Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-22-2015, 07:50 PM   #11
RyanW
 
RyanW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Southeast NC
Default Re: How to be a Likable character

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchonShiva View Post
The very first rule of likeable NPCs, which mostly applies to competent NPCs, is don't steal PCs' thunder.

Don't have NPCs who are better than them at things they enjoy, and generally speaking don't "steal kills".
I've used this before to get PCs to appreciate a patron (individual or group): when the PCs are in trouble, don't send in the cavalry, send in the quartermasters. Don't rescue the PCs, give them the support they need to rescue themselves.

And when the PCs win, thank them, with a sincere thank you and a debt of gratitude, rather than just 2d6 gold pieces.
__________________
RyanW
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life, because they probably aren't hiring.
RyanW is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2015, 09:02 PM   #12
Mister Negative
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Most definitely alone
Default Re: How to be a Likable character

For my group, a Likable character is the one that functions the least like a player hook.

If there's a pretty girl to rescue, the players have no interest. If she's pretty, way out of their league, and disinterested, they all are crazy to meet her.

If there's a hapless villager to rescue, they don't care about him once he's safe, but if he tries to fight the monster too (even if he's hopeless), they want to talk to him afterwards.

If the tavern-keeper wants to ask them a favor, they don't care what her story is. If she smarts off to the wiseguy, dumps beer on the boor's head, and belittles their prowess, they are all fascinated.

If the grizzled old scout wants to help their quest, they don't remember his name. If he tells them to buzz off or asks a weird question, they are fascinated by the surly veteran.

Sometimes I forget and the completely unimportant NPC that I put there because SOMEONE has to pole the barge (or whatever) is the guy they all latch onto, because I try to deliberately have him give off "not the point' vibes, which, of course, is like catnip to them.
__________________
Build a man a fire and he's warm for the night.

Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
Mister Negative is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2015, 09:07 PM   #13
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: How to be a Likable character

When I think about my NPCS who have become liked by the players, a couple of examples come to mind:

Constanza Fiore came into Whispers as the dependent of Gianni Fiore, a PC who was a single father. Constanza was 11. She started out having just brief walk-on scenes, but the other PCs liked her and interacted with her in various ways (one big theme was her hoping to encourage her father to remarry), and as a result her part expanded.

Luchia of the House of Truth was the cousin of one of the PCs in Manse, Salvadora of the House of Truth. Initially she was just an entry in the player's family tree for the House of Truth, but I drew up a character sheet for her, and then we had scenes of the adolescent characters' school assignments, and then dialogue between Salvadora and Luchia about their romantic attachments, and in the course of this Luchia developed a distinctive style of speaking (marked by outspokenness that was very different from the habit of her house, which revered Truth too much to give it away, and by eccentric figures of speech) and an ongoing interest in hot boys—she was seriously attracted for a while to the son of the village courtesan.

I think that lessons to be drawn from this include (1) make up lots of NPCs and when one of them catches on, bring them back; (2) have your NPCs take an active part, not in accomplishing practical goals, but in interacting with the PCs; (3) come up with entertaining and distinctive dialogue; (4) don't be afraid to exaggerate or to characterize in broad strokes.
__________________
Bill Stoddard

I don't think we're in Oz any more.
whswhs is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2015, 09:14 PM   #14
Railstar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Default Re: How to be a Likable character

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minuteman37 View Post
Ok I didn't think I'd need to clarify this, but this was meant as a joke and I'm not saying you should kill off a NPC as soon as the players develop an attachment to them.
I guessed it was a joke, I just thought it worthy of mention because there are GMs who do this (I had the misfortune of playing with one). Sorry if I seemed overzealous.
Railstar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2015, 10:17 PM   #15
khorboth
 
khorboth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Denver, CO
Default Re: How to be a Likable character

The most important balance for me is how much "screen time" to give the character.

All the other suggestions are good, but if the character is never there it'll never work. And if the character takes over sessions while the PCs struggle to get a word in, it'll never work.

The best method I've found is to have frequent small doses. The quartermaster left a note in your pack. The cook made your favorite meal. The waif is making eyes at you again. Little single sentence reminders that the person is there will keep the NPC in mind, reinforcing their reality to the players. I've had the PCs get attached to even really nasty folk this way because they've become a real person to the players.
khorboth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2015, 11:14 PM   #16
Railstar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Default Re: How to be a Likable character

Quote:
Originally Posted by khorboth View Post
The most important balance for me is how much "screen time" to give the character.

All the other suggestions are good, but if the character is never there it'll never work. And if the character takes over sessions while the PCs struggle to get a word in, it'll never work.

The best method I've found is to have frequent small doses. The quartermaster left a note in your pack. The cook made your favorite meal. The waif is making eyes at you again. Little single sentence reminders that the person is there will keep the NPC in mind, reinforcing their reality to the players. I've had the PCs get attached to even really nasty folk this way because they've become a real person to the players.
Excellent point! Consistency/constancy is an important factor. It is easy to be detached from a character who is expected to serve his story role or his function in the plot arc and then disappear.
Railstar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-23-2015, 05:53 AM   #17
patchwork
 
patchwork's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Default Re: How to be a Likable character

It takes a lot of work so I don't recommend pulling it out a lot, but...NPCs have complicated lives and give them a window into them, which mostly means never letting them interact in isolation. NPCs that interact with the party one at a time and acceptable times and places only are forgettable.

So have two of them at a time. Let them see the Waif decide the Alchemist is a better mark than the PCs are and swan around making puppy eyes at said Alchemist. Have the Blacksmith and the Quartermaster yelling at each other over a shipment of steel ingots that were not up to customary standards and are only good for nails. Just figure out a way for the two characters to interact with each other and...play two characters simultaneously >.< as others have said, make sure the PCs have the spotlight the moment they do something, but now you've shown them something happening in two NPC's lives that they can form an opinion about. NPCs shouldn't have the luxury of giving the PCs their undivided attention consistently.
patchwork is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-23-2015, 01:56 PM   #18
Verjigorm
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Charlotte, North Caroline, United States of America, Earth?
Default Re: How to be a Likable character

I look at the guys I play with, and I literally have NO CLUE what makes them like NPCs. Almsot all our "named" NPCs have been invented off the cuff. Heck, we adopted a freakin' CHAIR* that we were very angry about losing due to an ambush.


*In defense, it was a REALLY nice chair
__________________
A shadu an la illa illah Allah, we shadu anna Muhammadar Rasul
Verjigorm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-23-2015, 04:33 PM   #19
dripton
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Northern Virginia, USA
Default Re: How to be a Likable character

I think my current players are just Charitable. They like every NPC who doesn't try to kill them. Hell, they routinely let *monsters* go if they promise to be good. Once, even letting them keep their treasure.

One of these days, they're going to get burned for this. But not yet. So far they've picked up some free Reputation +1 (local area, recognized 50%). And a 0-CP de-facto Ally. (How do you get near-Ally levels of loyalty, in two easy steps? Step one: save the NPC's life. Step two: offer the NPC a full share of treasure.)

So I kind of have the opposite problem. I need to teach my players not to trust everyone who doesn't have a big Evil sign hanging around his neck.
dripton is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-23-2015, 05:19 PM   #20
evileeyore
Banned
 
evileeyore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: 100 hurricane swamp
Default Re: How to be a Likable character

Quote:
Originally Posted by Verjigorm View Post
I look at the guys I play with, and I literally have NO CLUE what makes them like NPCs. Almsot all our "named" NPCs have been invented off the cuff. Heck, we adopted a freakin' CHAIR* that we were very angry about losing due to an ambush.


*In defense, it was a REALLY nice chair
My old group (okay, it was a few groups back) once decided to take a shed along with us. It was a CoC campaign and the GM had accidentally read from the non-boxed text as he read the shed's description, "... and nothing strange ever happens in the shed."

So during that mission when we needed a break from the crazy we'd retreat to the shed. When we left the crazy mansion we took it with us and installed it on top of the station wagon we drove. To the GM's credit, nothing strange ever happened in the shed. Outside the shed? Fair game.



Quote:
Originally Posted by dripton View Post
I think my current players are just Charitable. They like every NPC who doesn't try to kill them. Hell, they routinely let *monsters* go if they promise to be good.
I've done that in D&D. In D&D.

Quote:
Once, even letting them keep their treasure.
I've never done that. I did however once give the last guardian of an Orc tribe (an old 'grandma' looking warrior*) enough copper** to buy her and the children of the tribe their way into a neighboring tribe's lands after my group slaughtered every adult in her village. To be fair I did demand surrender at every skirmish during the entire fight. She was the only one who accepted (she was guarding the cave where all the children were).

* Later we found out she was an old Anti-Paladin and high enough level she might have been able to wipe the floor with us. But as we had defeated her entire tribe, without sustaining a single injury and I rolled really well on my Intimidate (and subsequent Diplomacy) check she chose surrender over valor.

** To be fair... it was drawn from the tribe's treasure... and was less than half of a share once we split the take. So I was able to assuage the party (my character didn't actually care about treasure, and I was the Rogue).

If I'd had my way, we'd have have talked our past. But the Orcs attacked from ambush... so I never had a chance to schmooze our way past (it was 3.5e so we got exp even if we didn't fight).

Last edited by evileeyore; 12-23-2015 at 05:57 PM.
evileeyore is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
npc design, npcs

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:01 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.