Wednesday, September 01, 2010

In Which The Warlock's Friends Gain Some Friends...

If it's one trend that tends to happen in Wittenberg-run games, it's that groups have a tendency to pick up NPCs. Games almost turn into harems, with hangers-on, henchmen, followers, and friends following the exploits of the PCs in any given game.

The Enigmatic Mr. Ebbs, I believe, first experienced this when he ran a Mutants and Masterminds game a few years back. In that game, the group gathered up NPC after NPC, with an angelic-origin PC nearly becoming pope! She had a full cult surrounding her, believing she was of divine origin and would bring about The Rapture!

This continued as EEE GMed us into the "Pyramid of Shadows"--one of the Wizards of the Coast-published 4e D&D modules. Trapped in the titular pyramid, our heroes began recruiting civilians and other humanoids who became entranced by the psionic call of the pyramid. It's from these humanoids--replete with randomly rolled stats--that we ended up with such luminaries such as Clevon Washington and The Goddamned Jim-Bob!

In fact, I even mandated the trend while running "Pirates of the Underdark", with each PC creating an NPC to serve above their ship, the Red Mourning. Details on all of those NPCs can be found in some of my earlier entries. The enigmatic wizard Durgrek, the mysterious investigator Nalen the Lesser, and Mathir's 'slave-boy' Elkantar all came from PotU.

And, so it goes with my weekly "Tear of Ioun" game. At first, it was merely one NPC. The players picked up Elladan Red-Hand, after he saved them from imprisonment during the Siege of Wellspring. His "Liberace meets Jack Sparrow meets Chairman Kaga, then becomes The Doctor" personality immediately endeared him to Lupin--the group's Banite battlemind/paladin--and Elladan's followed them ever since.

Following this, when we picked up a new player--Jess--she took on the role of Shantira, the lone Stormcrow that the group was able to save from the Forlorn Tower. A pyromaniacal eladrin warlock, Shantira's added ranged damage, numerous ritual castings, and a love interest for Lupin as the group entered the Shadowfell.

But were they done there? Oh, no. Rather, our runepriest--Russell--is out for his own kingdom! After his own clan was sundered, Russell received word from Thorgrim, his clan-brother, that a new delve was being founded back on the Prime Material plane, and needed his guidance! Russell, ever the pragmatic priest of Kelemvor, has decided to take it upon himself to lead his clan back to glory...

And what's best? I still have one great NPC in reserve. You see, Vaymeer (the Harrowfolk barbarian that started all of this mess) is still in the picture. Beaten twice, thrown into the Shadowfell by Lupin's githyanki blade, and marooned without his tribe, he's got an axe to grind with the party...and it's already sharpened and waiting.

Then again, one has to wonder...what happens when one sunders a githyanki silver blade? Lupin, Russell and company are about to find out! :D


  1. Thunderforge10:33 PM

    Sweet, NPCs make the game so much cooler! I'd definitely suggest turning them into monster cards (which is more or less what "companion characters" are in the DMG2 as I understand) and giving it to the players to control. It's so much more fun to have the players roll for their slaves ...err... devoted allies than having the GM do it. :-)

    I think my most memorable NPC I've ever had was in my "Atlantis Awaits" Savage Worlds campaign where the mother of one of the characters joined up with the team for a session. "Momma Laros" had no combat ability, but she could taunt and intimidate like there was no tomorrow, which in Savage Worlds distracts enemies and gives a helpful bonus to combatants. So when they got into a gunfight, Momma Laros started yelling about how they were being very bad and should go to their rooms, freezing them in their tracks (with astonishment and confusion, no doubt), thereby giving the party the opening they needed to take them out.

    And after the group broke out of a jail cell, Momma Laros walked up to some bored guards playing cards, bluffed that the other guards had let her out to play cards with them, then started gambling and wound up winning all their money (by cheating, of course)! It was brilliant!

  2. Oh, man...a card shark...

    Did I mention that I already have a Deadlands character picked out, when you start running that? A one-armed Huckster/gambler from Back East, slick as can be and able to talk the knickers off of even the most surly saloon girl.

    I <3 Deadlands...