Players as NPCs

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
The party walks into a busy market square. A group of guardsmen push past at a fast walk. Starving dogs risk getting trampled to catch bits of fallen food. You walk around some people in colorful garb, clearly originating from across the sea. That's when you spot the lord of Lenchile, accompanied by his witch/concubine...

Player 1: Hey, what country were the colorful folks from? I want to talk to them.

GM: Um, Brillea. Anyway, Shilara doesn't doesn't notice you, but her evil cat does...

Player 1: I'll talk to the Brillean wearing the most jewelry. "Good day, esteemed guest! I am Rockhead of clan Rocksalt. Have you been in our country long?"

GM: Chris, would you play the Brillean? Extra credit for inventing a name.

Player 2: "A dirty mercenary. How pleasant. Do you come to beg of my coin, mysir Rockhead?"




Players can add new ideas, voices, and a little chaos to the game by playing an unplanned NPC once in a while. I haven't (yet) tried it, but with the occasional GM prompt, I don't see why a little player effort can't go a long way. It wouldn't hurt to bribe that player with some sort of reward, either...

Do you ask PCs to play NPCs?

What are the pitfalls or possibilities?

Would you jump in and play an NPC if the GM asked you?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

payn

Legend
I usually refrain from this unless the players PC is not in the scene. Even then, thats less fun for me as GM, and I certainly dont want that ;)
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I was in a 5e game where the DM had a friend or two drop in for one shots to play NPCs, but not with the players that were there doing it.

Does a 13th Age "Montage" allow narration of some NPCs?
 


GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I usually refrain from this unless the players PC is not in the scene. Even then, thats less fun for me as GM, and I certainly dont want that ;)
What about when NPCs engage each other? Do you have twice as much fun then? 🤓
I was in a 5e game where the DM had a friend or two drop in for one shots to play NPCs, but not with the players that were there doing it.

Does a 13th Age "Montage" allow narration of some NPCs?
Don't know about 13th Age (besides it has some cool ideas), but those drop-in friends count as PCs in my book, not PNPCs.

Given some of the PCs I've met, I don't know that they would be as verbose in most scenes as some NPCs. Take Strider - he's a pretty quiet guy when he's not in the company of elves or nobles.

The OP idea lends itself to my idea - that each party should have a spokesperson/leader - which frees up the other PCs to play NPCs if desired.
 


I have definitely done that before. Usually when we're playing lighter sessions with lots of NPCs who aren't preloaded with hefty backstories. In order for it to work best, though, I always pay close attention and am perfectly willing to promote the formerly background character to primary NPC status. I guess this might be obvious. I just wouldn't want it to be a scene that by definition can't have any ongoing significance. I think it can be a fun way for players to engage with the world and to introduce new threads or highlight elements of the setting that they find intriguing.
 

aco175

Legend
When we are in big social areas with many NPCs I have a couple players who offer dialogue. Mostly without being asked. They make up stuff faster than me and offer suggestions that I have not thought of.
 

Having players puppet minor NPCs is especially common in my PBPs, like the one I've been reposting in Story Time. The play-by-posts I'm accustomed to give more narrative control to players and long scenes can play out with NPCs having dialogue exchanges with the PCs.

Plus, in my current game, the PCs are commanders of a space fleet, so they have tremendous authority and responsibility over thousands of their subordinate NPCs...
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top