For some time, I've been mulling over how to organise NPCs in the Dolmenwood Campaign Book. I've not come to any great conclusions yet, so I thought I'd throw the topic out there for general discussion, to see what others think.
The idea is that there will be three kinds of NPCs in the book:
- Minor NPCs who are only encountered in a specific location.
- Minor NPCs who could be encountered anywhere.
- Major NPCs who play a role in the setting as a whole.
Addressing these one by one:
Minor NPCs: Location-Specific
Innkeepers, guard captains, hedge-witches, etc.
These are easy to handle. They will simply be described in the hex or location where they can be encountered.
Minor NPCs: Non-Located
I plan to include a selection of NPCs that can be used by the referee when players encounter random individuals. These will be the kind of people that PCs might encounter in a tavern or on the road, for example. The kind of people that don't play a major role in the setting or one of its factions, but can provide a fun, diverting encounter, and might know interesting rumours or hooks.
Again, these characters are easy to handle. They'll be described in a separate section (an appendix, say) in a format designed for easy random selection.
The chiefs or most important members of the factions that vie for control of the Wood -- individuals who hold a significant degree of political, military, or magical power, and can exert their influence on the setting as a whole.
This is where things get tricky. There are two possibilities for where to locate the descriptions of these NPCs:
- In the campaign background info, alongside the faction which the NPC is associated with.
- In the hex description where the NPC can be encountered.
Both options make total sense and have their own pros and cons, but I don't feel that one is clearly better than the other. I can see a few possible ways of resolving this:
- Include the NPCs along with the faction descriptions. In the hex description, just mention them by name and say "see page XXX".
- Include the NPCs in the hex descriptions. In the faction descriptions, just mention them by name and say "see hex XXX".
- Include the full NPC descriptions in both locations (faction and hex description).
- Include major NPCs in a separate appendix. In the faction and hex descriptions, just mention them by name and say "see page XXX".
If anyone has any thoughts on this, I'd be interested to hear! Also if anyone has experience of how this has been done in other campaign setting books, and what worked / didn't work.