Game Design

Friday Snippets

Tabletop Gaming News - 30 June 2017 - 11:00am
Would you believe the year is half-over already? Yeah. As we stand on the cusp of July, the first half of the year is behind us. Is it going by fast for you, too? It certainly has for me. Personally, I’m ready for autumn, because it’s my favorite time of year. Plus, I want to […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

21 Days Survival Board Game Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 30 June 2017 - 10:00am
The sea is a cruel mistress. Entirely unforgiving, if you’re stranded out there, the chances of survival are slim. But the spirit to continue on is strong. That’s just what the survivors of the Esperanza, a ship that went down with 163 people not getting out. Four did, and they’re hoping that they’ll be found. […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Togg The Mercenary Available To Order For Beyond the Gates of Antares

Tabletop Gaming News - 30 June 2017 - 9:00am
All the races in Beyond the Gates of Antares were once human. But with the different planets they all colonized, and the different environmental factors therein, they diversified. Well, Togg’s race was once human. But where he came from and if there are more like him is a mystery. Found on a crashed ship and […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Critters Below Survival Card Game Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 30 June 2017 - 8:00am
When the bombs start to fall from the sky, the safest place to be is in another country that’s not having such an issue… but when that’s not an option, you might want to head underground. Safe (relatively) below the surface, you do your best to stay alive. It’s not just the bomb blasts that […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

ClawCon Coming To Saint Robert, Missouri This October

Tabletop Gaming News - 30 June 2017 - 8:00am
I wish it was October. I really do. It’s quite possibly my favorite month. The cool temperature. The beautiful leaves. Plus, it tends to rain a lot (and yes, I realize it’s been raining a lot in Atlanta these past couple days). And if I happened to be anywhere near Saint Robert, Missouri in October, […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

CMON Posts Designer Interview For A Song of Ice and Fire Miniatures Game

Tabletop Gaming News - 30 June 2017 - 7:00am
Are you excited about the A Song of Ice and Fire Miniatures Game? I’m guessing you are. It’s alright. It’s only natural. I know a lot of you are wanting to know more about the game before its Kickstarter launches next month. Well, to help with that, CMON has posted up a short interview with […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Simulating Finance in Games - by Ameen Altajer

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 30 June 2017 - 6:45am
In this article, I talk about how games provide the perfect environment to simulate economy and how it simulate certain financial behaviors, I really loved "Horizon: Zero Dawn" so that's why I keep referring to it a lot to support my arguments.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Forge World Taking Orders For Telemon Dreadnoughts For 40k

Tabletop Gaming News - 30 June 2017 - 6:00am
Many times I have shown my envy at the Custodians of the 40k universe. There are certainly times I’ve had to go into a bathroom to clean it and wish I had dreadnought armor to protect me. For those really big jobs, the Legio Custodes have the Telemon Dreadnoughts. You can order yours now from […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Making a Thing: Camp Adventure – Part 4

Gnome Stew - 30 June 2017 - 1:00am

NPCs are a GM’s best friend (as far as I’m concerned.) It’s one thing to describe the world to your players. It’s an entirely different thing to show them the world through the varied eyes of the people who call it home. Camp Adventure is no different. The NPCs of the setting are what bring it to life, both the counselors and the other campers.

Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the counselors and how I like to set up NPCs.

Think Anawanna-wanna…

Here’s a section from the text about the counselors:

At Camp Adventure, we believe in real inclusion. It’s possible that campers will encounter people of races and backgrounds of whom they had only previously heard stories. The goal of Camp Adventure is to prepare would-be adventurers for the world. Our world, especially below The Line, is a diverse, complicated place. Camp Adventure reflects that diversity as actively as possible.

This is brochure-style speak, but I wanted to make sure to have it in the text. This diversity is important to me, in a lot of ways. To that end, the counselors I’ve written so far are a varied lot. Let’s meet them!

Dolruum (Head of the Camp) – Minotaur Bard

  • More voice than horns
  • Doesn’t take any guff
  • Always wants to see people do their best

Gorrat Mountainbreaker – Ogre Fighter/Rogue

  • Friendly to a fault
  • Patient and kind
  • Loves all reptiles

Senda Slepshir – Elven Wizard

  • Proudly reckless
  • Happiest when teaching others
  • Fond of shenanigans

Bolbat – Hobgoblin Barbarian

  • No tomfoolery
  • Proud of the accomplishments of those he trains
  • Loves romance novels

Gulplood – Bullywug Cleric of Light

  • Pays attention to everything
  • Devout but kind
  • Gambles and games

This lot of folks is the first batch of NPCs I created, and they’re there because I needed them for the playtests I’ve run.

For me, for those purposes, an NPC needs to have a few things:

  • A name. Always a name.
  • A role. This is their class, or in the case of Dolruum, his role at the Camp itself.
  • Some Background-type information, so I can roleplay them.

Like I said, this was for playtests. The actual stats behind these folks were largely unimportant. I have enough knowledge of where the numbers need to fall if I have to add bonuses to any of their die rolls. And for the spellcasters, I can skim the book really quickly if I need a spell. The information above is enough for me for one session of play. In those moments I need to make them memorable to the players, not worry about the crunch behind them.

If I were writing these NPCs just for my own purposes, this is where I’d stop. I might flesh them out a bit more, but the counselors aren’t the focus of the action in Camp Adventure. They’re not the ones in combat, or facing challenges; that’s the players and the kid NPCs. The role of the counselors in Camp Adventure is to be the larger-than-life badass mentors and instructors that the campers need to have an awesome summer and leave the camp as adventurers.

But!

I am working on making this something that gets published, so these NPCs need more than that. Those descriptions above are a good start, but they’re just that: a start. If people who aren’t me are going to use these folks, we’ll need something more solid.

Let’s start with Gulplood.

Gulplood

Race: Bullywug
Class and Level: Cleric 6
Domain: Knowledge

STR: 11 (+0)
DEX: 13 (+1)
CON: 9 (-1)
INT: 15 (+2)
WIS: 20 (+5)
CHA: 12 (+1)

HP: 34
AC: 11
Speed: 20ft., Swim 40

Racial Abilities: As Bullywug Entry in the Monster Manual

Proficiencies:
Light and Medium Armor, Shields
All Simple Weapons
Saving Throws – Wisdom (+8), Charisma (+4)
Skills: Religion (+11), Persuasion (+4), History (+7), Nature (+8)
Languages: Common, Bullywug, Amphibians, Celestial, Abyssal, Elven, Minotaur

Background: Seeker of the Truth

Personality Traits
Devout, but Kind
Pays Attention to Everything

Ideals
The Truth May Never Be Found, but I Will Never Stop Seeking

Bonds
I Hold to the Faith and Will be a Light to Others

Flaws
I Can’t Say No to a Deck of Cards

Spells and Abilities
0 Level: Light, Sacred Flame, Mending, Thaumaturgy
1st Level: Cure Wounds, Purify Food and Drink, Sanctuary, Shield of Faith, Identify*
2nd Level: Aid, Calm Emotions, Silence
3rd Level: Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Sending, Suggestion*
* Domain Spells

Channel Divinity: 2/rest
– Turn Undead
– Knowledge of the Ages
– Read Thoughts

Blessings of Knowledge

Details: Though they are newcomers onto the the national stage in the 12 Marches, Bullywugs have become indispensable to many local economies. A number of different races who are unable to speak common share amphibious backgrounds, and Bullywugs are able to communicate with them. This is how Gulplood came to leave his family’s pod and venture out into the world. It wasn’t long before he was consumed by both a lust for knowledge and for the Ultimate Truth. His journeys have taken him far and wide across the 12 Marches, and down below the Line on more than one occasion.

Now, in his capacity as a counselor at Camp Adventure, Gulplood seeks the truths that can be found through teaching. He views every camper as an opportunity to enrich his view of the world, and he voraciously collects as much information about a camper’s views and options as he is able. The quests he gives are almost experiment-like, in that he varies them little from group to group; he wants to see how different groups react to the same situations, thus expanding his knowledge, albeit within a limited sphere.

So, there’s your fleshed-out version of Gulplood. Obviously, this is still a draft, and there’s a lot more that could be done here. The point of this was to make sure that the most important things were down here. From that perspective, it doesn’t matter what gear he has or how much gold is in his purse. With the stats and information above, most GMs could pick up Gulplood and run him without much issue.

That, to me, is the heart of writing an NPC: you have to give the GM what they need to make the character come to life. That’s priority number 1. Without that, the NPC is just a bunch of stats on a page and you might as well just lift a monster from the Monster Manual and re-skin it. The details of Gulplood’s Background (there will eventually be a fleshed-out version of a bunch of different Backgrounds) are what can bring him to life.

There are other details in his character that point to how to roleplay him as well. His spell selection is designed for what he sees on a daily basis. Calm Emotions for a group of rowdy campers? Silence? Yes, please. All of those choices speak to who this character is and can inform a GM of how to approach playing this NPC.

Awful Waffle, Awful Waffle

(I’m in a Salute Your Shorts mood. What can I say?)

For the first time in this series of articles, I think I’ve found a vein I want to keep digging up. In the next article or two, I’ll show you sketches of more NPCs, as well as some fleshed-out versions that you could pick up and use in your games right now. In the meantime, if you’ve got thoughts about NPC presentation in game supplements, or want to share how you NPC when you’re GMing, drop that stuff in the comments.

Until next time!

Categories: Game Theory & Design

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