Today, we take a look at the very interesting topic of NPC AI. Creating unique and engaging NPC’s for your roleplaying games can be difficult and time consuming and figuring out how they react to certain situations on the fly adds extra stress! But creating NPC’s with artificial intelligence – making your NPC’s self-operating, can certainly go a long way in helping you to create encounters in your RPG’s, as well as assist in any improvisation needed in the game. So, when you are planning your next DnD adventure or Call of Cthulhu campaign, applying these principles will make your life as the GM so much easier, and your adventures more interesting.
Today we are looking at the topic of NPC AI. NPC AI refers to self-operating NPC’s.
AI = Autonomous operation. Your NPC’s will think for themselves, you don’t have to worry.
We’re looking at how do we program ourselves as GM’s to be able to create NPC’s with built
The term that I use to help me remember what I need to do when creating NPC’s is OGAS.
OGAS = Occupation, Goal, Attitude, Stake
o What occupies most of your NPC’s day to day life?
o The occupation gives your NPC’s something to talk about. It might be a
complaint, it might be joy and happiness. It could be about co-workers, or
bosses or jobs etc.
o Occupation = skills. Each occupation requires certain abilities or skill sets that
the majority of those who perform the occupation will have.
o Every living thing should have a goal for the day/week/month/year/life.
o Normal goals – survive by finding food, water and shelter, and to procreate
o Sentient goals – look for gratification of self (once all the normal goals have
been secured) through specific outcomes.
o Of the NPC in general and towards others.
o Worldview attitude – the attitude of the NPC in 99% of the encounters will be
o How invested is the NPC towards their occupation, their goal and their
o Stake = resistance. The amount of effort the NPC will put in to defending,
securing or abandoning their OGAS values.
o Self-preservation – almost all living creatures have a desire to live. Only very
special events will drive a living being to actively participate in life or death
• Conflict is story
o No conflict = no interest
o Is conflict good? Avoid it when you don’t need it, use it when you want to
make an encounter.
o You must reveal conflict. OGAS is hidden from the PC’s and players. If you
want the encounter to happen, you need to let the PC’s know about a
o Most of the time, NPC’s should avoid conflict. Why risk it? Better to avoid it –
unless it is too dangerous to do so.
• NPC’s are a mouthpiece for the GM.
o Use them as tools.
o The OGAS NPC needs plot – the NPC has OGAS plus some plot insight or
information for the PC’s.
o NPC’s shouldn’t volunteer. The plot info should require the PC’s to be nice to
the NPC or to engage with the NPC in some way before you just hand them
• Your task – create several NPC’s with different OGAS values.
o The more your practice, the easier it becomes.
o Create not 2 or 3 OGAS values, but 30 or 40 or 60!