Sunday, 14 November 2010

Random NPC traits tables

For some time I've been wanting to create some random tables to help with quick & easy generation of NPCs, specifically for potential hirelings which PCs might encounter. My first stab at this was, inspired by the NPC personality tables in the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, to create a whole array of tables for determining everything about a character's apppearance - ranging from height and build, to hair style and colour, to dress. I had a lot of fun doing this, but after demonstrating the system to my girlfriend it soon became clear that it wasn't really very practical to use. (She asked me how I'd spent my evening, and I told her I'd been making up tables of random facial hair styles - I like making fun of the absurdity of this hobby!) So I gave her a quick demonstration, rolling on each of the tables to see what kind of character came out. After a string of 'average' results, her comment was "that's a pretty boring guy". A point well made! Of course my instinct had been to make kind of 'realistic' tables, mostly based on 3d6 rolls, with the middle values representing the average and the extreme values more unusual characteristics (very tall, very thin, very strong, etc) - using the bell curve as it was intended. But, as my quick demonstration pointed out, what's the sense in rolling on 15 tables if most of the results come out average (which they generally will)?

I then realised that what I actually wanted was a table or two just containing the interesting bits - just the extreme values of the original tables. So here's the results - two d100 tables, one for physical traits, one for personality traits. I've found that a couple of rolls on each table can really quickly generate some pretty evocative springboards for NPC descriptions - exactly what one needs in the situation where three 'fighters' reply to a PC's advert for henchmen. The tables are designed for Savage Worlds, and refer to the Edges and Hindrances of that system, but really they're pretty generic. You can download the PDF here: NPC Traits.

(Note: I didn't mention it in the PDF, but the physical traits table is clearly aimed at male characters - it's full of beards and hairy chests! The intention was that such results would be rerolled for (most) female characters.)

Any comments / thoughts / suggestions are most welcome!


  1. Good tables! May I also recommend the following:

    - The random relationships-between-characters table.

    - The random headgear table!

    The latter may be the best table ever created for an rpg.

  2. I know - The headgear chart is amazing isn't it! Next D&D character I roll up (somewhen)...

    I wasn't so keen on the random relationships chart, as, in a mostly male RPG group (ie the norm, apparently), I can forsee it prescribing far too many homosexual relationships between PCs to be realistic! ;) Not that I have anything against homosexual relationships, I hasten to point out, and as a one off between two PCs that'd be pretty interesting, but it'd be all too common with that table!

  3. I hadn't thought of that, but you may be right.


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