Welcome to the sixth and final installment of the series on my NPC Interaction Method, which I have since given the title of “Gordian” in honor of its overly complicated, internal interconnectedness. In this part, I will work through the entirety of the method in a dedicated playthrough example. If you haven’t already read through the other parts of the series, I have linked them below. All the tables involved with the method can be downloaded here as well.
NPC Interaction Method Part 1: Initial Concepts
NPC Interaction Method Part 2: NPC Personality Modifier
NPC Interaction Method Part 3: PC Reputation Modifier
NPC Interaction Method Part 4: NPC Attitude and Mood
NPC Interaction Method Part 5: NPC Action Tables
Although it is not technically part of GoNIM, it might also be helpful for following along with the mechanics to take a look at the Oracle system I am using – the Gordian Double Oracle System (GoDOS). I initially wrote this up in the Oracle, Double Oracles and Reverse Skill Checks post and created a pdf of those mechanics for anyone to download and use. Again, though, the two mechanics are completely independent and GoNIM should be compatible with any Oracle with little to no tweaking required.
GoNIM In A Nutshell (Click Arrow to Expand)
What follows is a brief review of steps involved with GoNIM. The first four steps are the NPC building steps and really only need to be completed once for the NPC. The actual “meat” of the interaction takes place in the fifth step where the NPC’s responses are determined.
Keep in mind that GoNIM is primarily designed to generate general NPC responses to PC actions (it is essentially a reaction system). If, during the course of the interaction, the NPC becomes proactive (i.e. talks about something or gives the PC something completely out-of-the-blue), then other resources, Oracles, or keywords should be used to generate the details about what they do or say.
Step #1: Determine the NPC’s Personality Modifier. This is a number from -4 to +4 that describes the NPC’s outlook on the world, in general. Using Table 1: NPC Personality Modifier from the pdf, this can be done completely at random or the results can be shifted more positive/negative based on an NPC personality trait generated from another resource.
Step #2: Determine the PC Reputation Modifier with the NPC. This is also a number from -4 to +4 that describes the NPC’s opinion of the PC. For new NPC’s who have never met the PC before, this Modifier will be 0. Table 2: PC Reputation Modifier Change Probabilities in the pdf gives the base probabilities that an NPC will change their opinion over the course of the game as the PC interacts with the NPC and the word.
For the purposes of this playthrough, though, I want there to be a chance that the NPC’s have heard of Loffler before and, therefore, have a preexisting opinion of him. To accomplish this I will roll a 1d100 to represent the probability that the NPC knows who Loffler is. If they do, I will circle back to Table 1 and use the NPC Personality Modifier generation guidelines to also generate the PC Reputational Modifier.
Step 3: Determine the NPC’s Attitude. This is done by simply adding together the NPC Personality Modifier and the PC Reputation Modifier giving a value from -8 to +8. The NPC Attitude describes the NPC’s overall internal feelings toward the PC specifically. Table 3 of the pdf, NPC Attitude Descriptors, gives a one-word narrative descriptor for all the possible Modifiers within the range. One way to interpret this is in the form of the sentence: In the NPC’s opinion, the PC is worthy of (attitude descriptor).
Step 4: Determine the NPC’s Mood Score and Mood. This describes the NPC’s mood for this particular interaction and it incorporates both the NPC’s Attitude and an element of randomness. The NPC’s Mood Score is gotten by rolling a 1d100. This score can change over the course of the interaction. Using the pdf’s Table 4: NPC Mood Table, find the NPC’s current mood and mood modifier by cross-referencing the Mood Score with the row that is appropriate for the NPC’s Attitude Modifier. The NPC’s Mood describes what can be observed about the NPC and can be interpreted in the form of the sentence: The NPC’s behavior appears (mood descriptor) toward the PC.
Step 5: Determine the NPC’s Response. Whenever a NPC reaction is called for, roll a 1d20+NPC Mood Modifier and use Table 6: NPC Responses of the pdf to determine the general nature of the NPC’s response. The most common response is an Expected Action which basically means the NPC acts in a manner consistent with their mood, colored by their attitude, personality and motivations. What is “expected” for a particular mood can just be crafted on the fly or an Oracle can be used. Table 5: NPC Mood as Oracle Likelihood in the pdf gives the linkages I use for connecting mood to an Oracle Likelihood. In this case, the likelihood is the likelihood that the NPC will be agreeable to the PC or open to talking, sharing, etc.
The other two possible responses are positive/negative special actions and mood shifts. Special Actions will be described in Step 6. A mood shift is a change in the NPC’s Mood Score by 1d4x5 points. When this happens, go back to Table 4: NPC Mood Table to see if that new score is associated with a different mood. The NPC will then do an expected action based on that different mood (assuming it changed).
Step 6: If needed, determine the NPC’s Special Action. Using the pdf’s Table 7: NPC Special Actions, determine these by rolling a 1d12 and adding any modifier from the previous NPC Response Table and the NPC’s Mood Modifier. Special Actions are just specific actions that an NPC can take in response to a PC action. They can be expected, unexpected, on-topic, off-topic – pretty much anything goes as long as the NPC’s response fits within the theme of the special action. I am not going to go through them all here and would refer to Part 5 of the blog series for a detailed description.
Repeat Steps 5-6 until the interaction ends. Once the PC is done interacting with the NPC, typically I will ask the Oracle if the NPC has anything further to say or do before the PC walks away or leaves. Whether or not they do this is dependent on their mood and would be a situation where the NPC is being proactive. If I had any trouble with coming up with what the NPC might want to talk about, the easiest thing to do would be to have the NPC offer up a randomly generated rumor or quest.
For this playthrough I have decided to continue on with the story of Loffler who first appeared in the Oracle post linked above. Just to recap, Loffler was hired by some random town’s mayor to rescue his daughter who had been kidnapped and held for ransom by a group of bandits. After some searching, Loffler was able to ambush two of the bandits, capturing them. During the subsequent interrogation, one of the bandits was killed after managing to free himself and attacking, but the other bandit confessed everything, telling Loffler the location of the bandit hideout and swearing to change his ways if released. As a reward for his cooperation, Loffler agrees and lets the bandit go free.
The next step for Loffler, then, was to investigate the location of the bandit’s hideout: an abandoned building with a broken stoop on the edge of town. Let’s use the Oracle to find out what he finds when he gets there.
Are the bandits still there? 1d100=85 (Somewhat Likely); 1d20+1d4=10 (1,4). No, it’s been abandoned.
Is the mayor’s daughter still there? 1d100=47 (Even); 1d20=5 (1,1). No, but…there is a clue. What is the nature of the clue? Keywords: Faded, debauchery, wickedness. That’s not looking good. The first thing to come to mind is that Loffler finds a pool of dried blood among the trash and empty liquor bottles left behind by the bandits.
Are there any other clues as to where the bandits might have gone? Initial Reverse Perception Check (I will give Loffler a +2 bonus here): 1d20+2=16 (Likely), 1d20+2d4=20 (1,4). Success. But is there anything for him to find? 1d100=24 (Somewhat Unlikely), 1d20=10 (2,3). No.
Well, it looks like the bandits have managed to slip away – which makes me wonder if the bandit that was released earlier gave them a heads up. In any event, with the evidence growing stronger that the situation with the mayor’s daughter is growing more dire, Loffler needs to find some kind of lead regarding where to go next. I will say that there is a tavern nearby where he might be able to get some information. This is where I will use GoNIM to speak with any NPC’s that might be inside.
Starting first with the tavern. Using the Random Inn and Tavern Generator from donjon, I learn that the tavern is in the town’s warehouse district whose streets are filled with a mouldy odor. “The Short Hook,” as it is called, is a modest wooden building with only a few crude tables and benches inside. The male dwarf standing behind the bar gazes cautiously at Loffler as he enters. There are three patrons in the tavern at the moment: a human, a halfling, and an elf. The human and elf seem rather out of place given the location and the condition of the tavern as they are both wearing fine, silk garments.
Loffler approaches the dwarf.
Loffler: Well met, good sir. Can you spare me a moment of your time?
Questioning the Dwarf
The questioning of all the NPC’s will begin with Loffler being polite and asking to speak with them. After that there are basically four questions that Loffler will have: 1) Are you familiar with the abandoned house? 2) If so, have you seen anything unusual going on there? 3) Have you seen anyone matching the description of any of the bandits? 4) If so, where, when, what were they doing?
For the dwarf, I will run the interaction as I have been in my solo game. Every time Loffler says or does something, I will roll for the dwarf’s response. This is probably the most extreme use of GoNIM and can slow things down considerably as I am rolling for responses with every little line of dialogue. I like it, though, because there are lots of opportunities to add some depth to the NPC and for interesting detours to arise.
Okay, so running through the basic NPC building for the dwarf…
Step 1: Starting with a Personality Modifier for the dwarf, the donjon result describes him as being a cautious individual who secretly leads a small cult of a draconic god. Even though this doesn’t necessarily imply good/evil, my gut tells me that he is more on the negative side of things – must be all the negative connotations of the word “cult.” So rolling on the NPC Personality Modifier Table under Generally Negative, I get 1d100=49 which gives him a Personality Modifier of -2.
Step 2: To figure out if Loffler has a preexisting reputation with the dwarf, I will roll against a random probability that the dwarf has heard of him. The random probability is 1d100=86. So does the dwarf know who Loffler is? 1d100=82. Yes.
Given the potential conflict between the dwarf’s cautious, secretive nature and Loffler’s position as something of a police investigator, I think the dwarf will probably view Loffler negatively. Double dipping on the Generally Negative portion of the Personality Modifier Table to determine the PC Reputation Modifier, I get 1d100=61. So Loffler’s Reputation Modifier with this dwarf is -1.
Step 3: All together, then, the dwarf’s overall Attitude toward Loffler is -2-1=-3 and, in his opinion, Loffler is worthy of skepticism.
Step 4: But how about his mood at this instant? Moving next to the Mood Table and using the row associated with the -3 Attitude, the dwarf’s Mood Score is 1d100=74 which means he will appear to be polite (+1). It seems reasonable that the dwarf would try to be polite in an effort to avoid drawing suspicion on himself.
So that takes care of the basic NPC building blocks for this interaction, I can now use the NPC Response and Action Tables to play out the interaction.
How does the dwarf respond to Loffler’s request to speak with him? Rolling a 1d20 and adding +1 because the dwarf’s current mood is Polite (+1) gives 1d20+1=13 – an Expected Action on the NPC Response Table. An expected action means that the dwarf will respond or agree to Loffler’s request with a Somewhat Likely probability.
Does the dwarf give Loffler his attention? Somewhat Likely, 1d20+1d4=14 (1,2). Yes.
Dwarf: Of course. What can I do for you?
Loffler: A little ways down the road there is an abandoned building with the broken front stoop. Do you know the one I am talking about?
Dwarf’s Response: 1d20+1=9 (Expected Action). Does the dwarf answer? Somewhat Likely, 1d20+1d4=13 (3,6). Yes. Is the dwarf’s answer, “Yes?” (This is just a general Oracle question about what the dwarf appears to know). 1d100=39 (Even), 1d20=9 (3,4). No. Is his answer, “No?” 1d100=33 (Even), 1d20=13 (2,3). Yes.
Dwarf: I’m sorry, but no. I don’t think I am familiar with that building.
I am going to make an Insight Check here – Loffler’s Insight Check Bonus is +2. 1d20+2=10 (Even); Success? 1d20=14 (1,3). Yes, if the dwarf is being deceptive, Loffler should be able to detect it.
But is he being deceptive? Since the capability for lying is an internal NPC characteristic in my opinion, I am actually going to use the NPC’s Attitude for this. Skepticism is one rank lower than Indifference, so the Likelihood of telling the truth would be Somewhat Unlikely. Alternatively in the reverse, it would be Somewhat Likely that the dwarf would want to be deceptive. Does the dwarf want to be deceptive (Somewhat Likely)? 1d20+1d4=9 (1,4). No. So Loffler does not detect any deception in the dwarf’s response here.
Loffler: How about a group of men…(Loffler goes on to describe the bandits in general and probably even the bandit he released specifically)?
Dwarf’s Response: 1d20+1=19 (Positive Mood Shift); New Mood Score: 1d4x5=20+74=94. Increases the dwarf’s mood to Forthcoming (+3).
I’m not sure why this question increased the dwarf’s mood so much – maybe because he realizes that Loffler is not investigating anything to do with him. So does the dwarf respond? Now it is Very Likely because the dwarf’s mood is now Forthcoming; 1d20+3d4=12 (2,8). Yes. Is his answer, “Yes?” (General Oracle Question) 1d100=35 (Even), 1d20=7 (3,3). No, and…he denies it emphatically.
If there is a reason for the dwarf to be so emphatic in his response, does he reveal it? (Very Likely due to his Forthcoming mood); 1d20+3d4=19 (3,4). Yes. Does he have anything to reveal? (General Oracle Question) 1d100=44 (Even); 1d20=11 (2,4). Yes.
Interestingly enough, one of the rumors randomly generated by donjon has to do with an innkeeper whose daughter went missing. I think this is the connection as to why the dwarf is so emphatic in his answer – he wants to help because Loffler’s investigation reminds him of his own daughter, but he really doesn’t know anything that might be helpful.
Dwarf: I really wish I could be of more help, but I haven’t seen anyone matching your description around here recently – I swear. (The dwarf gets a sullen look on his face before continuing). I know you are trying to find the mayor’s daughter…my own daughter went missing years ago without a trace, so I can understand the worry and pain and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I do hope you are able to find the girl safe and return her to her family.
Loffler: I am sorry to hear that – about your daughter. I pray to the gods that you will one day be reunited. (He looks out into the tavern room at the other patrons.) How about any of them? Do you think any of them might have any information that might be helpful?
Just to illustrate the concept of potentially changing a PC Reputation Modifier, I will say that Loffler’s expression of concern and condolences for the dwarf’s situation is viewed so positively that maybe the dwarf starts to change his opinion of Loffler. Looking at the PC Reputation Modifier Change table, the base probability for a starting PC Reputation Modifier of -1 being increased to 0 is 30%. Taking into account the dwarf’s -2 Personality Modifier, that becomes 30%+(-2×10)=10%. Does the dwarf change his opinion? 1d100=69. No.
Dwarf ‘s Response to Loffler’s inquiry about the tavern patrons: 1d20+3=7 (Special Action +2); Special Action 1d12+2+3=7 (Checks for Understanding).
Dwarf: You mean those patrons?
Loffler: Yes. Do you know any of them?
Dwarf’s Response: 1d20+3=9 (Expected Action).
Does the dwarf respond? (Very Likely due to the Forthcoming Mood); 1d20+3d4=21 (8,10). Yes.
Does he know any of these people? Since the human and elf look out of place based on their outfits, I will assume this is Generally Unlikely for them and Unknown/Ambiguous for the halfling.
Human (Generally Unlikely): 1d100=98 (Even); 1d20=4 (2,4). No.
Elf (Generally Unlikely): 1d100=65 (Unlikely); 1d20-3d4=6 (9,9). No, and…the elf just arrived moments ago.
Halfling: 1d100=29 (Somewhat Unlikely); 1d20-1d4=19 (4,5). Yes.
Dwarf: Well, the halfling’s name is Idet. She is a bit of a regular here – comes in often enough. But the other two, I don’t know. As a matter of fact, the elf came in here just a few minutes before you so I haven’t even been over there to take his order yet.
Loffler: Does Idet live in this area?
Dwarf’s Response: 1d20+3=15, (Expected Action).
Does the dwarf answer? (Very Likely due to being Forthcoming); 1d20+3d4=12 (4,9). Yes.
Is his answer, “Yes?” (General Oracle): 1d100=18 (Somewhat Unlikely), 1d20-1d4=6 (1,6). No. (Note: In my Oracle system, this would have triggered a random event, but I will ignore it for the purposes of this example.)
Is his answer, “No?” (General Oracle): 1d100=48 (Even), 1d20=20 (2,3). Yes.
If Idet does not live in the area, does the dwarf know where she does live? (General Oracle): 1d100=12 (Unlikely), 1d20-3d4=0 (5,7). No.
Dwarf (shakes his head): Nah. I don’t believe she is from this neighborhood – never seen her around outside of here.
Loffler: Very well, then. Thanks for answering my questions.
If the dwarf has anything further to say, does he? (Very Likely due to being Forthcoming); 1d20+3d4=26 (8,9). Yes. Does he have anything to say? (General Oracle) 1d100=19 (Somewhat Unlikely); 1d20-1d4=2 (3,4). No.
Loffler reaches into a pouch, pulls out a single gold coin and flips it onto the bar. The dwarf grabs it with a nod and wanders away to go about his business.
So that completes the questioning of the dwarf barkeep. Although it was determined that he was skeptical of Loffler in general, he was in quite a positive mood throughout the interaction – likely because the mayor’s missing daughter reminded him of his own missing daughter. Perhaps that life event is what brought on the dwarf’s negative attitude in the first place and led him to joining that secret cult. All of that is very “meta,” of course, but it does give some nice, interesting depth to this NPC who was rather unhelpful otherwise.
Questioning of Idet the Halfling
Up next, I think Loffler will question the halfling, Idet. For her, I am going to skip the bulk of the narrative and just write up a summary of the interaction at the end – almost as if Loffler is writing up a report after the fact.
Step 1: Let’s get Idet’s basic Personality traits first, using UNE: Glum Recluse. Okay, well that certainly doesn’t sound like someone with a positive attitude so I will use the Generally Negative category of the NPC Personality Table as I did with the dwarf. 1d100=24 – so her Personality Modifier is -3. The random donjon description of her says that she is seeking a wizard to apprentice under. It would, once again, be very “meta” to theorize about this, but maybe that is why Idet is so glum – she can’t find a wizard to mentor her which is preventing her from pursuing her passion.
Step 2: For the PC Reputation Modifier, Idet’s random probability of knowing who Loffler is equals 1d100=42. So does she know about him? 1d100=21. Yes. This time I will use the Neutral/Ambiguous part of the Personality Modifier Table since there doesn’t appear to be an obvious conflict between Loffler’s mission and Idet’s personality or goals. 1d100=57 which gives a modifier of 0.
Step 3: All together, Idet’s Attitude modifier is -3+0=-3 and, just like the dwarf, views Loffler with skepticism.
Step 4: How about her mood? Rolling on the Mood Table, 1d100=08, which on the corresponding row for her -3 Attitude Modifier means she will appear to be suspicious (-3) of Loffler and his questioning.
Now onto Idet’s responses…
Idet’s Response to Loffler’s Introduction: 1d20-3=5 (Special Action +2), Special Action: 1d12+2-3=2 (Insults/Mocks PC). What a great start to the conversation. Since Idet knows the case Loffler is working on, she may make a comment about why Loffler hasn’t found the girl yet implying that he sucks at his job. I think Loffler will try to make Persuasion Check to butter her up a bit and then continue on with his next question. For this Check I will use Loffler’s bonus of +2 but I will also incorporate Idet’s Mood Modifier of -3.
Loffler’s Persuasion Check: 1d20+2-3=10 (Even); Success? 1d20=17 (1,1). Yes, but…Loffler is going to have to do something in order to make Idet more cooperative. Offer to pay for her meal, maybe? Does this work? 1d100=16 (Somewhat Unlikely); 1d20-1d4=8 (1,4). No. How about 5 gold? 1d100=33 (Even); 1d20=9 (1,2). No. Will 10 gold be enough? 1d100=76 (Somewhat Likely); 1d20+1d4=12 (3,5). Yes. Okay, so at the cost of 10 gold pieces, Loffler has successfully persuaded Idet to talk with him. Mechanically, what this means is that the Likelihood that she will be cooperative increases by one rank – so normally it would be Very Unlikely that a Suspicious (-3) NPC would cooperate, but this now goes up to Unlikely.
Idet’s Response about the abandoned building question: 1d20-3=14 (Expected Action). Does she answer? (Very Unlikely increased to Unlikely); 1d20-2d4=2 (5,8). No, so she doesn’t confirm or deny that she knows anything about the abandoned house making any follow-up questions on the topic moot.
Idet’s Response about the bandit question: 1d20-3=16 (Expected Action). Does she answer? (Very Unlikely increased to Unlikely); 1d20-2d4=17 (5,6). Yes. Is her answer, “Yes?” (General Oracle); 1d100=42 (Even), 1d20=7 (1,1). No, but…she has a lead on someone else who might have seen the bandits. I won’t do this now, but I would normally generate another random NPC for this that I would seek out later for questioning if needed. Since Idet has not seen the bandits herself, the follow-up question is moot here as well.
If Idet has anything else to say, does she? (Very Unlikely due to her suspicious mood); 1d20-3d4=0 (3,4). No. (Note: Because this has nothing to do with answering Loffler’s questions, the Likelihood of this Oracle question is unaffected by the successful Persuasion Check.)
Okay that completes the questioning of Idet, a less than cooperative NPC. At least Loffler got a lead for his 10 gold pieces. If I wanted to add some more details to the conversation I could have asked some follow up questions about the new NPC: where they can be found, why does Idet think the NPC might know something etc., but based on her mood I can just assume Idet told him the minimum information needed to find the NPC and nothing else – so basically just a name and general location.
Writing up Loffler’s summary report of the interaction, it might go something like this:
Questioning of Idet the Halfling, Short Hook Tavern. The tavern owner identified Idet as something of a regular to the tavern. Dressed simply, blond hair, blue eyes. Was not very pleasant on approach and required a payment of 10 gold for her cooperation in answering questions. Had no specific knowledge of the abandoned building being used as the bandit’s hideout. Had no specific knowledge of seeing any of the bandits, but suggested I go to Location X and speak with NPC Z.
Questioning the Human Tavern Patron
I will have Loffler move on to the human tavern patron next. For her, I will simplify things even further by just randomly generating her modifiers and just rolling once or twice on the NPC Response Table to see how she reacts to Loffler’s questioning. Depending on the outcome, I may have Loffler attempt some social skill check, in which case I will roll again for a shot at a different answer. I will also roll once at the end to see if she has anything additional to say or ask of Loffler.
Step 1: This time I am not going to bother with any personality traits and will instead just randomly generate the human’s Personality Modifier using the table: 1d4=4 (Generally Positive); 1d100=58 which gives a +2.
Step 2: For the PC Reputation Modifier, the human’s random probability of knowing who Loffler is equals 1d100=93. Has she ever heard of Loffler? 1d100=14. Yes, she has heard of him also – must be a very high profile case in this town. As before, I will use the Personality Modifier Table to generate a random PC Reputation Modifier under the Neutral/Ambiguous category: 1d100=64 which gives a +1.
Step 3: Combining her Personality and Reputation Modifiers gives an overall Attitude Modifier of +2+1=+3 and she views Loffler with trust.
Step 4: The human’s mood score for this interaction will be 1d100=94. This means she will appear deferential (+4) toward Loffler.
And so begins the questioning…
So how does the human respond to Loffler’s questioning? 1d20+4=21 (Special Action +4), Special Action: 1d12+4+4=20 (Offers a gift of an object or action.) Is the thing she gives Loffler related to his investigation? (General Oracle): 1d100=16 (Somewhat Unlikely); 1d20-1d4=10 (5,6). No. Then I think she introduces herself – her name is Waru – offers Loffler a seat at her table and then offers to buy him a drink. I will have Loffler take a seat with her, but decline the drink. He asks the questions again.
How does Waru respond? 1d20+4=14 (Expected Action). Does she answer? (Near Certain because of her deferential mood); 1d20+4d4=21 (7,8). Yes.
Does she know anything about the abandoned building? (General Oracle): 1d100=73 (Somewhat Likely); 1d20+1d4=11 (2,4). Yes.
Does she know anything about the bandits? (General Oracle): 1d100=50 (Even), 1d20=12 (3,4). Yes.
It looks like Loffler has hit the jackpot here. I will use some keywords here for inspiration on what this witness knows: caravan, surpass, package, scowl. I think she saw the bandits packing up and leaving the abandoned building headed out of town. She remembers because one of them scowled at her as she passed by.
How many hours ago? I will say 3-8 hours ago seems reasonable – 1d6+2=6
Did she see the mayor’s daughter? (General Oracle): 1d100=72 (Somewhat Likely); 1d20+1d4=9 (2,2). No, but…two of them were carrying something out that looked like it could have been the size of a young child.
Did she see the bandit that Loffler previously released? (General Oracle): 1d100=84 (Somewhat Likely); 1d20+1d4=14 (2,4). Yes.
What direction were they headed? Random compass direction: 1d8=South.
If she has anything further to say, does she? (Near Certain due to her being deferential; 1d20+4d4=23 (5,11). Yes. Does she have anything else to say? (General Oracle): 1d100=24 (Somewhat Unlikely), 1d20-1d4=1 (3,6). No.
So that concludes the questioning of Waru, the human – no narrative, no summary, just a fast build of the NPC’s characteristics, a couple of Response rolls, and then a handful of Oracle questions to find out the details of the NPC’s knowledge. If I weren’t spending the time writing out all the mechanics, this whole interaction might have taken me 5-10 minutes to run through and I would be moving on to the next part of the quest: either pursuing the bandits south or seeking out Idet’s source for more information.
Questioning of the Elf
Technically, questioning the elf might be rather superfluous. Between Idet and Waru, I probably have enough leads to move forward in the investigation of the girl’s kidnapping. But I want to try to simplify the method even further by omitting the NPC Response and Action Tables all together and just relying on the NPC’s mood to interpret their response.
Step 1: Randomly determining a NPC Personality Modifier: 1d4=4 (Generally Positive), 1d100=40 which leads to a +1.
Step 2: The probability that the elf has heard of Loffler is 1d100=13. Has he? 1d100=18. No. That’s easy, then, the PC Reputation Modifier with the elf is 0.
Step 3: The elf’s Attitude Modifier is +1+0=+1 meaning he views Loffler with indifference.
Step 4: The elf’s Mood Score is 1d100=27 meaning that he appears to be withdrawn (-1).
In this case, based on the elf’s mood, I will just unilaterally decide that the elf doesn’t respond to Loffler’s questioning. He isn’t overly aggressive about declining since he is merely withdrawn, but I would say that he just wants to be left alone and asks Loffler not to bother him. I could go down the Persuasion Check road to try and coax some information out of the elf (or maybe even Intimidation), but I don’t feel I need to do that given the information gotten from the other tavern patrons. So rather than waste any more time, Loffler leaves the tavern headed toward the south to, hopefully, pick up the bandit’s trail.
And that concludes this playthrough example of my NPC Interaction Method, GoNIM. I hope it proves to be helpful in illustrating the process flow of the method and how it can be used to develop varying degrees of interaction details. Although there are alot of component parts, I think that once you get into the groove of using it, the method becomes fairly straightforward and, dare I say, quick. Of course, that opinion is probably biased since I am the one who designed things and have already used GoNIM for several NPC interactions already so I know better than anyone how it is supposed to work.
I have a couple tweaks to this in mind that I hope to get to in 2022. A more robust mechanic to determine whether the NPC has heard of the PC and different ways to incorporate PC Charisma/Social Skill effects are two of the easier ones. My big stretch goal, though, is GoNIM 2.0 which would take this whole process and reverse it so that it starts with what is observable to the PC (the NPC’s Actions and Mood) and the other stuff (NPC Attitude, Personality, Motivations, etc) gets revealed over time. Going in this direction would alleviate some of the more “meta” issues of knowing what is going on inside the NPC’s head when the PC certainly wouldn’t have that knowledge. With most of the GoNIM tables having a probabilistic distribution, I think that this may be doable mathematically as more and more data is collected about the NPC during repeated interactions. Anyway…dreams for down the road.
Finally, thanks very much to anyone who has read this or any other part of the series. I truly appreciate the time, attention, and feedback.