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A Narrative Designer’s Approach to NPCs

As a Narrative Designer, you often create and develop non-player characters (NPCs) that help drive the story you’re telling. This is your supporting cast, the characters that bring the world to life around your player character or main character.

What I’ll talk about below comes from my experience creating NPCs for various story lengths (short to epic) and various media, including video games, fiction, table-top games (TTGs), and live-action roleplaying games (LARPs). No matter what, good story is good story, and bad story is…well, a damn shame.

What are Non-Player Characters, Really?

Truth? NPCs are storytelling tools. They’re not your best friend, not your fantasy (iiew), not your children, not your pets, not there to serve you. They may be your chance to show off, but ONLY if you’re showing off how great a narrative designer you are.

You create NPCs to serve the story you’re telling. This means every decision you make about them must pass the “ARC” test. Does taking the character in a particular direction:

  • Answer questions players/readers may have about the world and story?
  • Reinforce the story you’ve already been telling?
  • Create opportunities for future story twists and awesome story arcs?

Read the rest of the article at Gamasutra.com.

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