November 20, 2003

Game WISH 71: NPCS Unwritten

Ginger asks: (taking up the one that Arref posted during Ginger's break):

For GMs : when you plan or play your NPCs, do you intentionally leave out some of the story for each? Do you hold something back and let the Players imagine the rest or do you present NPCs from the core of who they are? Is time a factor�a short game or one-shot not allowing much character depth? Does NPC expertise shine through? Or are there character foibles that cloud the better qualities of the NPC? Are there short-cuts to get this across?
For Players : Do you rely on the NPC as presented, or are you usually looking �between the lines� to figure the elements that are hold-backs? Do you care that the NPCs might have as many conflicted qualities as the PCs? Should a game really revolve around the PCs in every respect, including a certain �artificial� quality to the secondary cast? Or are you happier if the NPCs are �sticky�?

Gming first.

I am of several minds about NPCs. I love to have realized, fully imagined NPCs, with story and goals of their own, sometimes not even what I quite imagine. And I love it when a player picks up on things and adds to the NPC's story. "Oh, yes, Noys and I went to such and such a shadow once."

On the other hand, however, I have a rule. "When in doubt, let the PC do it."

With my penchant for NPCs being as fully functional as they are, there is a temptation, a danger, in having them do TOO much. To be too ubiquituous, too useful, to the deteriment of the PCs.

This is NOT fun. No one wants a game where they watch NPCs do everything. Sure, NPCs will be a part of the major threads, but I don't want them to dominate them completely. Especially when it comes to those NPCs who are "larger than life", say, Lorius. He loves being a center of attention, almost too much.

And I purposefully stopped a major plot thread in Rebma dead in its tracks until I could have someone create a Rebman PC to interact and be part of it. Similarly, some other threads outside of Amber and Chaos are awaiting the spotlight of a PC or three to make them fully functional and known, and real.

The Players make this game, and I will, if I have to, somewhat mute the NPCs if they dominate the game too much.

Posted by Jvstin at November 20, 2003 3:28 PM