Content of the article: "Variation of the “Quest-Giver NPC”"
Tl;Dr: Collaborate with a friend from outside your current campaign to play as a “guest star” quest giver NPC for a short-mid length story arc. This breaks from the monotony of DM run NPCs and helps your party treat an NPC as a real person, enriching the story line and livening up a game.
I DM for a group, and one of my players starting running his own campaign as well. While I didn’t join his game, I expressed interest in it and we talk about it frequently. Recently, he asked if I would like to roll up a character to play as an NPC in his campaign.
We did some collaboration on my backstory and how I fit into his story, and then we talked about how we would bring the party to my character. After some prep, we were ready to go.
After that, I joined his party on a 4 session arc – and it was a ton of fun. The party was able to interact with an NPC as a real person, which made the interactions feel more poignant. When my NPC failed to achieve his goal, the party genuinely cared, because I was able to role play the disappointment – and it wasn’t just the DM, again, RPing a character.
The party also had to face some interesting choices – weighting their interests as a party against my interests as the NPC. It’s harder for the party to tell the NPC that they need to kill his possessed lover when it’s not the DM running the NPC, but another player who is invested in completing his quest.
Obviously there are some scheduling considerations, some planning requirements, and the need for an open minded party who is willing to accept a stranger into their game. Additionally, the guest star needs to remember that they shouldn’t act in a manner than doesn’t allow the party to play they game they want to play; after all, its their game still, and you’re a guest!
But if you’re up for it, it can inject some energy into a game, deepen the engagement in what can sometimes be regarded as a “throw away NPC side quest,” and give the DM a chance to let someone else give the party a quest for once.
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