NPCs #

The NPCs in this chapter are generic examples of nonplayer characters that can be used in many genres.

Reskinning NPCs: GMs will find that with a few tweaks, a guard can be a modern-day cop, a fantasy caravan guard, or a science fiction drone soldier. This is known as reskinning—making slight changes to existing stats to customize the NPC for your own game.

Health, Not Pools: Remember that NPCs don’t have stat Pools. Instead, they have a characteristic called health. When an NPC takes damage of any kind, the amount is subtracted from its health. Unless described otherwise, an NPC’s health is always equal to its target number. Some NPCs might have special reactions to or defenses against attacks that would normally deal Speed damage or Intellect damage, but unless the NPC’s description specifically explains this, assume that all damage is subtracted from the NPC’s health.

Appropriate Weapons: NPCs use weapons appropriate to their situation, which might be swords and crossbows, knives and shotguns, malefic psychic weapons, blasters and grenades, and so on.

Other NPCs #

Many NPCs are simple and understandable enough to be encapsulated just by their level and a few other other relevant stats.

  • Cannibal: level 3, deception and other interaction tasks as level 6; health 12
  • Hacker: level 2; programming, digital infiltration, and repairing computers as level 7
  • Mad scientist: level 4, most actions as level 6 due to gadgets, serums, artifacts, etc.
  • Marauder: level 4, initiative and intimidation as level 7; health 28; Armor 1
  • Master detective: level 5; perception, intuition, initiative, and detecting falsehood as level 9
  • Politician: level 2, all interaction tasks as level 6
  • Priest: level 2, religious lore and all interaction tasks as level 6
  • Professor: level 2, knowledge of science and all interaction tasks as level 6
  • Soldier: level 3, perception as level 4; health 12; Armor 1; attacks inflict 5 points of damage
6 (18)

An assassin kills with poison, with high-velocity bullets from a distance, or by arranging for an unfortunate accident. Assassins accept contracts from governments, corporations, crime bosses, and aggrieved former partners, though some assassins pay themselves by tracking criminals anywhere to collect on “dead or alive” bounties.

Motive: Murder (usually for hire)

Health: 18

Damage Inflicted: 6 points

Armor: 1

Movement: Short

Modifications: Stealth and deception tasks as level 8; when attacking from hiding, melee and ranged attacks as level 7

Combat: An assortment of small weapons are hidden about an assassin’s body. They can also coat their weapons or ammo with a level 6 poison that moves victims who fail a Might defense roll one step down the damage track.

Interaction: Some assassins have a sort of integrity about their work and can’t be dissuaded from completing their contracts with bribes.

Use: An assassin is greatly feared by anyone with powerful, wealthy enemies.

Loot: Aside from their weapons and poisons, most assassins have currency equivalent to a very expensive item and maybe one or two cyphers.

GM intrusion: The character loses their next turn, stunned, after recognizing the assassin to be the same murderer who killed someone important to them in the past.

3 (9)

A bard uses the power of words and music to create magic that inspires and influences others. A typical bard plays a musical instrument and weaves song-spells that rival the magic of wizards and priests, but some use their voices, creating fascinating tales and dramatic speeches.

Motive: Entertainment, interaction, and novel experiences

Health: 10

Damage Inflicted: 3 points

Movement: Short

Modifications: Music, oration, persuasion, stealth, and Speed defense as level 4

Combat: Bards prefer weapons that rely on speed and agility, like daggers, rapiers, and small bows. Every other round, a bard can create a blast of pure sound that inflicts 3 points of damage (ignores Armor) to one target within short range.

A bard knows several spells, such as adding +1 to recovery rolls of nearby creatures, making an indifferent creature friendly (or a hostile one indifferent) for a few minutes, deafening one opponent for hours, easing a physical task by two steps, turning invisible for a minute, or negating sound for a minute.

Interaction: Bards are personable and easy to talk to, but they have a sharp wit and a sharper tongue when it comes to critics and tyrants. A bard would rather escape from a dangerous situation than fight to the death.

Use: A bard ally often has useful information about the current situation, drawn from songs and folk tales. In a pinch, they can make do as a scout or spy, especially in an urban setting. An unfriendly bard mocks the characters and turns the will of a crowd against them.

Loot: In addition to a musical instrument and a nice outfit for performing, bards usually have currency equivalent to a moderately priced item and one or two cyphers.

3 (9)

A berserker is a fierce warrior who can fly into a rage, greatly increasing their strength and hardiness. Many of them choose an animal such as a bear, wolf, or boar as their spiritual kin, wearing the skin of that animal and fighting like wild beasts.

Motive: Glory in battle

Health: 12

Damage Inflicted: 4 points

Armor: 1 (or 3 when berserk)

Movement: Short

Modifications: Climbing, jumping, running, and Speed defense as level 4

Combat: Berserkers prefer large, heavy weapons such as axes, hammers, and greatswords, but they may use bows if they can’t easily get close to their foes.

A berserker can enter a state of rage as part of their action. When raging, they gain +1 to Armor (including against fire), their melee attacks inflict an additional 2 points of damage, and their attacks, Might defense, and actions relying on strength (such as climbing and jumping) are eased by two steps. However, their Speed defense is hindered. A raging berserker fights only with melee weapons and won’t retreat from battle.

Interaction: Berserkers are the elites of some warrior cultures and enjoy physical competitions such as wrestling, throwing heavy items, and feasting. They dislike weak and cowardly folk, and do not tolerate insults to their strength or honor.

Use: A group of warriors is led by a mighty berserker looking for a challenging fight. A group of berserkers enters town and picks fights with the local toughs.

Loot: In addition to their weapons and light armor, a berserker has one or two moderately priced items. The leader of a group might have a cypher that enhances strength or toughness.

Crime boss
3 (9)

A crime boss usually isn’t physically powerful but wields power through lies, bribery, and control. Rarely encountered alone, they rely on guards, thugs, and other measures to provide physical security. A crime boss could be a petty noble, a mafia king, or the captain of a pirate ship that sails the seas or glides the space lanes.

Motive: Money And Power

Health: 12

Damage Inflicted: 5 points

Armor: 1

Movement: Short

Modifications: Deception, persuasion, intimidation, and tasks related to friendly interaction as level 7

Combat: Guards, thugs, and other followers deal 1 additional point of damage when the crime boss can see them and issue commands. If possible, crime bosses fight while mounted or in a vehicle, directing their followers from the rear of any conflict, concentrating first on issuing orders.

Interaction: Crime bosses are committed to their plans, whatever those might be. Most bosses rely on a lieutenant or trusted thug to interact with people in their place.

Use: A crime boss and their followers execute a heist on a secure location and take hostages when things go south. Someone must go in and talk to the crime boss to defuse the situation.

Loot: A crime boss has currency equivalent to a very expensive item in addition to weapons, medium armor, and miscellaneous gear.

GM intrusion: The crime boss uses a clever trick or cypher to block all incoming attacks in a given round of combat.

3 (9)

Detectives are usually veterans of their organization (such as the police, city watch, marshals, space command, and so on) with extensive experience. Some detectives are freelance sleuths whose uncanny ability to see the truth comes from personal training combined with an underlying talent for noticing clues that others miss.

Motive: Solve The Crime

Health: 12

Damage Inflicted: 4 points

Movement: Short

Modifications: Tasks relating to perception, intuition, initiative, and detecting falsehoods as level 6

Combat: Detectives prefer to outwit their foes rather than engage in a straight-up fight. Even then, most conflicts occur in a place and time of the detective’s choosing, preferably in the presence of their allies. A detective can deduce weaknesses of their enemies (if any) and exploit them in combat.

Interaction: Some Detectives Are Insufferable know-it-alls. Others have learned that humility is also a useful tool for getting answers from people.

Use: To the PCs, detectives can be obstacles (a detective is on their trail), allies (a detective helps them assemble clues), or both, but the sleuths are rarely a way for the characters to hand off responsibility for accomplishing a hard task.

Loot: Aside from their weapons, most detectives have currency equivalent to a very expensive item and a cypher.

GM intrusion: The detective intuits the character’s next attack and moves perfectly so that an ally of the character takes the attack instead.

4 (12)

A druid is a servant of a nature deity or the entirety of nature itself. Some have specific interests such as animals, plants, or storms, with greater powers relating to that devotion. Druids are leaders and advisors in some cultures, society-hating hermits in others.

Motive: Protecting nature

Health: 12

Damage Inflicted: 4 points

Armor: 1

Movement: Short

Modifications: Nature lore, perception, and stealth as level 5

Combat: Druids use simple weapons crafted out of natural materials, such as spears, slings, and bows, as well as ritual tools such as daggers and sickles.

A druid knows several spells, such as a short-range attack that uses electricity or fire, healing a touched creature for 4 health, calming and befriending animals, traveling quickly, controlling the weather within long range, transforming into an animal or plant, and manipulating the natural elements. A druid often has a loyal animal companion, such as a black bear, hawk, viper, or wolf.

Interaction: Druids are cautious when dealing with city folk, and they act quickly to stop the reckless use of fire or exploitation of the wilds. They are generally on good terms with local animals and magical creatures of nature (faeries, sapient trees, satyrs, and so on).

Use: A hermit druid comes to the aid of injured or lost characters in the wildlands. A druid has been attacking loggers and hunters who stray too far from civilization.

Loot: In addition to weapons, light armor, and some moderately priced ritual items, a druid might have a couple of cyphers or perhaps an artifact.

4 (12)

A typical dwarf found outside of their homeland is an explorer, warrior, and tradesperson of some skill. Dwarves travel to find work as mercenaries, sell the goods they create, or find unusual materials to use in their crafting.

Motive: Defense, loyalty, honor

Health: 15

Damage Inflicted: 5 points

Armor: 2

Movement: Short

Modifications: Crafting (metal or stone), Intellect defense, and Might defense as level 5

Combat: Dwarves traditionally use weapons like axes, hammers, and crossbows. They’re used to working together to defend their halls; three or more dwarves attacking the same target act as a level 6 creature that inflicts 8 points of damage.

Dwarf leaders are usually officers or priests.

Dwarf Officer: level 5; health 16; damage inflicted 7 points Dwarf priest: level 5; health 16; can heal one creature for 10 points or all within immediate range for 5 points

Interaction: Dwarves are proud and hardworking, but they tend to be stubborn, gruff, and unforgiving of offenses to them or their clan. It takes time to gain their trust, but they respect a fair deal, a hard bargain, a sharp axe, and a sturdy hammer.

Use: A stoic old dwarf is looking to go on one more quest before retiring. A clan of dwarves seeks a trade agreement with a human city leader—or redress for an old insult.

Loot: In addition to their weapons and light or medium armor, a dwarf probably has several moderately priced items (such as tools or exploration gear) and perhaps a cypher or two.

4 (12)

An elf has a very long lifespan and tends to learn and abandon many skills and interests, including combat and magic. Elves are likely to wander in pursuit of something new and interesting, such as finding the tallest tree in the forest, the most beautiful sunset, or the perfect love song.

Motive: Curiosity

Health: 12

Damage Inflicted: 5 points

Armor: 1

Movement: Short

Modifications: Perception, Speed defense, and any two noncombat skills as level 5

Combat: Elves usually fight with short or medium blades and delicate but deadly bows. Because of their subtle skill and fast reactions, their first attack in any combat inflicts an additional 2 points of damage.

A typical elf might know a few minor spells, such as heating or chilling food, creating a bit of moonlight, and cleaning or repairing clothing.

Interaction: Elves appreciate beauty, grace, and skill, and they don’t respond well to crudeness or bluster, especially from people decades or centuries younger than themselves. They are subtle in their insults but do have a sense of humor.

Use: A group of young elves arrives in a city, wanting to see firsthand how the short-lived humans do things. An elf is said to have lived in the forest for a thousand years, listening to the secrets whispered by the trees.

Loot: In addition to their weapons and light armor, an elf carries a few moderately priced (but extremely well-made) curios and mementos, and usually a cypher.

2 (6)

Guards keep the peace but don’t usually show much initiative. Ultimately, they do as they’re ordered by their superiors, regardless of legality. A guard might be a star trooper dressed in intimidating armor, a mall security guard, a beat police officer, or a mafia goon.

When attacked, guards always call for the help of other guards, if possible.

Motive: Keep the peace; follow orders

Health: 8

Damage Inflicted: 3 points

Armor: 1 or 2

Movement: Short

Modifications: Perception as level 3

Combat: Guards are not often wily, but they understand strength in numbers. If two or more guards attack the same target with at least one melee attack in the same round, the target’s Speed defense roll against those attacks is hindered.

Interaction: Interacting with a guard typically involves one issue: does the PC want to do something that the guard has been told to prevent? If so, the PC could have a difficult time.

Use: To the PCs, guards can be allies, obstacles, or both. Guards who serve the public good have their own duties and aren’t interested in doing the characters’ work for them.

Loot: A guard has currency equivalent to an inexpensive item in addition to weapons, armor, and basic gear.

GM intrusion: 1d6 local citizens intervene on the guard’s behalf, calling for more guards or even fighting the guard’s foes.

3 (9)

A halfling is fond of the comforts of home, but adventures and exploration are the fodder of great stories told over tea or dinner, or in a fireside chat. Quick, resourceful, and easy to get along with, halflings fit right in with brave big folk as scouts, burglars, and loyal companions.

Motive: Defense, comfort

Health: 9

Damage Inflicted: 3 points

Armor: 0 or 1

Movement: Short

Modifications: Intellect defense, pleasant social interactions, and stealth as level 4

Combat: Halflings are remarkably skilled with knives, clubs, slings, and small bows. They prefer not to fight larger creatures head on; instead they stay at range, plan ambushes to quickly overwhelm opponents, or team up with a larger ally so they can attack a foe’s back and legs.

Interaction: Halflings enjoy the company of larger folks as long as they aren’t mocked for their size. They’re brave and determined when they need to be, though some might complain about wanting to go home.

Use: A young halfling wants to have some adventures before settling down. The local thieves’ guild is said to employ halflings as lookouts and cutpurses, sometimes disguised as human children.

Loot: In addition to their weapons (and perhaps some light armor) and food, a halfling might have an interesting cypher or two. Most carry several useful moderately priced items, or an expensive item such as an heirloom snuff box or a nice bag of tools.

5 (15)

Paranormal researchers, cultists, secret practitioners of white magic, and coven members might be occultists. Thanks to their study of the metaphysical, occultists learn several magical tricks, including the ability to summon or banish the dead.

Health: 15

Damage Inflicted: 5 points

Movement: Short

Modifications: Knowledge of occult topics and rituals as level 8; ability to detect lies and tricks as level 2

Combat: An occultist has a charm or device for summoning a level 5 spirit or demon that will do their bidding for ten minutes. Some also have (or instead have) a spell, item, or device that inflicts 5 points of damage on normal creatures within long range, and 10 points of damage on a demon or spirit (or, instead of dealing extra damage, the effect confines the demon or spirit in some way).

Interaction: Occultists are deeply concerned with spiritual or demonic matters and see those influences in all things, whether those influences exist or not. That makes them amenable to persuasion and deception, if couched in the language of spiritual influence.

Use: To find a needed answer, the spirit of a dead person must be questioned. Alternatively, a haunting presence must be banished. Either way, the task requires an occultist.

Loot: In addition to their clothing and mundane weapons, occultists have currency equivalent to an inexpensive item, a cypher, and possibly an artifact related to their power over spirits or demons.

GM intrusion: A bony hand erupts from the ground at the character’s feet. On a failed Speed defense roll, they are held in place until they succeed on a Might-based task to escape. Each round the character fails to escape, the hand squeezes for 3 points of damage.

4 (12)

Paladins are heroes who swear a holy oath to vanquish evil. Their power and righteousness are a gift and a heavy burden, and most of them expect to die in battle against an evil foe.

Motive: Protecting the innocent, destroying evil

Health: 15

Damage Inflicted: 5 points

Armor: 2 or 3

Movement: Short

Modifications: Attacks and Might defense as level 5

Combat: Paladins like flashy weapons and shiny armor, which help them show their devotion to the ideals of goodness and draw the attention of evil foes. Many choose a two-handed weapon, but some prefer using a shield in their off hand (defense-oriented paladins like these inflict only 4 points of damage with their attacks but gain an asset on Speed defense).

Blessed by the powers of good, paladins can draw on innate holy magic for several purposes, such as detecting the presence of supernatural evil (demons, evil dragons, undead, and so on), restoring 4 health to themselves or a touched creature, smiting an evil foe to inflict an additional 4 points of damage, or breaking free of mind control.

Interaction: Paladins have big personalities and strongly believe in their purpose and goals. They have no tolerance for evil acts and are unwilling to look the other way when their allies want to bend the rules or take advantage of a “grey area.” However, they are not fools and won’t throw away their lives for nothing.

Use: A paladin lays claim to a foe the characters are seeking or have captured. An old paladin is looking for one last villain to smite.

Loot: In addition to their weapons and armor, paladins might have one or two cyphers. More experienced ones might be lucky enough to have an artifact (usually a weapon or armor).

Secret agent
5 (15)

Secret agents are trained professionals who put their mission before their own well-being, regardless of which government agency, corporation, guild, or kingdom employs them. An agent operates under a fake cover, perhaps as an envoy, inspector, technician, actor, tourist, or bumbling fool.

Motive: Accomplish The Goals Of The Employer While Maintaining Cover

Health: 15

Damage Inflicted: 5 points

Movement: Short

Modifications: Tasks related to disguise and deceiving as level 6

Combat: A secret agent always has a covert, unexpected backup weapon that they can use to make a surprise attack, such as a ring or glove with a hidden poisoned needle (dealing 5 points of Speed damage that ignore Armor), a fake tooth filled with poison gas to blow in a victim’s face (inducing sleep for ten minutes), or a ring with a miniature gun.

Interaction: Secret agents are confident, masterful, and always give the impression of being one step ahead of the game, even when caught off guard.

Use: As an ally, a secret agent can guide the PCs to their next mission, fill in gaps in their knowledge, and warn them of dangers. If the characters encounter an unfriendly agent, the NPC likely pretends to be a friend.

Loot: Agents typically have currency equivalent to an expensive item, a couple of cyphers, tools for spying and maintaining their cover, and possibly an artifact.

GM intrusion: The secret agent produces a cypher that, for the rest of the day, eases all tasks by two steps.

4 (12)

A thief takes things that don’t belong to them—preferably with their victim remaining unaware of the crime until the thief is safely away. Burglars and pickpockets are the most common sort, but ambitious thieves are known to plan elaborate heists to steal priceless items from prominent targets.

Motive: Greed, curiosity, risk

Health: 12

Damage Inflicted: 4 points

Armor: 1

Movement: Short

Modifications: Balancing, climbing, perception, pickpocketing, and stealth as level 5

Combat: Thieves prefer small concealable weapons—knives, batons, and so on—so they can quickly make themselves look like an innocent bystander. Their goal is to escape, not kill, so they often rely on tricks like caltrops, spilled oil, and smoke pellets to distract or delay foes and give themselves an opportunity to get away. They aren’t above using poison, typically a sleep poison that knocks out a foe for ten minutes on a failed Might defense task.

Interaction: Thieves run a broad range of personalities—nervous, arrogant, quietly confident, sarcastic, and more. They like to know the risks and rewards of what they’ll be doing, and they don’t like surprises.

Use: A cocky thief steals an item from a character and returns it to prove their skills are up to the task. A gang of pickpockets targets a character’s jewelry or cyphers.

Loot: Thieves usually carry light tools, a few small weapons, miscellaneous equipment for creating a distraction, and a cypher they plan to use or sell.

3 (9)

Thugs are usually rough, crude, and harsh individuals who prey on those who follow the rules. A thug might be a streetwise drug dealer, a bandit who hunts lone travelers in the wilds, a savage warrior adroit with ranged weapons, or a cyberbully among pacifists. Most thugs work for themselves, but they may employ gangs of guards to help them conduct their business.

Motive: Take What They Want

Health: 9

Damage Inflicted: 4 points

Armor: 1

Movement: Short

Combat: Thugs prefer ambushes, making ranged attacks from hiding if possible. Sometimes they spoil the ambush to issue an ultimatum before attacking: give us your valuables or you’ll be sorry.

Interaction: Thugs are interested in money and power, which means they almost always accept bribes. If faced with a real threat, thugs usually retreat.

Use: Thugs are everywhere, sometimes accompanied by guards who are equally malicious but not quite as powerful.

Loot: A thug has currency equivalent to an inexpensive item in addition to weapons, shields, and light armor. One thug in a group might have a cypher.

GM intrusion: Another thug, hidden until just the right moment, appears and takes a shot with a ranged weapon before joining the fray.

Wizard, mighty
8 (24)

Some wizards learn so many spells and accumulate so much lore that they become incredibly powerful. Some work for a higher purpose, whereas others are concerned only with themselves.

Motive: Seek powerful sources of magic (to collect or to keep safe)

Health: 40

Damage Inflicted: 8 points

Movement: Short

Modifications: All tasks related to knowledge of arcane lore as level 9

Combat: When a wizard makes a long-range attack with their staff or strikes someone with it, arcane energy damages the target and, if desired, all creatures the wizard selects within short range of the target. Targets that are within immediate range of the wizard when they take damage are thrown out of immediate range.

A mighty wizard knows many spells, including spells that grant +5 to Armor for an hour, spells of teleportation, spells of finding, and so on. A wizard also likely carries several cyphers useful in combat.

Interaction: Care should be taken when negotiating with wizards because they are subtle and quick to anger. Even when negotiations succeed, a wizard’s suggestions are usually cryptic and open to interpretation. A mighty wizard might be convinced to teach a character how to cast a spell.

Use: A wizard is putting together a team to challenge a great foe, and the PCs fit the bill.

Loot: A mighty wizard has 1d6 cyphers.

GM intrusion: The wizard casts two spells as a single action instead of just one.