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Talia Invierno
I don't want to add any comment to the question, yet: don't want to sway it in one direction or another. We've been circling this one for weeks in several other threads. Let's see what the direct polling and discussion will show.
bclements
Ok, I'll bite: Yes, they should. NPC's should have a life that doesn't necessarly include your own PC's, and the types of NPC's your characters are running around have to make a living as well (what, you thought your NPC fixer just worked for you? or that hot decker just sat and waited beside the phone for your call?).

That doesn't mean every NPC you run into is in the Network, or some neck-sucking member of Ordo Maximus. It just means that they have a life as well, and things they want to do in that life, and things they have to do to get what they want.
Mugzy
150% yes.

An NPC will always have plans that dont directly involve the PC's, but the ones that are developed are the ones the PC's mess with and the ripples from their meddlings.

It keeps the concept of a dynamic world going. The world will progress, with or without the players, just like the real one.

As far as developing these plans. I think a general idea of the NPC's plan is required. If necessary, you can develop it into a full string of motivations.
imperialus
I voted only the major ones but that's more my own lazyness when I GM than anything else. I'm a full time student and working 16-20 hours a week. I don't have time to detail dozens of NPC's for a run.

As a ganeral rule I try to put a fair bit of effort into Fixers, Johnsons, and major contacts or antagonists. Other than that I'll detail a few if I have time but usually I'm more focused on attempting to balance the mechanics of a run than worrying why joe sec guard decided to pick up a gun in a lonly vigel against the shadows... sorry got a little mellow dramatic there.
blakkie
QUOTE (imperialus @ Aug 10 2005, 10:02 PM)
... I don't have time to detail dozens of NPC's for a run. ....

Who does? It really helps to default most NPCs to an agenda of trying to screw over any PC they interact with. wink.gif

P.S. I heard that Jubal Early survived in my absense last week. Is everyone ok for this Sunday? My rigs all shut down so i'll be back in town.
Digital Heroin
Always. Why? Because even the lowly Stuffer Shack employee has aspirations. They don't have to be well defined agendas, but even "get money for college" tells enough to judge an NPC's reaction to a given situation, and keeps them from being the same as any othey NPC, just in another suit. Major NPCs, especially re-occuring villian-types, should have well defined goals. Why? Because the more fleshed out the opposition is, the more interesting the play.
nezumi
I think you're missing the most important one:

Yes, if you as the GM have the concentration to keep it up.

There are more important aspects of the game than whether you get a busy signal when you call your fixer (and why).
imperialus
QUOTE (blakkie)
Who does? It really helps to default most NPCs to an agenda of trying to screw over any PC they interact with. wink.gif

P.S. I heard that Jubal Early survived in my absense last week. Is everyone ok for this Sunday? My rigs all shut down so i'll be back in town.

Yes Jubal survived and to the best of my knowlage everyone is good for Sunday.
Talia Invierno
QUOTE
Yes, if you as the GM have the concentration to keep it up.
- nezumi

Hence, "should" : ideal situation as a GM would wish to play it, not necessarily what RL forces upon us.
Bearclaw
I went with "Only the major ones". Of course everyone else does, but, unless it's necessary, I'm not going to bother figuring out what it is.
Is it really important that the guy at Long John Taco's who gives you 4 Burritos when you ordered two quesadias and a mexi-nuggets is distracted because his girlfriend wants to get back together, but he's not so sure? No, because the party will be a mile a way, or more, before they realize it. (Yea, in my world, if you don't check your fast food order at the window, it will ALWAYS be wrong. Just like real life).
On the other hand, knowing that the rigger your fixer hooked you up with is her ex-boyfriend who still calls her up in the middle of the night some times, and it really wouldn't bother her if he were blown out of the air by Ares during the upcoming extraction is pretty useful. At least for the GM. The party probably won't know this, at least at the beginning. Had she thought it was probably going to go easy, she would have hooked you up with another rigger who gives her a bigger cut.
RangerJoe
My game world exists for my players, not for the NPCs. Largely, this is because the NPCs don't buy me pizza.

That being said, NPCs often have interesting personality traits, hopes, dreams, fears, etc, which occaisionally come out in game play. Maybe the clerk the runners hogtied at the local Stuffershack is going to follow them home because he's fascinated with runners (from the trid) and wants to become one. This is not an agenda that is somehow unconnected to the PCs. It's a plot element.

In summary, NPCs in my games exist for the benefit of the players. They are their friends, rivals, enemies, lovers, admirers, patrons, etc. As a player, I would always assume that an NPC is "just as real" as a PC--they will act in ways that will directly affect my character's wellbeing, net worth, and pulse. So really, I come down as a fence sitter.
Apathy
In an abstract sense, every character in a story should have its own motivations and base its actions appropriately. The better sense you have of NPCs as real people, the more realistic their response will be when the player's Erzulie mambo starts coming on to them, or when the cyber-sammy bumps into them in the checkout line.

That being said, I won't bother fleshing out the personal history, hopes, fears, etc of the Stuffer Shack girl unless I think it will somehow impact the story that I tell the PCs. Who has time for all that?

[edit]So I think "Yes", "Always!", and "The only relevance of an NPC is how they affect the PCs." are all correct.
Method
I kind of agree with Apathy. But I also think it all depends on the style of game you are trying to play.

Most groups I've run don't really want to have a deep meaningful roleplaying experience with the girl at the stuffer shack so her motivations and whatnot become relegated to plot devices or thematic elements used to create mood.

For example, saying "she's a tragic figure, trying to keep her head above water in a world that uses girls like her up and throws them away" says more about the world than the NPC. Its more useful for creating the dark, gritty setting many enjoy in SR. In a way she becomes part of the background, and her agenda become less important.

But then there are those groups out there that do want to have a more indepth interaction with the NPC and really experience the SR world through character interactions. In those cases the GM better be on his/her toes, have a real knack for creating character driven NPCs and come to terms with the fact that he/she's going to spend a lot of time fleshing out NPCs many of whom the PCs will never get around to interacting with.
Shadow
NPC's are only 'alive' when they are interacting with a pc. They exist solely to move the plot forward in some way. Once the PC's are gone, so are they. Its like the hollodeck. Move far enough away from them and they disappear.
Talia Invierno
Hmm ... not entirely true, that. NPCs have influence far beyond their direct interaction with PCs. (There's a few players having some trouble with that concept in one of your current games, Shadow wink.gif )

The actions of NPCs can reverberate on the PCs even when there is no direct interaction. Remember the recent KFC commercial where the guy pulling on his balaclava in the snow and trudging to work just happens to collide with the escaping bank robber? The collision only made it direct interaction (and was necessary to illustrate the connection to the viewing audience): but it's entirely possible that an ork PC might be pulled over based solely on their being an ork, in a neighbourhood where someone was just robbed by an ork. Yet whether or not the actions of that particular NPC touches on the PCs depends entirely on where the PCs happen to be at that time: turn a different direction, take a different fork, and they'll never notice. (At least, I wouldn't play it as a "fixed" event that is set up so that it must happen to the players.)

Those are crude examples. A more subtle version of the same thing is reflected in that enigmatic idea of "rep": not professional rep in this case, but who a person has been seen with -- even if the meeting was nothing of the kind, only just two persons happening to be in the same place at the same time. (Think the Carlos set-up in Russia in the third Bourne novel.) Word spreads.

Yet another different type of example might be that half-stalking ex-boyfriend of the fixer mentioned by Bearclaw (and I think I'm stealing some variant of that one at some point biggrin.gif): the totality of the fixer's interaction goes far beyond the limited "aliveness" of her while she is interacting with the PCs. How far away do the PCs have to move before the consequences of her influence "disappear"?
wagnern
All NPC's have goals and motivations, but they may not come into play and you don't neccarly need to decide on them.

Example. Two cops have to make rolls to keep fighting. Cop A makes his roll and keeps fighting while B decides he has had enough. Cop A is probably motivated by promotions and glorry, while B is thinking of his family. Now if the party ends up interacting with these indivisuals outside of combat turns, the GM has personalitys and goals for each.

The stuffer shack gal does not need a personality and goals and dreams, but if somehow the PC's end up enteracting with her a lot, (I don't know, stuck with her during a long hoatage situation or something) then the GM should beable to upgrade her from scenry to a person.

Shadow
QUOTE (Talia Invierno)
Hmm ... not entirely true, that. NPCs have influence far beyond their direct interaction with PCs. (There's a few players having some trouble with that concept in one of your current games, Shadow wink.gif )

In that particular case though, thos NPC's aren't be controlled by me, but ny other gms using them to effect the world, and inevitably, the players in that world.
Talia Invierno
Sorry, Shadow, I think we're talking about two different things: because the NPCs and consequences I'm referencing are of your making entirely.
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