Quick NPCs for OpenQuest

Hot of the press from a longer article I’m writing for the upcoming OpenQuest Adventures book. Caveat this is an unedited/proofed version.

Tip #1 Goons


Quick NPCS that you make up during play as and when the characters encounter them.


1.Give them a name

Eg. Sargo the Captain of the Town Watch

2. Give them a quick Concept and assign a skill level based upon the Mastery of the character. This role represents a package of skills,

E.g. Captain at Arms of the Town Watch 65% which I decide covers Close Combat, Unarmed Combat, Ranged Combat, his Resilience and Dodge resistances, and Street Wise. Anything else is covered by the 20% rule (see below)

The Skills Mastery table is the key here (so I’ll repeat it for quick reference). When ever I’m playing OpenQuest and quickly creating NPCs I’m thinking “How competent is this character” and referring to this table which after many years of running the game lives in my head now.

Skill Expertise Description
0-25% Novice Someone with virtually no experience with the skill.
26-50% Apprentice Someone who is learning the skill.
51-75% Veteran Someone who regularly uses the skill as part of their everyday life.
76-99% Expert A local expert with in the skill, who can perform it under most conditions with ease and elegance.
100+ Master The acknowledged best in that skill, and regularly performs the impossible.


The 20% Rule. Everything else that isn’t covered by their concept skills is at 20%

3. Throw some stats at it

Hit Points 10 + any extra for being tougher than average.

Damage Modifier 0, unless character stronger than average , +1d4 does more damage than usual.+1D6 if a really big mean heavy hitter,

Armour, what ever the character needs for its concept to be convincing.

Quick ref: Light Leather 2 Point, Medium Scale mail 4, Heavy Chain mail 5 pts Heavy and Rich Noble/Leader Plate mail 6 pts.

Ask your self:

i). How tough are they?

  • In top health and fitness add 2-4 Hit Points.
  • Mean and tough add 6-8 Hit Points.

ii). How much damage do they deal in combat?

  • Is the character moderately stronger than average? If so add +1D4 Damage Modifier.
  • Is the character a big mean heavy hitter? Their Damage Modifier is +1d6.

Iii). How quick and agile are they?

  • Is the character quicker than average? Dex 14.
  • Is the character blindingly fast? Dex 18

iii) What armour are they wearing?

  • Are they heavily armoured? AP 5 or 6 Chainmail or Platemail.
  • Are they medium armourd AP 3 Ringmail or AP 4 Scalemail.
  • Are they lightly armoured AP2 (Leather) or nothing AP 0.

iv) Combat

  • Make a note of the weapons they carry and the damage they do. Sheilds fall under this category.

v) Magic

Most Goons, except in really High Magic settings where everyone has magic at least at Battle Magic Level as an expression of their role and personality, don’t have magic unless their role demands it.

If they do need magic casting skill (Sorcery & Battle Magic) I use the skill I gave the NPC’s Concept.

Special Magic using characters not affiliated to any cult or sorcery school, such as magical heroes from folklore (“See Gregor of Giantstrides, he has the ability to grow 15 feet when he rubs his nose!”), I just assign the magic I feel they need. Such characters are rarities and oddities even in a High Magic setting.

Initiate – a couple of spells at 1-3 magnitude directly tied into their role. Either pulled from the Cult description, or quickly chosen from the spell lists in the main OpenQuest rulebooks . This was the main reason I created the quick reference spell lists as well as being a player aid.

Sorcerers/Priests – Whatever the character needs, within reason, is either quickly pulled from the Spell lists or added to the character’s quick description on the fly during play.

Casting ability where needed (for Sorcery and Battle Magic) is the same as the Concept skill rating.

vi) Make sure you write it down somewhere.

A note book or even better still an index card. Then if you plan to make the Goon a more robust reoccurring character you’ve got these details to hand.

So working through the questionnaire above this is how our Captain of the Watch turns out.

Sargo the Captain of the Town Watch 65% (he’s a seasoned Veteran)

Hit Points: 12 (Sargo is fit and able so gets an additional +2 on the 10 base)

Damage Modifier: +1d4 (I want him to be a threat in a fight, but he’s no hulking bruiser)

Armor: Scalemail AP 4 (He’s probably put part of his wages aside to get himself a decent set of armour to survive the day to day dangers of his job).

Weapons: Longsword (1d8) and Target Shield (1d6)

Magic: None. (I’m playing Sargo in a Medium Magic Setting, if it was a High Setting I’d probably give him a few useful Battle Magic spells like Befuddle and Slow).

Note this system is not really good for creating reoccurring Villains who have multiple strings to their bows.

One thought on “Quick NPCs for OpenQuest

  1. It’s good to see quick NPC creation laid out in this way. I’m picturing it as a flowchart like the character creation guides found in BRP games, only a hell of a lot simpler.

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