Kalyr RPG – An Iconic NPC

In Rob Donoghue’s design blog post what I want from setting, he lists three things he likes to see, one of which is faces:

Faces are what they sound like – NPCs. I am not proposing a need for stat blocks or detailed backgrounds, and most of my needs can be satisfied with a sentence or two of background. The NPCs I’m talking about are not important for who they are but rather for the purpose they serve. I cannot meaningfully interact with a government, nation, ideology or conspiracy, but I can meaningfully interact with a person who represents that group. Maybe they’re a person of authority for the group they represent, maybe they’re just an iconic member of that group, but that character _is_ that organization so far as my game is concerned. If I can put a face on the important ideas of the game, then they will mean more to my players.

Here’s one face for Kalyr. He does have a detailed stat block, at the same power level (four lifepaths) as the default level for PCs, using the current draft of the playtest rules. I’ll most likely drop him (and others like him) into the appropriate section of the settings chapter – in his case it will be the the section entitled “Religion“.

Zarvendol isn’t a very nice person. I would hope that the majority of games would see the likes of him used as a villain.

Name: Zarvendol d’n Areyn
Race: Kandar
Sex: Male
Appearance: 6’6” tall, copper-coloured skin and green eyes, hair dyed in purple and black streaks, prominent scar on cheek.

Guild Background
Knight (three times)

Extra Damage
Talent: Quick Reactions

Duty to Temple of Kardak
Servant of The Guardian
Extremely Intolerant
The Only Good Enemy Is A Dead One

Armed Melee Combat (Broadsword): Superb
Fast-Draw: Good
Kandar Fu: Good
Zarandar Riding: Fair
Dodge: Fair
Strength: Fair
Willpower: Good
Perception: Fair
Endurance: Good
Kandar Religious Lore: Good
Reading and Writing: Fair
Area Knowledge (home city): Mediocre
Streetwise: Mediocre

Temple of Kardak: Good
Guild of Victuallers: Mediocre

Weapons and Equipment
Fine quality Narvork sword +4 damage (includes +1 for Extra Damage Gift)
Hardened Ulsoghir hide armour, +3 armour (includes +1 for Toughness Gift)

Zarvendol is an archetypal Knight of Kardak the Defender. A xenophobic, bloodthirsty religious fanatic, he embodies all the traditional virtues of the holy defenders of the kandar race. To any human that encounters him as an enemy, he represents the very definition of the worst kind of kandar. If there’s a bloody pogrom taking place, expect to find him in the thick of it. When humans get in the way of his Narvork, he doesn’t recognise the concept of ‘innocent bystander’.

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3 Responses to Kalyr RPG – An Iconic NPC

  1. Michael Orton says:

    I’ve responded in more detail on the Kalyr mailing list, but it seems to me that this is too much detail for most NPCs.

    You need his weapons & equipment, how good he is at using them, his interactive skills (Strength, Dodge, Willpower, Perception, Endurance) and the “keys”.

    The rest only need to be defined if they ever become relevant, which in all probability they won’t.

  2. Carl D Cravens says:

    I agree with Michael, though I think I disagree on what elements are important… unless his weapons or equipment are important to who he is, or are unique, I wouldn’t bother to include them. The GM can add what weapons he sees fit without any trouble.

    Skill-wise, I wouldn’t list anything that’s below Good… those aren’t important to who the character is, either. Likewise any skill that’s just flavor and won’t enter into the story (Kandar Religious Lore, might fit this category).

    One of the things I’ve been thinking about this this traditional format where the piece I think is the most important, the prose description, comes _last_.

    To me, an NPC description should get to the heart of who the character is, and thus _his role in the story_, very quickly. The character stats should support that and not be the centerpiece of the character.

    My own personal approach, even for the most major of NPCs, I could easily live with the book giving me nothing but a prose description and leave the details to me as the GM. If he’s a major NPC, I’m going to muck about with his character sheet to make it suit me anyway, and if he’s a minor NPC, he doesn’t need much of a character sheet anyway.

  3. Michael Orton says:


    Your fourth paragraph hits the nail right on the head, but I think we both need to remember Tim’s target readership here are inexpereinced GM’s who need more detail provided up front becasue they don’t yet have the ability to fill in the missing bits as fast as players can call for them during a session.

    I certainly accept your point that the relevant equipment should be defined. In this particular case this is the weapons and armour, but such will not always be the case.

    The skill in Kandar Religious Lore is implied by the class, but need not be defined – unless part of the point is that it is a lot lower than one might expect. For example, the character might well be a religious fundamentalist who has a rather limited understanding of the religion.

    Under these circumstances it would be useful to define a skill below “good”, but this is an excepetion because it is relevant to the character. One can have lot’s of fun with characters who believe their skill in something is far higher than it really is, but they have to have a little skill in it because they have to get things right just enough to justify the self-delusion.