Friday, July 16, 2010

Know Who Likes Free Stuff?

This Guy.

But seriously, since it was mentioned in Tim's Event Review, I thought I'd post a little suggestion that I recently had for NPC benefits.

We've tried letting NPCs play for free. We've tried giving them formal levels. We've tried giving them magic items. Hell, we've tried giving them food. And yet, we still find ourselves coming up short. Why?

Because players get IG rewards when they PC. So give them something they don't get when the PC. Give them kit.

When you run a camp that has 3-5 events a year, it's pretty important to have reliable NPCs. It doesn't help me if I have 20 NPCs one event and 5 the next. I'd much rather have 10 NPCs the whole year around. Not to mention the fact that as the game you run gets better, more people are interested in PCing than NPCing.

For that reason, players that NPC for a camp for the entire season (and actually show up at all the games) get the following reward in addition to whatever rewards they're already getting.

Season 1: A nice pair of claws and a decent, double-sided tabard (black and white).
Season 2: A sword/shield or two handed weapon, and a double-sided tabard (choose colors).
Season 3: A tunic and a small make-up kit.
Season 4: A pair of drawstring pants (color of choice) and another tabard.

- Players who NPC will be sporting better weapons and garb, making the game even better when they PC.
- Less demand for the game staff to bring as much loaner gear, both for NPCs to use and for new players to borrow, since more people have weapons of their own.
- Hopefully you will have more reliable NPCs.

- The materials cost money (unless donated).
- Requires people to donate time to create the rewards.

Ultimately, assuming time is donated, each of these costs anywhere between $15-$30 and it might even run less made in quantity. That ends up costing the chapter roughly $4-$8 an event per NPC, and yet to a lot of players it seems like so much more.

Point System:
An alternative way of doing this is to give NPCs points towards purchasing any of the above rewards, so that they can pick what they want. If you were to do something like this, it might be a good idea to give bonuses to NPCs who make the entire season. You don't want to lose the incentive for them to show up to every event. The upside is that everyone gets benefits, even if they have to miss an event here or there, and now these bonuses transfer between camps.

Let's assume that you get 1 ticket for every game you NPC, and if you NPC each event for any given camp, you get an additional 2 tickets. The cost structure could look something like this:

Basic Claw: 2 Tickets
Sword: 3 Tickets
Shield: 4 Tickets
Two-Handed Weapon: 5 Tickets
Tabard: 3 Tickets
Tunic: 5 Tickets
Small Make-up Kit: 3 Tickets
Duffle Bag: 4 Tickets

Tim's going to be trying a basic version of this by giving out claws at the next few Lumberton events. We'll see how that works out for him.

Would you NPC for these rewards? Would you ever consider giving these rewards out if it meant you had reliable NPC numbers?

Posted in conjunction with


  1. I feel like everything overall is a little on the cheap side ticket-wise (meaning easy to get stuff) Do you think it would be difficult to track? I think it would work really well for about a year, long enough for "x" to get the item they want, like a sword, and then stop. I know the idea is they will keep wanting to get more...

    I think it is a neat idea, I could just see it getting kind of expensive and time consuming. While you can make it cheap, most chapters have gone to free NPC'ing already...

    I feel like the reason why people don't NPC is because NPC'ing is work. NPC'ing a whole event is fun, but it takes a heck of a lot out of you. The second reason: people want their pc! They want to go and have the adventure! Experience the awesomeness of the character concept they created.

    I still like the required shift. Even if it is only 2 hours-3 hours, that wouldn't put too much onus on any one person, and the big thing---people would still get to pc and hang out with their friends and get the back story.

  2. You'd also have to get someone who really knew stuff to make it to, most of the chapter owners don't have that forte.

  3. I like the idea, more or less. For me personally, though, since I have plenty of costuming and only play a caster, there isn't much motive to be found in the proposed items on offer except for maybe the bag.

    That being said, I guess I still might consider NPCing an event or two and selling the loot in-game.

    Jennifer's right, though. I feel like that could get cost-prohibitive pretty quickly.

  4. @Jenn

    The required shift is good, but unfortunately that doesn't help increase bodies for town fights. The ultimate goal is more NPC bodies which make PCing more fun, so you get more players to travel to your events.

    The idea is that this targets a previously untapped group for NPCing. Various NERO chapters already target people with financial issues (free NPC), roleplayers (targeting players with roles), those with IG needs (free maxout for a 4 hour NPC shift), and those who just want to make the game better.

    The idea is to target new players without gear and stick jocks with little gear to add some NPC power to your ranks. Mold the new ones and watch the jocks to make sure they're in the best interest of the game. It also encourages cross gaming a little bit, because while Dag and Bel players might not have a NERO character, they can always use more loaner garb for when new players come to their park days.