I thought I’d do a series of quickies for Halloween. So let’s take some quick NPC hooks based on our favorite stars of horror films! For today’s character, we’ll look at Jason from the Friday the 13th franchise.
Let’s be honest, Jason is a pretty two-dimensional character. I know that there’s a backstory there, but let’s face it, it doesn’t really matter. You could easily replace his backstory with just about any other conceivable background without any appreciable impact to the portrayal of the character on screen.
So what makes Jason an interesting NPC for your game? In my opinion, it’s his implacability. Jason never stops coming. He’s not overpowering – you can burn him, you can drown him, you can chop him up. And it just doesn’t matter. He’ll keep coming and he’ll slowly whittle down your group until none remain. This is a terrific idea for a NPC.
We often talk about the recurring villain as one of the most rewarding types of NPC. Jason is recurring, but he never truly loses – he is merely delayed. The Hounds of Tindalos from the Cthulhu mythos are a great example of this NPC. It doesn’t matter where you go or where you hide, they will find you. For me, the single mindedness and simplicity of Jason makes this implacability even more nerve wracking. I don’t think you should take it to that extreme in your own game (unless you intend to create a carbon copy), but I feel that this particular NPC loses some of it’s horror if they’re constantly cracking jokes every time they show up in the character’s bedroom with their hatchet.
Unless you’re using our Jason-style NPC as a one-off, I’d avoid having him as a main bad guy. Fundamentally, he’s not really interesting enough to carry that off on his own. Perhaps he’s a demon or other servitor sent by the main NPC to harry the players. Maybe he’s the cursed guardian of some artifact the players have stolen. He could even be some primordial force of nature that the players have managed to offend (some incarnations of the Swamp Thing follow this motif).