9 thoughts on “The party I GM for keeps bringing the NPCs along for the story.”

  1. Yes, which is why I started printing out characters from A Folio of Followers, a lovely thing to come out of Perilous Wilds. Much easier for everybody to remember charming and interesting NPCs with little pictures of them on the table.

  2. Jason Tocci that’s a good idea. I was fortunate to have a conversation with Lutes about the folio. So do you just leave the picture of the npc in the center of the table, or how do you handle it?

  3. I think that it’s just one of the things that has happened to groups since forever. Especially when you get that many tagging along since they’re essentially voiceless bit players.

    My suggestion, and it’s just my two cents and what I’ve been doing to remember them, is to use Apocalypse World’s rule to keep everyone in the crosshairs.

    Think of the npcs as a resource to be spent or lost by poor rolls of the characters. Also remember to give them motivations and an alignment as well even if it’s something as simple as a random personality or motivation table. If they’re dumping loads of gear off on these npcs to carry and his personality is something like greedy or untrustworthy or whatever and the pcs are like here nameless guy1 hold this bag of gems have him drop back and take off when the pcs are busy with something. It depends on your world and setting but even a loyal npc that has a family and his handed over a bag of gold coins to hold, more wealth than he and his family could ever hope to see or spend in theirs and probably following generations’ lives would be given pause not to take it and run rather than risk their life following these madmen.

    I’d probably do a random roll to see if he npc gets lost and killed or sets off a trap somewhere though so that they can recover their stuff l, but that’s an option.

    Also treating them as a resource is an option. If on a 6- in certain circumstances maybe the pc doesn’t lose a charge of their adventuring pack but instead a tunnel collapses or a ledge breaks away and that teamster with the cart of treasure is crushed or falls away to his doom… along with a bunch of stuff.

    This kind of thing might seem mean but npcs are a dime a dozen and it can create some

    Interesting situations. You don’t even have to just kill them off as well but maybe you do a softer move, in combat someone rolls a 6- which creates something to happen to one of the npcs instead so you call for some defy danger or create hard choices.

    Fighter misses the ogre who retaliates, don’t deal damage because that’s boring but instead the Fighter also dodges the ogre’s return attack with his tree trunk sized club which smashes the ground in the cave causing a fissure to crack towards Bob, the chef that the pcs brought along to better get use from their rations.

    Rogue, you see this happen and only you are nimble enough to get there in time to save Bob and some of the rations but the ogre is left wide open now, he obviously overstretched himself to retaliate against the fighter.

    what do you do?

    Attempt to save Bob with a defy danger (dex) or take advantage of the opening on the ogre (I would offer advantage on the roll or maybe just step any result up by one, treating 6- as 7-9, 7-9 as 10+, and 10+ as something higher if they have a move for it).

    So now like the fighter’s roll caused this weird situation that is creating a tough choice for another character but giving them the opportunity to shine.

    Treating npcs like this makes it a bit more real, they aren’t immune to the dangers of the dungeon and seeing everyone in crosshairs (even important and critical story npcs) will help you as a gm to remember them.

    No one is safe.

  4. I like representing characters who are present by at least having index cards with their names in the middle of the table. That way they’re all right there as a reminder.

  5. Yes, I leave the cards with images of NPCs in view of all on the table. If we still manage to get into a scrap and someone’s like “hey what’s Brok doing during all this” I can say “he’s trying to give you an opening!” or “that last time you tried to hack and slash and they failed to hit you back—you realize now that he was distracting them for you!”

    I’m pretty clear that if they want to USE an NPC, though, that’s up to them. I got enough to track on my own.

  6. This sort of thing is one of the best arguments for using minis and laying out a representation of the environment. It’s a lot harder to forget about Chef when he’s right there on the map, between the Fighter and the goblin sniper.

  7. Yeah, it’s only a solution for when the crap hits the fan. Beyond that, I think index/NPC cards are a great idea, but my players are so messy and the play area is so cluttered… I think the cards would get lost. For us, at least.

    And yes, we definitely use minis for my Stonetop game. Not every fight, but often when there are multiple foes and “fronts” of battle.

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