Inspiring NPCs

You can become a hero!

You can become a hero!

I’m not talking about Bardic Inspiration, but about NPCs and characters that are actually inspiring.

Most characters in our games can fall into certain archetypes; the villain, the slacker, the loner, and so on. But one figure that I don’t see often is the Inspiring Figure.

When we make connections to NPCs in the games, we tend to look for things like ‘family member’, ‘rival’, or ‘need revenge’. These help us flesh out or characters, but are often set up as goals to overcome (the rival) or potential hooks to provide motivation (my brother was kidnapped!).

The character that made me think of this is All Might from My Hero Academia. In the anime, he is the #1 hero. He’s the strongest hero in the world, but that alone doesn’t make him inspiring. Instead, he has set himself up as the Symbol of Peace in the world. Always smiling, he provides hope to the world.

"It's fine now. Why? Because I am here!"

"It's fine now. Why? Because I am here!"

Everyone knows All Might. The main characters all look up to him for different reasons, but what is most important is that we SEE him doing heroic and inspiring things. His words and actions matter, and he knows it. He is a beacon.

All Might’s presence hovers over everything in the story. That might be a bit much for a tabletop game, but the premise is still interesting. How many NPCs in games would you consider inspiring? Most everyone is there to either support the heroes, or directly oppose them.

all might 3.png

If you make an inspiring figure in your game, and want people to FELL like they are inspiring, you need to make them relatable. If your inspiring figure is a god, then they’re not connecting with people on a certain level. Part of the reason that someone is inspiring is because they enable others to think that they too can do these incredible things. Having the inspiring figure be a god or supernatural being just ends up making them separate and better than everyone else.

Adding an Inspiring Figure is easier to do during character creation or when establishing the setting, but all you need to do is ask a player “Who do you look up to”, and “Why do you look up to them”. Your answers may vary, but you’ll find that role playing a truly inspiring, genuine, and relatable person is a difficult but fulfilling challenge.


Remember, go plus ultra!

My Hero Academia- Masks

Plus Extra!

Plus Extra!

My Hero Academia is an excellent anime, featuring a group of classmates going to the number 1 high school for aspiring super heroes. An ensemble of interesting characters makes it seem like a living, breathing world.

In this setting, the majority of people are born with “quirks”, or super powers. Some are minor mutations, and others are big, flashy and powerful. Because of this change, being a professional super hero is a valid career, with a salary and everything.

Young kids with quirks that want to be superheroes apply to U.A, the number one high school for super heroes. Aside from their normal classes, they also receive training on using and developing their quirks, and becoming stellar super heroes.

I’ve been playing a lot of the Masks Role Playing Game lately, and the show captures a lot of the important elements from the game. Big emotions, dramatic scenes, and developing powers are all important in Masks, and the show has them in spades.

I’ve listed some of the main characters from My Hero Academia, and assigned them a corresponding playbook in Masks. If you want to play a character from My Hero Academia, this might help you get the right feel!


Izuku Midoriya- Midoriya is the main character of the show, and fits within a few possible playbooks. The Legacy is the immediate fit, as Midoriya literally has All Might’s legacy. The Doomed could also work, if you consider All Might’s impending death and the overall villain of the story as the possible ‘Doom’. The Protégé models Midoriya’s leadership and analytical skills, and keeps All Might directly connected to the playbook.


Katsuki Bakugo. He’s The Bull, absolutely. Bakugo’s personality aligns perfectly with the Bull; you even get to pick a rival!


Ochako Uraraka- The Nova is the closest fit, especially since it has gravity control. Her quirk is more support focused, so you can pick moves and abilities that allow you to support others and manipulate the environment.


Tenya Iida- The Legacy. His family are superheroes, and he is following in their footsteps. Give him a super speed power and you're good to go.


Shoto Todoroki- The Nova. His powers are big, flashy, and easy to lose control. Elemental control is also one of the standard options with the Nova as well.


Yuga Aoyama- The Star. Rather, he wants to be The Star.


Tsuyu Asui- This one is tough. Asui is a strong, stable influence. She’s almost handled better as an NPC, as she seems unlikely to get into arguments or fights like other characters. She could be a modified Janus or The Joined.


Momo Yaoyorozu- Her family is wealthy, so the Protégé would be a good fit. Because all of the kids in the anime have powers, The Beacon will almost never be used. However, because she creates mundane objects, an argument for the Beacon can be made.


Mezo Shoji- The Transformed. His body is obviously weird, and his associated powers align with the Transformed.


Eijiro Kirishima- He’s a good candidate for the Bull. He tries to overcome obstacles with brute force.


Mina Ashido- The Outsider! I know she’s not really an alien, but she looks just like the default picture. She even references how alien she looks!


Toru Hagakure- Because her only quirk is invisibility, the closest I can think of is the Beacon.


Kyoka Jiro- Another hard one, possibly handled better as a NPC or support. Perhaps the Janus?


Minoru Mineta- I hate him. The Delinquent? I’m not going to spend more time on this creep.


Denki Kaminari- The Nova, because his powers are elemental in nature and have a very bad drawback.


Fumikage Tokoyami- I want to go with the Doomed, but I’m not sure what his ‘Doom’ would be. Overall, the Doomed is the gloomiest of the playbooks, and he seems like the gloomiest person! But, somehow in a cool way.


Mashirao Ojiro- The Beacon might be a good fit here. His quirk is a tail, but it’s not a power in and of itself, so the Beacon could still work.


Hanta Sero- Yikes, this one is hard. His tape is definitely a power, but could be seen as a type of equipment, so the Beacon might apply. Additionally, the Janus has some similar powers.


Koji Koda- We don’t know much about Koda, so it’s hard to pick a playbook for him.


Rikido Sato- The Bull would fit his style, especially with the declining brain function.