I’ve got a problem with NPCs.

I’ve got a problem with NPCs.

I’ve got a problem with NPCs.  My players are far too protective of them, especially my Paladin.  They want the bonuses that the NPCs supply, but they freak out when I put them in danger.  They do NOT want the NPCs to bear the brunt of an attack.  Is the solution just to not allow them the NPC bonuses if they are not willing to put them in danger?  Is there a middle ground?

14 thoughts on “I’ve got a problem with NPCs.”

  1. I don’t think there’s much of a middle ground – if they want the mechanical bonus, that has to follow from the fiction. If that means they’re more concerned with their burglar’s health than his ability to buffer some trap damage – so be it.

  2. I give hirelings injury boxes: very basic HP that gives players the confidence they need to put their NPCs in harm’s way by letting them know they won’t die instantly by gm fiat. Means you can make combat more visceral as well: hirelings can get broken limbs and lose eyes etc. it’s part of the Hirelings supplement in Pirate World, which makes Hirelings a bit more concrete mechanically.

  3. I like that, James Hawthorne, and I think my players will as well.  Say three boxes.  One box means light injury, two checked boxes means a serious injury and three is death?

  4. Sounds good to me! I vary it by creature, so a goblin hireling can’t take any injuries before death, while an ogre can take three or four. Also, their final injury might not be death: you can play it that they’ve dodged the blow and ran away, or changed sides!

  5. Hard choices maketh the game.  Look at those suckers through cross(bow) hairs. They are your npcs after all.

    Alternatively, have them develop extremely annoying habits that you can roleplay the heck out of. The players will be so glad to be rid of the hireling who is always spouting the odds of them dying on their next quest, or clops along with two coconuts, or simply farts continuously and then apologises… You get the idea

  6. Definitely cool, David! I’d absolutely love see people using bits all of the Hirelings: The Hireling part of Pirate World is a stand alone supplement and it’ll be released under some kind of creative commons license specially so everyone can use it 🙂

  7. David Benson yes I’ve played and ran a number of times. The NPC rules are great because it gives a way to track something that isn’t critical to the game.

    But I’m suspecting that something more complex is at play here. Seems like your players are treating their NPCs as “living +1s”. I mean, why would you put your magic sword or shield at risk? I think the same thing is happening here.

    Sounds like it might be a good time for a heart-to-heart with your players. Let them know that NPCs can sometimes provide bonuses, but like anything else that is not a PC, those NPCs are automatically in your crosshairs. If you do not threaten them then you are not doing your job as a DW GM.

    Agreed that you can keep your NPCs from danger or use their advantages. Not both;)

  8. The fault is totally mine, Chris Bennett.  I’m giving the NPCs too much personality and making them important to the characters.  They are not just numbers to the players to be used and discarded.  They actually seem to  care about them, which is why it pains me to have to bring the hammer down.  When I do, the emotional impact with be just that much stronger.

  9. I do have to tell a quick story.  One of the NPCs is a 10 year old girl.  During a tense encounter with a major henchman, she was brutally backhanded.  As the players geared up to react, she suddenly and inexplicably transformed into a giant badger.  She then attacked…the party mage!  You should have seen their jaws drop.  It was priceless.  They managed to subdue her, having suffered major damage, and calmed her enough so that she transformed back into the little girl.  She had no memory of what happened and the players have no idea what’s going on.  Classic Dungeon World moment as the whole incident was set up by the party mage failing a spellcasting roll two sessions prior and drawing unwanted attention, in this case the spirit of “Badger”.

Comments are closed.