Five Second NPCs

On December 1, 2004, Posted by , In Campaign Workbook, With No Comments

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At some point in every DM’s game, the PCs decide to stop and chat with an NPC that you haven’t had the chance to detail. This article presents a list of sample NPCs with names and short descriptive notes.

They are kept vague so you can apply them to anything from a bandit chieftain to a barkeep. When you need an NPC, simply pick out one of the descriptions and run with it. Permission is granted to photocopy this article for personal use. Keep a copy handy with your regular campaign notes, and never be caught off guard by your players again.

The human NPCs are organized by gender. None of them include descriptions that center on their professions, making them as flexible as possible. Most of the NPCs given here are humans. A Few shorter lists cover dwarves, elves, halflings, gnomes, and half-orcs. NPCs of these races have their genders listed with their names.

The descriptions given here tend to focus on creating simple, memorable NPCs who play a minor role in an adventure or who can grow into important characters in your campaign. They tend to focus on a few simple. direct traits.


1. Abyda: Old, bent, absent-minded. Has poor hearing and likes to complain about her health, the weather, anything. If she wasn’t miserable, she’d still find something to complain about.

2. Belice: Overweight, middle-aged dedicated sybarite. She always has sweets and other food at hand, and she detests physical labor. Arrogant, lazy, and dismissive. May make lewd advances to charismatic men.

3. Ceryl: Tall, thin, with long hair kept it a ponytail. Sarcastic and judgmental, tends to belittle others for the simplest mistake in grammar or pronunciation. Demanding and bitter.

4. Farran: Dour, quiet, and taciturn. Slow to trust others, but those who win her friendship can count her as a dedicated friend. Middle-aged, with short, brown hair and a wiry frame.

5. Heldenne: Scatterbrained, forgetful, and easily rattled. Her mind constantly wanders, and she has trouble keeping her focus during a conversation. Not stupid, just easily bored.

6. Pelree: This young, slender, blonde girl seeks a potential husband. A scheming gold digger, she uses flattery to draw the attention of sufficiently wealthy mark.

7. Oona: A consummate meddler. Offers advice and commentary on every action the characters make. She tries to burrow into their personal affairs in the belief that others lack the intelligence to look after themselves.

8 Ree: Loud, obnoxious, crude. Has warts, stringy hair, and has seen better days. Tends to lash out at those who strike her as dense or timid. A bully.

9. Telyra: Intensely curious gossip who presses others with a barrage of questions. Tends to second guess others and loves to be proven right. Conveniently alters predictions and ideas after the fact.

10. Vendra: Helpful, outgoing, and optimistic. Feels a duty to take care of others, and is always willing to lend a hand. Tries to believe in the best in others, and can be trusting to a fault.


1. Brolan: Middle-aged, balding, pragmatic. Willing to deal with anyone, but has little patience for small talk. Tends to cut to the heart of the matter and speaks in short, sharp sentences. Can be too blunt.

2. Delwin: Young, energetic, tries to engage the entire group when he talks. Can stretch the truth if it suits the dramatic possibilities of a story, but sometimes allows inconsistencies to creep into his tales.

3. Folnar: Pious, devoutly religious, puritanical. Almost everything he discusses somehow ties back to his god’s teachings. Judgmental and prone to discriminate against non-believers.

4. Gornen: Fat, old, constantly in pain from a variety of ailments. Something of a hypochondriac. Loves to talk about his infirmities for the pity and attention.

5. Haldred: Alcoholic, likely drunk when the PCs speak with him. Tends to become surly and bitter when he’s been drinking, but can descent into pathetic bouts of self-pity.

6. Jalek: Elderly, has a severe phobia against arcane magic. Refuses to speak to any obvious sorcerers or wizards and becomes visibly upset if anyone casts a spell near him for no compelling reason.

7. Knorl: Grizzled oldster who has seen almost everything the world has to offer. Tends to harshly judge the young, and always has a story about the old days to apply to the current situation.

8. Simm: Quiet, easily intimidated, tends to stammer and stutter when pressed with questions or forced to interact with strangers. Means well, but his nerves tend to get the better of him.

9. Tellern: Young, curious, inquisitive, something of petty thief. Likes to grill others for details of their travels, and can sometimes wear out his welcome, Dreams of becoming an adventurer.

10. Waldren: Compulsive gambler who may offer the PCs a wager on something as simple as where a fly may land. Constantly in debt, he might ask for a loan or try to extract extra cash from the PCs through lies or inflated prices.


1. Astrid (Female): Young, homesick for her clan’s fortress. Compares the local culture to her homeland and finds her current environs lacking.

2. Gotri (Male): Grim, pessimistic, given to complaining. Would rather keep quiet than say anything nice or positive.

3. Kaolyn (Female): Rude, overly forward, tends to talk when others speak and will shout to overpower them.

4. Modrog (Male): Earnest, overly polite and pleasant. Works to make a good impression, and is eager to learn of the world beyond the mountains.


1. Avarael (Male): Loud, brash, talkative, and enthusiastic about everything. Has only recently journeyed to the lands of men and is somewhat naive.

2. Druanea (Female): Haughty, arrogant, liable to presume the worst of others or embrace stereotypes.

3. Laela (Female): Old for an elf. Lets others talk and reveal their personalities before saying anything. Prefers to make her point in as few words as possible.

4. Tharvan (Male): Lighthearted, loves to joke and make puns, sees the world as one long party. Can sometimes accidentally insult others with his jokes.


1. Brocho (Male): Always sick, with a persistent cough and runny nose. Likes to es talk about the variety of home cures he has on hand.

2. Surdella (Female): Elderly, tends to mother those she meets. Treats tall folk with a gentle condescension as she considers them too big and clumsy to keep out of trouble.

3. Turton (Male): Loves to string together words that start with the same letter when speaking. A bibliophile who draws on obscure facts and has a natural liking for wizards and other scholars.

4. Waywocket (Female): Alert, pays attention to details, photographic memory. Always remembers those she has met before and draws on her experiences when speaking.


1. Agalar (Female): Vicious, moody, temperamental, and prone to berate others for the simplest infraction. Bitter and angry at her past treatment by others, she frequently lashes out preemptively.

2. Keera (Female): Shy, thoughtful, and passive. Carefully considers her words, as she is terrified of making a poor impression.

3. Krog (Male): Surly, sullen, and rude. Believes the worst of others, and suspects they hate him for his heritage. Curt, foulmouthed, and angry, but friendly toward other half-orcs.

4. Tarthrax (Male): Prefers to avoid talking, relying on grunts and gestures, as he suffers from a severe stutter. Smart and observant, but most assume he is a dimwitted mute.


1. Belle (Female): Sunny, always smiling young, an unflappable optimist. Makes a point of complimenting others and finding something positive to say.

2. Elgin (Male): One-time farmhand and trapper, has a folksy, rustic manner. Comes across as a bit of a hick or simpleton.

3. Lerra (Female): Superstitions, refers to her beliefs in conversation and is always on the lookout for omens of good or bad luck. Sulks if PCs mock her beliefs.

4. Zeldred (Male): Suffers from an inferiority complex, angry, aggressive, cannot bear any insults (no matter how slight) without flying into a rage.

By Russell Brown
Illustrations by Attila Adorjany