This is a follow up to this thread
(One solution to many of the problems suggested is to play a different game, for example, if the issue is "not knowing the system" then changing the system would seem sensible. For the purposes of these follow-up threads, please can we consider that suggestion as a given.)
Lots of people had problems with NPCs. These include: naming your NPCs, giving them a variety of personalities and motives, and making them consistent.
The names. Usually I do make a list of names before the game. Last session I didn't and it showed - I dug around on the iPad, and while the names were real, I was slow coming up with them, and they weren't always memorable. But when I do, I mark the NPCs details next to the name on the list.
In the Keeper's Resource Book, we introduced Three Things. Each NPC has a physical mannerism - you can do this at the table; an attitude, accent or verbal tic (this can also be a real person you are attempting to imitate); and an adjective. Put those down next to the PC's name and it's likely you'll play them consistently. When you are imitating someone, it must be a sufficiently bad imitation that they can't tell who it is. A couple of times (rather naughtily) I've imitated the players.
Eg drums fingers, speaks quietly and gently , accomodating,
This one was a Bulgarian gangster in Madrid from last week. The three things were tactile, sweary Zoltan, friendly.
Tactile (I held out my arms as if to embrace the player)
Constantly referred to having sex with character's female relative. He was also a bit like Zoltan from Flash Gordon.
Friendly and loyal
I could really do with a lovely NPC record table which included this info plus a few other details, or even better, an iPad app which did this with some optional random generation.
I suppose if I was brave enough I could ask which personality types I tend to overuse, and attempt to use adjectives which don't do this.
What do you do?