Archives of Nethys

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Chapter 4: Running Starship Campaigns / Designing Starship Encounters / Injecting Excitement

Creating Memorable Villains

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 140
Another way to liven up a starship encounter is to have the PCs interact with a memorable NPC on the opposing side. With ship comms, NPCs and PCs can easily banter back and forth, providing an opportunity for the PCs to get to know their opponents.

In a noncombat encounter, the PCs likely have more time to talk with some of the NPCs on other ships, whether they’re attempting to navigate the same area, racing them in a competition, or guarding their ship as part of a convoy. These conversations can provide PCs who focus on social skills an outlet for making new friends and learning new things, and it may help draw quieter PCs out of their shells, especially if they meet an NPC with a shared interest.

Even during a battle, when communications are likely more limited, giving personality to the NPCs involved gives the combat more weight than shooting down a starship crewed by faceless grunts with whom the PCs never interact. Perhaps the PCs are dueling a gruff military man with a strict sense of honor who won’t break the rules of a duel, even if it means he loses. Or perhaps they have the opportunity to talk to an unusual Devourer cultist who’s more interested in engineering projects than the Devourer’s cause, who the PCs may be able to encourage to join their side instead. Giving an NPC a more fully fleshed-out personality than “enemy pilot” gives more flavor to the encounter, and depending on how things go, could leave the PCs with a new nemesis or unexpected ally.