With Prof. Dr. Fritz von Stossenbaum Alkaseltzer
We're going on an away mission! We need Redshirts! Any Redshirts here? No Redshirts… I'll be darned. Well that’s why we need NPC’s, cause somebody needs to die every once in a while and it better not be me, or any of you and your colleagues. So we'll take this from the start, what in deity's name is an NPC?
NPC is short for Non-Player Character (but Non Playing Character is also commenly used), this is a character that doesn't play a major role on the vessel and won't take much of the spotlight from us egocentrical Players. NPCs don't have complex histories and NPC Ensigns don't have involving triangle relationships with medical cadets and the XO of her ship, unlike some people I know. They are the redshirts, they will fly across the bridge as consoles magically explode. They are the people that jump into your seat if you even hint into leaving, there will be instances that they land on your lap. But if they only do the silly and useless jobs then why do we need them?
Well somebody’s got to do it and it’s rather them then me. An NPC is the perfect Plot-Device to spice up your post with some realistic casualty counts, but don't overdo it. A death every now and then spices things up, but hundreds of NPC's dying around your character makes the impact of a life lost dramatically less, and adds to the SHS factor (see lesson two) of your character. They can also be darn useful if you want to realistically ask for help but don't want to give one of the other crewmembers the credit for the solution. In other words NPCs are like hammers, useful for pretty much anything yet not useful enough to ever be fully mentioned on the credits.
Why NPCs? Well I already listed some 'Whys' but I thought it was to important to forget to mention that NPCs add some continuity to the ship. Instead of dropping a different name every post you leave your console and have it taken over by an eagerly awaiting thirty year old Ensign, you could give the NPC the same name over and over again. So that people will actually start to believe that Ensign Middle-Aged is an active part of the crew and maybe even react to him. Beware though, if you use an NPC too much they might turn into a PNPC *cue Beethoven Music*
Then what is a PNPC? Well, PNPC stands for Protected Non-Player Character, these are NPC's made by a member of the crew that has to much free time and wants to fool us into thinking he actually has friends. A PNPC has much more history then the normal NPCs, they are even rumored to have personalities of their own. Usually it's not really appreciated that everybody just (ab)uses these PNPCs since the creator of them might have a plan for them, so if you want to use this character you should contact the creator of the NPC, it will most likely become a JP (Joint Post) this way.
How Do you create an NPC? Well on most ships it's allowed to create an NPC character in a post without contacting the CO (This is the case on the Pegasus as well). Usually it starts with mentioning their names in one post and then not forget that you once mentioned that Chief Petty Officer Second Class The Blue Guy helped a hand in aiming the torpedoes. After a while you can use his name again so that the crew will start to think: Hey we know this guy. Before you know it the NPC will start to lead a life of its own, with all consequences… There have also been instances that a PC (Playing Character) comes standard with one or two, just add water, PNPCs. If they are a big part of the Character's life they will probably be added to the Crew Manifest as NPC, and this is when the players with to much time on their hands will start creating Histories and personalities for their PNPCs.
The Heroic End of the NPC... when the time has come for us to say goodbye to the NPCs, beware! a PNPC may not be killed off by anyone other then the player who created the PNPC, the same goes for Story Important NPCs and NPC Vessels, you can't kill any of these off without the permission of the creator of the PNPC and the Commanding Officer.
Are there any downsides to NPCs? At first glance I would say no… but then again I wouldn't have started a new Paragraph on it now would I? As mentioned if everybody creates around thirty NPCs to take over their station in thirty posts then we would have around 330 crewmembers on board. And then I'm not even counting the Players and people in other positions, in other words: Highly unlikely. The ship is not big enough for thirty Flight Control Officers, we're not a Borg Cube for crying out loud! Anyway as far as I know that's the only downside to using NPCs, which can be avoided by just giving the NPC, that takes over your console every time you leave, the same name over and over again.
Well I hope this clears some stuff up for those new to the wonderful world filled with NPCs, now you just have to remember, use them as cannon fodder, use them as a buffer between you and the Plasma and most importantly let their Consoles explode!
As always, if you have any more questions regarding this lesson, or suggestions for the next lessons Go Bug the CO Already!
Until next time,
Prof. Dr. Fritz von Stossenbaum Alkaseltzer
"I Feel Like a Redshirt in the Star Trek of Life…"
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