Meeting new people can be difficult. As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression; as such, one’s initial meeting with someone they’ve never met can prove challenging. Joining a group you’ve never played with before, or adding in a player who replied to your Meetup ad, is likely to get the nerves going until a couple sessions have passed.
This is likewise true in a number of in-game situations. Your RPG campaigns regularly require fresh faces and first meetings; the initial introduction of the player characters to one another, the addition of new PCs as the game progresses, and perhaps most commonly the appearance of a new non-player character (NPC). The cast of thousands that a game master has (or needs) at their disposal can prove just as difficult to work into the plot. So today, Intwischa is going to try to provide some helpful dialogue to get the ball rolling!
How It Works
The format is pretty universal: When you’re ready to reveal a fresh face to the plotline, simply roll a D10 on each of the four tables that follow and plug the results into the following New NPC Narrator:
“Nearby you see a(n) (NPC Description ), and they immediately draw one’s attention because (NPC Feature ). Before too long, they (NPC Deed ). What the party fails to realize, however, is (NPC Hook )!”
As always, you’re encouraged to change, tweak, and spice up the language or results to fit the situation they’re depicting, even if that means skipping the random part. In addition, you may want to hold back the results for #4 above, and allow (or make?) the party to figure out the hook for themselves. If you think of any irresistible additions, please share them in the comments!
Table 1: NPC Description
1. A strikingly beautiful (humanoid/human/Earth) female
2. An exquisitely dressed member of (high/noble/elite) society
3. A talented troubadour performing for a crowd
4. A mysterious figure, veiled in black except for their eyes
5. A local merchant wearing a leather apron
6. A rustically- dressed member of the clergy
7. A military officer in full uniform
8. A young child with shining eyes & rosy cheeks
9. An elderly being standing with the aid of a cane
10. A ragged beggar holding an empty bowl
Table 2: NPC Feature
1. Their garments seem to be spattered with blood.
2. Of the large tattoo of a (dragon/skull/sword) they’re sporting.
3. Of the huge stack of money they’re compulsively counting.
4. There is an ornate powdered wig decorating their head.
5. They bear an uncanny resemblance to one of the PCs. (GM choice)
6. Of their uncontrolled sobbing into a white handkerchief.
7. They wear a diverse collection of mystic runes around their neck.
8. They’re having a series of very loud conversations- with someone who isn’t there.
9. Of the feral pet they’re barely controlling on a leather leash.
10. There is an audible hum that seems to emanate from deep within their chest.
Table 3: NPC Deed
1. Attempt to pick the pocket/pack/pouch of the nearest PC.
2. Express a sudden infatuation with the favorite weapon of one of the PCs. (GM choice)
3. Preach to the party in an effort to convert them to a local deity. (GM choice)
4. Invite the youngest PC to have dinner with their family.
5. Request that the party takes them on as a fellow adventurer.
6. Emit a horrid series of shrieks and wails, then collapse to the floor.
7. Disappear into thin air.
8. Move to plant a kiss on one of the PCs. (GM choice)
9. Exhort those around them to join their angry mob/militia/throng.
10. Challenge one of the PCs to a contest. (GM choice)
Table 4: NPC Hook
1. The NPC is really a disguised noble.
2. They have unwittingly been transported to an alternate dimension/plane/reality.
3. The NPC is really an incarnated deity/god/celestial being.
4. They have created the NPC through their own psychic projections.
5. The NPC is really an undercover cop/constable/guard.
6. They cannot be seen or heard by anyone but the NPC.
7. The NPC is actually an undead/reanimated/possessed body.
8. The NPC is a time-traveling descendant of one of the party members. (GM choice)
9. They are being intentionally distracted from what’s going on just behind them.
10. The NPC is about to be murdered/kidnapped/arrested right before their very eyes.