Monday, September 11, 2017

The Red Knight and the Art of Making NPCs

The Red Knight
Book One of the Traitor Son Cycle
Written By Miles Cameron
$11.80 at Amazon

When making Non-Player Characters in Dungeons and Dragons, the question is really how much is too much? How many game stats do we need for the effective playing of such characters?

If you're an artist or have an artist friend willing to help out, portraits are a quick way to customize your NPC's.

If you're strapped for time though, having a list of names and associations with those names is another route. It's a route Miles Cameron takes in the Red Knight to describe many of the mercenaries who follow their nameless Captain, the Red Knight.

Some examples:

Sauce had won her name as a whore, giving too much lip to customers. She was tall, and in the rain her red hair was toned to dark brown. Freckles gave her an innocence that was a lie. She had made herself a name.

Ser Thomas: Bad Tom to every man in the company was six foot six inches of dark hair, heavy brown and bad attitude. He had a temper and was always the wrong man to cross.

Two Veteran archers - Kanny, the barracks room lawyer of the company, and Scrant, who never stopped eating.

Bent, the eldest, an easterner, and Wilful Murder...

Geslin was the youngest man in the company, just fourteen with a thin frame that suggested he'd never got much food as a boy...

The book is filled with such characters. Sometimes a few sentences of description, sometimes not even a single whole sentence.

Giving the characters something for the players and the Dungeon Master to latch onto, makes the keeping of said characters easier, even if you don't list out height, weight, hair, eyes, or even armor. This is probably much more important to keep in mind when dealing with characters that the players are not going to engage in anything more than banter in. Extra work that the Dungeon Master enjoys is never wasted work but is it work that you could be doing something else you enjoy, that will see game play?

Miles Cameron brings his wide cast of the crew to life with quick descriptions and it's a great mining pool for those Dungeon Masters who want examples of how the pros do it.