I’d love to have a table of random memorable characteristics for on-the-fly NPCs.

I’d love to have a table of random memorable characteristics for on-the-fly NPCs.

I’d love to have a table of random memorable characteristics for on-the-fly NPCs.

1. Waxed moustache, twirls compulsively

2. Carries pet hamster (named Boo)

3. Not nearly as talented as they think they are

4. Hawks and spits before speaking

5. Fanatically superstitious

6. Very concerned about appearance

7. Won’t talk louder than a whisper

8. Is drunk at every opportunity

9. Won’t stand for the slightest disrespect

10. Wrings hands constantly

11. Crudely prejudiced against [orcs]

12. Staggeringly lazy

13. Terrifyingly enthusiastic

14. Too honest for their own good

15. One hand always on half-cocked hip

16. Big believer in the value of naps

17. Haunted by recent tragedy

18. Tilts head and nods when listening

19. Sucks his/her teeth when thinking

20. Starts nearly every sentence, “Well, the way I figger it…”

21. Sweet but half-senile

22. Enthusiast for foul and violent language

23. Flirtatious

24. Manipulative

25. Left eye is permanently squinty

26. Stammers

27. Hands in pockets, hunched shoulders

28. Smiles excessively

29. Raspy breath

30. Perpetual sniffle

31. ….?

I’m trying to stick to behaviours and things that can be acted out.  Something like “unusually big nose” might be memorable in person, but it’s not interesting to keep saying, “oh yeah Jack has a big nose in case you forgot.”

What else you got?  I’d be glad to get to 100.

13 thoughts on “I’d love to have a table of random memorable characteristics for on-the-fly NPCs.”

  1. Here’s a few ideas, might be useful

    31. Always attempts to hide face

    32. Constantly fiddling with a small dagger

    33. Interrupts others

    34. taps feet at every opportunity

    35. Argumentative

    36. Enjoys touching face

    37. Won’t shut up about _____

    38. Pathological Liar

    39. Kleptomaniac

    40. Will go to any length to lock eyes with someone 

  2. Laughs at strange/inappropriate moments

    Talks with hands

    Incredibly earnest

    Excellent posture at all times

    Slouches terribly


    Comically naive


    Nasal voice

    Self-conscious about bad breath

    Hard of hearing

    Hooks thumbs in belt and bounces

    Asks rhetorical questions and answers

    Greatly exaggerates

    Intense; cannot stand still

    Ostentatiously cynical

    Wants to be a druid very badly; isn’t working out so well yet

    Is smitten with one of the PCs

    Rigid prude 

    Inveterate gambler

    Can hook you up; likes to show off

    Depressed and fatalistic

    Blunt, insensitive, “just being honest”

    Is always looking for a hookup

    Takes every shortcut possible

    Terribly curious.  About everything

    Won’t speak more than a word or two at a time

    Irrepressibly cheerful

    Calls everyone “Boyo”

    Crafty and ambitious

    Hates children


    Chill dude


    Hopeless romantic

    Fastidious, neatnik


    Rebel without a clue

    Sarcastic bastard

    Pretends to know what’s going on; never does

  3. Harrison s ha, yeah, those are the ones from the Dungeon World book.  They’re excellent, I agree.  I’m pretty much looking for a similar list of Quirks to go along with the Instinct and Knack tables.

    Mischa Krilov I haven’t been able to find a random quirk/trait generator on Abulafia that I really like. Most of them seem to skew a lot more toward physical descriptions or else things that I’m not sure how I’d act out at the table.  But if you know of specifically a generator with traits like the kind of thing we’re collecting here I’d be glad to hear of it.

  4. I love this idea. However, some of yours are a bit specific, and it’d be weird to come across more than one person with it in a campaign. Like carrying a pet hamster. More general stuff would be better I feel. Like fashion things. Like the moustache. It’s a trend that many people might follow.

  5. Jon Landers well, my goal is to have quirks that make my NPCs distinguishable and memorable as individuals, so I wouldn’t want to come across more than one of any of them in a campaign.  (That’s why I want 100 of them!)  YMMV.

  6. 41 (?) Starts each statement with “Yeah-yeah” or “Good-good” and licks left thumb.

    42 Gesticulates wildly, but only with left arm

    43 Entirely avoids eye contact with anyone

    44 Places chin on fist when thinking, while making the ‘money’ sign with the same hand

  7. colin roald ah, I see. I assumed you wanted 100 for a d100 list, so I thought there would always be the chance that specific traits would show up again. Like the hamster, which felt really specific.

  8. Jon Landers I might roll d100 if I feel like it.  It’s an appealing thing about having 100 of them.  But fundamentally it’s an idea prompt – I’m not going to let myself be arbitrarily bound by a result that doesn’t work for the current character, and if it’s one I’ve used before I’ll just roll again. Or else the hamster becomes a parrot named Reginald, whatever. Or maybe I won’t roll, and I’ll just pick an idea that sounds good at the moment.  I just want page of things I can use quickly when I need an NPC and I’m drawing a blank.

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