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How To Create Non-Player Characters for RPGs (Game Master Tips)

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Come hither as Matt Mercer tells you how to be a better GM / DM. Today’s episode he teaches you how to create NPCs—both good and evil. Catch these tips a week early on Vessel, and on GeekandSundry.com every Friday! For more on RPGs, go to http://bit.ly/GS_RPG Visit us on http://geekandsundry.com Subscribe to Geek and Sundry: http://goo.gl/B62jl Join our community at: http://geekandsundry.com/community Twitter: http://twitter.com/geekandsundry Facebook: http://facebook.com/geekandsundry Instagram: http://instagram.com/geekandsundry Google+: https://plus.google.com/+GeekandSundry/
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Text Comments (355)
Ethan suomynona (7 days ago)
Villain idea: A well-meaning adventurer who went murder hobo after a series of unfortunate events starting with killing some random merchant
Jessica Brown (7 days ago)
Also, I am doing a spin-off of Force Grey: Lost City of Omu. Any hints?
Jessica Brown (7 days ago)
Any ideas on how to do voices better Matt Mercer?
Super Basic News (8 days ago)
Are you a #npc??
Sockrates (24 days ago)
Helps keep the psychosis at bay. ME: Hahaha! *internally* He knows!!😳
Ivan Dimitrov (1 month ago)
Youre the freakin best Matt! Thank you!!
Kitten Twist (1 month ago)
I suddenly understand why his players fear/respect him
Loki (1 month ago)
Hewwo, fwends :зc
Matthew kornman (1 month ago)
So for those of you watching.... what are some of your best NPCs you used for your Campiagns. Want to here cool examples for my inspiration for campaigns.
Blackroan (2 months ago)
Villains are just Heroes for the other side
EverythingIC (2 months ago)
"If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can flesh out every NPC... but that can be a little... ominous." Are you speaking from experience, Mr. Mercer?
Kendra Fitzpatrick (2 months ago)
B. T. (2 months ago)
Hah. Funny to watch this after Lorenzo's fall.
Callum Hening (2 months ago)
Ominous? Do you mean onerous or monotonous?
Insomniac_Pidgeotto6184 (2 months ago)
Red Con One Media (4 months ago)
Do you guys use a green screen for your background?
JKoby99 (4 months ago)
Does somone know the background music?
ace15892001 (5 months ago)
I wish I had your skill with voice changing My Psycho-sises all sound like me and it gets very confusing
Wrath (5 months ago)
"They'll remember... *They always remember...* "
Lelouch Lamperouge (5 months ago)
"It helps keep the psychosis away ..." Something you want to tell us there Matt? You feeling okay?
Io Wolf (6 months ago)
Fun fact. My game that im running in the world of danmachu. The players are told that this man stole his mate and children. Through an encounter where he used necrotic spells and sphere of death.. They found out he's simply an individual who takes shifty jobs, but did no crimes and before 5hey end up killing him, they let him go and gain access to the black market which works on new spells, unchecked by the Mages at the coast tower that would have their hands cut off for their dangerous separation of old magic
Io Wolf (6 months ago)
Never judge a book by its cover
ZoroarkWarrior (6 months ago)
"Not fwends" killed me XD
Worst Beat Productions (8 months ago)
1:33 and 1:41
Isaac Collard (8 months ago)
4:13 like when clerics slit Dwarf throats with a Mace of Disruption....
a fellow human (9 months ago)
keeps the psychosis at bay... I f**king lost it
Caleb Evans (10 months ago)
"Silly voices," They said. "They keep the psychosis at bay," They said. "Put down that knife," They said. "Ahhhghhh my intestines are spilling out," They said. -DMs everywhere
tristonanan (19 days ago)
What episode of Welcome to Night Vale is that from?
TheSmashMaster9000 (1 month ago)
"My leg hurts!" "I need blood!" "But I don't want to have a robot arm!"
shadowcarn (10 months ago)
I had an inside joke goblin appear called Dirty Water, he crawled out of well in a town struck by a horrible disease which was slowly turning the whole continent to undead. My friend's thought he was funny and so my friend decided he wanted to tame the creature and have it as a servant. I was smug and went "sure role a persuasion check, safe in the knowledge this would never happen. The guy rolled a Nat 20. I'd let a little bit slip about how the creature fed off children that wondered off, and so my home brew goblin class of child eater became a thing and I had to roll up stats. He's now been a recurring character in various of the other campaigns I DM and everyone seems to take a shine to him.
Qu Jee (10 months ago)
2:18 this will never not be funny
TheUsernameIsInUse (10 months ago)
*They Remember* o__o
Cade Hoch (10 months ago)
I really love this guy
Lucas Tadeu (10 months ago)
If you are playing DnD 5E you can use >>> http://rpgtinker.com <<< an amazing site to auto-build NPC sheets. By the way, thanks for the videos, they are as amazing as Matt Mercer is too xD
Funman123 (11 months ago)
Its High Noon!
Вася Перов (11 months ago)
you top , привет из России ;)
Maarten Bos (11 months ago)
"They always remember" oh man... so true.
SpongeBoi MemePants (11 months ago)
Please beat my rubbish mentality into submission
Alexandra Lake (11 months ago)
“They always remember”
RG 14 (11 months ago)
Do you guys recommend who literally just start playing D&D dm
Tyler Knox01 (11 months ago)
They always remember...
Areta Figueiredo (11 months ago)
Good video. If all GM knew how to accept badassness from the characters... Some just got pissed off, cheat and find a way to kill them, or to save the villain....Loving your tips.
MadSwedishGamer (1 year ago)
I was DM-ing for my friend who's a Monk that got his magic sword stolen, so he had o track down the thief gang that stole it, so I had a guard follow him there and help. The guard sadly perished in the skirmish that followed, but his sacrifice allowed the Monk to slay the gang and retrieve his weapon.
wee-chlo (1 year ago)
Descriptions of his NPC making strategies make me wish we could see his notes on fan favorites like Gilmore, Allura, and Kima, and villains like Ripley and the Briarwoods. Maybe after the campaign.
Joe Francis (1 year ago)
If you want to talk about moral gray areas, I read in a recap of a campaign this girl played a Paladin and she violently crushed two guards' heads like grapes. And it was perfectly in character.
Luke Handscomb (1 year ago)
Voices... Yes... and forgetting which goes with whom... Yeah, I've done that. I've recently started, in each NPC's file, recording a short voice clip of them doing an introduction of themselves. I'm /hoping/ it'll be more successful than simply writing a description. I was never very good at describing voices.
Travis Stoll (1 year ago)
After seeing this video, I want to play D&D. Matt, u persuaded me.
Travis Stoll (1 year ago)
All Hail Matt Mercer!
Perry Born (1 year ago)
yeaaaaah, accidents happen... like when you're playing a Paladin and you accidentally light a roof on fire and knock out a family of farmers whom's house you just burned down...
Classic Gamer Harth (1 year ago)
How's this, an ancient king who wants revenge on those who took his kingdom and split in three, but is pretending to befriend the heroes of the story because a) one is a descendant of one of the revolutionaries, b) he sees them as a threat, or c) both
NinjaOfTheKeyboard1 (1 year ago)
2:10 I snorted loud enough to wake the cat in the living room.
doublea125 (1 year ago)
On the topic of voices, I made all of my NPC's in one town have exactly the same voice. This somehow blew up from an odd quip to the PC's trying to find the source of this madness. It was comical, especially when they all had to do their best impersonation of the voice until they finally uplifted the curse and could speak normally again.
Anthony (1 year ago)
Watching this as I was planning a game that has a grey moral path
Michael Mrozek (1 year ago)
I have a npc who might not do a whole lot of fighting but is going to be a good fighter because of story should I still flesh him out a a fighter
Martijn Bouman (4 months ago)
You can always use the NPS Warrior class.
Jessica Lee (1 year ago)
Don't put TOO much work into big NPCs. My old group met a villain who the DM had built up as this major thing, he walked into the room, said, _"Good evening."_ and everyone let loose all their most powerful abilities and items on him and just cooked him on the spot, before he even had a turn. We discovered later that he wasn't what we thought he was. Every group that I run, some big written-out NPC with a character voice and everything, gets left as a resource in a town the players visit MAYBE one additional time in the campaign, or just bypassed entirely. At least in those cases, if they have a whole NPC character sheet but never made a single roll, it's easy to just slap a different name on the sheet and have the players meet a "different" character later.
DeltaBlaZe77 (1 year ago)
Players: "Wait it could be a trap..." Me (In my head): Well it wasn't going to be...but good idea. XD
RyanMFTV (1 year ago)
in the campaign im in i took on a mission given to me by my thieves guild contact..had to recover a ring from an abnormally tall dwarf..i jump him and knock him out and ruthlessly cut off his finger with the ring and leave a note in thieves cant telling him debts are paid with interest...turns out he won tue ring fairly in a bet and my associate was salty about it so now i have to face the consequences to that at some point...i also wear a face mask now out of paranoia cause the dwarf saw my face before i knocked him out. great story my DM is doin.
Lilac Smile (1 year ago)
*Not fwends*
Charles Richardson (1 year ago)
lol like when Doughty killed those guards
skilladunge (1 year ago)
My name is Timmi, when he called my name I freaked out. Just a bit tho.. He knows of me, I must hide.
Tieguai999 (1 year ago)
and you have to hide bodies...happens...often
Karol (1 year ago)
What are those books you keep referring to? I'm new to DMing and those personality archetypes would be greata a help!
eric welch (1 year ago)
I want to be Matt Mercer's friend!!
Freddy November (1 year ago)
I'd love to see Matt Mercer's D.M. notes lol
Will F.M (1 year ago)
Dude, DM training by McCree himself!
Salsa (1 year ago)
Fwends..! *Not fwends..!*
Chris Kelm (1 year ago)
in summation, notes
JTeenmining (1 year ago)
I currently need some help on a campaign I want to run, thing is I've never played so I don't know what to use and what not to, I know proficiency will be a thing I also have a good story, however the pcs are limited to several heroes, you get buffs for having certain heroes on the team and if you have all 6, there is a 7th one but due to him being op he doesn't take part, basically he's an npc even though in actuality he's main character in the book the campaign is based off of (one I'm currently writing) anyway, the pcs have to do 3 things in each nation of the world, have the people love them, defeat the military, and finally defeat the King of each nation, each big hero a pc can play as comes from one of the 6 elemental nations, the op one comes from technology, also characters from the books can be either friend or foe, as well some of the monsters, usually the strongest ones, are intelligent as "monsters" fall under the classes of flora, fauna and beserker... but yeah, my biggest problem will be balancing I think, anyway I'd like to hear your guys' thoughts on it, heck if you play it on critrole Matt could help build the world... anyway only recently found you guys and loving the content
Eldanon1 (1 year ago)
Who knew Leon S. Kennedy was a highly skilled DM?
highlandrab19 (1 year ago)
Arbitrary "IT'S HIGH NOON" here
Frank Robins, Jr. (1 year ago)
What about players who use normally unimportant NPCs to work for them around town? I am currently playing a Knowledge domain Cleric. For those of you thinking I'm the healer, think again. I can heal, but, my skill set and personality goes far beyond just that small part. I speak seven languages. However, I don't speak dwarven, gnomish, or halfling. Medicine and nature are two of my character's skills, I use them to great effect to help others raise money and get me the things I want to further my own commercial enterprises. I used thaumaturgy against some bandits. Those bandits now protect the carters from my city who are paying me a percentage of their wages for protection. More are joining as they realize that bandits leaving them alone is worth the extra expense.
Miles Ried (1 year ago)
i was planing on making a shape-shifter character and i named them raishan and i couldn't figure out why that sounded so familiar.
ultimateninjaboi (1 year ago)
If you're writing a campaign, and you're relatively new, here's a tip. if you wanna do voices, and you know your range of voices is currently limited, or you're only comfortable within a certain area of voice types for now, try to build that into the campaign. like, for me. aside from my usual North American accent, I can comfortably put on a Scottish accent, and give it some good variations, as well. so, for the sake of my own sanity, I'd write a campaign focused around humans and dwarves. perhaps set it in a Dwarven city or stronghold. maybe make a conflict or rising tensions based on Humans vs Dwarves in the campaign setting. etc.
Grandfather_Paradox (1 year ago)
This, from the man who brought us *Viktor* _the Black Powder Merchant_ .
AdamofBlastWorks (1 year ago)
What about a campaign with just a bunch of smaller groups of bandits all the way through? Or some end goal objective that isn't defeating someone. I was planning to do a sci-fi campaign where the players have to somehow rebuild their ship after they crash on a wasteland world... not sure how that would go though... like why are they fighting bandits? to get payed to buy the parts they need or to pay the space port? Do rhe bandits have some spare parts they need? What am I thinking? Also if I intend for their story to continue after they leave the planet it might make sense if I kept it a bit short so they don't get through too many levels for their characters to still grow in later campaigns. which might also fit to keep the quests from becoming repetitive bounty hunts or stealing stuff from bandits.
Scott Brown (1 year ago)
"I don't remember what Timmy sounds like. But they'll remember. They always remember." Truer words were never spoken about players.
Mareva Xander (1 year ago)
T. R. (1 year ago)
In the campaign I'm running the main "villain" is a leader of a dragon worshiping cult. He's not particularly powerful, or even physically menacing, but he's very cunning and always manages to stay one step ahead of the heroes. They've come very close to stopping him a few times, but he manages to narrowly escape. However... on this week's adventure they're going to see that he is himself only a pawn for an Ice Giant lord seeking the artifact they've been after. Either way, he's been a great lead antagonist, and has constantly spurned the heroes without ever actually endangering them directly with physical combat. It goes to show that you don't have to be a 50 foot dragon to seem like a tough foe to a group of adventurers.
U-Hu Gaming (1 year ago)
what was the name of the archetype book for 3.5?
Krystle Leis (1 year ago)
The scheming liar: Raishan The Tyrant: thordak
Dane Baltes (1 year ago)
How would I make a villain for a group of murder hobos who fight everything to the bitter end. I can create a raid boss they shouldn't be able to kill, then they decide to charisma check it down. So I am at a loss for a grand villain.
bLitz 100 H (1 year ago)
Guys anyone here who has tips for dungeons and dragons ??
MidRangeGaming (1 year ago)
I'm very interested in becoming a GM as we have a handful of people willing to play but our previous GM doesn't want to anymore. My main problem however is keeping players on the path where they "should" be going while making it feel like its their decision as well as memorising every detail about every conversation... Feels like it would take weeks to prepare even a 2 hour session
Connor Menghini (1 year ago)
This video series is great, I love the part where he talks about how players play in the "grey" area and hiding bodies. I am running a game as a DM for the first time and my roommate immediately used charm person on a famous war general to find out his information, stuck him in a barrel, and rolled him onto a ship. He made the campaign more difficult to run because that NPC was supposed to help them but I rolled with it. I think this might be what changes his alignment from Lawful good to more of a Chaotic Neutral character and he might come back later as a bad guy with a personal vendetta against them.
MrEffectfilms (1 year ago)
This is a great series for RPGs but also just storytelling in general. I can actually use these videos for character development for my own stories and ideas.
Wolfhound (1 year ago)
I've been playing/running Dungeons and Dragons since the "red Box" days of basic pre-ad&d. I love the changes over the years to how games have been able to develop with more and more detail and I LOVE this series. Thank you for making it!!
delaney klutes (1 year ago)
Hey so what type of DnD does Critical Role play? 5e?
Sonic Halo (1 year ago)
nope, custom campaign that happened to go through the underdark in the early episodes. Most of the series is on the surface. good luck catching up, welcome to the critters
Laralee Valdez (1 year ago)
Yes, and I think they're playing Out of the Abyss ... could be wrong though, I'm only on episode 4 LOL
Brick Tamland (1 year ago)
0:27 ominous? did you mean onerous?
Daniel Giglio (1 year ago)
Matt, thank you. Thank you so much for inspiring me to first get into playing D&D and then influencing me to become a DM. My friends from high school are all coming back together because of D&D under my DM'ing which you help me with these videos. I know there may come a time that there's nothing left to make a video about but I rewatch these to double back on a lesson that I use for the next step in my campaign that I've created. It's amazing and I may never be on Geek and Sundry but I enjoy the fact that my friends are pulled into my creation all thanks to your help. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Erik C L (1 year ago)
Book of Vile Darkness, thanks for the tip ... I liked the feat "Mark of the Master" ... excellent resource. Can you make a short on how to build atmosphere for a game of Ravenloft, Dark Souls, Castlevania, or other Dark Fantasy that employ taint, curses, and haunted pasts to start characters off
Stephen b (1 year ago)
ilu matt
Flibber Nodgets (1 year ago)
I love making NPC's and I wanna gush about mine, but I already told my players about this series and I don't want to spoil anything :[ Good tips, I will definitely be using some in the future.
Quintinium (1 year ago)
"Timmy... I don't remember what Timmy sounds like" Solution: Timmy is DEAD!
Jessica Lee (1 month ago)
Honestly, that's a good idea and as a DM I never thought of it before. The players go off adventuring for months, decide to return to a familiar town - sure, why should it be exactly the same? Characters they've met before could have died, there could have been plague, or an attack, an accident, or just old age. Maybe the whole town isn't even there anymore, hit by a massive flood or landslide (though on the road they would hear news about that).
John Paul (1 year ago)
he is right the book of vile Darkness does have a lot of good breakdown for villains and villainous personalities but you must be careful when using it because there are some things in that book that are very overpowered so use the book carefully
Vicarious 14 (1 year ago)
I'm going to remember that and quote it t'ill the end of time! "Not fwends..."
William Bowles (1 year ago)
"He has... um... laser sword."
BloodHawk (8 months ago)
Obi wan????? Is that You?
Bongibot (1 year ago)
William Bowles in our first campaign I gave one guy a Halo energy sword. He killed the final boss in one hit. Lesson is don't give overpowered shit early on lol.
Annabelle the Paladin (1 year ago)
You could be a great fantasy book writer (if you're not already) a lot of the tips in this video could also be applied to book characters.
EdwardHowton (1 year ago)
I always struggle with names. That's how I ended up with a pirate captain named Bellend (I'd heard a Brit call someone a bell-end earlier that day) and a merchant named Siran Dormadim (Sir and/or madam). Admittedly, I'm very happy with that second one. It's surprising how useful puns can be for names. I often think of a clever pun I can twist into a name and then smack myself that I don't have anything to write it down on.
Overlord IV (1 year ago)
I ASSUME that puns can backfire very quickly though, if your group is particularily silly...
Joe Woodruff (1 year ago)
EdwardHowton Siran Dormadim. you genius, I'm stealing that
Clean Living (1 year ago)
I've kept a list of randomly generated names behind the screen for a decade now. Very, very useful.
Andrew Beauman (1 year ago)
I've been GMing for 5 years now... and these are still so helpful. So much of our gaming has been self-taught and I love getting awesome advice from the Master Himself.
Tamaki742 (1 year ago)
"Fwends." "Not fwends."
TenTheFox (5 months ago)
Not Fwends.
lh0000 (10 months ago)
*NOT FWENDS??!!?!*
My party had an NPC named Dora, a goat, who tagged along. She was a pet for our Paladin and happened to be a Celestial being. Dora, the goat, was also part sorcerer...who smacked me in the grundle with her hoof, cast a lightning bolt on me and knocked me out in front of ash zombies. She then proceeded to summon 6 flumphs that attacked and killed a group of hobgoblins that were tracking our party.
Rafael Johns (2 years ago)
It helps to keep the psychosis at bay is one of the best fucking things to say ever~
Adriano Frota (2 years ago)
Really helpful.

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