"NPC, thy hight is conveyer belt, ferry me deeper into immersia!" - PCs (Player Characters)
Move the story along: the raison d'etre of all NPCs (Non Player Characters). Exposition-Dump-R-Us, vil-tagonists, or windows into how the world views you and your cabal of characters. NPCs (Non Playa Chumps) work to enrich an experience while you grind for experience. Now you may be wondering, why I'm slap boxin' the significance of these GM-faced masses? Simple, the Bulls of Stock have been busy paving the future stomping grounds of your Project Powerpunk characters. This feat has lead to Pinky-and-the-Brain-levels of pondering on NPC; non player created people, places and parcels (Yes I am illuding to the idea that places and items can be npcs). Whether it's a dude in black fleeing across the desert, millions of voices crying out just to be silenced, or even a bustling city full of life, all have a purpose that must be served.
NPCs (Narrator Provided Companions) matter as much as you need them to. Depending on the importance of the area or people, you can dial up or down the details of NPCs you create. The importance of NPCs can be dictated by your players’ interaction: the more interaction with an NPC (Narrator's Personal Cat's-paw) your players have, the more important that NPC will become. If your players frequently visit Colgate, the weaponsmith, a burly woman wanted in four cities for aggravated assault on an anvil with deadly skillz, then they would naturally reserve more Fs for the happenings in her life than that of the seldom seen state governor's. So when your players next visit Colgate and discover her daughter, Dentyne, had been kidnapped by a band of rollerskating street barbarians, you know it's about to go down. It becomes a cycle: GM add details to an NPC, PCs will invest more interest into the NPC (Nobody Puts babies in a Corner) and the game master gets to add more details to that NPC's life.
Working on Project Powerpunk, we found ourselves asking how do we go about building NPCs for the game? Do we bang them out as if we were making an adventure for any old campaign? Unfortunitly that's not enough, we realized we needed to build the Big Daddy Kane NPCs (Naturally Procreating Cores) that all other NPCs will come screaming out of: the setting, tone, theme, and mood of Project Powerpunk. These are pretty big NPCs (Necessary Plot Components) and they serve as the precursors of all future NPCs that we, and eventually you as game masters, will create. They dictate the basic motivations and emotions of the average poor, middle, and high class person. To help each cog like NPC (Narrator's Player Containers) move in unison to suspend disbelief and to better immerse the players and GM.
After days of batting and boiling down phrases like "bucket of crabs", "Zero sum game", and "take a penny leave no penny", the developer known as Dev X pulled two words out of the dark cauldron: Needless Desperation.
Sam | Ethereal Deep Diver