Tag Archives: NPC

NPC Strategy Sheets

By far one of our most popular free downloads, NPC Strategy Cards are a useful tool for any GM. They are especially tailored to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and 4th Ed.

NPC Strategy Cards Book Cover
NPC Strategy Cards Book Cover

Using Strategy Cards

Before a session, look at your monsters and NPCs. Fill out a card for each. If you have 6 orcs with the same tactics, you don’t need 6 cards for them, just one for the group.
Use this writing time to plan how each monster will react to different actions from the players. Do they flee when they’re badly wounded, or stay and fight to the death? Do they rush into the melee, or take up bows and attack from a distance? Make your choices and write them down.

These cards are a handy reference during play, just look at the card to see how the NPC reacts. They’re also useful after play as a handy record for recapping the last session.

Grab your free cards here and go crush those heroes!

Inquisitive Kitsune Cub NPC

Inspired in Japan

 

Presenting the inquisitive kitsune cub. Unable to resist the temptations of the local mountain village festival, he dons his disguise and joins the crowd. Before long he’s in over his head.

Kitsune Cub & Vixen
Kitsune Cub & Vixen by R Sloan. Interior art for the upcoming “Where Heroes Stand” adventure.

Kitsune Cub
XP 200 CR 1/2
Kitsune rogue 1, CG Medium Humanoid
Init +7; Senses perception +5

DEFENCE_________________________________
AC 14, touch 13, flat-footed 11 (+1 armour, +3 Dex)
hp 5
Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +1

OFFENCE_________________________________
Speed 30 ft.
Melee dagger -2 (d4 – 2/19-20) bite -2 (d4-2)
Ranged dagger +3 (d4/19-20)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5ft.

STATISTICS _______________________________
Str 6 (-2), Dex 16 (+3), Con 13 (+1), Int 15 (+2), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 12 (+1)
Base Attack Bonus +0; CMB -2; CMD 11
Feats Improved Initiative
Skills Acrobatics +9, Climb +2, Disable Device +7, Disguise +5 (+15 in human form), Escape Artist +7, Perception +5, Sense Motive +5, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +7, Swim +2.
Languages Common, Sylvan, Tengu, Celestial
Combat Gear 2x Dagger (hidden in clothes), Blowgun and darts (20) in Den, Quilted cloth armour, Thunderstone (hidden in clothes).
Other Gear Flint & steel and small steel mirror in belt pouch. Baggy yukata conceals daggers and thunderstone for escapes (DC 19 perception to observe, DC 15 perception to frisk).
Special Abilities lowlight vision, change shape, agile (included), fast shifter (shift form as a move action), bite attack (natural form only)
Tactics When discovered he uses his thunderstone to stun opponents, then shifts form and flees back to his den. If cornered he makes ranged attacks with his daggers until he can shift and flee.
Description: A wide eyed teenager, who seems both a little out of place and uncomfortable in his own skin. He has little understanding for human ways and often makes mistakes that could easily give him away. He stares wide eyed at everything he sees and wants to take in as much as he can, knowing he won’t get such an opportunity again until next year.

Kamen, Land of Masks
Kamen, Land of Masks

This is the third of three NPC previews from my upcoming Pathfinder adventure, Where Heroes Stand. Check out the humble mountain villager and the samurai bodyguard from last week. For more NPC goodness check out my recently released NPC Strategy Cards on DriveThruRPG or Paizo.com.

Samurai Bodyguard NPC

Inspired in Japan

Presenting the samurai bodyguard. He delights in pushing the peasantry around, roughing up his masters enemies and otherwise bullying anyone who stands in his way.

Samurai wearing a nodachi.
Samurai wearing a nodachi, or field sword.

 

Samurai Bodyguards
CR 3 XP 800
Human Warrior 5, CN Medium Humanoid
Init +0; Senses perception -1

DEFENCE_________________________________
AC 18, touch 10, flat-footed 18 (+8 armour, +0 Dex)
hp 39
Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +0

OFFENCE_________________________________
Speed 30 ft.
Melee  mwk nodachi +10 (1d10+3 /18–20 ×2)
mwk wakizashi +9 (1d6+3 /18-20 x2)
Ranged short bow +5 (1d6 / x3)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5ft.

STATISTICS _______________________________
Str 16 (+3), Dex 11 (+0), Con 12 (+1), Int 9 (-1), Wis 8 (-1), Cha 10 (+0)
Base Attack +5; CMB +8; CMD  18
Feats Intimidating Prowess, Skill Focus (Intimidate) , Weapon Focus (nodachi), Dazzling Display.
Skills Climb +3 (+0 in armour), Intimidate +14, Ride +8 (+2 in armour)
Languages Common
Combat Gear  master work Nodachi, master work wakizashi, dagger, short bow, 20 arrows and master work agile half-plate.
Other Gear Leather belt case containing (2x antitoxin, 2x meditation tea, 2x smelling salts, 2x soothe syrup, 3x vermin repellent) and light combat trained horse with riding kit. 72 gold.
Tactics Pairs of bodyguards use their Dazzling Display to demoralize foes, then focus their attention on the nearest threat; who they cut down without mercy.
Description
These heartless oafs love nothing more than pushing around peasants at their lord’s command. They carry huge swords both as a sign of strength and as an effective means of crowd control.

Kamen, Land of Masks
Kamen, Land of Masks

This is the second of three NPC previews from my upcoming Pathfinder adventure, Where Heroes Stand. Check out the target of the bullying samurai bodyguard,  the humble mountain villager, from last week. For more NPC goodness check out my recently released NPC Strategy Cards on DriveThruRPG or Paizo.com.

Mountain Villager NPC

Inspired in Japan

Presenting the humble mountain villager. Strong, hardy, and ready to run at the first sign of a katana wielding samurai.

Mountain Villager
CR 1/3 XP 135
Human Commoner 1, LN Medium Humanoid
Init +1; Senses perception +0

DEFENCE_________________________________
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10 (+0 armour, +1 Dex, +1 Dodge)
hp 6
Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +0

OFFENCE_________________________________
Speed 35 ft.
Melee dagger +1 (d4 +1 / 19-20 x 2) or club +1 (d6+1/ x2)
Ranged dagger +1 (d4 / 19-20)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5ft.

STATISTICS _______________________________
Str 12 (+1), Dex 13 (+1), Con 11 (+0), Int 8 (-1), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 11 (+0)
Base Attack +0; CMB +1; CMD  12
Feats Dodge, Fleet

Skills Craft (choice of carpentry, leather, pottery or traps) +3 or Profession (choice of brewer, butcher, cook, driver, farmer, fisherman, herbalist, innkeeper, merchant, midwife, miller, tanner, trapper or woodcutter) +4, Handle Animal +4.
Languages Common
Combat Gear Club or dagger
Other Gear Rice bowl and cup, well worn kimono, grass hat, jacket and woven grass shoes.
Tactics Villagers know that in a fight their best bet is to run away, and, having lived their lives on the side of a mountain, they are particularly fast on their feet.

 

Kamen, Land of Masks
Kamen, Land of Masks

This is the first of three NPC previews from my upcoming Japan based Pathfinder adventure. For more NPC goodness check out my recently released NPC Strategy Cards on DriveThruRPG or Paizo.com.

Ham it Up

My mother always said “don’t generalise”, but when it comes to role-playing, go big or go home. And if you’re at home, just go bigger. Big generalisations give us a point of reference that’s such a key to entertaining sessions. Heavy Scottish accents indicate dwarves, that’s pretty much a tradition of the hobby. Evil villains sound evil: they cackle as they deliver their diabolical monologue.

Don’t do what I did. I’d heard advice like this before, but in my mind “subtle” was always a better option. Boy was I wrong. Subtle characters are effectively watered down and they become bland, tasteless and unrecognisable amongst the scores of other watery NPC’s. When you make generalisations that support players assumption, you confirm aspects of the world that are a cornerstone of their understanding. Yes, the dwarf could have any accent, or none at all, but a Scottish accent is expected. The merchant who speaks with an Indian or Egyptian accent might well be looking for a good deal, even if he’s from Calimshan rather than Calcutta.

It’s all about character, so ham it up. Use those cues to make your characters truly unforgettable.

Names without the Stupid

Making fantasy names is a bit of an art and something that GM’s need to do regularly. I have three methods for creating names that I want to share with you. These I call the History / Attribute Method, the Fermented Method and the Foreign Languages Method.

Memorial Panel by Labattblueboy.

The History / Attribute Method of Name Creation

Places:
Many places get their names from either a prominent feature of the area or from the area’s history. New York was the “new” York and Cape Town was the “town in the Cape”. I like to name my towns in the same way, hence Willowton would be a town with many willow trees, South Fort would be a fort in the south and so on. You might feel that names are too basic when created like this, but you effectively achieve two things: you have an easy to remember name and it’s linked to a fact that adds colour to the location. Hobbiton, from JRR Tolkiens Lord of the Rings, is a good example of this type of name.

In a recent session, my players were passing an area of unmapped land so I had to create something on the fly. I came up with “Gold Bridge”, a pirate port city ruled by the pirate king Duke One Eye. The players never actually entered the town but later I went to my notes and added in some details, including how it got its name. This is an easy way to flesh out your own world one step at a time.

People:
The same can be applied to people, and old Duke One Eye is a good example. Do yourself a favour and watch Hot Fuzz and take note of some of the villagers’ surnames. Names like Thatcher, Cartwright, Cooper and Skinner are all occupations, but can be great links to what the NPC is all about too. Why not have a villain called John Butcher, or an NPC called Mr Slain? This kind of name can say something about the NPC or about the history of the character’s family.

Things:
A magical item can always be named after what it is. The Ring of Speed, the Bow of Death, the Sword of Flame and so on. If we get a little more creative we can take it a step further and call the same items The Quicksilver, The Widowmaker and The Inferno. Add in a little history about the item and we get Quicksilver of the Ancients, The Fallen Widowmaker and Inferno of the Spitting Sands.

The Fermented Method of Name Creation

This method uses several steps. First, take something from your surroundings as inspiration. I have the air conditioning remote near me so I’ll start with Air Con Remote. Now I want to change that to come up with a person’s name, so I’ll change it slightly to become Aaircon Renmot. It’s still too similar, so my next iteration is Aair Renton. Voilà, a person’s name is synthesised from the humble air conditioning remote. This method does take more time and I’d advise  letting your list of names sit for a day or two, just so you can have another go at them when you are in a different frame of mind.

Places:
Try and use changes that will in some way reflect the place you are naming. You might, for example, want something that sounds dwarvish for your dwarven city.

People:
Like in the example of the air conditioning remote, you’ll probably want two parts to the name. You can use different sources of inspiration to create the name. Keep at it until you find a name that fits nicely with the NPC, as it will inspire good role play and help players remember the character. You don’t want “Captain Bunny Slippers” to be the name of your big bad NPC at the end of the quest.

Things:
Things should be pretty easy to name, we could have the Ring of Asusuma (Asthma Inhaler), Sanshasses’ Bow (Sun Glasses) and the Blade of Cruthix (Chopsticks). The point is that you can use anything to create anything, just go with something you feel works for you and your players.

Foreign Languages

Having foreign sounding names may seem important to you, but if you need a name quickly then remember that you could always say something like: “Her name means ‘Silverleaf’ in the elven tongue”. If you have more time to devote to creating names I suggest drawing up a list of names to have handy for when you need them. Don’t forget Google too, there are loads of lists out there for you to scavenge from. Google Translate is particularly helpful for getting names from other languages such as Latin.

Have any great names to share? Leave a comment and let us know.