NPC’s are the greatest resource the GM has for running his game, moving his stories and adventures along, for providing the impetus for the PC’s to get involved, to make them care. NPC’s are the key to the GM’s enjoyment of almost pure pleasure in unadulterated roleplaying. Unless somehow instigated by the presence or actions of the PC’s, the GM gets to roleplay most of his NPC’s completely free of the demands and strictures of rules and game mechanics, because most of what they do is give the PC’s information or local color.
NPC’s really have no need of rules or mechanics as the PC’s know them. They generally have little or no need of AV’s and BP’s, armor and weapons unless they actually enter the fray, which few ever do. The great detail in which the PC’s are created is to ensure that the players know to a fine measure the limits of their characters’ abilities, capabilities, and knowledge. NPC’s are not generally in the PCs’ view long enough for that level of detail to be needed, even if they have been in and out of the PCs’ lives for years of gametime. What tools a NPC needs the GM can simply say they have at hand and they do, because it is part of who they are, and in most domestic uses or easy tests of their skills they can succeed by the GM’s caveat to move the story along, the GM need merely note that he had the NPC use that ability or knowledge so he can be consistent with the roleplaying of the NPC later. They can be developed on the fly, as the GM plays them, as they are needed. They are the vehicles for him to tell his side of the stories, the adventures he writes, before the PC’s get to jump in and muck about trying to influence the outcome.
But what makes a PC a PC and a NPC a NPC?
Certainly a higher than average score in one or more attributes, and in many cases at least one extraordinary score, are aspects of the characters that sets PC’s apart from the NPC common folk who populate the game world around them. PC’s are exceptional in one way or another. Special skills, or a wider variety of them than might normally be seen in the average NPC, are another feature that sets PC’s apart from the common run of (NPC) people of the wider gameworld. While there are those who practice the PC trades with the same portfolio of skills as a PC, most NPC’s make their living in the world from a much smaller array of skills, sometimes even just a single skill for a trade.
The great majority of the NPC’s populating the GM’s gameworld will fall into the Stations of the Commoner Classes, mostly farmers, husbandmen, and also craftsmen of the various sorts described under that Trade description. The vast majority of the gameworld will be concerned with mundane things such as ploughing, sowing, hoeing, reaping, harrowing, threshing, raising livestock, birthing their young, milking cows and sometimes sheep and goats, churning the butter, making cheese, butchering those beasts that cannot be sold or kept and fed through the winter, salting meat, cooking, trading for household needs and pursuing household crafts, keeping their houses clean, and the like. These make up the world of the common folk, the greater part of the GM’s world. Growing or raising food and making their houses more comfortable, getting married and having a new generation to pass it all down to are at the root of almost everything they do, their greatest priorities. This is why the Trades engaged in these activities will dominate among NPC’s.
This shows that the NPCs’ interests tend to be narrower in scope, generally lacking the fire and curiosity of most PC’s, further aspects that divide NPC’s from PC’s. NPC’s are almost by definition more content with their lives and the state of the world in which they live than the average PC, lacking undue curiosity into the why’s behind the status quo of the natural or even social and political world in which they live.
None of these facets is sufficient alone to make a NPC a NPC and a PC a PC, though, but really all of them combined. The factor though that sets a NPC apart from PC most definitively is the fact that they are ALL played by the GM, rather than by any other individual player in the game, for whatsoever period of time they remain in the company of the PC’s. In effect, the NPC gets alot less attention than a PC, because there are FAR more NPC’s in the gameworld for the GM’s consideration than just the players’ PC’s.
The GM does not have the luxury or opportunity to concentrate on one single character, as the other players do with their characters. He doesn’t get the opportunity to hone his concept of each NPC’s character the way they do, to develop each one and have them all show consistent and constant gradual growth and change. NPC’s are not normally around the PC’s, or “on stage”, long enough for this to take place. Though for the occasional NPC who remains in play for a while the GM may get to lavish a little more attention. Even when they are, they are usually of the nature of servants and/or hirelings who generally are hired for their (domestic) skills not necessarily their personalities, and who do not generally have alot to say about the proceedings or events transpiring around them as play progresses, at least not once the PC’s have given them their instructions. A very few may be authority figures of one sort or another, local or regional, or even great palatine noblemen, the PC’s must face now and again to account for themselves or their actions. The latter can be most fun. The GM has the additional hurdle to his really digging into the development of any NPC by the constant diversion of his attention to such things like game mechanics and the tasks required to actually run the game.
Having a PC-caliber NPC in the party of PC’s for the GM to “play” as he would if he were a player, as some GM’s will do, amounts to nothing more than fence-sitting, just wrong, and in the end, bad for the game. In a roleplaying game one either runs an individual character or one runs the game, seeing all the props and smoke and mirrors behind the scenes necessary to create and maintain the illusion for the others, knowing all the secrets and surprises that lie in store. The GM actually has tasks and worries enough in just writing the stories and running the game for the other players without compounding the difficulties by distracting himself with a major NPC of PC caliber who is constantly “on stage”. There is simply too much temptation for the GM to show “his character’s” cleverness by having him “discover” the greater part of the dangers and pitfalls in any given adventure, making the game too easy for the PC’s, stealing their thunder, so that all-too-soon they resent the GM’s interference in the progress of the game. And in the same vein, if the GM has a character in the game and he doesn’t provide a constant safety net for the PC’s so they always succeed, they will eventually resent it for the fact that they will assume that he is holding out on them in some way, putting the PC’s in harm’s way.
The GM must be content to develop his NPC’s through what exposure they get in the game naturally, not by foisting them off on the PC’s. When the NPC’s are not directly involved, the GM should think about what they have been doing, where they have been, and their parts in the overall scheme of things and try to reason out how events would have affected them according to their natures, dispositions and general character and jot down a few notes about them through the course of the game. Then the challenge becomes showing these changes in later encounters for the benefit of the PC’s in a natural manner, through roleplaying them, rather than reading the facts to them like a cold and bloodless briefing.
The GM should consider that the WHOLE WORLD in which his game is set is his character. The physical environment of the world and ALL the other people in it besides the PC’s themselves are HIS, right down to the weather. It is his responsibility, his and his alone, to make it live and breathe, by weather effects and lighting to manipulate mood, and through every NPC he uses to push the storyline a little further along. Any time the GM wants to set up a situation for an adventure or a full campaign, the characters the GM creates to explain that situation and the positions of all the parties involved, all of the back-story and exposition, these are all his NPC’s, But aside from these, their servants, retainers, agents, and whathaveyou, all the common folk of the gameworld the PC’s see out in the fields growing the grain to feed the town they are approaching, these are all the GM’s characters, also.
A NPC fully developed and detailed in the same manner as a PC will only rarely be needed. The GM will have to determine whether or not actual attribute scores will be needed for the NPC’s he employs when he is bringing a NPC into his game. Most often only limited aspects of an NPC will be needed, according to his role in the game, the uses to which he will be put. Only those who will get physical in play need physical scores, especially those who will see combat. Those who will be employed as a resource for a skill or skills they possess only need those attribute scores that affect that skill(s).
In the same manner as generating a PC, the GM will have to figure out the race of the NPC he is creating first. In most cases, the GM will already know this, but it is possible, and in many cases probable, that race will be irrelevant, just an interesting detail. It is one of the most readily discerned traits when meeting someone new, so the GM should have that information available soonest.
The table following is provided for the GM’s convenience for generating a race result when creating any NPC’s whose race is not already known. The GM will note that in order to properly represent the demi-humans as the mere trace they are in occurrence it was necessary to increase the normal d100 to d1000. For this, simply add another d10 or d20 to the two rolled for d100 to achieve a result for the 100’s place as well as the 10’s and 1’s.
If pumathars and/or irdanni or any of the other races are to be omitted from the GM’s game or current campaign due to lack of presence in the geographical region of his gameworld, the percentages shown for them on the table should simply be added to that shown for humans.
Random NPC Races
|01 – 20||Dwarf|
|21 – 40||Elf|
|42 – 00||Human|
Tables representing regional variations in populations of the various races in the GM’s own gameworld will eventually be needed, as the table provided here is rather generic in its balance – good for getting a feel for global proportions of the races, but insufficient really for dealing with regional variations in those populations. The GM should come up a collection of tables of his own to more accurately represent the presence of the various races, breaking down the presence of the various races in each distinct region of his game world.
Making the Grade
For the GM’s convenience, he should sort through NPC’s according to their use. Taking the point of view of theater or film, they will be referred to as either main characters, supporting characters, minor characters, or walk-ons.
Main characters should be just that, people (NPC’s) who are central or pivotal to the events of an adventure, but more commonly to an entire campaign. They are fully developed and detailed in the same manner as a PC and more, from attribute scores to Trade, skills, equipment, wealth, influence, property and resources, household, and the like. The GM must be prepared for the possibility of main characters seeing many types of play, from simply social interaction with the PC’s to a test of skills, or even physical combat. They will always have AT LEAST one above-average attribute score. They can either be co-protagonists working side-by-side with the PC’s or antagonists working against them, but their importance and the degree to which the GM has developed a NPC of this caliber may be hidden and remain completely unknown to the PC’s, either temporarily until that knowledge comes to light or permanently. Arch-enemies and nemeses and any other similar recurring characters the GM employs will always be of this category. Particularly in campaign play, it is quite possible for more than one such character to be in play at once, especially in the case where the Bad Guy the PC’s are facing off against is plural, as in an “evil” cartel or council which must be exposed and broken. The members may not all be of equal importance in the plot, except perhaps by turns, but they will all be main characters.
The wealth and personal resources of main NPC’s are discussed at length later in the chapter, but also in the chapter on adventures and Booty.
Supporting characters are those on whom the main characters will depend. They are generally the household officers such as chamberlains, stewards, marshals, and the like, captains or sergeants of the guard, the lieutenants, major domo’s, or even business partner, personal servants or secretaries, lovers or sidekicks serving those on whom the GM’s plots hinge. There will usually be a number of supporting characters for every main character, recurring in the course of the game in the same way. Supporting characters are the ones dealing directly with the main characters in whatever capacity, and in turn commanding the lackeys, guards, servants, who will usually be minor characters. They give the orders to the lesser characters and will usually be found leading them in any group actions or appearances, directing them to carry out the main character’s will to best effect. When there is a conflict they direct the help in attacking and providing defense on behalf of the main character, covering the main character’s retreat or facilitating his escape, as needed.
The personalities of supporting characters are just as important as those of the main characters. In many instances they will actually see more use in actual roleplay with the characters than the main characters, for their position and personalities determine the way they look at the world, the methods they prefer and how subtle they are about their work. The more often they are employed, the more opportunity the GM will have to develop the supporting character, and the better the PC’s will be able to get to know him at the same time, particularly if their relationship to him isn’t particularly confrontational or adversarial.
Major scenes or confrontations in the course of a campaign and especially individual adventure story-lines often hinge on one or more supporting characters. A supporting character may be built into a campaign as the weak link for the PC’s to discover and exploit.
The NPC’s serving the PC’s themselves, if they take any on, will fall somewhere between supporting and minor character status. All NPC’s who live with the PC’s and travel with their train, in their retinues, but only those who are the equivalent of personal servants, private secretaries, or household officers – a steward or bailiff to order one or two servants who might also act as personal secretary to one of the PC’s, a valet if the PC master is a gentleman, or Squire if the PC is a Knight, a husbandman to travel along with them as their marshal to keep the horses, hawks, and hounds, or the like. These will see alot of play and the GM will need to keep them in mind for they will need to be developed so the PC’s get a good feel for their skills, abilities, and personalities. If the GM keeps portraying NPC’s in these roles the PC’s do not get along with, the GM may well end up having to generate a number of candidates until he comes up with a type the PC’s like and can trust. Of course, the GM also has the opportunity to shape the NPC’s character so it suits the PC’s from the beginning so he can avoid this. Bringing such a character into play with a pre-established history will cover a multitude of sins, as by doing so provides a past history on which to base trust which allows the NPC a little more latitude as long as he does not forget his place entirely and continues to prove his thoughtfulness, usefulness, and loyalty.
Unlike main characters, the wealth and personal resources of supporting characters will not be as important as those of their masters or main character associates, often times their resources will depend directly on the main character in whose household they live and are maintained. weapons, gear, small personal effects, and a few coins on the purse is likely all that will be needed for them. The details of this sort of booty can always be worked out after the game if a supporting character should be felled by the PC’s and his effects confiscated.
Minor characters are just that – minor, bit-players – in the over-all scheme of the GM’s game. They are alot like walk-ons but tend to be more critical when it comes down to their involvement in the flow of play. Though they need not be, few have the time or patience to make minor characters more than bland-faced, slack-jawed, cookie-cutter no-names described only in general terms by type – such as “guards”, “household servants”, “street urchins”, “fishwives”, “slaves”, “prisoners”, and so on and so forth. The real distinguishing feature between minor characters and walk-ons is the fact that they have some skill or ability of importance which during the course of play will be tested in some way. With or without weapons and armor, they are commonly thrown at the PC’s as “sword-fodder” to slow them down and take the edge off them, soften them up for the main event before they can get to the supporting character(s) who command them, so the antagonist has a better chance of winning an engagement. They are commonly ignored except as window-dressing until those skills are needed, as household guards stationed at the doors to the audience chamber provide mood and atmosphere until they are actually needed to defend their masters and capture the PC’s, then they have a direct impact on the game and the characters themselves.
In this category should be all the NPC’s the PC’s enlist as their contacts in their various professional and social networks. This should also include all NPC’s the PC’s have sought out or seek out periodically on whose skills they depend for some service or other, merchant agents, local craftsmen of various sorts, armorers, weaponsmiths, and the like. This also should include any who are recruited as household members or guards by the PC’s to accompany them on their travels and adventures for the use of the strong backs and arms, a line of defense for them to employ in case of trouble, in the same manner as one of the NPC antagonists.
Of course, this must be carefully done, for there are laws against private citizens retaining mercenaries, and limits on how many are retained by nobles, and the conditions under which they are retained.
Minor characters are easy enough to generate, little more is needed of them than their attribute scores, skills, and abilities, and their Tactical Attributes, weapons, and armor if they are likely to see combat, BUT this is really too much to do in the course of play, such things should be taken care of beforehand in preparation for play. The GM should always keep a few warm bodies equipped for battle in a file for spur of the moment use. These can be cookie-cutter, in fact, exactly the same due to the fact that averages dominate and they will fall in battle according to the way the battle falls out, no two alike.
As they aren’t likely to see any real roleplay, to be addressed by the PC’s or address them directly except for a word or two here and there, their personalities needn’t be much of a concern for the GM. In fact, the process provided later for defining NPC personalities later on may be largely ignored in regards to minor characters if the GM prefers. Personality traits and distinguishing marks and features should be used for minor characters only to separate them from the masses for the players’ benefit when encountered and interacted with directly, or when it appears the PC’s are looking out for a NPC who stands out in some way for them to approach.
Walk-on characters are just that, characters who walk on for a brief moment due to a momentary need and then walking back off again, usually never to be seen again. They may have occasion to speak or interact with the PC’s – or not – but only in brief interludes (unless the PC’s should by their actions/conversation prolong the encounter). These are the random citizens the PC’s may stop in the streets for directions to a good inn or hostel, to a certain quarter of town, to a particular street, for a good craftsman of some sort, a reputable merchant. They can be local children playing in the street or canny street urchins (who may ask for a little coin for their trouble and happy to act as a guide or agent for the PC’s while they are in town, or carry packages home from market (heheh) … thus making them minor characters instead) street hawkers or huxsters the PC’s may grab a pasty for a snack or a tipple from in passing.
Generally speaking, it should most commonly be assumed the PC’s stop a NPC of equal or lesser social rank unless otherwise specified to avoid any difficulties due to the rules of social interaction. Walk-on characters take no time at all to bring into play, indeed a simple name can do it, and the GM can wing a description off the top of his head however he likes to make the walk-on more real and colorful. The key to the walk-on character is the brevity of his part and the fact that the GM will keep no hard statistics, attribute scores, skills or skill levels for him. Their part in the game is purely verbal. They are non-threatening average folk on the street or in a tavern or pub, or the like, average Joe’s unless the PC’s are looking for some one in specific, only briefly and peripherally involved in play, much less in the PC’s lives or adventures in general for any extended period of time.
Of course, the GM should be sure what sort of character the PC’s are seeking and the criteria being used visually to determine who they prefer. A successful AWA check is needed to make sure they get someone useful, and many trades wear distinctive garb, as well, which makes the process easier. PC’s of the Social Trades have an edge in making this sort of assessment, and those with great CHM or that have developed their Presence skills, too.
Nearly all henchmen and domestic servants the PC’s take on after the commencement of the game will start out as walk-on’s, if not Minor NPC’s, and it is in fleshing these types out under pressure during play that the tables provided in this chapter for describing the NPC and his personality can be of the most use.
When the PCs are in need of hangers-on for household staff, they should be directed by the GM to either make use of the local recommenders (-dresses) to get prospects to show up for interviewing or go to the regular labor market traditionally held all over the medieval world on Sundays after church services and make an announcement for interested parties to meet them wherever it is they are set up to hold interviews. No doubt they are going to want a selection from which to choose, their choices based on what they can learn of those candidates during their interviews, what they can discover of the GM’s profile for each NPC. This is a great opportunity for those among the PC’s who have developed Presence skills for interviewing and Perception skills for reading people (Savvy). Even though the NPC’s taken on as staff by the PC’s may eventually end up as Minor characters in the scheme of things, many such characters have no real skills other than those of their domestic labor and general knowledge (Petty Skills), and so scores for their attributes aren’t likely ever to be needed – unless some calamity happens to the entire party at some point, maybe a bridge collapses under them while crossing a river – can they all swim? How well? Still, the PC’s slowly get to know them (if they have an interest and inquire, anyway) and in time, no doubt, find them indispensable, and have a great impact on the PC’s lives, adding depth to the game in general, and all of the information generated for these profiles end up seeing some very real application in role-play for the GM.
There will be similar types of NPC’s who will start out the same way who are likely to remain at the same (walk-on) state of development for alot longer, too. These will be the local folk that provide the various domestic services the PC’s will require from time to time over the course of the game. The PC’s are likely to seek out and settle on a particular merchant or series of merchants (preferred and his associates, back-up, and last resort) for buying cloth and clothing, tailors to make the clothing up, shoes and boots or a particular shoemaker, foodstuffs, search out books, supplies for adventuring, and similar items, but they are likely to have or acquire specific favorites in local craftsmen to make new and repair old items over time, cobblers to repair their shoes and boots, a skilled tailor or seamstress can be vital for the socially conscious, a tinker to care for their domestic implements, a smith to make (replacement) tools, repair armor and/or weapons, a sharpener to keep a fine edge on their blades, a joiner or cabinetmaker to make and repair household furnishings, a shearer to cut their cloth and to comb and shear their woolen clothing so it is fresh for each winter season, a scribe or textwriter’s shop to write their letters and/or provide foreign language translation services, a binder to assemble their journals and maps into books to keep the leaves safe, and so on, and so forth. The PC’s will seek out those with skill enough by the view of their work or reputations to reassure or impress them, according to their natures, but they will make their choices as to favorite(s) with whom they will regularly deal on the basis of the profiles the GM will create here and how well the GM roleplays them.
It is quite possible for the GM to set the PC’s up with a craftsman or collection of craftsmen and/or merchants who are skilled highly enough for the PCs’ regular needs not to really require any sort of dice rolls, and thus end up with a host of minor NPC’s who remain for the majority of the run of the game no more developed than any walk-on, with no scores for their attributes at all. Still, their profiles will be just as important to the PC’s dealing with them, nearly as much so as those of the domestics whose records may only slowly be transferred to those of Minor characters, as their uses in play demand.
Even though a walk-on can be disposable, easily forgotten and discarded after use, the GM always has the option of recording them and bringing them back into play now and then, especially if the PC’s should remember him and look for him again. This way, the walk-on’s form a pool of characters from which minor or even supporting characters can be developed later, saving the Gm some work.
The GM will please note that, although a NPC may be created as belonging to one category, Main, Supporting, Minor, or Walk-on, it is always possible for the NPC to change categories through interaction or the way in which a given adventure or campaign is resolved, so that a greater amount of information is required for him. The GM can always make a new record sheet and supplement the information for him as necessary when a NPC moves up a category. If he should fall to a lesser category through play, he will have the additional information as a resource to draw on later.
NPC Heritage & Background
Unless the character is going to see a lot of exposure or see specific trials of their abilities in play, a general description of social class and station and specific trade is about as far as the GM really needs to go in generating a NPC, except perhaps for a few notes about his physical appearance, general personality, balance of Virtue and Vice, and quirks of personality, how close to civilization does the NPC live, does he surround himself with his family, keep pets, and other points that make NPC’s and the game world along with them seem more real, give them the kind of depth the PC’s can identify with and inspire them to strive to match. Most of this can be taken care of in the passages following, specifically in that headed “Drawing-Up NPC Profiles”.
If he is a foe putting himself, his household staff and his property at risk of being pummeled and plundered by the PC’s, the extent of his wealth and moveable goods and household staff, retainers, or retinue is of great importance, as well as his personality and attribute scores.
The information that can be generated from the background and Heritage tables provided in Character Creation can be very helpful. One of the main differences in generating PC’s and NPC’s lies in the fact that, when using the tables in Character Creation, the GM is fleshing out the details of the NPC himself rather than describing the family to which he was born (which is ALSO true), as is the case for players making their PC’s to play.
While admirable and fairly complete for the player of a PC, the Character Creation background tables still leave some questions unanswered where NPC’s are concerned. A few tables and additional procedures have been assembled here to adapt them to the GM’s needs for his NPC’s.
Stations & Trades
Unlike creating a PC, the GM most likely already knows a bit of the basic information concerning the NPC he is creating, or has enough of an idea about it to go through and choose what he wants or to narrow the process of rolling down to the last few tables. Unless the NPC is a Random Encounter, the GM is probably creating a specific character to fill a particular role in the plot or storyline of an adventure being planned for his game, in which case he almost always know the NPC’s age bracket, Social Class and perhaps even his Station/occupation or trade, so much of the rolling associated with the Character Creation tables won’t be necessary. In many instances, the NPC’s Station is dictated by his part in the plot at hand which, for most NPC’s, also dictates the specific trade or occupation. In a great many instances, the PC’s seek out the services of certain craftsmen for the use of their skill(s). Generating these is about the easiest for the GM, as their parts in the game are strictly limited – though, of course, the GM is then free to utilize them later on, as being already acquainted with the PC’s should he need them to further an adventure plot. No hard numbers are likely to be needed for these sorts of NPC’s, for they are unlikely ever to be tested directly. The part a NPC has to play at least narrows the range of acceptable and believable occupations or Stations. If needed, the GM has the means to determine Station and specific occupation or trade on the Character Creation background tables.
Everywhere the GM has a blank in determining just who a NPC is he should be able to find an appropriate table in Character Creation or here so he can roll a die or dice as called for to get an answer to fill it. If a merchant is needed, what kind – affluent, chapman, Merchant Adventurer sailor? Dealing in what sorts of goods? from where? (the “from where” aspect there is no table for, however; the GM must exercise his own creativity, or perhaps compose a table of his own using entries taken from his own game world that he finds acceptable) If a noble, of what station? Clergy is not available for PC background results, but the GM undoubtedly is going to need them for NPC’s in a number of capacities – of what rank, with what skills? If a common craftsman is needed and the situation doesn’t dictate the craft, that information can easily be determined.
Although the answers for trades that are covered for PC’s are provided here, not all levels or areas of society are provided for the use of PC’s, particularly those that do not allow a character the freedom to travel in pursuit of his adventures. Most NPC’s are likely to be resident in the area of a given adventure, tied to the locale by marriage and/or blood and business. Their social networks, reputation and/or fame where they live make them a little more dangerous to confront or tangle with, something for the PC’s to think twice about.
If the PC’s have sought out a NPC of a specified trade according to their need for his skills, services, or goods, of course, no dicing is needed, just a little game time for them to locate the individual.
The GM can always use the Class and Station tables as a guide to the sorts of NPC’s he needs when designing characters for his adventures, when he needs that sort of help. When doing so, the GM should be aware that all the entries on the various sub-tables (2-7.a through f) have been arranged from greatest to least in social clout and standing, reading the tables from top to bottom. The only exception to this are the Craftsman Trades table and sub-tables (2-8 and 2-8.a through g), which are all roughly equal, except when distinguished by having been arrived at by direction from an “affluent” station result.
Domestic hirelings that are commonly taken on by any characters with the means to afford their support and services generally come from landbound families living in the neighborhood. Those in the households of local noblemen either come from the noble’s own estates, or from the households of local freemen. In the higher household positions, those of gentle blood or noble blood of lower rank who already have some history of association with the greater noble are most likely to be found.
Aside from those trades which by their nature have high prestige and social standing (Courtier, Magister, Physicker, Apothecary, Wizard, Knight, Witch, any of the Druids, etc.), the only trades which influence social standing are those that can be held by clergymen, courtiers and those of gentle or noble blood as department heads or functionaries in the hierarchies of the religious houses or noble households, including those of the royal family itself, as well as the various departments of the royal government.
A Minor NPC record sheet needs to be drawn up only if the NPC’s skills are going to be put to the test in front of the PC’s. Hirelings both professional and domestic, trail guides, and NPC’s of that ilk generally fall into this category.
The GM need only make up a record sheet for a NPC that is more detailed, with weapons, armor, and combat attributes and statistics defined (according to which rules are in play), when a NPC might possibly become embroiled in armed combat of some sort. This is generally required for any scouts or mercenaries the PC’s take on with the understanding that the NPC’s may be facing mortal danger from time to time, or retainers they pick out for their physical attributes or skills to maintain their beasts and the domestic side of their household(s). Those NPC friends they acquire who also have a taste for their lifestyle and choose to travel alongside them and share their dangers (a resource best used to augment the PC numbers when the number of players in the party is particularly small, like 2 or 3) are the sorts of characters for which a Major NPC sheet is likely needed.
In all these sorts of NPC’s, the Class and Station are largely dictated by the use and function the NPC fills.
Drawing-Up NPC Profiles
The profile of a NPC’s personality is usually the hardest part of creating him. This is where the GM must work at really giving the NPC’s depth, bringing them to life so they have substance and an air of reality in the context of the game for the players, not just standing there like cardboard cut-outs, cold automatons reciting memorized speeches. These profiles are also referred to as “character sketches”. Profiles, sketches … no, we aren’t talking about pretty pictures here, although, when the GM is also an artist, coming up with a sketch to show a NPC’s appearance to flash at the players when that NPC is introduced can he helpful – the internet is also a VERY fertile field to search to come up with images to be used for the players’ benefit during play.
In most cases, the GM almost always has something of a leg-up on where to start in trying to define and flesh-out most NPC’s he creates for his game, as he generally has an idea of the place that NPC fills in the world in general, and also of at least the general use to which he is be put in play (social class/station, grade, trade). Due to their greater importance. supporting and especially main characters receive greater attention in development as the adventure(s) in which they are to participate are developed. When finally brought into play they are the most likely to live and breathe and have real depth to the players. The GM is likely already familiar with their aims and attitudes and thus be able to slip into their roles most easily. This just isn’t so for most minor NPC’s, and especially with walk-on’s, who tend to get treated like the poor red-headed step-children among NPC’s, largely ignored until the last second. So rarely do most GM’s pay any attention to these grades of NPC’s that most of them end up largely stereo-typed cardboard cut-outs, with about as much depth and color, nameless and faceless all blending together, seeming the same to the players. But this is so easily remedied, and the overall quality of the GM’s game improved so greatly (disproportionately so, really) that it is both a wonder and a shame that more GM’s don’t do so.
The GM’s own game needn’t suffer from this lack. An easy method has been framed here to make it easier to spend a little more attention in creating a lot more detail for all grades of NPC’s, even walk-on’s. Hopefully this encourages all GM’s.
When a casual encounter is drawn out as mentioned, or the PC’s dig up a walk-on NPC for another encounter, or the GM brings him around again in the game himself for his own ends, the GM really needs some markers, some points of reference for portraying him – at least if he has no direction or concrete ideas about him of his own. All of the facts already established work to form a general idea in the GM’s mind of the NPC’s basic type, called a stereo-type or an archetype. For the purposes of the game, as in psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior; an original model of a personality, ideal example, or a prototype, drawn from a common occurrence among the populace, and universally recognized by all. These are useful as templates for further defining NPC’s.
The type may be a collection of habits common or typical to a certain segment of the population, from which the NPC is drawn in this case, but which is based on truth and can he used as a guideline. Many of these archetypes come down to us from the great Greek dramatists, still others from Shakespeare’s work.
The Honest Citizen suffers the vagaries of life as he must, but he works things out as best he can when his troubles arise from the stubbornness of authority figures, on his own if he must, knowing that City Hall can’t be fought. The resigned patience of the man to work at changing what he can and his wisdom in being able to recognize what he can’t are the essential qualities of this archetype.
The Scapegoat is a local character who gets blamed for everything, regardless of whether he or she is actually at fault. He receives the blame for bad luck or accidents in the community or in another individual’s life. The scapegoat is usually a person whose death is believed to expiate some sin visited upon a community.
The Trickster is a clever, mischievous man or creature, who tries to survive the dangers and challenges of the world using trickery and deceit. He is almost always a male character. The trickster crosses both physical and social boundaries – the trickster is often a traveller, and he often breaks social rules, usually by tricks or thievery, sometimes maliciously but usually with ultimately positive effects. The trickster’s role is often to hamper the hero’s progress and generally cause trouble. Tricksters can be cunning or foolish, or both; they are often very funny.
The Sage Patriarch or Wise Old Man is a source of knowledge of the past, especia1ly when few can read. He is essentially a passive character, the embodiment of knowledge, reflection, insight, cleverness, and intuition whose great wisdom is used to guide the protagonist(s). He has the moral qualities of goodwill and readiness to help, and he often also tests the moral qualities of others, sometimes making his gifts dependant on a test of character or moral fiber, or mental acuity. His great insight can be used to foreshadow events the GM has lying in store, or even to prophesy, though the Sage makes no claim to divine patronage. He may occur in the form of a ghost or shade returned from the dead to advise a descendant, appearing when the hero is in a hopeless and desperate situation from which only profound reflection or a lucky inspiration can save him.
The Star-Crossed Lovers are a pair of youths new to love and so swept away in its joy that they are at least partially no longer suited for the mortal world. They are star-crossed in that Fate somehow stands in the way of their love and would thwart them. They are willing to sacrifice everything, however, even their very lives, to be together and remain together for eternity. The refusal of the pair to recognize much less be ruled by the necessities of the real world around them are the essential qualities of this archetype.
The Shrew is the troublesome wife always battering her husband with verbal abuse, constantly finding fault. She is a suspicious, nagging bad-tempered woman, noisy or scolding or domineering by turns, a willful, contrary and most unpleasant woman with a violent temper and very sharp and judgmental tongue. The hard and unsympathetic nature of this character is essential to the archetype.
The Jilted Lover/Spouse is always an adult, having achieved knowledge of true love rather than just its first heady blush, as the youthful Star-Crossed Lovers above. She is abandoned by her true love in the fullness of their relationship, a gentle soul of great beauty, charm, and depth of character. Dido is the model of this type, called “one of the most wronged women in literature”. She burns the love token given to her and then kills herself. Her gentle spirit, undeserved treatment, and the depth of her grief, taking her to suicide, are the essential qualities of this archetype.
The Scorned Lover/Spouse is one who has been cruelly cast off and even reviled by her partner, for whom she has made great and very real personal sacrifices, perhaps given up everything. In so doing, he has driven her into a rage for vengeance that borders on the verge of madness. Medea is the Greek model for this type. She used her magickal arts to betray her father the king in helping Jason and the Argonauts in stealing the Golden Fleece, turning her back on family, country, and even her goddess to return to Greece with Jason. In her rage at being scorned by Jason on their return to Greece, she slaughters the children she bore Jason and flees.
The Warrior Hero is a very basic archetype that has many variations. The basis for the type is bold and noble (at least in spirit), strong and courageous, competent at arms if not actually highly skilled, but not lacking in the “Latin virtues” of moderation and filial devotion, either. The bold and noble heart and especially the virtues of moderation and filial devotion are the essential qualities of this archetype.
In the Penultimate Warrior-Hero the gods are seen to have wrought too well. He has colossal inner strength, nobility, and self-sufficiency, but because of this he is also immoderate and proud. Despite this flaw, he commands sympathy due to the fact that his greatness of spirit must alienate him from his fellow man. So far above his fellow man does he stand that these gods-given qualities make of him a man apart, bringing him into conflict with the gods themselves, and he suffers from this tragic irony. Ajax is the Greek model for this type. The sympathetic aspect of this man’s life, the ironic tragedy, is the essential quality of this archetype, otherwise he is simply too cold and arrogant, nothing but a highly skilled, cold-blooded killer.
The Enlightened Reasonable Warrior is the foil for the Hero (above). Though he works at cross-purposes to the Hero in life, he is nonetheless horrified by the cruel punishment the Hero is made to suffer by the gods. After the Hero’s death he pays just tribute to the man’s greatness and shows his respect and admiration for his worthy opponent.
The Noble Lord/Warrior-Hero is courageous, highly skilled and strong, gentle and biddable. He fights all his life to defend those in his care and the rewards he reaps he shares generously with them. Aware of his own heroic stature, he silently and nobly forgives lesser men for being who and what they are, though he doesn’t hesitate to rebuke or punish those who violate or denigrate the customs and ideals of the people, their forefathers. In the Anglo-Saxon tradition he is exemplified by the character of Beowulf, the Courteous, Courageous, Biddable Vassal. Except for the lack of social rank, he falls perfectly within the bounds of this archetype. The righteous nature and strong moral fiber is the essential quality of this archetype.
The Braggart Warrior may be just recently come into adulthood or may be older and may or may not be able to back-up his boasts. Shakespeare’s character Sir Falstaff earned a castle in the campaigns of his youth, but for many years rested on his laurels blustering and swilling beer until he became a local figure of fun, the butt of numerous practical jokes. He may be skilled from his war experience still, or pretend to such skill though long since faded, and be jolly as Falstaff, or have a certain mean streak, which may be just be the result of how the truth of his prowess works upon his spirit. As the Bullying Braggart (Warrior) he may be unsure of himself at heart or truly a coward to the core, inspiring varying amounts of meanness which he must perforce take out on others to continually prove himself to himself. The essential common trait of this type is the loud, blustering manner and large, beefy physical size.
Valiant Young Warriors are a common archetype, brave, strong, and courageous as most of the other sorts Warrior archetypes, but they are young, new to their strength and prowess, and full of fire, perhaps even to the point of foolhardiness. They may be strutting cocks as yet having known no hard defeats, carefree adventurer sorts willingly running off on what may turn out to be bootless quests, even braggarts daring one another into taking needless risks, but all full of a contagious zeal.
The Arch-Villain is a thorough-going reprobate with no redeeming (humane) qualities. He remains unrepentant of the evils he has committed to the end, a willing and willful perpetrator of every heinous outrage he can conceive. There is no one he will not use, no deed that is beneath him, no one and nothing is sacred in achieving the ruin of his enemies, their utter destruction, abject misery and finally, when he deems they have suffered enough, their deaths. These are his aims and he brooks no distractions.
The study of the Character was conceived by Aristotle’s student, Theophrastus. In The Characters (c. 319 BC), Theophrastus introduced the “character sketch,” which became the core of “the Character as a genre”. It included 30 character types, each type an illustration of an individual who represents a group, characterized by his most prominent trait. The Theophrastan archetypes are as follows:
The Insincere Man/The Flatterer
The Fabricator/The Shameless Liar/ The Slanderer
The Garrulous Man
The Talkative Man
The Complaisant Man
The Man without Moral Feeling
The Shamelessly Greedy Man/The Penny pincher/
The Basely Covetous Man/ The Stingy Man
The Offensive Man
The Hapless Man
The Absent-Minded Man
The Unsociable Man
The Superstitious Man
The Suspicious Man
The Repulsive Man
The Unpleasant Man
The Arrogant Man
The Timid Man
The Man of Petty Ambition
The Officious Man
The Oligarchical Man
The Late Learner
The Lover of Bad Company
By the names alone these are very evocative of the character type. Though this overview of archetypes may seem fairly comprehensive, these are really just a few of the basics. There were many more archetypes popular in medieval theater that say a lot about the characters medieval people took amusement in and those they reviled who plagued them. The cheating spouse is a common though rather innocuous villain, but the medieval people were more amused by the gullible and innocent spouse cuckolded. Worldly priests, especially the lascivious sort, were a source of constant irritation in the period of the game, along with greedy merchants, crafty beggars and peasants who hid their wealth so as to extract more, and criminally incompetent doctors and other professionals – all gladly lampooned for their amusement in the theater. Noble-hearted knaves and rogues, kind and charitable street folk (hookers with hearts of gold), all were popular figures and prominent, also suitable as models for NPC’s in the GM’s game.
Once a NPC’s specific situation (race, sex, archetype, Class, Station/trade, age, marriage status, etc.) has been defined, the GM can roleplay the NPC according to the cue for the opening of the encounter easily enough, but these all too often leave him flat for providing the means to really make them real and unique for the players, so they are memorable, as all NPC’s should be unique. For that purpose, the GM should find something of a unique nature to attribute to the NPC in the form of a mannerism, quirk, or accessory to his appearance that might not otherwise have ever occurred to the GM to include, that stands out in the player’s memories afterwards, even if they can’t remember the NPC’s name (presuming they ever receive that information).
Aside from the actual particulars of the NPC’s personality, these mannerisms, quirks, or idiosyncrasies bring an NPC to life immediately and vibrantly, give him a depth and presence in the players’ eyes. Added to a simple archetype, the idiosyncrasy provides a memorable spark. These are addressed before any of the finer points of determining the NPC’s personality due to the fact that they are grosser in nature and are the most obvious soonest to those encountering the NPC. Any other aspects of the NPC’s personality require repeated and/or or longer exposure for the GM to reveal and start really roleplaying.
On the following table a list of such idiosyncrasies has been compiled for the GM to roll on for his NPC’s at need, especially when he is making-up walk-on’s on the fly (especially those that may end up being more).
|01||Sot/Drunkard, passes out every night and starts drinking as soon as awakens, only sober moments between awakening and while working towards getting drunk again|
|02-03||Lush, always at least a bit tipsy, always has a flask or bottle on his person or cup/mug in hand|
|06-07||Arrogant, treats “lesser” folk as servants, shooing them away with a waive, summoning others by snapping his fingers, clapping, etc., gets irritated and then agitated when they fail to respond|
|08-09||Innocently makes the rudest and most embarrassing observations, not malicious
Always fusses with hair, stroking, patting, primping, etc.
|10-11||Obsessed with own reflection (always carries a mirror)|
|12-13||Buffs, trims, cleans, and/or files nails incessantly *|
|14-15||Primps in general, fussing over drape, hang, and fit of clothing *|
|16||Habitually over-dressed, esp. for the wrong occasions|
|17||Cosmetics habitually overdone, like a clown|
|18||Habitually over-dressed AND too made-up|
|19-20||Clothing habitually cut too small/tight (thinks it chic)|
|21||Clothing habitually cut too big (everything fits like potato sacks, thinks it chic)|
|22||Hair worn in an odd/highly eccentric style and/or dyed a odd, wild or outrageous color (thinks it chic)|
|23||Obsessed with a single color for clothing, belongings, fashion accessories, and/or home decor|
|24||Obsessed with raucous, outrageous color(s) and/or patterns or design elements for clothing, fashion accessories, and/or home decor, everything overdone and almost blinding (thinks he is a trend-setter)|
|25||Obsessed with a single pattern/design element for clothing, belongings, fashion accessories, and/or home decor (thinks it chic)|
|26||Always wears white or light-colored gloves, always using them to check the cleanliness of surroundings *|
|27||Can’t abide being touched, won’t shake hands except with gloves on (if not actually worn, will always have at belt)|
|28||Always goes masked or veiled to avoid recognition and/or being approached in public|
|29-30||Slurps all drinks, soups, all liquid foodstuffs|
|31-32||Abysmally awful, piggish table manners in general|
|33-34||Particularly delicate, ridiculously fastidious table manners|
|35-36||Gourmand, weakness for fine foods or drink, and to any who set a fine table or offer the same as gifts|
|37-38||Habitually jingles chain, purse, spurs, etc. (as app.) *|
|39||Whistles popular tunes, aires, sea chanties, lullabyes, etc.*|
|43-45||Taps/drums/raps finger(s) or knuckles on teeth, furniture, slaps thigh, etc.|
|46-47||Taps/drums/raps, as above, but specifically with a fan, hairpin, dagger, horsetail, riding quirt, walking stick/cane, or similar personal accessory always carried)|
|48-49||Fiddler/Fidgeter, * never without favorite fan, pomander ball, dagger (set) or other small sidearm, hair/hatpin(s), hair comb(s), snuff box, scratching rod, walking stick/cane, horsetail, riding quirt, or similar personal accessory in addition to the standard purse, always in hand or at hand, to play with (pointed, tapped, rapped, used to poke or prod, caress, or tracing about people and things, carving on things, etc.), he cannot keep his hands to himself OR sit still, he MUST be fiddling or fidgeting with SOMEthing|
|50-51||Talks too loud for the setting or situation *|
|52-53||Talks at particularly quick pace *|
|54-55||Talks at particularly slow pace *|
|56-57||Mumbles & mutters, won’t speak up or enunciate *|
|58-59||Talks to self *|
|60-61||Talks to self even if others are around/in the same room *|
|62-63||Speaks with a pronounced lisp|
|64-65||Speaks with a stutter (*)|
|66-67||Bites nails *|
|68||Chews on/sucks on/twirls/tugs/worries at hair/braid *|
|69-70||Wheezes when he breathes *|
|71||Constantly sniffs at pomander or scented handkerchief, affecting to cover the smell of whatever location he is in or people nearby|
|72||Wears a particularly pungent and pervasive eu de parfum of which he or she is totally enamored and wears FAR too much of, enough to bring tears to the eyes of those with sensitive noses, may or may not also carry it on handkerchief (GM’s discretion)|
|73||Inordinately attached to a fan, pomander ball, dagger (set) or other small sidearm, hair/hatpin(s), hair comb(s), snuff box, scratching rod, walking stick/cane, horsetail, riding quirt, embroidered handkerchief, or similar personal accessory which is ALWAYS either in hand or only momentarily laid down when both hands are needed; if both hands are needed and the NPC can figure out a way NOT to have to lay the object aside, he will do so.|
|74-75||Shuffles, drags soles/heels of feet when walking|
|76-77||Hard of hearing, won’t carry ear horn|
|78-79||Hearing not great, but pretends it is much worse than it is and often willfully misconstrues/mis-“hears any unwelcome news|
|80-81||Poor eyesight (dice for near-, far-sighted), pretends condition doesn’t exist, won’t carry spectacles|
|82-83||Poor eyesight (dice for far-, near-sighted), exaggerates condition, carries a variety of spectacles
|84-85||Wears especially poor quality or loose fitting dentures (has no natural teeth left)|
|86||Addicted to snuff, chew, or some drug †|
|87||Pretends to addiction to some fashionable indulgence or drug|
|88||Voyeur, likes to watch people do things (anything)|
|89||Masochistic, enjoys suffering pain|
|90||Sadistic, enjoys inflicting pain|
|91-92||Afflicted with allergies, violent isolated sneezes and sneezing fits in the presence of certain animals, plants, blows up and goes into shock from spider/insect bites or stings, or from eating shellfish, nuts, or the like, excessive dust, hay fever in late summer, or some such (GM’s discretion)|
|93||Hypochondriac, always suffering from the symptoms of some malady, always convinced that THIS time the condition will be fatal; worst case, the NPC will always be bedridden, never up and about for more than a day or two|
|94-95||Post Nasal Drip, always sounds like he has a head-cold, or is constantly clearing throat, hocking, & spitting|
|96-97||Picks nose *|
|98-99||Scratches self as the mood strikes, even in company/public|
|100||More than one Idiosyncrasy, roll again twice|
* These results should be defined as coming into play only under certain circumstances, such as when the NPC is bored, irritated, excited, worried, happy, angry, or the like, unless it is an incessant habit of the nervous sort with which the NPC occupies himself except when otherwise engaged, or a constant habit in which the NPC is always engaged (this last not necessarily appropriate for all so marked).
† Drug addictions are only for the wealthy. There are no laws against buying, selling, or using them in the period of the game, BUT they are equal in price to the more expensive spices, prohibitively expensive, suitable only as toys for the rich.
While the Idiosyncrasies table above is extensive, the GM should by no means consider it to be exhaustive. The GM should feel free to add whatever little quirks occur to him to expand this table. The more he adds, the longer the table, and the less frequently results repeat. At the GM’s discretion, he might want to strike through each of these results as they come up so he doesn’t repeat himself, and perhaps reserve their use for those characters that are more prominent, that at least have the potential for recurring in the game.
The GM should be careful about using these idiosyncrasies, and particularly about making them too extreme. They tend to get out of hand and take on a cartoonish air, making a caricature out of the NPC’s character.
This is as far as the GM generally needs to go in defining any walk-on for any brief encounters restricted to a short exchange on basically impersonal matters. Only when the GM sees the encounter at hand headed for a wide-ranging or prolonged conversation, beyond the scope of the immediate encounter reaction, will he actually start roleplaying the NPC in any serious manner requiring him to work-up a true NPC personality profile.
NPC Personality Traits
It is sometimes difficult to come up with a good NPC concept and, in terms of creating convincing NPC’s, the character archetypes can sometimes be more helpful to use as a point of departure, a place from which it is best just to start. These stereo-types or archetypes and idiosyncrasies provide a sound place to start when making NPC’s regardless of whether under the gun or at his leisure. From these, which can be a great help in designing characters to participate in home-grown adventures (especially major and supporting NPC’s), the GM can move on to the particulars and go into more detail on significant aspects of the NPCs’ personalities. For the GM’s convenience, to give him a hand and especially to help keep all of his NPC’s from coming across as just the GM in a dress, or just the GM in breeks with a stick of candy, just the GM with a limp and a patch over one eye, and so on, the following series of tables has been compiled for determining the essential features of NPC personalities. These tables can provide a variety of traits, attitudes, and dispositions which might he brought out the longer a conversation goes on. They can be especially valuable when the PC’s put him on the spot and he is forced to fly by the seat of his pants to make up convincing NPC’s in the middle of a game. The GM should use the archetype (if he has picked one) as a frame of reference and try to keep it in mind while working-up a more specific profile.
NPC Personality Traits
|2d10||Genera1Humor||2d10||Style of Communication|
|10-11||Moody or Apathetic||10-11||Laconic/Terse|
|19||Sour/Nasty||19||Opinionated Braying Ass|
|2d10||Presence||2d10||Style of Expression|
|1||Fanatic/Obsessive, puts honor above even loss of life|
|2||Steadfast/Faithful, puts honor before any point of law|
|3-4||Upstanding/Dedicated, puts law/moral code first|
|7-8||Vacillating, puts own name/well-being first|
|9||Inconstant/Opportunist/Fair-weather friend (during favor)|
|10||Predatory, no loyalty, drop any friend/ally on slightest pretext|
|6||Cautious/Chary||6||Conserv./Slow to Forgive|
|1||Zealous/Saintly||1||Covetous (re : things)|
|2||Pious/Reverent||2||Jealous (re : people)|
* Nearly any Pace result can go with any Presence result due to the fact that one can be very imposing of presence, full of energy, verve, and joie de vivre and still have very little going on in his life.
† Any negative result on this table should automatically rule out any result above average (leading to “Rash”) on the “Prudence” table. Any such results should be ignored by the GM.
** This table will require some interpreting on the GM’s part, according to what the rest of the Traits say about the NPC’s character. If the NPC leans towards Virtue, this will be his weakness, the one place he falls short, but it should not be a terribly high score, maybe only 1d5 in value. If the NPC leans to Vice, the GM should roll a d10 to determine the number of d5’s to be rolled to determine the score in this Vice, and its score should be greater than any of the other Vices.
The “Sophistication” table provides an indicator of the natural degree of trust the NPC places in the words of others, how easily he extends his trust to others.
“Honesty” indicates how much the NPC values his own word, especially when oaths are pledged, and “Loyalty/Constancy” how well it will be kept when freely and sincerely given.
The GM can always confine his checks to the categories that might affect the NPC’s answers regarding questions on the topics the PC’s choose, so he can continue roleplaying as the NPC is generated, eliminating as much lag-time as possible.
Many of the table results should be interpreted as indicative of a score in one of the Conscious Attributes, starting with average and counting up one point for each entry removed from that point the result is on the table. Others indicate a score in either a Virtue or a Vice.
The GM should use a bit of thought and care in accepting and interpreting the results from these tables, however.
Although unlikely to happen terribly often, some of the results may at times seem to be at odds with others. The GM should really try to think of those facts as generated on the table from the NPC’s point of view in these cases, unless he doesn’t have the time. Later, though, he should try to think up the circumstances under which those attributes might be brought into agreement, and make some notes of how they will influence certain situations in tandem.
The medieval attitude that everyone and everything bas a proper and appointed place in the world and the grand Divine Plan, the Golden Chain, incumbent on all men to know and stick to, spurred the theologians, philosophers, and especially those scholars who wished to continue to enquire further into the nature of the mortal world (trained by the Church-run universities and dutifully obedient to it) to come to the conclusion that there are actually two sorts of knowledge: the secular and the divine. This had the added benefit of keeping the scholars out of the canon courts on charges of heresy for their later theories and findings. This theory and attitude of the great scholars slowly filtered down to the common people, eventually through all levels of society, and thus became applied to all aspects of life. This created a mental “double-think” practice whereby one could simultaneously subscribe to two separate and often diametrically opposed sets of practices or standards, one being a theoretic ideal and the other pointedly practical, often self-centered and egoistic, even to the point of ruthlessness – the sharper the mind, the finer the distinctions made.
This was not by any means considered hypocritical in the medieval point of view, however. The theoretical, ideal world of the Divine Nature is believed by the medieval people to be at least as real as the mortal world, if not more so. They believe the mortal world is but a reflection of the Divine, and a poor and imperfect reflection, at that. For that very belief, duller minds would naturally stick to ground on which they were more sure, unwilling to take the risk to their souls.
Like any real person, it is quite possible for a NPC to be one way on the inside and present other, more pleasant and palatable, traits to the public. Or not. Some of the categories for the traits are a little too closely linked for that to be convenient. Alternately, the GM might make the rolls for the traits in order of precedence, taking those rolls made first as hard and fast, and simply rerolling any results that come up after them which would seem to conflict or give him trouble.
It is important in using the trait tables that the GM pay attention to the strict meanings of the word or words in the entries in the context of their specific tables; furious as a life pace has absolutely nothing whatever to do with being angry, nor does agile as applies to intellect have anything to do with acrobatics (except perhaps as regards performing mental gymnastics to arrive at odd conclusions from scant information).
Working out the intimate details of the personalities of Major NPC’s is another place that these profile tables can stand the GM in great stead. The GM can always run through these tables for every NPC he makes, especially his Major and Supporting NPC’s, just to save time on deciding details of NPC’s involved in creating a given adventure or campaign. Once these traits have been defined for each NPC involved, the details of how they feel, their basic dispositions, the way they deal with people, and their weaknesses or strengths can all fairly dictate the way in which a campaign or adventure including them should shape up and progress once the action has been decided and the NPCs’ parts in it set, speeding the development process along.
Virtue & Vice
Just as much as they are for defining the true “character” of a PC, the Virtues and Vices are probably the best tool to define the basics of the NPC’s personality and “character”. The Traits discussed previously are best used in conjunction with them. The Virtues and Vices provide a bit of true common ground between the PC’s and NPC’s, a strong link between them to a very important medieval philosophical and religious concept. If a NPC’s Traits have already been established and the GM is satisfied with the results, there are among them some good pointers that will show the GM whether the NPC leans more towards Virtue or Vice. Almost every Trait table is polarized between positive and negative aspects with “average” in the middle.
Prudence, Humility, and Charity are Virtues themselves, the result of the rolls for them indicating the nature of the score for them, if any. The Generosity table sheds further light on Charity, as well, and the Honesty and Loyalty tables on Faith. The Morality table should be used as the pointer to whether the NPC leans towards Virtue or Vice in general. The results of the Vices table should be interpreted as described in the note following that table.
To determine what sorts of scores a NPC has accumulated in the Virtues and/or Vices, the GM will need to throw a few dice – one for each Age Category the NPC has passed through and is currently in.
For the Child category, the GM should throw a d10, and on the result of “10” should throw a d5 to determine how many points the NPC earned during that age period towards either Virtue or Vice.
For the Adolescent category, the GM should throw a d10 again, and on the result of 7 to 10 should throw 2d5 to determine how many points the NPC earned during that age period towards either Virtue or Vice.
For the Adult category and all further age categories, the GM should throw a d10 again, and on the result of 5 to 10 the GM should throw 3d5 to determine how many points the NPC earned during each age period the NPC has achieved towards either Virtue or Vice.
IF the GM cannot form a clear opinion of the NPC’s leanings regarding Virtue and Vice from the results of the Trait rolls, he should roll a d10 any time the results indicate that points have been accumulated in a given age category. On the result of 1 to 5 the points will be allotted to Vice(s), on the result of 6 to 10 the points will be allotted to Virtue(s).
The roll to allocate points to either Virtue or Vice will be modified according to the number of dice in points each receives as the GM goes through the age categories.
For example, if the NPC is determined to have accumulated a d5 of points during the Child category and the d10 to determine whether it goes to Vice or Virtue indicates Virtue (results of 6 to 10), the next time the dice indicate that points have again been accumulated (regardless if for the Adult, Middle Aged, etc. category), the roll for determining whether they go to Virtue or Vice will be influenced by the previous points allocated to Virtue. Instead of the die being split 50/50, on the roll of 5 to 10 the points will go to Virtue again, and only on the roll of 1 to 4 will the points go to Vice.
IF the die indicates they go again to Virtue(s), the next time the dice indicate that points have again been accumulated, on the roll of 4 to 10 the points will go to Virtue again, and only on the roll of 1 to 3 will the points go to Vice.
IF the die indicates they go to Vice, the next time the dice indicate that points have again been accumulated, the die to allocate them will again be read in a 50/50 split Virtue/Vice.
Each time the dice indicate that points have been accumulated towards Virtue/Vice, the chances of that side getting the next set of points accumulated will advance by 1, back and forth, until the GM has checked for all applicable age categories for the NPC.
This is as far as the GM will likely need to go with most NPC’s. Only those for whom skills and abilities will be needed will require deeper and more specific mechanical definitions, in the manner of a PC.
Although a name is not necessary to generate a character and aren’t really required for a character until he is actually brought into play, many of the GM’s NPC’s will be made up on the fly during the course of the game, and one of the first things the PC’s will expect along with a physical description is to get a name from the NPC, so they know how to call him. If the NPC does not introduce himself, the PC’s will surely ask.
The name chosen for a character makes an impression on those he meets and says something to the players about the character, even if only on a gut level. Many of the names chosen for roleplaying characters embody the essence of the character, exemplifying who and what he is, or they can be made amusing by the use of irony in contrast, as in the naming of Robin Hood’s rather large associate “Little” John.
The same standards and approach discussed for PC names should be observed by the GM when determining the name of a NPC, as well.
Family names, or “surnames”, while in common general usage among the people of the period of the game (particularly in towns), will be hit-or-miss in regards to the source from which they are taken, whether origins or trade or parents’ names. Many surnames were taken from the trade practiced (“Tailor”, “Smith”, “Walker”, “Tinker”, “Tiler” (Tyler), “Cooper”, etc.) and would change with the trade practiced from one generation to the next, or would simply be made up of the father’s name with the suffix “-son” attached.
The most common identifier attached to a name as a form of “surname” was the village or town of origins, especially when a person has travelled out of the district in which he and his family are known. The player can always go to the GM to get a list of place names for the area he plans the first adventure to take place in to put to this use.
Sobriquets are often used to distinguish father and son who bear the same name, especially “the Elder” and “the Younger”, or between siblings with the same name, but any appellation might be used to distinguish one from another who has no sobriquet at all in the same family, or who has a different sobriquet. The practice of naming more than one child after the father is often followed by parents trying to insure that at least one child survives to carry the father’s or mother’s name on, to give it again to the next generation. These sobriquets also tend to be very descriptive or convey an impression.
Sobriquets such as “Longshanks” like the sample character, Bictric; “Ill-rede” (bad counsel); “Dragon-” or “Dwarf-” or “Elf-Friend”; “Even Handed”; “Foe Cleaver”; “Arm Strong” or “Strong Bow”; “the Bloody”; “the Swift”; “the Just”; “the Red” (-haired, or “Rufus”); “the Unready”; “the Fair”; “the Gold” (-haired); “the Good”; “the Insouciant”; “Wind Rider” or “Lightning Rider”; “of the Sea of Sand”; “the Lucky” or “the Hapless”; “the Bastard”, or the like, are often appended to a character’s name in acknowledgement of the practice followed for distinguishing individuals on the court and tax rolls of the period of the game.
It will not be uncommon, either to see a name bearing both surname and sobriquet, in an effort to assure that there will be no confusion over identity.
Naming can be key in establishing the medieval-fantasy flavor of the identity of the character, so the player should be as free and creative as he likes in coming up with a name. BUT the player should keep in mind that “Destrier Strongbow” is not a very appropriate name for a quiet, scholarly Wizard or delicate Courtier who quakes at the thought of physical violence or the possibility of being hurt, unless the character’s father was a great Warrior of renown who had originally pinned great hopes of his son following in his footsteps, and the player wants to disarm those meeting him and get them laughing at him when they find out his name, leading them into underestimating him. Then it becomes a useful joke. Perhaps the character will be a prideful coward, and when he gains the strength in skill and knowledge that comes with advancing in his trade he will be a force with which to be reckoned and his name will no longer be a joke.
A character can always be set up to fulfill the promise of a name this way, in ways never imagined by his parents and siblings. Of course, for the simple respect of his fellow Warriors, a huge strapping lad who wades into rank upon rank of foeswith gusto who is named Wendel Milquetoaste by his parents would probably give himself a more appropriate professional name at the end of his apprenticeship, or amend his given name by trading the surname for a sobriquet like “Deathstalker” or “Doomslayer”, for example.
The following roster of names has been provided for the player’s reference because truth is always stranger than fiction, and there are some really great and strange actual period names included. The more common and popular of these will be readily available. Some are hold-overs from the Anglo-Saxon period and others are French imports brought by the Norman conquerors. The player should keep in mind the fact that England was a melting pot, historically, with Celtic roots, the influence of Roman-brought Latin scholarship, Anglo-Saxon remnants, and Norman French traditions. While the names included reflect these varied heritages, they are NOT divided according to their cultural heritage. These can be discerned fairly readily in most instances, though.
Period Men’s Names
Aethel(h)ard Aethelstan Aidan
Aimar Aethelward Aethelwold
Aethulwulf Adalbert Alastair
Albert Aethelbeorht Aldred
Ealdred Alan Aleyn (Alain)
Aldwyn Aelfrede (Alfred) Algar
Alger Aelfgar Alured
Alwin Alvar Aelfhere
Alvin Alwine Aldwine
Aelfwine Aethelwine Alexander
Alix Ambrosius Angus
Andrew Ansculf Anthony
Archibald Arcenbaldus Arlebaldus
Arlaund Arley Arnold
Artur Artor Arcturus
Arthur Aubrey Aulay
Austen Austin Austyn
Osten Ostin Augustin(e)
Aylmer Aethelmaer Baldwin
Bartholomew Barnabas Basil
Bede Bedivere Bennet
Benedict Bertram Berwyn
Bern(h)ard Bevis Bictric
Blair Blei Bors
Brandon Brian Burton
Canute Cerdic Charibert
Charles Chad (Cead) Ceadd(a)
Clarence Clement Colin
Conrad Constantine Crispin(ius)
Darryl Donald Dunstan
Edmund Edwin Eadwine
Elmvi Emeric Ethel(h)ard
Ethelbert (-beorht) Ethelstan Ethelward
Ethelwold Ethelwulf Eubolo
Eudo Eudes Eustace
Finn Felix Frederick
Gafiot Galahad Gaheris
Gareth Gaston Gawain(e)
Giric Geoffrey George
Gerard Gerhard Gerald
Gervaise (Jarvis) Geraint Gilber(t)
Godwin Greash Guillot
Guala Harduin Harvey
Haymo Hamelin Henry
Hengest Hereward Horsa
Hugh Harold Harry
Honorius Humphrey Hubert
Humbert Idhel Irwin
Ivanhoe Isambert Jack
Jacob James Jasper
John Julius Kenneth
Kenric Kendric Kerrick
Cynric La(u)ncelot Lamorak
Lawrence Lewes Lewis (Louis)
Leofric Levric Lionel
Logan Lucien Malcolm
Matthew Michael Milton
Morgan Morcant Murdoch
Morton Nathan Nicholas
Noel Ogier Oliver
Odin Olvinus Ulwinus
Osbern Osbert Oswiu
Offa Osric Orlando
Owen Pandulph Pelayo
Peregrine (-inus) Peryn Percival(e)
Peter Piers Philip
Picot Ranulph Ralph
Rory Raymond Reginald
Richard Robert Robin
Roger Roland Roderick
Rede (Reed) Reinhold Reynold
Seymor Saebert Siward
Simon Sheldon Sherman
Stephen Tasso Thaddeus
Theobald Theodore(-ic) Theodosius
Thomas Todd Tristan
Vergil Vortigern Walter
Waswic Wat Wigstan
Wayne Wilhelm William
Period Women’s Names
Adelicia Aiglentine Ada
Adeliz(a) Adelina Agnes
Alys Alis (Alice) Alais
Aelis Alicia Aldgith
Aldreda Alida Alina
Althea Annes Annys (Annis)
Amabel Amanda Amy (Ami)
Amice Amisia Anabel(-la)
Annora Arabella Araminta
Ariel Arnburga Auda
Aurelia Aurora Averil
Aver(h)ilda Barbara(-y) Basilia(-ie)
Beatris(-ice, -ix) Belle Berengaria
Blancheflor Briana Bridget
Bryony Catherine Kate
Katherine Cecily Céciles
Celestine Clementine Clare (Clair)
Clarissa Clot(h)ilda Chita
Charlotte Darla Daisy
Daphne Delphine Drusilla
Dulcine(-a) Dorothea E(a)dith
E(a)thelbalda Ethel Ever(h)ild(a)
Everhildis Eleanor Elizabeth
(E)Liz(a) Emma Bess(ie)
Beth Lisbeth Lisa (Liza)
Eade Emma Emmota
Erembourc Eremine(-a) Emmeline(-a)
Ermingard Etheldreda Evageline
Ferne Fiona Flora
Florabel Georgina Githa
Gretchen Gwenburga Gwendolyn
Gwenhwyfar (Jennifer) Guibourc Heather
Hellisent Helen Helga
Hermengart Hestia Hildegard
Honor(i)a Iris Isabel(la)
Isabeau Ida Ismay
Isolde Ingoberg Jacquette
Jeanette Joan Julia
Juliette Juliana Karensa(-za)
Kimbra Leonora Lea
Leda (O)Livia Laurel(ea)
Louvaine Louvenia Lyla
Lyrabel Mabel Magota
Margaret Margery Marjory
Marie Mary Mat(h)ilda(-is)
Maud(e) Maurine Millicent
Morgaine Morganna Morgause
Or(i)abel Ottilie(-is) Pansy
Philomena Plaisance Plectrude
Rose Ros(a)lynn Rosamund(a)
Scarlet Sidony(-ie) Sigrid
Sophia Tamsin Tansy
Theodora Theodosia Tyne
Ursula Valeria Viola
Violet Wanda Winifred
Wilhelmina Willamina Ydain
Attributes & Demographics
Despite the procedure for determining the attribute scores of NPC’s provided, one of the hardest things about NPC’s is to understand the relationship of their scores to the of the “average” man in the middle and the PC-caliber hero-types at the top. For the GM’s greater understanding of the game system, we will try to relate them and also to show how they fit in with the grades described previously.
Generally speaking, when generating NPC’s of greater than “walk-on” grade, all scores that are non-essential for a given NPC’s skill(s) should generally be average for his race. NPC’s are SUPPOSED to be basically average in nature, due to the fact that they represent the rest of the population of the gameworld, and SOMEONE has to be average. This means the greater portion of NPC’s, or they wouldn’t BE average people. The only exceptions to this guideline will be BTY and CHM, but only when giving the NPC a higher or lower score is a special distinctive feature of that NPC’s profile (as follows).
The GM needs to have a feel for how rare high and low attribute scores should be among his NPC’s, though. Knowing where multiple high or low scores puts the PC’s and NPC’s in the demographics of the overall population is important. If the GM has given out any extra DP’s for the players to spend custom-crafting truly outstanding heroes, he shouldn’t be surprised when the demographics presented here make them the greatest heroes (so far as natural aptitude or scores) in not just the realm but the entire general geographic region. When the scores of the members of the party violate the demographics for their occurrence, the GM will know when and how many of the party members to stipulate as visiting foreigners when bringing the party together.
The tables provided show the scores next to one another by score range and then relates them to the proportion of their occurrence among the populations whose scores run in those ranges.
For example, the occurrence of scores of 20 in the 2-20 range, 25 in the 3-25, range, 30 in the 4-30 range and 32 in the 5-35 range will all be the same, or 1 in 10,000,000 people whose scores run in the applicable range. That is an area about the size of an entire medieval country. In the 1340’s, just before the Black Plague hit, Spain and Portugal had a population of about 9 million; Italy held about 10 million; Germany and Scandinavia held about 11.5 million; France and the Low Countries (Flanders, Holland, Brabant, etc.) held roughly 19 million. The population of all of Europe on the eve of the Black Death was in the neighborhood of 100,000,000.
The GM should look at the scores in which both PC and NPC strengths lie and take these proportions based on population, considering the demographics for those who are above average separately from those below average, and not just on a racial basis, but also on a score by score basis. In every 100 people there will be not just one with a +2 or two +1’s, but also one with a -2 or two -1 att. mod’s for their attribute scores, and for each race, and in each of the attributes used to describe a character. It is likely that, with the number of scores the PC’s in the GM’s game will have with high attribute modifiers, they as a group will exhaust the probable occurrence of such scores for the geographic reason, leaving room for only a few with very low positive att. mod’s, statistically speaking.
|Rate||Proportion : Population||Rate||Proportion : Population|
|0||9 : 10||5||1 : 100,000 (capital)|
|1||1 : 10||6||1 : 1,000,000 (country)|
|2||1 : 100 (village)||7||1 : 10,000,000 (country)|
|3||1 : 1,000 (shire town)||8||1 : 100,000,000 (region)|
|4||1 : 10,000 (major town)|
Especially high or low scores in particular attributes should probably be made to run in families, though it were probably best if not in every generation. The GM can fudge his demographics for the PC’s benefit by stating the occurrence is in bloodlines, in specific families. Thus, the number of specific characters with high scores might not violate demographic guidelines if they are made the members of a limited number of families, or closely related families.
The GM must be sure he breaks these demographics down by individual race population rather than by the total population, all races inclusive. The racial demographics represented by the table provided for the GM to determine NPC race can be applied to find out what portion of the populations of individual races will have what scores once they have been separated out. These demographics must then be adjusted according to the average score for each race in each attribute, as follows.
For example, in a population of 4+ millions (medieval England), the dwarfs will be approximately 10%, or a total of about 400,000. The GM can’t just start applying the demographics for a STR score of 14, which would be 1 : 10, as he would for the humans because they aren’t human, and their equivalent to a human’s STR of 14 is a score of 17. The 1 : 10 demographic would be used to describe dwarfs with a STR of 18 or 19 which with an overall population of 400,000 would be about 40,000. That is a strong horde to come up against if there should be war. Even the average dwarf would be a fearsome foe against any of the weaker races. They would be able to field about 4,000 with STR scores of 20-21; 400 with scores 22-23; 40 with scores 24-25 (human maximum); and 4 with scores 26-27. For scores greater than this the GM will need to step back and look at the dwarfish population over a larger area (several countries), maybe bring in a dwarf hero from a neighboring country with STR 28-29. There would be but few dwarfs (PC OR NPC) with higher scores even over that greater region, though. As it stands, there are a total of 44,444 dwarfs in that population of 400,000 that have above average or exceptional STR, and the same number with below average STR. That leaves 311,112 dwarfs with truly average STR for their race, with a score of 17.
These are the proportions and demographic figures on which the method for determining scores later was based. The scores for the NPC attributes which bear directly on the skills for which he is considered most important to the plot and/or PC’s should not be allowed to fall in a predictable range. Just because the NPC is a minor character doesn’t mean that he can’t be a truly talented Skulker or Padfoot. If the GM allows himself to fall into a pattern where the grade of the NPC dictates how high their scores are, the PC’s will eventually figure it out, and then the game loses some of its charm. The NPC’s should always have the capacity to surprise the PC’s in some way or another, if not always, then fairly often.
The same demographics were applied in the method for determining the number of NPC’s with multiple scores above/below average. Once the PC’s have encountered and disposed of or befriended the native NPC with the greatest score(s), it would be best if the other NPC’s with great scores in the same area were foreigners. It is probably even more important that those with multiple high scores be similarly limited in number.
Of course, the GM can fudge all the NPC scores he wants, or bump the results here and there, making them whatever he wishes or just more appropriate to the grade of NPC. Even when the GM ignores this procedure and puts together a NPC with the scores he wants, he should be aware of the demographic situation and allow it to govern how often he does so, and maybe also allow it to determine the nationality of such NPC’s, to spread them out over a wider geographic area.
Packing NPC attributes with heroic scores is NOT the best way in which to create NPC’s to challenge the PC’s with, and should be avoided in favor of greater SL’s in critical skills and the capacity to think on their feet and plan around the PC’s when they become an obstacle. This is especially true if the GM has allowed to the balance of power in the game to favor the PC’s so that they seem to have become invincible. There are ALWAYS bigger fish, even if it takes them a while to come from a foreign land on their travels to stumble across the PC’s.
The GM might actually consider knocking the magnitude of NPC scores down by one or two when the NPC has multiple extraordinary scores, so that not ALL his higher-than-average scores stand in the same range. This is why the dicing directions for determining scores for NPC’s was set up the way it was – to preserve the rarity of truly high scores. If the NPC ends up with a higher than average score in one of the “less useful” attributes (in the eyes of the players), such as BTY, CHM, or SPT, rather than a particular attribute the NPC would benefit from for his skills, the GM should consider giving the NPC a twist, such as a secondary trade due to background of a bit of magick (hedge wizard, CunningMan), especially if the MSS and MGA end up receiving a bonus by att. mod.
If it is important to the GM that a NPC have a higher score in a particular attribute due to an important skill, the GM can always fudge the score to get it where he wants it, BUT compensating with a higher SL in the skill is perhaps a better option. Truly high SL’s, while rare enough to be noteworthy among the local or regional NPC populace, are more common than high attribute scores which are the product of the vagaries of heredity. Skills are learned and practiced and perfected by hard work alone and, while few have the drive to devote that sort of work to them, there is always a new generation being trained. Unlike attribute scores, while the PC’s work at and increase their SL’s, so too can the NPC’s to keep up with them, or even to surpass them.
The limitations of the dice and demographics on the scores of NPC’s should be a little more strictly observed when the GM is determining such attributes as CHM and AWA, and perhaps even BTY, for his NPC’s, as these are by far the most important attributes by which leaders are judged. A high score in CHM can be used to very powerful effect if one knows how to use the Presence skills in roleplaying situations, and these are directly influenced by high BTY scores. High AWA scores bring Perceptive skills which, when properly played, can make a NPC a very formidable opponent. The ability to lead has little if anything to do with physical prowess (STR, CND, STA) except in less evolved (barbarian) cultures. Even in those cultures, it will generally be the quick and clever and charismatic among the big and strong who will triumph, through their tactics in battle if nothing else, on the climb to the top. Thus, the leadership attributes in particular should be kept in line with the NPC’s role in the GM’s game. Physical scores should correspond not only to the grade of the NPC, but to the physical role the NPC may have to fill. Minor NPC lackeys, common guards and bully-lads hired for their muscle should have the best scores rolled by the GM applied to their physical attributes and their “leadership attributes” left average, or even made a bit below average, especially if the GM is in a quandry over how to dispose of below average scores for such characters.
When the GM actually gets down to the business of NPC generation, the steps and special information he will need to create the hard facts and statistics for his NPC’s have been gathered together here in this chapter for the GM’s convenience. This has been done so as to avoid any confusion with the process which the player’s will be following, which has very little to do with the GM’s needs in generating NPC’s. It is easy enough for the GM to flip through and compare the information here with that which the players will use for generating their PC’s, found in the previous chapters.
As important as the records of the PC’s are to the players for roleplay, the records of the GM’s NPC’s will be to the GM. For this reason, record sheets specifically for the GM have been provided for the purpose of keeping track of his NPC’s. Like the NPC’s, these sheets are graded according to the amount of information the GM will needs/will generate just as the NPC’s are graded. For all main character-NPC’s the GM should always be given a full PC character record sheet. Even if the GM doesn’t need it all at once, he will get the necessary mechanics, all the background, and the character profile (as follows) down on it to begin with and then can fill it in as he has need as the game progresses.
For supporting characters the GM only needs stat’s (attribute scores, movement rates, maybe combat attribute scores), a few skills (AV’s), and personal/special equipment or gear, and a brief character sketch (profile, as follows). This is made up of components taken from the PC record sheet. Because the information for supporting NPC’s takes up less space than a main NPC or PC, the record boxes were duplicated and ganged so two could be fit on a single sheet. The information for these NPC’s will be divided into personal/stat’s (front) and tactical/gear (back) so both supporting NPC’s could be used in battle or roleplay at once without having to keep flipping the sheet over and over, as would have been the case if they had been put back to back. There is also the danger of forgetting or overlooking a vital supporting NPC when it’s name isn’t visible, which would have been the case, again, if the character records had been ganged back to back so one could only reference one at a time.
For walk-on NPC’s the record sheets are designed for the quick accumulation and storing of descriptions. The GM can always jot this information down in his game notes as he goes, but he is likely to misplace, lose, or just plain forget a walk-on that he may have some use for later if he doesn’t record that information in a more complete and/or permanent form either during play to save steps or in recapping and updating his notes after each game. The GM need not necessarily generate all that information for which spaces are provided for his walk-on’s. He will probably only generate and fill in those aspects about which the PC’s ask, but he can always go back in later and complete those descriptions, filling in all the blanks. That way, if he has a use for them later, he can throw in the extras when recapping the description, which can only help add depth for the players later.
For the GM’s convenience, a selection of score combinations and their dependant stat’s have been rendered on NPC sheets in the back of the book to provide the bare bones (mechanically speaking) for scraping together NPC’s that may be needed soonest or on short notice, suddenly during play, to save him from having to stop his game in mid-stream to do so. These templates should be used, according to their scores and the ruling demographics and the GM’s needs, and are labeled so the GM can sort them out appropriately for quick use in play.
Of course, the raw character sheets and scores in the back of the book are certainly also open to being used by the OM as the basis for even important NPC’s when sitting down at his leisure to plan his game, to save a bit of time.
Part of the GM’s task in organizing the information for both his game and his gameworld will be keeping his NPC’s in such a way that he can access them quickly and efficiently when needed. Dividing them into files according to their location/home base in the gameworld is a good place to start, and then all those NPC’s in the same location arranged alphabetically by name (probably first name, since surnames tend to be in the form of appellations and sobriquets), would be a good place to start. Once he has gathered enough of them, at the GM’s discretion, NPC’s might be further divided by social class and station ), after location, in order of importance (as they appear on the class and station tables in Chapter 2. of [PC] character generation and then by name. Mass-produced NPC’s (generally minor in nature) should probably be organized by type, as they don’t normally have names.
As mentioned, NPC’s can easily change category or grade during play, depending on how the game progresses. When this happens, the GM should transfer the information from the sheet for the lesser form to a sheet for the greater grade and then finish adding the additional information. The old sheet should then be stapled or paper-clipped behind the new sheet. When a NPC starts getting less and less use and its role falls off to that of a lower grade, the GM should just let it stay where it is in his filing system.
The procedures provided here for creating NPC’s make having above or even below average scores difficult to obtain for NPC’s. This is as it should be. One of the hardest things for most GM’s to grasp about NPC’s is the their statistical relationship to the PC’s. The NPC’s are the standard, the average due to the fact that they comprise the overwhelming majority. They also account in their number for those who are below average, though in number these correspond in number to the PC’s, just at the other end of the spectrum. NPC’s have to make up for the average state of their abilities relative to PC’s with the cultivation of their skills and abilities over time. The PC’s are the truly talented fair-haired students of their masters. When they begin play, the PC’s are the equal at their crafts and knowledge of most who have been working and practicing for a few years already.
The GM needs to have a feel for how rare both the high and low scores are. Knowing where in the general demographics of the population, local and national, having high or low scores puts the PC’s will help the GM put it all in perspective.
These proportions will allow the GM to determine what portion of his population he will have available to make above average NPC’s, even tell him when he is violating statistical probability over time. If the game runs long enough, it is quite possible that the GM will exhaust the number of above and below average characters PC and NPC that should occur according to statistical probability.
The GM will have a great deal of latitude if he is careful about age ranges, because these statistics apply separately to each generation. For the purposes of the game a generation will be considered about 15 years, rather than 20 as is common today. He will also have more latitude in regards lower above average scores, due to their greater occurrence.
This is the same principle that is applied in determining demographics between the different races, based on the overall populations, in Chapter 2 of Part II. when creating the fantasy world. When in his hometown with a population of 1,000, the human character with a +3 att. mod. will be the only one so talented born there. People do not move about all that much, but the GM should keep track of those with the truly high scores, because it is possible that all such may end up in the same place, and the PC’s that are generated for a given country may well actually account for all the high scores of the national population. This applies to EACH generation, though. When the character reaches the age of 15-20, his own generation will be about the business of bearing the next.
High or low scores can run in families in particular attributes, though it were probably best not to have it equally high in every generation. The GM can always fudge the demographics.
Average Scores, by Race
NPC Attribute Generation
Neither of the attribute generation methods, Custom or Quick, provided in this chapter up to this point will be appropriate for the GM’s use in creating NPC’s, unless the GM is specifically trying to create a PC-caliber main character ally, some disinterested third party, or antagonist or nemesis. PC’s are supposed to be a definite cut-above the average person or NPC, and the great majority of the NPC’s the GM will end up handling are supposed to be just average, run-of-the-mill-type folks. They are the ones the average scores are meant to represent. The average people are the ones who provide the standard against which all the PC’s are measured by contrast.
All NPC’s will be assumed to have average scores for their races in all attributes. These can be found on the tables recapped above from Chapter 4. of PC character generation.
If a NPC is supposed to have knowledge or skill in a particular trade, the GM should look up that trade to find the attribute(s) governing its use and determine if the NPC will have any sort of natural talent for it, according to his attribute score(s).
On the roll of 1 (“0”) on a d10, the NPC’s score in that attribute will be raised one point, providing him a +1 att. mod. Otherwise he will be well and truly average.
If the die indicates a +1, the GM should then roll another d10.
On the roll of 1 on d10, the NPC’s score will be 2 points higher, providing a +2 att. mod.
If the dice indicate a +2, the GM should roll d10 again, and so on.
The GM should go through this process for every attribute of importance to the NPC. Scores will be important only for those attributes which will see use in play. Since the incidence of higher or lower than average scores for a given race is the same for all races across the board, this process can be followed for all equally.
If the GM determines that the NPC will see combat, that is one of the few reasons to go through the trouble of generating scores and skills. The only other such NPC’s requiring any detailed record are those who will be recurring rather than walk-ons. If they should end up traveling with the PC’s, then the GM should have combat statistics or attributes prepared in the event that they may end up taking a by-blow or otherwise falling in harm’s way.
For this purpose, the GM can use the NPC Record Sheet provided that allows for full armor and BP records and limited skills. There is one that is provided so the GM can keep track of several on a page. Their skills will not be differentiated, but there is no way the PC’s will know that, and multiples of the same general quality of Warrior will commonly be used for household retainers and bully-lads, watchmen in the towns, garrison soldiers in town, castle, or palace, mercenaries, men-at-arms, sergeants of the peace, knights of all kinds. Each of successively greater skill and better armor. To provide some individuality, there are simple variations of armoring the GM can use on the group Record Sheets..
Of these those NPC’s who deal in magick of any sort will take a little more detail and preparation. Because they will usually only be created at need, the GM should start the character with all the requisite attributes at 14 or racial average, whichever is greater, before checking the d10 to determine if the scores will be any higher.
Alternately, if he has no specific skills or trade in mind, the GM may roll a d10 and on the result of a 1 pick one attribute to raise the score for. This should be open-ended, so every 1 the GM rolls in succession will indicate another score which will be above average.
In the same vein, every 10 (“0”) the GM rolls will indicate an open-ended roll determining how many scores will be below average.
The GM should roll for above average scores first, and below average after, stopping when the dice indicate an end to the open-ended roll (a number other than 1 or 10 being rolled) or all attributes have been accounted for, whichever occurs first.
The GM should follow the procedure described above for determining how much above average a given score will be, and the same for determining how far below average as well.
Generating Groups of NPC’s
When the GM is stuck for the scores of a great number of NPC’s of the same type (skill/trade) he can employ a short-cut which may seem like cheating to some, but which will save him a great number of headaches. Especially when the GM need of a whole body of household guards, caravan guards, town guards, watch guards, people in a mob, especially a mob of members of a single guild, the GM can generate a single set of scores, or take one of the sets provided in the back of the book, and use it for the entire mass of NPC’s/foes. How? By using the mass minor NPC record sheet in the back of the book. This sheet shows only a single set of entries for physical stat’s, movement rates, Tactical Attributes, but has AoD boxes duplicated and ganged for multiple entries for armor and tracking BP’s, headed by large capital letters (A – ?). The GM can thus have a body of people whose stat’s are all effectively the same, but they can all wear different armor to help distinguish them and take wounds separately. If the GM wants, he can create a crowd composed of several different age groups with different stat’s taking by taking the same set of scores for each and making up different mass sheets with progressively greater age adjustments. There is no requirement that the GM fill a given mass NPC record sheet if he doesn’t want or need to. The GM can similarly create a crowd or full cadre of guards with varying scores by making up mass sheets of NPC’s, each using a different set of stat’s from the back of the book.
This might strike some as highly improper, but to be quite honest, if the GM is doing his job and keeping his preparations to himself, just how are the players to know? They might get a hint when they all attack on the same Initiative in combat, but as they are expected to be mostly average that shouldn’t be a problem, and they won’t necessarily do so in the first place if they are divided between different areas addressing the needs of individual situations.
The use of Wait Actions to stagger Initiative when looking for Opportunity Actions to take will soon divide their actions and intersperse them with those of the PC’s quite naturally in rather short order, except when a group is specifically attacking, over-bearing, or otherwise concentrating on a single PC to make defending more difficult, as they should. Tactics for deployment of mass bodies is one advantage that the PC’s do not really have, but when facing a group of organized opponents they had better learn to stand together and guard each other’s flanks and backs or they will fall and hard.
Then there is the matter of differing weapons between them, and the variances of armor which, even though they have the same number of BP’s, will determine how swiftly they fall when struck, which will also depend on the locations struck. As for Wind, FTG and BP’s, the PC’s have no business looking at the GM’s notes so will have no idea what sorts of resources they will have in that department, and if they are trying to determine how much damage (BP’s) the NPC’s have taken by tallying the damage inflicted as they go and subtracting for apparent armor, smack their knuckles with a ruler or something, but make them stop. There is no way the PC’s will know when their foes should fall, what it will take to knock them all down – and as the PC’s have resort to magick, there is no saying the NPC’s do not have some magick, at least of a temporary sort, on their armor for the engagement cast either by a magick-wielding foe or contracted by a savvy foe who wants to give his men an edge in battle.
But those sorts of possibilities aside, if the PC’s are talking about their foes during the battle it is a fair assumption that, since the characters will act in accordance with the thoughts and theories about they foes that they are trading, that the characters are holding the similar conversation, while they are themselves trying to fight. That means two things, first that the GM should watch his watch and shut any conversation down after 10 second have passed, for that is the length of a Combat Segment, and force them to continue their conversation in 10-second bites, forbidding any other conversation except with the GM himself, and second that the NPC’s get to react to the content of their conversation (assuming they are all speaking the same language. If no language has been specified by the PC’s, their native language should be assumed. If there are foreigners in the party, whatever language they hold in common should be assumed.
In addition, if this admonition doesn’t put a stop this sort of speculation, the GM can always forbid the players to speak in terms of game mechanics during play on the strength of the fact that doing so isn’t roleplaying, which is the point of the game in the first place. Discussing statistics and probabilities and logistics are parts of ROLL-p1aying, which isn’t any fun for the GM, who has just as much right to enjoy the game as the players. When the players persist in ruining the air of adventure and excitement by discussing rules and game mechanics during play, the GM can always start fudging events and results in favor of the NPC’s. But more about suppressing the players’ knowledge of game mechanics during play later, at the end of Part III.
The bottom line is, no matter that to the GM they are all alike as coming from a cookie cutter, with the application of even a little attention (variations in armor and weapons), mass NPC’s will seem individual enough once they come into play that the PC’s are likely to choose nick-names to identify them to one another during a battle.
The physical description of the NPC should be completed before the GM actually proceeds to introduce the PC’s to the NPC or allows the PC’s to actually address him and commence with the interaction part of the encounter, or this description should be determined and provided as the PC’s introduce themselves, and the GM will need to check the NPC’s initial reaction (see “Encounter Reactions”) to determine the original state of mind or attitude towards the PC’s.
Where walk-on NPC’s have no stat’s at all, minor NPC’s all at least have a few, if not all, scores for either the physical attributes or conscious attributes, or perhaps both. When the scores allow (STR, CND, and STA, in particular), the GM can generate the NPC’s height, weight, proportions (leanness and muscular size, especially relative to the PC’s themselves), as would have been done for the PC’s themselves when acquainting them with one another’s appearances at the start of play. NPC’s might be tall, tall-ish, average height, short-ish, or short, but the GM should be sure that the players understand that these and any other terms are used to acquaint them with the NPC(s) from their characters’ perspectives, relative to their own weight, weight, size, build, etc. An NPC’s figure (referencing CND) might be average, defined, lean, wiry, truly thin, bony, or dangerously thin bordering on anorexic, even skeletal. On the other hand, they might be curvaceous, voluptuous or lush, plumpy or well-rounded. rotund, corpulent or ponderous, or truly obese. The range of adjectives regarding thinness also expresses a descending degree of muscularity, as well, of which the GM should also be conscious when using the superlatives.
The GM should be careful how much information he gives when introducing a NPC, for he doesn’t want to give away all the details of the NPC’s actual situation. A NPC’s actual station/trade may be apparent by the nature of his clothing as described in the passage headed “A Few Words on Medieval Garb” in Chapter 3. in Part II., or due to accessories or tools worn or carried, or even due to the circumstances under which he has been encountered, but the GM doesn’t want to give the game away. Certainly the PC’s will be able to figure out what a craftsman or shopkeeper does for a living when they approach him in his shop, and the state of his wealth and property will also be evident there, but otherwise it will be difficult to tell. That is what the assessment skills of Perception of the Courtier, the Merchant, and the Rogue are for.
The players must also be able to figure out how to ask question of the NPC’s when their character’s perceptive capabilities don’t provide enough information, and to do so openly and kindly so as not to offend the NPC’s or make them suspicious. But time will also be a factor. The length of time the PC’s have to observe the NPC in question should directly affect the amount of information the GM gives them. The shorter the time, the more basic and abbreviated the description before the encounter begins or the opportunity to begin it passes by. The primary point is that the GM should never allow himself to be drawn into revealing specific scores for attributes to the players in response to their questions on physical appearance just because it is an easy short-cut.
Discussing NPC’s in terms of stat’s and game mechanics is not a part of role-playing.
When the GM is allocating scores for his NPCs’ attributes he should keep in mind what those scores say about the character, especially in regards to his physical appearance – how they will make the character LOOK, and how that is likely to be received by his fellow NPC’s in the gameworld in which he lives. AWA is critical for catching important details and to allow the character always to be on his toes, difficult at best to surprise. BTY and CHM are important not only for charming information out of others, but for exercising leadership under pressure also. At the other end of the spectrum, a character who has to keep his mouth shut all the time for fear of starting a fight and/or has to wear a sack over his head to keep from driving people away in fear and making children scream and cry isn’t much fun and will likely attract some rather unpleasant attention.
The average scores for all attributes for each of the races can be found two pages previous for the GM’s reference.
Although some races will have higher or lower ranges in some attributes, all the races are compared on the basis of the human standard. The human average for almost all attributes will be 13. Scores above this will be noteworthy, a matter of praise and aiding the character’s success in the use of the skills and abilities they affect. Those below 13 will be noteworthy for the opposite reason. Below average scores will lower the character’s chances for success in exercising the knowledge, skills and abilities they affect. The GM must make sure that the scores reflect what he intends for each NPC for whom he generates them. As mentioned, STR and CND must be viewed in relationship to the character’s STA, which is itself subject to the Build of the race, to determine what the visual effect actually is, however, the actual height itself can be important, too, as it influences the character’s proportions if altered from the result provided by the STA table in Chapter 6. of PC generation. This should explain what the physical statistics mean in more visual terms.
The higher the character’s STA (taller the character) the higher the STR will have to be for the muscle size to really show at any time other than when the character flexes or exerts himself. The taller a character who has only average STR and CND is, the longer, bonier, and lankier that character will appear. Of course, a character of average STA and STR with a high CND may also appear thin, but this will due to the fact that his muscles will be longer and leaner with more definition, made for endurance. The higher the CND, the more visible and pronounced the play of the muscles under the skin will be, and the more visible the character’s surface veins will be, especially when the character exerts himself. This will hold true for NPC’s just the same as for NPC’s.
High STR provides big muscles, of course, but without a good CND score: they will be smooth, and only the divisions between major muscle groups will be: visible. The shorter the character of high STR is, the larger the muscles will appear. Players trying for the bodybuilder-barbarian look will need high STR for muscle bulk, but also high CND for high definition, and shorter than average height for their race, as well as a couple inches shorter than average for their STA score. for more apparent thickness. Half-trolls, half-ogres, and dwarf characters are thick by nature, Medium-Heavy to Heavy in Build to start with, so following these tactics will yield almost cartoonish results – if that is what the GM is looking for.
The physical scores are only capable of defining a NPC’s (or PC’s) appearance in a very narrow range of topics, however. There is SO much more that can be said of one’s appearance, where the use of scores in physical attributes cease to be of any use. From here there are several things that can be observed of the NPC on casual approach. Eye color, hair color and length and texture, and even distinguishing marks which can make NPC’s very vivid can be quickly disposed of with a few rolls of a d20 on the tables in Chapter 6. of PC generation and those created to supplement them, to follow.
The mode of a NPC’s dress will always reveal his class to the observer (unless he is dressing in the mode of another for a specific reason or general anonymity), and the general state of his prosperity in that class, whether he is prosperous for one of his class or fallen on hard times or truly impoverished, as evinced by the presence of things like faded finery, clothes being worn past the point of showing wear, showing signs of being much-mended, or even having been blatantly patched. A NPC’s class and station can be rolled on the tables provided for PC backgrounds, and the state in which the NPC’s fortunes stand in that class will generally be indicated by the station results (results towards the tops of the tables being more prosperous, those toward the middle more modest and those towards the bottoms being less fortunate). In the cases of the lower clergy station results and mid to lower landbound stations, the results are more ambiguous and the GM should roll on the NPC Fortunes table. A NPC’s personal habits regarding hygiene and personal appearance is also easily observed on approach. If the GM has no preference, he can roll on the table provided for that purpose also, as follows.
From here, or when he has no such point of reference in describing an NPC, the GM actually has more freedom to work up character appearance. Even when he has physical scores to reference, once the meaning of the scores has been conveyed to the players there is alot that can still be said about a character’s appearance, any character.
For the GM’s convenience in making up NPC’s, a couple of additional tables have been put together to generate details to add depth to NPC encounters for the benefit of the players, as follows.
The General Appearance table is fairly self-explanatory. The NPC Fortunes table indicates the position or state of the NPC’s fortunes or prosperity within his native class. Every class and station has its rising and falling stars, those at the top of that level and those just barely maintaining a hold on remaining within it, their glory days past. Not only the clothing itself, but the state of an NPC’s clothing will reveal not only the class and station, but also how their fortunes are faring.
NPC General Appearance/Hygiene
|1||Filthy, Crusty/Malodorous/Physically Repulsive|
|2||Dirty/Sour-Smelling, Ragged, Upsetting|
|4-5||Clean/Windblown/Casually Loose (Provocative)|
|6-7||Clean/Fresh/Well-Kept (Social Standard)|
|8||Scrubbed/Neat/Prim/Tucked, Creased, and Tied-Down|
|10||Immaculate/Painted, Powdered, and Perfumed/Foppish|
NPC Fortunes, State of Clothing
|D10||State of Clothing|
|1||Wealthy & Successful, fine new cloth, stylish cut, excellent fit and drape|
|2-3||Well-to-Do, Good cloth in newer condition, good cut and fit|
|4-7||Average Means, cloth, cut and fit, unremarkable for Station|
|8-9||Worn & Impoverished, neatly mended or re-tailored second-hand clothing|
|10||Poor/Worn, altered second-hand clothing, much mended and patched|
The GM should throw a d10 for each NPC created, a result of “1” indicating that the character has a Distinguishing Mark of some kind, to be rolled on the following tables. The low incidence of such marks allows them to retain their value. If all NPC’s have a “distinguishing mark” such as are represented here on these tables, they cease to be distinguishing. An additional table is provided in the chapter on characterization for idiosyncrasies to further individualize what could otherwise all-too-easily turn into an endless series of paper cut-out, cookie-cutter NPC’s.
Some of the entries on the following tables have superstitious significance. Those with a single brow and especially those who are also hirsute are commonly attributed with lycanthropy – werewolves. Having eyes of two different colors is commonly believed to signify the power of the Evil Eye. The GM may make these superstitions the truth, as has been done with so many others in the game – or not, just to trip the player’s up. The GM will note that, in the case of such deformities as the slit nostril and missing body parts like fingers and toes, noses and ears, arms and legs, it is most likely the NPC has seen the rougher side of the law. If it is a product of an accident, it is likely the NPC will carry a placard or royal warrant attesting to the accidental nature of the injury. In the case of a Rogue/Knave, it is likely he will carry a forged document to this effect when in fact he was punished by the law.
The GM will please note that the tables for these marks are not intended to be definitive by any means, but representative and open for additions of the GM’s own inspirations in this area.
|1||Roll for 2 Distinguishing Marks ignoring further results of “1”|
|2||Big nose, “Johnny Bull” to “Cyrano de Bergerac”|
|3||Thunderous/Prominent Neanderthal Brow|
|4||High, Square forehead|
|8||Partially Bald, Balding, or Totally Bald|
|9||Receding Hairline/ Widow’s Peak|
|11||Small Facial Scar, adds character|
|12||Extensive Horrific Scar(s), roll for AoD located|
|13||Eyebrows Meet/Continuous Brow|
|14||Missing Significant # of Teeth|
|15||Eyes Two Different Colors|
|17||Stupendously Pendulous Earlobes|
|18||Naturally Smooth, no body hair at all|
|20||Physically Challenged (see 6-5.b)|
|1||Albinism, susceptibility to the sun|
|2||Animal attribute (2)|
|3||Birth mark, significant shape †|
|11||Missing hand or foot (1)|
|13||Partial arm/leg missing (1)|
|14||Siamese twin, joined at the hip (1)|
|15||Siamese twin, joined shoulder to hip (1)|
|16||Slit nostril(s)/Nose removed|
|19||Whole arm/leg missing (1)|
* a deformation of one foot that will impair the character’s movement rates, making the 1/2 rate his maximum, also giving the character a limp.
† somewhat large size and near-pictogram quality in its distinguishing shape assumed.
** impaired mobility which will limit any Acrobat skill to no more that Warden LoA and impairing the ability to dodge in combat by 1/4th.
(1) commensurate effects on skills and movement (GM’s discretion)
(2) as a result of magick in the mix and/or a curse of some sort (claw(s), fang(s), scales, mane, vestigial or full tail, vestigial or full horns, hooves, etc.
It is most likely that the GM will already know the age of the NPC’s that he creates, at least the general classification or category, but this may not always be the case.
One of the biggest problems with using Character Creation for generating NPC’s rather than PC family background is that it doesn’t address the age bracket of the NPC. There is no PC on which to base all the ages of everyone in the family. The procedure provided is geared to working backwards from the children to the parents when for NPC’s it needs to work the other way around.
If the GM doesn’t know how old a NPC is at least by general category, the GM can make use of the following tables to generate an appropriate age. On the lines reading across from the names of the races are the span of years for each category, and underneath each is the number of dice to be rolled to achieve a number in that range. Where the GM does know the age category, the table provides a quick and easy method for determining a specific number for the NPC’s age within that category.
Among the headings on the table, the “Middle” heading stands for “Middle-Aged”.
Random NPC Age Categories
|d20||NPC Age Category|
To get the age scores indicated above the dice quoted on the table, simply subtract the minimum yield of the dice from the minimum age in the span for the category. The result should be added to the result of the dice as a base to make the result fall within the range quoted for the category.
Ages for NPC members of PC families can be determined easily. For siblings, the quick roll of a d5 for each in turn should be added to the PC’s own age. This will provide the ages of those who are older. The same done in reverse, subtracting the die rolls in turn, will yield the ages of the younger siblings.
IF the character is dwarfish the result of the d5 should be multiplied by 6; if he is elfin, multiply by 15; if dunladdin or irdanni, multiply by 2.
For the ages of the parents (at their wedding), the GM will need to determine first the age category, accepting only results of Adolescent, Adult, or Middle Age. To this should be added either a d5 again to determine how long after their first child was born. If the age of the eldest sibling is known, adding that to the parents’ ages when he was born will tell the GM how old the parents are.
NPC Age Ranges by Category
|Elf *||1-10||11-20||24-220||225-720||724-1,200||1,201 +|
d100Half-Elf1-1011-2023-140150-340351-450455-500 d10d106d2010d20d1005d10Half-Ogre1-1011-2023-5053-8082-100102-120 d10d103d103d102d102d10Half-Troll1-1011-2023-140150-340351-450455-500 d10d106d2010d20d1005d10Half-Trow1-1011-2023-140150-340351-450455-500 d10d106d2010d20d1005d10Human1-1011-2021-3031-4041-5051-60 d10d10d10d10d10d10Irdan1-1011-2042-6062-8082-100102-120 d10d102d102d102d102d10Pumathar1-1011-2021-3031-4041-5051-60 d10d10d10d10d10d10Wulver1-1011-2021-3031-4041-5051-60 d10d10d10d10d10d10
* The “d100 x d100” entry is just a suggestion. With their unlimited lifespan and immunity to disease, elfs can live any length of time the GM can imagine. It is certainly conceivable for the GM to use an elf character who was around to see the first tribes of the other races appear, or who was among the first tribes of elfs to descend from Færie into the lands of the Mortal World. The 1,000-year age mark is just an arbitrary “average” age by which most elfs are assumed to become too world-weary to be rejuvenated in spirit any longer, simply retiring back to the kingdoms of Færie and the Undying Lands of the Spirit Spheres beyond.
Average (13) CND and only average lifespan should be assumed, unless the GM has cause to increase or decrease it to show heredity for a PC child whose CND is particularly high or low. In some cases, the parents of large families, especially those in which the PC is among the youngest, may well have died already, the eldest son having already assumed the reins of the family estate or business, or near death. If not passed on already, the GM will need to determine how badly deteriorated their physical attribute scores are, according to the information provided in the passage “Life Expectancy & The Effects of Aging”, as follows.
The GM and/or the player are certainly free to use these tools to fill out the whole family tree. It is always fun to know where the aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews are. It is likely that there will be a great deal of family within a 20-50 mile radius.
The following passage is provided for determining the ages of NPC’s and their families where there is no PC age to start from as a point of reference. For those NPC’s in the Old or Venerable categories, and in the event that a PC should somehow find himself so aged, the GM will need to consult the passage headed “Life Expectancy & The Effects of Aging” in Part ???, The Aftermath. This is where the GM will find directions for implementing the effects of age, the slow deterioration of the physical faculties, and sometimes mental, as well. These will apply equally to all characters whether PC or NPC.
NPC Marriage Status & Families
Unless the GM already has definite plans or a strong concept already that defines this aspect of the NPC, it will be important to determine his or her marriage status when a NPC is of the Adolescent or Adult age category or older. When a NPC is married, the PC party may not just be dealing with the NPC himself but his family (brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, wife and children, cousins), as well. People the PC’s may never even heard of may be descending on them requiring vengeance to redress insult, injury, or especially death. New widows can be implacable enemies, and their families after them should they be disposed of. There is no way the PC’s will know whether the NPC is married unless they are observant enough to notice whether a ring is worn on the proper finger (assuming he is a member of a class and station where such a thing is affordable, no ring is needed for a common law marriage), or if the spouse or children are present when they meet, or if the PC’s are smart enough to dig and ask questions to find out who the NPC is and what his situation and circumstances are.
The GM will need to have these details ahead of time if the NPC is important enough to warrant it, OR be ready to fly by the seat of the pants if the players catch him unawares and suddenly start focusing on some NPC the GM had not thought particularly notable.
Because the quality of life and its dangers, multiple marriages and sets of children were not uncommon due to death from disease, accident, misadventure, or childbed for women. Common law marriages were common indeed among the free and landbound common classes, and just as easily abandoned when love faded. Most women outlived their husbands, so it wasn’t uncommon for younger men to look for well-heeled older dowagers to wed. If the GM has any preferences for this aspect of his NPC, he should just make the decision and jot down the details, otherwise he will need to determine this information. If the NPC is married, the GM will want to check and see how many times, and perhaps think about what brought the other marriages to an end (annulment through the Church, disease, accident, misadventure, murder, etc.). This will be based primarily on the NPC’s age category. We do not include the “Child” category because only hand-fasting and contractual negotiations between the parents of the two families are allowed at that age, and those arrangements will be common only among the nobility and the wealthy ranks of commoners (merchants, franklins, etc.).
The base percentage chance for a NPC to be married starts with 25% at the “Adolescent” category and increases at a rate of 5% per year of the NPC’s age beyond that; per 2 years if the NPC is dunladdin or irdanni; per 6 years if he is dwarfish; or per 15 years if he is elfin.
IF the NPC has a CHM or BTY score that is above 13, the GM should add the att. mod(s) to the percentage chance of being or having been married. Rolling the percentage or less on d100 indicates the NPC either is or was married.
Once it has been established that the NPC is or was married, the GM will need to know the status of that marriage and how many times the NPC has been married, if even more than once.
NPC Current Marriage Status
|1||Separated, Church Annulled|
|2||Separated, physically only, or Common Law divorced|
|5-6||Married, Common Law *|
|7||Widow/Widower, natural causes, old age|
|8||Widow/Widower, accidental death **|
|9||Widow/Widower, fatal disease or affliction|
|10||Widower, wife died in childbed|
* Read as formally wedded for all noble NPC’s and commoners of wealthy station.
** The details of the accidental death will be completely up to the GM, and can encompass anything from falling down a flight of stairs or falling getting into or out of the bath and braining one’s self to choking to death on a chicken bone or falling off a horse at high speed, being thrown from a horse while jumping, killed in a duel with brigands or highwaymen, drowning in the absence of swimming skills or burning in a house fire.
The same will be true of diseases and complications of physical afflictions such as broken bones that won’t set, infections arising from child birth, internal perforations caused by broken ribs, , gangrene due to the gout or in-grown toenails, fevers, cholera, and the like. The actual disease or affliction involved won’t be much more than a name to anyone but a Physicker, Barber, Surgeon, Midwife, or Leech. The details aren’t really all that important, unless they are somehow involved in the plot of the story at hand. Perhaps a PC was the healer called to help the NPC’s beloved and failed. If the PC’s do discover the NPC had been married, no doubt one of them will find a way to ask what happened. It is always good to have the details in order.
IF the NPC is of the Adolescent category in age and human, wulver, or pumathar, the GM should assume that this is his first marriage, if the GM determines he is married. Whether the GM does so for any of the other races should depend on the NPC’s actual age, the number of years elapsed of the Adolescent category. The NPC must have had the time to have had multiple marriages.
|10||Fourth or greater *|
* For this last entry, the GM should roll a d5, reading all results of 4 or lower as 4 marriages, and adding one (1) on a roll of 5. If a 5 is rolled for the first die, the GM should again, open-ended, adding one (1) to the result for each 5 rolled, stopping when he fails to roll a 5.
IF the NPC is or has been married, the GM will need to determine whether he has had any children – for each marriage if he has had more than one.
The NPC’s chances of having had a child, and of that child surviving to adulthood, will be 24%. This can be broken down into a 60% mortality rate to the age of 5 and a 40% mortality rate from the ages of 6 to 20, if the character’s children are still within those age ranges.
IF the NPC has had multiple marriages, the GM should check to see if there are any children from each of those unions.
IF the NPC has children, the GM can determine the number and their sexes according to the directions provided in the passage headed “Size of Family & Sibling Sexes” in Chapter 2. of Part I. provided for the players to make up PC families. The GM should put a practical limitation on the number of children per marriage of no more than one per year of the marriage, although that number could conceivably be exceeded if the husband were sleeping with other women. It was not uncommon for some great men, especially in the Church, to sire as many as 60 bastards in their hey days. To enforce a limitation, however, the GM should subtract the minimum age for the Adolescent age category for the NPC’s race from his current age and make sure the total number of children doesn’t exceed that number.
Medieval administration, whether household or government, revolves around bureaucracy, one’s sphere of influence, the accumulation and subsequent delegation of authority, and the concept that those above have a social obligation to aid those below in the social hierarchy.
The household of every noble and free commoner of extensive means will be divided into spheres of influence or responsibility called departments. Each department will have its own head and dependant staff, as does the royal household that is examined in detail somewhat later in this passage, a copy of that great household’s structure on a smaller scale, in accordance with lesser means. In lesser, common households, however, that will not be practical nor will it be appropriate. The size of one’s household is governed by one’s financial means, but is also dictated in part by one’s social standing. Appearances and dignity of station must be maintained.
The noble lord will usually have two stewards, one to deal with the castellarium estates, and the other to tend to the domestic needs of the lord and his household. One will generally stay at the primary residence (seat of the honour) and attend to the business of the lord’s estates while the other runs his lordship’s domestic household and manages his domestic affairs and provisioning. He will also keep a butler to govern the cellars, a chamberlain for his great chamber (later, one also for the constable’s or castellan’s personal finances), in addition to the Keeper of the Wardrobe (the lord’s treasurer/personal clerk), the Marshal in charge of stabling the horses and transport of the household, the Chaplain, who usually also acts as bookkeeper and scribe for the household. His military retainers will include household knights(rare during the period of the game, unless the knight is filling a household staff position), castle guardsmen, squires, the Watchman (who is also responsible for the internal security of the household), the Porter (who keeps the doors and is responsible for controlling the traffic in and out of the house, also called a Doorward)and various men-at-arms who also have domestic functions.
Each child in the noble or wealthy household will have a wet-nurse, who more often than not will remain in attendance as a sort of chaperone or governess and personal maid after the child is weaned. Older children will have teachers or Magisters, professional scholars with teaching credentials from a Church university. Teachers of noble children will be private tutors required also to accompany their charges everywhere, as chaperones. The greater nobles usually hire a separate master for each child to see to his education and safeguard his well-being, but less lofty households might have a single master for the girl children and another for the boys, or just one for the lot, stressing more their education and having the nurses help in chaperoning the children about.
The household of the Lord of Eresby is considered an average example of a baronial household. It consisted of some 40 persons, broken down in the household departments, as follows :
1 Knight Steward of the Estates
1 Steward of the Household
1 Wardrober *
1 Clerk of the [Household] Offices (Wardrober’s Deputy)
1 Clerk of the Chapel (Chaplain’s assistant) ††
1 Almoner †
2 Friars **
1 Friar’s (boy) Clerk
Domestic Officials & Servants
1 Chief Buyer (agent) 1 Marshal
2 Pantrymen 2 Butlers
2 Cook 2 Larderers
1 Saucer 1 Poulterer
2 Ushers 2 Chandlers
1 Porter 1 Baker
* The lord’s chief clerical officer, examines daily expenditures with the Steward of the Household at nightly meetings.
† These men could be required to help write letters and documents or act as controller (auditor) of expenses in periods of great political/social activity or seasonal buying (winter/holiday) or selling (post-harvest).
** Either of the friars could substitute for the Chaplain if he were otherwise occupied.
†† This young man will be responsible for the packing and safe transport of vestments, vessels, and furnishings, all necessaries for the chapel and Mass.
Each of the official above would also have his boy helper/apprentice. Where an office is filled with two officials, one will usually accompany the nobleman on progress when he travels and the other will remain at the primary residence.
The lord’s wife, the baroness, might have 20 or so chamberwomen or maids about the house in addition, not to be confused with the maids-in-waiting who attend her and are of (lesser) gentle or noble blood themselves.
A bishop’s household might consist of the same number (30-40), but due to the fact that dueling for judicial reasons is forbidden the clergy, the staff will probably include a permanently retained professional champion, as did the household of the Bishop of Hereford, Richard de Swinfield, but in the households of the great lords of the Church there will be no women. Washing and the brewing of beer were generally women’s work, and the household records always show the household wash of the bishop being put out to a lavender and the occasional services of a brewster entered as separate charges. The GM should keep this in mind when dealing with NPC members of the clergy.
The king’s sister, the countess of Leicester (Eleanor de Montfort, 1265), had household officials and servant staff numbering greater than 60. In the 1270’s, a kinsman of the great border-lords of Chepstow Castle had a household that included 13 grooms, two pages, two knights, many squires, a cook, a physician, and a host of clerks and lesser domestic servants. The household staff of Sir John Fastolf (squire to Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, before 1398) at Caister Castle came to 25 during his wife Millicent’s lifetime, for her comfort (married 1408). After she died, he scaled back the staff and lived more simply.
Though late in period for our general purposes (1558) and the lack of enumeration of the specific positions filled by the household members, it is still helpful to look at the make-up of the household of the 5th Earl Shrewsbury.
13 yeomen & grooms
3 children of the kitchen
7 or 8 “Lord Talbot’s men” (son’s servants)
The domestic arrangements didn’t change much in the intervening time, as most elements in the medieval world were rather slow to change. The GM can still see the large portion of staff that Shrewsbury drew from gentle country families, likely related to him or just in the surrounding area dependant on him.
Still late in period (1422), though earlier than the Shrewsbury example, the staff of the household of the influential Earl Marshal (later created the 2nd Duke of Norfolk) is a little more specific in a different way, and can also help shed light on the domestic staff of the upper nobility.
12+ senior officials (standard)
- 6 “gentle others” (Usher of the Chamber, Marshal of the Hall, etc.)
- 70 yeomen & grooms (inc. Wardrober, Cook, [Mule-] Skinner)
6 damsels of the Contessa. (noble Maidens-in-Waiting)
+ outside staff
The GM will note the presence of a small hand of minstrels kept in the household. This a mark of great distinction, to keep such a band on staff in the household to entertain when the mood strikes and to entertain and impress guests.
Though again rather late in period, a duke’s household is noted in 1472 as consisting of around 240 souls, including 4 knights, 40 esquires and gentlemen, where an ordinary knight’s household might number only about 16. These officers are essential to the smooth functioning of the large household staffs. Even when the royal household goes on progress around the country visiting the scattered estates of the fisc, the King’s Steward and King’s Keeper of the Wardrobe continue to present the household accounts for royal review at least every 3 days.
The GM can see from this sampling that the noble’s household is just a smaller version of the elaborate royal household, scaled down to the average lord’s (baron’s) more modest dignity, purse, and thus needs. All wealthy and noble households will reflect the structure of the royal household as far as the dignity of their estates demand and their purses will allow. The higher the station or rank of the noble, the more of the department-head positions in his household will be filled by vassals of lesser nobility (knights to start, then lesser barons, earls in the king’s own household).
This should give the GM an idea of the range in the number of household staff such differences in station and wealth entail. Both NPC’s and PC’s must maintain an image and standard of life as dictated by their class and station and/or occupation, unless they do not want these things to be acknowledged. How conscious will they be of their names and reputations? Most people prefer to be recognized by their peers and treated with dignity and respect as peers by their colleagues, however, so we will turn our discussion of NPC’s in particular to matters of a domestic nature, or rather domestic staff, when and how many. This may seem frivolous to some, BUT domestic staff is the one resource from which all the wealthy and noble draw their guards and the bully-boys who enforce their pleasure.
If the GM wishes to be able to determine the numbers and hard statistics on which a NPC has to draw, whether as an ally for the PC’s or as a Bad Guy alike, the GM must be familiar with the structure of the household staff and its various departments. The greater a NPC’s wealth, the more bully-lads or hired muscle he will have on staff; the higher the class and station, the greater the number and the higher the station of the lads he does retain in his household. Landed nobles of the rank of Lord (baron) or higher are required as a condition of the act of homage and oaths of fealty sworn on assuming their estates and titles to maintain a number of knights which they must outfit and bring along with them when summoned by the king in time of war. This is the price of their estates, their wealth, position, and privilege. These knights are kept either in their own halls and supported as retainers in the household, or sub-infeudated on manors out of their own estates to support themselves.
The GM MUST be aware of the domestic side of life, what it takes to sustain the society through which the PC’s move, to feed and otherwise support the craftsmen they patronize from time to time. The whole gameworld cannot be made up of wandering adventurers and their foes and one exciting adventure after another without cease. The greater part of the world must be concerned with mundane things like ploughing, sowing, and hoeing to grow the grain to make the bread on which all subsist, and the harrowing of the fields, the reaping in late summer, care and breeding of livestock, butchering it when it cannot be supported through the lean months of winter, cooking, trading handicrafts or produce of the family farm for household needs, and keeping their houses clean. If the GM is doing his job , the PC’s should be concerned with these things as well, or at least be mindful of them and acknowledge their importance and see that their own characters get help to see that these things get taken care of.
Trains & Retinues
Due to the fact that the king’s and all the great nobles estates are scattered about the realm, across the shires, the king and his nobles and their households must travel about to consume the produce of those estates to avoid costly cross-country cartage fees, to administer justice and exercise their customary rights, to make a show of their presence, to reinforce in the peoples’ minds the strong presence of order and the rule of law. Furniture is an expensive commodity, and even the noble and royal families cart their favorite pieces along with them from place to place on their travels. Except for a few pieces, especially the monumentally large, ornate, and heavy, all residences not being occupied are left essentially empty. Only a few necessities for the staff that remains there to look after the place and run the farms/estates. Glass windows are carried about from place to place and installed in each residence occupied, in turn, to provide the lords with light. Wood shutters are used to fill and close the spaces in their absence.
Thus, the king and his nobles are saddled with many carts and horses to carry their things from place to place. This makes their travel excruciatingly slow, especially in inclement weather, and thereby that much more dangerous, since they carry with them their wardrobes and select pieces of their favorite jewelry, as well, and the pack beasts must be kept in working shape, so a sufficient supply of oats must be carried, too. When travelling, the king and his nobles are required by custom to display their high position by travelling with a retinue.
The retinue is a body of armed guards, an honor guard of knights, footmen, and archers to protect the king or nobleman on his travels due to the commonly acknowledged dangers of the road, but also to convey the dignity of a man’s station by the number of his traveling companions and the richness of their apparel. Combined with the members of the household staff with which the king or nobleman also travels, the servants, retainers, entertainers, courtiers, knights, and nobles he brings along to carry his baggage, to serve him, and for company. The retinue, domestic staff, hanger’s-on, carts, and packhorses are referred to as the king’s or nobleman’s train.
Social standing is always measured by the size of the retinue and train (in addition to wearing sumptuous clothing, riding a fine horse, and giving of largesse to the poor and needy), and the king’s retinue and train will always be the greatest in the land. It must be, for the entire royal court must accompany the king. Even the personnel of the Chancery department of the government ride along with the king. During the 1300’s the Chancery ceased to travel with the king’s retinue on Progress and moved to Chancery Lane in London.
The king’s retinue consists of archers, sergeants-at-arms, bannerets, knights, squires, yeomen, and more. There were 30 sergeants-at-arms of the King’s Horseguard, and 24 Yeoman of the King’s Guard (footmen, archers, c. 1318). When the king is on Progress through the realm, the Sergeant of the Marshalsea must remain at hand to take the king’s horse when he dismounts and see to its care. When not engaged in accompanying the king on his travels, their chief duty, many of these guardsmen might be told off (assigned) throughout the household to guard the entrances to various offices and departments, especially the Wardrobe and Exchequer and those in which the goods and supplies of the royal household were kept (i.e., the Spicery, the Great Wardrobe). Regardless of where they stand duty and despite the fact that they never serve any domestic function at all, these men will always be accounted members of the household.
The members of the train are drawn first from the king’s own household and from the chief members of the staff of each of the offices of the government, then from his favorites, those special trusted few whose friendship and counsel he most values (almost always those few friends made during childhood), and then from the nobility of the region he is visiting at the time, and the obligatory accompanying lesser officials, functionaries, and messengers necessary to keep the government going, and the omnipresent courtiers and nobles who have business with the crown who can afford to follow the king and court on Progress to pursue and further their causes. The king’s train always includes one or two trusted personal messengers, a confessor and his companion, the royal physician, an almoner to pass out alms, bread, meat, and ale to the poor, to the shrines and religious houses they encounter along their road.
Due to the itinerant nature of the king’s duties, those of his officials, the nature of royal and noble life, their need to travel about the countryside to see to the affairs of their estates and offices, or to meet with their staffs in their permanent offices or residences, messengers are vital to the business and social lives of the wealthy and noble.
Historically, the Exchequer maintained a staff of 10 to 12 messengers of its own to conduct their business including delivering the king’s writs to the sheriffs in the shires (early 1100’s). Twice a year the messengers carried writs to the sheriffs, covering the whole of the realm in about 15 days. After 1231, the number ranged from 10 to 15, and they were paid regular wages as opposed to being paid on a jobbing basis, including shoes and robes of blue twice a year, all mounted and paid for out of the office of the king’s wardrobe. Since the business of the Chancery is paper-shuffling from office to office and official to official to keep the work of the government going, the Chancellor keeps his own staff of messengers, too.
For less formal business and private messengers among all strata of medieval society that could afford it, kitchen servants called “cokini” or “cursores” are sent out on foot. The cursores don’t wear the special livery worn by full-time messengers employed for formal business. Such messengers are common to noble households of every rank.
In time of trouble or unrest, much of the king’s household will itself turn out to form the core of any army he raises, every sergeant and yeoman mentioned in the departmental and household rosters provided later in this chapter will be a potential fighting man in addition to those kept on specifically as household knights and guards. When the guards and household men are outfitted for war their number is greater than 200, closer to 300.
In addition to the men in the household itself, many of the officers of the household, being men of means by royal patronage, will also be required to provide their own retinues to the king by custom when his majesty raises arms to ride out on campaign. This might vary a little from one occasion to the next, but the parameters are pretty clear as to what was expected from the retinues supplied for three campaigns by two officials of the Kings Wardrobe, as follows.
Keeper of the King’s Wardrobe
1291 1301 1304
3 knights 3 knights 4 knights
29 esquires w/horses 16 esquires 11 esquires
Controller of the King’s Wardrobe
1291 1301 1304
2 knights 2 knights 1 knight
12 esquires 11 esquires 13 esquires
The maximum retinue allowed a Keeper of the Wardrobe was 6 knights and 22 esquires, historically. This particular Keeper apparently felt confident enough of his dignity and reputation that be preferred not to. The Cofferer of the Wardrobe will have a retinue of 5 or 6 squires to contribute, too. On occasion, even the King’s Tailor and King’s Physician contributed horsemen. When mustered with the obligatory retinues of the officers, the household might yield a mounted force of greater than 500, or 750 when including footmen in household pay. In local matters, where the king must meet a local threat, the force of household men might comprise 1/4th or 1/3rd the total army fielded. This might comprise only one battle of a half-dozen in a larger, more important conflict, such as a full-scale war of conquest or over the location and maintenance of borders.
A Parliamentary writ of 1277 recorded the following retinue of a knight banneret:
12 light horse
1 mounted crossbowman
8 foot sergeants
7 boys with “horses of low value”
6 men with axes and spades [likely tenants]
In other words, the typical troop of soldiers a typical manor and village might yield, the knight’s sons and/or younger brothers as squires and men-at-arms on horse. The retinue of Richard, Lord Talbot (1300-1400’s) included 14 knights, 60 squires, and 82 archers, while that of John de Vere, Earl Oxford, included 23 knights, 44 squires, and 63 archers, all in (household) livery. But in the households of the nobility, sergeants and yeomen will all be men the nobleman might take with him on campaign to fight, as well, for whom he would keep war harness in his private armory to outfit in such circumstances. The retinues quoted for these men are similarly composed of dependant nobles and household men. These are not the numbers maintained as guards, as in the king’s household. Any who try to rival the king’s retinue are in effect challenging the king’s supreme rank and authority,
The delineation of households (et al.) above should help the GM set up not just the households of the NPC’s, but the PC’s too, including the Bad Guys they face-off against in particular. Determining the number of Bad Guys to throw at the party in any one encounter or engagement is a matter for the text under the heading “Setting the Level of Danger” (regarding the writing of adventures). The figures in the above passages on households, retinues, and the like should provide the limits for the total resources on which the Bad Guys can draw. Being a Bad Guy isn’t a choice that affects one’s domestic lifestyle, though it may make him a little richer and thus better able to live well, in a more elaborate domestic state than he might otherwise have enjoyed. The GM should keep this in mind when drawing up the ranks of the Bad Guys in designing his adventures and campaigns.
The men of the garrisons of castle and fortified towns will each have a fixed allotment of food for their meals. This could consist of bacon and herrings, cheese and beans, bread, and either beer or wine each day.
The men of Dover Castle were allowed 1/2 lb. of bread, 1/2 gallon of “biscuit”, 5 pints of wine and 1/2 “mess” of pork (1/48th of a pig) each day. On 22 of his 40 days of service, he was also allowed 5 herrings and an extra ration of cheese and oatmeal.
The lot of noble house servitors like mounted messengers at table consists of whole meal bread with a “mess” of “great meat’ at both meals, or take-along money to that value (3d. per meal) for their trip when on the road.
In creating NPC’s, the GM won’t have to go to nearly as much trouble as the PC’s. What gear any of the GM’s NPC’s need for adventuring, any armor or sidearms (weaponry) worn about the streets or countryside, he may simply pick from the rosters in Appendix D., simply keeping an eye on the NPC’s Encumbrance limits and those of his beasts, as applicable).
One aspect the GM will be required to watch more stringently even than the PC, is paying attention to social restrictions and morés as regards richness of clothing, gear and even type of armor and worn (as applicable). Only Knaves, outlaws, and shameless brigands disregard these conventions, and the GM should be sure to observe them and leave the exceptions solely to those sorts of dangerous, unsavory characters.
In some cases, this may not be sufficient to the GM’s needs, though. The GM should have an idea of what constitutes a rich lifestyle in the era of the game and how poor ARE the poor to be able to convey those facts to the PC’s on behalf of the NPC’s as they encounter them. To give the GM an idea. of the amount of common furnishings and the extent of personal property associated with the various ranks of society, an overview of a few estates will be presented here. This should also do much to give a proper appreciation for the value of money and the various types of gear the characters will encounter. This should also give the GM a leg up on determining the values of booty as rewards for PC adventures, and also an idea of the various forms such booty can take, but more about that in Chapter ? of Part II.
Obviously, the serfs and other landbound classes are the poorest, aside from the crippled and homeless wandering beggars. These poor farm folk (serfs) may have a pair of actual leather shoes to wear when celebrating on holidays, going barefoot or in sandals from spring through fall, but often having to resort to wrapping rags about their feet in the winter to protect them as well as they may from the freezing winds, the snow and the ice. They may have a cloak which might have to serve double-duty as a blanket, and may or may not actually own the tools with which they work the land. Their homes are small one- or two-room cottages, perhaps with a loft under the eaves above the animal shed reached by a ladder or rough, steep staircase, framed with great oak timbers in “cruck” style with walls of wattle and daub, spaces filled with woven mats of willow withies or hazel slips filled in with a daubing of dung and clay and straw that is strong when baked by the sun but doesn’t hold up from one season to the next when there is a lot of wet weather. Fires aren’t laid in any fireplace as we know them today, except perhaps in the homes of well-to-do villeins, but on a fire-baked clay hob in the middle of the main cottage chamber. The smoke drifts up to a vented lantern that sits on the rooftree and filters out through the thatching covering the roof, which also helps keep rodents out and pests from lodging there.
For furnishings, they aren’t likely to have more than a pile of coarse bedding, a narrow cot or small bed or perhaps only a tick without a frame, roughly made, a stool for by the fire, a single pot to cook in, a few domestic implements (mostly wood), some cheap, locally made earthenware crockery, and a belt knife for everyday use. The farm they work for their own benefit may be u small as five acres, or as large as 15 acres. The customary holding of a villein is a “virgate“, some 30 or 40 acres in extent (depending on the quality of the land). With 30 acres he may generate £4 in income, clearing only £1, but only in a good year, when the sun isn’t too brutal and the rains neither too generous nor too stingy. Children are put to work as soon as they are old enough, to help defray the onerous “week work” in the field required for the lord while also trying to cultivate their own lands for a good crop, or hired out to the lord in addition to help increase the family income. But the needs of these folk are rather simple and their lord’s men are there as a. safety-net to see they don’t starve or freeze to death. If the lord were to allow such a thing, who would work his fields?
Of course, fortunes can vary. For bordars and especially villeins, this is the bottom of the ladder. Most of their numbers, particularly the villeins, do much better than this. There may be bordars or villeins who actually do well, who manage their goods and affairs cautiously and have rich land that yields good crops more often than not. These may be as well-off as any freeman farmer, lacking only their rights, very likely hoarding their wealth in the hopes of one day buying their freedom from the lord, but those stashes are more likely to buy license to put their children to apprenticeships in some craft, or into the clergy.
The average freeman farmer’s farm will certainly be no smaller than 30 or 40 acres (considered the minimum required to support a man and his family) and may be as large as 90 acres. With 90 acres he may generate £12. in income, clearing about £3., but only in a. good year, when the sun isn’t too brutal and the rains neither too generous nor too stingy. The average free villager had one or two cows or one to five sheep. Even in the so-called “sheep-farming” regions, the average man had “3 acres and a cow” in toft and croft. Herds of livestock will be owned by the well-to-do villeins, freeholders (freemen), and wealthy noble and ecclesiastical lords. Fortunes can vary, however. Those farmers who have more land stand to make a better living. Gentlemen farmers, franklins descended from lesser nobles who no longer have any rank or privileged status of their own, may hold well over 100 acres, even as much as half a knight’s fee (c. 240 acres).
The average freeman farmer will own his house and land (where the landbound do not), though he may have had some help in medieval custom in setting the materials to keep it in good repair, gorse, sedge., and broom from the common waste with which to thatch his roofs. The house will usually be all of timber, or have only an upper storey of wattle and daub over one end reached by a steep, narrow staircase. The family bed chamber is usually in a loft under the eaves, accessed by another cramped staircase or a ladder. The wealthier freemen may have a cellar of stone or brick with upper floors of timber, and a true fireplace and chimney.
Those with the money to employ others in their households will be well aware of their financial obligations to their dependants. Such service pays well. Common servants might get anywhere- from 1d. to 4d. 1hp. per day wages, which comes to c. £1. to £4. 10s. per year, depending on how low they are on the totem pole of the household staff, how menial their function. Many such positions were also paid in robes and shoes of the master’s colors.
To be a student at one of the university schools requires an income from family or patron, including room and board, clothing, and books, so generally only the well-to-do could afford to send their sons. The wages of the laborers is relatively low due mostly to the intermittence of their employment. Many freeman farmers had other occupations that they pursued when they had time between the work in the fields. A village bedell, reeve or a good dairyman could bring in 5s. per year in extra income working for the local lord, while a dairymaid or “deye” might only get 2s. to 4s., not enough to give up the farm, just enough to make life a little easier, maybe enough to afford a few more acres. A carter might. get. an additional 6s. 8d. per year.
The following schedule of incomes sets down the relative income levels of people at various levels of service, so the GM can see who are in the same income range, who will be rubbing elbows with whom.
|Position||Per Day||Per Year|
|average laborer||4d. to 6d.||
|footman in a noble’s retinue *||2d. or 3d.||
|captains of the king’s ships||6d.||
|sailors of the king’s ships||3d.||
|minor gentry||£8.to £10.|
|esquire||up to £12.|
|lesser knight or country gentleman||£20. to £30.|
|Knights on royal retainer *||2s.||£24.|
|steward of the queen’s household||£20.|
|auditor of the queen’s accounts||£20.|
|Warden of the Royal Mint||£36. 10s.|
|Assayer of the Royal Mint||£6. 13s. 4d.|
|Yeomen *||7d. to 8d.||
|Sergeants *||8d. to 1s.||
|well-to-do knight, rich manor||£100.|
* These are men of another’s household who might be called on to fight in time of trouble or war.
† plus victuals, lodging, robe and shoe money.
Some wages vary as the duties change. The King’s Horseguard receive 1s. per day when serving with three horses in time of war, but only 8d. otherwise, when serving with two horses. Sometimes the means of payment was tied to a customary yearly gift such as robes and shoes rated at a customary value which could be discharged either in coin or gift of goods, as indicated in the note for sergeants referring to victuals, lodging, robe and shoe money on the table above. The valets and yeomen of the king’s chamber get no wages at all, but receive victuals (meals) and lodging plus 13s. 4d. in robe money and 6s. 8d. in shoe money every year (£t, total), due to their general youth. The customary pay for the constable of a castle is c. £10. to £12. per year, plus his lodgings in the upper floors of the gatehouse of the castle. The steward of a single estate could get as much as £15. 6s. 8d., provided it is a large, rich estate, plus robes, hay, litter, and firewood, all he requires.
Household officers in baronial households might get 2d. per day wages (c. £2. per year), but they generally also get an allowance for robes, and sometimes also for shoes, as much as 9s. a year or more. A manor bailiff could get anywhere from 10s. to £3. per year, plus robe(s} or an allowance for the same, depending on the extent of the estate, the breadth of his responsibilities. The higher the rank of the employer, the greater the prestige of the employment and the greater the wage, to stay in line with the requirements of that social dignity. The queen’s chamberlain gets £6. 11s. 4d. per year in two installments. The usher of the king’s wardrobe is paid 4d.1hp. per day (c. £8.) plus 3 and one-half marks of silver (£2. 6s. 8d.) every year for his robes. The steward of the king’s household receives £6. 13s. 4d. in wages plus £25 per year in wardship revenues (so the king need not be out of pocket to pay his whole wage), plus 8 marks of silver (£5. 6s. 8d.) per year in robe money, over £37. per year in total.
Among the clergy, a chaplain, living in the cradle of the Church, housed by it or by the noble lord in whose house he serves, and with but few expenses of his own, might receive 1d. per day in wages, which comes to c. £1 15s. per year, somewhat better than a relatively poor freeman farmer. Vicars fulfilling the duties of absentee parisb priests, with whom they split the proceeds of the parish still manage to take in 5 to 6 marks of silver (£3. 13s. 9d. to £4.) per year. Priests serving under charter to perform religious services regularly at a bridge chapel in the country oou1d get. £5. each per year for their sustenance Wandering pardoners, disliked and mistrusted on the whole by their fellow clergymen, especially those in orders, might bring in 100 marks of silver (£61. l3s. 4d.,) per year, but always traveling, their living expenses are higher than other clergymen.
The Bishop of Hereford held 23 manors in 1290, some land in two other shires, fisheries on a major river, and two fine town houses in two cities, one in Worcester and one in London. His household numbered 30 to 40, the equal of any great baron or earl. The king’s Chancellor, also the Bishop of Winchester, was worth £2,000+ a year. Bishop Odo of Bayeux, half-brother to William the Conqueror, held 500 manors across 20 shires in England. William retained 1,422 manors in the royal hand after giving out parcels as rewards to the noblemen among his troops.
The “average” Lord (baron) will have an income of c. £400, however. Very few will have an income over £500 per year. The Pelhams, knight-barons of Sussex, were worth £500.+ per year, and a Sir Thomas Wykeham of Oxfordshire was worth even more. At the high end of the scale again, the barony of Holderness with the great manor of Burstwick and including the port of Ravenspur was valued at 1,000M (marks of silver, or £666.13s. 4d.) per year in 1316. Roger de Lacy, Constable of Chester and Earl of Lincoln, was one of the wealthiest men in England with an annual income of c. £800. Hugh de Spencer died with an estate of 59 manors spread nationwide, 40 manors with their foals, 160 head of draught horses, 1,000 head of oxen and steers, 1,200 cows with their calves, 1,000 pigs, and 28,000 sheep, not to mention the £10,000. he had amassed in armor, plate, jewels, and coin in his treasury, and his notable library.
The palatine earldom of Leicester, of the Earl of Lancaster, actually consisted of five earldoms. Lancaster’s household expenses alone in 1313 came to £7,957. 13s. 4d. 1hp., of which some £5,000.+ went for foodstuffs. Taking household expenses as 75% of his income gives him an annual income of c. £10,000., nearly a rival to the king himself. The king’s income stood at about £20,000. per year. The queen’s allowance amounted to some £5,500.+, plus any extraordinary expenses for which she might come to the king in addition, mainly in the form of the produce of various English foreign possessions assigned to her use. By increasing the efficiency with which those estates were run she could easily increase her allowance.
Lands & Estates
The numbers provided so far are all very informative in their own general way, and impressive in many instances, giving the GM an idea of the value of money to the people according to their class and station in life, but if the GM is trying to put together an inventory of possessions, especially landed ones, to get an idea of the NPC’s influence and wealth in more concrete terms, he is going to need more specifics. Ultimately, in the medieval view, land is the ultimate wealth. If the PC’s will be seeking a ranking NPC out, or the NPC will be entertaining the PC’s, or one is trying to elude the other, the GM need to know roughly how many properties of what sorts the NPC has at his disposal. Usually these manors or estates will be centered in one locality, clustered together in the same general region of a shire. If the NPC is a Lord, they will belong to the castellarium of his honour, his castle and principle residence. This is the district where he holds the right of justice. The PC’s will need to be able to discover how long his reach is.
Simple knights (“knights simple”), or knights bachelor, hold no feofs, no lands of their own, though they might be found governing one or a block of manor estates, on behalf of their lord, or they may be household knights directly dependant on their lord, eating at his table. If they have no lord and no battles to fight in to earn their bread, they may be restricted to traveling the tourney circuit. A poor knight might not even be able to afford to stable his horse, might be forced to borrow until the next opportunity arises to ply his craft of war for profit, or turn brigand.
A landed knight, or knight banneret, will never hold a castle-feof or lordship. It is the castle-feof that separates the titled greater nobility, the lords, from the gentry, those who are noble only by dint of their knightly blood. The basic feof of a knight is a manor. The standard feof or manor-estate considered sufficient to support an otherwise untitled knight banneret in proper dignity is 480 acres, of which he might keep as little as 15 acres in his own hand in the demesne, letting the rest out for the rents from tenants. A knight may actually hold any number of manors for his feof, and the more important among them may from time to time be granted license to fortify or “crenellate”, converting them for the most part into castle-like structures.
To determine the number of manors a knight holds, roll a d5. On the roll of “5” on the d5, the GM should roll another d5. The results of the second d5 will be the number of d5’s the GM should roll to determine additional manors. The number resulting will be the total number of manors he will hold.
At the upper end of gentle landed wealth, the estate of one country gentleman, Thomas Mauduit, was comprised mainly of two manors, including two parts of a. dovecote, two parts of the proceeds and tolls of markets and fairs [of the hundred], and proceeds of the hundred and manor courts to the combined annual value of £57. 0s. 3d.
The major factor that distinguishes greater nobles, or Lords, from those who are knights alone are their castle-feofs, or lordships.
A greater noble may actually hold a number of lordships, starting with one (1). On the roll of “5” on a d5, the GM should roll another d5 to determine the number of additional lordships he holds.
Each lordship will be based around one (1) castle, called the “seat” of his “honour”, honour being another word for his lordship or feof. This is the lord’s primary residence, where he holds court and maintains his records and accounts. This will also be the source of his title and will be the largest of his castles and the most palatial in its amenities. For example, the chief castle of lord Langwash should be Castle Langwash. or Langwash Castle, and the lord’s surname (last name) should be Langwash also, the family being the Langwashes of Langwash, unless the GM decides that the title is old enough that the property and title should have passed to another family by marriage or escheat and regrant (highly likely if the title is older than 100 years). All other castles the lord holds will be smaller, subsidiary ones of a purely military nature, designed and situated so as to support the main castle in the defense of the region in which they are located.
On the roll of “5” on a d5, the GM should roll another d5 to determine the number of additional castles which are included in each lordship he holds. These other castles will be of the nature of smaller, simpler strongholds which will be strategically located according to the topography of the feof in order to best defend it from outsiders, or to pacify it in times of internal strife.
Each castle will be supported by its castellarium, a. block of manors and/or villages in its immediate district (within a radius of 10 to 20 miles) whose produce and revenues go to feed the castle residents and maintain the castle in good repair. Every manor/village in the district surrounding the castle isn’t necessarily part of the castellarium, however, though most are likely to be. The number of villages and/or manors in the castellarium may number as many as 100.
To determine the number of places contributory to the castellarium, the GM should roll 5d5. For every result of “5”, the GM should roll an additional d10. For every result of “10” on a d10, another d10 should be rolled. On the result of “10” on that d10, the GM should roll another, and so on, to a maximum eight d10’s.
On the roll of a d10, results of 1 to 8 indicate a village, while results of 9 or 10 indicate a manor.
For each village, the GM should then roll a d10, results of 4 to 10 indicating the village will have a manor governing it. Those containing no manor will be members of a manor actually located in another village.
For each manor, the GM should then roll a d10, results of 4 to 10 indicating the manor will have a village attached to it.
On the roll of a d5 for each manor with a village attached, a result of “5” will indicate that the manor has other villages that are beholden to it, as well, and the GM should roll a d5 for their number. On the result of “5” on that d5, the GM should roll another d5. On the result of “5” on that d5 roll another, and so on, to a maximum of six d5’s.
The ratio of manors to villages should be roughly 1 : 4 when the GM is done with this process. The results can be fudged in that direction if the GM thinks it necessary.
IF the GM is rolling to get the specifics for the castellaria of several castles all belonging to the same lord, the highest number of manors and villages generated for a single castle should always be assigned to the chief-most castle, seat of the honour, and the rest assigned in descending order by the size/strength and/or importance of the rest of the castles to the defense of the feof.
The lands retained in the hands of the king are called the royal fiscs (“FISKs”). Like the honour of other nobles, the fiscs will be governed from castles, but these will be royal castles, which will have a more national character and importance to them, in that there will be at least one for every shire in the kingdom, located in or near the chief borough of the shire. This royal castle will be used as the office of the sheriff (the king’s “shire reeve”), as the seat of crown government in the shire and the connecting link between the king’s central crown government and local government across the realm.
King John (1199-1216) had 72 castles in his hands at his accession to the throne, but only left 60 of them to his sons. The other 12 had been granted out as feofs or farmed out in Keeperships. During the latter part of the period of the game (early to mid- 1300’s), the number of royal castles held in the king’s own hand rose to 63.
There should be no more than c. 100-150 castles in a realm the size of England alone, not including Albion or Cymry (Scotland and Wales).
A Word about the Darkness
One other consideration when the GM is creating foes, especially when it is determined that the NPC Bad Guy is a member of the Church or is a Mystic, is to establish the presence of the Lords of Darkness and their Church, the foes of the Lords of Light. While they should not necessarily be behind every plot the PC’s stumble across, they will undoubtedly be behind some of them. A connection could be simply coincidental, instead, but draw the attention of the forces of Darkness afterwards when the PC’s vanquish one of their supporters.
At the GM’s option, he might throw d100 for each major NPC an adventure is centered on, a result of “01” indicating a follower of the Darkness. If the NPC is married, a result of “00” should indicate that both of them Walk in Darkness.
For the purposes of the game, the Church of the Light and the Domain of the Light will be considered dominant, and the PC’s followers either of the Light or of the Old Ways (pagan). Those who follow the Darkness will be anathema, heretics and outlaws among those of the Light, and reviled at least for their cruelty and lack of honor by those of the Old Ways.
When the GM determines that there is a connection to the Church of the Darkness, he should take every precaution to conceal that fact, requiring the PC’s to discover on their own the clues and then evidence of that connection, and decide for themselves what to do about it. This is especially true of the more dangerous PC-caliber adventurer NPC’s. Out of sheer self-preservation, Those Who Walk in Darkness will do their best to hide their true natures. They know too well they stand to lose their lives if caught in the Domain of the Light. Dark Followers among the PC foes will pose one more mystery to be unraveled, if the GM allows a clue or two to come to light. The Darkness might use the NPC in a more overt way to further some plot bringing him into conflict with the PC’s, perhaps sheltering other adherents, making him more conspicuous.
If the GM generates a clergyman adherent of the Dark, it may indicate one who has entered into the hierarchy of the Church of the Light as a mole, seeking to discover the identities and locations of all the Mystics, whom the Church keeps close track of. The best way to cripple the power of the Light is to eliminate It’s living avatars. How long he lasts in the Church will be determined by how long he can elude being unmasked by any of the Mystics touched by the Light, or magick-wielders dedicated to the Light who can read his aura.
While it is possible that a whole family – father, mother and children – all be Dark Followers, there are some special considerations to be discussed. Most such people will be largely consumed by their own selfishness and pursuit of their own personal quests for power to share their lives closely enough with anyone even of the same faith in order to marry and have children. Illegitimate children might be sown and left behind without a thought, and denied if brought to them for support afterwards. On the other hand, might be preferable for a single parent to raise any children under the mantle of the Dark, to mold them to their own ways and purposes. A match in the Darkness, if it did occur, would rarely be for any other reason but political advantage, either in the world at large or within the religious hierarchy of the Church of the Darkness.
PC’s & NPC’s “In Service”
In the tables for stations provided in Chapter 1 a number of entries can be found that are generically labeled “in Government Service” or “in Household Service”. The players will be bringing these results to the GM looking for more information and, indeed, the GM needs that information himself for his own NPC’s.
For the GM’s convenient reference, rosters as comprehensive as could be drawn up of the officials and clerks of the various offices of Crown and local (shire) government (and noble households and religious foundations, as well) have been compiled. The GM can use these rosters of officials and positions of varying degrees of power as a blueprint for the government of his medieval monarchy, filling the offices with named NPC’s as they are encountered. Where the GM sees a number quoted in parenthesis next to a position, that indicates the number of people of that rank attending to the responsibilities of that office according to the records of the king’s household in the reign of Edward I (r. 1272-1307). With the vagaries of life, chance, politics, favor, and the like, those numbers may easily be varied, fudged by one or a few in either direction. Perhaps such variance is a matter of note and gossip at the court and among the government functionaries.
The GM should feel free to fill the empty offices with NPC’s as those PC’s coming in search of someone of that rank encounter them over the course of the game, trying not to exceed it by more than a couple here or there, except in the cases of layman-usher and layman-sergeant or yeoman warrior positions (horseguard, archers, etc.), sumptermen, grooms, outriders, and the like who provide the armed defense of the royal household, the core of the king’s army. Those positions might be as much as doubled in numbers, especially during times of unrest either civil by threat from abroad.
For the GM’s use in dealing with Courtier characters who wish to go politicking or navigate the ranks of government officials in getting their various causes addressed this is the map, as well as a guide to the rules of precedence between the officials and their respective offices. Table 2-13. is provided to help determine the actual position of those “in Service”, whether local shire or baronial or royal service. The results of this table refer to the rosters of positions that follow.
Any PC Courtier having permission to attend the royal Court long enough to witness a slow increase in the number of soldiers in and/or around the royal household, or with any contacts in a position to notice the same thing, just might be seeing a sign of some sort of large-scale trouble brewing, or of the onset of royal paranoia, or even the growing danger of an attempted palace coup, if it is at the orders of a powerful nobleman, especially if the king is a minor, or by order of one in a powerful position within the government already (Chamberlain, Chancellor, Treasurer or Keeper of the Exchequer, Constable, Lord Marshal, etc.).
Singular entries in the rosters of government officials and offices without numbers will indicate offices held and duties discharged by a single individual and, once filled, will remain occupied by that NPC until he should retire from service, unless the GM sees a need to have the king order a replacement, perhaps to move him up the ranks as a reward for service and/or in response to pressure from influential nobles of the realm, or due to his death, or some public disgrace or malfeasance of office too great to ignore.
Those entries noted as being plural in office-holders but being followed by no number quote, especially like those found in the Officers of the Realm roster, can be duplicated and awarded as many times to as many NPC’s as the GM likes. There can be as many Keepers of the Forests as the GM wants royal forests under the Forest Law in the realm.; as many Keepers of royal Estates and lands as he wants royal estates (manors, castles, etc.) in the realm; as many Deputy Keepers as he has ranking Keepers with more important business to attend to, and so on.
Spheres of Service
|3||King’s Privy Wardrobe|
|7||King’s Officers of the Realm|
Offices of Crown
The Chancery *
Keeper of the Chancery Rolls †
Keeper of the Hanaper
The Royal Scriptorium
Master of the Scriptorium (Writing Office)
Greater Clerks of the Chancery “Clerks of the 1st Form” (12)
Clerks of the Roll
Clerk of the Parliamentary Roll
Commanders of Writs
Clerks of the Crown (2)
Clerks of the Office
(c. 100 or more total)
Office of the Clerks of the King’s Ships
Admiralty Clerks of Chancery :
(of the Ports of the North)
(of the Ports of the South)
(of the Ports of the East)
(of the Ports of the West)
The Upper Exchequer (Exchequer of Account)
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Treasurer of the Exchequer
Marshal of the Exchequer
Constable of the Exchequer
Chief Writing Clerk
Clerk of the King’s Remembrancer
Usher of the Upper Exchequer
The Lower Exchequer (The Receipt)
Treasurer’s Clerk (Clerk of the Lower Exchequer)
Sergeant Usher of the Exchequer
Knight Chamberlain of the Receipt (2)
* Chancery is considered by the clergy to be their private preserve, especially considering the fact they have an exclusive monopoly on formal education. Any who are educated privately who enter Chancery without being clergymen are not only highly unusual, but will not remain outside the clergy for long, for the livings for all Chancery clerks are supplied by the Church.
** The chancellor is always a bishop of the Church.
† The Keeper of the Rolls is always a Clerk of the 1st Form, and is also often the Master of the Scriptorium at the same time, but this will be the GM’s call to make.
The rights of the Church in the positions of the government are a matter of long-standing custom held over from the days when there were no others fit in the realm to be called for such service.
The GM will please note that in the period of the game, the machinery of Crown government had become too big to follow the king on his perambulations about the realm, especially considering the records amassed by that point, and so became permanently lodged.
The King’s Household
Controller of the Chamber
General Surveyors of the Chamber (2)
Chief Clerk of the Chamber
Clerks of the King’s Chamber (6-8)
King’s Chamberlain *
Receiver of the Chamber
Surveyor/Keeper of the Viands for the Royal Mouth
Sergeant Usher of the Chamber
Sergeants-at-Arms of the Chamber (4)
Sergeant Naper (Laundryman)
Ewerers of the Chamber
Sewer of the King’s Table
Squire of the King’s Body **
Sergeant Usher’s Valet
Harbinger of the Chamber
Porters of the Chamber
Squires of the Court ††
Yeomen of the Chamber (8)
Sumptermen of the Chamber (16)
King’s Minstrels (2)
Kings Trumpeters (2)
The King’s Privy Wardrobe
Treasurer/Clerk/Keeper of the Privy Wardrobe
Controller of the Privy Wardrobe
Keeper of the Privy Seal
Clerks of the Privy Seal (3)
Controller’s Clerk (assistant)
Controller’s Clerks (7+)
Keeper’s/Cofferer’s Clerks (4)
The Great Wardrobe
Usher of the Wardrobe (Clerk of the Spicery)
Sub-Usher/Harbinger of the Wardrobe
Yeoman Porter of the Wardrobe
King’s Chief Banker †
Clerk of the Spicery (Usher of the Wardrobe)
Sub-Clerk of the Spicery
The King’s Hall
Steward’s Clerk/Coroner/Clerk of the Market
Chief Clerk of the Kitchens
Chief Clerk of the Pantry & Buttery
Clerk of the Marshal Harbinger
Usher of the Pantry & Buttery
(asst. to Chief Clerk of the Pantry & Buttery)
Under-clerk to Chief Clerk of the Kitchens
The King’s Hall
King’s Steward ◊
Marshal of the Hall
Chief Butler/Chamberlain of Wines
Marshal Harbinger’s Sergeant
Yeoman to Marshal Harbinger’s Sergeant
Administrative household knights banneret (20+)
Administrative household knights bachelor (40+)
Sergeant Ushers (2)
Sergeant Surveyor of the Dresser
Chief Sergeant of the Pantry
2nd Sergeant of the Pantry/Butler
3rd Sergeant Butler
Sergeant of the Scullery
Sergeant of the Saucery
Sergeant/servant carry meals & bread to the king and Chamber
Squires of the Dresser (3)
King’s Horseguard (30+)
Yeoman of the Guard (footmen archers, 24)
Yeoman Usher of the Kitchens
Yeoman of the Pantry
Yeoman of the Porters of the Pantry
Yeoman/servant carry meals & bread to the king and Chamber
Yeoman Purveyor of the Bread
Yeoman Bakers (2)
Yeoman of the Cuphouse
Yeoman Drawer of Wine
Yeoman Pourer of Wine and Ale
Yeoman Purveyor of Ale (& Beer)
Yeoman of the Pitcherhouse (2)
Yeoman Porters of Wine & Ale
Yeoman Porters of the Larder (2)
Yeomen of the Scullery (2)
Yeomen of the Saucery (2)
Buyers of the Kitchens (3)
Chief Clerk of the Marshalsea
Avener/Chief Clerk of the Avenary
Sergeant-Master/Keeper of the King’s Palfreys & Destriers
Master of Hounds
Yeomen Purveyors & Farriers (13)
Palfreymen of the King’s Stables (92)
Clerks of the Chapel (5)
Sergeants of the Chapel (4)
* The Chamberlain is never less than a knight banneret in rank, and more usually a baron (Lord) or Earl.
** The king’s personal squire is always a young man of gentle (noble) birth from a high-ranking family closely allied with the Crown.
† The King’s Banker is always a free commoner, an extremely successful merchant of extensive wealth and holdings, sometimes a foreigner, as was the case of the Lombard bankers that backed the English through most of the period of the game.
†† These may consist of any number of hostages, wards, and/or children of allies and vassals.
◊ The king’s steward is always a high-ranking, wealthy Lord, no less than an Earl.
King’s Officers of the Realm
Justices’ Keepers’ Clerks
Justices’ Keepers of the Rolls & Writs
Keepers of Chamber Manors
Keeper/Justice of the Forests of the North
Keeper/Justice of the Forests of the South
Keeper of Royal Lands of the North
Keeper of Royal Lands of the South
Keeper of Royal Lands of the East
Keeper of Royal Lands of the West
Keepers/Justices of Forests (specific)
Captains/Masters of the Kings Ships (15)
Constables of the King’s Ships (15)
Baron Keepers of Royal Lands
Woodwards/Keepers of the Private Woods/Parks/Chases
Reeves of Forest Vills
Rangers of Disafforested Districts
Huntsmen/Keepers of Horses, Hawks & Hounds (specific by beast)
Valet/Keepers of Horses, Hawks & Hounds (specific by beast)
The Queen’s Household
Ladies in Waiting (4)
Damsels in Waiting (9)
Knights Banneret (4)
Clerks of the Household :
Servants & Clerks :
Marshal of the Queen’s Hall
Clerk of the Marshalsea
Sergeants at Arms (2)
Clerk Writing the Queen’s Own Letters
Master Cook of the Queen’s Own Mouth
Cook of the Queens Household (Familia)
Usher of the Queen’s Hall
Further Servants :
Servant of the Wardrobe (+4)
Laundress of the Chamber
Laundress of the Nappery
Groom of the Palfreys
Groom of the Larder
Carter of the Queen’s Great Wardrobe
Carter of the Larder
Carters of the Little Carts of the Queen’s Small Wardrobe (2)
Carter of the Medium Cart of the Queen’s Small Wardrobe
Carter of the Medium Cart of the Buttery
Carter of the Medium Cart of the Kitchen
Sumpterman of the Saucery
Sumpterman of the Chapel
Palfreymen & Keepers of the Queen’s Chargers (9)
Porter of the Great Wardrobe
Boys of the Queen’s Damsels (4)
Boys of the Queen’s Confessor (4)
Outriders of the Queens Carts (7)
Keepers of the Hackneys for Saddle Cloths (3)
Keepers/Clerks of the Pleas of the Crown
Knight Coroner of the Shire (up to 4)
Knight Esheator of the Shire
Constable of Castles
Bailiffs Itinerant of the Shire
Constables of Hundreds
Bailiffs of Hundreds
Constables of Townships or Vills
Noble House Officers
Chancellor/Keeper of the Seal/Personal Secretary
Master of the Writing Office
General Surveyor of the Chamber ◊
General Surveyor of the Chamber ◊◊
Steward of the Household ††
Master of the Wardrobe
Factors/Men of Affairs/Buying Agents (itinerant)
District or Estate Bailiff(s)
◊ A general auditor for all household accounts.
◊◊ A general administrator over all estate revenues.
* May be one and the same as the Chaplain, especially in lesser noble houses.
** The Lord’s assistant in all matters.
† Administrators over groups or individual estates.
†† May be held by two men, one for Above Stairs and Below Stairs, among great lords.
Religious House Officers
Suffragan Bishop †
Master/Mistress of the School of Novices
† Created only by a High Prelate, Arch Bishop, or Bishop over his staff, an assistant in all matters, often itinerant.
* Each department in the household has their own.