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

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SHARK:
Greetings!

Well, in my campaigns, it doesn't always happen, but every now and then, a seemingly unremarkable hireling guard or mercenary character somehow emerges as something like a great hero. *Laughing*

Some individual spearman gets a series of huge criticals during the group's fight against orcs or whatever, and proves to be as worthy if not more so than the Player Characters. Similar unsuspecting characters making all of their saving throws, and otherwise being unstoppable killing machines. Or really clutch-perfoming healers, or an unexpected rogue that is dazzling in their luck and skill. My players have never failed to take notice of such NPC's, and often richly reward them with constant upgrades in excellent gear, magic items, and training. Such characters, despite their humble beginnings, rapidly develop into Henchman type characters, and become very important members of the Player Group. Such performances are typically derived from entirely spontaneous dice rolling, occasionally supported by a character's unusual set of attributes. Such NPC heroes are then of course made all the more potent and effective by the training they receive from the Player Characters, and also by the extensive and constant upgrades in armour, weapons, equipment, healing, and magic items. ;D

Have you had NPC heroes develop unexpectedly in such a manner in your campaigns? How have your players responded to such characters?

I have on occasion heard of some gamers moaning and gnashing their teeth about uber-NPC's, or "Mary Sues"--or whatever the immediate bitch-fest is about, but my players are always deeply appreciative of at least *some* NPC's being excellent and capable, and not always being helpless sheep. My players also often have a kind of expectation that at least some NPC's demonstrate some actual balls and genuine skill and ruthless efficiency. I have found that Players often can become resentful and incredulous that only *THEY* are capable fucking heroes. The Players expect many NPC's--or at least some of them--to have their shit together and to be able to contribute to the defense of the realm in the same manner that the Player Characters do, day in and day out. It has certainly been entertaining, and enhanced the verisimilitude of my campaigns!

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK

Krugus:
Now days I roll out in the open and my players see what I roll so when Rando the NPC scores multiple crits during a session that makes them look like Rambo the NPC my players also start to take notice and want to keep them alive.   Sometimes they stick around while others just want to survive to make it home and don't want any part of the crazy the PC's are into ;)

Going off topic:  I've found that since I now roll out in the open during combat encounters, my players are are hanging on the edge of the seat MORE than when I was rolling in secret :)

DM_Curt:

--- Quote from: Krugus on October 17, 2021, 11:34:46 PM ---Now days I roll out in the open and my players see what I roll so when Rando the NPC scores multiple crits during a session that makes them look like Rambo the NPC my players also start to take notice and want to keep them alive.   Sometimes they stick around while others just want to survive to make it home and don't want any part of the crazy the PC's are into ;)

Going off topic:  I've found that since I now roll out in the open during combat encounters, my players are are hanging on the edge of the seat MORE than when I was rolling in secret :)

--- End quote ---
I like to do combat rolls in the open, so you get to see the Crit that gets you, and you don't get the feeling it was the DM fudging things to unfairly target anyone.
But Knowledge rolls (Investigation,  Detect Traps, etc.) in secret, because you wouldn't know what you didn't find, and I don't wanna see "piling on" when someone fails a roll.

Anyway, back on topic....
It's cool when a NPC becomes greater than expected. I also had a NPC that was supposed to be a respected guide, end up becoming a laughing stock, because monsters often randomly attacked him, and he often rolled poorly at important moments.

Steven Mitchell:
I too roll in the open.  I'll also often set up NPCs to die as a means of telegraphing how nasty some new monster is.  The plan is that the NPC gets slaughtered under the onslaught, which might encourage the players to run, or at least quickly develop a healthy respect for what the monster could do.  That's usually the way it plays out, too.

However, I've had a few times where the sacrificial NPC simply will not go down.  The monsters can't hit them and the NPC makes every saving throw.  Usually, the NPC isn't doing much damage either, but they are taking that whirlwind of attacks and still up.  Meanwhile, some tough PC is getting nailed with a critical every other round and about to bleed out.  Usually, after a fight like that, I just hand the NPC stats over to one of the players to manage.  They see the defenses and hit points and how lucky the NPC is ... and start shielding the NPC for the rest of the adventure. :D

That's not exactly the NPC turning into a hero, but it is the NPC turning the PCs into heroes.  So I'll take it.

therealjcm:
A Mary Sue is set up to succeed from the get-go, and the DM tries to force that npc to be awesome. Many players will smell a rat and want old Mary Sue to die die die.

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