Episode 6: A discussion on social media led me to record some of my ideas on making NPCs memorable. Although the explanation of the ideas in this video goes a wee bit more than 5 minutes, the method itself is quick and dirty, and takes very little prep time for a large return. Hopefully, this will give you ideas on how to pull memorable NPC rabbits out of their respective hats.
This was also recorded as a companion piece to an earlier post:
GM 101: Quick & Dirty Memorable NPCs
00:35 How do you make characters care about NPCs?
01:30 Player will do what you least expect, including by-pass your favorite NPCs.
02:30 Ways to make your NPCs stand out.
03:10 Quick steps for generating an NPC on-the-fly.
04:20 "I need an NPCs right now!"
05:20 The 5-Minute NPC Worksheet
06:00 The Four... or five-ish... Things that can make NPCs memorable.
05:50 NPC Worksheet - List of Names, Personalities, Quirks, Catch-Phrases / Accents, Picutres
07:40 Prepare a list of NPC names.
08:12 Picking a name out of thin air can go... poorly.
08:30 Lots of places to find name lists including Xanathar's
10:25 "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"
11:10 Pick names that fit the culture of the region.
12:45 Also select a few names that are foreign/exotic to the adventure setting.
15:25 Prepare your list of personality types and quirks
15:35 Lots of resources for personality types and quirks on the Internet
15:55 AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide, page 101
18:55 Use tropes. Use pop culture references.
21:20 Play against type.
21:40 Everybody loves Party Dwarf!
22:10 Don't be afraid to be over the top. Larger than life NPCs are memorable.
23:10 Catch Phrases
24:30 It can be a way of speaking, instead of a specific phrase.
26:10 The tropes can work for you, or you can work against tropes.
27:05 Catch Phrases, for real this time.
27:30 Google translate can give you a phrase in other languages.
28:45 Voices and Accents
29:25 Nobody is really good at accents (who isn't an actor).
29:55 Your players won't care! They will love the effort.
30:15 Creating the "Hondo" character.
32:15 The Big Mistake - Do not kill off your players' favorite NPC!
34:45 Don't kill NPCs they like OR hate.
35:10 Back to Voices
35:15 Don't portray a horrible cultural or racial stereotype!
37:15 Use phrases in another language to bring a differing cultural flavor.
38:40 Bonus Points - Visuals
39:00 Use the NPC artwork from Wizards of the Coast or other sources. Don't Pirate!
40:35 Pathfinder Face Cards
41:10 Guard Guy, Femme Fatale, Vampire Guy, and Freaky Helmet Guy
43:15 Pick names that fits the genre, but try not to get too "weird" with the names.
45:10 They will remember the NPCs that are portrayed as larger than life.
45:45 Write down where you used that NPC name/personality.
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