Exploring D&D 5E
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Exploring D&D 5E

10 Odd NPCs

After getting good feedback on the “side-progress” ideas, I decided to share more ideas that might be used with a little adaptation or inspire better ideas for DMs new and old alike.

Probably the first real “odd” NPC I’ve ever met: Minsc from Baldur’s gate.

In this article, I will list some “odd” NPCs. The oddity changes, but they all have some kind of quirk that you can scale as you wish.

I’ll give some context for some, but of course, you can adapt them however you wish: Allies, enemies, outsiders, one time or recurring characters. Obviously, you can change the genders and a lot of time, the races too. For ease, I think I mostly went with he.

  1. Shansiz the Unlucky: Shansiz is a very nice… whatever you want. Race and gender can be adjusted. I’ll call Shansiz a he. You can give him a class. Basically, he’s nice, he’s a friend… but he’s unlucky as hell. Luck isn’t integrated to D&D like it is in SPECIAL, so this guy’s special, pun unintended. And he’s “inspired” from Fallout. He can be a recurring ally. He comes to the party because he got himself in trouble. Whenever he’s around, things go wrong. For everyone. He’s cursed by the goddess of luck… or maybe blessed of the goddess of bad luck. Spells fizzle, attacks miss, weapons drop, people slip… Murphy on stereoids (you can name him Murphy if you want to be *really* on the nose.) You can choose how much stereoids. You can go nuts and make all d20s with disadvantage. You can ask concentration checks for each spell. Or you can just ask for a roll occasionally. The idea is that whenever he shows up, the party says “Oh boy, here we go again.”
  2. Gizlip the Imp: Gizlip used to be a greater Devil. A cornugon, an amnizu or even a Pit Fiend. However, he fell. The reasons you can adapt. Maybe he played big, tried to become an archduke. Maybe he just tried to move up the ranks by playing behind his superior. In the end he failed and he was punished to be an imp. A familiar to a mage, Gizlip is arrogant and loves scheming. If his master has less intelligence, Gizlip will insult them relentlessly, probably to the point of being discarded in favor of another familiar. But with the right master, Gizlip will share knowledge and help them scheme. He has excellent knowledge on the workings of Nine Hells and dark magic. Also, he has a plan. He knows where he can find some pages from the Book of Vile Darkness. But he needs adventurers to work with him. So maybe he’ll just play along. Maybe he’ll strike a deal. Maybe he’ll manipulate a lesser master. Whatever he’s doing, he will find a way to bring himself to the pages, through power of which he will rise in the ranks (or so he hopes.)
  3. Ina the Vampire: Ina was turned to a vampire against her will. Initially, she refused to drink blood. However, when she’s starved to the brink of death, her instincts kick in and she feeds. Party can find her feeding of a homeless or something, or maybe about to die. Either way, once she feeds, she won’t want to fight. She will explain that she can’t just let herself be destroyed but can’t get her to hunt people, afraid that she’ll give in to it. So she makes a suggestion: The party brings her people, probably criminals, to feed and she provides them with a variety of things: A safe place at night, information, combat prowess… She may be okay with traveling to a different city but not adventuring all day as she needs her coffin. You can decide how often she needs to feed. Alternatively, she could already be feeding off criminals when she meets the party.
  4. Ghast: Ghast is an Ur-priest: A spellcaster that almost works like a cleric, but instead of being bestowed his powers, siphons it from the divine essence of gods (using the 3E Vile Darkness concept). Ghast will always have an alternate identity. He may form a secret cult that turns people against the gods. He may act as a cleric of a god that opposes the local favorite god. He may even act as an ally and take players on a quest that eventually ends up with the local temple being in a difficult situation. The players may never discover his identity or discover a false identity.
  5. Cyprum: Cyprum is a young copper dragon. As selfish as copper dragons go when it comes to treasure, he tried to steal from an ancient gold dragon: “Golds don’t care so much about it. Also, what’s a rare coin for an ancient gold in such a vast treasure? Plus… he’s old. He won’t notice” he had thought. In return, the gold dragon placed a spell on the copper to teach him some manners: Cyprum can no longer leave his lair until he reaches adult age. To prevent abuse, the gold also placed strong wards that deny moving his current treasure away without the copper’s permission and also protected him against most harm. Cyprum now spends all day thinking of riddles and jokes and tries to lure adventurers via word of mouth to share the latest works of his imagination. He also has a lot of information and is excellent when it comes to magic items: He’s been studying a tome about various magic items religiously. In fact, he may ask adventurers to go on quests to bring him magic items and keep what they find on the way as a reward, in exchange for letting them know about the location.
  6. Berhlgyn: Berhlgyn, usually going by the name Beryl among mortals, is a half-hag. Few know of her true heritage and those who do are careful with this information. Beryl can cast divination spells and place curses. Usually she’ll request something personal like a lock of hair, and something specific for the exact type of spell. However, she’s Chaotic Neutral and sometimes there are side effects of her spells: Her clients and victims both have suffered from it. Usually, it’s minor and she’ll keep working with them if the client plays along. When she’s bored though, the side effects can be deadly: Maybe the target of divination will have a vision of the client or the client will catch the same curse that they asked to place on the victim.
  7. Ghardun Silveraxe: Ghardun is an ambitious dwarf with a purpose: He wants to craft equipment from all sorts of monsters and their body parts. He can make shields and armor from dragon scales that protect their wielder from the elements. He can make a sword from remorhaz spine that delivers icy death. Whatever exotic solid material he’s provided, he will come up with something. The results may not always be favorable (in fact, cursed items have appeared as he experimented with a demonic skull), but he won’t let the clients return empty handed. If he’s given a material he encounters the first time, Ghardun will not charge the client. He may even have quests for the party to acquire parts of certain creatures.
  8. Orvel the Tomekeeper: Orvel is an elven follower of the god of knowledge. He travels the world to gather as many books, tomes, scrolls and scripts as he possibly can. Despite not being a cleric, the god favors Orvel and blessed him with a perfect memory. As such, Orvel can provide an incredible amount of knowledge. However, he will require a donation worthy of the knowledge ranging from simple assistance with a task that will lead Orvel to more information, to a rare tome in a dragon’s possession. Thanks to spell books and countless combat manuals he has read, he can protect himself pretty well.
  9. Ryn: Ryn once led a different life. You can decide his class or race as you wish. The important part is, Ryn crossed a powerful entity and was cursed to do whatever he’s asked to, if the proper phrase is used. If you want to tease Bioshock fans, you can use “Would you kindly?” The party can ask anything of Ryn, but they need to be aware that he may become vengeful if he’s abused and over the years, he started looking for loopholes and ways to interpret commands differently.
  10. Appleby Naggyflask: Appleby is a gnome that constantly pushes the limits of alchemy. Appleby will always have an absurd idea: Making a potion that turns you into an actual demon, a cream that will give you dragon scales, a paint that turns anything you use on it invisible… Nothing is outside his limits of imagination. Of course, most of the time, things won’t go as he hopes. When you use Appleby, apply some Acme on it: Explosion, reverse effects etc. You can keep him as a one time encounter, a semi-recurring comic relief on a serious game or a regular character in a sillier setting.

So this is my list! I populated it every time I had a few minutes to spare, so it’s a “from the top of my head” list, instead of a “I’m showing the deepest figments of my imagination” one. I hope you like it, feel free to drop a comment and or send me a message, I’d love to hear what you think!

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Ekrem Atamer

Ekrem Atamer

Gamer, gaming industry wanderer, development and design enthusiast. Current WIP: TBD