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How to Speak NPC

Greg Chatham May 16, 2000

Side 1. Beep.

Welcome to How to Speak NPC, the in-character instruction guide to the language of the Non Player Character. These tapes were designed to help you, the Game Master, portray more archetypical NPCs. You will be given simple guidelines to assist you in acting the part of the ninja janitor, the slimy government agent, the vampire rapper, "DM's Choice" and many more.

The makers of How to Speak NPC have a large library of GM Assistant titles available on cassette, CD and DVD (starring The Playtest Players at multiple angles you can control). If you enjoy this guide, please try the other titles in our series: How to Speak Like a Euroterrorist, 10 Times 10 Ways to Describe 10 By 10 Foot Corridors and Slow Children At Play: How to Think Like an Elf.

This obligatory introductory fiction was out of character. In character commentary begins... now.

I've been running games for 15 years, 3 as a DM, 7 as a Storyteller, 4 as a GM and 1 as the Banker. Sometimes my NPCs talk like me. It's very embarrassing, but at least I'm better off than Steve. His NPCs were talking to him.

Players have it easy, they only have one character to speak in. If Brother Blank, a master of the martial arts from a hidden monastery in South Korea, lets loose with a "y'all" once in a while, the Storyteller can ignore it. If it's a consistent problem, Brother Blank can be rewritten as a master of the martial arts from a hidden monastery in South Carolina instead.

As the Banker, I have to speak for everyone else in the game, which gives me a greater chance of messing up. The consequences are also higher for me. I'm risking more than experience points, my story's on the line. It wasn't so bad when the South American peasants in my campaign let the occasional "y'all" slip through, but when a major NPC did, it became his defining characteristic. After meeting the PCs a bit too informally, Baron Lupo de Loca metamorphosed from a formidable foe into the comic relief.

These lessons were designed to help people like me, and by that I mean people like you, to speak proper NPC. Take good notes you'll never have to worry about Shane Shinearmor slipping into slang again.

Lesson 1:

I'm going to start with the basic rules for major NPCs. These are the characters who give the PCs quests and withhold information from them. The basics for lesser NPCs, the Non Player Yokels, will be described on Tape 6.

Rule #1: NPCs never laugh. When Lord Fordor tells the PCs he lets them live because he finds them amusing, he should never actually laugh at them. NPCs speak laughter. Repeat after me:

"Ha hahaha."
"Hee hee."
"Ho ho ho."

That's good. Now try it in some sentences.

"Ha. Your attempts at wit never fail to amuse me."
"Now I will have my revenge. Hee hee hee."

See Tape 8 for examples of advanced laughter.

Rule #2: NPCs never use contractions. Besides being grammatically incorrect, "Luke, I'm you're father," is not proper NPC speak. "Luke, I am your father," is much more appropriate. NPCs will do anything to add the proper amount of drama to a declaration.

Which brings me to Rule #3: NPCs will always phrase their sentences so they could conceivably add "Young Skywalkwer" at the end. Try it with these common phrases:

"Bring me the blue gem..."
"I will let you live because you are useful to me..."
(Don't say anything, just shoot the character with a bolt of lightning.)

Beep. End Side 1. Please turn to Side 2 for Lesson 2: Talk Like Fortune Cookie.

Greg Chaltham

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