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ElderKoala

There is something SINISTER about <Random NPC #122>

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I love these moments.  So, we've got a party now fully introduced to Genesys and having fun.  We took the World of Android had it have a head on collision with Terrinoth and the First Responders are from the Lovecraft Fire House who drive a Ghostbuster-themed Ambulance.  Weird stuff is starting to happen in the world and the heroes are poised as the only ones to know enough to stop it.  

So, their first mission after Introductions to the systems in the world.  Family of a Farm House has gone missing.  Police found TONS of blood and bloody marks EVERYWHERE, but not flesh or bodies.  Open case.  Mystery.  Local townsfolk blame the father who was low on money.  They think he killed everyone and took off.. but no one has seen him either.  And the cars are all accounted for.  Last straw sister of the father hires the 'Investigation Inquisition, LLC' as a last ditch effort to get some info.  

In the course of their early investigation, I add in a random homeless / squatter / hobo character just kind of lurking in an alley.  

For the next TWO HOURS we stake out, investigate, try to get info on, hire an informant to find files on and otherwise OBSESS on a random piece of environment I added in.  

Edited by ElderKoala

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These days, my response to these kinds of situations is: roll with it.

Players think the random hobo I mentioned offhandedly is somehow important? Well maybe he just so happens to be the town coot that keeps tabs on everyone and knows EXACTLY what happened that night in the farm house, but is too afraid for his life to come forward and will make a break for it the moment he thinks the PCs are on to him.

I throw in a neat random encounter with a crashed spaceship in our fantasy setting and the players decide it's a threat to the world and must be stopped? Guess I need to have some magic-robots start raiding the countryside and present a serious threat to the adventure I had originally planned.

I agree, these moments are great, but always remember to roll with them. Few things are as satisfying as being rewarded for two hours of obsessing over a random hobo and cracking the case thanks to your good eye and keen wit; few things are as frustrating as realizing that hobo was pointless and you just wasted a session on him. You might laugh ruefully over the latter, but you'll smile like a lark for the former (especially years later when the GM says "Remember Jim the Deceiver, head of the Eldritch Cult of Doom and bringer of the last days? Yeah, he was entirely unplanned.").

Just something to consider if you don't employ it already. Of course, I play very by the hip these days (I don't even prepare notes most times), which lends itself to letting he PCs create the adventure hooks, but it can still lead to some very rewarding sessions and stories if you let it.

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Something very similar happened several times over the course of a Star Wars campaign I once ran. I think the crowning moment of "Is this seriously happening?" was when my players obsessed over a random TIE pilot and eventually coerced him into joining their adventures. All because I randomly generated a name for him, and they fell in love with it. Hence, the legend of Jag Fury was born.

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Always be on standby for a minor NPC to unexpectedly become a key character if your PC's are creatively inspired by them - you can even use this when designing campaigns, with just enough of a curiosity hook to suggest maybe they're less insignificant than they seem, sometimes it is the apparently insignificant that matters the most!

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