• COMING SOON! -- The Awfully Cheerful Engine on Kickstarter! An action comedy RPG inspired by cheerful tabletop games of the 80s! With a foreword by Sandy 'Ghostbusters' Petersen, and VTT support!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

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

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.
"The party has no choice but to incorporate the GMPC, just like it does any other PC"
I think you run a very different game than I then, which may explain my confusion. In my games, no-one -- GM or player -- gets to run a character that the players would prefer not to have around. Our goal is to have fun, and not force people to accept an annoying PC.

If the definition of GMPC is "a character that the GM has forced on you and you have no choice but to incorporate" then I guess meh new answer is no, I have never run such a thing. Nor will I ever.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
Er...what's the difference? I run my private characters according to their in-world goals, just like I do my NPCs.

Or put another way: as DM the NPCs are my private characters. All of 'em, from the once-met shopkeeper to the ten-adventure party NPC.

Not quite sure what you're getting at.
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.
It's rare, to be sure; but it does happen once in a while.

It's also rare a party rejects an NPC unless a) there's something obviously objectionable about it or b) the party feel they already have everything covered that the NPC could provide (e.g. if it's a Thief looking to get into a party that already consists of three Thieves and a Druid it's out of luck; but if it's a Fighter looking to join the same group they'll welcome it with open arms as it'll be the only Fighter they have).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If the definition of GMPC is "a character that the GM has forced on you and you have no choice but to incorporate" then I guess meh new answer is no, I have never run such a thing. Nor will I ever.
Have you never had a party patron send someone along as an adventuring observer? Example: a temple missions the party to recover some stolen items, and sends a Cleric along as an observer to make sure that a) the party maintain moral standards appropriate to the temple during their adventuring and-or b) the party doesn't turn around and steal the recovered items for themselves [edit: and-or c) to help the party recognize what they're looking for]

Have you never put an NPC into a party as a plot device? Example: Bob the Fighter insists on joining the party for the journey from Spieadeia to Cyrax, then on arrival reveals himself to be a major noble who needed to get out of Spieadeia incognito on an important mission, and he used the party as cover.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Have you never had a party patron send someone along as an adventuring observer? Example: a temple missions the party to recover some stolen items, and sends a Cleric along as an observer to make sure that a) the party maintain moral standards appropriate to the temple during their adventuring and-or b) the party doesn't turn around and steal the recovered items for themselves [edit: and-or c) to help the party recognize what they're looking for]

Have you never put an NPC into a party as a plot device? Example: Bob the Fighter insists on joining the party for the journey from Spieadeia to Cyrax, then on arrival reveals himself to be a major noble who needed to get out of Spieadeia incognito on an important mission, and he used the party as cover.
I am absolutely fine with an NPC in the party. The characters may need to take someone which is entirely different then the players being required to take someone along. One's in world, the other is social contract.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
"The party has no choice but to incorporate the GMPC, just like it does any other PC"
I think you run a very different game than I then, which may explain my confusion. In my games, no-one -- GM or player -- gets to run a character that the players would prefer not to have around. Our goal is to have fun, and not force people to accept an annoying PC.

If the definition of GMPC is "a character that the GM has forced on you and you have no choice but to incorporate" then I guess meh new answer is no, I have never run such a thing. Nor will I ever.
So you're saying that you've never been in a game where there was inter-character drama but the players kept in managable because they wanted to keep adventuring together? Wow, that's some dry and bland groups.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Er...what's the difference? I run my private characters according to their in-world goals, just like I do my NPCs.

Or put another way: as DM the NPCs are my private characters. All of 'em, from the once-met shopkeeper to the ten-adventure party NPC.

Not quite sure what you're getting at.

It's rare, to be sure; but it does happen once in a while.

It's also rare a party rejects an NPC unless a) there's something obviously objectionable about it or b) the party feel they already have everything covered that the NPC could provide (e.g. if it's a Thief looking to get into a party that already consists of three Thieves and a Druid it's out of luck; but if it's a Fighter looking to join the same group they'll welcome it with open arms as it'll be the only Fighter they have).
If you are as invested in the success of every single one of your NPCs with goals related to, unrelated to, and against the party to the level that players are invested in their PCs, yet also an impartial DM, you can not exist. Regardless if you mean to, it feels like you are arguing in bad faith because twice in a row it feels like you have made nonsense claims just to take the opposition side. And when called on the last one you didn't follow up - How many of your parties have characters made who never get to adventure with them because there is no social contract that the party should ever be together?
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
For me—as always—it's a matter of verisimilitude. If the player characters are the only adventurers around in a world where there's gold in them thar dungeons, it utterly breaks the suspension of disbelief. The world needs to have lots of rogues and picaros who all want a piece of the action, and if some of these NPCs fall in with some player characters, so be it. After all, it's up to the players to decide whether they'd like to have a larger and possibly more effective party (and more warm bodies to hide behind) at the cost of having to share treasure and experience points with a larger number of allies.
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
If you are as invested in the success of every single one of your NPCs with goals related to, unrelated to, and against the party to the level that players are invested in their PCs, yet also an impartial DM, you can not exist. Regardless if you mean to, it feels like you are arguing in bad faith because twice in a row it feels like you have made nonsense claims just to take the opposition side. And when called on the last one you didn't follow up - How many of your parties have characters made who never get to adventure with them because there is no social contract that the party should ever be together?

Wait—are you seriously suggesting that a DM can't compartmentalize by both being true to the motivations of all the NPCs in the game while also serving as an impartial referee? Because to my way of thinking, true impartiality is only possible if a DM does account for the fullest extent of each NPC's motivations. Even if the DM isn't personally invested in the NPCs' goals, it's vital to recognize that the NPCs are! To the same degree as the player characters!
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Wait—are you seriously suggesting that a DM can't compartmentalize by both being true to the motivations of all the NPCs in the game while also serving as an impartial referee? Because to my way of thinking, true impartiality is only possible if a DM does account for the fullest extent of each NPC's motivations. Even if the DM isn't personally invested in the NPCs' goals, it's vital to recognize that the NPCs are! To the same degree as the player characters!
No. I am seriously suggesting that a DM can not play every single NPC as their own proxy in the game as a player plays a PC, and also compartmentalize.

DMs should be runnign NPCs true to their own motives. He's not claiming that. He's claiming he's running every NPC as a PC.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If you are as invested in the success of every single one of your NPCs with goals related to, unrelated to, and against the party to the level that players are invested in their PCs, yet also an impartial DM, you can not exist.
Yet here I am, notwithstanding. :)
Regardless if you mean to, it feels like you are arguing in bad faith because twice in a row it feels like you have made nonsense claims just to take the opposition side.
Needless to say, I don't feel that my position - that party NPCs and PCs are and can be the same - is nonsense.
And when called on the last one you didn't follow up - How many of your parties have characters made who never get to adventure with them because there is no social contract that the party should ever be together?
I did follow up, see post 42 this thread. To repeat:

A PC being rejected on first trying to join the party is a rare occurrence, but not unheard of. I've also seen PCs killed by the party they were trying to join; both in cases where the players knew the character belonged to a player, and where they did not.

Something to add: I've also had numerous cases where an adventuring NPC became a PC when a player asked to take it over; and also had cases where a PC became an NPC due to its player leaving but asking that the character be kept going as an NPC rather than retire.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
For the second time: what's the difference between these two things?
For at least the second time, a DMPC is acting as the proxy for the DM and as their personal mouthpiece, as a PC runs a player.

To expand out, that's the person of a DM, not the office of the DM. And while you don't seem to have a foundational and probably not enumerated part of social contract that the characters adventure together, if you can believe that other groups do, a DMPC is expected to be treated like a character - adventure with the group, get a share of rewards, etc. It's a PC run by the DM.

Perhaps if my definition isn't helpful, I'd suggest going outside. It's a very common term.

 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
For at least the second time, a DMPC is acting as the proxy for the DM and as their personal mouthpiece, as a PC runs a player.
In other words, an in-party adventuring NPC. It's the same thing.
To expand out, that's the person of a DM, not the office of the DM. And while you don't seem to have a foundational and probably not enumerated part of social contract that the characters adventure together,
Not quite sure what you mean by this - maybe expand a bit further?
if you can believe that other groups do, a DMPC is expected to be treated like a character - adventure with the group, get a share of rewards, etc. It's a PC run by the DM.
Well of course it is! It's a member of the party just like the rest of 'em; and the characters would have no reason to see it as different (unless it was specifically someone's hench, but henches aren't what I'm talking about here).

And to repeat: IME the most common reason for these NPCs being in the party is that the players/PCs put them there. I've finished my analysis on how NPCs - those relevant enough to warrant inclusion in the games' character logs - have come into parties in my three big campaigns. Details are in the spoiler block.

Why and how do NPCs enter adventuring parties:

29.1% - Direct Recruitment. Usually done by the PCs during downtime to fill a role; e.g. we need a Thief so let's go recruit one.
9.7% - Hired Henches. Another form of direct recruitment, separated out from above as the relationship at least starts out quite differently, as while they remain henches these basically just do what their boss (always a PC; I've never had an NPC hire a hench) tells 'em to. However, if they last any length of time these henches often get promoted to full party members at some point, and carry on as full-ride party NPCs.
21.9% - Encountered in the Field. This category covers a wide range of things, the most common of which is meeting a Ranger in the woods and taking it into the party. It also covers meeting another all-NPC party in the field and merging with it (has happened several times); and also covers adventuring foes who switch sides by choice either during or after fighting the PC party. It does not cover rescued prisoners nor charmed captives; these get their own categories below.
12.6% - Rescuees. A common feature of adventures is the classed-and-levelled prisoner or kidnap victim who, if rescued, equipped and cured, will volunteer to - at the very least - help the party finish out that adventure. Often these rescuees fit in well enough that the party keeps them around after that adventure is done. Many PCs have also come in this way.
10.4% - Provided By Module. This category covers NPCs inserted purely as plot devices, or who come as a baked-in part of a particular module, or who are sent with the party as observers. This is the only category where the players/PCs really don't have much choice about accepting the NPC.
7.9% - Captives. Usually captured ex-foes, these end up working for/with the party (due to being charmed or bribed or threatened or - in a few cases - simply fed, watered, and treated well) and last long enough to be worth noting.
8.3% - Other. This catch-all group includes a bunch of oddball reasons for an NPC to join up:
--- companion of a new PC, "we come as a team"
--- intelligent quasi-independent familiar of a PC
--- local guides who end up adventuring with the party usually not by their own choice e.g. party is ambushed or captured or teleported while the guide is still with them
--- cases where the party's first interaction with the NPC is to revive it from death, usually in mid-adventure
--- a fake PC, given to the player to play while I ran the real PC as if an NPC (very long story!)
--- non-adventuring NPCs who were logged simply due to their importance to the party (I usually log these separately but one or two slipped into the main character logs way back when)
--- the NPC is a founding member of a brand new party thus none of the above have yet had a chance to occur

Instant remarks and analysis: I was a bit surprised how large the "Encountered in the Field" category got. A few from the "Other" category could be placed into named groups e.g. the revived-from-death ones could maybe go under Rescuees, but I left them in Other as it's so unusual. I thought there'd be more in the Captives category. The PCs/players have complete choice as to acceptance in all categories except Provided By Module and a few cases under Other e.g. local guides who get stuck with the party.

Numbers are up to date including last session, where two new NPCs were recruited.
Perhaps if my definition isn't helpful, I'd suggest going outside. It's a very common term.

Whatever that reddit bit is, it doesn't load for me.
 
Last edited:

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
In other words, an in-party adventuring NPC. It's the same thing.
Nope. But I'm not going to argue it any more. There's a clear distinction you seem to either be unable to grasp to even discuss. There's no point going further on this topic. Let's talk again on something else in some other thread.
 

Have you never had a party patron send someone along as an adventuring observer? Example: a temple missions the party to recover some stolen items, and sends a Cleric along as an observer to make sure that a) the party maintain moral standards appropriate to the temple during their adventuring and-or b) the party doesn't turn around and steal the recovered items for themselves [edit: and-or c) to help the party recognize what they're looking for]

Have you never put an NPC into a party as a plot device? Example: Bob the Fighter insists on joining the party for the journey from Spieadeia to Cyrax, then on arrival reveals himself to be a major noble who needed to get out of Spieadeia incognito on an important mission, and he used the party as cover.

I've played so many years that it's not impossible I have -- but I honestly can't think of one. In general if there's a player decision to be made, I float it at the end of a session, so I have time to prep based on what the players decide. So in the above cases, I'd tell the players that if they want to, for example, explore the temple, the church will require an observer to come along. I think there's a chance I may have had a session a few years ago when I did this, in a flashback scene where the players were playing other characters than their usual ones, but other than that ... no, I can't recall doing so.

I think it's mostly playing too many bad scenarios where the GM's force-on-you PC is a spy / traitor / whatever that makes me reluctant to use them. I'd prefer to have the players invite someone in, and then corrupt the NPC! Actually I did that in my last campaign of Night's Black Agents. Evil forces attempted to corrupt both PCs and GMPCs -- the GMPC held out longer than one of the PC's actually (NBA has mechanics for this) so one of the players turned traitor, stole the McGuffin and fled a few months before the GMPC invited the other players to a small party with a hidden explosive surprise.
 

For at least the second time, a DMPC is acting as the proxy for the DM and as their personal mouthpiece, as a PC runs a player.

To expand out, that's the person of a DM, not the office of the DM. And while you don't seem to have a foundational and probably not enumerated part of social contract that the characters adventure together, if you can believe that other groups do, a DMPC is expected to be treated like a character - adventure with the group, get a share of rewards, etc. It's a PC run by the DM.

Perhaps if my definition isn't helpful, I'd suggest going outside. It's a very common term.


Here are some quotes from this thread (if you cannot access)

"My rule of thumb is that a DMPC is there because the DM wants them there. An NPC is there because the players do."
"DMPC is a pejorative for an NPC with the party who the DM is trying to get a heroic player experience out of."
"DMPCs are often made using player character leveling systems NPCs are usually static"
"They're built like a PC and they're a member of the party. An NPC might be tagging along ... but they're playing a supporting role."
"An NPC is not a PC, so they don't have to make perception checks, investigation checks, animal handling etc. you can just decide that they did stuff."

My takeaways are that some people believe
  • If it's built using payer rules, it's a GMPC, otherwise it's an NPC
  • GMPCS are NPCs that the GM treats with as much favor than a PC
  • GMPCs are force on you by the GM, NPCs are chosen by the players
Honestly, not much consensus either in this thread or our conversation. The reddit thread seems strongest on "if they are built using PC rules, they are a GMPC" which is at least the most easy to decide on,. even if no-one (I think) is arguing that in this thread.

I think everyone agree that a GMPC is-a NPC; just different people have different criteria over what makes it "more than" a regular NPC. The most common opinion seems to be "because they are built using PC rules". I think Blue's is "the GM treats them differently" and mine would be "no real difference".

I'm not seeing much to decide the issue one way or another. Except that everyone hates a GMPC/NPC who tries to run the party. As they should.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I think everyone agree that a GMPC is-a NPC; just different people have different criteria over what makes it "more than" a regular NPC. The most common opinion seems to be "because they are built using PC rules". I think Blue's is "the GM treats them differently" and mine would be "no real difference".
I debate the "everyone thinks". That's the entire point - the DMPC is a DM's PC. Not an NPC. That's the world of difference.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Here are some quotes from this thread (if you cannot access)

"My rule of thumb is that a DMPC is there because the DM wants them there. An NPC is there because the players do."
"DMPC is a pejorative for an NPC with the party who the DM is trying to get a heroic player experience out of."
"DMPCs are often made using player character leveling systems NPCs are usually static"
"They're built like a PC and they're a member of the party. An NPC might be tagging along ... but they're playing a supporting role."
"An NPC is not a PC, so they don't have to make perception checks, investigation checks, animal handling etc. you can just decide that they did stuff."
The third one of these is absolute for me: adventuring NPCs and adventuring PCs follow exactly the same rules for build, roll-up, level-up, etc.
My takeaways are that some people believe
  • If it's built using payer rules, it's a GMPC, otherwise it's an NPC
Then every levelled NPC I've ever run, be it as party member, opposition, or anything else has been by this definition a GMPC. I don't believe in (and am in fact rather hard-line opposed to) the consistency-breaking 4e-5e school of thought that has NPCs and PCs be mechanically different.
  • GMPCS are NPCs that the GM treats with as much favor than a PC
As much favour is fine. More favour is not fine; and that's always where problems arise.

Believe it or not I've occasionally caught flak from players if they think I'm treating my NPCs with less favour than the PCs, if for example it seems like I'm picking on one in a combat or one hits a run of bad luck.
  • GMPCs are force on you by the GM, NPCs are chosen by the players
This is an interesting distinction and is agnostic of all the above criteria. Oddly enough, there's even times when adventuring NPCs are forced on the GM even though she might not want to run them, as they're a baked-in and not-easily-rewriteable part of an adventure.
Honestly, not much consensus either in this thread or our conversation. The reddit thread seems strongest on "if they are built using PC rules, they are a GMPC" which is at least the most easy to decide on,. even if no-one (I think) is arguing that in this thread.

I think everyone agree that a GMPC is-a NPC; just different people have different criteria over what makes it "more than" a regular NPC. The most common opinion seems to be "because they are built using PC rules".
Which, again, I just don't get. If your party goes and recruits an NPC Thief then (ideally) that Thief is going to be rolled up just like any other played character. Hell, if I'm strapped for time mid-session I might even get a player to do the basic rolling for me.
I think Blue's is "the GM treats them differently"
If the GM's treating her NPCs differently than she is the PCs, there's a problem.
I'm not seeing much to decide the issue one way or another. Except that everyone hates a GMPC/NPC who tries to run the party. As they should.
I've nothing against NPCs having input to discussions etc. either as player or DM. That said, the trick as DM is to allow your party NPCs to make mistakes and come up with wrong or dumb suggestions roughly as often as the PCs do, to prevent the players/PCs from always looking to the NPC for the right answer or best idea.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top