Other Non-Player Characters: The host of merchants, shopkeepers, guardsmen, soldiers, clerics, magic-users, fighters, thieves, assassins, etc. are
likewise all yours to play. Again, this is simply a matter of assuming the station and vocation of the NPC and creating characteristics — formally or informally according to the importance of the non-player character. These NPCs will have some alignment, but even that won’t be likely to prevent a bit of greed or avariciousness. Dealing with all such NPCs should be expensive and irritating. Consider the two following examples:
The fighter, Celowin Silvershield, enters a strange town seeking aid from a high level magic-user in order to turn an associate back to flesh (after a most unfortunate encounter with a cockatrice). His inquiries at a tavern meet with vague answers until several rounds of drinks have been purchased, and the proprietor generously tipped. Wending his way from tavern to wizard’s tower, Celowin is accosted by a beggar, and he is pestered unendingly until he either pays off or calls for the watch. Paying off will attract a swarm of other beggars. Calling for the watch can be nearly as dangerous, as they could resent a foreigner’s refusal to deem a native beggar worthy of a copper or two. Despite such possible misadventures, the fighter finally comes to the tower of Llewellyn ap-Owen, a wizard of high repute. However, Celowin’s knocking is answered by a lesser person, the warlock Tregillish Mul, the wizard’s henchman. Mul informs the eager fighter that: “Lofty Llewellyn is far too busy to see anyone at this time. Good day!” Unless Celowin is quick in offering some inducement, the warlock will slam the tower door and forget about the intrusion.
Now let us assume that Celowin’s bribe was sufficient to convince Tregillish Mul to arrange an appointment with his master, and furthermore that such appointment is actually timely. Now old ap-Owen is rather testy, for he was in the middle of an experiment which is now absolutely ruined, and must be begun all over again, just because this stupid sword-swinger managed to convince Mul-the-lackwit that something was more important than a wizard’s spell research! Well, this fellow Celowin had better have a good reason for interruption, and further, the pay had better be good . . . . Celowin will have to pay through the nose, in cash and in magic items, to get the magic-user to turn stone to flesh once again. But suppose Celowin has no item which Llewellyn could use? The wizard will take something he cannot use personally, for he undoubtedly has all sorts of henchmen and hirelings who can employ these things, not to mention the possibility of trading or selling. In no event will money ever serve to replace magic items! Furthermore, if no magic is available, then a geas can be laid to get some!
These examples show how varying roles are played without great difficulty simply by calling upon observation of basic human nature and combining it with the particular game circumstances applicable. Once established, it is quite easy to recall the personae of frequently consulted or encountered NPCs. If such intercourse becomes very frequent, considerable additional development of the character or characters concerned, and their surroundings, will certainly be in order. Thus, in many ways, the campaign builds and grows of its own volition and within its own parameters.