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Step 5: NPCs & Monsters

NPC's and Monsters are the two sides of the same coin, the coin that the PC's strive for

Story Structure: Test, Allies, Enemies

Once the memorable encounters have been identified for the players, it is time for the game master to flesh out the protagonists and antagonists that will bring these encounters to life. A good place to start is by identifying the important non-player characters (NPCs) that will play a role in the story. These NPCs should be fully fleshed out, with a short background and clear motivations that make sense within the context of the story. This is where ChatGPT shines. 

In this blog I walk through the process of developing an NPC from scratch.

Blog: The Rise of Prompt Engineering: How AI is Revolutionizing NPC Content Creation


**Copy the below into ChatGPT and see what kind of background it generates for you.**

Write for me 3 backgrounds for dungeon and dragons NPC's, one is a drow elf, one is a duegar and the last of them is a mindflayer, each background should give me their name, where they are from, what class they are, a short background, and a current motivation.

Here is what ChatGPT returned.

Drow Elf Rogue:

Name: Zarastra Nightshade

From: The city of Menzoberranzan, a drow stronghold deep in the Underdark.

Class: Rogue

Background: Zarastra was born into House Nightshade, a minor noble house that fell out of favor with the ruling council. Forced to flee Menzoberranzan to avoid being hunted down by rival houses, Zarastra turned to a life of thievery and assassination to survive in the harsh and dangerous Underdark.

Motivation: Zarastra is on a mission to recover a powerful magical artifact that was stolen from her by a rival thief. She believes the artifact is the key to restoring her family's honor and returning them to power in Menzoberranzan.

Duergar Cleric:

Name: Drogan Stonehammer

From: The city of Gracklstugh, a duergar city in the Underdark.

Class: Cleric

Background: Drogan was raised in the service of the dwarven deity Moradin, but was captured by the duergar and forced to serve their god, Laduguer. Over time, he has come to believe that Laduguer is the true god of the dwarves, and he now serves him with a fervent zeal.

Motivation: Drogan is on a mission to recover a stolen relic of Laduguer that he believes will grant him great power. He is willing to do whatever it takes to get it back, including making deals with outsiders and betraying his own kin.


Name: Xilaxiz

From: The city of Oryndoll, a mindflayer colony in the Underdark.

Class: Wizard

Background: Xilaxiz was once a powerful mindflayer psion who reveled in the consumption of sentient brains. However, after a mindflayer experiment went awry and caused him to lose some of his mental faculties, he was cast out by his kind and forced to fend for himself in the Underdark. Through sheer force of will, he has managed to regain some of his powers, but he now struggles with guilt over his past actions.

Motivation: Xilaxiz is on a quest to find a way to reverse the damage done to his brain and regain his full psionic abilities. He hopes to use his newfound knowledge to help others and make amends for his past misdeeds.


That content is amzing! I can do so much with this as a DM.

For each NPC, the GM should identify how they fit into the story, and what their specific role is. This can include their goals, their allegiances, and how they may be affected by the actions of the players. By creating well-rounded and believable NPCs, the GM can create a more immersive and engaging experience for the players.

In addition to NPCs, the GM should also determine the key monsters and creatures that will be present in the encounters. Each of these monsters should also have their own motivations and goals, which will help to create a more dynamic and unpredictable game.

Here are 10 things to consider

  1. Identify the hook(s) that will draw the players into the encounter and create a strong opening to grab their attention.

  2. Determine the objectives and motivations of the antagonists and the key NPCs.

  3. Identify potential outcomes of the encounter and create branching paths to allow for player agency and decision-making.

  4. Consider the alignment of the encounter with regional situations or global arcs, and make sure it fits into the larger narrative.

  5. Outline the different scenes that will take place during the encounter, and plan for transitions and pacing.

  6. Consider the environment and terrain of the encounter, and how it will impact the flow of combat or the actions of the players.

  7. Create opportunities for player creativity and problem-solving, such as using the environment or unexpected actions.

  8. Determine the appropriate challenge rating for the encounter based on the level and abilities of the players.

  9. Consider the impact of the encounter on the world and the story, and how it will affect future events and decisions.

  10. Determine any special loot or magic items, make them relevant to the story

For example, below you will find the details spelled out for each of the important monsters. Usually I try and answer the who, what, when, where and why for each creature and identify a few motivations, mannerisms or a memorable dialog. The goal is to reinforce the encounter with a memorable NPC or monster.

Here is an image from my OneNote. This image captures the notes on The Green Eyed goblin clan.

Fleshing out monster details for dungeons and dragons campaign

To add additional depth to the story, the GM can consider adding in twists, relationships, or historical connections between the NPCs and the monsters. This can create a more complex and layered narrative, and can help to keep the players engaged and invested in the story.

Finally, to help pull the players into the story, the GM can identify ways that the PCs are related to the bad guys or the overall plot. This can include personal relationships, shared histories, or even hidden agendas that the PCs may not be aware of.

Lets look at the goblin leader Belazz in the above article. 


Here are the important insights into his history.

  • Belazz is the leader of the Green Eyed Clan, a goblin clan that resides in the ruins of Neisera.

  • The Green Eyed Clan is composed of around 120 goblins with unpredictable natures.

  • The goblins in the clan have a range of skin colors, from dark to light green, and adorn themselves with furs, leather, leaves, and bones based on their level in society and experience.

  • Belazz is a large goblin with immense strength who rules the clan with an iron fist.

  • Four years ago, Belazz broke the law by sparing the life of an autistic goblin baby named Chird, whom he gave to the PC to raise. This is apart of the PC's backstory. Interesting twist.

  • Chird now lives and works at The White Woods Inn, handling dishwashing, busing, and cleaning.

  • Belazz had the PC secretly meet with him several times through a secret door under the dungeons of the city of Neisera.

  • The Green Eyed Clan is highly familiar with the southern and middle forests, including the ruins and the plants and trees within them.

  • They are excellent trackers and have a keen sense of smell.

  • Zel is a goblin trader who brings goods from the Green Eyed Clan to the Whitewoods Inn during the weekly market, including old elven trinkets, dangerous potted plants, lost wares from fallen warriors, and interesting components from the woods. He has personally met with the Dryad Thyme in the northern section of the forest. 


Here are a few backgrounds that you can tweak to fit your story.

  1. A former soldier turned blacksmith who lost his family in a war and now seeks redemption by crafting weapons for the good guys.

  2. A reclusive witch who lives in the woods and has a secret connection to the ancient gods.

  3. A traveling bard who uses music to spread propaganda and stir up rebellion against an oppressive government.

  4. A retired pirate who now runs a tavern and is secretly plotting a return to the high seas.

  5. An elven diplomat who is tasked with negotiating peace between rival factions of humans, but harbors a secret desire to return to his people's homeland.

  6. A former thief who has turned informant for the local authorities, but is torn between his loyalty to them and his old criminal associates.

  7. A reanimated construct who was once a brilliant inventor and seeks to reclaim his stolen inventions from the thief who betrayed him.

  8. A wealthy merchant who secretly supports a revolutionary movement and uses his resources to fund their activities.

  9. A cursed noblewoman who is haunted by a vengeful spirit and seeks the help of the PCs to lift the curse.

  10. An eccentric alchemist who experiments with dangerous magical substances and has a history of causing accidental explosions.


In this blog I walk through the process of developing an NPC from scratch.

**Blog: 10 Proven Strategies for Crafting Effective Fantasy RPG Prompts with ChatGPT** 

Overall, by carefully crafting the protagonists and antagonists of the story, the GM can create a more immersive and engaging experience for the players, and help to bring the world of the game to life in a more vivid and dynamic way.

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