Note-card NPCs: A quick and easy template for fleshing out and referencing your NPCs

May 17, 2019
Template
NPC

One of my biggest issues when I first started DMing was remembering NPCs. I'd have to make someone up on the fly, or forget a quirk for a guard the party had taken a liking to, and it always felt terrible to inadvertently give my group a peek behind the curtain. To compensate for my lackluster memory, I developed a template for NPC generation that's relatively short, sweet, and hits all the most important points for your standard non-player character. The template goes as follows:

  • Name - Occupation or Role (Race and Class, if applicable)
  • 3 General character traits
  • 3 values, one of which must be unusual given what you've put down so far (that's my personal preference, anyway)
  • 1 quirk
  • A secret or plot hook, something the players can pursue if they take a shine to this person
  • 1 bond of some kind, good or bad

This gives you everything you need to have a rough idea of how the character would act or react, plus you've got some juicy quest or gossip for any player that decides to invest in this little corner of your world. On top of that, it all fits comfortable on a 3x5 note card which makes them ridiculously easy to organize!

This method has been not only wildly helpful for me in terms of remembering details of my NPCs and keeping them organized in my head, it's also made it much easier for me to create more complex, fleshed out characters, which increases the chances that your players will become invested in the first place. It also serves as a straightforward template, so you can make up a character as you need them, write a name down on a note card, and just fill it out when you have 5 minutes to spare. It's really changed my prep game, and maybe it'll help you out too. Here are a few examples of my own:

Harla Dunhain - Mercenary (Female Dwarf Fighter)

-Tough, Friendly, Hot-headed
-Values: knitting, fresh water, being active
-Likes to show off her strength
-Framed for murder in Kor'Kruil, is a wanted criminal
-Friends with Corine Welby, a fellow mercenary

Tonk - Orphan (Male Goblin)

-Blunt, Skeptical, Surly
-Values freedom, good food, feeling useful
-Loves to draw but is shy about it
-What's left of his family has been enslaved in the nearby woods, wants to free them but doesn't know how and is scared to go alone
-Was taken in by a local innkeep, Varkin Sol

Content info

Author:
u/Zenrayeed
First posted here: https://www.reddit.com/r/DnDBehindTheScreen/
DownloadView collectionView related searches
Pirate
Maps
Treasure

Grave of Calico Jim

View
Dungeon
Dragons

Temple of Io Rooms

View
Dungeon
Map
Horror

Curwen Crypt pt 1

View
Dungeon
Map

The City of Arachnas

View
Deity
Reddit

Deity: Asmodeus - King of Hell

View
Deity
Reddit

Deity: Nuada Aergethlam, Light of The Elves

View
Deity
Reddit

Deity: Helios - Light of The Law

View
Deity
Reddit

Deity: Eldatha - The Healing Light

View
Pirate
Map
Adventures

The Pirate Isles

View
Pirate
Treasure
Maps

The Treasure of Jolly Rodger

View
Pirate
Maps
Treasure

Grave of Calico Jim

View
Deity
Reddit
Pirate

Deity: Corsair, The Pirate God

View
Shop names

My hobby: spending an in ordinate amount...

View
Riddle

15 Simple Riddles to use in your campaign

View
Toolkit

Massive DM's toolkit

View
Playlist

My curated Spotify playlist for D&D encounters

View
Items
Reddit

Items from DnDBehindTheScreen

View
Items

70+ Badly written and homebrewed Magic Items

View
Items

Worthless Fun Magic Items

View
Items
Silly

14 silly cursed weapons to troll your players with

View
Storytelling

20 Hooks to make a TPK into a Story Beat instead of a Campaign Ending Moment

View
Storytelling

How to improve or set up an open-world campaign using a theme or singular event

View
Storytelling

Describe the Scene with E.A.S.E.

View
Tavern
Worldbuilding

50 Weird & Wonderful Taverns

View
Shop names

My hobby: spending an in ordinate amount...

View
Tavern

Tired of the shopping in generic stores? Here are ten weird shopkeepers for your adventures.

View
Encounter
Vampire

The Vampire Coast - A coast that is a vampire

View
Encounter

On the Road: 20 Non-Combat Encounters for Traveling Parties

View
Creature
NPC
Encounter

The mimic room mimic, the most devious type of mimic

View
Encounter
Plots

138 Encounters and Hooks for towns and cities

View
Creature
NPC
Voice

Voice lines and idle animations

View
NPC
Template

NPC reference character sheet

View
Template
NPC

Note-card NPCs: A quick and easy template for fleshing out and referencing your NPCs

View
NPC
Creatures

A few dark NPCs to use in your world

View