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Answering listener questions about NPC issues.


- Mickey and Bill

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  • Patrick D.

    I wonder if sometimes Capability is disguised as favoritism and favoritism is disguised as knowing someones capability. For example Mickey knows me, while I’ve never NPCed with him at any games we both PC Ravenholt and tend to interact frequently, which means he has at least some idea of a baseline capability for me. I wonder if sometimes a plot person will look as a number of NPCs and assign the important role to the person they know, not necessarily out of favoritism but out of a sleep deprived relief at being able to hand the character to a person who they know can take care of it and they won’t have to guide them much if at all. Are the other NPCs that didn’t get the part capable of playing the role just as well, sure, but the plot person doesn’t know that yet, but they’ve been playing/interacting with NPC A for a decade, and the new NPCs have come from another game and they don’t really know the plot person. So was the person really playing favorites, probably not, but it could easily look that way if they made that decision repeatedly.

    On the flip side of that coin is the plot person that plays favorites and then tells the other NPCs that they only did it, because they know NPC A can handle it and they needed to make a quick decision, or the “Well we talk all the time so it was easy for me to hand him the part a couple of weeks ago so he could prep for it”.

    It’s hard to tell the difference between the two from the outside, and I’d say even from the inside. I think the mentoring focus that you plan to have, Mickey, makes it less of an issue, because there is a stated goal of bring new NPCs along and helping them learn the craft. I also think that you and Bill are right, as an NPC I will have to be honest with myself and you about my capabilities. Knowing that the reason I didn’t get the day one cool fighter guy wasn’t because I wasn’t your friend, but because I don’t have any hands on experience with the rules system and I won’t have been able to pull it off.

    On another subject, I’m wondering, what’s your opinion on NPCs talking notes. I don’t mean IG, unless it’s right for the specific character, but more like having a notebook where they can write stuff that has happened down, character development ideas and events. Notes about over heard conversations that Plot might like to know about OOG. I don’t know about you, but by the end of a weekend I’m usually struggling to remember Friday night, and that’s just as a PC. I’m more worried I won’t have the memory to remember what I said about Character A, or remember that it was Character B that came from place X and not Character C. I’m thinking that I’m going to get a moleskin and write down as much stuff in the downtime just to make sure that it’s there for reference.


    Mar 15, 2012 at 9:10 am
  • Jeremy Reel

    Hurray people are talking about my observations!

    Mar 19, 2012 at 8:55 am
  • Jeremy Reel


    Mar 19, 2012 at 9:11 am
  • Liam

    Great episode. One important lesson I think that came from this is to try to see things from the other perspectives (staff, PC, NPC). When NPCing remember what it feels like when you are staff and an NPC signs up and flakes out on you, or remember that the PCs are the Paying Customer, and you are there to entertain them. When PCing, remember the staff may not have fully briefed every NPC with loads of info before you keep that NPC off the field for an hour interrogating a throw away role. And for the love of Pete, always treat the NPCs with respect and show some appreciation to them afte an encounter, it goes a long way.

    Mar 20, 2012 at 7:16 am
  • Eric

    It’s a tough situation. Look at some movie directors like John Ford and James Cameron who have used certain actors in multiple movies (even in the smaller roles) because they know what that person will bring to the table.

    One of the best things you can do when you have newer cast is to use some minor favoritism with them. Give newer kids something juicy for a single game and see how they can handle it. From there, write up stories that maybe give some of them a 2 game arc.

    Mar 21, 2012 at 10:58 am