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The Douchey DM » Entries tagged with "npcs"

People, Places (and later, Plans)

Tweet I’m currently running two games and have a convention coming up (where I’m also running two one-shots), so it’s no surprise that game prep has been at the forefront of my mind. The way I see it, my game preparation has three areas of concentration: people, places and plans. I’ll talk about about the first two this time around and the last one later. People (NPCs) This should be the primary concern of every GM. Your players have created characters with (hopefully) interesting backstories, motives, hopes and dreams. They deserve interesting people to interact with. I always try to start with motivations when it comes to NPCs. If I know what they want out of life (both short-term and long-term) I know how they’ll react in most situations. I also try to get an … Read entire article »

Filed under: Adventure Design, Inspiration

PC Back Story Example

Tweet A little more on PC backstories. I like them short, concise and packed with ideas. To illustrate, I’ll give you an example backstory for a cosmic horror PC. The son of a respected professor father from a prestigious university and a renown physician mother, Dr. Arthur Stillman lived a comfortable life, attending the best schools and universities. After finishing his post graduate work, he struggled finding employment until he received a position at Rhinefall University in west Pennsylvania as a professor of parapsychology. While respected by most of his colleagues, his unconventional theories have drawn criticism and ridicule from several prominent academicians in his field, most notably,  the coldly skeptical Dr. Henry Turn from Carrow College in upstate New York. Within these two paragraphs and three sentences, we have plenty of plot hooks … Read entire article »

Filed under: Adventure Design, Advice

Creating a Scene in an RPG

Tweet Scenes are the building blocks of an adventure. They are those moments when the player characters interact with the setting, be it NPCs, searching a site for clues, etc. Organizing your adventure in scenes is, to my mind, the most flexible way to craft an adventure, but there are several questions the GM must ask himself in order to keep that flexibility and have a satisfying session. What Is the Purpose of the Scene? First and foremost, you need to know what your’e trying to accomplish with the scene. Does the scene exist to: Bring about combat or possibly bring it about? Provide the PCs with information? Allow the PCs to gather information? Give time to develop the PCs? Make time for PC-to-PC interaction? Introduce or develop an NPC? Introduce a MacGuffin? There are countess other possible reasons, I just listed … Read entire article »

Filed under: Adventure Design, Advice

When PC Becomes Adversary

Tweet Intra-party conflict. I’ve read dozens of articles about how to avoid it. Players get called names for engaging in it. Why? Isn’t dissension amongst a group of travelers or adventurers a legitimate source of drama? You bet your ass it is. Let me give you one word from the fantasy RPG holy texts: Boromir. I have two general rules to govern intra-party dissension: The conflict must exist between the characters — not the players. When the conflict becomes intolerable for the either the characters or the players, it somehow ends decisively. Between the Characters — Not the Players I don’t even need to expand on this if you’re playing in a game with grown-ups. The conflict should exist between the characters. If it becomes a conflict between the players or it otherwise starts messing with players’ fun, it should … Read entire article »

Filed under: Alternate Views

The NPC as a Crutch

Tweet I’d like to expand a little bit about the concept of the wise old man,  or the patron, or the the informant NPC. We discussed this on the most recent episode of Happy Jacks RPG Podcast. Some of this information will reiterate what we discussed on the show, some won’t. NPCs are a damn good way to convey information to the party — sometimes the information is given freely, sometimes it’s paid-for and sometimes it taken forcefully. When these NPCs have made more than one or two appearances and provided  useful information, I think there’s a tendency for players to seek these NPCs out when they come to a dead end or are otherwise need info. The Good Side This tendency to come back to previously useful sources of information has its uses. In situation … Read entire article »

Filed under: Alternate Views, General Gaming