NPC Instincts, Obligations, And Quirks

Every DM knows that when the players explore the world they will be running into large amounts of NPCs (Non-player characters) to give them adventure hooks, quest information, and propagate rumors. It can unfortunately be a HUGE burden to create really memorable NPCs that have lasting effect in-game. To help with this, I've scrubbed the internet and come up with a list of notes that you can either roll on or choose from to quickly and simply create an NPCs from scratch. I often prep this ahead of time knowing that the players will be in touch with a specific character, but they can easily be used on the spot when your player decides to speak with a random townsfolk that you had no intention of creating!

Instincts Obligation To Obligation Type
1 Selfishness Their family Monetary
2 Selflessness Their hometown An Oath
3 Cowardice Their Direct Superior Gratitude
4 Hedonism Their Racial Identity Societal Pressure
5 Heroism Their Local Guild Familial Pressure
6 Sarcasm The local Head of Church Indenturehood
7 Empathy Their Employer A Fiendish Contract
8 Reliability Their Sibling(s) Religion
9 Honesty A Direct Superior A Career requirement
10 Accuracy A Direct Inferior An Affair/Emotional Entanglement
11 Independence A local Loan Shark Guilt
12 Stinginess A Parent A Parent
13 Lust/Sexuality Their Extended Family Their Extended Family
14 Laziness Their Children Their Children
15 Calmness A Doctor A Doctor
16 Recognition A Head of State A Head of State
17 Provision for friends/family A Criminal A Criminal
18 Paranoia A Close Friend A Close Friend
19 Hatred The Wild The Wild
20 Greed A personal Oath/Code A personal Oath/Code
21 Curiosity Nature Nature
22 Anger Society / Mankind as a whole
Society / Mankind as a whole
23 Procrastination
24 Narcissism
25 Criticism
26 Stoicism
27 Ambition
28 Compassion
29 Decisiveness
30 Humor
31 Innovation
32 Benevolence
33 Discipline
34 Random/Weird
35 Kindness
36 Curiosity
37 Wanderlust
38 Skepticism


NPC Quirks

While motivations and obligations will help ground what your NPC needs in their life, quirks will help your role-playing become more intuitive by giving them a style.

  1. Terrible Scar
  2. Often fixes their Monocles
  3. Gaps between teeth
  4. Rash
  5. Tattoos with Runes
  6. Missing limb, joints, fingers, teeth
  7. Spits when talking
  8. Fidgets quite a bit
  9. Picks ears
  10. Rubs hands together
  11. Sucks on teeth
  12. Mismatched eyes/Blinks a lot
  13. Acne
  14. Overweight
  15. Underweight
  16. Always eating or drinking
  17. Bites fingernails
  18. Wandering eye
  19. Facial piercing
  20. Limp
  21. Lisp
  22. Foreign clothing
  23. Accent
  24. Uses long words incorrectly
  25. Rubs chin
  26. Tugs on ear
  27. Picks nose
  28. Bites lower lip
  29. Trims or cleans nails with long knife
  30. Twirls hair with finger
  31. Single hair or beard braid
  32. Many hair or beard braids
  33. Rings or bells in hair or beard braids
  34. Smells like sweat
  35. Smells like dogs
  36. Smells like horses
  37. Smells like cheap cologne
  38. Smells like expensive cologne
  39. Smells like cedar wood
  40. Tongue tiedBraggart
  41. Never looks anyone in the eye
  42. Superstitious
  43. Unusual jewelry from far off land
  44. Freckles
  45. Pockmarked skin
  46. Eye tic
  47. Bucktoothed
  48. Talks loudly with bad hearing
  49. Whispers believing being watched
  50. Holier than thou attitude
  51. Makes puns
  52. Clumsy
  53. Quotes famous poet, regularly
  54. Quotes religious text
  55. Refers to self in third person
  56. Chews grass, stick, or leaves
  57. Closely examines everything
  58. Keeps hand on weapon
  59. Keeps hands in pockets
  60. Hair falls out
  61. Exotic weapon
  62. Claps hands often
  63. Smacks palm with fist
  64. Asks often about his own appearance
  65. Rubs palms on thighs
  66. Stretches often
  67. Seems cold or hot
  68. Yawns often
  69. Polishes brooch or buckle often
  70. Rubs luckstone or fetish
  71. Twirls coin between fingers
  72. Always wears thick, leather gloves
  73. High squeaky voice
  74. Offers exotic beverages or foods
  75. Wears scarf around ankles or wrists
  76. Wears vest with bell buttons
  77. Fascinated by fire
  78. Smells like tobacco
  79. Wears ancient fashionsOily skin or hair
  80. Obvious cosmetics or mask
  81. Lazy eye
  82. Always wears ‘lucky’ hat, scarf, ring
  83. Mole
  84. Always wears favorite color
  85. Wears clothes too big or too small
  86. Wears obvious wig
  87. Paranoid
  88. Picks teeth with knife or fingernails
  89. Waxed facial hair
  90. Belches loud and often
  91. Sneezes often
  92. Coughs regularly
  93. Blinks often
  94. Roll twice
  95. Wine colored birthmark
  96. Rubs eyes often
  97. Chews on braid or lock of hair
  98. Bites fingernails or cuticles
  99. Polishes spectacles, never wears them
  100. Twists ring
  101. Picks lint off clothes, his and PCs
  102. Has hiccups
  103. Watering eye(s)
  104. Taps foot or drums fingers
  105. Sunburn and peeling skin
  106. Dark tan lines
  107. Very pale
  108. Toothless/wooden teeth
  109. Dressed in furs or leather
  110. Dressed in formal attire
  111. Dressed in silks and lace
  112. Has black eye
  113. Bruised extremities
  114. Arm in sling
  115. Bandaged extremity
  116. Stutters
  117. Clothes have bulging pouches
  118. Giggles, inappropriatelyWears well tended ancient weapon
  119. Refers to good old days often
  120. Wears heart shaped beauty mark
  121. Has one or more gold teeth
  122. Ogles opposite sex openly
  123. Paper cuts and ink stained fingers
  124. Serious burn scar
  125. Rings sewn on clothes with fetishes
  126. Clothes made of woven leaves
  127. Pregnant woman/Expecting Father
  128. Rubs calluses on palms with thumb
  129. Carries cloth covered basket
  130. Sharpens knife with whetstone
  131. Spit polishes thick, fancy bracelet
  132. Hard of hearing
  133. Gives a different name every meeting
  134. Regularly blows stray hair out of eyes
  135. Bows before speaking and after
  136. Flatulent
  137. Hooks thumbs in belt and bounces
  138. Walks like a sailor
  139. Crumbs in beard and clothes
  140. Food stained face
  141. Wine stained ‘moustache’
  142. Carries small snake, mouse, or lizard
  143. Wears foreign style clothes
  144. Has long, lacquered nails
  145. Mute, speaks through sign language
  146. Blind, sees through familiar’s eyes
  147. Uses foul language
  148. Runny nose
  149. Always late
  150. Instructs PCs on latest fashion
  151. Bad cook, begs PCs to eat
  152. Rubs large belly often
  153. Blatantly pouts
  154. Calls PCs by wrong names
  155. Convinced PCs need reforming
  156. Fascinated by non human races
  157. Has vampire bite scars on neckGestures wildly with hands
  158. Carries satchel filled with junk
  159. Hacking cough
  160. Sweats profusely
  161. Shaving cuts on face
  162. Military manner
  163. Animal bite or claw scar
  164. Sleepy
  165. Always out of breath
  166. Sketches PC while talking
  167. Flips key ring with finger
  168. Covered with road dust
  169. Rolls “R’s” while speaking
  170. Snorts while laughing
  171. Complains of heartburn
  172. Talks of health problems
  173. Loses items and asks PCs to help look
  174. Survived torture, has no fingernails
  175. Vegetarian
  176. Only eats meat
  177. Conceited
  178. Pathological liar
  179. Taps foot incessantly
  180. Rubs back of neck
  181. Has paint stained hands and clothes
  182. Nods often
  183. Says “hmm – hmm” often
  184. Asks rhetorical questions and answers
  185. Denies gossiping and proceeds to gossip
  186. Falsely claims he is an adventurer too
  187. Greatly exaggerates
  188. Hand covers mouth while speaking
  189. Keeps hand on PCs shoulder
  190. Carries crumbs to feed birds
  191. Hands coppers to beggar children
  192. Speaks to animals like people
  193. Speaks to ‘spirits’
  194. Writes down everything PC says
  195. Mixes languages
  196. Wears armor covered in runesSmells like lavender
  197. Smells like alcohol
  198. Smells like soap
  199. Smells like roses
  200. Scratches
  201. Has leaves in hair or clothing
  202. Archaic speech
  203. Spotless, glossy boots
  204. Rope burns around neck or wrists
  205. Pasted on moustache or beard
  206. Hair dye covering collar
  207. Wears flower in hair or clothing
  208. Mixes gibberish with words
  209. Keeps arms folded
  210. Picks at scabs or loose skin
  211. Dresses colorblind
  212. Has wart on hand, covers it always
  213. Constantly Squints
  214. Combs hair with fingers
  215. Jingles coins in pocket or pouch
  216. Intoxicated or acting
  217. Talks in rhyme
  218. Plays with charm on necklace
  219. Sniffs often
  220. Has arthritis in hands
  221. Rubs old knee injury
  222. Avoids crowds
  223. Nose bleeds
  224. Wears notched belt
  225. Scared of Spirits

What types of ideas have you used? Feel free to post some notes and I will create a massive resource for us all to use!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published