View Full Version : [D&D] Non Player Character Adventurers

2008-09-03, 09:31 PM
The subject of DMPCs and NPCAs came up in another thread, and whether there is a significant difference between the two. Here are some quotes from long ago, and also some more recent horror stories:

I use DMPCs all the time, though I usually call them NPC Adventurers. I usually provide a good number of them for a party to interact, it's generally up to the party which, if any, they want to accompany them. They generally fill gaps in the party line up or add a bit of muscle for combat heavy adventures. Usually I let a player run one when and if their own character is disabled. Never ever had a problem with one, it always adds to the game in some small way. The players often acquire opinions about and sometimes attachments to certain individuals, and since they usually eventually exceed the levels of NPC Adventurers, they can even come to acquire them as Cohorts. It all just sounds like bad DMing to me...

That doesn't sound like DMPCs to me. Sounds like NPCs - I've repeatedly said I use NPCs like that myself.

Something my friends and I are trying: We are doing freeform adventuring. We are rotating, with each person's character being a DMPC for the time they DM. Keeps us honest, because, if you cheat too much as DM, you get smote when it cycles back around.

This sounds more like actual DMPCs. (Although I find rotational DMing/playing doesn't tend to give you the same kind of problems; in my group, in the game with alternating DMs, someone else always runs the DM's character.)

Hmmnn. Perhaps I'm confusing the terms, then. Is a DMPC only a character previously played by the DM and then inserted into his campaign? If so, then I never use them, it's just bad form and, in my opinion, indicative of bad DMing...


Do you think adversorial play stems from DM's whom would rather be players getting forced into the role by circumstance?
I just wonder if it is resentful feelings that breed the conflict, it has to stem from the DM I figure.
Displacement activity?

Probably a lot of different causes, that one seems possible; for instance, a "DMPC" could be a symptom of a game master who would rather be a player, or it could be that he cannot reconcile his desire to be a player with his preference for control of the game environment. (I know you would rather be a player, Charity!)

As Thrud astutely observed in a different thread, a lot of "rules mastery" may be about desire for control over the game environment.

But anyway, the previous point is interesting. Is a DMPC always a bad thing? And what can you do to prevent NPCs from turning into DMPCs? Hmm, that might be worth starting up a new thread. What do you think?[/
Yeah, I've had DMs pull out DMPCs in games before. I think it is just a symptom of an inexperienced DM who is trying to control the game. Though I have had one run once by a DM who was burned out on gaming and wanted to play. And I have had it happen in games where there are just not enough players and the party needs a PC for balance.

I have encountered a strange sort of adversorial DM before, he would batter your characters, take all your stuff, but leave you alive ... in fact he would never kill you, everything would kick your arse then leave you to recover, that had to be some of the leanist gaming months of my life to put up with that crap. That guy was just power tripping without the bottle to see it through, he was gagging to run the game.

Also known as a "bad DM". If he had followed through, he'd be known as a "killer DM". :smallbiggrin:

Unless he just had a problem with judging encounter strength (Oops!), and assuming you guys didn't suck... then that sounds like he was using the party as his own personal vicarious punching bag.

Hmm, yeah, that one would suck. Never come accross that particular variant of bad DM before.

The guy was just plain old bad DM, railroad plots series of events, inability to divorce himself from the npc's, so they all had omnicience, and omnipotence if called out... ah he really was a piece of work...

Sounds like the stereotype. I wonder if he wanders from town to town spreading discord and distrust amongst gamers everywhere?

The old NPC versus DMPC debate. :smallbiggrin:

Yeah, it is an interesting distinction. I suppose they could be described as an undesirable subset of NPCs, with the NPC adventuring companion being the "good version". I remember a thread on this subject a couple of years back. Maybe I can dig it up via the forum search engine.

I remember this terrible game (modern day setting) where the DM decided that we were all going to be military, gave us all noncom ranks, and gave us orders to head out and deal with some sort of problem. Can't even remember what it was now, because I have tried to put it all out of my memory. But anyway, he also decided to send officers with us. A group of them to be specific. 4 PCs, and 4 NPC officers, all of whom outranked us so we had to do whatever they told us to do, and all of whom were better than us in every respect. It was truly a horrible game, because it was simply the 'sit back and let the DMs characters solve every problem' game. It ended after the second session when we discovered that apparently the game was always going to be that way. (We gave him the benefit of the doubt after the first one, hoping that the officers would all be killed off, or something)

That is obviously the bad end of the DMPC scale. However, I have had to run NPCs before who stay with the characters long enough that they have real distinct personalities and backgrounds to the point that they feel more like a party member in their interactions. I would like to think that I never misused these NPCs in any way that would influence the game, but I can't really be certain.

So yeah, I would be interested to see a thread like that, or just to start up a new one if it is dead so long that it cannot be brought back.

...and we're off!

2008-09-03, 09:53 PM
lots of bad stuff

Hmm, guess I should really read along a bit more before I post my own threads. Err, Helpful mister forum monitor to whom we all bow and show great obesience grovel to, could you meld this thread and the DMPC thread please?

2008-09-03, 10:05 PM
Ha, ha. No sweat, I'll hit the report button and see if the moderators will merge the threads. :smallbiggrin:

2008-09-03, 10:08 PM
There's a report button?

2008-09-03, 10:10 PM
There's a report button?

Little exclamation point sign next to the green/blue online status dot.

2008-09-03, 10:11 PM
Oh cool, thanks!