A Newbie’s Guide to NPCing

Every player is expected to play a non-player character (NPC) once in a while. Actually, you may play multiple characters in one day, but you will not play your own character at all that day.

We ask every player to NPC one out of every three events that they attend. As an NPC you may introduce plot to the player characters (PCs) or play an attacking monster.

Below are some things you should know about NPCing.

  1. Head NPCs: Often newer players are put under the watch of a more experienced person who is also NPCing. This even happens with older players. The head NPC will be the most knowledgeable in your group about what your group of NPCs is supposed to be doing. Try not to get separated from them unless they say otherwise. If you have any questions, feel free to ask the head NPC or another knowledgeable player. Don’t disregard instructions that a head NPC gives you. If you want to question them about their decision, do so in a respectful manner, and if the issue still does not get resolved, talk to an event marshal, event holder, or a marshal.

  2. Re-spawning: Re-spawning is used to represent a large group of enemies using a small number of NPCs. As an example, you are to play a skeleton for a while. You will play ten different skeletons, one after another. You are told to go out and attack any non-skeleton you see. You will be killed. You may be searched (see below). After giving the players a chance to search you, the body of your first skeleton will be laying on the floor while you walk a reasonable distance from the PCs (50 feet or out of sight). Then, you will play your second skeleton. Repeat until you have died ten times, and then ask someone in charge what to do next. When you are re-spawning, the players might want to do something funny to you (dissect you, eat you…). This doesn’t require you, the person, to stay with them. Just tell them that they have the body of your skeleton and go re-spawn.

  3. Searching : When a player’s dead, unconscious, or unresistant body is searched, another player can obtain any “searchable” items they have. Game money, plot items, and magic items are examples of searchable items. Jewelry, clothing, and most weapons are examples of unsearchable items. Items may be marked “searchable” or “unsearchable” in some cases. There are two levels of searches that anyone can perform. The first one is “search visible.” The person performing the search says, “search visible,” and counts slowly to ten. The NPC must make the player count – don’t give up your money without making them look for it. After someone does a visible search, they can search concealed, which requires a count to 20.

    Before you play as a PC, you should find out the difference between visible and concealed places to hold items. But as an NPC, you will usually be told you have a certain amount of money visible and a certain amount concealed, or you will simply be told you have a certain amount of money, which means it is visible. If you are a re-spawning NPC, don’t hand over all your money on your first skeleton – spread it out over several of your skeletons.

    Also, as an NPC, you can search dead PCs! Make sure to keep track of what you steal so that if you die, the PCs have a chance to get it back. If you happen to steal something that you think might be plot relevant, alert your head NPC, an event marshal, or the event holder.

  4. OOC: You may go out of character to move from one place to another as an NPC. Open your hand and put your thumb to your temple to signify that you are OOC to any passing players.

  5. Armor: Players may call “armor” when you hit them and not take damage. They’re allowed to do this. They bought the armor with either money or experience. In rare cases, they may call “Protection,” but it’s all the same as far as you’re concerned. Just keep hitting them.

  6. Weapon calls: Players may call something when they attack you. Most calls damage you as normal. Exceptions: “flat,” and “boulder.” Some monsters may not be damaged by certain weapon calls, but you will be told if that is the case. A “flat” hit to your torso knocks you unconscious for a slow 100 count. Flat hits to the limbs do nothing. Instant kills are usually magic spells which will kill you if they hit you anywhere. The instant kill you are most likely to see is a boulder – a large wad of foam covered in grey or brown duct tape. You aren’t likely to see them, but the other instant kills are lightning bolt, fireball, and concussion. Concussion knocks you unconscious, no matter where it hits you.

  7. Remember: You are blade fodder. Most NPC creatures don’t fight very well, so you usually shouldn’t fight to the best of your ability. If you find that you are killing more than one PC per “wave” of NPCs, ease up on the fighting, because death takes time and money to recover from. Sometimes you will be told how many PC injuries should occur for each wave of NPCs. It might be something like “three limb wounds.” So, while it’s fun to beat up people and take their stuff, remember that you’re the bad guy who is supposed to lose. When you’re a PC, you’ll get to win instead.