I need some help from the community in respect to an Unofficial Guide to Mouse Guard I’m working on.
What is your general pattern for building NPCs–not just one-time cameos. I don’t mean to ask how do you choose from the available list in the book; I can handle that decision-making on my own. I mean, what do you do when building an NPC who is a PC relationship, or a key NPC in the campaign you want to give at least a 2-dimensional treatment.
I’ve been working on an NPC Recruitment pattern and need advice. I’m working on my process for creating sample NPC mice who are not members of the Guard. It is a bit developed, but I’ve reached a point I know is not pleasing me. In favor of iterative design, I want to pause right away and get a grasp on what is missing.
Currently, the (non-Guard) NPC CharGen kinda looks like so:
—Determine Nature (mouse) by table of age:Nature followed by 2 questions
—determine Health and Will by table of age:ratings followed by 2 questions
—determine Circles and resources by table of age:ratings followed by 3 questions
—select Hometown for Skill and Trait
—describe Upbringing for Skill and Trait (in other words, combines Natural Talent, Parents’ Trade, Convince Others, Born Trait, Parents’ Trait)
—describe Mentorship for Skill, Wise, and Trait (to absorb some of Experience in Guard, Specialty, Life on Road, and some of Particularly Knowledgeable)
—describe Apprenticeship for Skill, Wise, and Trait (to absorb remaining of Experience in Guard, Particularly Knowledgeable)
The whole pattern is not totally nailed in place, but that is the general idea. Nature => Abilities => Upbringing => Mentorship => Apprenticeship. At that point, the intended result is a sample NPC mouse has a small collection of skills, wises, and traits as well as a slightly unique stat board for multiple use during various sessions of a campaign.
Now, the above is not the greatest trouble. I am having trouble without ranks by trying to determine social grouping–not social class or status–based around livelihood-related identity. The groups are:
- Movers & Shakers
- Scribes & Skalds
- Smiths & Wrights
- Crafters & Makers
- Brewers & Millers
- Bakers & Cooks
- Wild Mice
- Lore Mice
- Labor Mice
- Harvest Mice
- Science Mice
- Merchant Mice
I don’t have a group that easily absorbs skilled Healers. I’m not certain where Apiarists and Insectrists belong. Fighters and Hunters aren’t absorbed at all. Also, I’m seeing that some categories blend a variety of skills while others (Bakers & Cooks, Harvest Mice) are narrow.
Those groups were intended initially to focus the skills and wises available and appropriate to list. I would like to avoid creating additional categories in order to more clearly split broad groups…but…hey, that’s why I paused to look things over.
Lastly, I’ve got this idea about a template pattern which is not like the social category, but more like a add-on guide to more deeply entrench an NPC in their identity. These template patterns were stolen from my (currently not under scrutiny) method of creating Guard NPC mice (when needed). In that case, I plan to implement the Recruitment pretty nearly wholesale, so the pattern is basically saying, “for this step, make these choices and the result will lead to a [trope].”
For example, the Trailblazer template pattern is intended to tell a GM or player how to make choices that will build a Guard member who screams, “I’m a TRAILBLAZER!” in Skills, Wises, Traits, and Contacts–oh, and Gear.
Ok, well If you want to help out, let me know. I’ve got to find at least a few minds to bounce ideas off and hopefully get back on track.