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The Rise of a Hero! Special NPC's in the Campaign!

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rytrasmi:
A capable and intelligent NPC is a good thing.

If the party likes the NPC, then great!

Is their pride wounded by the NPC doing something heroic? This is just healthy competition and I expect my players would try to outdo the guy.

Do they hate the guy? Okay, then they can dismiss him, frame him for a crime, abandon him in a dungeon, cold-blood murder him, etc. These all good plot points!

Where you get gnashing of teeth is when this kind of NPC has plot armor.

Opaopajr:
Yes, and often. :) More than a few times I've had the party almost collapse and had an NPC hold off the TPK clincher because of straight up luck and sheer party size. Since those moments tend to be less spotlight stealing and more "TPK Insurance" the Mary Sue claims never came up. But then I made sure my NPCs would choose the better part of valor and use ranged weapons, desperate tactics (including begging and then enemy reaction roll), and run away with unconscious PCs instead of heroics.

So when a hireling scores a big lucky strike there is less resentment and more cooperative pride and sense of security. My players' words, not mine. I just play most of my NPCs as more interested in survival than narrative spotlight, the rest works itself out.

S'mon:
In my sandbox games I definitely have a full range of NPCs, including heroes - who are often successful vs NPC villains. I try to avoid the trope of NPC-good-guys-always-fail by eg rolling a d6 for the result of NPC offstage conflicts.  In my Damara/FR campaign part of the setting is the Heroes of Bloodstone super high level adventurer group (the former protagonists of the Bloodstone campaign https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodstone_Pass etc) - if they happen to be around and not off saving the world, they can reliably deal with monsters etc.

Running a plotted campaign where the PCs are the 'destined heroes' is a different experience, but I try not to make the NPCs look hopeless. This can be difficult in some published campaigns; in 5e WoTC campaigns the NPCs are typically presented as helpless and one often wonders how the NPCs ever survived long enough to meet the PCs in the first place.

Re NPCs 'rising from the ranks', I find they tend to die as soon as I switch them from NPC stats to PC-type stats, so I tend to avoid this now, may be just give them some more hp.

SHARK:

--- Quote from: S'mon on October 19, 2021, 02:12:15 AM ---In my sandbox games I definitely have a full range of NPCs, including heroes - who are often successful vs NPC villains. I try to avoid the trope of NPC-good-guys-always-fail by eg rolling a d6 for the result of NPC offstage conflicts.  In my Damara/FR campaign part of the setting is the Heroes of Bloodstone super high level adventurer group (the former protagonists of the Bloodstone campaign https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodstone_Pass etc) - if they happen to be around and not off saving the world, they can reliably deal with monsters etc.

Running a plotted campaign where the PCs are the 'destined heroes' is a different experience, but I try not to make the NPCs look hopeless. This can be difficult in some published campaigns; in 5e WoTC campaigns the NPCs are typically presented as helpless and one often wonders how the NPCs ever survived long enough to meet the PCs in the first place.

Re NPCs 'rising from the ranks', I find they tend to die as soon as I switch them from NPC stats to PC-type stats, so I tend to avoid this now, may be just give them some more hp.

--- End quote ---

Greetings!

Hey S'mon! Excellent, my friend! I agree. I think having skilled, competent NPC's adds to the verisimilitude of the campaign. Having everyone always be helpless quickly stretches the campaign into an unbelievable pretzel, as you mentioned, what the hell were these sheep doing before the Player Characters arrived? *laughing*

Most of my kingdoms are filled with lots of competent people, and more than expected heroes and champions. Unlike Forgotten Realms, which seems to get an ocean of criticism about powerful NPC's, in my campaign world of Thandor, my players know very well that society has lots of bad-ass champions that can kick ass and take names. Why are the Players necessary? Why are they not crying that they are overshadowed and somehow not getting enough glory? Simple. They aren't players with immature, fragile egos, and they also realize that despite there being other heroes and champions--the world is a big place, the kingdom is a big place, and there are always a full table of problems and challenges, and never quite enough heroes to handle everything--hence, the Player Characters always find work, or a quest that needs their help.

With unsuspecting NPC's, I have even expected most of them to die grisly, napalm-choked deaths, screaming in agony, or too slow or clumsy to escape from the Otyugh, and get caught and devoured by the teeth-filled maw. It's always amusing to discover a lucky hireling that somehow becomes unkillable, and a ruthless Terminator that slaughters everything in his path. It's also amusing to see such characters outperform the Player Characters, who often are then in awe of the lowly NPC, and become super protective, like he is some kind of blessed mascot or something. Always funny stuff to watch! ;D

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK

S'mon:

--- Quote from: SHARK on October 19, 2021, 02:29:33 AM --- Unlike Forgotten Realms, which seems to get an ocean of criticism about powerful NPC's

--- End quote ---

I think the complaints were much more about (a) these NPCs being special snowflakes who the universe/Mystra would always protect and (b) Greenwood's tendency to have them come in and save the PCs, solve their problems etc. Appropriate GMing of high level friendly NPCs needs to be very objective - don't protect your darlings, but don't kill them off just so the PCs feel threatened, either. Treat them as a normal part of the world.

One reason I like 4e FR is that the high level NPCs were no longer around, instead people miss them and pine for the glory days when eg Lady Alustriel kept Silverymoon safe. I don't use 5e-WoTC FR where they all came back again!

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