I get it! We all develop our ideas in different manners. I tend to come up with way too many ideas and then have to try to pick the best ones before I forget everything. Others of you can find coming up with NPCs more difficult. Maybe you have great ideas for the big nasty evil guy at the end, but you have more trouble with the more mundane guys.
Every campaign, even the ones with the bare minimum on role-playing, needs to have a couple of mundane NPCs. I’m thinking here mainly of the bartenders, innkeepers, and others that every adventuring party runs into and typically interacts with. How can you make these guys sort of interesting without spending a ton of time on them because it really might not matter? Here’s an easy fix/idea:
Please remember that I’m OLD!! Like ancient! Like married with kids old! OK, so there are some singers who are really good story tellers. Most typically a “story song” is either about one person or maybe a couple, though Lou Reed likes to include a catalog of characters in his. Borrow someone from one of these songs. The two singers I think make this the easiest are Harry Chapin and Jimmy Buffett. Anyone of the songs on Greatest Stories Live or Songs You Know By Heart should easily give you a solid character for your game, and (especially Buffett’s) they do seem to be perfectly designed for bartenders and others around booze.
As always - listen to the songs, but make the characters your own. You only need the songs for inspiration, that spark that gets you going. Unless you’re actually running your campaign on a tropical beach, not every character is going to fit perfectly. With a touch of luck, your players may be way too young to really know this music and will find the characters fun and inventive, having no idea that you borrowed them a bit.
OK - So I feel obligated to throw a commercial in here, but you're now forewarned. If you still need more help with your NPCs, try Character Foundry. Tons of ideas for NPCs and quite a few hints on generating more.