Dynamic NPCs in action

My tabletop players have just reached a new year in the campaign calendar. This marks the third campaign year that PCs have been exploring my world and with this year comes new changes - deaths, childbirths and seasonal activities. I covered this briefly earlier (Part 1, Part 2) and now I've implemented it in an NPC database.

A far cry from the Rolodex cards that Tony Bath (of Hyboria fame) or Professor M.A.R. Barker (of Tekumel fame) started out with. I'm using an Access database. For the Yearly and Seasonal events, I've coded the procedures in old school Visual Basic for Applications. That's taking me back to some old school programming!

I have to admit, during test runs, seeing the deaths of some of the NPCs that I've given life to over the past few years was a bit of a gut-punch... and that's why I'm glad I'm doing this. The world will continue, things will happen ... and the cycle will continue.

One of the ways I keep track of these events for game planning is to use Obsidian Portal's "Adventure Log" feature, future date the log post and drop in the Yearly and seasonal events into that log. I then mark it as "GM Only" and I can keep track of things much easier, it shows up on the dashboard as one of the first log posts.

One bit that I am still wrestling with is the idea of magic - divine most likely - in how it might affect an NPC for illness and death. Based on the costs of casting spells (~ 100gp per level) in contrast to the average yearly wages of someone in my campaign (~175gp/year for common labor), it would be quite expensive for normal folks, merchants, tradesmen to afford a "resurrect", even a "cure disease" represents 2 years of wages. For nobility, probably not as much of a problem. So if those results come up during the Yearly run, I'll be throwing some extra dice to see what happens.

This post marks the 101st post of my "new" vanity blog.  I've largely stayed away from the "What is OSR" posts and the drama and the things like the "Swords & Wizardry cover" deal. It just doesn't interest me anymore, I've said what I had to say about my version of D&D and what I like to play. When I restarted last year, I was just getting back into miniatures and gaming. Keeping my focus on that has served me really well. I get fewer hits, but I'm OK with that. Let the popular kids go play at The Game. 

(And I still wouldn't piss on ScottSz if he was on fire. So there's that.)


  1. Congrats on the 101 posts on the new blog!

    I like the database idea. I need to find a better way of keeping track of my NPCs and what they're doing (when the PCs aren't around). I have to go take a look at Obsidian Portal.

  2. Don't forget Lord British, Richard Garriot, who also discovered the role of extensive databases in role playing.


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