LARP NPC mindset (part 2)
Making a fight exciting,scary,and long without beating up the players
The spirit of many of these tricks is to increase your screen time as an NPC, which is it’s own reward. The longer a fight goes without doing more damage to the PCs, the better. People get tired. With that fatigue a single attack they would have scoffed at earlier is now something that scares them. They start thinking, “oh shit, I don’t know if I can pull this out if it keeps up”. However, at the end of the fight, they have expended the same healing and resources.
Most of the techniques here boil down to cardio. Run around a lot. PCs cannot hit a moving target, and they can only look in one direction at a time. It’s scary to not know where all the bad guys are. If you have decent cardio, you don’t have to be a good fighter for a bunch of these. If you don’t have good fitness, you can still do these, just slower and less effective.
At the start of an engagement, cut to your right and try to run around to the rear of the PCs. You can have a group of 6 NPCs fighting 30 PCs, and they freak the fuck out when one tries to “surround” them. You go right because that is the PC’s left side/shield side. You can usually cut much closer to that side safely, shortening the distance you need to move. This is also a great way to get a single person to fight you (see above for the “melee guy” story. If you get more than a single person turning to face you, then see below for Circle of Death.
“Circle of Death”
Run a circle around a single player if you have the room. Do this circle at max strike range, teasing just at the edge where you can hit each other. It’s highly unexpected, and you can usually snipe a shot in during your lap, since you are almost completely in control of the range. It is important to be cool with this one. This is a great PC killer technique, so use it with love and wisdom.
You can also circle of death a herd of players if they are timid. Treat them like you are a sheephound and herd them into a knot. This is a great technique to keep from being surrounded by a large number and being turned into a foam pinata. A single NPC can occupy a handful of PCs in this fashion for a good chunk of screen time.
If you get free reign in a battle field, you can wreck folks by taking backs. Sometimes, that’s called for to put some good pressure on, but it’s important to get your shots and then move on. You can probably get more backs that way by moving on instead of focusing down that guy you just dumped a brick of damage into. You put a good scare into more people, and didn’t exhaust one guys resources recovering from foam-rape. Pro-tip for getting tons of backstabs: look at a point 5-10 feet to the side of your target while you approach. The warnings from allies won’t come, since they are looking at your sight line, not your movement path. Your allies won’t inadvertently give you up with their eyes either.
Sometimes, I will purposely scuff my foot loudly and slow down when I approach somebody from behind, so they can whirl and get the excitement of “oh shit, I almost got foam-raped”. This is dependant on surface for that noise effect, however. This can lead right into the “melee guy” square off I’m mentioned in the first part.
Even as a grunt/crunchie, you can add an element of tension with your RP in a fight. In other words, “make shit up”.
- Argue with your fellow NPCs about the ownership of “your slave”, and then stalk off to “kill that slave just so you cannot have it”. Get caught by the PCs and brutally cut down.
- Run off to “warn the others”. Do this loudly, and mock the players for how much dying they will do when “the big guys” show up. Get caught, and brutally cut down.
- Brag about how you “love killing you Eastern Asscrackians”. Get brutally cut down by said Asscrackian.
Basically, you play up a “role”, and that role is “asshole that needs to get killed”. Take care with this, since it can be used for evil. You could play on somebody’s role-playing hooks to lead them away from their friends and pinata them. Don’t do that.
If you’re not familiar with the encounter or world lore, this could piss off plot.
“The Double Tap”
Most games have rules that make somebody effective invulnerable when they go unconscious, and they only die from a bleed out of several minutes or getting a specific deathblow call. If you do end up dumping somebody in a game like this, hit them a few more times. Do this dramatically, and with fervor. This scares the shit out of the target, and everybody watching puckers up. Instinctually they think you are deathblowing the target, when in effect, you are doing nothing. I’ve gotten evil glares after a game like I was a “killer NPC” and had to explain what I was doing.
In games where torso shots can kill downed people, then you put these kinds of shots into the legs on a downed target for the same effect.