What's in a name? Advice needed.


Liberty's Edge

One of the issues I have pondered over while running some Adventure Paths concerns the names and backgrounds of the various NPCs, especially enemies, the PCs confront over the course of their adventure. Many of the adversaries in Pathfinder adventures are very fleshed out, with unique names and backstory elements that are, if not relevant, extremely interesting in terms of the story or at least depth of world.

I'd like some advice on what other DMs have done to actually translate these various backstories and names to the PCs, in character. I feel like it is a waste to take an entire cast of adversaries with weird twists, cool names and other factors and turn them into simple fodder - which is often exactly how the PCs will encounter and forget them. A good example are the Kreegs from Rise of the Runelords (actually, a LOT of the adversaries in Rise) and some of the more monstrous beings from Reign of Winter. I've found inventive ways of naming and giving a bit of background on otherwise meet-and-kill encounters, like having the Rangers of Rannick give a brief on some of the Kreeg veterans, their names and appearances, and let the assumption that these two groups have been warring for a long time and have a sort of adversarial familiarity between each other.

I could use some pointers though for the future. What have you guys done in your games to get this information across - if at all? Knowledge (local) can sometimes work, and sometimes just telling the players the knowledge directly can pass, but I'm curious to other interesting and witty ways DMs have brought their NPCs to life. If a developer/contributer is around whom has worked on any of the Modules or APs, what is your assumption on getting the sometimes secret back stories of your villains into PC hands when you wrote them?

A good trick for sentient villains who can speak is to have them talk to each other and filter in plot exposition. I'm currently running Rise and when my players arrived at the Kreeg house they approached the barn first. I had sugar and the boys refer to each other and various other family members by name as well as some not to subtle hints about what they were about. After the party rescued Jakardos he gave them more intel before passing out.


Allude to the cast regularly and let the party make diplomacy/knowledge checks to help flush out more detail. Instead of just pointing out, "The locals think that the enemy is holed up on the ole Smith place," point out, "Bob used to be a lumberjack in these parts, until he fell gravely ill. He would have died had it not been for Bessie Smith. She took him in and nursed him back to health. Poor kid never really fit in anywhere else. I would be that if he were anywhere in the county, he is at the old Smith place."

Yep, just sprinkle a little and see how much they gobble up, and how much more they want or will tolerate.

Liberty's Edge

Errant, I do that quite often. Especially with the Grauls.

That's a cool idea too Akinra.

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