UK Games Expo Seminar 2017

Paul attended the UK Games Expo in Birmingham recently. While he was there, he took part in a seminar about running horror games, with Mike Mason and Lynne Hardy. Unfortunately, neither Matt nor Scott could make it, but we were there in spirit.

If you squint hard enough, you can see our astral forms pulling faces behind Paul’s back.

We recently bought a Zoom H6 Handy Recorder to make it easier for us to record field pieces at conventions. This seminar was its first official outing and we were rather pleased with the results. Expect to hear more from it when we visit Necronomicon in Providence later this year.


Portraying Memorable Non-Player Characters

We’re back and we’re putting on silly voices, adopting exaggerated mannerisms and making life as miserable as possible for the player characters. In other words, we’re playing NPCs. This is the follow-up to our discussion last episode about creating memorable non-player characters. Now we’re offering advice on how to bring these NPCs to life at the gaming table.

Some gaming tables are better suited to this than others.

Ideally, portraying NPCs should involve shifts of accent, mannerisms, body language and speech patterns. Not everyone has the skills necessary to do all these things, however. Most GMs at least have some archetypes that they can fall back on, but it is rare to find one who is a truly gifted mimic or trained actor. With this in mind, we offer tips about portraying NPCs for GMs of all skill levels.

Most GMs would be happy with a dozen character types to call upon. Having a thousand faces just seems greedy.

When discussing how powerful NPCs could overshadow player characters, we mention of the excellent web comic, DM of the Rings. We seem to remember that Gandalf was a bit like this in the strip. That said, it is around 10 years since any of us read it, so maybe we’re misremembering. Even if we are, the comic is still well worth reading.

In the news segment, we mention that Now We Are The Sons Of God, Scott’s Victorian Cthulhu Dark mini-campaign, is now an offical a stretch goal for the Cthulhu Dark Kickstarter. If you’re reading this on the day the episode drops, you still have three days to back it if you’d like to see this happen.

We also mention Danial Carroll’s blog, Brawl of Cthulhu, where he delves into the monsters of the Mythos. You can find over 100 entries there, offering ideas about how to make use of all these beasties.

Speaking of sanity-blasting horrors beyond human comprehension, we sing again in this episode. Two generous souls have offered up their names to the blasphemous altar of our voices, so we sing their praises. Or croak them. Or something. In case this needs explanation, when someone backs us on Patreon at the $5 level, this is how we thank them. We are not good people.

Creating Memorable Non-Player Characters

We’re back and we’re poring over stat blocks, writing up physical descriptions and searching the internet for names. This is the first of two episodes about NPCs. Our focus this time is on how we create non-player characters that our players will remember (probably with muttered curses) for years to come. Next episode delves into techniques for bringing these characters to life at the gaming table.

We make no guarantees about freshness.

Non-player characters are arguably the most important and versatile tool available to GMs. They allow us to give out information, provide conflict, introduce comic relief or generally be dicks to our players. Most importantly, they allow us to do these things in character. It’s always nice to have a chance to do some roleplaying in a roleplaying game!

Although tormenting the players over bad rolls can be almost as much fun.

In our discussion, we try to define the broad types of NPCs we find useful in games, talk about possible sources of inspiration, mention a few useful resources and figure out what exactly we need to prepare in advance.

Notes from one of Scott’s scenarios pictured for reference.

This episode’s news segment is a little different than usual. Matt is in the process of moving house, so we couldn’t get together to record our normal last-minute inserts. Paul has picked up the slack and recorded the segment single-handedly, giving us a brief overview of his adventures at this year’s UK Games Expo.  There is also an update on the ongoing Kickstarter campaign for the new Cthulhu Dark corebook, mostly taking the form of an extended interview with Graham Walmsley, which you can find at the end of the episode.

The other casualty of our inability to record inserts was the usual thanks to our wonderful, generous Patreon backers. This is just a delay, however. We still have a new $5 Patreon backer to thank, and we are warming up our vocal chords in anticipation. You don’t escape our singing that easily!