Making Memorable Mooks
By Marc Le Guen
One of the elements that span every genre of roleplaying games are the hordes of generic minions that a group of players can look forward to encountering–either as allies or, more likely, opponents. If the players attain enough power/resources/prestige, they may even find themselves commanding legions (or possibly just a group) of these traditionally faceless goons.
The way most gamemasters deal with generic opponents is to reduce them to an archetype and let the player’s imagination fill in the details, if needed. This approach makes sense where the role of the generic individual is to present an obstacle of some kind or where the mere presence of the archetype adds to the atmosphere. In these cases, it might not even be worth the few seconds it takes to determine a trait or two for these mooks when the only expected interaction on the players’ part is to “point and shot”. For example, there may not be a need to relay too many details about the members of a group of city guardsmen that come to put down a disturbance at the local tavern or a gang of tough punks that want to “tax” you for crossing their turf. If you’re fighting a swarm of hostile star-troopers while trying to break out of their orbital base, your player is just looking for a target, not a conversation. In all of these cases, those generic mooks show up, respectively, to show that there is a consequence to getting involved in a violent incident within the city gates, that the slums are a dangerous place at night, and that enemy battle stations are a life threatening challenge to get into or out of. But when your players regularly encounter a certain type of mook, like one of many customs inspectors that want to have a look in their cargo holds as they smuggle components for the rebels between planets, it helps to be able to quickly roll up a wide variety of personality types that come with something approaching an instant back-story on the off-chance...