Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
See, unless an NPC's goals directly demand the PCs' involvement, i see no reason why their plans wouldn't advance independent of the PCs presence. That makes zero sense to me.I often set short term goals for NPCs, but only advance them when PCs are in view of them. Or, rarely, I've declared a Cutscene and done something that had been foreshadowed. Especially if they ignored the foreshadowing.
Sometimes, I'll instead set a timeline and then adjust it for player interaction with it.
It's not a goal pursued in the same way a player's is, but it's something for players to interfere with.
In certain games - most especially Blood and Honor (John Wick), My characters have all the motivations and goals they'd have if PCs... but less screen time. And operate exactly like PCs in every other way. (Including mutability if not full sheet at introduction.) This does change the nature of the GM relationship... since I'm only allowed one character to roll in a risk ... combat excepted. It's a totally different kind of RPG, and it has very different needs and niches. And allows a much more PVGM approach. As well as more PVP approaches.
Likewise, in Burning Empires, it's side vs side, and the GM is part of one side. Often the whole of one side - it's designed for 3 vs 3 characters as key movers in the story, with the the setups being by number of players
Players: GM+1 GM+2 GM+3 GM+4 GM+5 GM+6 Side A Player with 3 PCs 1 player with 2 PCs
1 player with 1 PC
3 players with 1 PC each 3 players with 1 PC each 3 players with 1 PC each 3 players with 1 PC each Side B GM with 3 key NPCs GM with three key NPCs GM with three key NPCs 1 player with 1 PC
GM with 2 key NPCs
2 players with 1 PC each
GM with 1 key NPC
3 players with 1 PC each
GM only plays minor NPCs
I ran with 3 players... I was playing 3 PCs, and doing the task resolution supervision. Resistance to my tasks was done by showing the players the standards and them agreeing on the Ob (target number, for the BW impaired)... Just remember: the default Ob is 2 successes...