Character sketching by Magic

Continuing to muse about oracles and campaign building. Nick did work on adventures, I’ve done dungeon rooms and hexes. What about NPCs?

I think of NPCs progressively detailed sketches. Begin with name, description, and catchphrase. Then asset, trait, need or agenda. Then approach, false visage, obsession and weakness. Things at the end are only important if they become major NPCs, but every NPC should have the first few.

Draw one card for each feature, as you develop the character further. Let’s try it! I’m going to be explaining with an example. Any card can be drawn reversed, so take the main theme and do the opposite. I’m using the MTG Randomiser, though, so no reversals for me.

I just looked the card description terminology up on the Magic website, so those are the terms I’m using.

We start with name, description and catchphrase:

Espen is young, sprung tight like an attacking scorpion. When they doesn’t know what else to say, they says “We gonna keep hiding, or get it over with?”

Then we add an asset, trait, need and agenda as they become a more regular member of the cast:

They have a pair of scissors that can remove an elf’s soul. They constantly play with matches, lighting little fires, and burning little slips of paper. They are seeking a gate to the faerie realm to rescue their sister.

Now if they become major drivers of the story, give them an approach, false visage, obsession and weakness:

They prefers to earn trust through kindness, but their kindness is false. They are obsessed with the faerie they fear, and rats petrify them, leaving them acting unthinkingly. The fae took guise of rats when they took their sister.

Anyway, this I think is great for the kind of iteratively built characterisation that I like to use. I couldn’t have come up with this myself. I wonder if I could do this for treasure creation as well?

Idle Cartulary

7th July 2022

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