Friday, November 13, 2009

The Limits of Temptation in Berserk

So over here at Dark Horse Comics, we have a summary of Berserk volume 3, cover, and some sample pages. Below are some ideas that you might think of when doing Non-Player Character design.

One of the reasons I keep coming back to non-player character design is that it's one of the key elements you can add to a campaign. I was going to say one of the few things, but any Game Master worth his salt has come up with new traps, monsters, magic items, and other bits.

But with Non-Player Characters, as a Game Master, you've got a chance to showcase how the world works for people other than the characters. You've got a chance to put some characters on display in a non-dungeon setting.

Last volume, the audience was told that the count changed seven years ago. His daughter provides a story of how heretics killed the count's wife and this hardened the count's heart and how his daughter is his only prized possession.

In the fight with Guts, the count becomes so injured that on the point of death, he summons entities of such power that they are essentially gods or demon gods or well, things so powerful that stats are meaningless. In this time of need, they agree to raise the count to his full power, to restore him and kill the count's foe... in exchange for the life of his daughter.

During this time, the reader learns that no, it was not heretics that killed the count's wife, rather, the count's wife was a member of a cult of heretics and engaged in an orgy to depraved deities. Seeing this drove the count into a rage but he couldn't kill his wife. Rather, he offered her as a sacrifice to the demon lords, the Godhand. They offer the count the same exchange here, but this time, he fails and dies.

Having lines that the NPC's won't cross no matter how tempting or how useful or how much they would gain by doing so, shows the players that they're not the only ones who have rules in place. That there are ways they can fight against those who pester them that don't necessarily involve putting everything to the sword.

Not a perfect example in this volume, but here, Guts uses the daughter as a shield. The count won't attack while she's in danger. In other volumes, incidents happen that may not be 'heroic', but in Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition, with it's unaligned alignment being a prime choice, it may beat having to kill dozens in order to acheive a goal.