Insta-NPCs #7: Damsels in Distress

History is filled with stories of famous artists and the impact they have had on those around them. From the story of the Mona Lisa that becomes more clear as art historians discover additional clues revealed through technological advances to the art stolen by the Nazis during World War II that is still being found decades later. Why not use art in our own worlds to illuminate the past or shed a

Damsel. The very word evokes mental pictures of brave knights rescuing fair maidens from high towers, dark dungeons, or dastardly dragons. But all those stories seems to focus on ladies in the role, seemingly too weak to handle their own affairs. The modern women I know would never need rescue. They would give those witches, evildoers, and dragons a piece of their mind and likely more if the situation called for it. Waiting for rescue? Not in their repertoire.

But it’s one of those repeated story lines in many adventures. Rescuing a lost child, a missing animal, a group of wayward adults… the list goes on.

Sometimes we need one of those folks in distress and don’t quite know how they got there or what situation to relate. That’s where Insta-NPCs comes in.

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Why not take out a handful of dice and roll up an instant NPC damsel in distress! Or in this case, an “Insta-NPC”! The Insta-NPCs product line is designed to offer one or more tables to roll on to figure out a little something about the NPC you’re pulling together.

For Insta-NPCs #7: Damsels in Distress, we offer eleven tables and a guided process through which you can find your damsels – whether it’s a single person or a group. It may even offer some supernatural elements to explore. One example includes a ghost and another includes something nasty that really shouldn’t have been discovered at the bottom of a hole but followed a victim back to the world…

Let’s go through an example… Perhaps I need a short adventure around a rescue but am not quite sure how to frame it. I pull out a few dice and get these terms to build around:

  • Individual or Group? Individual
  • Type? Supernatural
  • Gender? Male
  • Who created the trouble? Outsider
  • What is the trouble? Supernatural
  • Location? Mine
  • Condition? Dead
  • Trope? Besieged

Whoa. This ought to be intriguing. Unusual to hit a supernatural combination in the random lottery. I might play it into:

“The Mines of Moro have been abandoned for years on the outskirts of the Kingdom. The dwarves long ago discovered something deep and fled, warning others away from the area. They said they had contained it, but that was years ago. Nobody had thought of it since.

That was before the echoes began. At first, it was just those few settlements closest to the mines who reported the strange howling. As those spread to the capitol, the authorities began to take notice. It was affecting the sleep of the royal family.

A member of the Kingsguard led a small unit into the mines three weeks ago and the echoes stopped, though they never returned. Last night, the echoes began again.

When the royal wizard spoke with the shade of the Kingsguard, he realized what danger the kingdom truly faced. The dwarves had scratched the barrier to the Fell Hall, a space within the world thought to house the lesser demons serving Hel. These creatures would do anything to escape but are wasted beyond the ability to communicate clearly. Instead, the demon wail drives mortals mad. Whatever barrier the dwarves had put into place had worn away and was needing to be replaced.

The wizard has summoned your party and given you detailed instructions on how to replace the barrier. Godspeed heroes.”

That’s not as much an NPC as it is an entire plot waiting to be explored. And all from a collection of 8 words. Who knows where it will lead from here?

Insta-NPCs #7: Damsels in Distress offers eight main tables and three alternate location tables for fantasy, modern, horror, and science-fiction genre stories. Use these seeds to inspire your imaginations and throw something new and unusual at your players the next time you meet!

Like all Moebius Adventures supplements, Damsels in Distress is designed to be system- and genre-neutral. This 8 page PDF includes nine tables with examples, three worksheets, some examples, and four unique NPCs (with portraits) you can use right away.

This is the next in a series of short, system-neutral supplements from Moebius Adventures designed to encourage more creative descriptions in your games. Be sure to check out everything else that’s available to stimulate your imagination!

Need more examples of how to use this product? Check out “Designing a Damsel in Distress“!