There are many possibilities for this. I do try to make my NPCs memorable, if they’re significant in any real way. Current I am spending a lot of time inhabiting the head of Aseneth Scarrow, an NPC from Five Fingers (Iron Kingdoms) whom I have given my own spin on, just in case my players are bad monkeys and go and read the books.
Several of my memorable NPCs (at least from my point of view) have been female, besides Aseneth there was an undead noblewoman in our long-running Legend of the Five Rings campaign, who hid the scent of her rotting body with a healthy dose of jasmine perfume. The players came to associate that scent with danger and corruption, and I could provoke them into a frenzy, simply by describing its scent. They also came to be properly scared of ninjas, but that’s too generic to be a proper answer to this question.
Perhaps the most memorable NPC in all of roleplaying is The Computer in Paranoia. ‘Friend Computer’ and other catchphrases from the game are lodged in many gamers’ brains and merely speaking in a level, ‘computery’ tone is enough to break some people out in a cold sweat. That – and the formulaic mode of play – are the things that made paranoia so fantastically successful as both a mission-based RPG and as a comedy RPG. Lessons I took forward into Agents of SWING and Invaderz for similar reasons.
NPCs don’t have to be super deep to be memorable. One of the most remembered NPCs I ever created was a Cyberpunk fashion designer who was obsessed with ‘Checks!’ which he ‘saw’ whenever he tried to envision any character in an ensemble.
‘I see…. Checks!’
Hey, thanks for stopping by. I’m an independent RPG (and other games) designer and author. You can check out my stuff via the links at the side of postmortemstudios.wordpress.com. If you feel so inclined, after a look around, you can support me at patreon.com/grimachu, Minds.com/grimachu or steemit.com/@grimjim. Questions and queries are welcome, remember, ‘Nullius in verba’!