Dungeons & Dragons: 5 Tips for Roleplaying Political Figures
To craft a political non-player character (NPC), begin by contemplating their background, personality, and motivations. This approach enhances their ...
To craft a political non-player character (NPC), begin by contemplating their background, personality, and motivations. This approach enhances their credibility and influences their political choices.
The potency of a political non-player character (NPC) resides in their sway, rather than their prowess in combat. Employ their influence as a weapon, skillfully manipulating and leveraging potential repercussions to test players and substantiate their actions.
Illustrate the profound influence of a political character by embodying other characters and factions influenced by their choices. Forge factions and relationships to deepen the character's development and grant players the opportunity to contribute to the realm's politics in their own unique way.
Politics often holds significant importance in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, even if we may not fully grasp it. Conflicts between nations and their inhabitants, the exploitation of power by malevolent rulers for self-interest, and the resulting societal fractures all revolve, in one way or another, around the realm of politics.
Nevertheless, how does one effectively roleplay an evil king? Merely behaving like a callous individual who issues orders may suffice, but a well-crafted political NPC, whether an ally or adversary, can significantly enrich the game experience. This holds particularly true when players are captivated by the narrative or when the aim is to present challenges beyond mere combat.
5 Think Of The Character First
If you are improvising a minor politician, you can disregard this section. However, if your intention is for the character to hold significance, it is crucial to first consider their fundamentals. This approach will render your character more credible and facilitate their integration into your scenario. Hence, the backstory, personality, and motivations always play a significant role in shaping the character.
Suppose you desire to portray an evil king as the ultimate villain, engaging in wars against other nations and manipulating his subjects like pawns on a chessboard. Now, what motivates him to act in such a manner? Was he brought up with a delusion of godlike status that has warped his perception? Alternatively, is he an usurper who will go to any lengths to secure his hold on the throne?
Nevertheless, numerous answers can align with our inquiry. Nonetheless, reflecting upon the character's demeanor and life experiences will facilitate your portrayal of their political choices.
4 Use Their Influence As A Weapon
The intriguing aspect of these characters lies in the fact that direct combat may not be the optimal approach. In fact, a villainous politician NPC could possess the statistics of an ordinary individual, yet wield enough influence to pose a formidable challenge to a high-level party. This is due to the severe repercussions that would follow if the party were to attack such a significant figure, potentially leading to their arrest or forcing them into a perpetual state of evasion.
You have the ability to tantalize and manipulate the characters, employing threats that extend beyond physical combat. A corrupt individual could turn the party into public enemies or wield the power to apprehend their loved ones, using their freedom as a bargaining chip. This influence also provides a convenient justification for the presence of armed henchmen and ample resources to carry out their nefarious deeds.
On the other hand, a political ally can extend various forms of assistance, ranging from financial support to valuable equipment and influential connections. However, they may not actively participate in major boss battles since they lack combat skills. Such a character could serve as the initial step in granting your players the opportunity to shape the world's politics according to their own choices. If the political landscape holds significant importance in your story, it is only fitting that the players have a voice and agency in shaping it.
3 Show Their Influence Through Other Characters
Furthermore, you can demonstrate the immense power wielded by the character even in their absence. By roleplaying other characters, such as the city's commoners, you can vividly depict the profound impact the NPC politician has on their lives, be it for the better or worse.
By depicting a city engulfed in misery, you heighten the stakes and emphasize the significance of defeating your antagonist - akin to the portrayal of individuals in Curse of Strahd, where the enemy remains a formidable threat even when absent from the scene. War narratives can incorporate refugees who serve as testaments to the virtues or vices of a politician, thereby guiding the players towards those they should steer clear of or seek assistance from in future conflicts.
The greater the character's influence within the government, the more profound their impact on the world at large, thus elevating their significance significantly for the next occasion they make an appearance.
2 Create Factions And Their Relationships
Politics emanate from a governing body or, at the very least, an organization responsible for maintaining order and functionality within a given location. Consequently, it becomes essential to delve into the details of the city where your political character wields influence. What precisely is their role within the city? Who supports them, and who opposes their endeavors?
Crafting factions, be they political or otherwise, including influential criminal organizations with political clout, and exploring how your character navigates these intricate relationships - whether they are a mere pawn in someone else's scheme or a cunning mastermind, for instance - will not only enhance the depth of your character but also bring their behavior and motivations to the forefront, allowing them to shine even more brightly.
This is also an excellent way to allow your players to shape the story and the character. After all, they can become a potential faction themselves. While the outcome may not be entirely within your control, take the time to analyze the characters your players have created and consider how your politician character would interact with individuals like them. Do they share common goals? Are they easily influenced? This type of NPC is perfect for introducing plot twists, betraying the party due to unexpected motives, so make the most of this opportunity.
1 Use References
Before embarking on this endeavor, we strongly recommend that you take into consideration your friends' political perspectives or, at the very least, ensure their comfort level with references or parodies of specific political figures, depending on your intentions with the character. It is advisable to have a conversation with them beforehand. However, if appropriate and agreed upon, real-life politics can serve as a valuable point of reference for your storytelling.
Suppose there is a war taking place in your fictional world, leading to an influx of refugees within the city. This scenario has occurred numerous times in real-life history. In such cases, you can conduct research on countries that have faced similar situations, exploring how their governments responded during those times and what transpired after specific decisions were made. Actual human behavior serves as an invaluable reference, offering insights into how societies have navigated such challenges in the past.
As a point of reference, historical analysis can provide insights into various aspects, including the origins of wars themselves. By examining the decisions made by individuals during such turbulent times, you can incorporate similar choices into your character's narrative and explore how these decisions influenced the world, either for the better or worse. This approach allows you to draw from historical examples to shape the consequences of your character's actions in your own fictional world.