not make use of that effort and use them again. Besides, reusing NCs makes the campaign stronger, or at least more coherent.