[RPG] My players are thinking of abandoning the NPC. How to do


I created this amazing NPC that is kind of the guide towards the true story line; he's an old Grung war leader, his entire army gets decimated by these big bat creatures, and he is forced to live alone in the wild, for years. He ends up leading the adventure and they later learn that his friend died in the war and he is seeking out revenge on the person who did it.

Anyway, he's a pretty powerful character and saved the players' lives, many different times. However, I decided that I would kind of back him off a bit from all the fighting; so that my players could get the XP and Upgrade. This was done by him going off to hunt, or him kind of fighting his own battle at the same time they were.

However, two sessions ago they were fighting some bandits; and to kind of make it more interesting and to give them the chance to kill the monsters… I had one of the bandits cut open his leg. This caused him to fall unconscious from the loss of blood (a more reasonable explanation for why my NPC wouldn't be able to help). This idea was amazing in my head, however I found out a session later that the players didn't think the same way.

I don't know if they have any idea of what I was trying to do, because they now want to leave him in the wilderness. They said that he is kind of useless and no help whatsoever. The problem I'm having is that my NPC was supposed to be this awesome character to give backstory and maybe some aid.

However, now that I tried to actually give my players XP, they want to leave him. I guess the question is not only what to do in this situation, because he kind of has a main part in the quest, but it's also how to prepare for the future.

In my future NPCs, what should I do different?

Best Answer

Your NPC is boring and annoying to your players

Sorry to tell you straight out what your players are too polite to tell you. However, their actions are crystal clear - they don't like what you are doing with this NPC so they don't want to play with him anymore.

It sounds like that what you have is more of a GMPC than an NPC. These are dangerous, particularly for new DMs. It's OK to have awesome NPCs but these are better if they are antagonists or distant allies or interesting side-characters rather than protagonists. Protagonists is the role explicitly made for players.

You need to respect the player's decision and let the NPC fade away. This is not your story to tell: it's the player's story and your NPC doesn't fit into it. Players play RPGs so that they can have "pretty powerful" and "awsome character[s]" not to watch you have them.

Your plot should never depend on one NPC

What you should do differently here is described in the Alexandrian's three clue rule. Every node in your scenario should have at least three clues pointing at it. one isn't enough because, as you now know, the players abandon it in the wilderness. Two isn't enough because the players will misinterpret the second one and go off in the wrong direction. Three is probably OK but more is better.

Also, subtle clues don’t work. I’m not saying you have to be obvious but clues need to be clear and unambiguous. Things that are simple and straightforward on the DM’s side of the screen can be confusing and frustrating on the player’s side.

Finally, you need to build in a failure state. If, despite clarity and every assistance on your part, the players manage to screw things up due to their own efforts - that’s ok. The world gets worse. The dragon torches the village. The virus isn’t contained. Start the next adventure from the new “world is now worse” position.