My players have been questing in Winterhaven for a few months now. I have two separate groups playing in the same setting and their paths are scheduled to cross next month during the holidays, when all four players are able to meet up for the climax of the first major story arc. But with these two adventuring groups simultaneously exploring the world I’ve crafted, I have a lot of NPCs to keep track of.
One thing that really helps are these character cards I’ve created, modeled after character portraits commonly found in JRPGs. I’ve lost notes and have forgotten what accent or vocal quirk I gave some of these characters, but at least key NPCs have a consistent face that my players are able to easily recognize.
I created a template and drew portraits for the key recurring NPCs my players would encounter. I didn’t have any cardstock available aside from index cards, and due to the gauge of these cards my laser printer produced some pretty crappy quality prints when I attempted to print directly onto them. So I had to compromise.
After printing all the portraits out on regular printer paper I cut them out with an X-acto and used some packaging tape to paste them onto a 3×5 index card. Unfortunately, the packaging tape I have isn’t wide enough to cover the entire card with a single strip, so I have to double up and I’m left with a very thin line running across the card face. After trimming the card with scissors, careful to leave enough of a buffer for the tape to cling to the card backing, it looks presentable. The tape increases the contrast of the print making the illustration pop out a bit more.
You can send your files off to get printed at a shop on cardstock and have it laminated for a more professional and polished finish. I’ll probably go back and actually ink and color these portraits at some point, but until then these monochrome cards serve their purpose just fine. But I want to be able to clip these things to the DM screen quickly and easily, so I made little clips out of index card strips.
I halved a 3×5 card longways and folded one of the ends over 4 times to accommodate for the thickness of my DM screen. I taped a clip to the back of each card and that’s about it. The character card is ready to be clipped to the top of the DM screen – it’s quick and easy to visually add or remove NPCs to the scene.