The life of the NPC

WISH 71: Unwritten NPCs

For GMs : when you plan or play your NPCs, do you intentionally leave out some of the story for each? Do you hold something back and let the Players imagine the rest or do you present NPCs from the core of who they are?

What I generally try to do with NPCs is present them based off of a core idea of their character, with all the contradictions and oddities that that generally entrails, but at the same time I’m listening to what the players are doing with that character, how they read them, what they think is going on with them, and incorporate the best of those ideas as well.
This has worked particularly well lately within the Nobilis game, most notable where ***Dave has picked up on a tremendous amount of the hidden stuff within Haley, the Power of Imagination, and run with it. Good stuff.

For Players : Do you rely on the NPC as presented, or are you usually looking ?between the lines? to figure the elements that are hold-backs?

I’m naturally inclined to be narcissistic in real life, so thinking about NPC motivations isn’t my strongest suit. Since I write up stuff on my own, I tend to come up with involved reasons for NPC actions that, while amusing to the GM, are nowhere near the real deal.

Do you care that the NPCs might have as many conflicted qualities as the PCs?

Only if it’s somehow relevant.

Should a game really revolve around the PCs in every respect, including a certain ?artificial? quality to the secondary cast? Or are you happier if the NPCs are ?sticky??

I prefer NPCs who seem to have lives going on beyond what’s going on with my character — that makes them more interesting tome and shakes me out of my natually PC-centric POV.