Including NPC's in campaigns has always kind of been my jam. Because one of my main joys I get out of running games is watching PC's interact with my setting, NPC's need to be a part of that backdrop.
They are usually created and injected into the games with particular purpose. And I'm not talking about generic shopkeeps and villagers. Its NPC's that stand out in one way or another. In many games over the decades I would have an NPC be part of the party. Either out of necessity (no cleric, not enough fighter types, etc) to fill a niche, or because I thought they might lend themselves to emergent game play. In the case of the party member, they were there to pad things out. But in other cases it was usually just a nice sprinkling of personalities that would be around for PC's to interact with as they wish. Sometimes they are briefly delt with and fall to the wayside as characters move on. But there are times that the NPC might get swept up into the ongoing doings of the characters. That's where things get all emergent. There have been times when an NPC I thought would just be minor gets involved one way or another with a PC, and in many cases have had major effect on the emerging story that is the campaign and stuck around forever. In a couple of cases relationships were born and marriages eventually happened.
In the early days of the OSR I remember visiting one daft neckbeard forum or another where I would see arguements, people actually getting heated, over whether DM's should have NPC's around other than as cardboard backdrops. "DM NPC" was a dirty phrase. How dare the DM inject some precious NPC into the doings of the characters, taking away their god given time in the spotlight. Yeesh. I certainly never saw it that way. No matter how cool an NPC seems, they are ultimately there in service to the PC's tale. Patrons, royalty, mentors, apprentices. They can play an important part in the emergent play.
OK, so in my current main campaign on Roll20, I introduced a couple of NPC's in the first session. They actually did not interact much with the party, other than a smiling glance across a tavern room. The party did not know it yet, but they had a keen interest in at least a couple of the characters, and would follow them, mostly at a distance, over the course of several sessions. Stalkers really.
|Look familiar? Yes, these or the NPC's |
involved in the current campaign.