Keep on the Shadowfell presents 10 different non-player characters to interact with in the town of Winterhaven, but not much more than a sentence or two of personality for each one (they tend to be defined more in terms of occupation than persona.) Rather than rattling off a list of people they could talk to upon arrival in town I slimmed the list of NPCs down considerably:
- Lord Ernest Padraig – Â The lord of Winterhaven (the players immediately took to calling him “Patty.”) He has information about the people of Winterhaven and begs for help with his bandit problem. PadraigÂ has little to provide in the way of physical resources or information on how to solve the problems at hand. At first I played him with a pretty lousy scottish-esque accent but I couldn’t keep that up and dropped it altogether. He is always friendly and outgoing to the players, though at time concerned with their lack of progress. After the second conversation Padraig had with the players I started to see him as kind of a blustery politician: charming and outgoing, but providing no real solutions and somewhat helpless.
- Salvana Wrafton – The proprietor of Wrafton’s, the only tavern in town. Her role is minimal beyond providing food and lodging, she also directs the players to other NPCs that hang around in her tavern.
- Valthrun the Prescient – A scholar and sage, he will provide some critical information later in the story to help the player piece together what might be going on at the Keep on the Shadowfell. I envisioned him as kind of an absent minded academic: well versed in the history of the area, but completely unaware of current events. In conversations ValthrunÂ is likely to trail off without finishing sentences and is usually too distracted to offer all the information players need without some additional coaxing from them.
- Elian the Old – an old farmer and Valthrun’s drinking buddy. So far he has zero dialogue but I always mention that he’s hanging around the tavern. I guess he’s kind of Keep of the Shadowfell’s Morn.
- Ninaran – I decided to introduce Ninaran the elven ranger later in the story, with the idea that she would only be able to get to Winterhaven after the roads were safer. Once there she wouldn’t be particularly friendly to the players but would be the prime source for information on the surrounding area that they would need to locate the Kobold’s base camp.
So in the end more than half of the townies named in the module make no appearance. Even with this cut down list my players would still mismatch names and roles and make other silly mistakes. Having a smaller cast or characters just seemed more practical for the player’s sake, but it also let me create more personality for each of the important NPCs.