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/tg/ - Traditional Games


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[ERROR] No.50176020 [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

Assume you have three or four players. In the introductory session, where everyone is still getting used to one another, how many important NPCs do you introduce? How many more NPCs than that do you have prepared?

I have a pretty good idea of major plot points (in a relatively sandbox way, letting the players' actions dictate where the story ultimately heads) and there are potentially tons of characters I could include, but I want to avoid information overload. On the other hand, I don't want it to seem like they only have one lifeline early on - so over the course of the first session or two I want it to be fairly clear that they have options as far as who to make friends with and who they can ignore or antagonize.

Other DM advice questions welcome. This is just the one that is on my mind.

>> No.50176068

My campaign is set in a homemade Pokemon world, but I can't imagine that affecting this particular aspect of prep outside of making sure I know what pokemon they have. They'd still be characters in and of themselves I'd have to make interesting.

It's also worth noting that all of my players are seasoned RPG players, mostly in the context of DnD 3.5 with a splash of 5e. One is mildly autistic about reading up on new systems and talking about them, which honestly is kinda nice cause I get a better perspective on the hobby as a whole that way.

>> No.50176279

bump in the hopes of attracting some attention

>> No.50176353

>>50176020
I tend to i troduce one or two important NPCs in the opening session, then have more trickle in over time. If the party travels, have a new face or two to get them involved with the next town/quest/caravan etc.

>> No.50176407

>>50176353
Do you ever introduce major NPCs before they become important? It's something that comes up sometimes in TV shows and whatnot, and it seems kinda cool, but it also seems like it could fall under the umbrella of "shit that only sounds cool to the DM" if done poorly. I just don't know if it can be done well. Thoughts?

>> No.50176414

>>50176353
Is about what I do. Generally, I give them two-three major NPCs. In an arena, this might be something akin to a Handler, a Trainer, and maybe a scheduler.

>>50176020
This more depends on groups, I've found. Some groups just sort of say, "Let's go do shit" and take no time getting to know each-other, allowing 3-4 NPCs and plenty of hooks to be introduced.

Others take time getting a feel for each-other, and enjoy the process of learning of one another and the fun associated.

>>50176068
Though given that they are all veterans, I have a feeling they'll probably get their shit together pretty quick and want to do stuff. So 2-3 major NPCs if you will. Likely they'll want to survey all the options, and even if they don't, you still have the extra options for later.

>> No.50176419

>>50176020
Star with an intro blurb, and give them a clear objective during it. Don't worry about railroading the very first session, and don't try to sandbox it (you're at an inn, what do?). Introduce one major NPC as a quest giver. Someone who hired them for the job that brought them all together. And explain their travel to that locale, which is why they're all together.

Think of it like a TV series. Episode 1 might introduce characters and concept important to the story arch. But it's still just a monster of the week.

>> No.50176437

>>50176020

If your players haven't made your characters yet I'd recommend having two of them share a background to help the role play.

This early in the campaign you don't need to worry too much. Create a few NPCs (2 ot 3) and maybe a couple more to throw in randomly if your players run off somewhere unexpected. Having the bare bones for a town ready just incase is also a good shout.

The best way to avoid info overload is to take your time with the story. Keep the first quests simple "oh lord a pack of goblins have stolen my prize winning goat" or something. Slowly build up a background story then bring in NPCs to hook them "I'm a wizard from the big city, the goblins have been sacrificing goats to summon their new god blah blah blah"

How your players deal with NPCs is rarely something you can predict. They might loathe one you meant to be quirky and absolutely love one just because you gave it a sort of irish accent.


Regardless, always make notes of NPCs players encounter. Especially if they're random ones you make up on the fly. Otherwise you will forget all about them in less than five minutes.

>> No.50176529

>>50176414
Yeah, I'm not too worried about over-preparation, since I can always use anything we didn't get to later, or even repurpose it depending on how things fall out.

>>50176419
I guess I've been on the bad end of a bad railroad, so maybe I'm too gun-shy of even temporary railroading for the first session. I'll keep that in mind and make sure I provide some hard direction for them to follow at the beginning.

>>50176437
I've talked to them about the characters they want to make, and we'll have a session zero where we actually work out the nuts of bolts of how they know each other. I want them all to have background with each other at least to some extent, and I'm pretty confident that these particular players can pull that off.

Notes notes notes notes I'm prepared for that. I went through too much school not to have figured out a little about taking notes so I don't have to remember everything all at once. I'm still undecided on whether to do notecards, digital notes, or both, but that's something I think I have to figure out for myself. Physically writing stuff down commits it to memory better, but digital records are much easier to keep track of if you're organized.

>> No.50176531

How do I make puzzles that don't immediately stump my players?
I think I might be bad at communicating the solution, but I don't want to spoonfeed them.
I also want them to actually think rather than 'you beat the skeleton get 50 XP'.

>> No.50176542

>>50176020
My players have a habit if collecting NPCs they like, so I tend to introduce them rapidly and in great numbers.

They like crew/team/base management as well, so I accommodate by having the NPCs they collect act as a sort of support structure for them.

>> No.50176584

>>50176531
Try to create puzzles that have a variety of solutions, and try to be open to methods that only might work, but sound cool. The goal is to get them thinking, not to get them thinking exactly like you. If they completely circumvent a complicated puzzle you put together in an unexpected way, let them - just also try to consider if circumventing it gets them additional advantages or disadvantages. I skipped an entire dungeon and went straight to a boss fight because I had my character lie about their intention to have sex with said boss. I suspect, though, that because of how things played out, I inadvertently made the boss fight itself significantly harder than it would've been. It was pretty messy, all things considered.

>> No.50176599

>>50176542
I hope they don't want crew or base management. It always seems like such a chore to me, at least as a player. Oh well. If it's something they want, I'll have to learn how to handle that down the road. That said, since I'm running a Pokemon campaign, I'm sure just keeping track of their own Pokemon should scratch that itch enough, at least early on.

>> No.50176633

>>50176531
puzzles are never an easy thing to work out from scratch. Look online for some premade stuff and adapt them for your players at first to give you an idea of how to set up and explain it to them. But be prepared for them to spend the better part of 20 mins on one some times.

>>50176529
play the notes part by ear. That comes down to more your personal play style so don't put too much pressure on yourself to commit to one method.

Do you have any other questions?

>> No.50176645

>>50176599
Probably, yeah. I doubt you'll run into it, but personally I enjoy it because I'm all about character interaction. I'll throw my plot under a bus if it means I get to write fun back-and-forth between NPCs and PCs, or read good party banter between the PCs alone.

>> No.50176666

>>50176645
>good party banter between the PCs alone
Party banter is THE BEST. Especially when it's clever.

>> No.50176673

>>50176633
We'll see how the notes play out. I am likely to play via Roll20, since one of the players lives several hours away, so digital might end up being the easiest solution anyway.

>>50176645
I can say I like character interaction, so maybe I just haven't gotten the right outlook on having tons of NPCs around. If it comes up, I'll make sure to do my best to figure out how to make it happen right.

>> No.50176677

>>50176529
>I've talked to them about the characters they want to make, and we'll have a session zero where we actually work out the nuts of bolts of how they know each other. I want them all to have background with each other at least to some extent, and I'm pretty confident that these particular players can pull that off.
Isssssshhhhh.

This isn't where D&D shines. Create characters together for sure. But backgrounds? If it gets longer than four sentences, you're in trouble.

>> No.50176707

How do I stop being a Monty Haul bitch and give my players a real challenge?
I mean, it's not even that they don't like being challenged, I'm just afraid that I'll curbtomp them instead of testing their might, and I don't want to have to chicken out halfway through because it would be a TPK that would piss everyone off.

>> No.50176708

>>50176407
It depends on how good you are with your NPCs. Introducing an NPC, having the players start to like that NPC, and then having the NPC come to become important is very, very satisfying, but it needs the players to actually care about the NPC beforehand, otherwise the reaction will be the players either not caring, or just not remembering who the NPC was in the first place.

>> No.50176746

>>50176666
I honestly have fun just watching heroic personalities interacting with each other. I enjoy nuance and strong characterisation, even if it's not exactly repartee, though repartee is also good.

My players recently looted a bunch of stuff from a derailed supply train, and I got immense satisfaction from a simple conversation in which three of the party members sat down at the bar they own, took inventory of the loot they had obtained, and then allocated it all to various projects they have on the go. It wasn't a particularly interesting topic, but they're playing interesting characters and personally, I find that's enough to carry a game by itself. I contributed a bit with an NPC who they collected to run the bar, who was taking some notes and making off-hand suggestions every once in a while, but by and large I didn't do anything but observe for most of two hours.

>> No.50176753

>>50176677
That's a fair objection, but the players have all played with each other and I'm not actually doing DnD with them, it's a different system. Also, I'm not looking to get novels from them - just characterization stuff, strengths and flaws, how they know and feel about each other. It'll take some dedicated time but this particular aspect isn't something I'm worried about.

>> No.50176773

>>50176746
This actually raises something I've always wondered. How do you make more of the moment-to-moment stuff matter to the players? Time skips make me feel really disjointed from the story - stuff like "Your journey takes ten days which... let me roll... nothing happens on! Anyone want to RP things?" just pulls me out of the story. I know some of this is on the players to engage, but what can I do as a DM to minimize time jumps? Truly inconsequential encounters are also something that seem like they'd wear on you after a while.

>> No.50176784

>>50176708
I'll take this into account. I feel like I can do an alright job with it, but I won't push it if it doesn't seem like it's working. Reuse and recycle concepts and all that.

>> No.50176878

>>50176773
Well, I generally have a plot-focus during the game sessions themselves, but I often run side-sessions which are just 1-3 players doing the day-to-day stuff, spitballing ideas, discussing setting politics or recent events, investigating or researching things, yada yada yada.

A lot of it is retroactive, a five day trip where nothing happened is filled with events that took place during those five days in-game, but happened a week later out of game.

However, I can understand that due to scheduling limitations this might not be a viable way of doing things, and I am fortunate enough to have players who genuinely care about both their characters and the setting, up to and including the more mundane activities. It's something you have to work to encourage, I guess? I don't really know how to explain it very well, sorry.

>> No.50176926

>>50176878
It's alright, I kinda get it. I am hopeful that all my players are invested in their characters and in the world, cause that makes so much of all this prep stuff easier. I think most of them will be, and there's really only one I'm concerned about not being fully engaged, but I'm hoping for him that the subject material (being Pokemon) will bridge that gap. We'll see - and if it comes to it, I'm sure I'll show up in threads here down the road asking the same old questions of how to tactfully tell someone they're the problem (and getting replies informing me that I'm probably the real issue). Until then, though, I guess I will just have to wait and see.

>> No.50177732

Anyone else got anything?

>> No.50178652

>>50177732
here read this, it should help in regards to sandbox campaigns/adventures and the dreaded railroad..

>> No.50178682

>>50177732
also this should be a little useful. I too hope to run a game one day, partly because I want to, partly because im hoping if I get people interested in a game/system that I can use my ideas as a player

>> No.50178993

>>50178652
>>50178682
Even just glancing over both of these just now, I think both are going to very helpful. Thank you very much anon!

>> No.50179100

>>50178652
>>50178682
And having given both one honest read, I really really like how it's laid out. These are getting saved and passed on when I run into this topic in the future. It's also a little affirming - this particular campaign I've been worried about how I'm going to put all the pieces together, but after reading, I realize I basically have just put together a rudimentary set of islands in my head and just need to focus those islands into the plot points I want. I'm feeling considerably more confident about this campaign now.

>> No.50179448

>>50178993
>>50179100
well im gald I could help, even if its just a little. ill see if I have anymore hiding and if I do ill post them.

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