October 12, 2010

Catch Phrases for NPCs

Catch phrases have long been advocated as a means to add some role-play to a player’s character. I remember in our Gamma World game we had a war cry of “Where’s Our Cow!” which we developed as we rescued the town’s cow from some muskrat raiders. It gave us an identity and set us apart from the “ordinary” people.

However, I believe there are special benefits when catch phrases are used by the NPCs of your campaign. It can make a specific NPC become more memorable and distinctive. It can also enhance a campaign setting by being a reminder of what makes that setting unique. For instance, the Dark Sun setting has no gods. The closest things to a god are the sorcerer-kings. Having an NPC make the declaration “Oh my kings!” instead of “Oh my god!” serves to remind the players they are not on Earth or even another “typical” world setting.

Here are some examples for the Dark Sun setting…

Belgoi’s Bells! = Hell’s bells
Water for the eyes = A sight for sore eyes
All that glitters is not iron = All that glitters is not gold
The Dragon comes = All good things come to an end  
Better the King you know = Better the Devil you know, than the Devil you don’t  
Elves will be elves = Boys will be boys  
Even a slave eats = Every dog has his day  
Let a mage cast = Give a man rope enough and he will hang himself
Haste spills water = Haste makes waste  
Become a templar = If you can't beat em, join em  
It takes a gladiator to kill a gladiator = It takes a thief to catch a thief  
Elf goods = Let the buyer beware  
Defilers don’t start that way = The road to hell is paved with good intentions
There's always more sand in the desert = There's always more fish in the sea
A templar in slave’s clothing = A wolf in sheep’s clothing
Pay the Dragon's levy = Give the Devil his due

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