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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    NightCleric's Avatar

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    Default Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    Hello all. This is my first post here, my first attempt DM'ing & i haven't played (outside of Video Games) since 1986... So be gentle. LOL

    Anyway, i've convinced my wife and daughter to try D&D and I'm going to be the DM. I'm going to run them through the Lost Mines of Phandelver, but I've read a bit that the encounters can be brutal. That worried me as it would just be them playing (two person party) and they've expressed intrest in playing a Rogue Assassin and a Fighter. No healing...

    So, i considered creating a NPC Life Cleric to help them through and teach them that DPS isn't everything in our game.

    That being said, my question is what will be my concerns in running the NPC's (Neutral & Baddies) as well as a NPC party member? Any and all help is welcome and thanks in advance for your input.
    V/r

    Night Cleric

    Elwood Agnus Dei: There's 106 miles to Waterdeep, we've got a full book of Spells, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses.


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    “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”

    ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    One of the main problems I see with DMPCs is when the PCs rely on your character to make the decisions, as he would be the "voice of the Game Master" and has superior vision. Also, I don't like when I have to keep roleplaying him in conversations and end up "talking to myself". So, most of the DMPCs I use to help small parties are mute for some reason (usually used as future plot hook), are kind of dumb, don't have self expression, don't like to talk, can't be fully trusted by the PCs, etc.
    Last edited by Marcloure; 2017-08-13 at 11:22 AM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcloure View Post
    he would be the "voice of the Game Master"
    And this particular DMPC being a cleric would not help avoid that impression. Enlightened by the one true god of the setting.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    I would avoid DMPGs. You have enough to worry about as a new DM... and don't need to deal with running a character, while trying to avoid overshadowing your players. My advice...

    1. Find another (hopefully experienced) DM or player. Either play or have them play in a helper role.

    2. Pick another adventure. There are lots of short 5E adventurers out there. Get the players to say 2nd or 3rd-level and then they'll be better at deal with a set adventure.

    3. Give the players some starting items -- some extra potions of healing, a few scrolls, etc.

    4. Have an NPC, but they only stay for the first part of the module and they stay out of any combat. A traveling merchant (with some armor, weapons, potions, etc.) or a druid passing through who is willing to heal them after the first couple of fight.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    I like DMPCs, I use them when needed. The first thing you should do, is make it clear that he is a character like all others and they should not rely on him, as he is not all-knowing. Have him make mistakes and all that. That can be kind of tough if you are just starting DMing though. If I didn't want to use a DMPC I would make up a story of how they got to meet the dwarf and some minor jobs they might have done until the adventure actually starts. I would make sure they are at least level 3. The adventure will still be tough for them, but they could possibly survive through it. Add a few extra potions as loot, and you are set. (Don't allow more rests, that would get them used to just spending all their resources and just resting.)

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    Dont dmpc everytime they finish an encounter give em a healing potion.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    For a 2 person party, I would also cut the encounters in half. i.e. if it says 4 goblins, it's two goblins. Single creature encounters would be the same. As someone said earlier, be generous with healing potions and call it good.
    I am the flush of excitement. The blush on the cheek. I am the Rouge!

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    NightCleric's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcloure View Post
    One of the main problems I see with DMPCs is when the PCs rely on your character to make the decisions, as he would be the "voice of the Game Master" and has superior vision. Also, I don't like when I have to keep roleplaying him in conversations and end up "talking to myself". So, most of the DMPCs I use to help small parties are mute for some reason (usually used as future plot hook), are kind of dumb, don't have self expression, don't like to talk, can't be fully trusted by the PCs, etc.
    Makes total sense, and i talk to myself anyway... They'll never know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    And this particular DMPC being a cleric would not help avoid that impression. Enlightened by the one true god of the setting.
    I'm thinking of playing the cleric as a too cool to care type character. I can give them the "Whatever.."

    Quote Originally Posted by BW022 View Post
    I would avoid DMPGs. You have enough to worry about as a new DM... and don't need to deal with running a character, while trying to avoid overshadowing your players. My advice...

    1. Find another (hopefully experienced) DM or player. Either play or have them play in a helper role.

    2. Pick another adventure. There are lots of short 5E adventurers out there. Get the players to say 2nd or 3rd-level and then they'll be better at deal with a set adventure.

    3. Give the players some starting items -- some extra potions of healing, a few scrolls, etc.

    4. Have an NPC, but they only stay for the first part of the module and they stay out of any combat. A traveling merchant (with some armor, weapons, potions, etc.) or a druid passing through who is willing to heal them after the first couple of fight.
    1. Not possible as of now. The wife is a bit self conscious about this.
    2. That's a great Idea, i might. I just assumed the starter would be less intense.
    3. Already on this. 3 minors apiece
    4. Great Ideas, Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Noble_berserker View Post
    I like DMPCs, I use them when needed. The first thing you should do, is make it clear that he is a character like all others and they should not rely on him, as he is not all-knowing. Have him make mistakes and all that. That can be kind of tough if you are just starting DMing though. If I didn't want to use a DMPC I would make up a story of how they got to meet the dwarf and some minor jobs they might have done until the adventure actually starts. I would make sure they are at least level 3. The adventure will still be tough for them, but they could possibly survive through it. Add a few extra potions as loot, and you are set. (Don't allow more rests, that would get them used to just spending all their resources and just resting.)
    I'll try him at first and let him leave if it's too difficult and then boost the potions. Great point about the Resource conservation, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sariel Vailo View Post
    Dont dmpc everytime they finish an encounter give em a healing potion.
    Got ya!

    Thanks all for the input!
    V/r

    Night Cleric

    Elwood Agnus Dei: There's 106 miles to Waterdeep, we've got a full book of Spells, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses.


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    “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”

    ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigreid View Post
    For a 2 person party, I would also cut the encounters in half. i.e. if it says 4 goblins, it's two goblins. Single creature encounters would be the same. As someone said earlier, be generous with healing potions and call it good.
    Would that not make some of the encounters seem weak? or will they not notice?
    V/r

    Night Cleric

    Elwood Agnus Dei: There's 106 miles to Waterdeep, we've got a full book of Spells, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses.


    Spoiler: Heaven & Hell
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    “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”

    ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Quote Originally Posted by NightCleric View Post
    Would that not make some of the encounters seem weak? or will they not notice?
    Some might seem a little weak, but what we're literally talking about is half strength encounters for a half strength party. Some of the fights will be easy, but with a full party some of the fights are already easy.

    It will still be rough for new players. And you can dial it up a little if you think it's too easy as the module goes on.
    I am the flush of excitement. The blush on the cheek. I am the Rouge!

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigreid View Post
    Some might seem a little weak, but what we're literally talking about is half strength encounters for a half strength party. Some of the fights will be easy, but with a full party some of the fights are already easy.

    It will still be rough for new players. And you can dial it up a little if you think it's too easy as the module goes on.
    Got ya. Thanks.
    V/r

    Night Cleric

    Elwood Agnus Dei: There's 106 miles to Waterdeep, we've got a full book of Spells, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses.


    Spoiler: Heaven & Hell
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    “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”

    ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    Any thoughts on Magic Items? When is the right time? What is too powerful?
    V/r

    Night Cleric

    Elwood Agnus Dei: There's 106 miles to Waterdeep, we've got a full book of Spells, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses.


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    “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”

    ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Quote Originally Posted by NightCleric View Post
    Any thoughts on Magic Items? When is the right time? What is too powerful?
    I would stick to the items in the module for this one. It's actually pretty generous.
    I am the flush of excitement. The blush on the cheek. I am the Rouge!

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    There are variant options in the DMG for different ways to adjudicate shore rests and/or hit dice. (Healing Surge and/or Epic Heroism.) The healing surge variant in particular should make a dedicated healbot character unnecessary.

    If you still want to have a life cleric tagging along to heal people up and cast whatever utility spells, the big thing to remember is that simply having an NPC tagging along isn't a problem in and of itself. It's when the NPC dominates the plot. Sometimes by taking lead of the party, more often by being used to show off how cool and badass the NPC happens to be. An NPC who takes little initiative and is treated more like a party resource than an actual character is unlikely to step on any toes. Whether you want to have a walking first aid kit as a party resource or whether you'd prefer giving the PC's another intrinsic healing ability themselves is up to you.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigreid View Post
    I would stick to the items in the module for this one. It's actually pretty generous.
    Great! Thanks again
    V/r

    Night Cleric

    Elwood Agnus Dei: There's 106 miles to Waterdeep, we've got a full book of Spells, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses.


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    “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”

    ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    There are variant options in the DMG for different ways to adjudicate shore rests and/or hit dice. (Healing Surge and/or Epic Heroism.) The healing surge variant in particular should make a dedicated healbot character unnecessary.

    If you still want to have a life cleric tagging along to heal people up and cast whatever utility spells, the big thing to remember is that simply having an NPC tagging along isn't a problem in and of itself. It's when the NPC dominates the plot. Sometimes by taking lead of the party, more often by being used to show off how cool and badass the NPC happens to be. An NPC who takes little initiative and is treated more like a party resource than an actual character is unlikely to step on any toes. Whether you want to have a walking first aid kit as a party resource or whether you'd prefer giving the PC's another intrinsic healing ability themselves is up to you.
    Yeah, the balance was what i was concerned with. Thanks
    V/r

    Night Cleric

    Elwood Agnus Dei: There's 106 miles to Waterdeep, we've got a full book of Spells, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses.


    Spoiler: Heaven & Hell
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    “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”

    ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    On occasions when I feel the party needs help, I try to avoid the DMPC thing by ensuring that the NPC isn't always the same person. Use NPCs from the world and story to fill in gaps temporarily but be ready to kill them, discard them, or have them part ways with the party for various reasons. Surrendering monsters are often a good source for temporary NPC aid. Also, while you don't want to mislead the party with the NPCs, don't be afraid to make them wrong about things.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hrugner View Post
    Use NPCs from the world and story to fill in gaps temporarily but be ready to kill them, discard them, or have them part ways with the party for various reasons.
    So, followers?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    So, followers?
    something between followers, which are typically an extension of player intent, and DMPCs, which are typically the DM playing with themselves.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    So, followers?
    Quote Originally Posted by Hrugner View Post
    something between followers, which are typically an extension of player intent, and DMPCs, which are typically the DM playing with themselves.
    Hmmmm... followers could work with the Noble background used by the premade toons
    V/r

    Night Cleric

    Elwood Agnus Dei: There's 106 miles to Waterdeep, we've got a full book of Spells, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses.


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    “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”

    ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Thoughts on NPC Party Members

    Back in the old days, we called 'em Henchmen.

    IMO that type of pairing is a perfect set-up for Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser shenanigans. Give them some contacts that are Clerics or Wizards, colorful characters that are there to provide assistance and assign jobs to them, and they go out all kitted up from those outside sources.

    Remember, there is no reason for you to run a standard game here. It can be anything.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebubba View Post
    Back in the old days, we called 'em Henchmen.

    IMO that type of pairing is a perfect set-up for Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser shenanigans. Give them some contacts that are Clerics or Wizards, colorful characters that are there to provide assistance and assign jobs to them, and they go out all kitted up from those outside sources.

    Remember, there is no reason for you to run a standard game here. It can be anything.
    That's perfect. Thank you
    V/r

    Night Cleric

    Elwood Agnus Dei: There's 106 miles to Waterdeep, we've got a full book of Spells, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses.


    Spoiler: Heaven & Hell
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    “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”

    ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

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