It isn’t easy being a DM. Whether you’re putting your players through a published adventure or a world of your own creation, there’s a lot of preparation that goes into crafting an experience that (hopefully) you party will find interesting and engaging. A lot of time is spent working on story points, working out maps, gauging the threat potential of various gribblies to make sure they’re not a cakewalk but at the same time not a guaranteed TPK. One thing that can really breathe life into your world, though, is who your characters interact with. A well-crafted NPC can become as memorable as any boss fight, and can lead to more adventures than you’d planned.
Enter the new Dossier Decks from SkeletonKey Games. Helmed by Ed Bourelle, SkeletonKey made a mark for themselves in the RPG Accessory field with their scrolls, stunning art representations of common spells used in D&D, physical props to add an extra element to your tabletop adventures. With the new Dossier Decks they’re looking to make life easier for the dear, beleaguered DM who’s in need of a little extra inspiration, or perhaps just to fill the gap when the players express an unforeseeable curiosity about that throwaway fishmonger who was never intended to be anything more than background noise.
There are four decks currently available – Commoners, Wizards, Merchants and Orcs/Goblins. Each comes with three types of cards – Appearance, Traits, and Story Hooks – and all four decks can be shuffled together to make one oversized NPC generation engine. For today’s experiment, we’ve popped open the Merchants box, and drawn one of each card at random as an example of how it all comes together.
Our NPC is the lavender-haired gnome Pobbs Willodan. A consummate host, Pobbs is borderline obsessed with ensuring his clientele are well catered to, even to go so far as insisting that their wineskins are full before they leave. Possessed of a prodigious digestive system himself, nothing upsets his own stomach, so no doubt he’s constantly on the lookout for new delicacies and unusual gastronomic experiences. From the story hooks, there’s a legend of a ghost ship whose crew can only come ashore once a year, seeking their stolen booty… and conveniently Pobbs has a chest that magically appears to hold whatever is valuable or desired by the viewer, but said treasure is incorporeal.
Alright, let’s put this all together.