Monday, October 20, 2014


Very busy working on two campaigns and Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate, but I just want to talk briefly about one thing: Brian Blessed and Castle Lords. 

Ever since I first saw The Black Adder (series one of the Blackadder with Rowan Atkinson), I've been a fan of Brian Blessed's bombastic voice. And in my campaigns every castle lord who hasn't been fleshed out before hand, somehow becomes Brian Blessed. I suppose his King Richard IV had such loud appeal it branded my mind with his image. This is certainly a bad habit and something I work to correct by delineating minor NPCs in advance, but it arises from a habit that I regard as useful for GMing. 

I remember when I was in high school reading a Dragon Magazine article (this was so long ago it is possible it was another RPG periodical and I am remembering incorrectly) that suggested GMs should draw on TV and movie characters to develop the personalities of their NPCs. For me this proved to be particularly effective for minor NPCs (where you need something stark to wrap your head around right away). So it kind of became a habit, and I was so bad at impressions that no one ever suspected my tavern keeper was really Ralph Furley or that my corrupt and crude Bishop was Biff Tannen. 

Generally it worked great except in the case of dukes, barons and kings, which were either always Brian Blessed or, occasionally, the first Black Adder (and frankly he is a lot less funny and entertaining than the second, third or fourth Blackadders).
I just like really loud, confident and gregarious kings with no sense of propriety or personal space. So now, unless I want all my castle lords to be that guy, I have to detail all but one of them in any campaign I run (because I still want at least one Brian Blessed in the game). 

Still I do recommend drawing on television and movie characters as needed if you find it helpful. It can even be useful to blend them together and see if the outcome makes sense in your mind. I find that even though I start with a character or possibly an actor, by the time I start speaking enough has changed that it isn't at all connected to the source (that is just the base to start with). 

1 comment:

  1. Well, you could do worse than Brian Blessed. He plays pretty much the same archetype in Flash Gorden as Prince Vultan.

    It is easy to have go to personality types and, as you say, you need to prep to make sure that not every member of group X are the same. Good luck!