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  • File :1241689172.jpg-(115 KB, 594x792, sorceress.jpg)
    115 KB Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)05:39 No.4489468  
    So, /tg/, I'm looking for advice on how to make my party instantly fall in love with an NPC. I'm going to tell you up front that this is so that I can later do horrible, terrible things to the NPC. Before everyone jumps in and tells me I'm a shitty DM, know this:
    This is the first time I've made a sacrificial NPC in five years of DMing once-a-week, and I don't typically use similar tactics, either. I'm not trying to "condition" my PCs to be coldhearted and uncaring. Additionally, the players have been informed that this will be a "darker" campaign, and they are all down with that.

    That said, my current plan is that they arrive in a small, isolated town. The villagers are initially hostile, intending to attack the "trespassing" PCs (who will be arriving suddenly and magically) but the NPC girl (teenage) steps up and says that clearly the PCs are servants of the gods, here for the upcoming Ascension ritual, and tells the rabble-rousers to apologize. They do and she says she would be greatly honored indeed if the party would stay at her house, but that she understands if they want to stay with the mayor/high priest/whatever.

    Later it becomes clear that as "servants of the gods" it'll be their responsibility to pick the young maiden who will get to Ascend during the ritual. She makes it very clear, either through hints or outright asking, that she would very much like to be chosen.

    The ritual is incredibly gruesome and leads to a swift, irreversible death. As far as I foresee, the only way to successfully save the girl (without sacrificing another young girl) is to predict that the ritual is not what it seems (which they probably will) and willingly put themselves in harm's way by choosing themselves. Of course, if they have a really fantastic answer I haven't thought of, which gets the job done, then that's good too.

    Anyway, I need tips on how to make this NPC very beloved in a very short period of time. The little details and stuff, you know?
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)05:40 No.4489471
    >So, /tg/, I'm looking for advice on how to make my party instantly fall in love with an NPC.

    Impossible. Any attempt will just make them hate him/her more.

    The only characters the players can be counted on to like are their own.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)05:42 No.4489476
    and characters you intend them not like?
    A crusty bar owner? A retarded guard?
    A little girl guarding items?
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)05:43 No.4489479
    those are the people they end up liking
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)05:45 No.4489485
    It's more that in order for the rest of the adventure to have any "oomph" they need to like her, so I want to ensure that, but will only have a limited amount of time to do that.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)05:46 No.4489491
    alright, heres a better plan, requires flexibility and more planning. Throw 3 to 5 chatacters their way? See which one they like most. Have that character then shyly say hey i am going to sacrifice myself
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)05:48 No.4489498
    That might work...certainly in order to make their pick they'll probably have to interview at least a few of the girls around town. It can't hurt to make them all unique individuals.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)05:54 No.4489511
    You could try to appeal to their vanity. Make her go different varieties of "YOU ARE SO AWESOME" in everything she says.

    That may have the side effect of them thinking you're creepy though.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)05:55 No.4489513
    Hmm... maybe if they get to know her on their own accord they will feel more attached.

    That is... if they stay at her house, and they decide to look around. They find things and objects that tells the life story of the girl in question... and probably something sad.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)05:59 No.4489529
    That's a good idea, but, other than a hamfisted journal, what sorts of items could I put around her house for them to find?
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:00 No.4489534
    Okay, things not to do: in my experience, almost any player will instinctively hate any NPC that is made out to be more important, cooler or in otherwise "better" than the PCs and will welcome the death of any such showboater. Main thing you need to be careful for is to not steal their show: have your sacrificial puppy be "beneath" the PCs somehow, either though submissive behavior (bowing and shit, calling them "sirs", whatever suits your world) or through some other means like a physical disability (wheelchair moe is god tier, says /a/). The worst thing you can possibly do is play her as some kind of a haughty sorcerer-queen chosen by the Gods, because that will almost certainly mean the players will go out of their way to kill her themselves.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:02 No.4489540
    This idea is bad and you should feel bad
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:04 No.4489550
    A picture? A table set for multiple people although she clearly lives alone? A drawing? A painting? A journal =)? She might want to ascend to meet her dead family or something.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:05 No.4489553
    >The ritual is incredibly gruesome and leads to a swift, irreversible death. As far as I foresee, the only way to successfully save the girl (without sacrificing another young girl) is to predict that the ritual is not what it seems (which they probably will) and willingly put themselves in harm's way by choosing themselves. Of course, if they have a really fantastic answer I haven't thought of, which gets the job done, then that's good too.

    Choosing themselves? Are you high? Here's what the players will do: they will PREVENT THE RITUAL BY FORCE. Killing the entire village if necessary.

    Choosing themselves to be sacrificed? When has any player done something like that?
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:07 No.4489559
    I might be able to do a drawing or a painting or something...

    I like the idea about ascending to meet someone she lost, too. That could work really well.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:08 No.4489568
    >As far as I foresee, the only way to successfully save the girl (without sacrificing another young girl) is to predict that the ritual is not what it seems (which they probably will) and willingly put themselves in harm's way by choosing themselves. Of course, if they have a really fantastic answer I haven't thought of, which gets the job done, then that's good too.
    >Of course, if they have a really fantastic answer I haven't thought of, which gets the job done, then that's good too.
    >a really fantastic answer I haven't thought of
    Slaughter the priests, save a beauty.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:10 No.4489576
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:12 No.4489585
    They can try. When I say "swift" I mean "by the time you can see that something's wrong she's pretty much dead already". I guess they could try and stop the ritual before it starts, if they guess as to its nature. That works too, I suppose, but I hardly call having to slaughter a bunch of zealous commoners only to be tearfully denounced by the girl(s) they saved to be a "winning" scenario.

    Though again, maybe they'll surprise me. Just because I don't specifically write a happy ending doesn't mean they can't find one.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:16 No.4489605

    They will first threaten to kill the priests if the ritual isn't stopped. If they persist, they will kill the priests. If the mob goes berserk, they will slaughter them down to the last man. And if after all that, the girl bitches about it, there's a very real chance that they will KILL HER TOO for being an ungrateful twat. And they will be disappointed with you as a DM.

    That is how players operate. They solve their problems in the most direct way through overwhelming force.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:18 No.4489612
    Thankfully my group is slightly less cromagnon than yours apparently is...
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:19 No.4489614
    One problem I keep thinking about is that the players may become more suspicious if you first introduce the girl and then set her up as the perfect candidate for the ritual...

    Perhaps if another girl is already chosen for them... and then you test them to see how willing they are to replace this random girl with the other girl. Doing so will have the priests request something from the players.

    This will cause them to think that you set it up for them to like her because you wanted them to do the task for the priest.

    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)06:20 No.4489619
    This is all just an elaborate excuse to post that comic with the girl that turns into a dragon's heart, right /tg/ ?
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:20 No.4489624
    Tricksie, tricksie...I think I can work with that. Thanks.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:22 No.4489631
    Eh heh...heh...heh...

    I wasn't planning on posting the picture but, um...that is pretty much what the ritual is and exactly where I got the inspiration.
    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)06:22 No.4489635
    Also, yes. Expecting the PCs to resolve this kind of conflict with anything but deadly force is retarded.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:22 No.4489638
    This makes me happy since my own (first) DM'ing session is coming up. =)
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:26 No.4489653
    I guess...

    I mean, the "ritual" is really just: Dragon hatches; girl dies. There's not a lot of time to react.

    If they start waving weapons around before the ritual--or asking suspiciously because they expect that the ritual involves a sacrifice--everyone is horrified and explains that no, no one dies, they just transform into a god right then and there, then ascend to go live with the other gods. They'll see. Knowing my players, I seriously doubt they're going to murder villagers after that. Maybe after the ritual is over...
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:27 No.4489660
    Hell, most players will sort out a five cent pickpocket with deadly force. A murderous human sacrifice cult? GENOCIDE CITY, BABY.

    I have no idea what kind of players would make the absurd mental jump of "kill me in her stead!" in defense of any NPC. The unspoken primary objective of any RPG that isn't Paranoia or Call of Cthulhu is to ensure that your own character survives.
    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)06:30 No.4489670
    Okay here is what you got to do.

    You see, PCs, just like anybody else, hate two kind of people : the obnoxiously useless kind, and the obnoxiously superior kind.

    What you have to do and what always works, is put the character at their level - that is, a reasonably awesome person with quirks and personnality that doesn't steal their thunder. Ideally you want to make the character come alive with your own voice and body language, and make them someone the PC can relate to. Not a predictable bag of drama, not a doomed heroine - just another human fellow with it's own share of problems.

    The worst you can do to your NPCs is make it seem like their lives revolve around the PCs. They'll never look like true human beings if you do it that way, but rather plot devices.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:31 No.4489679
    OP here, I've had at least one player in my group sacrifice his character by pulling a "rope trick inside a rope trick = me + BBEG get sucked into the astral plane".

    The idea was so awesome, and pulled off so "just as planned", and the info on EXACTLY what happens in such a situation vague enough that what actually happened was that a hole to the astral plane ripped open, causing a small explosion and summoning an Astral Dreadnought. The Astral Dreadnought ate the BBEG, and the player (barely) escaped.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:38 No.4489703
    Yeah, I'm trying to avoid having her be a useless burden (note how she tells the villagers to back off) but not upstage the party (she honestly believes the party are servants of the gods and defers to them as such, which also gives her opportunities to be helpful in small ways like giving them food, lodging, and information).

    I don't know about making her their level, though...the PCs are level 12, and she's really just some peasant girl...I guess she could be a level 12 commoner...but I don't really expect there to be much fighting (unless they decide to genocide, in which case she won't be helping them)
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:39 No.4489708

    There's a difference between saccing one's character to kill an enemy too powerful to handle otherwise, and saccing one's character to save an NPC. The first case means that you think several other PCs are, put together, more important than your PC, "taking one for the team" so to speak. The second case means that you think the NPC in question is more important than your own precious character.

    No matter what you do, the players will never consider an NPC more important than a PC, unless they've grown to dislike that PC for some other reason and just want an excuse to get rid of it. They may engage in suicidal behavior, but only if they think they'll get away with it in the end. A human sacrifice isn't exactly that sort of situation.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:41 No.4489720
    Sure, sure. I'm not hoping that they will sacrifice themselves. That's pretty much the worst way that this can go down (You didn't make the ridiculously high fortitude save? Oh well, you're dead), with the second worst being that they see through the entire plot, refuse to get attached to the girl, let her die, and don't give a fuck.
    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)06:43 No.4489726

    I didn't mean their litteral level. I meant intellectually.

    See, the problem I percieve in your girl, and the reason your PCs probably won't like her, is that she's so far deep into her religion that she doesn't see anything else. She doesn't second guess, she does not seem to have a single doubt, from the moment she sees them onward they are servant of the gods, and that's that.

    That's hardly a ground for rewarding interaction, I'm afraid.

    Players are attracted to people with roughly the same mindset as them. No one in your group will relate to this girl if she seems to believe so fervently in her crystal dragon jesus. In fact none of them will feel much of anything because after all, she got exactly what she wanted.

    But above all, what they'll hate her the most for is making them the spectators of her little story.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:45 No.4489734
    I forgot to ask... what is the purpose of the ritual? Both the actual purpose, and from the player's perspective.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:49 No.4489746
    In fairness, one PC happens to be a half-dragon, and very open about it, with lots of dragon motifs all over his armor. This is the basis for her "obviously they're servants of the gods" position, when the rest of the villagers are less than accommodating.

    Thanks for the point, though, I'll be sure and try to give her more depth than "religious zealot who is also sweet". I think it will help that she can explain that she has seen similar ascensions before where the person is literally and physically transformed before your eyes, with no wounding or death (apparently).

    I have a preachy monk of Lathander in the party...I'm guessing that thoughtful and polite listening with questions where appropriate could only help her case?
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:49 No.4489747

    i've seen PCs go out of their way for NPCs multiple times in the game i'm in

    my character has done it, even. Nearly died. A lot.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:51 No.4489760
    I stole the "ritual" wholesale from some comic. Someone around here will probably post it sooner or later.

    Basically there's a dragon egg, she touches it, the dragon (some assembly required) emerges, shoves it's cardiovascular system down her throat like a tentacle monster and uses her as its heart. As far as the townsfolk are concerned--and therefore as far as the PCs will have heard--the girl miraculously transforms into one of the dragon gods.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:53 No.4489765

    Of course. Helping NPCs is kind of the objective. But...
    >They may engage in suicidal behavior, but only if they think they'll get away with it in the end.
    ...not when death is CERTAIN. That's just stupidity.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:55 No.4489771
    I don't know much of the lore surrounding this... but turning into a dragon does not exactly sound like ascension? There's also the question of what good this supposedly would bring and why the girls motivation for becoming a dragon god is in the first place.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)06:56 No.4489777
    Under the circumstances it wouldn't be certain. They would have vague, paranoid fears that something HAD to go wrong, and this ritual sure sounded like it. So they figure if they go themselves and conceal a weapon (or their magic) then they can defend themselves and stop the threat.
    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)06:59 No.4489788

    It may turn your world upside down but some people don't make their character's survival their prime goal.


    Eh, I guess if your group is big on roleplaying religion and such, then it could work. She still seem a little one dimensional though, and borderline retarded with her "obviously servant of the gods" even when the whole village doesn't agree. You'll have to work hard to make her actually interesting with such a premise
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:00 No.4489791
    Ok, so why isn't a love spell being used in this?

    Let's face it, you ain't cute enough to make them all fall in love with your NPC except by force. Make her into a sorceress of some sort, cast a ritual on them while they're all at her house and then tell them they're all in love with her. If they whine about being railroaded then give them one, and the one or two that get through her save will be trying to reason with them while at the same time going along with things to see what this chick is up to.

    Didn't feel like reading more than the first post so if I'm saying something someone else did, sorry.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:01 No.4489795
    Because the dragons need the young women to complete their children, they pronounce themselves gods and explain that this ritual allows a young maiden to become a god, joining the pantheon. The town is isolated and doesn't get a lot of conflicting viewpoints (it's literally in a cave somewhere, with the only entrance being a big hole in the ceiling of one chamber, which the dragons use to come in and out)

    It's sorta like Stargate, I guess...? Except with dragons?
    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)07:01 No.4489796

    Thank god, no, you are the first one to suggest something this stupid.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:02 No.4489803
    I need my PLAYERS to love the character, so that they give a flying fuck if/when she dies.

    I don't really care whether their characters like her.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:05 No.4489814
    Sounds like a good plan. Any ideas on how she can be interesting and still have strong religious beliefs?
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:09 No.4489824
    ok, i'm going to say straight up, this won't work. extend the NPC's existence by sending them off on fetch quests to gather necessary components to the ritual or some such bullshit.

    In the meantime, have this young NPC be given a commission to take care of you guys, like, have her run the inn all by herself because her parents died a number of years ago, or even simpler, simply because she has room in the house her dead parents left her. DO NOT have her go running to them, have the PCs go to HER. Give clues to her past and have the PCs investigate them on their own.

    GIVE NO CLUE THAT SHE'S ANYTHING MORE THAN A WELL DEVELOPED NPC, meaning make some deep backgrounds for other NPCs as well. You must create a subtle and realistic background for this girl so that the PCs will be obliged to care for her, but this has to be dragged over several sessions, so you should come up with some filler so you can craft a proper backstory.

    The thing is, if you press your NPC onto them, they will likewise push her away. You need to bait them into caring, you can't just shove a loli in their face and expect them to daw~.
    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)07:10 No.4489829

    The problem with that is that you set her up to be as uninteresting as possible. I mean, she literally lives in a cave in the middle of nowhere, and is basically herded as cattle by assholeish dragons ?

    I'm a little stumped here.

    Since nothing from the inside will probably make her more interesting, I'd suggest some kind of exterior stimuli, like maybe some years before that she met people from the outside world and she thought they were pretty rad and she wants to know all sort of things about what happens on the inside. Maybe that's why she wants to become a dragon, because then she'll be able to fly where she pleases and see the whole world.

    Yeah I dunno, that sounded generic as fuck.

    Really, whatever works for your group is fine, and since I don't know them...
    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)07:12 No.4489834

    Also, this is pretty good advice too and I should have probably said it earlier.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:15 No.4489838
    This is problematic as it will still become obvious that she was meant for this ritual. What that will cause is suspicion unless attention can be diverted from the fact that she will die. For example, by having another girl already selected for the sacrefice, but the players convincing the priest that they have a better one.
    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)07:17 No.4489843

    To divert attention, your best bet is to forge a subquest and make it seem like the main quest, and the ritual would be the "reward".

    Maybe something is disturbing it and the PCs need to deal with it to make the town happy again.

    And then when they think they won she dies.

    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:18 No.4489846
    I think I can work with some of that, thanks.

    An excuse to keep them there is probably a good idea. Hiding her importance is good too, though will likely be somewhat harder.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:21 No.4489852
    exactly what I was thinking. I'm not opposed to the scene of the girl proclaiming them servants of the gods, however, it CANNOT be the same as the PC that they care about.

    Additionally, you don't actually have to go into any specifics about what the sacrifice is until later. Have a few well developed NPCs around and maintain several other plausible candidates, including the potential zealot girl.

    As another bit of advice, I would suggest making the NPC of affection be interested in them. Imply that she could follow them around, like a mascot or some such.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:25 No.4489858
    After hearing some of your input, I have a slightly revised idea. Tell me if I'm headed in the right direction, or if we've taken a step away from making her likable:

    The PCs are already going to be there looking for a magic orb. After they start asking people about this orb (trust me, they will) she says that if they pick her for the ritual, she will use her newfound god-powers to find the orb for them.

    Unfortunately, in order for her to be able to take the ritual (insert fetch quest here). Preferably she comes along for this quest, and has further opportunities to make herself liked, but if you think that will backfire then she stays home.

    Ritual resolves as above.
    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)07:33 No.4489876

    That's definitely going in the right direction. If you do your job right and don't give too many hints, they'll probably not see it coming with that kind of setup.

    Preferably, make the fetch quest something she can actively participe in, like I dunno, maybe they need to go deeper in the caves and only her knows the way ?
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:35 No.4489886
    OP here, what if there were one or two puzzles that required a certain amount of knowledge of the local culture, allowing her to provide them with essential information to solve it (but not outright solving it herself)?
    >> Nanomachine !!sYW5JNY2dJX 05/07/09(Thu)07:39 No.4489895

    That's good also, even though if she's a local I don't know how she could not solve it herself and instead just throw hints at the party.

    Maybe she doesn't understand what the puzzle is about and the PCs must realize it themselves and ask her some questions.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:40 No.4489899
    I don't think that would work. Lust for power, even a cute and useful one, usually puts people off. Emphasize a certain timidity in the NPC, make her something that is emboldened by the kind support of the the PCs, but still exudes upon them a desire to protect. The best way to convince the PCs to care about her is that she somehow needs them. Not for daily life and basic tasks, because that just makes her too needy, but more for emotional support and to go beyond what she would normally do, that she seems happier and more content with life with the PCs around. I would suggest having her as the sacrifice in secret, or even that if she's the sacrifice, she would accept it because it's a her duty, and the clerics don't consider it relevant to tell the PCs who exactly they're selecting for the sacrifice, and then spring it on them late in the game, with hints sprinkled LIGHTLY beforehand.

    For the fetch quest, DO NOT BRING HER ALONG. She would become more of a burden than a joy, since she can't do shit. Instead, hint at something she would like from the trip and make it blatantly available, like a particular wildflower. This would make the NPC adorably grateful and hopefully endear your players more.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:44 No.4489915
    If she's WANTING to be the sacrifice, then any player worth his salt will realise something's VERY wrong with the entire thing. right there, right then.

    See, rituals and sacrifices are always something that trigger "old-ones" red flags (I always seem to lose it off my crayola box). If she's willing, it means she A) knows something the priests don't, B) has the power to make it go her way, and C) intends to cause massive fucking shit as soon as she's attained that power/transformation/whathaveyou.

    The moment you assume your players haven't seen through your plans, you've failed, you just haven't realised the deployed countermeasures that ruin your campaign yet. And when you do, well, you either railroad'em (and deserve a swift kick to the nuts) or run out of the room crying ("there are no winners or losers" in roleplaying is a lie: they just won and you're a loser).

    So. To reiterate
    -The players already know the ritual's "not what it seems"
    -The players already realise anyone wanting to be part of it has a hidden agenda, and at BEST (for your 'they don't know yet' rating) they simply lack the specific information on what the final effect is (oh, so it made her a FROST-loving archdevil instead of a FIRE one. Ooooh. we should've known).
    -If even one of the pcs is not a cleric/paladin, its obvious "servants of the gawds" is buttering them up for something they won't like, at all.
    -"servants of the gawds" tend to either be planning the sacrifice, or killing ones that do. What's your party alignment? good/neutral? guess what's about to happen to that temple. that's right, its loot. Villagers? attacking? corrupt. they're loot.

    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:45 No.4489917
    You want them to like the character?, well, THAT you can do. Make her annoying, non-cliché, or at worst make her that average fence or bartender.

    Your absolute best bet, is to have her be TRUTHFUL. as in "major personality quirk table". "Of course I wanna be the sacrifice. Those idiots don't even realise it but anyone who's ever read a damn book before knows the one getting wasted according to the big myth they're using here needs to be malleable and controllable, preferably virgin, naive and stupid. That thing's pure power, and they'll use it as soon as its done. Now, I want that dagger through my heart, and then I want to see the look on those monsters faces when they realise they're about to be JUDGED. I didn't dress like this because I like it, but I'd be a fool to have infiltrated this place in armor. Now then, which one of you kind gentlemen wants to see some malevolent cultists bathe in fire?"
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:45 No.4489920
    I'm not entirely sure either, but I'll probably take a puzzle that I would otherwise give the players as a challenge, then edit some of the clues so that they don't make sense without her going "Oh, well that sounds like an allusion to X from myth Y" or whatever.

    Anyway, I think I've got what I need now. Thanks a ton everybody. I owe you one.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:47 No.4489925
    Don't use a cute teenage girl, the players will instantly know she will be killed gruesomely. It's pretty much a rule. Instead, use some middle aged or old person, or perhaps a very young child(5-7 years). Also, she shouldn't be with the players on their quest, but still be able to communicate with them(when they light their campfire, she can use the temple's magical thingie to talk with them for instance).
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:47 No.4489927
    "I'm really lucky no one actually bothered asking me though, as I'd probably have blurted this out just like I did to strangers just now. Say, you boys wouldn't happen to have something to fix that would you?"
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)07:51 No.4489940
    Not OP.

    Roughly halfway through the thread, I imagined it going like this somehow (just learned about the orb, so it's added in now):

    Party arrives magically. Mistrust among the villagers ensue, and they're in trouble. The high priest and two followers notice the dragon features on one of the party members and assume their fancy arrival must mean the dragon gods sent them. He convinces the population and they back down. The players explain they need a magical orb. The high priest explains that dragon gods can find such orbs, and that the spawning of a new dragon god will happen soon. But he needs some stuff for the ritual. This is what he needs the players for. He explains a bit of the ritual, and says he has a girl ready, all he needs is the stuff. One of the people following the priest around is the girl. She offers the players shelter while they stay here. While there, they learn of various things about her indirectly, a table set for more people although she lives alone etc. etc. As they fetch more stuff and learn more about her, it becomes clear that she wishes she is well suited for the ritual, as she may want to see her family or whatever. The players may suggest her to the high priest, the high priest however is reluctant... and states that if he was to do this favor for them, he'd need a favor in return. He offers this "side quest".

    We all know what happens from here....
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)08:00 No.4489971
    That could work. Only thing that ever I have issue with is the whole concept of the NPC being clearly part of (or wanting to be a part of) the ritual. It sets off red lights everywhere. Mysterious ritual? Young, pretty, virginal adolescent? Yeah, she's dead. It's just too obvious. A sidequest would be a good bit to gain the trust of the local populace and the clerics.

    (also not OP)
    >> Dr. Baron von Evilsatan 05/07/09(Thu)08:36 No.4490094
    I'll put this simply.

    You're fucked.

    The sheer fucking mindraping complexity and multifocal micromanagement needed to make an NPC that is genuinely appealing on a significant enough level to work is the sort of thing that will usually represent the peak of your DM career. If you make even one character who manages to make your players genuinely like this person to such a level that they become significantly emotionally involved with this character then you have achieved the greatest possible success in character-building. Most of my success in DMing comes down to my ability to build very good NPCs so long as I have the time to do it, and even so, only four times in my years of gaming have I managed to actually make this happen. Only one of these counts, too, since the other was exploiting the flagrant ronery status of a player with a character designed to appeal directly to their ideal, which is almost depressingly easy. Only once did I manage to actually get this to the level of unhealthy fixation legitimately, and that was the result of painstaking research on my target, incredibly timely inspiration, weeks of planning, and not a small amount of luck.
    >> Dr. Baron von Evilsatan 05/07/09(Thu)08:36 No.4490101
    Professional fantasy writers, people who write in the sorts of worlds you use, usually fail at this task. These are people who are so fucking good at worldbuilding character designing and story progression that people are willing to give them so much money they can fucking live off of it, and in many cases become considerably wealthy from it, and even these people usually fail. Hell, they usually fail working in a medium where you have utter control over every event to happen, where you have as long as you damn well please to get things done, and where you have a willing participant, as opposed to ADHD-riddled retards who can't psychologically withstand the immense burden of waiting five fucking minutes to kill something even if it means wrecking every fucking game they play.

    I'm going to repeat this to make sure you aren't absolutely convinced this is neccesary. If you don't know how to do this there is every chance that you are not a proficient enough writer to execute it in the best of circumstances.

    That said, here is the second way of making a genuinely emotionally appealing character. The first is sheer 'fuck-that's-amazing' inspiration from nowhere, and isn't reliable enough to ever plan around.
    >> Dr. Baron von Evilsatan 05/07/09(Thu)08:37 No.4490105
    One, the character must be believable.

    The character MUST be believable.


    This is where nearly everybody fucks it, in the first step. You NEED for your players to be able to envisage this person as a person and not a convenience, decoration, or plot device. If you do not have a believable character, then you are fucked, end of story.

    The key to believable characters is verisimilitude. They have to be realistic and self-consistent, as well as consistent with their setting. They have to be a few steps short of being an actual person in complexity. The most reliable test for a believable character is simply to put them into every situation you cna think of in your story. If you even once have to think of anything other than the character's decisions then you failed. If it is hard to think of her motivations then you failed. If she practically writes herself int othe story then you have passed.

    This is not easy. It is hard, even with practise. This is my thing I'm good at and it's still hard and takes shittonnes of effort to do. I could write a fucking thesis on how to make a believable character, but if you need me to tell you how to do it you quite simply aren't good enough to do this. This is not denigration, because it's fucking hard to learn. It's just the way things are.
    >> Dr. Baron von Evilsatan 05/07/09(Thu)08:38 No.4490110
    Next, you have to make them interesting. You have to make your players want to look at this character rather than make them want to move on because she's boring. Genericism is out. Copypasted is right out. Uninspired is right out. Observably cliched is right out. Complexity is not neccesary. Exciting is not neccesary. Dramatic is neither neccesary nor helpful. She just has to be not boring.

    You've ostensibly pulled these off, and your players both believe this character and find them interesting enough to not ignore them. Now, the real work begins.

    You have to arrange it so that your players develop an emotional attachment to your character. They have to, in one way or another, feel an empathic link in one way or another so that when this character goes through an experience they feel an appropriate and proportional emotion. This is fucking hard as balls. This will test your abilities to write a character like nothing else ever will.

    You have to make them like the character. Try to make her appealing. It doesn't matter whether she's young, nice and naive, a weathered hardass who can't bring herself to feel anything anymore, or the angry woman who obviously has issues. You have to get the players interested in any way. You have to make them want to help and teach the young and nice one, and shield her from the harshness and cruelty of the world, to preserve that precious flower of innocence as long as it possibly can. You make them want to find out what the history is behind this woman, find out what it is that she's protecting herself from, and help her, to make it so she's not afraid to feel any more. You need them to want to find out what's wrong with this girl, what it is she's trying to hide, and how they can fix it and fix her.
    >> Dr. Baron von Evilsatan 05/07/09(Thu)08:39 No.4490120
    Here is where I can't really help you. Either you've learned how to do this already or you're pretty much fucked. It would take a week of full days for me to be able to make someone who can't do this able to do this, and even then it'd only be to my own standard at best which isn't that good. Regardless, the critical rule is developing emotional investment. If they are invested in a character it becomes much easier to grow that investment to the desired level.

    Most common is the slice-of-life, the days of someone's normal life, where you see what they do and experience a day with them. Do this well and it works. It's safe, because it's hard to fuck it, but it won't get them extremely involved unless the player has some deep hidden need, which is why it's so painfully fucking common in anime. It's also uninspired and easy to make boring if you're not original. Do it if you're not that confident. Watch slice-of-life shows for an idea.

    More effective but less reliable is the buddies-on-mission type. Your players and this person go on some journey and do a variety of good and okay and bad and scary and fun things together, and it slowly builds investment. It works faster and better but is more risky since you have to be interesting about it at the same time as keeping the character realistic which is hard when you've got a civilian next to what are often sociopathic killing machines. This is where most good fantasy stories can inspire you.
    >> Dr. Baron von Evilsatan 05/07/09(Thu)08:40 No.4490123
    The riskiest and hardest way with the most potential for success is the torrent of shit. Character has a problem, and something outside their control makes it worse. They try to fix it, and results make this consistently worse. They sometimes get swept along out of control, sometimes miss chances to fix things, and sometimes fuck up under their own initiative, but the key element is that things get worse. They get better, then worse, then worse, then a whole lot better, then worse, then better, then fucking shit, or however you do it. The common thread is that no matter how shit things get this person keeps fucking going, even though they sit, they scream, they cry, they give up, but they always get back up. You can't help but feel for the underdog who just keeps trying; it's practically fucking encoded into us by societal conditioning. Then, the very last time, as the players try to help time and time again (and sometimes they have to fuck up trying to help the character; if they're a decent bit invested you can improve that investment by them doing something to make her hate them for a time so they have to win back her trust) until it just goes too far and she can't do it any more. There, if the players are remotely human, they will be so invested they want, almost NEED, to help, and if you let them feel they could, it will be the peak of their investment in this character. This is, incidentally, the perfect time for your sacrificial rite. You could have her torrent of shit being trying to escape the sacrifice, until finally it's all too much and she gives up, because she'd rather die than live like this any more. This is when your players will be charging in to save her.
    >> Dr. Baron von Evilsatan 05/07/09(Thu)08:41 No.4490126
    This is fucking hard, because you need to hit this one point of success in the middle of a thousand points of failure. Too much POORME whining, you fail badly, too little whining, you fail, both because you fucked up the realistic character. Too much shit happening is worse, because either it kills verisimilitude and the player's ability to believe the game, or it gets them actually pissed off at you personally for doing this to her. It's fucking hard to do, but when it works, by fuck it works. Read Ian Irvine for this; it's his central characters' perpetual story, and holy shit he's a master of it, because he manages that perfect level of empathy where you're so pissed off at the other characters doing shit to the character in question that you want to reach into the book and punch them, or just be there to help them.

    A good professional writer doesn’t need to use his audience’s desires to get at them, but you can’t run the risk that you’re that good. Find out what they like, SUBTLY, then play that against them.
    >> Dr. Baron von Evilsatan 05/07/09(Thu)08:42 No.4490129
    Two final points.

    One, don't be a dick on the sacrifice. You have to actually give your players a valid possibility of saving the girl, and more importantly, you have to make them think that you've given them a valid possibility. If you can only do one do the latter, but both is best. If she dies or cracks and they can't fix her, they will be fucking pissed at you, and rightfully so, for getting them emotionally involved explicitly to punch them in the emotional face equivalent.

    Secondly, not one of these things will help if you've got the wrong players. They have to want to feel for this girl for this to work. If they don't want to, it just won't work.

    This wasn't meant to be that long, but fuck it. If there's one thing I've managed to consistently do here at /tg/ it's accidentally post massive fucking posts when I meant to write a few sentences.
    >> GURPSfag 05/07/09(Thu)08:47 No.4490143
    Here's a couple of tips.

    1. Have her be a positive, caring person. Do not make her creepy. Give her a sense of humor and a pleasant personality. Being pretty helps too.

    2. Arrange circumstances where she helps the players out. Do not make it seem staged (This is hard). Have her be revealing with information, do not make her presence a difficulty with the players.

    3. DO NOT HAVE HER COME ON TO THE PLAYERS AND POLITELY REJECT ALL ADVANCES. If she becomes romantically involved with one of them she is lost forever as one of the "team".

    4. Give her some modest combat skills or something else that makes her useful, since she's going to be there a while.

    5. Have her be somewhat empathic. Have her laugh and cry with the PCs. Don't make her too emotional.

    6. Make her enjoyable to be around. Crack jokes in character with her, have her get some handy information, etc. If the players associate good things with her they will like her.

    As for making them instantly fall in love with her, a strong entrance is key. Have her first line be awesome, and you will hook the players.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)08:49 No.4490149
    CHOO CHOO! Everyone aboard the railroad!
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)08:51 No.4490159
    so basically make her a mary-sue, then?
    >> The Old /co/ldier !1V6Z4xOlI6 05/07/09(Thu)08:55 No.4490171
    Players posting in a DM thread.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)08:55 No.4490172
    dude, print that picture and keep it in sight...
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)08:57 No.4490179
    OP again, just wanted to thank you for the input. While "you're fucked" isn't fun to hear, you're more or less right, and I appreciate the advice you gave along with it, it all sounds pretty good. I know I'll probably fail, but I wouldn't be a very good DM if I didn't try to get my players emotionally involved.

    As for giving them a chance, I'm not going to specifically write a way for them to get a happy ending, but if they surprise me with something that should work I will give them their well-earned victory.

    Thanks for the tips. This all seems pretty solid except maybe number 3. I think if one of the players wants to get romantically involved with her then that will work fine. It may make her death less important to the rest of the party, but it should intensify it pretty good for the PC who was involved with her.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)08:58 No.4490183
    who's the artist?
    >> GURPSfag 05/07/09(Thu)08:59 No.4490185

    Oh you.

    Yes. Make her an insert of yourself, OP. Make her perfect. No No NO NO NO NO NO FUCK YOU.

    Guess what? A well rounded character is not a Mary Sue. Those are all tips. OK? Fucking tips. Make her likeable? You have to make her part of the crew, or at the very least, able to identify with them. So, I took all the shit I've heard players complain over the years about NPCs NOT doing, and made a list. That list of traits will make the players like her. Does it mean she can't have flaws? No. I think getting fed to some kind of snake god is a pretty big flaw. On top of that, I think not being in the party in the first place is a pretty big flaw to overcome.

    So, you know what? If being likeable makes her a Mary Sue, then fuck you. I hope you never play any game with any likeable characters in it for the rest of your fucking existence you goddamn troll.

    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)09:02 No.4490195

    Wrong-O mate!

    Long time DM. I just happen to have figured out that the game is more about the players having an enjoyable time than the DM cramming the players down his OMGITZSOKEWLFAPFAPFAP pre-programmed plot line.
    >> GURPSfag 05/07/09(Thu)09:02 No.4490196

    Well, I figured if you wanted the whole party to like her, then you should avoid romantic involvement BECAUSE while it does increase the level of the relationship between the NPC and the one PC, it lowers her ability to relate unbiased with the other PCs and also increases the chance of her becoming "The NPC sleeping with Geraldo."

    One last thing: Make her name one or two syllables. It helps a lot with any character.
    >> Dr. Baron von Evilsatan 05/07/09(Thu)09:04 No.4490206

    Which is why a minimum-standard DM makes the plot interesting and multivariable. The only time player depart from a plan badly enough to kill it is when you have no room for divergence, which is bad DMing, or when it is so boring they're desperate to get away, which is worse DMing.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)09:05 No.4490208
    Yeah, ideally getting the whole party to care would be best, but since I'm a little concerned I'll be able to really pull it off at all, I'll definitely settle for affecting one player strongly and the rest minimally.

    Thanks for the name tip. That's the sort of "shortcut" that I need.
    >> The Old /co/ldier !1V6Z4xOlI6 05/07/09(Thu)09:10 No.4490221
    There's bad DMing, and then there is bad playing. I've gotten past railroading a long time ago, but it's also wrong for the players to expect the DM to be a MMORG where they can run around doing completely off-the-wall shit fulltime.
    >> Adeptus Munitorum Magus O'Grady 05/07/09(Thu)09:11 No.4490226
    Have her join the party as a helper. Cook, henchman, assistant, torchbearer, whatever. Make her very useful.

    Then have her take a crossbow bolt for a member of the party. Or have the party's enemies capture her and torture her for information but she doesn't crack.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)09:17 No.4490250

    OP here. For what it's worth, the players have generally been enthusiastic about the fare I've been bringing to the table thus far in the campaign. I have been making an effort not to railroad them, but admit that this campaign is a bit more "I have a story to tell, and while their actions will certainly not be ignored, I do more or less have a plot planned" than I usually do. If player actions change that plot, I adapt when possible, and when absolutely backed into a corner make it so they encounter the old man in periphery-of-the-map-woods rather than plot-hook-city.

    If the PCs show up and don't give a damn about her, well, fine. I admit defeat, she dies, no one cares, and we move on. If they show up and try to stop the ritual, then, as long as they have a way of succeeding that would realistically work given what I've already said above, they will succeed. Otherwise they'll fail.

    I don't think it's wrong to try and design a "no-win scenario", as long as, when your players surprise you and win anyway, you give them their well-deserved victory.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)09:22 No.4490268
    When you make players feel an emotion at all, every body wins.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)09:24 No.4490276
    There are two types of players, the artistic acting weepy kind, and the normal player kind.

    The latter don't have emotions in games. If your players are composed of them, your plan has zero chance of succeeding and you're wasting your time.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)09:30 No.4490306
    I have been a DM a long time, let me share some of my observations about players and NPCs.
    -Players are slow to trust, so it takes time to build a connection.
    -Players get more attached to NPCs who are useful.
    -Players will choose to attach themselves at random to minor NPCs. Dont try to understand it, it is like how a sports team chooses a mascot. It just happens. Dont EVER go out of your way to kill these NPCs, but dont try to deau ex save them either.
    -PCs respond well to noble sacrifice. It appeals to their inner weabooshido code.
    -Killing NPcs to tug heartstrings only works if there are recurring NPC allies that the PCs love who DONT get killed in the campaign. without contrast, they will just harden themselves against attachment.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)09:32 No.4490312
    >>4490276There are two types of players,roleplayers and sociopathic buttcocks
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)10:09 No.4490438
    >There are two types of players, emo bitches and min-maxing faggots who want to kill everything.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)10:12 No.4490450
    This cannot work because of the nature of rituals.

    When are ascension rituals ever a good thing? What kinds of people want to become gods? Mostly you're going to find that evil people want to become gods and attempt evil rituals for their own ascension.

    If the girl wants to be part of the ritual when the players are only told that it's an ascension ritual they're going to find the girl to be deluded, power-hungry, and possibly worse. If they are offered to choose who will ascend then the players will know something is seriously fucked up - you don't gain the power to create a god and then just randomly hand godhood over to some teenage girl.

    I'm sorry, but this whole plot just makes no fucking sense to me. Looking at it from a PC perspective I'd be on edge the moment I heard the word 'ritual', and if I was a good alignment I'd immediately start seeking the truth and probably put effort into stopping the ritual. If I was neutral or evil I'd probably just start killing people because there's a reasonable possibility for my life to be on the line.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)10:24 No.4490493
    Rituals of ascension are almost always a good thing. A benevolent deity is born who will then help the mortal people left behind. A good character would always accept it, while an evil character wouldn't, hoping to gain power from the depression and loss of the people if their god-plan fails, luring them to the evil forces of consumerism, selling drugs to patch their empty soul.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)10:27 No.4490506
         File :1241706441.jpg-(13 KB, 209x168, troll.jpg)
    13 KB
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)14:43 No.4492019
    Jesus fucking christ. Voted for archive.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)15:40 No.4492421
    Dr. Baron von Evilsatan, please tell me you have a blog full of delicious DMing advice like what you just posted.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)15:48 No.4492477
    >>even so, only four times in my years of gaming have I managed to actually make this happen. Only one of these counts, too, since the other was exploiting the flagrant ronery status of a player with a character designed to appeal directly to their ideal, which is almost depressingly easy. Only once did I manage to actually get this to the level of unhealthy fixation legitimately, and that was the result of painstaking research on my target, incredibly timely inspiration, weeks of planning, and not a small amount of luck.

    I would really, really like to hear this story.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)15:52 No.4492497
    OP, just have your NPC say "Please don't take these items."
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)15:53 No.4492504


    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)15:58 No.4492542
    get an actual person to roll play your intended NPC, making sure said person really knows how to get people to like them. suggestions, get one of the other players family members to play the character, someone who the PCs universally like. Now that's fucking dark. Bring in a little sister just to have her die later, you want cold PCs/players, that's how you do it.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)16:02 No.4492585
    haven't read the whole thread and I'm sorry, but one way to get characters to care about an NPC is to make them important in some other scheme the PCs are involved in. This session you are planning doesn't seem to be part of a larger story arc and if you could somehow incorporate the NPC as being important to the larger plot then the PCs will become very interested in her well being.
    >> Anonymous 05/07/09(Thu)16:11 No.4492675
    Probably not even paying attention, OP, after almost 100 replies, but here's my take on it, having made several extremely likable NPCs through my campaign.

    NPCs will make an excellent first impression on a party if they give the characters/players something they want. And in this case, I don't just mean loot, have the person give them recognition. Make the NPC be a fan of the PCs and make them feel like the heroes they're supposed to be.

    For example, in my campaign, my players went for five or six levels getting relatively little reward or fame for their quests. Just when most of the characters felt about ready to just quit the whole adventure business, they get a surprise invitation to a royal birthday party. King Rio was only about 8 years older than most of them, very friendly, and wanted them as guests of honor to tell them all the story of their overseas adventures. Later on, he gave them a new quest and became not only their favorite boss, but also the party's best friend.

    Basically, if a character gains the position in the players' mind as a source of something important beyond simple quests and gold, that character will become important to them. Just build a generally likable, fun, and kind personality off of that hook, and you'll have created a friend for your PCs.

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