Hey there, everyone!

I’m taking a small break from ranting this week to talk about things that may make your life as a GM easier! Yay for a positive article!

This week, I will explain the method of NPC and Location generation that I use when I prep for a session or make things up on the fly (it’s often the latter more than the former).

The Prime Method

When I need to make a setting in a pinch, I use the Prime Method.

Here is my take on the 7-3-1 setting development method. This is called the Prime Method, as you:

Create 7 NPCs that can be used in any or most of the…

5 areas or encounters that have…

3 interesting visual/audio/scent cues when they are on camera with…

1 additional hook about the NPCs and the locations/encounters into which the players can sink their teeth. 7-5-3-1. Prime numbers, baby. Now, let’s break it down.

NPCs have the following:

  1. Name                   
  2. Motivation                   
  3. Story Details                   
  4. Sensory
  5. Details                   
  6. Interesting Hook 

Locations/Encounters have the following:

  1. Name                   
  2. Story
  3. Details                  
  4. Trouble/Hooks

*Note! – It’s best to limit each section to 1-2 sentences at most to help you churn it out and to keep things vague enough to easily adapt to your game no matter where the players take it.

See the examples below to see how it’s done!

NPCs:

Name: Kilian Herve, The corrupt sheriff of Hopelock

Motivation: To give his family the lavish life they deserve, no matter what.

Story Details: He is a very corrupt lawman, but by striking bargains and making deals with the criminal element in Maylock, the Hatchet Men, he is able to keep crime relatively low and money flowing to his pockets.

Sensory Details:

He always has some tobacco tucked under his lip and frequently spits to remind you of it.

  1. His boots don’t jingle, but his keyring with the keys to the town make a satisfying chime on the butt of his break-action pistol butt.
  2. He wears a thick, but quite loved and worn, leather duster with a dark color dress shirt underneath that has his bent and aged sheriff star pinned to, always just hidden out of view unless he wants it seen.

Interesting Hook: Though he is a very corrupt man, he, in his heart, is doing it for the right reason. He is getting old and looking for a way out of this life that doesn’t end up with him in a body bag thanks to the Hatchet Men. Maybe he will be willing to strike a deal if there is something in it to set his family up for a good life.

Locations/Encounters:

Name: Hopelock

Story Details: This is a wild west style town if it were made of sheet metal and the hope of people long dead. This place has been around since the early days of the frontier expansion this far east. The people here are as aged and worn down as the wooden structures here, sad and wanting for more. There’s a reason they call this place Hopelock.

 Sensory Details:

  1. The town smells of rust and mountain air blowing in from the east. The whole town has the slight scent of tobacco smoke throughout it as well.
  2. The place looks like a wild west town made out of scrap metal with most of the structures being older than anyone alive can remember. There is trash and sadness throughout this place
  3. The sound of the mountain wind seems to find every place it can to whistle in this small town. It would be quite serene if it weren’t being drowned out by the logging machinery and drunken madness going on in the town’s many vice businesses.

Trouble/Hooks:

  1. Corrupt sheriff looking for a way out of the life. Maybe you can help!            
  2. There is a gang of ruffians called the Hatchet Men that set up a small toll area in the middle of town in the crossroads of the town’s main roads. They require a few to use the crossroads to travel, or you can chance taking the shady alleys to get where you want to go.
  3. The town is being tested and probed by a faction of wild men in the east. There have been reports of scouts and even small attacks on the edges of the territory. Half the town thinks they’re getting ready for a siege on their home. The other half hopes they’re wrong…

This is a fun method that I default to when making a new area or important NPC for a game. Having the structure of the Prime Method has helped me streamline the preparation process and NPC generation, especially.

Hope y’all get something useful out of this!

-Rusty


P.S. Thanks to the 7-3-1 method by Jason Cordova for helping me develop my preferred method of setting development. Check out his post at https://www.gauntlet-rpg.com/blog/the-7-3-1-technique for his original article.