Jarodemo
 member, 870 posts
 My hovercraft
 is full of eels
Thu 17 Sep 2020
at 08:53
Psycho NPCs
How common is it for GMs to control an NPC who is a psycho? What do you do about it?

Generally I feel that an NPC accompanying the party should be for one or more of the following reasons:

- To fill a role that the party is missing (tank, healer, etc.)
- To NPC a former PC until a replacement player is found or the NPC can be removed appropriately from the game without ruining it.
- As a plot device for the game (youíve rescued the princess, now she needs to get home).

But what if is just because the GM fancies having their own PC in the game, and that PC makes rash decisions (FIREBALL!!!) that significantly impact the game and make it very difficult for the PCs to actually roleplay their way through an adventure?

Thoughts?
facemaker329
 member, 7250 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Thu 17 Sep 2020
at 09:16
Psycho NPCs
Never really had a GM with pointless NPCs...when there were psycho NPCs, they were a plot device.  Didn't feel that way all the time, but as the game went on longer, the real reason for those kinds of NPCs became apparent.

So, I guess my take on it is, unless you're the GM, you can't really know that an NPC is just some psycho element to add chaos and suffering in the game, or if that kind of behavior is going to become a plot element as the game moves forward (maybe you tangle with the wizard who made the NPC a raving psychotic, for instance...)

If it bugs you that much, address it with the GM...or find another game...
Sir Swindle
 member, 249 posts
Thu 17 Sep 2020
at 09:46
Psycho NPCs
Not very common because people will stop playing with those GM's
Heath
 member, 2950 posts
 If my opinion changes,
 The answer is still 42.
Thu 17 Sep 2020
at 12:02
Psycho NPCs
I often have NPCs who will betray the group with a hidden agenda...

But mostly, if you play the game Paranoia, it will likely happen a lot.
donsr
 member, 2052 posts
Thu 17 Sep 2020
at 12:17
Psycho NPCs
depends on the games, and the GM/DM. All  NPCs have a reason, some  are  fluff that  walk on screen and off..some  are reoccurring...some are mainstays.

its up to the player to  decide  what kind of reactions they have and  why, Just as the NPCs  should have reactions to the PCs. The deeper the  game , the more   'real'  characters show up, take part and  drive the game.
Jarodemo
 member, 871 posts
 My hovercraft
 is full of eels
Fri 18 Sep 2020
at 06:23
Psycho NPCs
In reply to Heath (msg # 4):

Donít mind that all all, that adds to the narrative. What I hate is when the NPC takes a drastic action for no reason at all, and it just ruins the story.
Gaffer
 member, 1650 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Fri 18 Sep 2020
at 12:20
Psycho NPCs
I might be moved to object to the GM at the point of needless griefing by a supposedly-friendly NPC and ask for a retcon where the NPC at least gives some foreshadowing, if not an IC warning, of intent:

"When the enemy appears, you have to start with shock and awe to rock them."
"This guy murdered my whole family, even the dog, I don't think I can hold back when I see him."
"Man, am I ever looking forward to napalming the whole bunch of them. Hee-hee."


Or at least giving some sort of roll for the PCs to notice the personality trait that leads to this crazy act.
Heath
 member, 2951 posts
 If my opinion changes,
 The answer is still 42.
Fri 18 Sep 2020
at 23:19
Psycho NPCs
If it's for no reason, it's probably bad storytelling. But assuming there is no reason might also be just as hasty.

For example, I had a SciFi game where implants of the brains of some NPCs activated hidden cells (terrorist cells, not biological) or controlled them, and then they did act quite unexpectedly and psychotically. Did a similar thing with a doppleganger in a fantasy game.
praguepride
 member, 1689 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Sat 19 Sep 2020
at 05:01
Psycho NPCs
Every NPC should be in service to supporting player agency. If the NPCs are taking the agency of the story and direction away from the PCs then it doesn't really matter what the NPC is doing.

It is the same fundamental problem whether it is the high-level fantasy insert that solves all the problems for them or the villain who ALWAYS has to outsmart the players no matter how careful or clever they are being or the infamous DMNPC that gets all the cool lines and killing blows.

I think the real question becomes if you as a player say "We don't want this NPC in our group anymore" what happens next. It could be the GM just thought it was a fun addition to the party so if the party is like "later gator" a good (if misguided) GM should be accepting of player agency. If, however, the GM starts coming up with excuses about how the NPC is vital or can't leave or even worse if suddenly the party is punished (double red flags if the punishment is specifically a situation that the ousted NPC would have been perfect at resolving) then that's a big problem.

If you can't tell your GM that you don't want to the NPC in your party because they're crazy then it sounds like it isn't a good fit for you.

"No gaming" is better than "bad gaming".
Gaffer
 member, 1652 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Sun 20 Sep 2020
at 00:08
Psycho NPCs
In reply to praguepride (msg # 9):

Very well said.
MelJill
 member, 56 posts
Sun 20 Sep 2020
at 00:19
Psycho NPCs
praguepride hit the nail on the head so well that a house might have been built from that post.
Shaman
 member, 182 posts
Sun 20 Sep 2020
at 22:27
Psycho NPCs
In reply to praguepride (msg # 9):

Nicely articulated.

When I use NPCs it is always for a plot point or to provide something the active characters desperately need.

I do not like having an active DM(PC) in the party as it is too easy for most to let it get out of hand no matter how well the intention is.

For me, they take a heavy back seat in the latter case and even in the former case, they only real come into any form of spotlight when it is their time to move the story forward within that arc. They may have some prominence in that moment but it is as a catalyst not as a star.
Silverlock
 member, 117 posts
Mon 21 Sep 2020
at 01:03
Psycho NPCs
Bravo, Praguepride.  Well said.