The 4 Sentence Tool
The 4 Sentence Tool is a quick way to describe a NPCs personality in greater detail using the 4 sentences: Fascinated by, Seduced by, Offended by and Frightened by.
Knowing more about your NPC's personality and behavioral patterns as a GM, makes it easier for you to interact with the players and create memorable NPCs.
The 4 Sentence Tool
NPCs have personalities and backgrounds just like the PCs, but creating them can be alot of work. With this simple tool, you can make interesting and unique NPCs.
The 4 Sentence Tool consists of 4 four sentences. The sentence always starts with the wording 'Fascinated by..', 'Seduced by..' and so on. The answer can be a single word like love, honor or money or a sentence to cover all the details. in some instances a single word is all that is needed and other times a more elaborate description is necessary.
Below you can read about the 4 sentences and how you can use them.
This describes the emotions, actions, items, professions or other things, that the NPC is fascinated by the most. We all have a host of stuff the fascinates us, but in this instance, it is the one thing, that dominates the thoughts and feelings of the NPC. When the thing that fascinates the NPC is shown or talked about, the NPC will react with fascination and a friendly approach toward anyone, who is displaying or mentioning it. The NPC can act in different ways like offering their assistance, daydreaming of days gone by, gifting the PCs or just by being friendly. Some NPCs can be found in the vicinity of the thing, that fascinates them and it can be the reason why they approach the PC. This can be used to instill a sense of loyalty and friendship towards a NPC.
This describes the emotions, actions, items, professions or other things, that seduces the NPC. Said in another way, this is what the NPC can be bribed with. The NPC is not only fascinated by this, but is totally absorbed. He or she will even compromise believes, favors or ideas to get the thing they are seduced by. It is a vulnerability they may be aware of or not. This can be used to blackmail or bribe a NPC, for both good and bad.
This describes the emotions, actions, items, professions or other things, that offends the NPC. This is what will make them angry, hostile, wary and even violent. It can be turned into a vulnerability, but could also be seen as a strength, if the NPCs help was needed. This can be used in another way, namely in situations where the NPC is ashamed about circumstances related to the thing they are offended by, which mean, that the reaction to being faced with it, could be anything but violently. Instead they would be sad, crying, embarrased and evasive. This can be used to hurt, provoke or get the NPCs attention in a bad way.
This describes the emotions, actions, items, professions or other things, that frightens the NPC. This is the thing that the NPC deeply fear, hates or dislikes. Fear is an irrational thing, which is tied to a feeling the NPC has. This makes them behave in unpredictable and irrational ways, often making them give up everything else, to avoid being confronted by the thing they fear. Reactions to what frightens them can be outburst of rage, endless crying, unnatural laughter, silent regression or other forms of erratical behaviour. This can be used to scare, manipulate or intimidate the NPC.
How it works..
Example: Alberto Liego is a proud member of the city watch , in the fantasy town of Viestro. He is a single, middle-aged man and the leader of the 'habour watch'. With 20 men under his command, he conducts searches on the small trading vessels on the river passing through the city, looking for contraband and makes sure, that everything is peaceful and quiet, at the local docks. His men doesn't like him very much, but Alberto is indifferent.
Alberto is fascinated by the life of the traders, sailing the river. (you could stop here or add a sentence with hows and whys or a longer description like this) Alberto always longed for the free life on the river, trading in rare and exotic goods, enjoying the sun setting over the still water, while the boat is slowly catching the mild breeze, in its pearly white sails. But, his mother was sick and needed his care, so he had to stick around, while providing for both them. The city watch was an obvious career choice and the years went by. Alberto soon became the leader of the 'habour watch', which put him closer to the river and its traders, which he always envied so much. He can often be found onboard the trading vessels, talking, laughing and enjoying a drink with the sailors, and sometimes he is just having so must fun, that he forgets to check for contraband. Even though his mother has past away, he feels that he is to old to start at new career, but it will always be a dream of his life.
Alberto is seduced by rare, exotic wine. (you could stop here or add a sentence with hows and whys or a longer description like this) The traders of the river introduced Alberto to the rare wines from the distant countries in the south at the mouth of the river. The taste was so intriquing and so exotic, that he immediately fell in love with the delicate, sweet taste. The problem with the rare, exotic wine, is that the sailors knows how much he loves it and that he drinks to much. He knows that they are bribing him and that he often will let them pass the contraband inspection, but well, you know, the wine is soo good, and you can't get it anywhere else..
Alberto is offended by people who doesn't respect his position. (you could stop here or add a sentence with hows and whys or a longer description like this) Alberto knows that he loves the rare, exotic wine and that the sailors often take advantage of him, but he is still the leader of the 'harbour watch'. He is in charge and everything is in order and nobody is going to comment on his job and descisions. Not even his own men! He have had to raise his voice a few times and fire people and worst of all, he even have had to report traders smugling contraband and send them to jail. But that is his job and you do not get to tell him, how to do it.. Even if his not doing it well..
Alberto is frightened by street performers and acrobats. (you could stop here or add a sentence with hows and whys or a longer description like this) Sometimes a ship carrying a 'floating circus' is arriving town and Alberto hates it! He is very uncomfortable around these 'strange' people who is performing their dextrous feats and mumbo-jumbo acts, while smiling their fake smiles and stealing the gold from your pockets. Normally he will try to pursuade performers arriving by boat, to just sail on, using any kind of excuse, fully showing his dislike for them. The truth behind his fear of these people, is that he many years ago, way too drunk in rare and exotic wine, was violently mugged, by a group of unfriendly acrobats from a 'floating circus'. The fear of being mugged again, while not able to defend himself, is always lingering in the back of his head. Stopping drinking to avoid a situation like this, is irrationally not an option..
The even faster option:
The 4 sentence tool can be even faster than explained above and still make for an interesting NPC:
NPC: Scott Jestin. City watch.
Fascinated by power. Seduced by Lorelei, the bard at the local tavern. Offended by shouting in the streets. Frightened by love.
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? Responses (11)
Phantastic idea. Will use it for my next NPC's and SC's too.
Thanks a lot for sharing.
With a mighty beer to cheer
Nice tool, scalable for however much NPC you need. Helps flesh out what would normally be a fly-by from a nobody, without getting bogged down into setting politics or unneeded backstory.
I like this, and I like your stuff, Clemmenson.
(I keep trying to read your name as Clemson. #Football
I've just eyeballed this and looks like a good tool for writing up NPCs in whatever length you want to write them in. Actual vote and more detailed comment to follow....
Concept: Full Point - Based on: 'Is this a good and/or interesting idea?' Hell, yes. Easy to understand, with complex possibilities. Great idea.
Craft: Half Point - Based on: 'Did I find the work free of errors and written with a reasonable level of technical proficiency?' Yes, but there are a few errors and a spot or two it could be tightened up.
Style: Full Point - Based on: 'Did the work give a good sense of the material, a 'flavor,' so to speak?' Yes. This gives a great sense of what you're going for.
Substance: Full Point - Based on: 'As a GM or Player, Can I take what's presented and run with it?' Another, 'Hell, Yes.'
Extra Mile: Full Point. Based on: 'Did the work go above and beyond in one or more of the above criteria, and/or did this piece somehow 'speak' to me in a way which is not accounted for by the four criteria?' Yes. This presents an interesting and simple way to define NPCs. For NPCs too important to be one-liners, but not important enough to merit a detailed background, this makes a fantastic middle ground which can easily be expanded on if the need arises.
4.5/5.0, and an HoH when eligible.
Now this is good.
As I said previously, good utility sub.
Very nice for creating NPCs on the run or otherwise.
This is actually a great idea. Would be neat if we could get a general list of some ideas thrown together and make a generator out of this.
This idea interests me, I will put it on my to-do list for semi-procrastination time which always come up for me. It can be another Wiki project for the Citadel.