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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Does Your Setting Operate Without the PCs?

Regardless of Railroading or Sandboxing, do you run your games so that things NPCs are doing happen in the background, independently of PC action or non-action?

Major NPC Activity-

12 - Events Greatly Favour NPC (New ally proves most helpful, etc.)
11-09 - Events Somewhat Favour NPC (NPC receives aid/funding, etc.)
08-06 - Events Favour No One
05-03 - Events Somewhat Disfavour NPC (Rival (re-)enters the scene, etc.)
02 - Events Greatly Disfavour NPC (Rival gains the upper hand, etc.)

Weather Events-

12 - Extremely Favourable Weather Conditions (prevailing winds, bumper crop, etc.)
11-09 - Slight Edge Provided (weather worsens after the NPC's forces pass through, etc.)
08-06 - Events Favour No One
05-03 - Weather Somewhat Disfavours NPC (weather worsens as the NPC's forces enter region, etc.)
02 - Extremely Unfavourable Weather Conditions (Avalanche, Blizzard, Drought, Forest Fire, etc.)

12 - Groundswell support for NPC's platform premise
11-09 - Increasing support for NPC's basic premise
08-06 - Much discussion, consideration, counter-proposals, etc.
05-03 - Increasing opposition to NPC's basic premise
02 - Massive backlash against NPC's platform premise

Acts of G-d-
12 - Forces opposed to the NPC meet with disaster
11 - New route or mode of travel emerges
10 - Opposition leadership is fragmented
09 - New commodity enters marketplace
08 - Opposition faces in-fighting
07 - A period of peace prevails
06 - Opposition unites to oppose NPC faction/ideology
05 - Market scarcity for important commodity
04 - Opposition gain powerful leadership
03 - Trade route or relations collapse
02 - Forces opposed to the NPC met with great boon

je ne sais quoi-
12 - Fashion changes required to maintain/gain social position
11 - Cultural transformation due to technological innovation
10 - Famine-stricken area receives relief
09 - Previously disfavoured idea/ideal gains popularity
08 - Extant illness fades
07 - Romanticism flourishes
06 - Extant illness spreads
05 - Extant food/spice becomes all the rage
04 - Blight/Rust spreads throughout region
03 - Rare flower gains enormous social significance/symbolism (red poppies on lapel, etc.)
02 - Game-animal disease begins to cross borders


  1. Yes. In any given sandbox game I have up to about a dozen major storylines that continue to involve regardless of player involvement or not. The players might jump into or stumble accross one plotline for a bit, move into another then stumble across a third before returning to find that events in the first plot line have moved on a bit while they've been taking care of other things.
    I create a table for each major settlement the players spend time in. When they return to that settlement after a long period (say a week or two) I make a roll on that table to find out whats changed. In this way, they might return to town to find it's been raided by orcs or lost a few buildings (and people) to fire while they were away. Alternatively, the event in question could be some sort of normal, every-day occurance, such as a named NPC getting married, moving away, having a baby, falling ill or so on.

  2. Neat. :) this drives home the point that a game universe is a living thing, independent of the characters when you really get to think about it. As a player I find this refreshing and empowering. Matters are always in flux, life goes on. The backdrop of good gaming...

  3. I often use random charts and tables to indicate what has happened to various NPCs during the downtime between the PCs adventures, and to indicate any major events occurring across the lands. Helps nicely to create the feeling that the world doesn't exist solely at the PCs whim.

  4. Right world made easy! Every campaign setting splat book published should have similar tables!
    : )

  5. Thanks, All: :D

    DB: Do you fully plot these threads and create separate tables for each?

    Spielmeister: I'm glad this works for you. :) Very gratifying. :D

    Knightsky: I'll as you the same question I asked D. Brian. :)

    Stuart: Cool. Thanks. I'm glad it serves. :D

    JB: I'll see to it that mine do. ;D

  6. No separate tables, but occasionally what happened to the NPCs was of enough notice that it took over/became the adventure for the next evening's session.

  7. @Knightsky: Thanks for the further detail. :)

  8. Things definitely continue in my worlds, but I've never used a chart or anything to figure out whats happened. I just decide, based on what was going on, and how I wanted to mess with things. I tend to be a little nicer to my NPCs than I do to my PCs, but I still aim to make everyone's life "interesting"!

  9. @David: Truth be told, I don't use 'em (often) either, but I like to give li'l gifts to the community. :)

  10. @Timeshadows~ Well, we like getting your gifts, so that works out well!