NPC's Literally Make Your World Go Round!

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Jester, Mar 3, 2014.


Does Dialogue Trip You Up?

  1. Yes

    2 vote(s)
  2. No

    5 vote(s)
  3. Sometimes

    6 vote(s)
  1. •○• Where Is Everyone? •○•

    • This is probably one of the most overlooked things regarding any RP, and that's NPC's, whether it be the GM/DM, or a player in the thread who randomly pulls up a random character from the blue. It is also one of the most important things you could ever have in your universe - what is a world without people?

    •○• So Who Controls Them All? •○•

    • Everybody. Everybody does. It doesn't matter if it's the GM/DM throwing out a random shopkeeper who is asking questions, or just some random person a PC runs into on the street - someone in the thread will bring up an NPC at some point. It is completely and utterly unavoidable. Sometimes in D&D campaigns, the DM will control most of the NPC's, if only because they are not really supposed to have characters while they are playing, as they are against you with the creations of monsters. However, not all games work this way, especially regularly played RP's, and that's what Iwaku generally is all about. So let's give some power to the Rpers themselves.

    • Other kinds of players are simply afraid to bring up an NPC because they don't want to alter the story, or they're afraid to make too big of a change in the plot. Say you write that a burglar kills someone in a tavern, and runs off with the money. Ten pages later, you realize that you could potentially bring that burglar back into the story to thicken the plot so that it didn't seem so random after all... But would everybody else approve, or would you rather skip it because you're afraid of irritating someone in the thread?

    • Who knows? That burglar very well could have made your plot in that story change drastically, and it could have made the plot so much thicker because of it... And surprisingly, a lot of DM/GM's and other players adapt to your strange "curve balls" easier than you think they do. In fact, it's very likely they would enjoy it. But you'd never know unless you threw it out there to begin with. So take the shot.

    •○• How Do I Start? •○•

    • Creating an NPC can be serious business, or it can be as simple as a one-liner wherein someone passin in and out of the story in a matter of seconds. It all depends on where your story goes, or how far you're willing to go to make that character have a serious impact on the rest of the plot, and/or characters.
    • Think about where you want your characters to be stationed. Are you in a town, city, suburb, village, or some other social place?
    • How many PC's do each of the players have? This could determine how many you could generally start off with, depending on how detailed your player is. The more detailed, the more likely you will naturally fall right into having NPC's everywhere.
    • If you were to talk to someone in real life, picture them as an NPC in the real-world. You'll see them maybe once ever, and then they'll pass out of your life. Or, maybe you see them repeated times, but they have no real impact. That naturalness is what you're fighting for in an RP. Just roll with how it comes out of you.
    • There's no wrong way to start making an NPC. The trick is that if it seems natural to you as you write, then that's what you're going for. Awkward lines that abruptly stop, or clumsy dialogue will happen if you overthink things. You don't continually double and triple think things when you ask a store clerk a question at a supermarket, and you don't triple think things when talking to a server at a restaurant unless you're not ready to order yet, are you? And even if you aren't, you still communicate with them when you tell them to come back later.

    • If you're stuck and don't know how an NPC should be brought into a story, looking at it from a different point of view might help. Imagine you're the NPC instead, running into your character out in the wild-world yonder. How would you react to them? What would you say? Remember, the trick is to not overthink.

    •○• How Many Should I Have? •○•
    • This question varies. You could have any number of NPC's depending on how many people are in your RP, and it can range from a whole world, to one or two pop-in-pop-outs. It literally depends on the amount of detail you are willing to put into it. Some questions to think about:
    • How many RPers are there in the thread?
    • How many characters does each player hold?
    • How extensive is the backstory behind the RP that was posted?
    • Is there a GM/DM controlling pre-determined characters?
    • Those are only a few. The more PC's there are in a plot, the more likely it is that a player will be controlling a lot more NPC's. The less interaction there is outside of the PC's, the more boring an RP is, unless it's strictly meant for romance, or smut. You want to be creative and innovative with your ideas, right? You want to move the story along and get some feedback from players. You want reactions, and adventure, and to keep a plot as thick as blood, or you're going to lose folks along the way. The more NPC's are brought into a story, the thicker it will become with content and ideas.

    •○• So What Makes Them Interesting? •○•

    • There's a good question, and the best thing in the world to make the world deep and involving. Take yourself and weed out what's boring and what's not. Take your strengths and talents, and multiply that by five. That's how you make a good NPC. Is it their dialogue? Do they have a special talent such as a seer or fortune teller? Maybe they're that secret mentor that always pops around the corner to say hello, and then vanishes again. You never know. There are literally endless combinations to make an NPC interesting. Some to look at:

    • Mental Illnesses - There are so many options available for this, it's not even funny. Even if it's just a one-time mention, a character with any type of severe mental illness can affect any character. Especially the ones that are high-tier. Who does't love a little schizophrenia?
    • Physical Impairments - People with missing eyes, limbs, tongues, hair, burned parts of their flesh, destroyed tissue or terminal illnesses. You name it, these characters will draw attention, or at least make an RPer remember them. Good storytelling much?
    • Personal Histories - This one's more to make a character recur, rather than appear only once, an sometimes it's great to introduce a villain. Give them a little backstory, and make it have an impact. Was it tragic, heroic, bitter?
    • Speech Patterns - It can be hard to read sometimes, but occasionally writing out how a character speaks can say a lot about their personality, and make them extraordinarily likeable. Is it a thick accent, or is their speech impaired? Do they stutter?
    • Mysterious Appearances - This one's always fun. This is that one mentor who always comes out of the shadows to whisper about the coming storm, or the angel-in-disguise. These kinds of NPC's are actually good to listen to for advice. They might be hinting at something to the PC's.
    • Occupations - This one seems simple, but here's an example of how to tell which is more interesting than the other. Would you rather talk to a shopkeeper selling ale, or a captain of a ship handling special cargo out to sea that you're expected to try and retrieve? Variation is fun.
    • Elusive Travelers - If you ever want your players to get involved in a special NPC that happens to have a pretty big impact on the story for a short part, make that bugger tricky to find. Your players may not know much about them, but they will most certainly be interested in finding out.
    • Liars/Trickery - Have them be deceiving. Run into one that tells you what he knows about a quest, or where someone is, and then have that person be a complete lying bastard. Were you led into a trap or ambush? Did you just run on a wild goose chase?
    • As you can see, there are quite a few ways you can make an NPC interesting. All it takes is a little creativity. These combinations can be used for almost anything. Remember, NPC's can appear once and have no impact at all, and then there are ones that impact the plot significantly. Which kind are you using? Is your plot running out of steam and need a pick-me-up? Some of these examples plus dozens of others you could come up with at the top of your head could be used to add a little extra umph!

    • This should not be limited to only GM/DM's either. This kind of depth should be readily available by players who feel that the RP is running out of steam. If you don't have communication between characters... then where is the RP at? Don't be afraid to add some spice, or to throw your players a curveball when things are going downhill. One of the biggest reasons people lose interest in RPs is the lack of content. Give them something to respond to, even if it's just an NPC. They are excellent tools for picking things back up!

    •○• Where Would They Fit In? •○•
    • Think of cultures and places in our own world right now where people are occupying space! Think about what they wear, who they talk to, what kind of ruler they have, what their laws are, and then contemplate how you could incorporate that into a universe's setting.

    • An NPC who is good with ships will not do well in a place that has nothing but surrounding land around them. An NPC who lives in a country that doesn't allow women to work will most certainly be a male if you run across them at a shop stand, or behind the counter of a tavern. An NPC in a racially discriminatory area will likely be oppressed, and have interesting things to say, or even a quest to help them achieve freedom! The sky is the limit. There is always an option where an NPC will fit. Some things to think about:
    • Do they have a special occupation?
    • Are they discriminated against? (Both race and gender are good examples.)
    • Do they have a special need that limits them?
    • Do they have personality problems that warp their communication skills in an area?
    • Are they currently in danger?
    • Have they committed a crime at some point?
    • Do they train, own, or handle animals?
    • Do they lead simple, quiet lives?
    • Do they have specific likes or dislikes regarding social situations?
    • There are quite a few factors that could play into this issue. The choice is always up to the player or the GM/DM who is controlling the scenario, although if it fits into the plot, there's no reason to deny the idea at all. If you feel like your character idea is dumb, or that it won't fit in, remember - there are NO dumb ideas! Sure, some things may need tweaked or worked on, but very few things get by on the first draft, including PC character designs, right? Why should an NPC be any different? Butter up your pencil and come up with some quick ideas to jot down and you'll be done in no time.

    •○• What If It Disrupts the Plot? •○•
    • This is a problem that will need to be talked about depending on the kind of RP you are playing. If the plot has a GM/DM, and that Master has control of a specific setting, you may need to ask them in advance through PM's or messages first before you try something that could severely arch the plot of the story. Some people don't like that, and it's okay. There are other times and places that it's acceptable, and being afraid to try something new is not the way to go about playing.

    • Don't be afraid to ask though first. Remember that. If nothing seems to be available for you to try something world-shakingly different, just stick to smaller things that don't have any impact on plot, but still make an NPC interesting. Like mental illnesses, or the mysterious appearance options. Not everything has to be world-altering. There are many different combinations. Think about how that could fit into the world, and see if you can't wiggle something in there to gather some fun responses from other PC's.

    • If a GM/DM ever outright attacks or insults you for trying something new... you can always back out. If someone is over-controlling on the simplest idea of yours to try and get things moving, then maybe it's time to just move on and find a new RP. Sometimes there are overbearing GM/DM's in the world. It's just a sad fact of life. Look on that kind of opportunity to start your own and then you have complete freedom!
    #1 Jester, Mar 3, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2014
    • Thank Thank x 1
  2. •○• Reserved •○•

    • I will fill this in with prompts to try on your own to see if you can work out ideas.
    #2 Jester, Mar 3, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2014