Friday, September 22, 2017

NPC Interaction Bingo

I’ve long been interested in taking existing parlor games and absorbing them into D&D.  The idea is that if the game has existed forever as something people do to have fun. then why not leverage that fun into D&D, instead of always having to come up with mini-games and mechanics from whole cloth.

For example, I have an idea for using Yahtzee for a one-page Thieves' Guild (Hopefully more on that later).  But here is an idea of how to make NPC interactions more interesting for all players, not just those that are the most talkative and confident:
  • Give each player a bingo card with spaces that correspond to things an NPC is likely to do or say in a conversation.
  • Getting a “bingo” would mean that player could either ask a single question that would be answered truthfully, or ask a favor that the NPC will do their best to perform.
The mini-game is meant to portray a character paying close attention to a person speaking and interacting with their comrades, and then leveraging a weakness or some bit of insight they noticed to gain an advantage.  The player can role-play a bit what that looks like “You keep dancing around this, but I get a feeling someone told you not to help us, who was it?”, and the DM can role-play out what the response might look like, “I’m so sorry, Count Ris said he would burn my inn down if he found you had stayed here.”

Player with a high charisma should get a bonus of some sort, maybe a free square of their choice— which would add some strategy— maybe cover a spot less likely to come up in a conversation or put just put it in the middle to make “bingos” easier to get.

So, now I need to come up with the cards.  What should I fill the blanks with?  I was thinking “Mentions a person you haven’t heard of,” “Mentions a place you’ve never been to.”  But what else?

What I’m noticing now is that this would lead to not just passively listening to a NPC talking, but a player trying to maneuver them into doing things that would fill their bingo card.  So, for example, asking them where they grew up in hopes of having them mention a place the players have never been to.  That’s cool, because if the bingo cards are different enough, it should tend to draw all the players into the conversation; each participating to try and hit their different bingo spaces.

Other possible spaces:
offers an excuse
makes a threat
mentions a person they dislike
begs or pleads for something
snitches on someone

How about you, what are typical things that happen in NPC interactions that we could fill the bingo card spaces with?