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GM Mastery: NPC Essentials

Written by Johnn Four

Award winning NPC how-to book with 5 customer star rating shows you exactly how to make and GM incredible NPCs.

NPC Essentials by Johnn Four

NPC Essentials is a huge collection of tips, techniques, and aids that will inject life and detail into your NPCs. This comprehensive book is filled with step-by-step advice on designing, role-playing, and managing NPCs during the entire lifetime of your campaigns. Also included are NPC archetypes, encounters, charts, and an example NPC-centric adventure (d20, fantasy).

Included in NPC Essentials is advice I wrote that I`ve never seen anywhere else. For example, power bases. Where does your NPC derive his strength from? How does this affect his personality, ambitions, and behaviour? Power bases are perfect for designing complete and realistic villains sure to plague your players while entertaining them at the same time.

I also included and condensed a lot of the advice published in the Roleplaying Tips e-zine over the years as well. This makes NPC essentials your one-stop shop for NPC tips and tutorials.

Read excerpt #1: Introducing NPCs

Read excerpt #2: NPC Power Bases

NPC Essentials Table of Contents

The book is 80 pages long. Here's the table of contents:

Chapter 1: Intro

Chapter 2: Design

Chapter 3: Roleplaying

Chapter 4: Campaign Management

Chapter 5: NPC Archetypes

Chapter 6: Adventure

Chapter 7: Charts

Read the expanded table of contents

Ennie Gold Winner

The book took home a Gold Prize for best Roleplaying Game Aid, which was a thrill for me. Thanks to the judges and to everyone who voted!

5 out of 5 Stars

The book has been on sale at RPGNow for awhile now. 31 reviews are posted by RPGNow customers who have bought the book, and the average rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

Buy NPC Essentials

Buy NPC Essentials today in PDF format at RPGNow. You can also get the print version at Amazon and from the RPGObjects website.

RPG Now - NPC Essentials PDF version - RPG Now - NPC Essentials PDF version

Amazon - NPC Essentials new and used - Amazon - NPC Essentials new and used

RPG Objects - NPC Essentials print version - RPG Objects - NPC Essentials print version

What NPC Essentials Readers Think

Over the years the book has received a lot of praise. Here are a few words from proud NPC Essentials owners.

"The text has depth - it looks very hard at organizing NPCs and giving them a living role in your campaign. Its not your usual gaming fluff written by second-rate writers for munchkin players; this is a serious and practical look at creating, using, and managing NPCs. The points may be familiar to those who have experienced training in acting, but but to me, it was one of the best supps I've gotten in 25+ years of gaming." - JD Smith.

"This product is far and away one of the best purchases I have made on RPGNOW. I have commented on a number of quality documents and supplements, but none compare to this with regard to value and usefulness. NPC Essentials guides the reader through a number of different NPC creation methods and gives them a lot to think about! Well done. I make it a policy to never give anything I review five stars, unless I believe that it is perfect. This document is perfect." - Christopher Sargent

"I have to say this is a good product. It really helps you think about different angles when designing your NPCs. It also has a nice layout of different categories for recording information. It is worth the purchase at the price." - Steve Shippy

"Wow, this one is incredible. I was a bit ashamed at how much better I could be running my games, and how much quicker I could plan them. (I don't suck either, all my players prefer me to their old GMs.) A lot of stuff is organizational and very helpful for newer GMs, and even stuff I thought was common sense I feel they gave me a bit better method for. This book on one reading will improve your planning and campaign quality." - Geoffrey Benedict

"If you are a GM you NEED this book. If you every had any problems making up NPCs or knowing how to play them then this is the book for you. Even if you get just one idea out of this book it is worth it. But I am telling you, you will get all that and a TON more." - Brent Wisdom

Read all 31 reviews

Expanded Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • The GM Mastery Series
  • About Johnn Four
  • What's In This Book?

Chapter 2: NPC Design

  • Planning Considerations
  • What To Plan And How Long It'll Take
NPC Story Roles
  • Villains
  • Rivals
  • Major NPCs
  • Minor NPCs
  • Extras, Walk-Ons, Bit Parts
  • Combat Constructs & Cannon Fodder
  • Remote NPCs
  • Creatures
  • Items
NPC Elements
  • Names
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Power Base
  • Class & Level
  • Appearance
  • History & Background
  • Social Class & Society
  • Alignment
  • Personality
  • Relationships
  • Secrets
  • Daily Life
  • Wealth
  • Equipment & Belongings
  • Sources Of Inspiration

Chapter 3: NPC Role Playing

  • Bring Your NPCs To Life
  • The PCs Have Entered The NPC's Life, Not Vice Versa
  • What Is The Purpose Of The NPC?
  • Challenge Level
  • Game Mood, Atmosphere, And Tension
  • All Creatures Seek Pleasure And Avoid Pain
  • Goals
  • Subtext
  • Relationships
  • NPC Expectations
  • Quirks
  • NPC Moods
  • NPC Moods Table
  • Roleplay The Weaknesses
  • How To Make Your NPCs Distinct
Acting Tips & Techniques
  • Body Language
  • Body Language Exercise
  • Create A Trigger
  • Be Aware Of The Scene
  • Make Eye Contact With Your Audience
  • The Fourth Wall
  • Use The Props
  • Remember Names
  • Practice Tricky Names And Phrases
  • Never Apologize
  • Make It Interactive
  • Be Yourself
  • What Are You Selling?
Voice Techniques & Tips
  • Learn The Best Way To Breathe
  • Avoid Upspeak
  • Avoid Fade-Out
  • Pronunciation And Crispness
  • Speak With Enthusiasm
  • Avoid Hesitation Words & Phrases
  • Quiet Speaking Forces Players To Listen
Parley Tips, Tactics & Strategies
  • Keep GM And NPC Information Separate
  • Know What Your NPC Wants From This Scene
  • A Game Within The Game
  • What Is The NPC's Leverage?
  • Questions = Control
  • He Who Speaks First Loses
  • Give PCs Choices, Not Ultimatums
  • Small-Talk Tips
GM Schizophrenia: Conversations Between Multiple NPCs
  • Why Do It At All?
  • He Who Runs Away Lives To Fight Another Day
  • Plan An Escape Route Before The Encounter Starts
  • Keep The Escape Option Open During Encounters
  • Crunch Some Numbers
  • Tweak The NPC For Chases
  • Don't Cheat The PCs
  • Finding Opportunities To Roleplay During Combat
  • Let The Participants Talk, Then Game
  • Insults And Challenges Always Work To Get Things
  • Started
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words
  • The Parting Shot
  • Do Not Abuse The Players' Trust
  • Look Out Behind You!

Chapter 4: Campaign Management

  • Organizing Your NPCs
  • Method Of Organization
  • Updating NPCs
  • Introducing NPCs
  • When PC & NPC Power Levels Differ
  • When NPCs Are Lower Level Than The PCs
  • When NPCs Are Higher Level Than The PCs
  • Tying NPCs To Your Campaign
  • Trendsetters And Trend Followers
  • NPC Knowledge
  • Creating Dynamic NPCs
  • A Note About NPC Deaths
  • Regional Changes Are Important Too
  • Organizing Updates Using The Charts
  • Character Cast Creation In 6 Steps

Chapter 5: NPC Archetypes

  • Craftsman
  • Merchant
  • Servant
  • Upper Nobility
  • Soldier
  • Artist/Entertainer
  • Politico/Minor Noble
  • Guild Leader
  • Clergy
  • Beggar

Chapter 6: Mini-Adventure

  • When We Practice To Deceive...
  • Map Of The Village Of Meremath
  • Map Of The Bandit Camp
  • Adventure Background
  • Adventure Summary
  • The Village Of Meremath
  • Encounters
  • Aftermath

Chapter 7: Charts and Sheets

  • Story Roles vs NPC Elements
  • 100 Modern Male First Names
  • 100 Modern Female First Names
  • 100 Fantasy Male First Names
  • 100 Fantasy Female First Names
  • Phonetic Last Names
  • Last Names Generator
  • Random Background Generator
  • Random Appearance Generator
  • 300 Random Traits
  • 200 Random Quirks
  • 100 Random Secrets
  • 100 Random NPC Life Events
  • Business Card NPC Character Sheet
  • Index Card NPC Character Sheet
  • Full Page NPC Character Sheet
  • Full Page Creature NPC Character Sheet
  • Full Page Item NPC Character Sheet
  • Combat NPC Character Sheet

Buy the NPC Essentials book today