Character Categories

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Sometimes players use the platform in a different way than we imagined — we love it when that happens, it shows us how we can make things more intuitive. Today’s main update comes as a result of some campaigns which had more NPC characters than we originally imagined — too many for RPGpad to display in a useful manner!

Of course, we cannot allow that. RPGpad shouldn’t get in the way of your campaign, and having a lot of NPCs is a very good thing: it means that the game masters have a good selection of characters their players can interact with.

So, this week we sat down to solve the problem of “too many NPCs”.


Before getting started, we investigated how characters and masks (for both PC and NPC) are handled now, with an eye towards seeing how we can rework the way we handle NPCs. One of the results of this discussion was a rough classification of the kinds of characters and masks — with a focus on NPCs.

The classifications we came up with is rough around the edges, and are not very rigorous. However, it highlights the interesting parts of the spectrum of NPCs that we want to support:

Recurring characters:

  • PC: Player characters. These are the characters directly controlled by one of the players.
  • “PC” NPC: Familiars, cohorts, followers, and other NPCs that are strongly related to a PC, and often placed under the control of the player of that PC.
  • “GM” NPC: Non-player characters that are commonly, and (almost) exclusively played by a single game master. Examples of this are often rulers, jedi masters, or other impactful NPCs that fall within the narrative scope of a single GM.

Background characters:

  • Named NPC: NPCs with a name and distinct identity, but not often interacted with, they might be one-off NPCs, or NPCs that help flesh out the world like the local innkeeper, baron or wise hermit.
  • Role NPC: NPCs without their own distinct identity, but instead taking on a role such as “Farmer”, “Tavern wench”, or “City guard”. Player characters often talk to such characters.
  • Monster NPC: These are very much like the Role NPCs, except that they are “Orc”, “Troll”, or “Dire Wolf”. They are less talked-to, and more whacked-on.
  • Free-for-all NPC: Non-player characters that are free for everyone to play. These are often newsreaders, town criers, or other ‘utility characters’.

Not characters:

  • Disguise: Not a character at all, but a disguise worn by some other character. This is the quintessential “hooded stranger” the players encounter.

With this classification in hand, we tried to match it to the way we were handling NPCs. We found that while RPGpad had good support for recurring characters, it lacked support for background characters. And, because the system did not make the distinction between recurring and background, all NPCs were listed in the masks dropdown, causing it to grow, and grow, and grow…


We have improved RPGpad’s NPC support by explicitly making the distinction between what we call Background NPCs and Recurring NPCs:

  • Recurring NPCs are those NPCs that are often used by one or more of the game masters, and as such deserve some distinction. They are available as a direct selection in the mask dropdown in the forum and the chat.
  • Background NPCs are NPCs that are not often used, but that are available nonetheless. They do not go into the dropdown itself, but can be used as an auto-completed preset for a new custom mask.

To assist the current forum campaigns, we have automatically converted the existing NPC tag to indicate background NPCs. We have also automatically added the Recurring NPC tag to all campaigns – it does exactly what it says on the tin.

The improved NPC handling is a significant upgrade for forum and chat campaigns. But it does mean that some of the campaigns might have to adjust some of their NPC pages. Mercury will be reaching out to campaigns that make heavy use of the NPC tag, to see how we can assist with the adjustments!

If you have thoughts about NPC handling, or ideas on how to go about handling followers, disguises, role npcs, or anything else, please reach out in the forums. As always we have also prepared this week’s changelog for your perusal.