#RPGaDAY 2018 ~ Day 4

Most Memorable NPC?

Days 4 & 5 caused me a lot of trouble at first. You already know what the prompt for day 4 is (see above). The prompt for day 5 is “Favorite recurring NPC?”. ~ Very often for me these tend to overlap quite a bit. As it turns out my answer for day 4 is a recurring NPC, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take some advice from Julie Andrews and start at the beginning…

Non Player Characters have become quite important to me in terms of having a satisfying RPG experience. It’s no secret that I’m happiest as a player when my  character feels “real” and the game world feels vibrant and alive. ~ A substantial part of a dynamic world are the NPCs that inhabit it & with whom the characters interact.

Preferences & approaches vary considerably when it comes to these fictional people. My own methodology with these folk has evolved over my gaming career, and i think that mine is a common journey. It’s common to use NPCs as conduits of information, givers of quests, benefactors, resources, obstacles to be overcome, guides to lead the characters to the next part of “the story”, and a myriad of other ways in which the GM interacts with the players behind a mask. Often this mask is cold & lifeless, & there is no real “character” to be found in the NPC. Depending upon your bent, this may suit you just fine. After all, the player characters are the stars of the show, aren’t they? ~ There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this approach, but I have found that this feels incomplete and unsatisfying.

It doens’t take a cricket in spats & a fairy godmother to turn an NPC into a “real boy” (or girl).  Often very little is required to breathe life into one. Just today a group of us had a brief interchange about the level of description actually needed to make an NPC “memorable”, & while our preferences for the amount of descriptive detail may have varied, the anecdotal evidence seemed to indicate that it might not take much.

So what actually makes an NPC memorable? Often a well portrayed personality can leave a lasting impression. Quirks, flaws, mannerisms, and all the little touches that makes someone seem “human” can go a long way towards creating the illusions of an actual person. Likewise, drives & motivations can help foster the sense that the NPC is a living breathing soul. ~ It’s really not that different than how we portray our own characters.

Sounds like a lot of work, but like I said, often it doesn’t take a herculean effort to breathe life into an NPC. Truth be told, often it’s the willingness of the players to imagine the NPC as a real person interacting with their (equally real) characters that sparks the gap and gives the creation of the GM life.

Anyhow, that’s enough fictional character phenomenology babble for one post. What about my most memorable NPC?

Some of the games I’ve been involved in over the past year or so have had more real feeling NPCs than others. Our All For One game has had consistently authentic seeming NPCs, and there are several gems in there to choose from. The red haired “Spanish Spy”, Etienne “Hair” Legrande of the Cardinal’s Guards, the Evil and mysterious Dorottya Martel, and a host of others spring to mind. But, they aren’t the one I’m thinking of.

The most memorable NPC for me has come as a surprise, & that’s the way I like it. This character appeared before we played our first session, & has been in just about every episode. Originally conceived of as a flavor accent, an extension and augmentation of one of the Player Characters, this character has become far more than the mechanically supported genre emulation tool than they started out life as. Over time, due not only to their rather unusual predicament, but from the personality that began to emerge from the portrayals of them by the rotating cast of game masters, this unlikely NPC crossed the boundary from being an inside joke to becoming an actual person. (If not in the minds of all of the players, at least in my mind). I can’t imagine that Dumas himself could have conceived of an odder love triangle than the one that seems to have emerged naturally. And the stakes never seemed higher for me than when they were in danger. So high, that Phillipe was willing to make a deal with the devil herself.

The most memorable NPC? ~ None other than Brisecoeur’s  lackey Eugene.

Secretly a woman hopelessly in love with the womanizing Musketeer,  the former actress risked everything to be by the side of the man she loved. Eventually everyone but Brisecoeur figured out that she was a woman, and when the Musketeers became targets of the machinations of Martin’s relatives, “Eugene” was relocated to the Croissant Pont Neuf, where she works serving pastry to the hungry folk of Paris. ~ Many wonderful. humorous, and memorable scenes have been played out with this tragic young woman, and Phillipe seems to like her. As it currently stands, we’re not sure if she has been affected with the curse of the Vampire who took her prisoner and almost killed her. ~ Only time will tell.

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