As a Dungeon Master you’ve probably noticed that no matter how many solutions or tangents you prepare for your players will often go in the opposite direction. Don’t fret though. NPCs can enrich the story by sharing information that the PCs would otherwise not know. However, it’s important to prioritize how much detail you give NPCs based on their importance.
1. Look For A DM’s Companion
DMs can often feel overwhelmed by the amount of time they spend preparing for each session. Having an easy-to-use, portable resource can streamline this process and make it more efficient. Use plot and story secrets to give players information about the world they are in, such as a villainous event, new Dungeon Master Resource entrances, a royal figure being murdered, dark signs or portents, or natural disasters approaching. NPCs can provide these secret bits of information in verbal interactions with the PCs, notes left on defeated foes, dreams or visions of NPCs, arcane feedback from objects, and other methods.
It’s important not to give NPCs leadership abilities or allow them to take the role of leader from players. NPCs should be able to inspire the players, but not lead them.
2. Look For NPCs Designed For 5e
When you want to add NPCs that will really immerse your players in the world you are creating, look for resources that include pre-generated NPCs. This allows you to spend less time creating them and more time playing with the players! These NPCs are designed for 5e and feature stat blocks that are balanced using the Challenge Rating system. They also come with high-resolution battle maps, lore, custom art and mannerisms that make them more than just a name and stats on a sheet.
NPCs with unique quirks and personality can really help to bring your players into the game. Adding things like a love of wine or an unlucky streak that lands them in trouble can be great ways to make your NPCs memorable.
3. Look For NPCs With A Storyline
NPCs with a storyline can help you keep the players engaged, especially when they have multiple goals that they must work together to achieve. Whether it’s a religious goblin priest, an educated bugbear or even a friendly giant, these NPCs are great for keeping the player’s interest. NPC’s with a storyline also allow you to create a deeper connection with the players by giving them something they can connect to. This may be a logical reason why they do or don’t want to help the PCs, or it could be that they have a personal problem that the PC’s can relate to.
Show, don’t tell. Describe what the NPC is doing and how they are acting. This will make it easier for the players to imagine what the NPC looks like at the table.
4. Look For NPCs With A Unique Style
NPCs with a unique style can stand out from the pack and help players remember them. This may include a distinguishing feature like hair, height, clothing or demeanor. It might also be a tic or frequent behavior that shows a bit of character. For instance, a crude barbarian who shares engaging war stories or a haughty aristocrat who begs forgiveness for his blunders could make for memorable 5e compatible npcs.
Supporting NPCs require more detail than nameless NPCs but less than main NPCs. Taking the time to develop their motivations, history and quirks can set them apart. NPCs in this category will be the ones who interact with the PCs regularly and likely see combat. They might be the recurring villain or other pivotal antagonists. These NPCs should be given full game statistics, five aspects and a full distribution of skills.
5. Look For NPCs With A Character Sheet
NPCs are not always right, and their opinions should be weighed carefully by the players. However, NPCs with enough back story and influence can give the group a helping hand in an encounter. Maybe they need a higher level fighter to help them feel confident in battle, or perhaps the party is having trouble entering a king’s court and an interested bard would be perfect. NPCs with secrets are a great way to get the player’s attention and to create conflict. These secrets can come from a villain’s herald or sidekick, rumors at the local pub, recovered journals, or even town gossip. The NPC’s secrets can also include things they know, want and have. This includes what they’re willing to die for, bargain with or betray others for.
Selecting the ideal Dungeon Master resource for 5e compatible NPCs requires a blend of careful consideration and creative insight. By assessing the content’s alignment with your campaign’s themes, the depth of character development provided, and the overall versatility of the NPCs, you can make an informed choice. Remember, the right resource will empower you to craft immersive and engaging narratives, breathing life into your tabletop adventures and enriching the experiences of both you and your players.
What Qualities Should I Prioritize When Choosing A Dungeon Master Resource For 5e Compatible NPCs?
When choosing a resource, consider the variety of NPCs offered, the depth of their backgrounds and motivations, and how well they align with your campaign’s setting and tone. Look for resources that provide well-rounded characters with room for customization, ensuring they can seamlessly integrate into your storyline.
Are There Resources That Offer Both Pre-Made NPCs And Tools To Create My Own?
Yes, many resources strike a balance between pre-made NPCs and tools for customization. Some offer templates, guidelines, and examples that enable you to craft your NPCs from scratch, while also providing a selection of ready-to-use characters for quick integration into your game. This flexibility allows you to tailor your NPCs to your campaign’s unique requirements.