In college I had a sanctimonious roommate named Simon Pors. Once, he walked in while I was IMing someone, looked over my shoulder, and said, “You shouldn’t associate with her, she’s a whure.”
His accent was so funny I couldn’t be offended. Instead, I got the idea for my favorite NPC of all time.
Simon Pors, the NPC, has an establishment called “Pors’ Whores and Fine Liqueurs” ...which he pronounces, like everything else, in his signature nasaly drawall. He has glinting gold teeth, wears a dirty white suit and broad-brimmed pimp hat, and he knows everyone in town.
My players never met the real Simon, but they love this character so much that I have brought him back in many games and many universes. There have been Pors sightings in a Star Wars space station, 1860s Australia (after “Mister Lincoln’s war” destroyed his riverboat empire), and a post-apocalyptic medieval age. In my current campaign, his sleazy voice made the players picture him as part cat, so part cat he became.
Simon Pors: Game Purposes
Can get anything. Pors’ trademark introduction indicates his gameplay purpose: “Simon Pors, purveyah of all worldly delights. If they’s anything you want, I can provide.” And in addition to the (less game-relevant) wares in his actual shop, he’s a one-stop contact for black market goods.
Knows everyone. Whenever the PCs need to meet someone in the local underworld, Pors is a good point of contact. Either because whatever underworld figure the players are interested in frequents the establishment, or because Pors refers customers to him.
Immediately friendly businessman. Pors is interested in establishing friendly relations with everyone who comes through his doors because he’s always looking to start a “profitable” partnership. (This could mean he partners with the PCs in some illegal enterprise, or that he turns them in.)
Basically loyal. Pors is more businessman than gambler, so his loyalty is easily bought by the prospect of a mutually profitable “deal.” He’s basically honest toward the PCs, except when backstabbing them would prove overwhelmingly interesting for the story.
Entertainment Value. It can be hard to pull off a “comic-relief” NPC unless you’re actually skilled at improv comedy. So I have found that an exaggerated accent will entertain them quite a long way. Find a character with an exaggerated accent (and no less the kinds of words he chooses) flow naturally and distinctively for you. For me, that’s Pors – they keep asking him questions just to hear me do the voice.
Pors’ Whores and Fine Liquers: Game Purposes
Favorite Hangout. If the PCs find out where an underworld figure hangs out, don’t make it be some generic bar. Make it PWAFL!
Clean Front. Whatever universe it’s in, Pors knows how to keep a “clean” business front so that there’s little law-enforcement attention on the black-market ops that go on there. (in some universes this may mean that he squeaks by through legal loopholes, deception, or by having some of the law enforcement as loyal customers.) Thus, if PCs need to meet a contact or spy on a meeting between two criminal NPCs, Pors’ is the place.
PCs Need to Disappear. Pors automatically views the PCs as potential business partners – that’s his role when he enters the game. So if the PCs are in trouble, he can do them a favor – whether this is to get out of their debt or to put them in his is dependent on the situation.
...Unlike my players, we eventually got tired of the real-life Simon Pors and stuffed his belongings into his cubicle over break. When he came back, we told him he’d been moved out, and never heard from him again. Where he slept for the rest of the year is a mystery to me.
So this one’s for you, Simon. You’ll always have a home in my games.