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Some have been modified by me, and some of those extensively, but the derivation remains and should be acknowledged, even though the terms of use don’t mandate it.

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Filed in Campaign Creation, D&D / Pathfinder, Game Mastering, Game Philosophy, Metagaming & Metagame Theory, Mike, NPCs & Villains & Monsters, PCs, Planning & Preparation, The End Of The Rainbow, Writing & Authoring & The Games Industry, Zenith-3 (Original system based on Hero System 4th Ed) on Dec.29, 2017I’ve chosen to extensively illustrate this article.

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The last choice is generally a lot more work and has far greater risks, especially given my adventure and campaign design processes, most recently described in Tying Plot Threads Together: Concepts to Executable Plot, and Round-Robin Adventure Structure.

In essence, if you’ve spent time in previous adventures foreshadowing (refer The Echo Of Events To Come: foreshadowing in a campaign structure) and maneuvering various campaign elements into a position that will produce a particular intersection at the right time, a particular set of in-game circumstances, you are to a certain extent already committed; the problems only get worse if this adventure in turn is supposed to be a stepping stone toward something bigger within the campaign.

In sequence, they are: There are a wide range of possible answers.

Their purpose might be to deliver information (or misinformation) to the PCs, to complicate one or more PCs lives, to be a low-level or a high-level antagonist, to pose a functional challenge for the PCs to overcome in order to progress the adventure, as a stalking horse or red herring, to befriend or ingratiate themselves with one or more PCs, to provide color or verisimilitude, to represent a particular organization, group, race, culture, nationality, or perspective, to facilitate the evolution of a threat to the PCs or their objectives, to gather intelligence on behalf of an enemy, to advance a PC’s current plot arc, or an NPC’s plot arc, or any of several other possibilities.

When you want or expect the NPC to become a recurring character within the campaign, the relationships might even be most significant aspect of the NPCs design, and thee entire justification of the adventure could be to lay the foundations of the relationship that is to develop.

Because you can’t control the PCs reactions, and hence half the relationship is out of your hands, the best that you can usually do is design a character who is likely to ‘fit’ the relationship that you want to develop.

There are so many combinations possible that you have to cut through the fog and focus on one or two specific relationships that are to be affected, or are to develop in a specific way, and just let the rest evolve organically through play (once they do, though, they remain in place and have to be considered elements of the campaign background by the GM.

In some respects, this comes back to the NPC’s purpose in the adventure, but quite often it will be entirely separate from that.

Sometimes, an NPC’s entire purpose can be to provide such definition or restriction before it becomes critically important to a subsequent adventure!

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