Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The Evil Machinations of the Local Baron
So all of that hot air brings about today's topic. As a player, I'm responsible for fleshing out my character to give my GM and fellow players something interesting to work with. If you've seen my posts from the past two weeks talking about the Three Questions, you'll know what I mean, but to sum it up quickly - I need to know what my character wants, why my character wants it, and what my character is willing to do to get it. These three things about my character will give me enough information to react to any situation that could pop up and make life difficult for him (or her, but almost always him). The answers, in a way, are a shortcut to a lot of other useful information that I am than able to make up on the fly. This allows me to develop my character through play while still have a rock-solid foundation to fall back on for the sake of consistency.
But what about the GM? What about an NPC that you may only meet twice ever? We want our NPC's and supporting cast to be colorful and memorable, rigth? How do we make this happen? Since we're talking about a lord/mayor/baron whatever of a small area, I think the easiest way to make a character like this stick out is to make sure you have a clear understanding of how the town is affected by his leadership. You may only see the character once or twice (or maybe even never in some cases), but the thing that's really going to stand out about your Baron is the people who suffer or succeed around him. Yes, like any NPC, the Baron will benefit from having the Three Questions answered for him, but like I said, the three questions are really best used for laying the ground work and developing a character over time.
Look at the scenery of the town. Are the hedges kept short or let loose without much care for how they make the rest of the town look. Is the public hearing hall in good shape, or are the planks and ceiling rotten and falling apart? When you ask the grounds keeper about how long the lawns take to groom into such beautiful arrangements, how does he react? Does he beam at his work, knowing he's done his lord proud and in turn feels pride for having done a good job, or does he flinch and mumbles about the one imperceptible error he made last week while he rubs the large goose egg on the back of his head? These things leave impressions on players and in turn work all the time to build up the Baron in whatever way you hope to do so. This how you build a context for an NPC without having to actually spend a lot of time with the guy. It's probably for the best anyway - guy's kind of a douche bag.