What DMs can learn from Elden Ring about NPCs

soulsborne games are full of fascinating and engaging NPCs, and the latest of FromSoftware’s punishing RPGs is no different. Ring of Elden has a large cast of engaging and interesting characters and many unique questlines that the player can follow regarding these NPCs. Besides having their own objectives and scenarios, many of these NPCs give the player the only instructions on where to go or what to do in the game.

The soulsborne series of games draw a lot of inspiration from Dungeons & Dragons, as well as other table games. Naturally, as is recognized in these video games, many gamers are interested in how to apply some of the concepts of Ring of Elden their J&D Games. Since NPCs are one of the greatest storytelling devices in both J&D and Ring of Eldenit is a logical starting point.

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Elden Ring NPCs Provide Direction

One of the closest similarities between J&D and Ring of Elden, and therefore one of the easiest concepts to translate, is NPC direction. While a DM can give players direction themselves, or allow player characters to infer direction from an action or event, direction is most often given by NPC interaction. . Quest givers, enemies, allies, innkeepers, and rival adventurers can all be sources of direction for players in J&D. In Ring of Eldenalthough the NPCs are far fewer and farther apart than in most J&D games, they perform a similar function. The player encounters many NPCs on their journey through the Midlands, and often they can point them towards something interesting, give them crucial information about an upcoming area, or even sell them useful items.

In J&D, the best way to apply this NPC style is quite simple. The DM will need to carefully consider how many NPCs the party will interact with, what those NPCs will provide, and give each of them a little information that could lead to a bigger set. Various NPCs at different points along the group’s route could give them more and more information about their destination, for example. The main difference here is that in J&Das this is a completely open system, players can ask any question to the NPC, but having at least a rudimentary understanding of who a given NPC is and why they know the information they have will allow the DM to answer most questions.

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Elden Ring NPCs are interesting and different from each other

One of the main aspects of Ring of Elden NPCs are their individuality and sense of agency in the world. They have their own motivations that parallel or even contradict the player, and they progress through their storylines even without the player’s help in some cases. One of the greatest qualities of Ring of EldenNPC’s compared to others soulsborne games is that they don’t expect the player to meet them every step of the way. Sometimes, due to events in the world or the player reaching a certain point in the game, an NPC will simply progress without meeting the player at a certain stage, and this can change their story.

Things a DM can learn from Ring of Elden NPCs are their agency and recurrence, as well as their tone. Tone is one of the easiest things to apply to an NPC in J&D, as it stems more from presentation and role-playing than design, although some design is still required. In Ring of Elden, almost all NPCs have a basic concept. This often takes the form of ambition or obsession with one of the game’s items or characters.

These concepts can take many forms, and even if J&D NPCs need to be fleshed out a bit more due to necessity, the same concepts can be easily applied. NPCs should each have a strong goal – something they’re constantly working toward, and many should have an obsession, moral, or code that drives them to want to work toward that goal. These concepts are often twisted against the NPC in some way along the way. For example, a royal guard loyal to the king they serve might remain loyal even if that king was corrupt.

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Elden Ring NPC narration can make campaigns more interesting

Similar to the agency and theme of its NPCs, Ring of EldenNPC questlines can be easily applied to J&D. Characters could succumb to their obsessions and become corrupted, traveling the world without players by their side or even going out to fight certain villains on their own. Another unifying concept of several Ring of Elden NPCs are that their stories rarely end well, especially if the player doesn’t get involved. If it were to be translated into a J&D campaign, an NPC undertaking a dangerous task, such as fighting a boss or sneaking into a fortified castle without players getting involved, that NPC would most likely die.

It’s also important to provide some NPC variety from a storytelling perspective. This is why characters like Alexander the Warrior Jar exist in Ring of Elden, offering a lighter, sometimes even comedic character to take a break from grim or darker stories. Of course, Alexander’s story doesn’t have a particularly happy ending either, in keeping with the tone of the game, but J&D is a great place to take an initially comedic character like this and take his story in an unexpected direction.

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