Monday, August 23, 2010

NPCs as Artifacts

What if we wrote up and shared NPCs in a way similar to the way 1st edition AD&D handled artifacts?

Instead of long backstories, you would be limited to a paragraph, two at most, describing the person. Then certain strengths or weaknesses would be left up to the DM. Maybe the "powers" would be something like Minor Weakness, Minor Strength, etc. Or, maybe Flaws, Vices, or Quirks?

Hmm, not sure, seems like what's interesting about characters is their specific strengths and weaknesses. "Frail, albino noble with a soul sucking sword" is pretty explicit isn't it? Maybe what "frail" means or how soul-sucking would work mechanically would be left to the DM?


  1. Thanks all.

    @Matthew: I had that and loved looking over the npcs, but I don't remember it explicitly leaving room for DM customization.

    @Jeff: From a man of you ideas, that means a lot thanks.

    @zak: an honor, sir.

  2. I'd been thinking of something similar, in terms of scalable NPCs, so I wrote it up.

    Not quite what you mean here, though. Can't wait to see people's responses.

  3. Random thought: Why not come up with some NPC seeds like that one, based on classic characters, and see what they can be transmuted into? "Frail, albino noble with a soul sucking sword", while intended to be Elric, I assume, is not so explicit that it means you'll get Elric every time you use that as a seed for an NPC. I could just as easily make him a sickly minor noble who is using a cursed sword as a means to assassinate the soon-to-be crowned king (drawing a ceremonial sword is part of the coronation). It's just an idea.

  4. @Chris: Thanks! If you just give DM's the interesting bits-- Phillip the Culler likes himself some sickles-- seems they could decide how effective he was at using them.

    @William: Great idea! A while back, I had a post about one sentence monsters meant to be a constraint to help DM's generate. I think you could do the same for npcs.

    If you can intrigue me in one sentence, it's gotta be good. :)

  5. I'm in. I'll get you 10 this week. Is that a good number? What's your target?