Welcome to a end of week wrap-up and tonight I drafted something up which is the Pocket of NPCs. This is a tactile DM/GM assistance concept that looks to fix a problem I have and I believe many DMs, new and old, would also have. So as a concept art I will see if I can get kick this off into something more as its just a template for now (its perhaps a bit dark) so we will see how I can refine it.
Pocket of NPCs – What is it?
Simply put its a Large format card (Tarot card for those who want to compare the size – think deck of many things…) that has a image, name, brief background, roleplay advice bond and flaw for any one NPC. The problem we have as DMs face on a session by session basis is that we can not predict or control what the players will do. Nor should we. But this leads to situations where they end up on a street, building or place where we didn’t plan for them to be and what’s worse, talking to someone we haven’t made up yet.
Enter the Pocket of NPCs. Slyly draw one card, rolling for sleight of hand and deception. Describe the face you see in more depth (redraw if you need a different gender or race) and then note down the how to roleplay this NPC part. The background, bond and flaw will come into it more as the conversation continues but a brief few lines of text can save you on the spot.
The party can then choose to invest more energy into this NPC interaction and you can expand from the introductory part in front.
Format of the Pocket of NPC cards
The first thing you will see is a colour image of the person you are describing. Then the name, background and more info is provided. The idea is short, sharp notes a brief history to bring up if the situation warrants and what they would be suited for.
The back is just a snappy logo, neat right!?
Where to next?
Pending if this would be seen as useful this can be expanded to have additional information on the card itself. Accents (if people want to have a go at that), nervous ticks, trinkets they have, notable characteristics or mannerisms and so on.
The next step of this is using the random NPCs to help facilitate one-shots. However, they would need to probably have a class, Villain, bystander, antagonist, quest giver or something like this. This may be something that’s identifiable oh the back of the card for quick reference and to save re-draws or hunting through the deck for a specific NPC. (But there is nothing wrong with that!)
This also opens up other tactile assistance concepts like cards for plot hooks, secondary hooks, location, item/macguffins etc. which means we could randomly generate a oneshot from cards alone. This is something I may look into.
Now… The ease of repetition for this is simple. Artbreeder and nightcafe.studio produce creator owned images that you can download, in decent resolution. In fact after doing this for years I have a library worth of portraits for. The best thing is that to create a new NPC it doesn’t take much time either, and it can be quite fun. However, it’s is still a lot of work to make sure that there is versatility. And the above mentioned software/UIs don’t handle non-human races that well. I have tried (the aarakocra still haunt me).
A bit of a fun one tonight. If you are looking at some one-shots check out the growing library I have of Zines – or have a look through the archives.
This week we will be looking at another Oneshot adventure so don’t forget to come back each day this approaching week. I hope you enjoy what I have in store for you this week. And finally, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe
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