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Encyclopedia > Non player character

A non-player character or non-playable character (NPC) is a character in a role-playing game whose actions are determined by the gamemaster. Non-player characters populate the fictional world of the game - from the friendly innkeeper in a medieval fantasy game to a taxi driver or a netrunner (computer hacker) in a contemporay or futuristic game. Non-player characters (NPCs) might be allies, bystanders or competitors to the player characters (PCs). A role-playing game (RPG) is a type of game in which players assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create narratives. ... A Gamemaster or Game Master (often abbreviated as GM) is a player in a multiplayer game who acts as organizer, arbitrator, and officiant in rules situations. ... Hacker is a term used to describe people who create and modify computer software and computer hardware. ... A player character or playable character (PC for short) is a fictional character in a game, that is controlled by the player. ...


NPCs vary greatly in importance - the aforementioned innkeeper may be seen once by the characters, but their arch-nemesis that comes back time and again to foil their plans for an entire campaign is also an NPC - just one with a lot more time and effort put into him by the gamemaster. Technically, every inhabitant of the game's world except the PCs are NPCs, but very few are given any detail by the gamemaster (GM). In fact, most of the minor ones are invented on the spot as needed - doing this well is in fact one of the hallmarks of a good GM. A Gamemaster or Game Master (often abbreviated as GM) is a player in a multiplayer game who acts as organizer, arbitrator, and officiant in rules situations. ...


There is debate about how much work a gamemaster should put into a more important NPC regarding game statistics - some people prefer to have every NPC completely defined, with stats, skills, and gear, while others define only what's necessary and fill in the blanks as they go along. This is often the approach with gamemasters who GM "on the fly."


There is also some discussion as to just how important fully fleshed-out NPCs are in any given RPG, but it's general consensus that the more "real" an NPC feels, the more fun players will have interacting with him or her in character. Gamemasters should remember that just as a player character has hopes, dreams, and goals, so does every NPC, and ignoring such elements tends to lead to 'cardboard-cutout'-personalities (i.e. boring and over-simplified).


In some games or gaming groups, a player may temporarily take control of an NPC. This can happen for a number of reasons, but most commonly occurs when the player character they control will not be able to act for some time (for example, because they are injured or in another location). Although these characters are still designed and normally controlled by the gamemaster, when a player is given the opportunity to temporarily control these non-player characters it gives them another perspective on the plot of the game. Some systems, such as Nobilis, encourage this in their rules. A player character or playable character (PC for short) is a fictional character in a game, that is controlled by the player. ... The cover of the second edition of the Nobilis roleplaying game, depicting a sculpture by Charles van der Stappen. ...


In the Champions game (and related games using the Hero System), a character may have a DNPC, or "dependent non-player character." This is a character controlled by the GM, but for which the player character is responsible in some way, and who may be put in harm's way by the PC's choices. Spider-Man's Aunt May would be a good example of a DNPC, if Spider-Man were a Champions character. Champions is a role-playing game originally by George MacDonald, Steve Peterson, Bruce Harlick, and Ray Greer, published by Hero Games, designed to simulate and function in a four-color superhero comic book world. ... The Hero System (or HERO System) is a role-playing game generic system that developed from the superhero RPG Champions, and underlying the Hero Games role-playing games such as Champions, Dark Champions, Fantasy Hero, Star Hero, and Pulp Hero. ... A player character or playable character (PC for short) is a fictional character in a game, that is controlled by the player. ... Spider-Man swinging around his hometown, New York City. ... May Reilly Aunt May Parker is a fictional supporting character in the Spider-Man comic books published by Marvel Comics. ...


The term non-player character is also used in computer role-playing games to describe entities not under the direct control of players. Nearly always the connotation is that an NPC is allied with, or at least neutral toward, the player, rather than being an enemy. Other times the term NPC is used to denote a game character with relatively sophisticated AI code, no matter whether he or she is friendly or not. Computer role-playing games (CRPGs), often shortened to simply role-playing games (RPGs), are a type of video or computer game that traditionally uses gameplay elements found in paper-and-pencil role-playing games. ... Wikibooks has more about this subject: Artificial Intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is defined as intelligence exhibited by an artificial entity. ...


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