Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
R2D2fan

GM using a character as an NPC for gameplay!!! Thoughts?

Recommended Posts

Hey fellow GM's & RPGr's

 

 Just wondering your thoughts on a GM including their own character as a NPC and having that character join the adventure while the game is played, or would that create a conflict, as the GM's NPC "character" would have knowledge of the obstacles that the players characters will face during the adventure.

 

All Comments & Thoughts are welcome.

 

thanks

Edited by R2D2fan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally speaking I'm not a fan of having the GM introduce a character into the party for long lengths of time that he or she controls as if it were another player. Indeed a couple of my own worst experiences as a player include times when the GM has had his or her own characters turn up and start doing stuff. At best it feels like the GM is taking up too much of the spotlight (and really the GM should be doing most of the talking and acting anyway) at worst it feels like an ego trip - as I have on occasion had GMs have their character either smugly solve all the interesting challenges of an adventure or become irritating agent provocateurs who essentially ruin the fun.

 

So I would resist the temptation.

 

I can think of a few exceptions. I think it could be useful if you have a group who are new to the game or RPGing in general if there is an NPC in the party who can show them how things are done for a session or two. That might work provided the NPC does not take the initiative away from the other players and dies or leaves once they have found their feet. I also think that if the players insist on hanging around with a particular NPC (including animal companions and familiars and such) that it is useful for the GM to invest in them and give them a bit of personality and drive of their own (if only to teach the PCs that they can't treat other organisms with the same degree of predictable utility as inanimate objects).

 

That said I do think GMs should invest in NPCs and enjoy introducing recurring characters and contacts. However the focus should always return to the player characters and I don't think any NPC should become so important as to be indispensable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have GMed all WFRP3 adventures+1000 Thrones, with plenty of extra sub plots and overarching plotlines. A real challenge I find is to stay critical of my plotlines and NPCs. Do they still move the story forward? Or are they becoming distractions from the flow of the game? Some plots or characters I might have a special fondness off... these are often the ones I need to get rid off as soon as possible. I think in writing it's called "kill your darlings"

 

But yeah, I agree with Dave. Avoid the temptation to make a GM-PC. Don't make a "darling" in your adventure on purpose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree with Dave, and have seen many complaints etc. about this sort of thing on various message boards about different systems etc.  If things ever turn on that character's ability or choices, it becomes "de-protagonizing" for PC's.

 

 

Rob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GM player characters can be fun if put in a lower-powered, advisory role, or as a henchman.  Having "Elminster/Arenson/Dry-zit/harpers sydrome", such as infected D&D's Forgotten Realms for years, just tends to turn players into sheep.

 

I've played many instances where I've had an NPC along for the ride, but I have also been stuck in situations where the GM was so enamoured in his own character, that the player characters hence played 2nd fiddle.

 

The player characters should always be the stars of the game, even if they're not the heroes.

 

jh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with what has been said, but I also played more than a couple of sessions and even campaingns in which the GM had a character of his own participating in the group and it worked. What I can see of factors that make it work...

 

Everybody already wrote about when GM is enamoured by his own character and this character resolves all situations. That shouldn't happen, ever. Maybe the only exception is when all PCs are down and you really don't want them to die at this point, i.e., when PCs already tried their best and failed. Then an NPC could save the day, for them to learn not to do that again. And then, that NPC should be prevented in some way of ever saving the day again - maybe it was just a lucky shot, maybe the NPC himself lost something doing it etc.

 

I've seen GM's character working when the GM had a clear idea of how this character would participate in the story. Usually this character knows even little about the plot than the PCs knows. Maybe it becomes clear that its the responsibility of the PCs to tell anything to the GM's character, so they know exactly what he knows and what he doesn't.

What has happened in every circumstance I saw a GM's character working as a member of the party is that, even if he is more powerful than the PCs (what I would advice against if you are not completely sure how to conduct the relationship aspect of this extra power), the GM always lets the PCs have the focus of everything, and do 90% of everything, and the GM's character is just a bonus. Even though he has his own mind, he is like an asset the PCs themselves can make use of, saying to him where to go and to do in a plan.

 

That was how the GM of a 5 year campaign I played worked things: he was very clear to state that no NPC would ever come up with a plan. That was always the job of the PCs.

At last, one aspect that I think you should consider is specific to Warhammer 3ed. A PC has a lot of cards and a lot of things to track with his character. The GM has more, as he needs to keep an eye at the PCs and also track what is happening in the story, what is going to happen next, the status of NPCs etc. So if a GM has a character, he would have a lot of extra things to track as well. That should be really confusing. I would suggest you keep that in mind and try it out as a test before deciding to go full throttle with it.

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At last, one aspect that I think you should consider is specific to Warhammer 3ed. A PC has a lot of cards and a lot of things to track with his character. The GM has more, as he needs to keep an eye at the PCs and also track what is happening in the story, what is going to happen next, the status of NPCs etc. So if a GM has a character, he would have a lot of extra things to track as well. That should be really confusing.

 

 

I have had to run a PC for a party member that never showed up and eventualy quit the group, and to me that is the most obstructing part of it - keeping track of recharing actions, using active defences, knowing which stance he's in etc. It's difficult and distracting to have all that in mind when your multitasking threshold is already exeeded, and it might render  both the character and GM less capable of doing their jobs. But this also creates problems relating to the roleplaying itself, and that therefore isn't limited to this system. It can be hard to think of interesting things for that character to say and do on the fly when your attention is already quite divided - but it also feels a bit wrong to prepare lines and reactions beforehand like it was another NPC, because it isn't my character, and I don't feel entitled to develop him as such. Because of this, the character becomes a bit bland and passive, which again takes away from the experience.

 

What I have planned, and thus think will be interesting, is to introduce an NPC that can be as present as the players feel like - a potential follower with a distinct personality and skills the party might need, but who tends to screw up and get the PCs into problems they might not otherwise encounter. I have created the following special rule:

 

Chronically incompetent – all actions gain 2 misfortune dice. If he rolls one or more chaos stars, the action gains a fear rating equal to the number of stars rolled, affecting allies within medium range. If the action also fails, increase party tension by 1.

 

Now, if the GM controls an NPC with a special rule of that kind, it might add something altogether new to the experiene, and I think that's what you should aim for in these cases - bring something new to the table that the PCs themselves cannot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...