NPC of the Week – The Bush Pilot – Jan 23rd, 2016

(Argh.  I thought I had this set up for auto-post but I was tricked!  So, here’s the NPC for last week.  Bonus?  You get two NPC’s THIS week.)

I’m continuing on the NPC of the week series.  For this NPC I will be using Rory’s Story Cubes. I was just able to purchase the third set, Voyages, over the New Year so I’m anxious to give them a go.  I’ve placed all three sets into a central pile and will randomly pulling out three cubes.   After a quick roll I will have my three choices for each of the set of character elements below.  Here we go!

The Setting – We’ll stick with another modern setting, perhaps Superheroes, perhaps Pulp heroes?  Regardless, a modern setting from, let’s say, 1930’s onward?

1st Set of Cubes


Obvious NPC Story Elements
(Things that are immediately apparent about the NPC or that can be learned through casual conversation.)

The NPC’s role in the world: discerned by clothes, demeanor, initial introduction, etc.

Plane/Flying – At first I thought of this as an international traveller/athlete (see 3rd question below.)  However, I decided to be a bit more literal as it would be more engaging with the PC’s.  The NPC is a commercial bush pilot flying freelance jobs wherever and whenever needed.  The NPC might work for a big airline but I don’t think so.  I believe he/she is a bush pilot which will hopefully open up many more options for the PC’s.

The NPC’s current home or home-base: learned through initial introduction, casual conversation, etc.

Snowflake – The pilot lives in a northern clime like Alaska or Canada.  Again, the bush-pilot theme works here.  The NPC is used to the hardships and joys of living in colder, remote areas.  They know how to fly in unique weather which makes flying anywhere else kind of like a walk in the park.

The NPC’s signature/unique talent: learned through casual conversation, simple getting-to-know-you questions, etc.

Jumping Person – The NPC is a hardcore athlete who trains themselves almost daily with running and exercise.  They are incredibly fit and in excellent shape.  They compete in obstacle course races, marathons, mountain climbing and other outdoor events.   More endurance focused than strength.

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NPC of the Week – The Courier – Jan 16th, 2016

Here we go with a new feature where I build an NPC from a series of random elements. Sometimes it will be Story Cubes, sometimes tarot cards, or, maybe, even wikipedia articles.  (Did you know there was a “Random Page” link?)  Heck, I might get crazy and combine all three!  I’ve done this before in the early stages of my blog and I enjoy the process.

I use a list of nine questions that were first created on a now quiet blog called Solo Nexus.  You take 3 sets of 3 questions.  Each set of 3 questions gets 3 random elements which you use to answer the questions.  Each set of questions has a level of intimacy with it which go in this order, Obvious, Personal and Intimate.  This helps give the NPC depth as the PC’s get to know them.  The random elements can be moved to fit whichever question you feel it works best with.  Once you’ve done the first set, you move on to the next one.  Mix in some creativity and, at first, you get a puzzle that is fun to solve and then you get a character.  Read on below and you’ll get the idea!

For this NPC, I’ll go with a modern superhero setting.  Who knows, I might use the character in the upcoming Supers sandbox?  Of course, the NPC will be generic enough that they could be fit into any setting with a little tweaking.   The other settings I chose from week to week will be based on whimsy and maybe an eventual random chart.

The random element for today will be the good old Ryder-Waite Tarot deck.  It’s a standard deck and it’s symbols are pretty clear to understand.  As I’ve said before, tarot decks are just pretty, colored  tools.  They work great for creative, visual thinkers like myself.  If you have a problem with them, I’m sorry, I’m still going to use them.  I’ll draw three cards for each 3 question set and then pick a card that I think fits or works.

At the end I will wrap it all up and present a quick write-up for the character as well as possible story hooks to involve the PC’s.

Let’s get started!

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Like a Cart with Square Wheels

As 2015 passes away and 2016 knocks us around a bit, I’m looking back over this blog and where I am with things.  Unfortunately, I see a lot of herky-jerky motion that does not make me happy.

In frustration, my response was to take a sledgehammer to it, knock it all down, burn it and start over.   “No, no,” says the wizened me,  “it’s still good.  It just needs a bit of love and attention.  Focus on the wheels.  You’ll see.”


It seemed to be a good answer so let’s get this moving one more time and carve a few corners down.

The Superhero Sandbox game – The bad news? I managed to use the idea of a Solo Sandbox Superhero game to inspire me to write an entirely new RPG for the past year or so.  The good news?  See the bad news.  End result – It’s still going to happen!  (I also realized I allowed myself to get a little stuck on the world creation before actually just, you know, playing.  So, I’ll be doing the micro to macro formula and we’ll build the world as we go.)

The Homebrew Roleplaying Game – There is actually no bad news here.  Hooray!  And you know what else?  It has a name other than “that homebrew roleplaying game thing” and, as much as it can be, it’s done!  I’m running a few more playtests as well as getting it prettied up for it’s PDF deput.  I’ll be happily posting it here.  The goal is Early Spring 2016.   To get things warmed up, I’ll be talking about it here and going over a few concepts.

Game stuff, Storytelling Stuff and Whatnot –   I’ll be doing some other solo play.  I have no idea what genre.  I also want to get back to the NPC builds and maybe a few maps.  I want to create things for folks to use or experiment with.  You’ll start seeing some NPC’s pop up here again.  The first question is what genre?  Should I go with the most popular, fantasy and science fiction?  Or, maybe, make it a reader’s choice?  Maybe both?  Let me know your thoughts.  (I love the word Whatnot.  It covers SO much.)

Also under Storytelling stuff we are going to start talking about what makes the art form work.  For the record, I do consider it on par with the actual form of storytelling and performance.  In some regards, it is the same.  In others, it is different as you also need to work the storytelling within a framework of rules as well as other players, other attendees, etc.   The best comparison at hand is scripted acting vs. improvisational.  They are both acting but are very different.   What makes a good storyteller?  Should a storyteller hold all the power in the performance?  Is the Storyteller a lord or a servant?

Finally, I’ve been doing this the majority of my life and I’ve got some stories to tell.   Look out, I’m going to do storytelling about storytelling!  I’ve got a few rambling tales to offer up about running games, creating games and selling games.  I hope they’ll be entertaining, and, hopefully, informative.

More to come!

I promise!








Creating an NPC with Tarot Cards

(This is an old post which I am porting over here from my Yoteden blog.)

When I ran through this the first time, I used Rory’s StoryCubes to generate an NPC character for roleplaying.  This time I’ll use a 78 card tarot deck for each of the 9 items below.  I will go through each set of three elements and draw three cards.  With those three cards I’ll assign them to whichever element seems to work the best.  Once used, those cards will not be placed back in the deck.  For meanings  I’ll not only use the creative imagery of the card but also the “traditional” meaning of each of the cards as I know them.  (Important – credit where credit is due.  This set-up is not mine.  I found this as a post on Solo Nexus which I recommend you check out!)

Before we go ANY further, a personal note on tarot cards – I’ve had tarot decks in my life for several decades now.  I know them quite well.  I’ve collected a few decks and I enjoy not only the cards but their history.  Here’s the shocking statement.  Are you ready?

Tarot cards are pieces of cardboard.

They are wonderful tools to spark creativity and story creation.  When not drawing them for story and character creation they can also be handy in helping you look at a problem a little differently, changing the perspective a bit so you can see something you might have missed. Carrying a deck around with you will not get you struck by lightning or taken over by the Devil.   (From what I know of the cards chances are good it will be just the opposite.)  For this exercise I’m using a mini-deck of the Hanson-Roberts Tarot Deck that I keep handy for gaming.

Alright, that’s out of the way.

I rolled the setting from a chart over on Solo Nexus and came up with Swashbuckling Fable.  I modified this a bit to be a “Swashbuckling Fairy Tale.”  Maybe something like Snow White meets The Three Musketeers?

threemusketeersAs before, I have no idea what kind of character/NPC  is going to show up until I draw the random elements.  That being said, Here we go!

Obvious NPC Story Elements Queen of Swords, Eight of Swords, The Empress
(Looks like this NPC will be a female character just because two of these are highly feminine cards.)


1. The NPC’s role in the world: discerned by clothes, demeanor, initial introduction, etc.
Queen of Swords – A learned swords woman, very skilled and experienced warrior.  She will most often be wearing armor or a standard guard uniform when seen out and around.  Her demeanor would be very too the point and, at first, terse.

2. The NPC’s current home or home-base: learned through initial introduction, casual conversation, etc.
Eight of Swords – This was left over because the other two fell into place so easily.  This one was tough at first.  Eight of swords can indicate capture, being blocked, etc.  For some reason I think of being captured or holding things at bay and I have to go with a city guard or a county marshal.  Someone with the power to lock people up. I think this woman is a captain of the guard.  This really doesn’t go along with the image of the card but it’s the first thing that jumped into my mind.  The other idea would be someone held hostage or held against her will but it doesn’t seem right.

3. The NPC’s signature/unique talent: learned through casual conversation, simple getting-to-know-you questions,  etc
The Empress – This is a bit harder to grasp but I think this just means that once past the initial outward appearance, the PC’s would find her to be very caring and endearing.  She would show that she deeply cares about the city and the people she protects daily.  A softer side would show itself fairly quickly if the PC’s got on her good side.

Personal NPC Story ElementsEight of Rods, Six of Rods, Three of Cups


4. The NPC’s special knowledge about others: requires a bit of trust, shared view of the world, things in common, etc.
Three of Cups – I decided to go with the image on the card a bit more.  I see three women not necessarily dancing or partying (which is typical for the 3 of Cups) but standing close and perhaps talking or even whispering.  With her Empress card above I’ll say she knows a fair amount of secrets and rumors around the city.  She is trusted by many and so they share information with her.

5. The NPC’s special item/tool/useful possession: requires a bit more trust, shared view of the world, things in common, etc.
Eight of Rods – This card usually stands for movement and travel.  I would say she has a special item that allows her to move very quickly around the city.  Perhaps a magic ring or her cloak with either teleportation or speed cast onto it?  (I had thought about a flying mount but that might not be “secret” enough?)  Regardless, she has the ability to be anywhere she needs to be VERY quickly.

6. The NPC’s ally/allegiance to a group or organization: requires the certainty that the PC is not an adversary to the ally or allied group.
Six of Rods – Usually means victory or a parade.  What struck me is the man and his red cape.  I ran with it.  The Scarlet Cloaks are the city guards and they work closely with the locals to maintain order and protection.  She is quite successful at what she does, has the respect of most of the city officials and is a house hold name to many that call the city home.

Intimate NPC Story ElementsThe High Priestess, Five of Cups, Two of Swords


7. A past experience that has shaped the NPC’s current self.
Five of cups – Despair.  Loss.   This character originally started as an orphan, a poor street waif that had to struggle and live in poverty after losing her parents to either an accident or a violence.  She was adopted in her pre-teens and as she neared adulthood she was given a chance to use her toughness and intelligence in the city guard.  This is what powers her drive to care for those less fortunate.  She has been there and understands.

8. A present situation that the NPC is embroiled in that could affect the PC directly or indirectly.
The High Priestess – She is currently investigating some rumors that indicate a local female mage or priest could be involved in criminal activity.  The card indicates that this woman would have significant power herself and so would need to be approached cautiously.

9. A future goal the NPC is hoping to attain…could the PC help?
Two of Swords – The captain is having to decide whether or not to pursue further investigation of the High Priestess character. She is torn over the woman’s innocence but is unable to investigate with her guards directly.  (Perhaps she has been ordered to “back down” by politicians in the city?)  She could possibly want the PC’s to check out the Priestess character and her operation a bit more closely.  Can the PC’s find out information that would help the captain decide to push forward or to ignore the High Priestess and her organization?

And, we’re done.  We have a Captain of the Scarlet Cloaks (or possibly higher rank) who is very good at her job but also takes a nurturing, caring stance as well.   She needs a name and, of course, stats for whatever system you would like to use.  One powerful NPC that could be a player character’s best friend or worst enemy.  Not someone to trifle with at the very least!

(Post edit – Also, I’m enjoying this process so much I think I’ll continue to make NPC’s when the mood strikes me.  All NPC’s will be placed under the Category of NPC on the right hand column.  That way, over time, someone can check here if they need an NPC in a hurry!  Feel free to use them if you need them!)

Creating an NPC with Story Cubes

(Ported over from my original blog post on my Yoteden blog.)

Over on Solo Nexus, JF put together something fun which was to create an NPC for roleplaying with  random rolls of Rory’s Story Cubes.  For those non-gamers, an NPC is a non-player character which is a story character NOT played by one of the players.  For example, the bartender at the local bar, a city guard or a player character’s family member.


This should clear things up, right?

The story cubes are nine different dice that each have a different symbol on them.  The symbols and images are what you use to tell a story.  The idea is that the image on the die can be used in any way to spur an idea for the character.  By using the dice with three sets of three questions you are able to put together a random character for the player characters to encounter.  You could also do this for a player character or for a writing exercise.  You also don’t need Story Cubes.  You could do this with any sort of randomizer.  For instance, you could use Magic the Gathering cards, Tarot cards or even “Random page” on Wikipedia.

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