5E Does the world exist for the NPC's?

Celebrim

Legend
Does the world exist for the NPC's?
Yes, or at least, they can.

The proof of this is that things can happen and events can progress "off stage". And in particular, many GM's feel some obligation to have the events that transpire off stage be believable, so that if the PC's were there, they would observe something that could happen within their frame of reference. Thus the events that occur on and off stage are operating by the same set of rules.

Now, a much tougher to answer question is, "Ought the world exist for the NPCs?"

There are certainly times even in a world where events occur offstage, where in the best interests of the story the GM freezes events until the PC's arrive. That is, you can have events which are triggered in the metagame by the PC's arrival which couldn't be plausibly triggered in world by the PC's arrival. In other words, you can have coincidences in your game world that the PC's are a part of, and most of the time the players will wave suspension of disbelief regarding those sort of events because they are a common element of all sorts of narrative fiction.

Yet events like that suggest the world doesn't exist until the PC's arrive.

For my part, I mix and match. There are times I run a game as if the world of the NPCs is fully alive and advancing without the PCs as if the world of the NPCs was being simulated, and I also have coincidences where events happen when the PC's arrive at a location.

One thing that is true of any table top RPG, is that the world of the NPCs is never as fully simulated as the world of the PC's. A human moderator has many advantages over a computer, but the ability to simulate everything is not one of them.
 

aco175

Adventurer
The NPCs are there to support the PCs. They may do things, but this is only in context to move the PCs to action, or to make them believe in your world. Without them you can play a giant dungeon crawl and still have fun, but with them you can add flavor to the story. They story still revolves around the PCs though.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Well, ask yourself this - would you write the world, and the associated stories of how it progresses around and with the NPCs, if you didn't have PCs playing in the world?
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
The extent to which things happen offstage in a given campaign is very much a DMs discretion sprt of thing. So the answer is maybe. My personal taste is to have lots of stuff happening off stage, mostly as a tool to reinforce the passing of time a spur to action qhen needed.
 
Well, ask yourself this - would you write the world, and the associated stories of how it progresses around and with the NPCs, if you didn't have PCs playing in the world?
I don't think that is uncommon actually. I think many DMs have written worlds without having players -- either as thought experiments, tinkering, world building for fun or the basis of writing stories. Probably most of what DMs create is never interacted with by PCs. From my observation few players care about the details of world building. These are the same players when they get to long dialogs in CRPGs just skip write through them.

IMHO, the world has to be written for the NPCs to add verisimilitude to it, but the PCs have to be able to impact that world.

Otherwise, every D&D story becomes just another adventure in Westworld.
 

Jonathan Tweet

Adventurer
The world exists primarily for the PCs and secondarily for the NPCs. In 13th Age, the players exercise some authorial control over the setting, especially as it relates to their own characters. Currently, my group is running through Eyes of the Stone Thief, and we decided that the "Priestess" NPC was instead, in our campaign, the "Mystic", a woolly-headed Deepak Chopra figure. The NPCs, even the most powerful NPCs in the setting, are there for the PCs and the players.
 
Meh. Almost every fan of anything in the sci-fi/fantasy genres is a frustrated novelist.
I suspect that may be overstating it, but have never seen any hard data. But, assuming that's the case, wouldn't they generally answer 'yes' to your question, because it's a creative outlet, rather than because "The world exists for the NPCs?"
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Well, ask yourself this - would you write the world, and the associated stories of how it progresses around and with the NPCs, if you didn't have PCs playing in the world?
If you don't have PCs, then they aren't NPCs, they're just Cs.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Well, ask yourself this - would you write the world, and the associated stories of how it progresses around and with the NPCs, if you didn't have PCs playing in the world?
It's a common confusion, but for the purpose of this topic I think we have to be very clear - PCs don't play in the world, players do. I think it's a much less interesting question as to whether the world exists for the players. The game and thus the world exists for the game's participants.

When we say the world exists for the PC's or the NPC's, then we have to answer what that question means, given that both are fictional. In the other thread on this topic, the original poster kindly defined what he meant by the question. In this case, we can only infer what the question of the threads topic really means.

The truth is, many GMS do develop their game world independently of having players. Presumably they eventually want to have players, so this still means that world exists for the players, but in some since the world without players still existed for the NPCs.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
When I DM, I insist that 95% of all PCs be simple peasants who have zero capacity for adventuring. When a group of players shows up and every single one of the PCs is some kind of "dark elf bard" or "hill dwarf monk" or "silver dragonborn sorcerer" or some other unrealistic character that is just awfully convenient for going on adventures, it really kills my suspension of disbelief.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It's a common confusion, but for the purpose of this topic I think we have to be very clear - PCs don't play in the world, players do.
With respect, I don't think anyone is confused here, any more than they are confused when they talk about killing players instead of killing PCs.

You may find the language choice to be inaccurate, or that it conceals some other point that's valuable to make, but please don't equate casual language use to confusion.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well, ask yourself this - would you write the world, and the associated stories of how it progresses around and with the NPCs, if you didn't have PCs playing in the world?
Yes and no. Yes, I have things that happen off-screen often without the input of PCs. Either because the group didn't follow that path, it wasn't relative to the PCs at the moment or because it's happening between campaigns.

For example in a recent campaign, the PCs overthrew the "false" king and put in place one of the PCs who was a legitimate heir to the throne. We did some wrap-up stuff (basically resolving how well the PC would rule the kingdom), but the false king and his allies were not completely destroyed.

So now that particular campaign is over, but what are the repercussions? What's the long term effect? Is my new campaign (set in a nearby region) affected by the changes and how? So yes, I'm kind of writing that part of the world's story in my head, jotting notes now and then that I may or may not end up using later. I don't spend a ton of time on it, but I noodle over it sometimes on my drive into work or other times when I'm not plotting out my current campaign.

So are the stories for the NPCs or some potential future PC group? I suspect at some point the story will be added to my overall timeline. Beyond that? Who knows. Depends on if I come up with an interesting plot line that the group wants to pursue in a future campaign or if the current campaign veers off into the unknown and bumps into it.
 

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