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  • Building better NPCs

    So I have 2 items on each of my NPCs. Covert and overt goals. Writing them up they seem pretty bland. At least the overt goals. They’re all support xxx clan. Which is lame. Recommendations to give some flair to my minions?

  • #2
    Can you post more details? It would make it easier to help.

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    • #3
      In addition to the normal character sheet I add role playing elements such as who they’re bonded/bonding, entraced by/entrancing, roleplay tips and manneurisms, etc.
      At one section I have overt goals such as support clan ventrue(which sounds bland).
      Then covert goals like spy on xxx person for another benefactor. But I’m coming up with blank for making them sound good.
      If I were to hand a sheet over to a player they could read it and roleplay that person for a scene. I’ve done this with more fleshed out NPCs and it’s worked. Others aren’t fully realized.

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      • #4
        Perhaps create a large list of possible storytelling hooks and then roll randomly to assign to a particular NPC then work a unique reasoning for each goal into their backstory.

        Some examples.
        • Attain Golconda
        • Find a way to exploit Thin-blooded prejudice.
        • Blackmail the Prince into allowing me to diablerize the Tremere Regent.
        • Create a Blood Cult to perpetrate murders of my rivals powerbase.
        • Frame a Bahari for the Primogen's death.

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        • #5
          Give each NPC 3 "Allies" and 3 Enemies. These can be other vampires, mortals, mages... whatever. Give each enemy a rank (1 - mere rival, 5 - immortal hatred), and then do the same for each ally (but those are on a scale of 1-4).

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          • #6
            I'm going to keep my solution simple - How does each of these NPCs see "Supporting the clan" happening. Always back the Primogen's direction to the rest of the clan, weed out traitors. remove weakness (testing the others and trying to make them improve, or remove them) or just being the +1-3 dice on Thaumaturgy rituals for the Regent as an apprentice?
            Supporting the clan is a wide and varied goal with lots of options.

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            • #7
              "encourage the formation of a coterie of neonates that can support you as a solid powerbase"

              (if Ventrue) "become a respected member or even the leader of your clique"
              Last edited by SalamanDer; 10-26-2018, 06:37 PM.


              Dark Shores: Lineages of the Great Lakes

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              • #8
                Link your NPCs between them either as allies or enemies and create some NPCs that you'll throw into the PC's path. They'll most likely mess with them giving your other NPCs reasons to go after the PC's.
                It's not about what they want to be in life or unlife, it's more about making them react to PC's and interact with them. If the PC's go hunting in a nightclub and hurt a partying girl who happens to be the niece of a mob boss, he'll want to make life interesting for them, i believe.

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                • #9
                  I like to add a section about other NPCs, basically I try to think of three NPCs (or possibly one of the PCs) that the NPC either feels strongly about or has some kind of connection to, for example: "fanatically loyal to the Prince", "has a grudge against the Toreador primogen and would screw her over any chance she got", and "once lost a bet with the most infamous Nosferatu in the city."

                  I might or might not end up fleshing these out later and they may never even come up in the story, but the fact that they exist at all helps me get a sense of the NPC's personality, history, and place in the setting. It gives me the opportunity to add little human touches to their interactions with the players that make them feel more human and alive.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
                    So I have 2 items on each of my NPCs. Covert and overt goals. Writing them up they seem pretty bland. At least the overt goals. They’re all support xxx clan. Which is lame. Recommendations to give some flair to my minions?
                    How many npcs are we talking about here? Three or four would call for a different level of detail than a dozen.

                    Are they integral to the stories of the player characters? If so, some info on the pcs might help. If not, the quick sketches you have should work fine.

                    What's the drift of the over-all story? The tone? Any major themes you want to hit? If this is a dark and twisted gothic horror game, you'll want the thing the npc is most scared of and the scariest thing about them. If this is a rollicking, swinging on the chandeliers, adventure game, then you need how the npc deals with chaotic situations, like when a pack of Sabbat crash Elysium, through the skylights.

                    Is this work your doing actually going to get used in the game for the benefit of the pcs' players, or are you city-building? This will have a big impact on how much time it deserves.

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                    • #11
                      There are over 100 NPCs. They’re all tied together somehow. Each is tied to a main plot piece or side plot. All my players unanimously agree they’re detailed and important.
                      I was having trouble wording their motivations. The examples help. It’s my lack of articulation that’s holding me back.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
                        There are over 100 NPCs. They’re all tied together somehow. Each is tied to a main plot piece or side plot. All my players unanimously agree they’re detailed and important.
                        I was having trouble wording their motivations. The examples help. It’s my lack of articulation that’s holding me back.
                        I have a similar problem I've created. Over 100 NPCs, but maybe half of them are just a name and a short description of their distinguishing features.

                        The ones who aren't tied directly to main plot points, I usually improvise. I can figure out after the session why they acted the way they did. Eventually, it becomes a web of motivations and plots that evolve organically.


                        Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Frontline989 View Post
                          [*]Create a Blood Cult to perpetrate murders of my rivals powerbase.
                          I like that. A lot.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by g3taso View Post

                            I like that. A lot.
                            Free of charge!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
                              There are over 100 NPCs. They’re all tied together somehow. Each is tied to a main plot piece or side plot. All my players unanimously agree they’re detailed and important.
                              I was having trouble wording their motivations. The examples help. It’s my lack of articulation that’s holding me back.
                              Okay.

                              Hmmm.

                              Here's the thing.

                              Shakespeare has 43 works attributed to him. These works have a total of 1223 characters. That sounds like a lot. However, it includes notoriously small parts like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. It also includes characters such as "Sailor" from Hamlet, "Some Others" from Timon, and my favorites, "Servant 1", "Servant 2", and "Servant 3" from King Lear. (Those last three are not exactly richly textured psychological studies.)

                              This all boils down to an average of just 28 characters per work.

                              If you find it fun to make characters, awesome. I won't rain on your parade.

                              But, you came here asking for advice, and here it is: you do not need 100 npcs. You just don't. Every minute you spend pondering the motivations of "Tremere Apprentice #17" and "Third Brujah from the Left" is a minute you are not spending on the development of cool plots that involve your players' characters in the action.

                              Here's how I do it.
                              1. Have the players make pcs. Consider offering extra freebies or xp if they tie their characters together with shared origins.
                              2. Make a list of every npc who is named or implied in the pc's background. This will include their sire. Also, the people who are represented by their Backgrounds. Also, a few personal connections, like family members and co-workers from mortal life. Don't forget people tied to merits and flaws, like Hunteds or High Society ties... one npc for each merit/flaw.
                              3. Ask if the players have any ideas for details they want included. ("My mom is an heiress who married down." "My sire is in torpor." "The manager of my nightclub is stealing from me.")
                              4. Make a list of every possible person on the list who can do double-duty. Are two pcs both Ventrue? They will have the same sire, even if you have to hand out free Generation. Do two pcs live off their stock portfolios? They will have the same financial manager. Are two pcs both from the same city and about the same age? They will be relatives, cutting the number of family members in half.
                              5. Now, pick half the remaining roles from the list that seem most interesting (not "most important"), and put a star next to them.
                              6. Cross off the other half, and deal with them later... if ever. In most chronicles, it really doesn't matter who does the pcs' laundry or fills out their tax forms.
                              7. You should have a list remaining of no more than a half dozen npcs per player. If you have more than that, just pick the three most interesting for each player and dump the rest.
                              8. Take the half of those you find most interesting, or that suggest story-hooks and develop just like you would a pc, with a full character sheet and bio. (Extra points for you if you tie them together and assign double-duty, like if one pc's mom is also another pc's Contact.) The rest get what you mentioned in the original post, a brief set of notes.
                              9. Now... and only now... is when you get to make npcs for your own entertainment and to fill put the city's ranks of vampires. You are allowed ONE per pc. I would include the Prince, one vampire who is more experienced than the pcs who you can use to drop hints, and one vampire who is less experienced than the pcs to maintain a sense of wonder about the whole thing. Develop these three just like a pc, with a sheet and all. Lots of depth.
                              10. If you have any slots left over, go ahead and have fun. Make a few weird and interesting npcs that entertain you. This is the place for Albanian Kiasyd ninjas, transgender Gangrel physicists, and Hunters who spend half their time on vampires and half on Big Foot. Some outlandishness is good, in small doses.
                              11. Keep a master list of the npcs. Every three or four sessions look at it. If there are any you haven't used any yet, toss 'em. If they were interesting and dynamic, they would have made an appearance by now. Only add new ones when the need actually arises, and it will. I can't tell you how many times a random waitress or beat cop went on to be a major npc out of nowhere, but they need room on the stage to become a beloved break-out character.
                              12. If you get the urge to create fun new characters for you to play, find someone else to ST.
                              Oh, and read this. And this. And this.

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