Practicing a BYO-NPC (Bring Your Own NPC) rule in your games is one of the easiest ways to increase a player’s investment in their character’s world. More than that, it also reinforces the shared nature of tabletop story-telling by giving the PCs an immediate opportunity to shape the game’s setting.

When incorporating NPCs into your character background, make sure to update your GM to keep him/her informed. Since it’s your GM, after all, who will control these NPCs and influence the world around them, they should have a basic understanding of these secondary characters you’ve designed. You’ll want to establish when and where your PC encountered them, where and how they currently reside, and what positive or negative connections your PC has to them. Remember, not all player NPCs need to be positive ones. You could have a brother who betrayed you or an employer who is after you to claim old debts. The important thing is that they’re still out there and your PC has strong feelings about them. Here are some useful questions to ask about your PC’s relation to their NPCs:

  • Does my PC keep in regular contact with my NPC?
  • If my NPC needed a minor favour, would my PC try to help them?
  • If my NPC needed a major favour, would my PC try to help them?
  • If my NPC went missing, would my PC want to go looking for them?
  • If my NPC died, would my PC seek revenge?
  • If my NPC showed up unexpectedly, how would my PC react?

Below is a short list of common NPC types that are easily assignable to a PC’s backstory. Keep in mind, any of these NPCs can fall on either side of the beloved/hated spectrum for your PC.

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Spouse/Children
  • Mentor/Teacher
  • Employer
  • Partner/Co-Worker
  • Close Friend
  • Role Model
  • Admirer
  • Rescuer/Support Person

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Numenera and its logo are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. All Monte Cook Games characters and character names, and the distinctive likenesses thereof, are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC. Content derived from Monte Cook Games publications is © 2013-2014 Monte Cook Games, LLC.

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