How to Role-Play a Noble NPC in Dungeons & Dragons
Nobles are an aristocratic social class that exist in larger cities. Depending on the culture and ruling structure of the town, the way nobles act and interact with characters can vary widely. However, there are some fundamental principles to keep in mind when role-playing these aristocrats.
Nobles are seen wearing extravagant clothing in the latest fashions and most expensive materials. They often display their family’s crest on outerwear or pieces of jewelry. Nobles frequently wear the colors of their house as accents to their clothing or as colored stones in their jeweled ornaments.
These aristocrats opt for clothing that puts fashion above functionality, wearing supple leather boots that would not last a day out on a farm, lavish velvet cloaks that drag on the ground behind them as they walk, and tight corsets that prevent any type of physical labor. Nobles do not need to worry about dressing for functionality; their servants do all the work for them.
Because nobles are deeply entrenched in the city’s history, their races match the city’s historical makeup. There is often little racial diversity within houses, as families promote arranged marriages within the nobility as well as pure-blood marriages.
While nobles can have very diverse personalities, which are often heavily influenced by the city and culture they live in, there are some traits most nobility share. The nobility tend to be foppish, sophisticated, lawful, and have an attitude of superiority towards non-nobles.
Nobles will never get their hands dirty to do work they can pay someone else to do, even if it costs an exorbitant amount of money. Nobles use their titles, family lineage, and wealth to gain respect among the common folk. They are often seen as patrons, but rarely as quest-givers, since they do not care to meddle in day-to-day affairs. However, they may reach out and hire adventurers to handle a situation quietly which could adversely affect their family’s reputation.
Because nobles are extraordinarily wealthy and have plenty of free time on their hands, many nobles are eccentric, developing unique hobbies such as antique lamp collecting, art sculpting, or purebred rothe breeding. Despite their eccentricities, nobles expect to be treated with the respect and veneration that their societal position demands.
Nobles spend most of their time attending lavish banquets, shopping, strolling the grounds of their estates, and participating in hobbies and crafts.
Nobles also attend and host social functions for other nobles and visiting dignitaries, which they view as work. These can include fundraisers, banquets, balls, and dinner events. Because these events affect the family’s social standing among other nobles, these events can cause quite a bit of stress and anxiety for nobles. They will often hire top-notch catering, servants, and entertainment for these get-togethers, allowing opportunities for adventurers to get involved. They are willing to pay quite well to ensure they hire the best of the best to impress their guests.
Nobles also have the time and energy to spy on other houses, gossip endlessly, and develop schemes to help themselves rise up in standing among the nobles. Though this is not the agenda of the average noble, some cunning and bloodthirsty individuals use their power and position to their own ends. However, nobles ensure that none of their evil deeds can be easily traced back to them, preferring to pay others to do the dirty work.
Nobles will avoid combat at all costs. Most nobles do not know how to fight, nor have any desire to try. Nobles frequently travel with bodyguards or have other guards stationed around their homes. If combat breaks out, nobles will order their bodyguards to protect them, while trying to flee to safety. If they are in their homes, there are often secret passageways that they can use to escape to the carriage house to flee the conflict. If there are no escape routes available, nobles will cower and hide behind objects to avoid the fight.
The bodyguards of nobles are often from families who have served that house for generations. As such, they are willing to lay down their lives to protect the nobles they serve. They will fight to the death if need be, sacrificing themselves to cover a noble’s retreat. The guards have no qualms over interposing themselves between the noble and the enemy in combat, focusing on protecting the noble over other tactical advantages.
What's one of the most memorable nobles you've ever created? Let us know in the comments below!