Game Story:
Non-Player Characters and Villians
by SeiferTim : 11 March 2004

It's time for the 5th installment of my tutorial, and hopefully everyone is learning from it... a little bit... right? Okay.

Here, we're going to talk about Non-Player Characters (NPCs), and Villians. as you may have guessed, NPCs are characters that the player does not control, but interact with the PCs somehow. Most game genres will benefit from this section, but, again, due to the in-depth story developments of the RPG type, I'm going to end up focusing on them once again. An RPG will usually have hundreds of NPCs, and at least one major Villain, with lots of henchmen. When I refer to Villians, I'm only talking about the characters that play a large role in the game, and seem to have vicious hatred for the PCs, not just every boss the player faces. The Dragon at the end of the cave who pops out of no where, and is killed by the PCs after a long, and grueling battle, while considered a Boss, is not a Villain.

For the most part, most NPCs the PCs will encounter are going to be your average townspeople, walking around town, and giving out semi-helpful one-liners of information. They don't need a lot of details. The NPCs you'll want to focus on, are the ones that will play some kind of important role in the story. A good place to start with your NPCs is by thinking a little bit about your story in general.

For the most part, you'll want to build up your NPCs in a similar manner to the way you made your PCs, but you won't necessarily have to go into too much detail... Some good examples of NPCs would be:

  • Cid from FFV
  • Regis the Mayor from Star Ocean 2
  • O'aka from FFX-2
  • Red XIII's Grandfather from FFVII

Those are just a couple of good NPCs, there are a bunch others out there.
When building your NPCs, try to give everyone a little bit of history, even if it's pretty basic. Sometimes an NPC's history can be turned into a plot line of some kind....

NPCs help to fill your world with life, and add a touch of believability to your story, but Villians add a touch of chaos, and evil to balance out the world. Plus, Villians can be lots of fun to create!!

Creating a Villain can be done in only a few easy steps:

  • Name - I tend to start with the name, and build from there... sometimes, though, I change it a couple times before finding something that sticks. Good villian names are very ominous. Lets make our example's name something freaky, like: Valouse
  • Basic Description - Describe your villain - sketch them out... make them look sinister, and decide what their personality is like on a basic level. I want Valouse to be female, and wear lots of dark red/black armor with spikes, and things.
  • Obsession - All villains are obsessed with something , whether it's a person, an item, or a location, or whatever - the best villains will stop at nothing to obtain what they are obsessed with. Some good examples: Sephiroth (FFVII), was obsessed with becoming an omnipotent being. Kefka (FFVI), was obsessed with obliterating all life, and the classing Bowser (About every Mario Game) was obsessed with the Princess, for some inter-species breeding... or something.... Sometimes, it's a good idea to gradually reveal the Villians obsession over time, let the player try to figure it out on their own. For our example, lets make Valouse obsessed with a certain magical item... um.. lets see.... she's looking for an ancient relic that will allow her to rule the world. Sounds a little cliche-esque, but, no matter.... good enough for me.
  • Resources - A villain can't be really nasty if they've only got the clothes on there back, and $2.40 in change, most every villain seems to have nigh-infinite resources, and loads of henchmen. For instance, our ol' pal Sephiroth Had a bunch of Followers, and his Mam to help him slow down the heroes' progress... not to mention some backing from Shinra. He wasn't going to be found easily. For some reason, most villains seem to have a lot of extra cash laying around, it seems to make them more viscious. You'll want to decide just how powerful your villain's going to be... and how much they have to spend. Lets make our baddie be in charge of a large group of warriors from a northern countries. She's sort of like Ghengis Khan, in a sense, only more sophisticated. She is able to call on her troops for support, and she has a large amount of funds (from their hording) to use as needed.
  • Mania - While this can (and usually is) tied in to their Obsession, most Villians have a level of insanity to go with it. It's hard to find out where the line is, between obsession and insanity, but it can be fun to play with the line a little... kefka (FFVI) was absolutely insane, and that freaking laugh of his was bone-chilling... even in the days of the ol' Super NES. Let's say that our Villain hates wildlife, and wants to raze the forests, and build massive cities of iron and steel to cover the world.
  • Power - Here you want to have fun. Most every major villain has some sort of ungodly power, which gives them the edge, and the terrifyingly strong attacks... Sephiroth sort of had Meteor's power to call upon, among other powers at his disposal. you never see a villain who is clearly weak, and powerless (at least not unless their faking). Our villain will have the power of (once she locates it) the Ancient Relic, but in the meantime, her arsenal consists of the ability to build terrifying robotic, and sentient creations of destruction to do her bidding.

And that's about the jist of it! Try making your Villians someone that wll scare the crap out of you, or try another method, and make them someone you would perhaps idolize, until they show you their 'other side'... and you'll be on your way to making worthwhile villains in no time!!

Next Section - Part 6: The Plot



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