GM Advice: EPC's


Banded Mongoose
Hello Folks,
Thought I'd take a moment to point out that an EPC can be a useful thing for a GM...

Right now, you're likely thinking "By Strephon, what is an EPC!". Well, you know what an NPC is, and you know what a PC is. PC stands of course for Player Character. N in NPC stands for Non-player character. So what does the E stand for in EPC?

What is an EPC for that matter?

E stands for Email. So the combination of Email Player Character would almost make sense, but how is an EPC useful to a GM? Clearly, if you are using Email to contact your person over teh internet, he can't really help you at your table with your PC's right?

Well, that is the beauty of the EPC. When at your table, the EPC becomes a highly detailed NPC. When not at the table, you communicate with someone over the net about your campaign world and that someone becomes an Assistant GM when it comes to the mindset and motivations of the character under discussion.

Why is an EPC a good thing? As GM, how often have you pondered how to portray an NPC and knowing as GM, everything - agonized over what does the NPC know versus how you should have the NPC act?

Hypothetically speaking, let's say you have some character who is a local crime lord. You don't want your knowledge of the player characters to taint any planned actions by this NPC. So you have a buddy on the net whom you contact saying "Hey John, I have this NPC named Harcourt F Mudd - he's involved with the criminal sector of the space port and has a team of four men under him. He knows which cops are crooked and he knows which cops are clean, and he owes his boss 500 credits a week for the right to skim money off the sheep -er, local citizens. The world is a TL 9 world, how would you act if this were your character?"

Congratulations. You've just farmed out your first task to an Assistant GM. Now, suppose the player of this EPC decides that Harcourt hates the fact that his parents named him after a 20th century character from the Solomani Sphere. Letting him know you know the source of his name by saying "Hey, isn't that a character from Star Trek" automatically gains his ire, and he pulls a vicious prank on the individual (perhaps a back ally beating, perhaps paint on the windscreen of the grav sled, perhaps a rat like vermin let loose in the starport bay of the ship knowing it will look for food - usually aboard the starship.... etc.

Maybe the EPC decides that his men go about asking for donations to the Longshoreman disability and Widow's fund. Any self respecting PC is going to say "No" right? Then again, having FOUR men rough you up first chance they get because you didn't pay the 100 credit fee for the fund is going to be worth it right?

Having an EPC means that you use them for ideas on motivations of the NPC you portray from the vantage point of the players at the table. Having them regularly run into the EPC means that your guy at the other end of the Internet can dream up some things to do, that impact on the PC's all without you having to lift a finger. Best part yet? The actions of the PC's are related to the EPC player so that there is a sequestering effect. He doesn't know the effect of his plans unless you relate them to him. He won't know that the events are PC based or NPC based (ie your universe interacting with his EPC). You get a more life like NPC for cheap...

Best of all? If anything happens in which the players claim "Hey, he had GM knowledge" you can simply state "Nope, this is an EPC being run off the NET." I did that to my players a few times. The first time, the EPC ended up being a character they grew to love thinking that it was more alive than many NPC I have created in the past. Another NPC they dealt with, who was actually an EPC made them VERY careful when I told them up front "You're dealing with an EPC now. Be aware that if his character has reason to knock your character off, he will, and I will faithfully excute the plans put into motion."

Since they didn't know which NPC was the EPC, they grew very cautious of ALL NPC's at that point. Ironically? The EPC was an ally who was helping them. ;)

So - file this under "tools I might want to try out some day". If someone tells you "Hey, I like your campaign, too bad I can't be there" simply say "Wanna be an EPC?"


NAAS - NPCs as a Service. Free plan is 2 events/week. 24 hr response time. No specialist knowledge.


Banded Mongoose
paltrysum said:
We sort of have that, but I guess we would call it a DPC...Discord Player Character. 8)

Ya had me snickering...

Mind you, I don't bother to spend much time at Discord, nor do I use Skype all that much. While I enjoyed Mirc back in the day, I never really spent too much time with Yahoo Messenger or the other instant messenger type applications. Now however, with the use of FANTASY GROUNDS, I am happy with real time chat functionalities. Discord by its behavior, is a real time communication service...

Thanks for the chuckle by the by. :)


I'm a big fan of GM-advice blogs, and one of them (10-ish years ago) was Martin Ralya's "Treasure Tables" and he had a similar idea to this. It was called the Evil Overlord, and there used to be a PDF of the blog entry. Sadly, it seems the links from Gnome Stew are now dead and gone. I tried to recruit some players to do this in 2008 or so, but the games fizzled out before anything could happen.