Before I went to bed last night, I started working on a list of non-player characters to appear at the various locations in The Ascalon Horror. These characters serve the purpose of representing locations, lending more personality to the places, and to the game overall.

If you’re familiar with the non-player characters in Arkham Horror (as opposed to the investigators, whom the players tend to be most familiar with), you might be aware that there’s about one of them per location. Later expansions added more personalities to each location, but the basic game had about one character per location.

When you visit an unstable location, these characters were fellow investigators on the trail of some element of the Mythos. If you could meet the proper requirements, they would join your investigation as allies. Their stories were pretty bare-bones, unless you were already familiar with their appearances in the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.

If you visit a stable location, the characters’ stories were generally tied to the location itself, though these are pretty bare-bones as well. You’re playing the story of your investigators, not these quasi-important, interesting-sounding, but otherwise inconsequential background characters. They’re just flavor text. Well, almost.

Blights in The King in Yellow expansion could be seen as an extension of the stories for the background location characters. Not the allies, just the characters tied to the locations. If you play with the King in Yellow as a herald, increases in the terror level can cause these denizens to go mad from seeing the infamous play.

Blighted Allies are pretty much one-time effects, though. They go mad, and for the rest of the game, things are a little bit worse. Come to think of it, allies are mostly one-time effects, as well. They provide a handy bonus and follow the investigator around unless something bad happens that causes them to be “discarded.” (Removed from play.)

I’d like to make the non-player characters in The Ascalon Horror a little more influential in the game. I’m not sure how yet, but I have this idea about using particular companions as entry requirements for certain quests. These characters would then be easier to initially recruit (say, like an initial or automatic appearance).

Then, like an “escort mission,” you could assume that if the players failed to protect said companion (sacrificed them to Abaddon, fed them to the Charr, et cetera), the mission would be considered a failure, and something else bad might happen. Maybe an arbitrary doom token or terror level increase, or something far, far worse.

Should be fun! *smiles*