Everyone needs a friend, even players characters (PC’s). After a hard day of hunting orcs or killing radioactive zombies, it’s nice to see a friendly face. This article will suggest some ways to foster friendships with non-player characters (NPC’s) and perhaps even between PC’s. Let’s look at NPC’s first.
There are a few things that can help turn friendly NPC’s into friends. One is frequent contact. NPC friends should be people (or creatures) they see often at their base of operations, be it town or starport. They may even contact the party in the field via crystal ball, telepathy, or Federation communicator. If you like, they may even accompany the party on adventures. However, just be careful to keep the limelight firmly centered on the PC’s actions and keep the NPC around more for background color.
Another quality of NPC friends is that they are very supportive of the party. They may provide healing, inside information, or logistical and financial support for the party. While some may accept payment for their services, that is not their primary motivation. They help because they like the PC’s and want to assist in their endeavors.
Finally, NPC friends enjoy spending time with the PC’s. They want to hear all their tales over a mug of ale or around a warm fire. While you won’t want to roleplay an entire relaxing evening, consider adding just a few sentences about these kind of homey experiences. This can help them enjoy their imaginary friendships, which deepens the roleplaying experience.
Fostering friendships between PC’s can be a bit trickier. While you can’t force real world friendships to develop between your players, you can provide opportunities for them to develop between their characters.
It’s good practice to begin your sessions with a recap of the previous game. This is the perfect time to remind players of the ways their PC’s worked together last time. You can do the same thing if you end your sessions with a short summary. Remind them of what they accomplished individually and as a team. They’ll keep coming back for the chance to work together again.
Character focused adventures can also encourage party unity. Players love it when the adventure centers on their backstory or goals. In my experience, the other players enjoy helping them meet those goals as well. If you have 4-5 players, run 2 or 3 sessions focusing on each character. You’ll give them a campaign they’ll never forget and a real chance for friendships to grow.
One situation where it is difficult to forge friendships is at convention games. The experiences are relatively short, and in general people at the table don’t know each other. You may want to consider building those connections right into your scenario. Tell the players that their characters have adventured together before, are all members of the same organization, or even that they are related. For a one-shot, they’ll all go along with things. Avoid the “you all meet at the tavern for the first time” trope in these games.
Player characters are an extension of their player. Since friendships enrich our lives, why shouldn’t that be true for PC’s as well? These are just some quick thoughts on helping those virtual friendships develop. Share yours below.