Rampant Games - Telling the Monster's Story
Another thoughtful piece at Rampant Games with Jay wandering across a few topics but essentially calling for monsters and NPCs to make a little more sense. Like me, I'm sure you've often thought "but why are all these monsters here?" or "why does that monster do as he was told and guard that treasure?" But it doesn't just apply to monsters:
The designer just needs to provide enough dots for the players to connect so that a picture can emerge. I've seen concept art and design documents - there's usually a whole ton of thought that goes into these things that never appears in any form in the game. Why not? It doesn't need to be front-and-center, nor does the player have to be forced to learn it all before cleaning its clock in ten turns or less.
And this isn't limited to monsters. What about that shopkeeper? Yeah, the one you only click on to convert your half-ton of rusty swords and armor into gold. Does he have a story? A dark secret? The rotting corpse of his wife under the floorboards, whom everybody believes left him for a cartwright in another village a year ago? And if you find out, do you turn him in, and lose your easy access to a junk-to-gold converter?