Recently I had occasion to experience quite a lot of feedback on one of the Non-Player Characters in my game. This feedback took the form of an all-day marathon of Facebook Messenger missives sent by virtually every member of the party in which they discussed the relative ethics of impaling (both as a deterrent to unwanted behavior as well as being unwanted behavior in its own right), the inherent untrustworthiness of people that don’t have a lot to say, and whether or not a witch from Slothjemia can ever be anything other than a liability to everyone around her. I’m sure you have had similar midweek discussions just like this.
The curious aspect of this is that the NPC in question isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. She happens to be the wife of one of the players in the game, a remarkably resilient fellow that has the distinction of being the only original player left in the group. This happy-go-lucky guy manages to get by pretty well for not asking a lot of questions, showing remarkably little interest in the NPCs around him, and doing an amazing amount of stumbling into trouble with little to no warning ever being heeded. He is quite possibly the ideal player for the types of games I tend to oversee. They tend to trust the villains a bit too much and view the heroes with a wary sense of unease. They don’t shirk from a challenge whatever it might be and aren’t afraid to smack around some bad guys for good measure. Most importantly, though, they leap headlong into the story without giving the consequences much thought.
It is this footloose and fancy fellow that found himself the object of romantic desire from none other than Princess Lersha of Slothjemia. Their whirlwind courtship shocked multiple nations and has caused untold stress among friend and foe alike. Lersha (like every other woman I have ever known) isn’t like any other woman. She tends to keep to herself, stays busy with a small gaggle of orphans, and on occasion uses her small spelljammer to run errands for her beloved husband and his fellow Troublemakers. An awful lot of her backstory is completely unknown. She doesn’t really take center stage all that much because that isn’t the sort of woman that she is. There have been a few times when she has made a splash but for the most part she stays to herself and does her best not to interact with anyone she doesn’t absolutely have to.
Despite these tendencies, or perhaps because of them, Lersha has somehow become the most talked about NPC I have ever created. There are admittedly some complicating factors. First, I based her accent quite heavily on the character of Marya Parmanova, a minor secondary character from the old television show “Hogan’s Heroes” that was brilliantly played by the actress Nita Talbot. This voice is somewhat of a challenge to do because I find all accented voices difficult to maintain without cracking myself up. Nonetheless it has become something of a twisted sensation because there is a healthy dose of Eva Gabor in there too with plenty of “dahlings” and such scattered about for good measure. Secondly, Lersha’s general appearance rather strongly resembles that of Kate Beckinsale’s portrayal of the character Anna Valerious from the wildly awful film “Van Helsing.” Say what you will about that film, but it is delightful in much the same way that everything ever made by Ed Wood is delightful. The third thing that makes Lersha something of a lightning rod for criticism and adoration is her uncanny personality that seems to channel a young and vibrant version of Agnes Moorehead’s character Endora from the old television show “Bewitched.” Ever see Endora as an enthralling and sexually desirable young woman of mystery? I should damn well hope not, you sick bastards. But if you did, she would be as coldly acidic as Lersha.
So here’s the thing. Even though Lersha doesn’t have much of a role in the game as an NPC, she is about to step up and become a bit more three dimensional. That happy guy that plays her husband in the game I run is about to take over as Game Master for a side adventure in which his character is temporarily set aside and the rest of the group is going to try and save him from an as-yet undetermined threat. And I have a chance to play one of my many NPCs as an actual PC for the duration of this event. Who would more naturally go along to try and save this guy if not his wife? And this has caused a bit of chaos among the rest of the group. Most want to hear her voice, some are keen to see her actually engage in a fight, and at least one is probably planning on driving a stake through her heart if they get so much as half a chance. Time for me to begin getting into character. Maybe if I just refer to everyone as “Derwood” that’ll help.