NPC Hook: The Publicist

Keeping up with our theme of Blood Bowl-inspired hooks (you did read the original idea, right?), today we’re going to look at a new NPC hook: the publicist.  In any campaign where the PCs are public figures, a publicist can be a useful NPC whose primary purpose is to make the PCs even more famous (or infamous) than they already are.  There are lots of great examples in fiction, ranging from the agent/publicist in Jerry Maguire to the marketing executives of Mad Men.  Let’s jump into a couple of ideas for building out a publicist NPC:

  • The Troublemaker – The toublemaker is a firm believer in the old adage “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”).  She’s always got a scheme or plot that will put the PCs front and center in the public eye, but not always for the best of reasons!  Did the PCs get into an altercation at the local pub?  This publicist will make sure the tabloids and the police are there so that the ruckus becomes a full-blown event.  Things going too smoothly? She isn’t above hiring some thugs to publicly assault the players – making sure that they’ll win of course (or at least that was her intent!).
  • The Glory Hound – The glory hound isn’t so much in it to help the PCs as he is to make himself famous!  The best way to do that is to always be on hand, making sure the press and officials understand how truly heroic the PCs are (and explaining their own instrumental role in the PC’s success!). This NPC inevitably gets in over their head, convincing some big bad that they’re the true threat (and requiring the PCs to save the day) or drumming up so much attention that the PCs gain the notice of the wrong types of people (mobsters looking to fix the games? officials suspicious of performance-enhancing magics?).
  • The Traitor – The traitor isn’t really working for the PCs.  Instead, she’s secretly working for a rival team manager and is working to subtly sabotage the PC’s image.  Remember that bar fight earlier?  The traitor may not have caused it, but she’ll make sure that there’s a sympathetic bystander who was injured by the carelessness of the PCs.  Inevitably, the traitor gets found out by the PCs, but then what?  Was the traitor being paid to portray the PCs? Maybe she didn’t have a choice due to blackmail by her true employer (this can make for a much stronger bond with the PCs if they’re able to help her out!).
  • The Up and Comer – The up and comer isn’t real experienced, but he’s ready to “bring his A game!”  This tends to result in lots of smaller activities for the PCs, a fair number of which are pretty embarrassing. Town having a fair?  The up and comer will make sure the PCs are there to do a ribbon cutting!  Or a dunking booth!  Or whatever will get the townsfolk’s attention.  The up and comer typically becomes a plot device as a result of his own exuberance – getting the PCs fined/imprisoned for improper licenses associated with a publicity stunt, getting caught in a publicity stunt gone wrong or even getting into trouble with the PCs for all the silly events they’re being asked to participate in!

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