Sunday, July 15, 2012

NPC Personalities

I’ve previously described how one time I had too many bad guys and couldn’t keep track of them, so I assigned them all the names of professional wrestlers (they were ogres - so it seemed to fit) and had a much easier time tracking them. Also, the party fought them, ran away, fought them, then was sieged by them in an inn. Using the wrestlers’ personalities made things so much easier, as I simply assigned the personalities to the same guys as had the names. Sweet - easy, great, right? I think the reason this worked for me is that each of the wrestlers is a melee warrior, so they were going to act in a semi-similar fashion. Where this doesn’t work is if you miss the types. The easiest one would be where you intended to overlay the personalities of folks from a comedy show onto NPCs in a more serious situation (or vice-versus). Overlaying Grandpa, Lillian and Eddie Munster onto NPC vampires, is probably a mistake, as is using characters from your favorite cop show to overlay on a squad of bandits. The cops are likely more intelligent and less violent than you want your bandits to be. The tone here really matters, because the tone of the characters you overlay is going to affect the tone of the mission. Here’s some that I think often work: The Four Musketeers, Robin Hood’s Men, Cop show characters for soldiers (where they need to be disciplined and most listen to the boss), and one of the better ones: using soldiers from a war movie for your combatants in game. The whole point of this technique is that #1 - You sort of know what these story characters would do, so you can more easily role-play them, and #2 - Who has time to make up personalities for every soldier your players will come across. Not even if you use my previous Myers/Briggs method. After all, if things go right, these guys will be dead soon, so don’t put your energy into their back story. (Don't worry - This is the last NPC one we're doing for a little while.)

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