Npc Advice

  • February 18, 2006 at 8:49 pm #1761

    I really want to stress that NPCs are the way to go and want to encourage my fellow Hosts to come up with them — especially if you don't have Player Characters that you can play while hosting that will bring large groups of people together.

    I also want to offer some life experience and tips I've developed over the years with Crossroads.

    First, I would suggest compiling a list of everybody's AIM screen names and putting them in your buddy list. Even if that person doesn't have an approved BG but you've seen him or her in the room before? Toss it in. I think the CS & BG people would probably be the best at sending this to the rest of us.

    When opening the room, it is not as simple as creating the chat room and waiting for folks to come to you. You need to take the initiative. Send the people who play your game chat room invites. IM them. Talk to them. “Hey, we're playing.” This could be harassment in some circles but, in our game, it's the only way we're going to get people to remember, “OH, yeah, the Victoria game is playing, I'll be right there.”

    We're not the only game in town. We have two BBs to compete with on weekdays.

    If we don't do this, we will have a dead room for the first hour or two until people slowly trickle in. I learned this the hard way with Crossroads back in the day. By sending invites and encouraging people to play, not only was it a great move to boost game numbers, but it's an AWESOME public relations move. Ask yourself, when was the last time anybody actively went in IMs and asked you if you wanted to game Black Bayou? Either version? It gets to be in one's head that people WANT to come to your head and you have better things to do than to track down your players. We need to get that out of our heads from the start. It works. Trust me on this.

    I wish I could host more but with my work schedule planning things in advance is a pain, thus Tuesday nights are it for me. But, ya know, when I pop into the room, I'm ready and willing to commit and to make the room go.

    An active part of that is NPCs. These NPCs don't have to have character sheets at the beginning. If you NEED to roll with them, roll and add 10 or 15 if it's a challenging person you're facing. These mods can easily be worked up later with a 5-5-5 and 5 levels in a single skill in something. So the mods aren't just coming out of this air, they're pretty close to reality. But we really need to come out of the shell of bartender NPCs.

    I'd like to see some antagonist NPCs. I have a couple in mind, myself. I'll outline them and maybe they'll help you generate your own ideas.

    Father Patrick McDonald. A Pastor at St. Paul's, McDonald is a pious old man with a penchant for alcohol and a taste for prostitutes. A raving lunatic when he gets drunk, he usually starts spouting off about the Bible. He's famous for picking up a prostitute and then making them undress without ever having sex with them — sometimes violently attacking them in the process for acting against God's wishes. The constables leave him alone because he's a good priest and the church tries to ignore his actions altogether.

    Peter Zaven. A wandering gypsy, the man promises to tell the future for the right price. Sometimes he's right but usually he'sa fraud — albeit he has some real innate psychic abilities. In fact, he's not even a gypsy. He just likes dressing up for the role. The fact he's a constable's son doesn't hurt him, a fact he hides pretty well. A true actor with a perfect smile, he can enchant one to believe the truth of his words. Many'a'woman have turned over a fortune to hear his enchanting tales.

    Sir William Henry. He goes by Bill, simply because his formal name is too much for him to bear. The outcast of his family, he owes everybody money and will do anything for a sterling pound. In debt up to his eyeballs, the fact he's a knight can get him into circles other thugs could only dream of. More of a hunter than an actual hired thug, his price can be steep, but the results stunning. There's something to be said about a man who did nothing else during his youth but hunt foxes with Daddy on the back of a horse. Too bad he has every addiction known to man. The potential could have been grand.

    The more NPCs we create, the richer world we as a whole create. With Sir Henry, I can have him take charge of hunters and go after folks who have money on their head or use him to entice someone to hire him for a foul deed. McDonald can spout off his religious nonsense to everybody and attack prostitutes left and left. Zaven can rip people off, or maybe he can serve as a conduit for all these people who have the Haunted disadvantage, suddenly, Mommy Ghost is delivering a message through him, etc etc

    Minor NPCs during scenes can also create a hell of an environment. A petty random criminal can start picking people's pockets in the coffee house. If we really want to screw with even our own NPC we can give a vision to a soothsayer in the room that “Your pocket was just pick pocketed” or something.

    There's lots of potential. At the very least, I would hope hosts don't just lurk in the room. They need to take an active role when they play.

    Once you get somebody in the room, the worst thing that could happen is if they just sit there and lurk. Our job is to get them to play.So IM them, ask to play with them. If they say they're not interested, ask why? And how you can help make their experience better?

    What's worse is if they decide to play outside the main room and go wandering London where no PCs exist and they play alone. The only way to hold their interest is to interact with them, with a crook or whatever. Let's make 'em think twice about wandering alone on the streets of London in the middle of the night.

    The other night a female player was in an alley smoking a cigarette so I had a character wander outside and interact with her. I'm pretty good with my PCs in finding those kind of people out but it's even better to do it with our NPCs when PCs won't do the trick.

    That's my schtick. Hope the advice could work.


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