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53230715 No.53230715 [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

So last week I hosted my first custom campaign with my group (we are all fairly new to tabletop) and one of the (many) problems I realized was that none of the npcs had any personality. So my question is how do you guys make your characters memorable?

>> No.53230856

Add a visual quirk (one eye, moustache that covers half the face, a purple bandana, etc.), accents, personality traits (greedy, hates race x, loves hearing stories, can't stand the color yellow), etc.

Make everyone with at least a tiny speck of plot significance distinguish themselves from the rest of NPCs.

>> No.53230898

>1. Start with a clearly defined and memorable trait.
"Bill the barkeep as a knife lodged in the side of his head. He seems not to be bothered by it."
"Bill? Who was that? Oh- yeah... knife-in-the-head. Yeah, i totally remember"
>3. Vary up your initial responses to the players.
"Dude, why do all the shopkeepers hate us? We've never robbed anyone, but they are all just so antagonistic."

>> No.53231094
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The other thing I had trouble with was making their speech anything more than just exposition bots , any advice for this as well?

>> No.53231124

Basically what the other anons said. All you need is a quirk and an attitude and you're good to go. You should be able to summarize your NPC is a single sentence or a couple bullet points. Something like "Wise and kindly centaur with a lame leg," or "Innkeeper: World-weary, slow to open up. Like most things when you DM, if you lay an interesting enough hook, your players will do most of the work for you.

>> No.53231131

This is something you can't account for in creating them, it has to be improvisational.

When the NPC runs into the party, figure out who in the party gives off bad vibes, figure out who they like and why. You need to create constrasts in how they treat the different characters and improvise relevant dialogue

>> No.53231149

Just make characters you want to see.
Consuming a shitton of media and getting inspired by it helps.

>> No.53231421

Your NPCs will be exposition bots most of the time. The thing you do most as a GM is exposit. The key is to make it feel like they're not just giving exposition. This is a simple matter of knowing who is talking to your players and for what reason: the grim noble who is only talking to the PCs because he has no other option will relay the same information differently than the young boy the PCs just rescued. Remember that everyone has biases and rarely does anyone have perfect information; the witness that hates elves will insist the elf suspect is the culprit and might provide a theory indicting the elf that fits with the information he knows, regardless of whether that is truly the case. Finally, don't just info dump. If the players are invested, they will ask questions. The way your NPC responds to these questions will help to further flesh them out.

>> No.53231739
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This is actually pretty helpful. Thanks doc!

>> No.53233898
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I made an interesting observation recently. My favorite NPC's to play (and the most memorable to my players) are the ones i've ripped entirely from other works of fiction, and half the time i didnt even change the name.

Currently doing a Wild West RP, and goddamn do I love playing Thomas Durant from Hell on Wheels. It helps no one in my groups watched the show so they can't call me out on it lol.

(Also playing The Swede is creepy as fuck.)

>> No.53234206

Have the NPC have a history, or at least an idea of their background. Every good NPC can be summed up in one sentence, it's enough to both keep their traits in mind and leave enough space for development further on, should it be neccessary. Also, have characters know or have heard about eachother, introduce new characters and their plots in, but remember to weave back to earlier characters too! Have NPCs comment other NPCs and heroes. Make the game's world a small place, have players go "wait, you guys know eachother?"

some examples from me:
>Very feminine female gnoll that sticks to a gnollish gang leader despite them having been at eachother's throats with knives at one point
>Pragmatic and down to earth Orc lieutenant who, despite being very capable and ambitious has resigned to being an underling
>Blunt, socially awkward scout of a semi-primitive tribe, who has an unhealthy fascination with magic and shamans

for this, you just need to get a good feel for the particular NPC, get in the character and just have them comment and banter, even with other characters. Have the wisecracking urchin get snarky about some vendor's goods, make the NPCs act out and even get in arguments. Though I find that for me it requires some serious focus, when the party has 4+ NPCs.

>> No.53235144

I would argue that having a character history is mostly unnecessary so long as the personality implies a history. For example, the pragmatism and down-to-earth quality of the Orc implies humble roots, the reigned in ambition speaks of some sort of inferiority complex. We're perhaps looking at the middle child of a poor family, desperate to prove himself but ultimately plays it too safe to risk it all for the chance of making it big. While having this background provides a few interesting tidbits and perhaps a few unforeseen character attributes, it does little to fundamentally change what could very well end up being a one-off character. This might be helpful if you aren't very good at improv, but I've always found it easier to start with a personality and work backwards as needed.

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