Friday, August 26, 2011

Using Outremer NPC Generation to Generate Situations

Let's design a Situation for Outremer, and do it by generating an NPC - an important one the PCs will be dealing with. Let's make him the Lord of Sidon, the southernmost port city of the County of Tripoli. His name will be - roll on Frankish Names table - Renier de Sidon. As we are not fleshing out a character met on the spur of the moment by the PCs, but planning him ab initio, we will not be following the order of building in the NPC section, though we will be using some of those tables.

As Lord of Sidon, Renier has to be at least Rich, so we just choose Very Rich from the Lifestyles table. For his mission, we roll an 11 - Theft or Criminal Activity. Aha! Interesting already! Renier is no sweetheart! Now for the Object of the Mission, we roll a 4 - A Particular Relic or Religious Artifact. Okay... We'll have to figure that out! Let's look at his personality and see if that'll help us. We roll a 14 - Angry. So Renier is Angry about this. Now his nation's Cultural Traits are Flexible 2, Sly 2, Cheerful 2, Creative 1, and the Political Traits are Popular 2, Secretive 2, Corrupt 2, Efficient. Tripoli's Edges are Double-dealing and Intrigue, and her enemies are Antioch and Acre. All grist for the mill!

Let's see if we can tie this all together! Anger is motivating him here, concerning a religions relic of artifact. Ah -perhaps he is angered by the treatment of this relic by his enemies! Two reasons here to choose Acre - Sidon is close to the border with Acre, and Acre is infested by Protestant heretics. Excellent! Let's work with this!

So, Acre, or someone in Acre, has incurred his wrath by mistreating a relic. What is he going to do about it? Something Sly, I'm sure. He is Flexible about such things, and the government is Secretive and Efficient, and he has an Edge when he's Double-Dealing and/or involved with intrigue. I'd say he could be dispatching an assassin, or better yet a group of assassins. Another possiblility is he's dispatching a group of con-artists to sucker his target into doing something stupid and/or immoral and/or illegal, then leave him twisting in the wind. That sounds like a much more fitting end! If Lord Renier does this last thing right, he can watch his target's own society tear him down like a pack of wolves.

Now we could take this situation several ways. One way is for Renier to hire the PCs to do this, if they are the sort who could and would do so. Another way is for the PCs to find out about the plot and try to stop it, if that seems more their style. Yet another way is to involve the PCs in the chaos following the successful plot, perhaps meeting up with the perpetrators. Of course the last bit can be stretched a bit further, making the PCs themselves be hurt as a side effect of this - perhaps they were under the patronage of Lord Renier's target, or related to him. Fitting the Situation to the PCs is the last step. A Situation is not a Situation unless the PCs have to make fundamental decisions in responding to it. Just how they respond is up to the Party.



  1. I'm not a big proponent of random tables but your article does an excellent job at selling them!

  2. Hi boulet!

    To me, random tables are a spur to creativity, and especially a great cure for blank page syndrome. By putting odd things together and trying to make them fit, they can help get one away from cliche and the SOP.

    Many times I choose some elements from the tables without rolling, then roll other things, using a bit of creative interpretation as the glue. If you use them too much, or don't use your brain power to make the results coherent, you wind up with silliness. I think people who use them without creative interpretation have given random tables a bad name. :D