Census of Mythic Europe

Hello all,

I'm thinking about starting a new AM campaign. I don't know about y'all, but coming up with lots of interesting, unique NPCs is the hardest part of GMing for me.

I had a thought about combing through all my published sources to cull all the named characters and put them into a big spreadsheet/database.

Then I thought:
"I wonder if anyone has done this already?".

If yes, and it's available, where might I find such a wonderous resource?

If not, I'm wondering if the AM community here might want to collaborate on such a project. If a bunch of us each took only one or two supplements, we could probably bang it out in just a couple of weeks. And what better time than during the holiday season, when folks typically have lots of sitting-around time?

I would be happy to coordinate such an effort.
It would probably look something like this...

Phase One:
Compile a list of all published sources to reference in one document. Easily done. (Does someone have this already?)

Phase Two:
Define, as a group, the data fields to complete for each NPC. I've already got enough mental notes to have this 65% complete. Also for the group to decide - do we just catalog Magi, or all published NPCs? (I'd suggest all - why not, while we're at it?)

Phase Three:
Folks here in the group claim responsibility for specific published sources. I will coordinate this so there's no redundant effort. This would probably be me distributing a spreadsheet for each person to "fill in the blanks". If you don't have a spreadsheet program, we could probably work out a different data format for me to import.

Phase Four:
Everyone returns their spreadsheets to me. I compile them into one big spreadsheet and make it available to the community. I will also import this into a FileMaker database, and can thus make the data available in different formats.

What do you think?
Has this been done already?
If not, who might want to pitch in?

Happy Holidays,

Schenectady Wargamers Association

This does seem like a worthy project, but I'm sure you're going to find many 5th edition NPCs fully formed.

However, I would be willing to help in some capacity.

Good luck, and Happy Holidays.

I think this is an interesting project, but it doesn't necessarily help you with your problem. It could in fact over whelm you with options.

I would consider your problem (making NPC's) and this project, two seperate and unrelated projects.

For the NPC's in your game this is what I suggest.

Start playing.

When you need an NPC, say the local shoe maker, give him a name and write it down. Now he's 'the shoemaker'.

Three sessions later you'll have list named characters on the fly that are the people in your campaign.

Problem solved.

This may seem trite, but players rarely appreciate the work GM's invest in a game and GM's often invest more work than they need to. While good gaming involves planning, it ultimately needs to be done. So just sit down with the buddies, have some fun, the NPC's will pop up as needed.

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The problem with making NPC's, is that the shoe maker is great...you spend an hour making him up, writing out his supplies and the first time he meets the main characters....Bang! The main character fries him or he ticks him off in some way...they never intereact again.

As stated...

Make up the NPC AFTER you introduce them and find you will need them again...

The really good ones (ie the village healer they always go to)
The really bad ones...(ie the demon summoner, the pain in the neck noble...)

Otherwise Dave, your going to be wasting your time...

Tuura - I appreciate the suggestion, but making up NPCs "on the fly" is not the challenge I need to overcome. On the fly GMing is easy. It's the advance big-picture preparation that I'm trying to make easier for myself, and everyone who could benefit from this resource.

I am looking at having a campaign framework in place before I start GMing. I want to have the major story arcs and major NPCs defined ahead of time, so I have an idea of the world that the PCs are entering. I also want to have a bunch of minor story arcs prepared, at least in outline form.

Let me give you an example...

Let's say one of the major story arcs of this Rhine Tribunal campaign is the debate over the formation of the new Lotharingian Tribunal (p.29 of Guardians of the Forest, if you want to refresh your memories).

What the players don't know is that a major demon has taken notice of this strife, and has sent his minions out to stir things up. He sees an opportunity to set magi against magi. His minions are also inciting the mundane nobility in the disputed area.

(* Potential Player Note * - This is only an example, and not one of the story arcs I plan to be "major" to the campaign.)

Anyway, if this is indeed a major story arc, I want/need to know a lot of things ahead of time:

  1. Various magi's positions on formation of the Lotharingian Tribunal. Who is solidly "yeah" or "nay"? Who are swing votes?
  2. Which magi have been targetted for infernal interference of their opinions?
  3. Which noblemen are being manipulated by infernal minions?
  4. How will this affect their relations with the covenants in their domains?

So, this is why I need a big list of NPCs to build from.

Also, an average Tribunal will have about 100 magi. Tribunal meetings are a big deal. Is it too much to ask to have at least :

  • Name
  • House
  • rough Age
  • and a few color comments
    ... for everyone who might show up once every seven years? I don't think so.

And, let's face it, players think it's cool to meet NPCs who've appeared in print. I think it would be great to have a list to pull from.

I've got some holiday stuff to finish up. I'll catalog a few of the books from my shelf and post the results here - then maybe you folks will have a clearer picture of what I'm envisioning.

Io Saturnalia!

Great! Will be looking forward to it!

I don't contest that it's nice to meet NPC's from canon material, but I still feel all of your questions should be asked retro actively.

Specifically in terms of the players you want answers to questions that the players may not know the answers to until after they have been asked/ played out.

That is, my character may not have an opinion on Tribunal issue X until it's brought up at Tribunal.

What I should have clarified is that working on the fly should be matched with 'retroactive explanation'.

What I often do is grab the nearest thing to me that has a name and that's how a character gets named. The shoemaker is, (grabs a Cd) "Jean" Williams.

If the NPC has no merit, he's forgotten. But the characters need this shoemaker I start thinking about him more. Ok, why is it bad to screw the shoemaker? What is the reprocussions of asking his daugher on a date?

These questions are a waste of time if no one pursues the daughter, but only after a player makes the action does the question have merit.

In the case of your questions I propose it's much simpler to answer these after the fact.

Prep the Tribunal by picking NPC's and giving them generic House positions. The Tytalus want a fight, the Jerbiton want order, ect ect.


  1. Various magi's positions on formation of the Lotharingian Tribunal. Who is solidly "yeah" or "nay"? Who are swing votes?

I think it's much more interesting to discover the players positions as they make them. Furthermore, the players, having made them, may seal their futures fate without realizing it. Let them play it out, have no idea what they are going to do. After the decisions are made, shape material based on what they did. It's much smoother and less forced/linear.

2. Which magi have been targetted for infernal interference of their opinions?

Again, after the players make their decisions examine what they have done, what they have chose, why? Now you have material that's played out, that's 'canon' and not theory. Say the demon watched them, observed them, picked his target. Path to Hell is paved with good intentions right? Again it's much more natural to have the characters actively walk a path than to set them up for damnation. In reflection, they will be hard pressed to argue you as GM tricked them.

3. Which noblemen are being manipulated by infernal minions?

A large cast makes it difficult for the GM to handle everything. A)Take your vauge sketches of characters and hand them out to players. B)Let the players make up people that might be there, such as noblemen.

This is an important thing. There is the written character, the character 'imagined', and there is the character played. I have certain players, that by their nature, no matter how evil a character you give them, they will play someone that is noble. Same for ineptness. You could make the perfect character, and I have player that is simply always a 'clumsy' character.

For particular scenes, or even an evening, let the players play someone else. It's refreshing, it mixes things up, and it lowers your work load/burden. After the session, consider the natural choices they made. No preplanned agendas, no mission requirements, no 'imagined' characters. All there is the game that was played.

Take this material and look at and retroactively plan based on it.

The Baron was an ass? Maybe that instill anger in the host? Maybe a demon can exploit that anger, alter it to wrath.

Again, I consider this a more natural course of events than preplanning.


  1. How will this affect their relations with the covenants in their domains?

Again, I still think a retroactive question. Let the material play out. Sit down with your friends with the barest of material. Just play, just game, just let the players be the characters. Then afterwards, look at the material they handed you, the material you should see as potential, and find your master plan inside it.

My gaming troupe was been gaming on and off since 2nd edition. We've got 15 odd years under our belt and one of the few things I feel strongly feel about GMing is one should never over work themself.

This is much longer than I anticipated, but hopefully you can find something here that's of use. It may be we have different styles, but I see so many GM's feel real grief and anger for work that PC's simply do not appreciate. I'd like to spar any GM from work that isn't needed or not appreciated. I think a combination of ab lib and retroactive explanation is the secret to a natural, non-linear, long lasting game.

Chuck, while your suggestions are excellent, I think your gamemastering style and mine are just different.

There is a guy in our AM group, also named Chuck, who is one of the best GMs in our club. He is famous for "over"-preparing. He has pages and pages of notes, full character writeups for dozens of magi, and even a working model of the Vis economy for the entire Normandy Tribunal. My opinion is our Chuck prepares too much, and burns himself out at times.

But from him I've learned the value of having a good base of the campaign framework prepared ahead of time. I don't call Charles one of the best GMs in our club for no reason; his preparations make his game superior to many whose GMs have a more off-the-cuff style.

Charles' game is world-centric; the world continues to spin whether the player characters are there or not. The game you propose is much more player-centric; nothing happens in the world without player actions as catalysts.

In the example I use above, I want to know what will happen in the Rhine Tribunal if the PC magi do nothing. Will the Lotharingian Tribunal be formed, or won't it? How successful was the demon in stirring up trouble? Which magi declared Wizards War against each other over this issue? Who died, and who didn't?

It's up to the players to choose how involved they get with this story arc. But it's up to me, the GM, to have an idea of what the story arc is.


Rather than all the details of who is going to do what, I'd be happy seeing a list of who the magi in the tribunals are...I dont even care if I have all their stats just some thing like the following made up ones.

Rhine: 3 covanents, 15 magi 3 apprentice
2 Bjorner: 25 ypg(years past gauntlet) strong in creo/animal, 13ypg strong in muto/vim
5 Flambeau: 57ypg strong in perdo/corpus, 46ypg creo/ignem, 19ypg perdo/mentem, ect...

Then as the players run off and do something unexpected you have a bit more of an idea of who the major characters they are likely to meet may be. Another list of important nobals and church men may also be nice. for added fluff you can mark if they will aid or hinder the players to various degrees

True lineages gives the sizes of the houses mentioned but (maybe because I havn't compared the two books directly) it seems that going by Gardians of the forest there are alot more magi wandering about.

Then as a final list you have your series of events that will happen no matter what...
A demon has gained a disciple in the rhine.
a large group of magi are going to vote to remove the 30day wait on wizards war.
Famine strikes Germany.
A covanent in the rhine was destroyed.

By leaving it open ended you can fit the challenges as needed. The players are just out of gauntlet? then the demonic disciple may be the 5ypg tremere (rego/mentem) that wants to join the same covanent as the players.
Most likely a large part of your "world events" list will have things that the players have no interest in bothering with, so there is no need to waste time on details.
Famine in Germany? "oh well we're fine here, dont disturbe me when I'm reading"
A covanent in the rhine was destroyed? "Wonder why?" player pokes around a bit...^consult list of events that may have caused it^ "it was an angry mob of starving peasents..." player pokes some more ^there were reports a wizard aided the mob...^ poke some more.. ^consult list of antagonist^ he was Fred of house Criamon (23 ypg intelligo/vim)

If the players showed no interest it wouldn't matter why the covanent was destroyed unless you plan on forcing them into something...even then they have no knowledge of the why so the details are still unimportant unless you plan to build on events. It's not relevant to the players that Fred a +5 villin aided in the destruction and that he has a 15 in intelligo and 2 in rego, he was aided by 27 peasants with pitchforks and rode a black horse. Make a brief note along the lines of Fred help destroy Covanent in 1223

In this way your NPCs will grow as the players do, if you see that you are continuously using Fred to "rape the horses and ride off on the women" then maybe it's time to give him some stats rather than just say strong in intelligo/vim


You are 100% correct...

He is a great GM..but as you said, he tends to "over-prepare". Thats great if you want a short lived game, but if you plan on having a game that last a long time, you need your story guide to have his creativity and sanity intact...

You can (and probably will) plan out every little detail of everything that you think they might do...(awesome work there)...then they will ignore the character/situation that you spent four hours planning for, and the NPC that you spent hours working on will botch and die at the first roll of the die.
{I spent all that time on that guy so he could die that quick???GRRRR}
Agnars suggestion is much more efficient.
Prepare OUTLINES of your guys, and develope the 'fellas' you know you are going to need...
Spend the rest of your time working on the Stories...

Have to put my vote with the don't overprepare crowd.
One of my friends of over twenty years has his games planned as much as 04 years ahead (in detail!) with an overview for at least 10.
He does not suffer from burnout , but he refuses not to use anything he has put so much work into.
There is little or no chance that players are allowed to pull surprises that he has not accounted for.
While his games are fun and have some novel ideas , the plot train rules all.

Somewhere along the line this thread morphed from a discussion about a list of NPCs that have appeared in print sources to a discussion about GMing styles.

I'd like to suggest we re-focus on the list of NPCs.

Let's say I offered you a list of all the magi in a Tribunal, and in fact in all the Tribunals. Some of them had a full character sheet of stats available (if you have that product). Some of them just have a brief mention. But at least all of them have a name and a few other tidbits for flavor.

Wouldn't you think such a "census" document would be useful?

I do, and I'm offering to coordinate the project to make this happen if other people are willing to help.

One person, Tim/angafea has volunteered to help when things get rolling. Is anyone else interested in pitching in?

I have started my first draft, with the Rhine Tribunal/Guardians of the Forest book. The work goes pretty quickly, but I haven't finished yet. I got distracted by more important things (football).

When I finish the first draft, I'll post the results here.

If you're interested in helping create this resource for the AM community, please consider volunteering.


I would hate it.

I want my own covenants, magi, events, intrigues, mystery cults, villians and so on.

Perhaps it might be useful to use such a defined covenant if you have no time to prepare, but even then I doubt I would find any covenant or magi exactly in the shape I want it/him to be.

I'm always interested in sources for NPCs and the like.
Having become used to such luxuries with D&D.
I would volunteer to help , but not sure if there is much i could actually do that is useful.

Anyone who has a few published sources (or even just one!), and a desire to pitch in, can help.

More soon,

what editions will you be pulling info from and will the blanks left by book descriptions be filled in? i know you had a program to determine the size of each house and the nuber of magi in mythic europe. will you attampt to fill out thease numbers in their approperiate houses?

i think it would help to understand what you want to do if you post an example. i think this would be a good project but i know from experience in a game how crazy and big some of this can become. i dont think i can commit to help but i would love to see what you come up with and i know one of my gms would probably use it.

in one game that i am in the gm uses the random method of generating npcs and only plans them when he has a planned adventure. he uses names out of books and we can interact with them. if we are looking for somone or something in particular he will create that npc for us to meet.

in the second game i am in the gm has a large database that has been compiled for several years and he has fleshed out 30 magi with notes on the rest and entire covanants at other tribunals.

i can see how both styles have merits i get different forms of pleasure from both of thease games.

Hey, it just occured to me that I can start doing this for City & Guild, which I'm just starting to read, since I'm reading it from the start anyway. Let me know if anyone else has already grabbed it.