Don’t worry, I won’t go theological on you here. Lately, I’ve heard much discussion on the role of NPCs in roleplaying games. Should they be first-class citizens, with lives and motives that exist and develop regardless of where the PC spotlight shines? Or are NPCs mere props that a GM uses for richer storytelling?
Both approaches have downsides. The first threatens to minimize the role of PCs in the story, as the GM focuses not only on the story the players explore, but also on his or her own stories in the background. The second threatens to minimize the role of the setting, as NPCs can become as cheap and plentiful as a +1 magic short sword in 4th Edition D&D.
I tend to fall into the second camp when GMing. My gaming philosophy (oh god, did I really just say that?) focuses on the role of the PCs as actors, and can overlook anything not connected to their actions. But I admit my camp is problematic.
As with most things, if you make a home in a camp, it’ll get old and stinky fast. When forced between two options, look for the third.
(Damn, did I accidentally get theological there?)
- Ensemble or Star Vehicle – Which is Your RPG Campaign? from Campaign Mastery
- Role Playing Isn’t Just for Players from Intwischa
- Zen and the Art of Dungeon Mastering #5: Make It Mean Something! from Critical Hits
- Are Your Characters A Part of the World, or Apart From The World from Tenkar’s Tavern