Stuck for an idea to spice up a scene? The PC’s wandered off alone and needs someone to encounter? The scenario has grown muddled and needs the insertion of some new characters to restore energy and get the PCs moving? Pull a card from the NPC tarot! All entries below are associated with standard playing cards for ease of making your own.
AH Robin Hood:
This ally is unfortunately engaged in justified but dangerous actions to which the PC is invited. Helping out will risk the current goals, but may pay off in the long run.
2H Enthusiastic Apprentice:
This ally is young and overly willing to help out, and will likely get in over his or her head unless carefully managed. Cultivating this child may be worth the effort.
3H Amateur Investigator: This ally is only partially clued in on the PC’s agenda, and cannot be fully brought in. He or she chafes against this secrecy, and may get into trouble trying to learn more.
4H Slumming Aristocrat:
This ally is well-intentioned but overconfident, possibly from a life of wealth or book-learning. He or she wants to help, but takes a lot for granted and assumes control.
5H The Crush:
This ally is attractive and friendly, a worthy romance for the PC, but has no idea he or she exists except when in danger. Alternatively, it may be a well meaning stalker-type for the PC.
6H Untrustworthy Ally:
This ally is ostensibly well-intentioned, but does not engender trust for some reason. Can the PC rely on the ally for aid, or is he or she co-opted by the enemy?
7H Managing Mentor:
This ally is a stay-at-home intellectual such as a scientist or academic whom the PC can frequently turn to for advice or inventions, but who might have his or her own troubles.
8H Blood Tie:
This ally is related to the character in some way, and the two acknowledge this family bond. However, blood ties do not mean the ally is not a jerk or otherwise trouble to deal with.
9H Friend in Need: This ally is a friend that has been through a lot and is totally trustworthy. However, that doesn’t mean the character isn’t constantly in danger and asks for more help that he or she gives.
10H Burdened Hero:
This ally would be an amazing help in the current situation, but is currently engrossed in his or her own problems. Can the PC help in exchange for the ally’s assistance?
JH The Comrade in Arms: This ally is a shining example of the PC’s agenda, and will support the PC with whatever is needed to accomplish it. But the ally might wind up getting all the glory.
QH The Love Interest:
This ally is the PC’s love interest, or could easily become so if circumstances allowed. Like all such relationships, the benefits demand time invested and enemies could threaten it.
KH The Trusted Leader:
This ally is in a leadership or otherwise respected position over the PC, and is ideal for the role. He or she often has a task for the player, and expects him or her to accept unquestioned.
AD Deep Throat:
This NPC claims to have secrets to share. Is he or she on the level, or is this just a ploy? How does the NPC know this secret information anyway, and why is his or her identity hidden?
2D Crazy Person:
This NPC is acting oddly and drawing attention to him or herself. Should the PC be interested in the cause, will it draw attention to the PC, or is it just a harmless weirdo?
3D Endangered Civilian:
This NPC is a normal civilian, likely a stranger or a very vague acquaintance, who is suddenly in danger or crisis at an inopportune time for the PC to lend help.
4D Attractive Distraction:
This NPC is a very attractive stranger of the PC’s preferred type. Is it suspicious in the context for such a good match? Can the PC waste time looking at or chatting up the NPC?
5D Mercenary Prodigy:
This NPC is young and highly skilled at a useful trade, but just as useful to the enemy. Should the PC take the risks of getting the kid’s aid, or risk leaving him or her unhired?
6D Eccentric Aristocrat:
This NPC is wealthy, interesting, and in the way. He or she isn’t trying to annoy, and might even be an asset in other circumstances, but right now his or her activities are hindering.
7D Local Law Enforcement:
This NPC is a representative of the law, and something has brought the PC to his or her attention. Will this result in unexpected assistance or an even greater fiasco?
8D Government Agent:
This NPC is an operative that isn’t after the PC, but is present for a reason that may be related. Should the PC try to get help from him or her, or stay under the government’s radar?
9D Retired Hero:
This NPC was once a staunch supporter of the PC’s agenda, but has lost the fire or simply can’t fight any more. Is the NPC’s potential aid worth stirring up bitter memories?
10D Mad Inventor:
This NPC is brilliant, perhaps dangerously so, in science or another studious field. He or she has created something germane to the plot, and it is up to the PC to get it.
JD The Hero at Cross Purposes:
This NPC should be a valuable ally, but his or her current goals makes the PC’s life more difficult. The problem is that the NPC’s goals are laudable to the PC.
QD The Entitled Enticement:
This NPC is aggravating and spoiled, but has something the PC desires: simple beauty or something specific the PC is seeking. Will the PC put up with the NPC for the cause?
KD The Powerful Problem:
This NPC is a man or woman of power, neutral between the PC and enemies. Should the PC attempt to sway the NPC to the cause, or simply keep him or her neutral?
AS Oliver Twist:
This foil is a young, talented thief, of goods or information, that has happened across the PC and caused affront. Can the PC punish a child? Is it worth turning the kid to the PC’s agenda?
2S Antagonistic Civilian:
This foil is a common stranger, unrelated to anything, but something the PC has done causes loud and aggrieved offense. How will the PC deal with a pointless, escalating situation?
3S Unhelpful Resource:
This foil is a source of valuable information or aid for the PC, but is very reticent to provide the necessary aid. Convincing the NPC to help out will require serious effort.
4S Incompetent Hero:
This foil is aligned with the PC’s agenda, deadly serious about helping, and has the support of other allies. He or she is simply trouble, though, and would be more useful elsewhere.
5S Amoral Mercenary:
This foil doesn’t care either way about an agenda, and will simply work for either side, whoever pays more. He or she is powerful enough to be risk if left to work for the enemy.
6S Allied Opposition:
This foil share’s the PC’s agenda but deeply dislikes his or her methods. The NPC will work almost as hard to stop or change the PC as to deal with the enemy.
7S Millstone Celebrity:
This foil is important to the PC’s allies in some way, very notable and spoiled, and will cramp the PC’s style in every way. Can the PC tolerate the celebrity long enough to meet the goal?
8S Interested Officer:
This foil is a law enforcer or other authority that has taken a deep interest in the PC’s methods and activities. If the PC is above-board, he or she has a mistaken bad impression.
9S Fatal Attraction:
This foil is attractive, the PC’s preferred type, and tempting to romance, but is committed to the enemy’s agenda. Can he or she be suborned, or will doing so be a distraction?
10S Aristocrat Criminal:
This foil is a privileged criminal nominally against the PC (either through alliance or as a target of opportunity). But, given something more interesting, he or she might change sides.
JS The Chief Rival:
This foil should by the PC’s perfect partner, but he or she is more interested in glory and acclaim, and will go out of the way to hurt the PC to gain the greater share from their leaders.
QS The Forbidden Fruit:
This foil is the child or spouse of a disapproving ally or the enemy leader, but very attractive; attempting to woo or just befriend him or her may deeply hurt the PC’s agenda.
KS The Problem Superior:
This foil is in a position of authority over the PC or his or her allies, and is incompetent or otherwise terrible to work for. Can the PC suborn his or her control to succeed?
This enemy is no match for the PC in a direct confrontation, but is incredibly smart and manipulative. He or she always has a plan and often has many minions for protection.
2C Dumb Mook:
This enemy is the least of the opponent’s troupe, and is only dangerous if carefully directed by a smarter foe. Alone, he or she can easily be outwitted.
3C Lazy Thug:
This enemy is simple support for the enemy, not lacking in brains but lacking in ambition. He or she is not much of a threat unless motivated by other foes or harming the PC is easy.
4C Distracted Guard:
This enemy is typically placed between the PC and his or her goal, but either is unaware of being in the way or not paying much attention. Getting by through stealth should be easy.
5C Angry Enforcer:
This enemy is a fairly potent member of the enemy’s agenda, though not powerful enough for the big time. He or she has something to prove by harming the PC.
6C Cowardly Sycophant:
This enemy is highly placed amongst the PC’s foes, but primarily through bootlicking. Very petty while in power, the NPC could be easily intimidated when alone.
7C Evil Scientist:
This enemy is a brilliant intellectual with his or her full powers turned towards helping the PC’s opposition and supporting its agenda. He or she will probably have unusual resources.
8C Turn Coat:
This enemy is either currently pretending to by the PC’s ally, or was an ally until recently. He or she is optimally placed to backstab and reveal secrets if not dealt with in time.
9C Sacrosanct Foe: This enemy has some quality that gives the PC pause in direct opposition, but is unlikely to be turned to the PC’s agenda. Destroying this foe will destroy something in the PC.
10C Silent Killer:
This enemy works through stealth and competence, and the PC may be unaware of the threat until too late. He or she will avoid an open confrontation, instead waiting for the right moment.
JC The Enemy’s Champion:
This enemy is the greatest asset to the PC’s opposition, and unflappably loyal. He or she may be more than a match for the PC, making direct antagonism a difficult proposition.
QC The Antagonist’s Aide:
This enemy is a highly placed trusted advisor and/or lover of the PC’s chief opponent. Suborning or seducing him or her might seem attractive, but is harder than it looks.
KC The Ultimate Foe:
This enemy is PC’s true opposition. While perhaps not directly more powerful than the PC, resources close the gap. Defeating this individual is ultimately required to meet the PC’s goals.
J1 The Enigmatic Problem:
This stranger appears from nowhere and works very hard to derail the PC’s plans, despite not being allied to the enemy. Who is this new foe, and what is his or her agenda?
J2 The Unexpected Ally:
This stranger appears with an important bit of wisdom, assistance, or material aid, despite the PC not knowing who he or she is. Why has this individual chosen to help?