ChatGPT: Using the AI to create interesting NPCs
As the New Year begins, I’ve been finding something that is particularly interesting lately: ChatGPT. This chatbot tool has proven useful for me in overcoming creative blocks and generating new ideas. In fact, I’ve been using the ChatGPT OpenAI model for a few weeks now and have found it to be quite helpful. According to OpenAI, ChatGPT is characterized as follows:
We’ve trained a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer followup questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests. ChatGPT is a sibling model to InstructGPT, which is trained to follow an instruction in a prompt and provide a detailed response.
That gives an overall sense of the tool, but the utility comes from making queries of ChatGPT to take an idea and expand on it. I started with the following prompt: “Write the names of 5 interesting NPCs for a fantasy town in a role-playing game setting. Give their name, physical description, work in the town, temperament, backstory, immediate family, religion, wealth, secrets, relationship with other town members, special powers, and a catchphrase.”
and ChatGPT wrote the following:
- Name: Lady Helene Evergreen
Physical Description: Lady Helene is a tall, slender woman with long, flowing blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. She is always impeccably dressed in the latest fashions, and her posture is impeccable.
Work in the Town: Lady Helene is the owner and operator of the town’s only theater, which is a popular destination for the wealthy and influential.
Temperament: Lady Helene is a haughty, pompous woman who looks down on those who are not as wealthy or influential as she is. She is also very ambitious and will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Backstory: Lady Helene was born into a wealthy and influential family, and has always been used to getting her way. She has always been envious of those who have more power and influence than she does, and will do whatever it takes to get it.
Immediate Family: Lady Helene is married to a wealthy merchant, and they have two children together.
Religion: Lady Helene is a devout follower of the goddess of beauty and wealth.
Wealth: Lady Helene is very wealthy, thanks to her husband’s successful business and her own successful theater.
Secrets: Lady Helene has a secret affair with the town’s mayor, and is also secretly using her theater to smuggle illegal goods into the town.
Relationship with Other Town Members: Lady Helene is very well-respected in the town, and is always seen as a leader among the wealthy and influential. However, she is also feared by many due to her ruthless ambition and willingness to do whatever it takes to get what she wants.
Special Powers: Lady Helene is skilled in persuasion and manipulation, and is able to use her charms to get what she wants.
Catchphrase: “I always get what I want, no matter the cost.”
- Name: Captain Marcus Blackwood
Physical Description: Captain Blackwood is a rugged, handsome man in his mid-40s. He has short, dark hair and a well-groomed beard, and piercing green eyes. He is always impeccably dressed in his military uniform, which is adorned with numerous badges and medals.
Work in the Town: Captain Blackwood is the commander of the town’s guard, and is responsible for maintaining order and protecting the town from threats.
Temperament: Captain Blackwood is a strict and serious man, but he is also fair and just. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy who doesn’t tolerate nonsense or disobedience from his men.
Backstory: Captain Blackwood was born into a military family, and has been in the army his whole life. He has seen and done a lot in his time in the military, and has become hardened and cynical as a result.
Immediate Family: Captain Blackwood is married to his wife, who is a nurse in the town’s hospital, and they have two children together.
Religion: Captain Blackwood is a devout follower of the god of war and justice.
Wealth: Captain Blackwood is not particularly wealthy, but he is well-respected and has a comfortable life.
Secrets: Captain Blackwood has a secret gambling addiction, which he has managed to keep hidden from most people in the town.
Relationship with Other Town Members: Captain Blackwood is well-respected by the people of the town, and is seen as a strong and competent leader. However, he is not well-liked by some of the criminal elements in the town, as he has a zero tolerance policy for law-breakers.
Special Powers: Captain Blackwood is a skilled fighter and strategist, and is an expert at leading
So I didn’t get 5 names. So I wrote “Give me 3 more NPCs” and it did.
- Name: Sister Margaret
Physical Description: Sister Margaret is a kind and gentle woman in her mid-50s, with short, curly gray hair and brown eyes. She is always seen in her nun’s habit, and has a warm and welcoming smile.
Work in the Town: Sister Margaret is the head nun at the town’s convent, and she is responsible for overseeing the care and education of the young girls who live there.
Temperament: Sister Margaret is a compassionate and loving woman, who is always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. She is patient and understanding, and always tries to see the good in people.
Backstory: Sister Margaret was born into a wealthy family, but she always felt a calling to serve the poor and disadvantaged. She eventually joined the convent and has dedicated her life to helping others.
Immediate Family: Sister Margaret has no immediate family, as she has dedicated her life to the convent.
Religion: Sister Margaret is a devout follower of the goddess of love and compassion.
Wealth: Sister Margaret is not wealthy, as she has dedicated her life to serving others and does not have any personal possessions.
Secrets: Sister Margaret has a secret talent for gardening, and has a hidden garden behind the convent where she grows herbs and vegetables for the convent’s kitchen.
Relationship with Other Town Members: Sister Margaret is well-respected and loved by the people of the town, and is seen as a pillar of the community. She is always willing to listen to others and offer them guidance and support.
Special Powers: Sister Margaret has a calming presence and is able to bring peace and comfort to those around her.
Catchphrase: “Love and compassion can heal even the deepest wounds.”
- Name: Lord Alistair Darkwood
Physical Description: Lord Darkwood is a tall, muscular man in his early 30s, with short, dark hair and piercing green eyes. He always wears expensive, luxurious clothing, and exudes an air of confidence and power.
Work in the Town: Lord Darkwood is the owner and operator of the town’s largest and most successful merchant company, and is one of the wealthiest and most influential people in the town.
Temperament: Lord Darkwood is a ruthless and cunning businessman, who will stop at nothing to make a profit. He is also very arrogant and selfish, and only cares about himself and his own interests.
Backstory: Lord Darkwood was born into a wealthy family, and has always had a knack for making money. He is a self-made man, who has built his empire through hard work and cunning business tactics.
Immediate Family: Lord Darkwood is married to a beautiful and successful businesswoman, and they have two children together.
Religion: Lord Darkwood is not particularly religious, and only pays lip service to the gods when it suits his needs.
Wealth: Lord Darkwood is extremely wealthy, thanks to his successful business ventures.
Secrets: Lord Darkwood has a secret gambling addiction, which he has managed to keep hidden from most people in the town. He also has a secret illegitimate child with a woman in a neighboring town.
Relationship with Other Town Members: Lord Darkwood is respected and feared by most people in the town, due to his wealth and influence. However, he is also disliked by many, due to his selfish and arrogant personality.
Special Powers: Lord Darkwood is a skilled negotiator and has a natural talent for making money.
Catchphrase: “I always come out on top, no matter what.”
- Name: Professor Elijah Grey
Physical Description: Professor Grey is a tall, thin man in his late 50s, with short, graying hair and wire-rimmed glasses. He is always seen in his wizard’s robes, which are adorned with numerous arcane symbols.
Work in the Town: Professor Grey is the headmaster of the town’s wizarding school, and is responsible for teaching and training the young students in the art of magic.
Temperament: Professor Grey is a kind and patient man, who is always willing to help and guide his students. He is also a bit of a perfectionist, and expects the best from those he teaches.
Backstory: Professor Grey was born into a long line of wizarding families, and has always had a natural aptitude for magic. He has spent his whole life studying and mastering the arcane arts, and has become one of the most respected and knowledgeable wizards in the land.
Immediate Family: Professor Grey is married to his wife, who is also a wizard, and they have two children together.
Religion: Professor Grey is a devout follower of the god of magic and knowledge.
Wealth: Professor Grey is not particularly wealthy, as he has dedicated his life to teaching and learning rather than accumulating wealth.
Secrets: Professor Grey has a secret fascination with ancient, forbidden magic, and has been secretly studying and experimenting with it in his spare time.
Relationship with Other Town Members: Professor Grey is well-respected and admired by the people of the town, and is seen as a wise and learned man. He is also well-liked by his students, who see him as a mentor and role model.
Special Powers: Professor Grey is a skilled wizard, with a particular aptitude for divination and illusion magic.
Catchphrase: “There is always more to learn and discover in the world of magic.”
You can use ChatGPT to gather information about 5 NPCs and their relationships with each other and with other NPCs in the town, such as the Mayor and their spouses and children. You can then use this information to create a more detailed and rich narrative for your town. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try to get ChatGPT to spill some juicy gossip about the Mayor’s affair! When asking ChatGPT for information, you may want to focus on key details such as names, ages, and any notable characteristics or events…or just ask it to tell you a joke. It’s always good to mix in a little bit of levity, even in the midst of all this NPC drama. So let’s ask ChatGPT to “spill some juicy gossip about the Mayor’s affair” and then give me details on the Mayor. And it did:
It seems that the Mayor, James Thompson, has been having an affair with Lady Helene Evergreen, the owner of the town’s theater. The two have been very careful to keep their relationship a secret, but rumors have been circulating for months about their trysts. Some say that they meet in secret at the theater late at night, while others claim that they have a hidden room in the Mayor’s mansion where they can conduct their affairs in private. Whatever the truth may be, it’s clear that the Mayor and Lady Helene are taking great pains to keep their affair a secret, and it remains to be seen how long they will be able to keep it hidden.
Name: Mayor James Thompson
Physical Description: Mayor Thompson is a middle-aged man in his late 40s, with short, graying hair and a clean-shaven face. He is always impeccably dressed in a suit and tie, and exudes an air of confidence and authority.
Work in the Town: Mayor Thompson is the elected leader of the town, and is responsible for overseeing its affairs and making important decisions on behalf of the people.
Temperament: Mayor Thompson is a charming and charismatic man, who is always well-liked by those around him. He is also a bit of a playboy, and has a tendency to cheat on his wife.
Backstory: Mayor Thompson was born into a wealthy and influential family, and has always had a desire for power and prestige. He has worked his way up through the political ranks, and has become a successful and respected leader.
Immediate Family: Mayor Thompson is married to his wife, who is a successful lawyer, and they have two children together.
Religion: Mayor Thompson is a devout follower of the god of justice and law.
Wealth: Mayor Thompson is quite wealthy, thanks to his successful career and his family’s wealth.
Secrets: Mayor Thompson has been having an affair with Lady Helene Evergreen, the owner of the town’s theater, for several months. He is also secretly embezzling money from the town’s funds to fund his lavish lifestyle.
Relationship with Other Town Members: Mayor Thompson is well-respected and liked by the people of the town, and is seen as a strong and competent leader. However, there are those who dislike him due to his tendency to put his own desires above the needs of the town.
Special Powers: Mayor Thompson is a skilled politician and negotiator, and is able to use his charm and charisma to persuade others to see things his way.
Catchphrase: “I always have the best interests of the town at heart.”
Using ChatGPT to gather information about NPCs can lead to engaging and immersive interactions with players in your game. Even if not all of this information is used, the effort put into worldbuilding is not wasted. ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for gamemasters, taking on the task of creating a rich and detailed adventure world. Some example queries you can ask ChatGPT include:
- What are the backgrounds and personalities of the NPCs in this town?
- What conflicts or secrets might these NPCs be hiding?
- How do these NPCs interact with each other and with the players?
- What events or plot points could involve these NPCs?
I wanted to get a summary and see if there was anything I might have missed, so I asked ChatGPT the following: “What are some other interesting details that could be added for the 6 NPCs”
For Lady Helene Evergreen:
- She is secretly working to overthrow the current government and install herself as the leader of the town.
- She has a hidden room in her theater where she keeps her most valuable possessions and secret documents.
- She has a collection of rare and exotic poisons, which she uses to eliminate her enemies.
For Captain Marcus Blackwood:
- He has a deep-seated hatred for all magical beings, and has a zero tolerance policy for them in the town.
- He is secretly working with a group of anti-magic activists to rid the town of all magical beings.
- He has a hidden stash of illegal weapons in his home, which he uses to arm himself and his men.
For Sister Margaret:
- She has a secret talent for herbal medicine, and has a hidden garden behind the convent where she grows rare and medicinal herbs.
- She has a deep, unspoken love for the town’s blacksmith, who she has admired from afar for many years.
- She has a hidden journal where she writes about her thoughts and feelings, which she keeps locked away in a secret compartment in her room.
For Lord Alistair Darkwood:
- He has a secret gambling den in the basement of his mansion, where he and his wealthy friends bet on everything from horse races to card games.
- He has a hidden laboratory in his mansion where he conducts illegal experiments on magical creatures.
- He has a secret mistress who he keeps hidden away in a luxurious apartment in the city.
For Professor Elijah Grey:
- He has a secret fascination with the dark arts, and has been studying and experimenting with forbidden magic in secret.
- He has a hidden library in his chambers where he keeps his most valuable and rare books on magic.
- He has a secret room in the wizarding school where he conducts his most dangerous and forbidden experiments.
For Mayor James Thompson:
- He has a secret mistress
- He is embezzling
While the embezzling Mayor may serve as a minor antagonist in the town, it may be useful to have a more formidable and serious villain for the players to face. The summary shows there are a lot of motives for the NPCs. You can use ChatGPT to generate ideas for this NPC by providing the prompt: ‘Create an evil NPC in the town that is hiding their identity.‘ This could lead to a more complex and engaging storyline for your game.
Name: The Black Mask
Physical Description: The Black Mask is a mysterious figure who is always seen wearing a black hooded cloak and a black mask that covers their face. Their true identity is unknown.
Work in the Town: The Black Mask is a criminal mastermind who is responsible for orchestrating a series of robberies and thefts in the town.
Temperament: The Black Mask is a cold and calculating individual, who is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. They are also very cunning and manipulative, and are always one step ahead of the authorities.
Backstory: The true identity and motivations of The Black Mask are unknown, as they have always been successful in hiding their true identity. Some speculate that they are a member of a wealthy and influential family, while others believe that they are a former criminal mastermind seeking revenge against those who wronged them.
Immediate Family: The Black Mask’s family is unknown, as they have always kept their identity a secret.
Religion: The Black Mask’s religion is unknown, as they have never revealed their true identity.
Wealth: The Black Mask is believed to be quite wealthy, thanks to their successful criminal endeavors.
Secrets: The Black Mask’s true identity is their biggest secret, and they will stop at nothing to keep it hidden.
Relationship with Other Town Members: The Black Mask is feared and hated by the people of the town, who are terrified of their criminal actions. However, they are also respected by some members of the criminal underworld, who see them as a powerful and formidable figure.
Special Powers: The Black Mask is a skilled thief and mastermind, and is always able to stay one step ahead of the authorities. They are also highly skilled in disguise and deception, and are able to hide their true identity even from those closest to them.
Catchphrase: “You can never know my true identity.”
Although ChatGPT does have its limitations, it can still be a useful tool for coming up with new ideas and finding inspiration when you’re struggling to come up with something creative. By using clear and specific prompts, you can maximize the utility of ChatGPT in your role-playing game. I went with the most interesting NPCs, but you can use ChatGPT to fill the town with common folks. We hope you found these tips helpful and that you’re able to use them to enhance your games. If you have any thoughts or experiences to share, please leave a comment below.