log in or register to remove this ad

 

How Do You Feel About NPC Party Members (A Poll)

Why not just tone down the difficulty of combat encounters so the extra GMPCs aren't needed? I mean, as GM, everything is up to you so toning down the difficulty of combat is a simple choice you can just make. I once ran a decent length campaign for a single player playing a single PC, and not once did I need to have a GMPC in order to make combat survivable. As GM you control how the imaginary world works, you can easily make combat survivable for a party without needing extra GMPCs, it's a trivial thing to do!

If the GM is concentrating on making combat survivable, what is the point? The GM is just handing out participation trophies.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
If a NPC becomes a long term member of the group (more than one adventure) it becomes the secondary character of a player or it leaves. I give the player the NPCs behaviour guidelines. The NPC resists any player shenanigans to make it do things against these guidelines. It can also leave if it feels mistreated.

Very useful when you have two players. In the past I had campaign with two players (wizard and druid) who ran a NPC each (2 fighters). Their main characters took all the decisions. Over time the players grew very attached to their secondary characters.
 

aco175

Legend
We had a PC with the noble background, which gives you 3 NPCs to go with the PC. The player chose them all and ran them with only the myself chiming in a few times, but they mostly stayed in the background. I think he had a squire, a groom, and a page who held a lantern. After a few levels, only the squire gained any power. He eventually became more of a 2nd PC gaining some levels but staying roughly half the power of the PCs.

Not sure how many others had this happen to them. The extras were NPCs, but are also part of character creation for the player, so they kind of blur the lines. We discussed it before play started and came up with basic roles they played. It was good to have the 3 of them guard the horses and wagon when the PCs are in a dungeon.
 


Why not just tone down the difficulty of combat encounters so the extra GMPCs aren't needed? I mean, as GM, everything is up to you so toning down the difficulty of combat is a simple choice you can just make. I once ran a decent length campaign for a single player playing a single PC, and not once did I need to have a GMPC in order to make combat survivable. As GM you control how the imaginary world works, you can easily make combat survivable for a party without needing extra GMPCs, it's a trivial thing to do!
Because I do not want to do that. Having a GMPC works best for us.
 


I have, at times, used NPCs pretty heavily, either at the other players' request, or to fill a role in a small group.

In one capmaign in particular, I used an NPC rogue in a group that had only three player characters. The rogue would go off ahead of the party, and either come back and tell them what was coming up, or would get caught and need to be rescued. I used a simple d6 to determine how successful the rogue was in his scouting. One a 1, he was caught. On a 2, he was spotted and fled back to the party, of a 3 through 5 he returned with useful, if not perfect information. On a 6 he returned with information good enough to give the players a small advantage. The players seemed to really enjoy this set up.

I've used NPCs adventurers both well and poorly. I've seen NPC adventurers sued both well and poorly by other DMs.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
I have had players actively angry with me for killing off beloved NPC's that I have created; thus why I usually try to have them make and run their own NPC's.
 

pemerton

Legend
I am the GM of a Classic Traveller campaign. The "party" - ie starship owner + crew + sundry hangers-on - peaked at about 18 members. The players had 2 PCs each from the start of the campaign; the others sit in a liminal space between PC and NPC depending on context.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Too bad I missed the survey. Oh well, here's my take anyway... :)

We've used adventuring-NPC party members since forever, they're just part of the game for us. They show up usually for one or more of the following reasons:

--- the party are missing a key component (usually healing or thieving IME) and recruit to fill it - this is by far the most common reason*
--- the NPC is along as a plot device e.g. a spy or turncoat or active observer
--- the NPC is provided by the module being run e.g. a rescued prisoner with adventuring skills (example of the last two combined: Teldroll Storis the Dwarf, in Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun)
--- the NPC is met or found in the course of adventuring and is taken in, e.g. a would-be foe who switches sides.

Party NPCs are rolled exactly as if they were normal PCs, except if their stats are given as part of a module I'll almost always use those. In play they die about as often as the PCs do, earn xp and treasure shares just like the PCs, and so forth. I give them all character and personality; some end up loved, others hated, others are forgotten as soon as they leave the party. If an NPC looks like it's getting too powerful I'll try to find a reason for it to wander away, though there's been times in the past I've tried this with a popular NPC and the party actively talked it into staying.

* - for example: since covid I've been running my wife in a one-player game. She wants a party of about six adventurers but doesn't want to run six characters, so she runs two or three and the rest are NPCs. She does the rolling for all six; I roleplay the NPCs otherwise, or else she'd have no-one to talk to except herself when it came to discussing plans, etc. I make sure my NPCs don't always have the best answer or brightest idea (sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, and sometimes their ideas are just plain dangerous), and most of the time they do what they're told in any case.

In a more normal multi-player party I don't mind having at least one NPC, if for no other reason than if someone's PC dies the NPC is there to be taken over as a stop-gap so the player still has something to do.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
I guess it seems odd to me to work out how you DON'T have GMPCs. Do the players just never make relationships, or is there some kind of artificial game-thing they do? If they need a skill and someone joins them to help, do they then just forget they needed the skill and ditch the guy?

I mean, it's not like in the real world the exact same group stays around, repelling all new members as it grows and adapts. Is this just a gamist thing that groups do to keep things easier?
 

Puddles

Explorer
The party in my current campaign has 2 NPCs with them. The reason I added them to the party was for immersion and world building. Both Dwarves, 1 is the son of a Forgelord from the Dwarven hold they are helping. The other is an old Dwarf that's there to look after the pack donkey and help set up camp.

The son of the Forgelord was added so the players felt like the Dwarves were taking an active role and not just leaving it all up to the PCs, I invented my own rules for him that are simple, rather than creating an NPC with a real class etc. As he is a tank, it's also quite useful to use him as a punchbag. If anyone in the party dies, it'll be him!

The second NPC is there as a comic relief character and likely won't fight. The party have already had a lot of fun interacting with him.

Neither of them make any decisions or solve any puzzles of course. Once we are back in civilisation, they will likely wonder off and find something to keep them busy.
 


Puddles

Explorer
One of the clever ways I've used npc's, is by telling my players that the npc's involved in a particular battle take care of 'the rest' of the enemies that they don't see. They are off screen for the purpose of actually playing out the battle, but I told them to imagine a battle between many more individuals happening all around them.

Yes I have done something similar. There was a battle in the Dwarven Hold against an army of Gnolls. The party was being escorted to safety by a Forgelord and his Honour Guard when they were attacked on both sides of the alley. The party held the rear, while the Honour Guard fought those in front. I quickly created some Warhammer Age of Sigmar style stat lines for the Honour Guard and the Gnolls, so at the end of each round I could roll a few dice and tell them how many of the Gnolls were slain and how many of the Honour Guard fell. It was super quick but helped simulate a much bigger fight.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
NPCs traveling companions? Sure. DMPCs? No way.

If the party need not bring them along, can expel them at any time, and they are explicitly not the DM's proxy, just an NPC with NPC goals and motivations, sure. Then it's up to the party if they want them around.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I have a GMPC, because it is the only way that we can have enough PCs. Only one of my players is at the point where she can take on two PCs. The other tried, but he didn't do too well at it. Even then, we sometimes have to drag my husband in if we are getting slaughtered.
Stop a second - there are plenty of ways without having a GMPC. Have an NPC. Use the sidekick rules and have the DM run them in combat. Have beasts and others that have no voice or say in what the party does go with them.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
If the GM is concentrating on making combat survivable, what is the point? The GM is just handing out participation trophies.
Isn't this equally as true if the GM is concentrating on making combat survivable by running allies with the party? Can't have it both ways.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I guess it seems odd to me to work out how you DON'T have GMPCs. Do the players just never make relationships, or is there some kind of artificial game-thing they do? If they need a skill and someone joins them to help, do they then just forget they needed the skill and ditch the guy?

I mean, it's not like in the real world the exact same group stays around, repelling all new members as it grows and adapts. Is this just a gamist thing that groups do to keep things easier?
A GMPC is not an NPC. It's a Player Character run by the DM. It is the DM's personal mouthpiece and proxy, just like the characters are for the players. The party has no choice but to incorperate the GMPC, just like it does any other PC.

None of those apply to an NPC.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
A GMPC is not an NPC. It's a Player Character run by the DM. It is the DM's personal mouthpiece and proxy, just like the characters are for the players. The party has no choice but to incorperate the GMPC, just like it does any other PC.

None of those apply to an NPC.
To me they're the same thing. An adventuring NPC in the party is every bit as much a part of it as are each of the PCs - if for no other reason than people in the game world don't go around with little stickers on their foreheads that say PC or NPC and thus the PCs have no reason to treat the NPC any differently - and thus is allowed to have character, opinions, preferences, etc. and maybe even the occasional bright idea.

The party have every bit as much choice on incorporating a party NPC as they do a PC.

====================

Just for kicks, after posting my earlier thoughts above as to why NPCs end up in the party, I went back through my game logs and started running the numbers. Still in progress, but early returns indicate that over time by far the biggest driver behind having NPC adventurers in the party has been the players-as-PCs themselves!

Straight-up proactive recruitment of new full members is the greatest cause of party NPCs, and it's not even close.
A significant subset of this is recruitment of henches who, quite often, later get promoted to full members.
Another big NPC generator is rescued friendly prisoners who join the party to help finish the adventure and then sometimes stick around.
Charmed or captured enemies who join the party not of their own volition is another (usually short-term) NPC generator.
Other less-common party NPC generators include module-driven plot devices, local guides, field observers, PC companions, merging with another entire party in the field, ex-foes switching sides, etc.

Of all of these, only the plot devices and the field observers can really be seen as DM-forced. All the others are either directly player-driven or due to the players' in-character choice(s) and-or action(s).
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
To me they're the same thing. An adventuring NPC in the party is every bit as much a part of it as are each of the PCs - if for no other reason than people in the game world don't go around with little stickers on their foreheads that say PC or NPC and thus the PCs have no reason to treat the NPC any differently - and thus is allowed to have character, opinions, preferences, etc. and maybe even the occasional bright idea.

The party have every bit as much choice on incorporating a party NPC as they do a PC.

====================

Just for kicks, after posting my earlier thoughts above as to why NPCs end up in the party, I went back through my game logs and started running the numbers. Still in progress, but early returns indicate that over time by far the biggest driver behind having NPC adventurers in the party has been the players-as-PCs themselves!

Straight-up proactive recruitment of new full members is the greatest cause of party NPCs, and it's not even close.
A significant subset of this is recruitment of henches who, quite often, later get promoted to full members.
Another big NPC generator is rescued friendly prisoners who join the party to help finish the adventure and then sometimes stick around.
Charmed or captured enemies who join the party not of their own volition is another (usually short-term) NPC generator.
Other less-common party NPC generators include module-driven plot devices, local guides, field observers, PC companions, merging with another entire party in the field, ex-foes switching sides, etc.

Of all of these, only the plot devices and the field observers can really be seen as DM-forced. All the others are either directly player-driven or due to the players' in-character choice(s) and-or action(s).
These are commonly defined terms. It's fairly irrelevant if you treat them as the same thing.

Also, you ignore a huge part of the definition - the difference between a GMPC beign the DM's proxy like a PC is for a player. A DM runs NPCs according to their in-world goals, not as his private character.

But to get back to your claims, how many PCs were created by players and never got to adventure with the group because they weren't accepted? Checking your claim that they don't wear PC t-shirts.
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top