Significant NPCs

For very important NPCs, hirelings, and henchmen, the DM is going to need more than just a single character feature. Saying that a hireling is greedy is not enough. It doesn't make him any different from all the other greedy NPCs the player characters have met.

Perhaps he struggles to control his natural greediness out of loyalty. He may break into cold sweats and become nervous when the player character accidentally tempts him ("Here, hold my horse while I go see what's making that noise."). Will he remain loyal or will his baser nature get the best of him? The answer to this question should come out through role-playing.

Enough little questions like this--and enough role-played answers--will bring the NPC's true character into focus. And if the DM pays attention to the personality of the NPCs, the players will also learn and study those characters.

Creating an NPC Personality: The best way to create a personality is to use whatever seems right and not worry about carefully constructing a background and rationale for the character. The DM has to keep careful notes about each major NPC, adding to it each play session. After several sessions, the NPC may have a complete background and personality, one that has come out little-by-little during play.

Alternatively, the DM can prepare a personality in advance. This simply means he prepares some background notes before he begins to play that character. This is useful for powerful villains and important officials. However, during play, the DM should be flexible enough to change any part of the NPC's background that just doesn't work.

To aid in the process of creating NPCs,
Table 70 lists different types of attitudes, tendencies, and habits. These are organized into major traits, with similar characteristics grouped under each.

The DM can choose a major trait and any appropriate characteristics; he can randomly determine the major trait (rolling 1d20) and select appropriate characteristics; or he can randomly determine everything (1d20 for a major trait, percentile dice for characteristics).

For example, the DM randomly determines a hireling is careless, selects thoughtless from that sub-group and then rolls for an additional characteristic, getting cheerful. The end result is somewhat scatter-brained, happy-go-lucky person.

This table is provided to spur the imagination of the DM, although it can be used to create completely random personalities. However, random methods often lead to confusing and seemingly impossible combinations! If a result seems totally impossible or unplayable, don't use it simply because that's how the dice rolls came up. Whenever possible, the DM should decide the personality of the NPC!

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