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NPC Traits

I thought I would pass along an idea I found and use for my NPCs. The idea came from the Gazetteer series for the D&D Known World (Mystara).

I have PCs play the NPC henchman but whenever the PC has the NPC do something that may be dangerous or different, I roll against the NPC trait. If I roll lower, the NPC does it. If higher, the NPC balks.

The traits I use are: modest, peaceful, loyal, honest, trusting, courageous, forgiving

I create the scores by rolling 3d6. To test, I roll d20. I also use modifiers based on what I think is appropriate.

How I use the system is like this: 1) PC commands the NPC to go in first. I would roll against the courageous trait.

2) PC slights the NPC. I would roll against forgiving to see if NPC holds a grudge that could come up later (as a negative modifier on other rolls).

3) An enemy NPC offers a bribe to the henchman. I would roll against loyal to see if accepted or not.

Basically, in any situation where the NPC may or may not do something, I roll. The trait scores can change over time, based on how the PC treats the NPC.

This has made for some interesting situations where the PC has said the henchman will do something and the henchman has not (You're going in. No, I'm not. Yes you are.)

Players do not know the trait scores but over time, they can get an idea of what a henchman is like (ie: Henchman is slow to jump in, probably has low courageous but will never run so has high loyal score. A PC has a henchman like this. He knew the henchman would never jump into a fight right away, but would not leave him if he went down. In another situation, the PC took a high courageous score for loyalty and when he went down, the henchman fled.)

Anyway, I thought I would pass along this idea. Enjoy.

Actually, you can use this with major NPCs. If I know a NPC will be having regular contact with the PCs, I'll give the NPC these traits so I can see how the NPC will react in different situations.

For example, if the PCs always go to a certain bar, I will give the bartender a loyalty trait to see what happens if the players need him to cover for them. It's interesting to see the player's reactions when they find out how (dis)loyal Ol ' Tom is.

The Northern DM


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