@EpicFail. Are you familiar with Sergeant York, especially as played by Gary Cooper? He was a conscientious objector who was drafted into the US Army. He was also a crack shot with a rifle, a skill learned as a hunter. He was in a situation where he had to kill the enemy to save the lives of his men during WWI. The movie portrays well his difficulty in making the decision to kill.
Consider making your NPC more or less flavorless. Let the PCs provide the flavor; the NPC provides the beef. A cool interesting NPC can detract from the players' characters.
If you want a little more interaction between the NPC and the PCs, try giving the NPC a quirky characteristic such as a mannerism, a catch phrase, a magic item that only they can use, or a pet hamster.
To make it even easier for yourself, you might try using one of the iconic characters; for example, Imri the barbarian or Valeros the fighter. Stats are available in the NPC Codex for levels 1, 7, 12.
First session went incredibly well. Many of the suggestions were used or inspired ideas that were used. Here's a brief recap. Note that the players and I worked together to frame the setting and flavor.
Two monks (human, brothers, raised in a cloistered monastery never having stepped out of the monastery walls) were summoned by the master who charged them to follow a thief who sneaked into the monastery the night before and stole the dragon scroll, a scroll contained mystic secrets whose case could only be opened by one who had achieved complete enlightenment and and had yet to be opened.
Recognizing their ignorance of the outside world, they asked the elder who leads the nearby village to suggest a guide. This guide is a 53 year old female gnome ranger who has traveled a bit and is currently living in the village making a living hunting and trapping for the monastery. This character is the third of three players.
Following clues they obtained by talking to villagers, they get a description of his footwear and the ranger spots matching tracks leading from the village and they follow.
The next encounter is the expected self appointed toll collectors, a group of six ne'er do wells. Two of them are sporting bandages from recently received injuries. Some confusion arises when the monks do not understand why anyone would want bits of metal and why using a road has a price. After a bit of a tussle, preceded by comments between the monks about the toll collectors' poor fighting stances and complete lack of proper balance,the brigands are eventually "convinced" to be and describe a run-in with a lone traveler the night before. In addition to wounds they received from this traveler, the ruffians had obtained another clue, a piece of paper that had been torn from the intended victim. This they provided to the party.
Their next encounter was not until they arrived at the small town they had followed the tracks to. Yes, they ended up at a tavern (nods to GM Armadillephant). Instead of a drinking game, they were introduced to the shell game. Rather than fortitude saves, their advantage came from having high perception modifiers, foiling the swindler's attempted sleight of hand. The amusing twist was they assumed this was part of the game and not cheating, so they complimented him on his adroit maneuvering of the coin into his sleeve when they were asked where the coin was. Nonplussed, the swindler gave them their coin and the matching one they won and scurried out of the tavern. This earned the favor of the tavern owner who suggested who they could approach for help identifying the thief, the leader of the local crime gang (not really a guild).
A lot of role playing went into the encounter with the leader, after besting some thugs unsuccessfully sent to discourage them from bothering him. The politeness and innocence of the monks turned into an asset for them as they talked to him, for he helped them determine that the thief is likely heading to a port about 5 days ride away and set out. (And, yes, thanks to Broken, there will be pirates involved...)
Wanting to use Ciaran Barnes' suggestion about wanting to help those in need, I am looking for more ideas. They need to be obvious and quickly resolvable so as to not delay them too much. (Oh, CB, my kids would definitely NOT open the scroll, including the gnome.)
Ideas about further trail clues are also welcome.
Thanks to all,
Oh my goodness. These are awesome! I apologize that I'm not proficient with these boards to quickly quote the stuff that especially resonates.
Here is some of the ideas that are congealing based on the suggestions so far:
Definitely want the thief and theft to be real.
The kung fu panda influence is more thematic than anything else. We are going full fantasy in other respects.
I have to go for now but wanted to express my appreciation for the help so far. More ideas than what I referenced are inspiring.
I'll be back in a few hours.
Cheers and thanks,
I am starting a new campaign in a generic setting and looking to the online community to be my muse. I will be the DM, the three players are my kids ages 14 through 20; the youngest is the only girl. She will be a ranger; her brothers will both be monks.
Influences: Kung Fu Panda; Circle of Iron; Kung Fu; anything Jackie Chan
The monk players are really in to roleplaying the naivete of their characters: what are some social encounters that could prove enjoyable?
What is motivating the thief?
What does everyone think of this idea? There is no relic: this is how the elder monks give the younger monks experience and knowledge of the outside world. Would this be too disappointing once learned? Does the ranger know the truth and "find" the trail of the "thief"? (One player knowing a secret the others do not will not cause group dynamic problems in this case.)
Obsessed with the number 6. Wears six rings. Will not dine unless there are six people at the table. Has a carriage pulled by six horses. Being only 5'8", wears 4" platform boots to be an even six feet tall. When walking up stairs will duplicate steps to make the total number divisible by six. Has six children (how did that happen?). And so on.
Another only speaks in Haiku.
Aversion to the color green. Her garden is "different" to say the least.
Assumes everyone is a servant regardless of their actual rank.
Only casts spells that start with the letter "S".
Believes an imaginary person lives in their finger. (Mr. Bimble from Muppet treasure island.)
Phobias, but to odd things such as facial hair or trees.
It just bugs me that you guys charge money for little things that really should be included with the books for free.
"really should"? Define should. A more accurate statement for you might be to replace "really should" with "I really want to".
Considering how many posts suggested you pay for these "little things", perhaps you should reconsider your sense of "should".
I have a small drawstring bag I have filled with gems obtained from a local rock shop. I toss it out when the party finds some.
Similarly the bag filled with coins makes an impressive sound when tossed on the table.
Another variant on the parchment: scorch regular paper using an iron. Draw your map using water soluble ink and smear sections with water--looks like an authentic damaged map and can frustrate the players (often desirable).
I have a hat I don when acting as a specific NPC. Similarly I hold a rod when acting as a different one. Can get amusing when the two are conversing with each other.