Steal This! 5 Memorable NPCs To Steal For Your Game
Never underestimate the staying power of an NPC. Long after players leave a town/city/village, the memory of that NPC can stay with them. Often times they try finding excuses to return to that place just to experience that NPC again. These can be people who move the story along, or just amusing distractions during downtime. No matter what the case, these folks become seared into players' minds, thus, in a way, immortalizing whatever campaign they appeared in.
Below are 5 NPCs I have used in my own personal games. Some find their way into campaigns that they had nothing to do with, simply because of the demand to see them again. As usual, with my Steal This! articles, feel free to lift any of these for your home campaigns.
1. Gimble Namfoodsheppinstumbleduck III (Pronounced Gim-bul Nam-foo-dul-shep-pen-stum-bul-duck):
Info: Gimble is a gnome who tows the line between charismatic tinkerer and raving lunatic, so... you know, a gnome. He fancies himself an inventor, though his creations are often bizarre or backfire in an assortment of hilarious ways. They could be healing potions that turn a character's hair bright colors or cause them to grow a long and magnificent beard, wands that sometimes work too well (burning hands that deals twice as much damage, but then explodes), or magic items that have unintentional side effects (like a pair of boots of spider climbing that cause the wearer to take on aspects of a spider, like extra limbs, lactating spider silk, and an insatiable hunger for insects). He is always friendly and personable, and delights in volunteers that test out his latest prototypes, sometimes giving discounts in his shop for repeat survivors.
Catchphrase: "What's the worst that could happen? As per usual, I am not legally responsible for any injury, death, dismemberment, loss of senses or bowel function, anxiety, madness, intestinal discomfort, insatiable hunger for the flesh of the living or destruction of personal, privet or public property. Sign and date here."
2. Gimnar Forgethrower
Info: Gimnar is a gifted dwarven smith, even by dwarf standards, but has little to offer anyone that visits his shop. He is a perfectionist and has a bit of a temper. Very few items meet his extremely exacting standards (though they would be considered masterworks by any other artisan). When things don't go his way, or if an item isn't coming out the way he would like, he goes into a frenzy, throwing tools and items alike as he demolishes his shop in a tirade of obscenities.
The items he does craft to his liking are incredible in quality and durability. This, combined with their rarity make much coveted pieces indeed (think a Hanzo sword). If players are interested in some of his "lesser" creations, he directs them to his "crap pile", a collection of weapons and armor left in a heap before he melts their components down to try again.
Gimnar always seems to be on edge, like he could go off at any moment (think Lewis Black). He is only ever truly calm when he is not talking about his shop, armor, weapons, or anything forged on an anvil.
Catchphrase: "It's crap! It's all crap!"
3. Le Tigre' (Pronounced Leh Tee-Gray)
Profession: Crime Lord
Info: Not to be confused with the band, Le Tigre' is an opulent, hedonistic, omnisexual, extremely fashionable crime boss, though he hates such a dirty word as crime. Speaking in a faux-European accent, Le Tigre' only engages in illegal activities because it is the only profession that offers enough time and money to allow him to engage in his obscenely excessive lifestyle. He often engages in every conceivable vice, including alcohol, hard drugs, prostitution, and gambling, often while talking to the player characters. Despite the unsavory nature of his business, he feels that the outward face of his criminal empire should exemplify his two loves; looking fabulous and being fabulous.
His minions are often well (and gaudily) dressed in bright, lush colors, but few can hold a candle compared to his inner circle; The Entourage. Consisting of Le Barracuda (his personal assistant), El Coche (pronounced cock) (his bodyguard, who fights using only his feet), and Der Cobra (his personal assassin).
Le Tigre' is almost always friendly, especially when given expensive or excessive gifts, and has a great desire to lend assistance. He will often attempt to give the party makeovers to make them look more fabulous, and usually becomes obsessed with the most dour or grim member of the party. His attire is often the same whenever encounter; A white tiger fur coat with gold trim, a royal purple suit, several gold rings, and a ebony and ivory striped cane topped with the sculpted head a tiger made of platinum. He is never seen in daylight hours, operating only at night, leaving some to speculate that he is some manner of vampire. A fabulous, fabulous vampire.
Catchphrase: "It is fabulous!"
4: Valen Ambrose
Info: Unlike the other NPCs on this list, who have a helpful and cheerful demeanor, Valen offers neither of those things. As a man with a considerable amount of power and money, he holds the keys to several shortcuts, avenues, and information the player characters could utilize to expedite quests. He does not offer these services for free, however. The characters must pay to get what they want, but since he has no real desire for more money (especially not the meager offerings of a bunch of vagabonds), he usually lists his price as a service rendered. This could be anything from a favor, or demeaning work like gardening or cleaning his floors. The favors should not be anything outwardly evil, but with an end result that makes the characters feel less than clean.
Valen holds himself like a man of a high station, and often looks down on adventuring types, making snide, passive aggressive comments. The only way he will treat a character as more than a glorified servant is if they carry a family name that is in good standing. He will treat this character noticeably better than the others in the party.
This is the guy the players love to hate. Not overtly evil, with enough clout to make him useful. They may want to punch his lights out, maybe even kill him, but both he and they know that if they succumb, he wins, and that can't be tolerated.
Catchphrase: "You should be capable of that much, at least."
5. Fenrick, The Sage
Info: Some say he is a wizard gone completely mad. Some would be right, but what none can deny is that Fenrick is a very brilliant old man. With a long, scraggly white beard and skullet, he skulks around his broken-down tower performing seemingly random tasks. This could be anything from standing outside naked to predict the weather to sifting through animal droppings to foretell a good harvest. Fenrick works best as an identifier of magical goods and wellspring of obscure information that the players could not achieve through rolls. He understands arcane magic, though is rarely (if ever) seen performing it.
His tower shows up in seemingly random areas, and it is said that the thing can get up and walk, though there have been no confirmed sightings of this.
Fenrick is often encountered with his loyal and trusty shield guardian, Mr. Montegax, who has a big smiley face painted over its otherwise blank helm. Fenrick, or Fenny as he likes to be called by friends, comes of as grandfatherly, and by that I mean an eccentric grandfather that frequently forgets to takes his medication (think Christopher Lloyd from Back To The Future). He is a bit absent minded, but gives off the impression that perhaps all of this is an act... for the most part at least.
Catchphrase: "Sweet dithering bat-balls!"
And there we are, 5 NPCs that can be easily be lifted and placed in any campaign setting, or place in any local you may need. Did you like this list? What memorable NPCs have you run or come across in your games? Let me know in the comments below.
Roll well, my friends,
+Ed The Bard
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