This is really simple, and powerful tool to make great variation with only few simple steps. With this you can create illusion of living world as not everything unimportant (or even important) for campaign is static copies of eachother.
So, get ready for The mighty Three to help gamemaster's plannings
Introduction: Example Of Gym Music Listeners
I'll just start with a bit complex example. Complex because this is actually not that complex, but I just want to show you how it can work basically with anything. So, here's the example, and all the explanation follows after it.
There are three types of music listeners in the gym.
1. They don't need music, so don't particularly listen to it even if it's in the background.
2. They do listen what ever radio station or cd is put on.
3. They want to listen to own music with iPod's or even insist to get their own cd on player.
That's it, three types of people going in to the gym and their music listening habits while working out. So, what does this mean? Let's see.
What Is This?
This is a simple tool to make variety for different things. It might be soldiers and their equipment, orc marauders and their agressivity or city guard and their suspision. The key is, that you can easily pre-make three different variations to use, so players have an illusion that not every static NPC or NPC without key value to adventure is just a cardboard copy of another.
This is simple way to make gameworld feel a bit more alive.
The Mighty Three
Why three? Two is not enough and four is too much to handle and manage, so three is a nice number. And three has also enough variety. When creating these different NPC groups and divide them into sub-groubs with The mighty Three, think those three as:
1. Lower, smaller, below
2. Medium, mediocre
3. Higher, bigger, upper
That's a rule of thumb but it depends how you will use those values on what qualities on a certain NPC group you want to highlight. It's really simple.
Examples Tell It All - Different Archtypes Make Lot's Of Variety And Flesh Out Game World
For example orc marauder groups you would like to make that aggression value. You make just one template for orc marauder group, but have three different groups from that one template! Like this:
1. (Lower, smaller, below) Unaggressive, and will flee and avoid combat as well as possible
2. (Medium, mediocre) They will only attack groups they can outrun with power, obviously bigger and more powerful they leave alone
3. (Higher, bigger, upper) They will attack no matter what, even threatening their own life
So, now you have one template for orc marauders (let's say statistics for leader, two with bow and two with swords and shields) but with The mighty Three system you have three different kind of groups altogether!
Let's take another one. City guard. You have basic template for city guardsman (with possible different weapons) and with The mighty Three system you can make those city guards' behaviour really different, and make them feel more alive!
1. They most likely ignore what happens around them if it's not direct threat against them or city leadership
2. They keep an eye on obviously suspicious persons and might even follow them
3. Highly aware, most likely to intimidate passing people showing verbally power.
See? One city guard statistics, but three different city guard types.
I'll give you another one. This time modern world soldier to be a bit different from fantasy setting. Again, you have template for soldier, so let's make a small difference to their behaviour.
1. Stay's in cover and prefers not to get shot - obviously can barely shoot himself
2. Will shoot, but if is directly shot will most likely find a better cover - doesn't want to get killed
3. Trigger happy who will shoot and takes risks to get better positions for better line of sight
The Mighty Three For Equipment
You don't have to necessarily use it just for NPC natures, but also equipment. Let's use those same three examples, orc marauders, city guards and modern world soldiers and let's give them variation with three different equipment sets.
Orc marauder equipment
1. Dagger, axe, shield, light armor
2. Sword, spear, medium armor
3. Bow, 20 arrows, short sword, light armor
City guard equipment
1. Sword, shield, spear, medium armor
2. Sword, bow, 20 arrows, medium armor
3. Halberd, shortsword, heavy armor
Modern world soldier
1. Pistol, 2 grenades, assault rifle, combat suit
2. Pistol, 2 grenades, shotgun, combat suit
3. 5 grenades, smg, combat suit
Now you have three different item sets for those NPC's you can use easily. Three is enough but obviously for special, more important, main villain etc.NPC's you might like to make more detailed plans.
Few Thoughts Left
It could be handy to write down all those variations on small notes. Just write heading what type of NPC list is for, then minor heading for what The mighty Three is and then the actual mighty three. You might do several of these The mighty Three headings ofcourse for personality, behaviour, group build, equipment etc.
Here's one example to give a idea what I mean: