Every LRP system has its own idea on what it expects from NPCs, how best to play parts you are given. This is a short guide on what we want from our NPC’s and some hints and tips for making game on Plot’s front line.
Before Hitting the Field
- Make sure that you turn up in plenty of time for make-up / briefings. If you are waiting for a role, wait in the chill out area near Plot Support, rather than outside or in the Crew Welfare hut.
- Before you leave on your role – make sure you have read and understood the brief, if the brief contains anything you don't understand, please ask! We do expect you to know the basics of Empire – make sure you know the basics of magic calls, Anvil’s laws, game rules, etc... Share your knowledge of nations and groups with others it can make a huge differences for fellow NPC’s going out.
- If going out with a group, talk to each other before going out. This allows you to work out characterisation, IC relationships and what your role in the encounter is going to be. This allows a much more cohesive and interesting encounter both for you and the players. Remember their IC names!
On the field
- There are two key things for all NPC’s to remember – stay in character and stick to the brief.
- When on the IC field – stay in character. If you are not sure how something works, get a ref. Even if the players drop character occasionally, we expect you to remain in character for the entire time you are on the field.
- While we want you to improvise emotion, invest in the personality and make your character real - DON'T ‘add’ to the plot, the world, or create information about eternals / other characters – basically “Don't make shit up”!
- When you are asked questions you don't have an answer to - you can say that you ‘don’t know’ – you CAN SAY NO.
- See if your Plot has a ‘get out’ for the character. (i.e. New to Anvil / pigheaded, will only talk to John Smith )
- Never ever give a player the impression they are going to get to do something in downtime unless the brief explicitly tells you to do so. We don’t have a free text downtime at Empire.
- We encourage taking IC notes. Many briefs can be complicated and remembering the names of players met over a long trip to Anvil can be very difficult.
- Make sure you stay IC when you take notes.
- Remember to get the names of characters and groups that you interact with. Make sure they’re spelt correctly!
- Don’t collect OC information like PID’s, if we have the name and group, we can find them.
- Many players are keen to make deals with NPC’s. If that is not part of your brief, don’t make any deals! If it is part of your plot; the numbers involved in a plot that contains elements of buying or selling will be based on a number of factors. When your role involves buying or selling something, look carefully at the requirements for minimum and maximum prices. If in doubt – ask your Plot Writer or Plot Support.
- Don't compromise on your IC position - stand your ground
NPCs are very susceptible to compromising on their IC position to make game - players will work really hard to get you to move from the IC position you have been briefed to take. They are highly motivated to get you to compromise and back down on whatever you're saying or trying to do. It's really important to stand your ground - because if you do back down - then the plot is usually over and often has to be dumped. A lot of NPCs assume "player-led" == "players=win" - they assume it's their job to hand over their stuff to the players. In Empire your job as an NPC is usually to make life difficult for the players - to make it challenging - if you're a field NPC, it's the talkie equivalent of being one of the orc monsters on the battlefield - when you back down it's like a monster deciding not to fight. It means the players win... for sure... but it doesn't improve the game.
If you are supposed to have a degree of compromise, then that should be discussed with you when you get the brief (e.g. you want this, but you'll accept that, try for this... settle for that). Again, with a brief like this, don't immediately fall back on the compromise position - the longer you can hold out and the harder you push the players - the more fun they will have. If you are absolutely convinced you should compromise more than the brief says, then discuss that with a member of plot team first if humanly possible.
More Hints and Tips
- Don't spoon feed the players - if they don't get it, they don't get it. (Exception - quest hooks)
- Don't offer to return to the field - unless it says so in the brief, assume that you will /never play this role again.
- Don't believe the players. They may be wrong or just lying. Don't let them doubt your brief. (But do make a note in your debrief what you believe they think)
- PCs have the power to send letters to NPCs, but it is *intentionally* expensive. So many of them will try to find any excuse to get round that cost
Returning to Monster
- DEBRIEF! Seriously – please always debrief, and don’t go out on another role until you have.
- Always write the names of the NPC’s that went on the plot.
- Feel free to use bullet points. (You can do this by putting "* " (remember the space) at the start of the line.)
- Have fun! Seriously, you are giving up your time to help this game. If you are not having fun, have a word with the folk on the plot desk and we'll see what else we can do for you.