Over the years, I have found myself stumbling at times, giving blank, generic descriptions, going so far as to tell my players “Nothing to see here. Move along.” That is part of the reason I have put together this little game aide. Maybe it will help you. Maybe you’ll hate it. I’m happy to hear your comments either way.
Quick, Random NPC Generation
I like to think I come from an old school generation of role-playing where there was a lot of random tables to roll on. I did, after all, really enjoy Rolemaster for a good long while. Granted, there are those around here who have been play far longer (ahem, cough, Mark). And, even younger / newer players are digging new games from Kevin Crawford, like Stars Without Number, which I guess is categorized along with OSR. What’s old is new again.
I also really enjoyed the random tables found in Modiphius’s Conan RPG. I talk about it in my character generation / review for Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of a bit. Some people like to control every aspect of their characters and the characters’ actions. However, adding in the element of randomness leaves us with things that can be really awesome—things we didn’t think of on our own at first.
Doesn’t the GM Have Enough Work Already?
My good friend Jon Henry taught me a trick awhile back when he first introduced me to Apocalypse World. If you haven’t had the opportunity to play in an AW game yet, you should try it. I didn’t think I would like it at first, but it really did bring cooperative storytelling to the forefront. Jon would always ask his plays “Then what happens?” It’s different from the D&D games he runs where the statement is more “Okay, let’s roll with it.” In his AW and similar games, though, he asks the players bunches of questions.
“Okay, you meet a guy, what’s his name?” Then, he’ll turn to another player: “What’s he driving?” Then another player “Is it day or night?” He takes notes all the while. He loves it. It makes it so he can enjoy the game along with his players and be just as surprised as they are rather than planning it all out and trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces when they completely punch right through the plot.
What I have put together here is merely an option. If you need to come up with a description or an NPC quickly, grab a few dice and you’ll have enough to be well on your way to having more than a faceless member of the mob.
To use the chart, simply roll 1d20 for each column, make note of the results, and fill in the blanks.
Have a Look. See if you like it or hate it and be sure to let me know.