Brief NPC Encounters to Add Flavor to Your World

Brief NPC Encounters to Add Flavor to Your World

Each time your players encounter a new personality, you add a fresh layer of color to your world.  I've only ever met one GM who created a full character sheet for every conceivable non-player character.  Their effort was admirable, but the hidden depths of the lad who worked in the forge were never fully tapped in what was the briefest of player encounters.

You will quickly burn out your creativity if you over invest in encounters which are not part of your plot, but there are a few little tricks you can easily employ to make your brief encounters memorable and entertaining!

1) A speech impediment or lisp can raise the most humble character into one which the party chooses to engage with more fully. There are occasionally opportunities for miscommunication too.

2) Over familiarity.  We've all experienced that nice but slightly over-familiar stranger who, once engaged in conversation, will claim close friendship at every opportunity!  The locals will be only too happy to steer your party in the right direction - and look on with amusement.

3) Pomposity.  Most suited to low to mid level status in society; the pompous NPC will be identified by an insistence on use of their correct titles, polite deference, flattery and even the presenting of gifts.  Pompous NPCs are quick to take offense and will withdraw their goodwill very swiftly. They can be hard work for players - particularly if they have something the players need!

4) Eccentricity.  Best used for a character with whom the players interact regularly, eccentricity of speech and behavior can lift any encounter above the ordinary. Everything about the eccentric NPC can be unusual; their home, their dress and especially the refreshments which they habitually offer to all visitors!

5) Make one (or two) connections between the NPC with someone, some place, or something the PCs are familiar with. For example, if they rescued a damsel in distress, perhaps the NPC is a friend or relative. Or perhaps the NPC was born in a town one of the PCs is also from. You can use Scabard's connection feature to get ideas.

Have you used an unusual NPC to add color to your game? Just reply back to this email and let me know!

Happy Gaming!

-Stolph (Ed)

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