How Do You GM Great Droids?

Droid Tips

GMing Droids Well Is Tricky

In RPT #512 RND(axe) asked for help on running interesting droids in his Star Wars game. I received the following two great responses:

Keep Droids Tools

From Mark of the Pixie

When I run droids, I stay focused on their purpose.  Droids are tools, not characters (helps stop them outshining PCs).  It colours their outlook on everything.

If you want to make them comedic, you need only take this narrow perception to an extreme.  An example would be a repair droid who keeps trying to fix everything, including a PC’s poor pronunciation, or the captain’s failed marriage.

By keeping droids as tools, it allows PCs to use droids to do things and still have the PCs shine.  Apply the same to NPCs, and the assassin droids become just an extension of the villain.

Give Droids One Interesting Quirk

From David K.

In the first Star Wars campaign I played in, the GM had a droid he called ML-58. My character, a Jedi Investigator, and the rest of the party were trapped on a space station, so we borrowed one of the docked starships to escape to the planet below.  ML, or “Mel” as we called him, happened to be on that ship.

We didn’t think much of him until our first battle of the campaign when I found I no longer had my light saber.  After the battle, I learned Mel had stolen and disassembled my light saber and, after the exchange of a few blows, he was my eternal enemy for the rest of the campaign.

Despite my continuing hatred of Mel, I think he proves a good example of an interesting droid character.  Whenever anything mechanical was left unattended near him, he would compulsively tinker with it. In this way, I was:

  • Assaulted by my own cargo mover droids, which he reprogrammed
  • Flamethrowered by my own astromech, which he reprogrammed
  • Held hostage and crammed unceremoniously into a packing crate by the above cargo movers

Through just one personality trait (compulsive tinkerer), this typical protocol droid became a memorable NPC.

Give droids one interesting quirk and run with it.  Some examples I’ve used are:

  • Shuts down when he sees a battle droid, stormtrooper or other enemy
  • Cannot tell a lie, and cannot avoid telling the truth (this is great in negotiation encounters, especially if the droid is a translator)
  • Is romantically interested in one of the PC’s, and brings them little gifts (such as the daughters of political figures and stolen jewelry)
  • Likes to instigate disagreements with unpleasant people (which often turn violent)

Some famous examples of these are Marvin (the depressed robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), HK-47 (refers to non-droids as “Meatbags” and takes a bit too much pleasure in killing them), and even R2-D2 (who always has a new trick up his sleeve since we last saw him).

What about you? How do you GM great droids?

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