How do I have NPCs think and act irrationally, and have them be persuaded by social maneuvering that is *not* grounded in logical arguments?I run games wherein talking to NPCs and convincing them to do things is the single most important activity.I am apparently *very* talented at introducing NPCs and portraying first impressions. Whomever I GM for tends to compliment me on how colorful, distinct, and memorable my NPCs are. Sometimes, they claim to be so engrossed with these NPCs that they want to spend a whole session simply talking to them, and I have accommodated such players at times.The problem is that I am rather autistic, and thus I can manage only a superficial charm with these NPCs. Sooner or later (sometimes shortly after being introduced, sometimes after a few sessions), the charm wears off, and my players complain about my NPCs being same-y, all having the same thought processes despite different goals and outward demeanors, and being difficult to convince.One common remark about my NPCs is that past the superficial charm, they are autistic robots like me. They always try to act and achieve goals as rationally as possible (even if their outward personality is "energetic and childlike"), and I only ever allow them to be swayed by arguments grounded in some form of logic.In particular, I am apparently so autistic that I do not even realize that a player is trying to socially maneuver and trick or persuade an NPC, so I give the player no chance to successfully convince the NPC.I do not claim to be a perfectly rational person myself, but it seems that I unwittingly make all of my NPCs as rational- and logical-minded as possible. So, how can I fix this? How do I make NPCs act in distinct fashions beyond superficial demeanors, and how do I make them more receptive to emotional arguments and other non-logos-based social maneuvering?
You should get A Red & Pleasant Land by Zak S. It's an OSR D&D setting that combines Alice in Wonderland with Dracula. The advice on roleplaying NPC's is really good, and may be applicable to what you are trying to accomplish.
>>50350758Does whatever system you're using not have any social mechanics? Lean on those and, well, there's basically nothing else to suggest other than trying to think from the perspective of the NPCs as you've presented them.
>>50350794Could you please summarize what can be found in the NPC roleplaying section?>>50350830Social rolls exist, but the problem is that I unwittingly ever only seem to prompt for a roll given an argument grounded in logic, even if the logic is not perfectly sound.I am apparently oblivious to other forms of social maneuvering, unless the player actively speaks up with, "I am trying to convince this NPC to do X. Do I need to roll?"
If you are confused by a line of questioning or statements the PC's make, you can always ask them OOC what they are trying to achieve.
>>50350895Certainly good advice. I have been told to do that by players, and I have to be vigilant about doing so.It is not a perfect solution though, because if I simply *miss* something, then I will not know to ask.
>>50350758Your NPCs need to have more to them than general personality traits. What are their key values? Do they have vices? Fears? What opinions do they hold about their job, their family, the society they live in, etc.? These things can change what someone considers the 'rational' thing to do or say.
>>50350858Whenever you feel the need to refuse or otherwise shut down a player from the perspective of an NPC, try to ask them.
>>50350858The Things to Know chapter includes a section on behavior of creatures in the land of Voivodja (inspired by Wonderland). Guidelines include:1. Offense taken is inversely proportional to offense intended.2. Real violence, oppression, and injustice are ignored or misunderstood. Minor, accidental, or imagined breaches of etiquette are met with violence, oppression, and injustice.3. In all situations (including trials) tangents are treated as more important than the purported purpose of the conversation.4. Everyone is difficult.5. No-one is unalterably hostile.6. No-one can be made to understand anything.7. Information creatures provide is usually accurate.Other sections like Structure and Consequences, The Unreasonable, and Things to Read and Look At provide consequence to help you roleplay this nonsense in a way that makes sense.The preceding chapter, Customs and Events, also provides some great inspiration for roleplaying and adventure, and includes rules for banquets, croquet, trials, kidnappings, and foreconclusions.
>>50351012I have already covered that in the opening post. Even despite having different goals and priorities, all of my NPCs seem to act under the subconscious impetus of "And I will achieve these goals, avoid my fears, and act on these opinions in the most rational and logical manner possible.">>50351032I will do this.>>50351041While 5 and 7 are good advice in many types of games; 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 seem as though they would be counterproductive for making players feel as if they are making progress in social maneuvering.
A prime example of what I am speaking of is intimidation and provocation. These are social tactics that usually bank on some kind of irrational, emotional response from the target, and I have the tendency to instinctively shut them down unless the player attempts the logical approach for such things (e.g. truthfully explaining the dire consequences of certain courses of actions and why a different course would be more beneficial for the subject).How can I avoid this instinct?
http://archive.is/ldroEI like this personality sheet. structured and logical, so it may be easy to understand. The one i liked is the old version. I like it because it includes sex stuff. Wich i use for portraying characters. Even if sex is never mentionedEx: a sadistic may just be a person inclined for unecesary violence.An arsonist may like destruction.A bondage person may like taking hostages.Anyways. As a logical person i find these sheets to be usefull.I made a sheet here:https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1gizztBQWWXKAGHFJv19KOqy61zWJIMdOXhZqEt0nK28/edit?usp=drive_webI never fill them 100% , and mostly fill them as i need it.
>>50350758roll for persuasion
Well, if you're a literal-minded soul, understanding irrationality would be a good place to start.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases
>>50351179>While 5 and 7 are good advice in many types of games; 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 seem as though they would be counterproductive for making players feel as if they are making progress in social maneuvering.It's for a very particular kind of setting.I find though that running A Red & Pleasant Land, strange though it was, has helped me to increase my roleplaying range by forcing me to explore a very different mindset. Even when I'm not roleplaying madmen in the Land of Unreason, I'm able to transfer those skills to roleplaying more conventionally eccentric characters in other settings.
>>50351294http://archive.is/ldroEThis is a very useful sheet, and I can expect it to help me a tremendous degree.Thank you for pointing this out to me.
Yay, a good thread. I hope it won't die
>>50351179Even though they try to act coldly and rationally, they have a very different set of values. The simpliest example would be someone hating color orange to an unhealthy degree. They would fear prison not because it's restricting/humiliating/detaining them, but because they wear color orange in there. If you change the color of prison uniforms, they may readily agree to go to prison because they understand that you go to prison if you did something wrong (say, bled a guy dry because he was wearing orange shirt then colored that shirt red with his blood, or for a milder example, smeared said guy from head to toes in white paint). From their point of view it's a perfectly logical thing to do. from a normal person's point of view... not so much.Also you don't have to invent anything, since from a non-autistic person's point of view, 100% cold rationality IS irrational. Yep, it's weird, but it's true.
>>50351285>These are social tactics that usually bank on some kind of irrational, emotional response from the target, and I have the tendency to instinctively shut them down unless the player attempts the logical approach for such thingsm8, i know it's the limitation of your condition, but this is just straight-up bad GMing, unless you're playing something like Engine Heart.
>>50351515How does one diamond?
>>50350758Most players expect NPCs to be pushovers, kowtowing to the PCs' wishes simply because they're PCs, without a thought to their own best interests or those of their loved ones. If your players are complaining that your NPCs are TOO rational, take it as a compliment. That is how normal people seem from the point of view of a hyper-entitled PC.Just last session, I had a player put out a call for mercenaries, trying to round up an army to defeat the campaign's villain in a distant country. When they showed up and asked how much pay was offered, the player offered none at all. He just expected these soldiers to accept "payment in honor." He was legitimately surprised when they walked away.
>>50350758Remember that they don't have the same information you do. An NPC has to rely on what they've learned or have reason to believe is true, not what you've decided is true - and unlike what you know is true, this can be influenced. So even if they make rational decisions, they have to do so based on incomplete information and often even inaccurate information. They have to make guesses as to what the truth is, and those guesses are influenced by who they trust, what they're afraid of, and what they're hoping the truth is.
>>50351660The PCs are rarely ever entitled. You just feel personally humiliated at the thought of your characters having to act submissive to your players. It's shit GMing stemming from insecurity.
>>50351948My PC wasn't entitled to expect NPCs to work for free? If they were press-ganged or otherwise forced into slavery, that'd be one thing, but he wanted these guys to voluntarily do unpaid labor for a stranger. What is that if not entitled?
>>50351998The first half of your post was talking about players in general. I'm just telling you what that attitude speaks of to me because unfortunately I had to deal with that kind of shit many times. The GM thought he was being really clever and "realistic" by making the opinions of his NPCs completely unshakeable and their attitudes unflinchingly confident and "witty" no matter the circumstance.
>>50351517Could you please give an example of how to implement this in a game, then?
>>50352147The most simple and general example I can think of is that the character has a specific goal that is important and makese sense to them, but is irrelevant to anybody else. Might be somethign silly, or just somethign deeply personal (like wanting to get back at one specific person they have a grudge against, or they're in love with a particular woman and will do anything for her). Since the goal is so important to them, they're willing to make choises that would seem illogical to other to reach that goal (like, if the character really wants one of the PCs dead, he would refuse any attempt to bribe him to not kill the PC, and even if his life depended on letting the PC live, would rather kill him and die in the process because he just hates the guy that much).
>>50351998>>50352113This is no thread to project things onto a made up player/dm situation that you will both never agree on because you're both thinking of different situations, with each having the opposite side retarded.>inb4 hurr durr acting supieror to bothWe seriously don't need more of these "build-a-villian" tripe that takes over many /tg/ arguments
>>50352296In other words, set goals that are wholly irrational, and set preferred methods for achieving those goals that are likewise irrational?
>>50352490The methods for achieving the goals might be perfectly rational, if you approach it from the character's point of view. They likely would act in a way that furthers their goal, which would be perfectly logical to them. It would seem illogical to somebody who doesn't share their values, though.Like, let's say my character is madly in love with some girl in his home village, and has sworn to marry her once he gets back from the adventure. Upon completeting the adventure the king offers him the princess's hand in marriage. She's beautiful, wealthy, and marrying her would make him part of the royal family. That's clearly a great deal. But he refuses, because he's in love with that baker's daughter, who is as far as he considers the most beautiful girl in the world, and he already gave her his word to marry her. From a purely rational optimisational view, that is completely illogical, but he'd rather live in some small village with the woman she loves than be rich and powerful but unable to marry the girl of his dreams.
the problem is your players are talking to NPC's too much.
>>50352490Just make sure that you can actually appeal to and interact with your NPC in multiple ways. Instead of relying on logical arguments every time, try to think of their priorities and quirks and how those affect their actions. People rarely make perfect sense, after all.
>>50352973I wish the NPCs in my games were interesting enough to talk to without cause. Can't think of a single one in recent memory.
>>50353012it's true even in most crpgs. They're just plot artifacts from the gameplay perspective. If you expect humanity besides a certain point you should go outside and try your neighbours
>>50353088>even in crpgsThe biggest thing about tabletop RPGs is that you can do whatever the fuck you want. If you're not utilizing that properly, then what's the point?
>>50352490No, their methods of achieving their goals should generally be rational. Just remember that they can act in a way that seems irrational because they have multiple goals. E.g., a character might take an inefficient approach to solving a problem because one of their goals is "have as much fun as I can," and the efficient approach is dull. They also might have irrational preferences, beliefs, or likes and dislikes that color their behavior. E.g., "I won't cooperate with people who talk down to me." So if someone tries to explain something logically, but they feel like it's being dumbed down for them, they'll break off the conversation. It's not an irrational choice given their preferences, they just have an irrational anger towards being treated like they're dumb. Or their belief might be "ranged combat is dishonorable," so they'll reject ranged combat as an option, but otherwise rationally decide how to fight the foe.
>>50353149the point is most players instinctively don't want to be friendsies with npc's besides a superficial level because they're obviously fake
>>50353215>we shouldn't make interesting characters because they're fake anyway, what's the point?That's retarded.
>>50353329I got your point perfectly. And I think it's retarded. That's not the reason most players don't want to be friends with NPCs.
>>50353349>why are my players seeing through my characters, /tg/?>social centric game
>>50352660>>50353193Most of the examples you have been giving so far concern ways to *shut down* PCs based on NPCs' emotional biases.What are some examples of ways to let PCs socially maneuver more aptly thanks to said biases?
>>50353707First, make their biases clear. Have a person flash their "I HATE ORCS" card at the group if you want them to be easily manipulated into fighting orcs, or "I LOVE FLUFFY TAILS" if you want the players to know they are susceptible to fluffy tails.
>>50353707The NPC wants people to like them. If the PCs flatter the NPC, they'll take actions they otherwise wouldn't because they want the PCs to keep liking them. The NPC is a coward. They want to avoid risks, so if the PCs present information in a way that makes it seem like there's possible danger, they'll take steps to avoid it even if it's not likely to manifest.The NPC wants to have fun, and is bored at their job. Convince them that the PC's chosen course of action will liven things up, and they'll go along with whatever they're planning. The NPC hates their brother. If they can present an opportunity to make their brother unhappy without it being traced back to them, they'll happily take actions that aren't optimal just to fuck him over. The NPC is worried about their immortal soul. If the PCs present their argument in terms of morality, the NPC will be likely to side with them in order to do the right thing, even if it's costly.
>>50353756>>50353871What is a good way to present such emotional biases in a more elegant and less contrived way than having NPCs or writings overtly tell the PCs?Empathy skills exist and can be rolled or otherwise applied, yes, but how can one tell if someone hates X race without hamfistedly demonstrating that said NPC hates X race?
>>50354027Your questions are way too broad.
>>50354027Have the NPC exhibit behavior that corresponds to the traits you want to establish. E.g., if they're easily bored, have them fiddling with their hands or clothing while they talk. If they hate their brother, have them sneer or scoff when an advisor is telling them that their brother invited them to an event, and respond disdainfully. If they're greedy, have them perk up when discussing how they could benefit, and get disinterested when talking about logic or morals. If they're easily enraged, have them snap at a friend of theirs before recovering. This is what show, don't tell means - they should act like they have these personality traits in everything they do, unless consciously controlling themselves.
>>50354027The issue you have is that your characters are running on rational logic. So google "emotional logic" and start applying it to your NPCs. Here's something I just pulled off wikipedia just now:>For example, even though a spouse has shown only devotion, a person using emotional reasoning might conclude, "I know my spouse is being unfaithful because I feel jealous."There you go; a husband/wife acting irrationally based off no evidence, purely because they FEEL like something is wrong.Apply that to King Bumfuck; there's no evidence that King Fuckbum is planning to invade, but he's paranoid that they might. So he buffs his military spending without need, holds off diplomatic relations even thought they're beneficial to the kingdom. If someone, such as the PCs, walked in and told a bunch of lies that King Fuckbum was preparing to invade? He'd readily believe them because it supports his emotions, evidence be damned.Players don't even need to be aware of such preconceived biases. Although it would help if you actively looked at what your players want and are trying to do.
>>50354238Some of these are easy enough to integrate, such as displaying personality traits through physical tics.Others effectively require an NPC "third party" to come in and "activate" one of the original NPC's personality traits, so that the PCs can witness such.The second is something I am very poor at. I find myself heavily reluctant to "talk to myself" and have NPCs interact with one another on-screen. Is there a good way to quickly play out such vignettes without taking up too much time?>>50354243And in this example, I take it that a good way to tell the PCs of such an emotional bias in advance would be to let them overhear rumors of such a thing?
>>50354482Also remember that just because someone has a cognitive bias doesn't necessarily mean they can't be swayed. King Bumfuck's paranoia might mean he distrusts king Fuckbum, but if the PCs make a sincere and emotionally charged plea for them to work together he might opt to join forces anyway.You don't actually need to tell your players every detail of an NPC. They can and should operate off those traits whether a PC knows about them or not. But since you will want to telegraph such things most the time, I'll try to pitch some examples;Your PCs are at a bar; there's a bar maid who's plot-important because [reasons]. Your PCs notice she flirts with the handsome men and elves, but is cordial to everyone else.From that, she's obviously biased towards good-looking men (and possibly elf women who're hard to tell apart from the men). Remember that this should come into play if the PCs interact with her; if they're particularly handsome they might be able to convince her to do something illegal or dangerous just because a looker asked them.You might have a captain of the guard. He doesn't talk much and rarely has more than a stoic expression on his face, but when an orc passes by, he tenses up and one hand unconsciously reaches for a weapon before he pulls it back.The players see this detail, and conclude the dude just hates orcs. What that implies plot-wise or story-wise is up to you.The important thing isn't telegraphing this sort of detail to the players but letting it effect how the NPC thinks and acts. You might have a merchant who likes the thrill of high-risk, high-reward plays, so he's willing to put a lot of money into dubious investments not because he hopes for a return but he likes to gamble. Most merchants would balk at spending thousands of gold on an untested, unproven new method of potato farming or whatever, but your guy will do it just for the fun of it. Maybe doesn't even care if he makes any money; breaking even is still a success.
>>50354766I think you are managing to highlight one of the major weaknesses of my GMing style.I am excellent at distinguishing NPCs with all sorts of tics, quirks, and habits. This impresses players initially and gets them hooked into learning more about those NPCs.The issue is that while a good GM would have those quirks directly inform further biases (like in your examples), I never follow through on that, effectively making my NPCs' quirks merely superficial and meaningless past the surface. Thus, there is major fallout with the players once they get past first impressions with NPCs.Have you any advice for turning superficial quirks into biases that PCs can explore and exploit? I know it seems backwards, but if I am good at creating superficial quirks, it seems sensible to try to turn those into more meaningful personality traits.
>>50354859Keep emotions in play, is the important thing. They have a HUGE effect on people's personalities and actions. When you default to pure reason it means you're stripping away the emotion in a decision and that's what comes off as abnormal. Also remember that the same emotion can drive people in different ways.Let's say you have a gladiator match. If both fighters were emotionless robots they'd only ever take actions that lead directly to a winning result. But let's say Gladiator #1 is absolutely convinced he's the best gladiator in the world and can't lose. So he goes into the match full of confidence and energy; he might start showboating and making highly dangerous maneuvers to impress the crowd. He might knock his opponent over, place one foot on the chest and start flexing to show off and taunt. He's confident; he's going to win anyway. And the crowd loves every minutes of it.But then, let's say Gladiator #2 feels the same way; he's convinced he can't lose. So much so that this fight isn't even worth his time. Instead he fights lazily; he lets his opponent come to him and swats him to the side. He defends only when he has to and ignores any strikes or attacks that are feints. When his opponents backs off, #2 simply stands there and yawns; this fight means nothing to him.Those are two personality quirks, but that's important is that it's driven off the emotions of the character. Let's flip it around; now Gladiator #1 thinks his opponent is stronger than he is. So Gladiator #1 doesn't show off. He advances cautiously, stays defensive so as not to show an opening. His lack of confidence affects his perfomance; basic techniques he has hundreds of hours practice now seem difficult and complicated. His battle instinct is messed up.Then do that to Gladiator #2; he's fighting a superior opponent. THIS time it's a good fight; he readies his weapons for a battle about to be hard fought. He dodges, he feints, he trusts, he pushes back against the enemy
>>50355098This is certainly getting into psychological matters that I am far over my metaphorical head with, but I understand your underlying point on how the same emotion can manifest with different quirks, and how context is everything.Thank you for your counsel.
>>50355283Wasn't quite done; I write slowly.>>50355098Remember that this applies to every NPC you meet. The wise and diplomatic king is known for his patience, but lately he's under a lot of stress. The commoners are unhappy, the nobles question his capacity to lead, his kingdoms funds are dwindling - when he meets the PCs he's irritable and short-tempered. He might sigh in frustration at an unintentional insult that would otherwise slide by.Your players meet a draconian tyrant, who runs his kingdom with an iron fist. His word is law, even unto himself. When he grants audience to the PCs, it's only so he can gloat about their capture or inevitable conquest. However he hit the brandy a little too hard before his introduction, so when the PCs make a plea to his good side and it's just susceptible enough that he agrees to spare a village or let them go. Now he's bound by his own contract, and has to keep his word at the risk of undermining his reign. All because he got a little bit drunk.So when you're arguing something from a rational point of view - "this is what would make sense in this situation" - lens that situation through the NPCs feelings. Are they happy, sad, angry, horny, confused, stressed, etc. And think how that would impact their decision-making in the moment. Then how are the players affecting those emotions? Will they grant a favor because they're in a good mood, or refuse it because they players angered them?Also negative emotion != bad result. A good mood might mean they can weigh things up rationally and see the downsides, whereas an angry NPC might agree to do whatever just to get the PCs to fuck off.A character's key ideals should set their main personality; their emotions then either reinforce those ideals or tie a knot in them. Character quirks like a barmaid fawning on handsome men or a gladiator showboating mid-match are byproducts of those ideas; don't start with the quirks or you're working backwards.
>>50355283There's one last thing; there's a quick self-test from I-don't-remember-where that you can do. You write down a list with the five things you believe in most on one list. Then the five things you do on a second list. Then you throw the first list away because it's fucking irrelevant. If you say you value things like hard work, but spend all day playing video games, then you don't really value hard work.So remember that was a character actually DOES is the real important element. If you tell your players that a character is energetic and spontaneous but they don't do anything energetic or spontaneous, you're painting spots on a tiger and calling it a leopard.So your characters are (or should be) the sum of:Their core personalityTheir key ideals and beliefsTheir wants and dreamsTheir daily life (I didn't touch on this because in the nature of RPGs it doesn't tend to apply, but people don't like drastically breaking away from their daily routine. Anything that would force them to should be met with some resistance)Their emotional state in the momentAnd all of those play into how you build a character up or break them down. I tend to ramble so I might've made my point in a very roundabout way but hopefully you can take something away from this that improves your games.
>>50355652You write down a list with the five things you believe in most on one list. Then the five things you do on a second list.The five things you do most*
>>50355652>>50355358>>50355098Not that guy but important corollary ; this is for important characters.For minor NPCs just roll some dice and have some pre-built personality traits to throw at the players.
>>50355358It means that I have been GMing NPCs and constructing their personalities and quirks the backwards way even after about ~210 sessions judging from my logs, so clearly, I still have plenty to learn.>>50355652>Their core personality>Their key ideals and beliefs>Their wants and dreams>Their daily life (I didn't touch on this because in the nature of RPGs it doesn't tend to apply, but people don't like drastically breaking away from their daily routine. Anything that would force them to should be met with some resistance)>Their emotional state in the momentI have found this very helpful so far: http://archive.is/ldroEIf you had to adjust this NPC reference sheet to your liking, what would it look like under your list of key NPC traits above?
>>50355652>If you say you value things like hard work, but spend all day playing video games, then you don't really value hard work.Bitch I value hard work really well. If I made an effort I'd risk destabilising the hard work market. And I'm very appreciative when people work hard on my behalf!
>>50355722You haven't been constructing the characters wrong; you simply have not been formally analysing your characters after you have made them.Let's go with a quirky character. They do something like have a great habit of thanking her fans after every action.From that action, work back and see why she has that compulsion to do so. Is she happy that people like her? Or perhaps she's scared that her "fans" are going to leave her?Either interpretation would suggest she is very swayed by public opinion of her and potentially has a fragile psyche.From quirks a personality can be deduced. If a throwaway quirky character is put under the spotlight, on the spot deduction is required.The deep introspection into a character is often not needed unless they are going to interact with the players on a longer term basis.
>>50355728t. emotional thinker>>50355722Honestly I got about 1/5 the way down the page and my eyes glazed over. I play fast and loose; my own character notes look something like this->Strife: An archdemon who elbowed his way into the fabric of reality and infected it with his midas touch of shit.Granted it doesn't do much to tell you about the character personality and motivations-wise but it's mostly so I don't forget which character is which. In that respect I can't comment much on Ash's guide, but if you find it helpful more power to you.>>50355840Well you're not wrong, but OP seemed to imply his players interact with his NPCs a lot and he has trouble dealing with his copy/paste personality syndrome. There's no problem justifying a character's motivations and such after the fact, but it sounds like he's having issues with that.A funny aside, the GM for a game I played in once had to create some crew members for a pirate ship our party commandeered, so he rolled up "Old" Clyde and "Dumb" Steve and as players we just made their personality up for them. They weren't important so he rolled with it, and as we recruited more crew it became a running joke that they were all one-note mooks with a name and a personality trait. We were got barred from renaming them after trying to turn Steven into Inky, Blinky or Pinky.
>In particular, I am apparently so autistic that I do not even realize that a player is trying to socially maneuver and trick or persuade an NPC, so I give the player no chance to successfully convince the NPC.That happens to me far too often. I guess that I shouldn't venture outside systems that actually have a decent amount of mechanics for the conversational bits, so I can know what is being attempted.
>>50356465Are you autistic?
>>50350758>In particular, I am apparently so autistic that I do not even realize that a player is trying to socially maneuver and trick or persuade an NPC, so I give the player no chance to successfully convince the NPC.I've had a similar problem before. My solution was to request to my players that if they're trying to accomplish something socially, that they let me know so I'm aware and can ensure their actions matter.
>>50355722First off, it's nice to see you're still around.That said, every NPC gives the promise that there is a trail to understanding a much more complex actor than what originally is presented. If you aren't consistent with managing breadcrumbs or the potential of breadcrumbs for every given NPC, the players will treat "real" NPCs different from "minor" NPCs. If you consistently don't put out breadcrumbs for your "real" NPCs, then the players will disengage from the setting because there is no one to figure out.The key is budgeting. That guide is good for getting you to think about NPCs, but terrible for planning NPCs in a campaign - it's just too much work. Instead, save up a bunch of quirks that you are familiar enough with the extensions into something underlying and use the quirks. If the players pry, then you proceed to extend that quirk into a cause (with a hopefully observable source because players need immediacy). Alternatively, if the players aren't prying enough, then you expose causes as necessary to respark interest.If your budget is too thin or rushed, then you need to practice association. That will help you by giving you valuable time to figure out how the cause and source that you've revealed work into the story/environment that you're telling.Remember, we're always students. A long GMing streak could just mean dependence on the same techniques. Ultimately we're here to tell better stories and there's no end to better.
>>50351915This is a major thing GMs get wrong a lot.People usually don't have perfect information. They can get things wrong. Furthermore, they might not believe the truth when they're told, if it contradicts things they previously believed to be true or even moreso if it challenges deeply held indoctrination, moral beliefs, or religious values.If the local king is very popular, but secretly evil, what would really happen if the PCs ran up to random NPCs and told them the king was evil? They'd at best demand evidence, and at worst tell them to fuck off or call for the guard.
>>50351517> I hate stripes> And orange ain't my color> And if I squeeze that trigger now, I'll be in one way or another.
Make the NPCs' biases, values, and histories things the party can observe and adjust to in a natural, rather than telling, way. Sometimes this can be visibly obvious. Sometimes this can take a short conversation. Sometimes this may take research.Examples:>The NPC is wearing a worn, dated army jacket, of the kind used by the unsuccessful revolutionaries from the civil war a decade past.The party may guess that the NPC is a patriot still holding on to an old historical grudge, or mayb e abitter old veteran. Either way, try convincing him you oppose the forces he fought in the war.>The NPC makes a disparaging remark to the party wizard.The party may guess the NPC is skeptical of magic or doesn't like magic users.>The NPC seems amenable, but surprises the party with being intractable for no apparent reason.The party may decide to question other NPCs about him, or look into his history, to determine why he's being an obstacle.
>>50354859>Have you any advice for turning superficial quirks into biases that PCs can explore and exploit? I know it seems backwards, but if I am good at creating superficial quirks, it seems sensible to try to turn those into more meaningful personality traits.It is backwards. The quirks should reflect something deeper. Otherwise you're basically playing the roll of an RNG - you have a list of stock traits and quirks and randomly assign them.Don't assign flavor and then ask what the flavor means. Ask what is relevant about the NPC and then assign flavor to match it.Instead of making a twitchy, nervous character, make a hoodlum with a drug problem who's going through withdrawal - and tell the players he seems twitchy and nervous.
>>50357790>it's just too much workIt's easiest in my opinion to take a heuristic approach. For any non-critical NPC (i.e. one you don't already have a thorough plan for for story reasons) just come up with a quick fitting concept, like "Shopkeep with a dark secret" or "Overworked, aging administrator".Then ask what sort of traits such a concept would have. So, maybe someone with a dark secret might act suspicious of newcomers or hero types, or get nervous around them.Okay, so what does that look like? They might act flustered, or ask an unusual number of questions about who they are and what they want. Okay, and why are they doing that? Well, what's a secret a shopkeep might have? Maybe they're a front for a criminal enterprise. Maybe they're a fence or traffic in drugs, slaves, or weapons. So then your party notices that the store seems smaller on the inside than it does on the outside. A false wall?That's a probably TOO interesting NPC for a minor role - but it's something you can "generate" in mid-game that gives you useful information (such as how they act, what's on their mind, what their motivation is) that comes together with a unified and coherent theme rather than a randomly-assigned list of traits.You can, I suppose, take this "heuristic" approach from any angle (come up with a trait, then ask why they do it that way, then ask what that means) though personally I think the core concept should come up first.
>>50358242I find that's a bit too hard to come up with on the spot to make it feel fluid, unless if you're employing some delay tactic. The idea is that feeling out a quirk by caching the associations in your mind is more of a gut-based thing where hopefully you aren't thinking away your creativity. It's sort of how >>50358127is really good at cementing the rationale in your head far too soon. Deniability in your mind is crucial for keeping things spontaneous and hopefully more natural.
>>50350758If all else fails and negotiations are going poorly, have ninjas attack.Nothing can ever go wrong with that plan.
>>50351285Wait anon, so how would an NPC in your games who is cowardly, but dedicated to their job react to intimidation? Let's say it's a modern game, and this NPC is facing a bank robbery>"Open the vault now or I'll blow your fucking brains out!" Says a PC while pointing a shotgun in the NPC's face
>>50361240Not that guy, but they'd probably respond with a hesitant "but won't you just shoot me after you opened the vault? The longer you take to get in, the longer the police have to rescue us!"
>>50357790>>50357988>>50358085>>50358127>>50358242Thank you for your recommendations. I will keep your ideas in mind.If it helps any, the setting I have been running for ~210 sessions is a profoundly moéfied and magically-modernized Planescape with cutesy celestials and fiends as the most common races.>>50361240I would probably have the NPC in question point out that if the robbers could reliably access the vault in a fashion other than intimidation, they would not be threatening the NPC at gunpoint, and besides, the robbers might just kill the NPC afterwards anyway.
>>50361651Then you're ignoring the "cowardly" trait. A cowardly NPC should make efforts to avoid pain and live to see tomorrow, and give extra credibility to low risks of violence or harm. The PCs could torture them to coerce them into opening the vault, kill them and find another way in, kill them and find another employee, or decide to cut their losses, kill them, and run. These might not be very logical choices for the PCs, but the NPC should be aware that they are choices, and seek to minimize them. Based on this, there are a few possible approaches. One is that the NPC defects - the chance of death and pain is too great for them to risk. Another is that their loyalty and the fear of getting fired if they open the vault should temper this. So they'll outwardly cooperate, but might go for stalling tactics, or try to find an opportunity to escape or hit a silent alarm, or otherwise wait for a chance at betrayal. If the PCs catch them, this could push them into full defection mode. A third option is shutting down - they're so overcome with fear that they run as fast as they can, or break down and start bawling for mercy, or otherwise become useless. The PCs might be able to make them useful again, but they might just have to cut their losses and move on. If you want to get the dice involved, you could roll an intimidation check, and if they fail, roll a will save. If the PCs succeed at the intimidation check, they cooperate. If they fail, a successful will save means they're going to pretend to cooperate but hinder the PCs. A failed will save means they break down.
>>50361651>I would probably have the NPC in question point out that if the robbers could reliably access the vault in a fashion other than intimidation, they would not be threatening the NPC at gunpoint, and besides, the robbers might just kill the NPC afterwards anyway.An important thing others have omitted is that a person's logical thinking tends to shut down in situations of hight stress or extreme emotions. In this specific situation, which is certainly high stress, the threatened NPC, unless exceptionally cool under pressure, would revert to instinctive thinking.The instinct in this case would view the armed robber as a higher in social hierarchy leveraging his superior position, which can be responded either by obeying or fighting back. So most people would obey unless given a way of fighting back (e.g. stalling for time while pressing the hidden alarm button). Fighting back even in this way requires a certain courage and presence of mind though.On the other hand, another way of fighting back could be smartassing or refusing to cooperate to preserve one's self-image or the percieved rank in the social hierarchy, which could suffer if they obey another's demands.You also have to remember people know instinctively that other people can be irrational. So a robber might kill the clerk for talking back even if this diminishes his chances to open the vault.To summarize, people threatened with overwhelming force rarely behave rationally and generally fall into 4 behaviours: flee, obey, shut down, or, if they don't fear the threat enough, trying to be cool.
>>50361651Kill yourself porkeye
>>50362528Thanks for bumping!
>>50351041Sounds like /tg/, especially 3.
>>50362528Why, because he made a very useful thread?
The advices in this thread are good. But if you still have trouble following them in game, make a post-it, write it somewhere, clearly in view, and don't forget it.
>>50350758Maybe start with characters that have a simple personality, dominated by one trait. Like a born liar or utterly stupid. This way it might be easier to addapt to a character and get him or her to make decisions that are based on emotions or traits instead of logic. When you've roleplayed a lying npc and a stupid npc, or maybe a megalomaniac or a narcist, it might be easier to combine certain traits and create and roleplay interesting characters that make decisions that are unpredictable.
>>50351285You can do it by simply thinking how would you behave in situation given to NPC. For example, a bunch of well armed mercenary soldiers, all looking terribly strong and dangerous walk up to you and start asking questions. You are harmless barkeep, a little old, hunch by time. When their leader places a hand on his dagger and asks something. You do not go "That is not a correct argument", you go "Please don't kill me I will tell everything I know!" And yo want to have a logic behind this behavior? Well, not getting killed should be enough... You need to remember that most of Fantasy worlds like D&D are pretty brutal and lawless, and you can't scare them with police and "I will sue you". They will probably kill you and nobody would ever know, or cared. And your NPC is perfectly aware of that.On the other hand, when harmlessly looking NPC is acting cocky and comfortable in case of threat, it suggests that he has some back up, like hidden blackguard or he is strong himself.
>>50366481>like hidden blackguard
>>50361651>I would probably have the NPC in question point out that if the robbers could reliably access the vault in a fashion other than intimidation, they would not be threatening the NPC at gunpoint, and besides, the robbers might just kill the NPC afterwards anyway.Lemme poke a hole in that. First, the PCs might have another way into the vault but scaring the employees into opening it would be faster and easier - maybe they've got a drill that'll get them in, but it'll take half an hour (fucking Payday 2) as opposed to a couple minutes of lead pipe cryptology with the employees. Second, if the options are "don't go-operate and definitely die" vs "co-operate and maybe not die" then the latter is the superior choice. Third, the PCs might opt for torture instead of murder so your NPC's smartassery just got him in even more trouble vs keeping his mouth shut.And this is why I talked a lot about emotions. Other anons have already pointed out how the NPC could or should react, but the main underlying cause is you can't separate your own state of mind from your world. You're running everything on your "pure reason" mindset, which is why you're stopping to point out such things. An NPC in that state is going to be in a high emotional state, and that puts a boot in the teeth of reason.You need to look at yourself there, not your characters. There's a line you need to draw between what you know and feel (You know the whole setting and how it functions, the PCs likely intentions, you're probably pretty chill) and what the NPC knows and feels. "A bunch of armed men are threatening me, I don't know who they are or what they want, I'm scared and panicked". Separate the (you) from the character, ramp up that emotional spectrum and the moment you go to argue back with the PCs, say to yourself "In this situation, WOULD the NPC argue back or would they be angry, scared, shocked, etc?" And then if they would, that overrides their logical thinking with emotional thinking.
>>50351041>Real violence, oppression, and injustice are ignored or misunderstood. Minor, accidental, or imagined breaches of etiquette are met with violence, oppression, and injustice.So just like real life?
>>50361651Take the situation. Now, remove two facts. Your NPC forgets or doesn't think of those or acts in a way that doesn't take those into account.In a heated situation, most people are just disoriented. An NPC running from a gunfight might know to run or duck for cover, but might not know where the attackers are coming from.
I think this thread is worthy of a bump.