Day 5: #RPGaDay 2018 – “Recurring”

Weekend: NPC Questions             Prompt: Favorite Recurring

Like Saturday’s response, as this is one of this year’s returning or “fan favorite” questions, I will stick close to the present days of my gaming. It wasn’t easy to separate out the single-use from the recurring NPCs, but I am mostly satisfied with how everything is presented for these responses now. Of course, because this is a question with ‘favorite’ in it, I will give two answers. One for me, and one for the group.

Why not? It’s a prompt, not a straight-jacket.

What goes around

In discussion with the Star Wars and Star Trek group I am fortunate enough to GM for, I was given a list of several memorable NPCs – all of which were recurring. Some were allies, a few were neutral, and most were opponents. The one which most everyone agreed on, however, was a surprise to me – in one sense, and a slight disappointment in another.

As I mentioned in the video response made for today, this is not a specifically GM-related question. Although I am choosing to respond to it from a GM’s perspective, it need not be so. Any NPC encounters in play, read in an RPG supplement, or handed over to play temporarily will do!

From the recent NPCs that came to mind as a fitting answer to this prompt, the one that they chose was among the first met in the campaign – from before we knew it would even amount to being a campaign. Unlike almost every other NPC in that campaign, this one was for all intents and purposes void of portrayal elements. No specific character voice or tone, no gestures or mannerisms, no accent, regional dialect, vocabulary enhancement or restrictions – nothing, but a range of competencies and opinions.

She, Lin delMar was her name, appeared in the first session of the campaign and made it all the way through in one form or another until the very end and beyond. She began as a sort of watchdog, changed into a rival, became a client, then a partner, then a friend, and finally a member of the family – in the figurative and legal senses.

I am not surprised, as much as it might seem that I am, that what makes this blandly represented character so memorable is the negative space around her core identity into which each player could project their own ideas and imaginings. Over the years, I have tried this sort of portrayal for NPCs I expect will become linchpins in their specific regions of the “map” (whatever sort of map or area that might be in whatever type of game we are playing) but at the start of play haven’t the need or the interest in defining precisely what that should be. I have also used it to specifically test the boundaries and benefits of that ‘negative space’ to see who imagines, and how much. Interestingly, it seems it also leads to being – the most memorable recurring character in a colorful gallery of them.

Two Tastes in One

Now for my own vote, Francois Letarte (JdRD30 on YouTube) created a character for his Musketeer’s Lackey in our ongoing All for One: Regime Diabolique campaign, Lights in Darkness, that stands way out ahead of the competition in terms of qualification for ‘favorite recurring’ – especially as I get to run it as a GM, and as a player, plus encounter it as a player due to our troupe play. If you are curious about that, the actual play videos, tutorials, and recaps and reflections videos are available in this Playlist.

The Lackey we refer to most often as “Eugene” was first introduced to us as a servant of and barber to the charming ladies’ man played by Francois. This, played into the vanity and overconfidence of that character, and of course we loved it. The Lackey, however, was more than just a comedic and lampooning tool to explore “Brisecoeur” (Heart-Breaker). Although appearing as a man seeking to understand the ways of wooing women from an apparent master of the romantic arts, Eugene was actually Eugenie, a lovely female actress smitten by the roguish musketeer and now desperate just to remain close to him…except in those times when incensed by him, or once again in love. He can be frustrating, you know~

Over time in play, (more than a year and counting), each other character has gotten hints of the Lackey’s duplicity which have then slowly been turned into clues and ultimately into shocking revelations, but Brisecoeur has remained firmly in the dark until our most recent session. We have seen the Lackey Eugene suffer secretly for unrequited love, fall into other destructive flings with powerful and dangerous men for real or as a ruse. We have seen loyalty, betrayal, contrition, and recently, rejection. Eugene is gone, only Eugenie remains and she has moved on to other work. There has been more than one session which expressed wonder about whether or not this situation might reverse itself, but in that tempestuous last session her life and very soul were imperiled… Brisecoeur finally learned the truth about his Lackey and in the very same moment also learned that he was on the very real cusp of losing her.

One layer of drama has been explored and pulled aside to reveal many more beneath.

This sort of NPC is a treasure in gaming, I think. It is one that is simple to play and portray, but with depths of character like those of a player character. Francois should be proud of the inception of the idea and I think the various members of the group who have taken on the role from session to session have contributed a lot as well.

She is a most memorable NPC if ever there were one, and as a result we take every opportunity we can to get her into a session~

TOMORROW

The #RPGaDay prompt for August 6th concerns a favorite topic of mine. We enter into the week governed by HOW, and our first questions is, How can players make a world seem real?

#RPGADAY 2018

This starts the second week of the fifth iteration of the monthly roleplaying gaming celebration launched by Autocratik for all forms of social media. Share your responses however you prefer to share. If you want to get involved, grab and share the infographic with the prompts and jump right in!

RPG-a-Day 2018 High Contrast@willbrooks1989

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