Welcome to the MMORPG NPC Hall of Fame, where we shall induct MMO gaming’s most noble, most famous, and most beloved non-player characters.
Often forming the backbone of any decent video game, NPCs are anything but background characters. In MMORPGs in particular, they can often drive the story forward in place of a single-player protagonist, almost stealing the limelight that is rightfully ours. These NPCs are the unexpected celebrities of MMO gaming, such as WoW’s Garrosh Hellscream, or WoW’s Sylvanus Windrunner...or WoW’s Illidan Stormrage. It turns out that people really love WoW NPCs. But trust us, other MMORPG NPCs have earned their rightful place too.
In this list, we want to shine that limelight on the NPCs that aren’t a huge part of the main story. The true NPCs that somehow manage to stand-out in spite of the lot they have been handed. Like an overzealous extra in a movie, these nonessential characters seize their role by the horns and leave their indelible mark in one humble way or another. And then they win the hearts and minds of the players more than that Mary-Sue, Thrall, ever could.
The quest-giver, the vendor, or the candlestick maker; these non-player characters may not have fleshed-out backstories, or even names, but they are the kind of characters who don’t need them. They’re like the one weird guy in your neighbourhood that everybody knows, but nobody knows. That kind of effortless notoriety deserves recognition.
We’d call them ‘unsung’ heroes, but as it turns out...
Guild Wars 2 - The ‘By Ogden’s Hammer what savings!’ Norn
Image: shinboy630 (giantbomb)
The first but by no means the last NPC in this list to have his very own music video/remix, this particular Guild Wars 2 Norn of Lion’s Arch was beloved by many for his one line of generic MMORPG NPC dialogue: ‘By Ogden’s Hammer, what savings!’ Admit it, you read it in his voice.
The line is most likely in reference to the Galaxy Quest quote uttered by an infinitely less enthusiastic Alexander (Alan Rickman): ‘By Grabthar’s hammer...what a savings’. But our Norn’s excitement over the low, low prices of the Trader’s Forum was infectious. So much so that you will never, ever get this fan-made remix out of your head.The Ogden’s Hammer Norn is a shining example of how much impact a repetitive and inane line of dialogue can have on the playerbase. Just take a look at the ‘Oblivion NPC’ trend that is now sweeping the internet.
Part of the reason why the Ogden’s Hammer Norn captivated so many of us, however, may be due to the mystery surrounding his fate. Since the construction of New Lion’s Arch, the absence of his eager one-liner has caused many to take notice. And to many, the silence is deafening. But, much like a successful advertisement jingle, the legacy of his single exclamation lives on (and on, and on) in our minds.
By Ogden’s hammer, what feelings.
Old School Runescape - The Incomprehensible Gnome Child
[caption id="attachment_382519" align="aligncenter" width="228"] Image: OSRS Wiki[/caption]
The legend of Gnome Child began with the gnome children of the Tree Gnome Stronghold in Old School Runescape. Or, as it was known at the time, Runescape. Their philosophical and largely harmless lines of dialogue - such as ‘We can walk, run, row or fly but never lose sight of the reason for the journey or miss the chance to see a rainbow on the way’ - made for entertaining conversation, and certainly didn’t warrant the ability to just flat-out murder them. Sure there was the odd reference to a ‘new world’ rising from the underground but kids do say the darndest things, after all.
Regardless, it was thanks to their weird little faces and profound one-liners that the gnome children gained traction in the r/2007scape subreddit, and morphed into something - someone - much larger.
Aside from its green hat, Gnome Child has no distinguishing features that set it apart from its creepy-looking brethren. But it’s the one that your non-Runescape-playing friend recognises from the memes.
[caption id="attachment_382520" align="aligncenter" width="491"] Meme Credit: Mirakurutaimu (Tumblr)[/caption]
As one of the (many) faces that accompanies the phrase ‘dank memes’, Gnome Child’s fame rivals that of the illustrious Leeroy Jenkins - perhaps making it the most famous MMO NPC in history. What a turn of events.
Following the adoption of Gnome Child into the memeing community, OSRS decided to start featuring it in their anniversary events. It was then in the fateful year of 2020 that Gnome Child doubled down on the darker side of its mythos, spouting off such classics as ‘In the depths she has sealed them. Their power becomes hers.’ As well as the delightful, ‘So many symbols, so many signs. What do they mean? The answer is written in blood.’
Needless to say, these children of the forest are now nightmare fuel, and we can only thank Jagex for affording players the opportunity to slaughter them like their grown-up counterparts.
If this has made you yearn for your Runescape days, check out our Runescape 2021 review.
Black Desert Online - Original Deve, The Worry-Keeper
[caption id="attachment_382521" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Image: bddatabase.net[/caption]
Deve is a welcome sight for many in the context of his own game, but also in the context of this list as he is easily the most wholesome entry. Deve’s role in the beautiful world of Black Desert is that of a storage keeper and quest-giver. An unremarkable offering in itself, though handy nonetheless. But thanks to his charming character, Deve represents so much more.
Picture the scene: you’ve had a hard day, you’ve come home in a slump and, like many of us, you waste no time logging on to BDO to cut loose. In Altinova, you meander over to the hulking Khuruto storage keeper in order to relieve some burdens - expecting those burdens to be of the in-game variety. Then, in his endearing high-pitched tone, he utters the line:
‘I’m Deve the storage keeper. You can even store your worries here!’
Cue the emotions. Only as you continue to bask in his calming company, he then pleads:
‘Don’t look at me like that. It frightens meee.’
The heart-warming presence of Deve the Storage Keeper has established him as a fan-favourite for many years. Which made it all the more controversial when the original voice actor’s line was replaced for one decidedly more gruff rendition. Those that took original Deve for granted suddenly found themselves feeling that dreaded feeling that we all get sometimes: you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
The decision to replace the original voice actor’s dulcet tones has even resulted in several public appeals to the BDO devs. All of a sudden, people were less inclined to store their worries with new, unfamiliar Deve - much less to stop staring angrily at him. So for that reason we felt it necessary to immortalise the Deve we once knew in our list of beloved NPCs. You can store your happy memories here.
Elder Scrolls Online - M’aiq The Liar
[caption id="attachment_382522" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Image: elderscrolls.fandom.com[/caption]
An NPC with over 1k followers on Twitter is an achievement in itself - but there’s something about this unassuming Khajiit that the more mainstream NPCs lack.
Owing to M'aiq’s omnipresence throughout the Elder Scrolls core series (as we highlighted in our Epic MMO Easter Eggs collection) and his useless-but-entertaining tidbits of life, love and, well, lies - anybody who is familiar with the Elder Scrolls will most likely recognise M’aiq. His meta commentary on the state of the various Elder Scrolls game-worlds are always a gratifying treat when one does stumble upon him in Tamriel. Granted, that does require that you first know what on Nirn he is talking about
Whether it’s his comments on the altered inventory management system (‘M'aiq wonders why merchants boast of spacious bags, but never how much weight they carry’) or the reference to a Beta glitch (‘“Come no closer" said the ghost, so M'aiq did not. But she kept saying it, wherever he went.’), or just an Elder Scrolls version of an oft-repeated real-world phrase (‘M'aiq despises bats. Tiny, winged skeevers. Disgusting!) M’aiq is there to provide those ever-rewarding ‘I understood that reference’ moments.
Then, of course, there’s M’aiq’s reflection on the very nature of the characters in this list: ‘M'aiq speaks with many in his travels. After a time, they seem to repeat themselves. Strange.’
By Ogden’s Hammer, what musings.
World of Warcraft - Captain Placeholder
[caption id="attachment_382523" align="aligncenter" width="298"] Image: wowwiki-archive.fandom.com[/caption]
As we pointed out at the start, World of Warcraft is one of those MMORPGs whose NPCs could fill an entire Hall of Fame themselves. But when choosing who earns a place in the MMORPG NPC Hall of Fame, what better NPC than Captain Placeholder himself?
Captain Placeholder began his saga by literally living up to his name. During the Beta phase of WoW, Placeholder was there to teleport players from Menethil Harbour to Auberdine while the ships were being perfected.
Evidently, that job was not adequately carried out by the time of release as the Captain was once again picking up the slack following a glitch with those same ships. During his tenure, people started developing a particular fondness for the Captain, what with his incredibly convenient teleportation abilities and his sleek pirate swag.
However, it would appear that Captain Placeholder held his place for a little longer than intended, because his eventual removal soon led to widespread calls for his return. It was around this time that Eledainn of the Greystar guild penned the legendary Lament of Captain Placeholder, which was then further popularised by songwriter Cranius.
After popping up intermittently as apparent instances of fanservice - most recently as a cantankerous Dread Cap'n Placeholder - old school fans are always on the lookout for his latest incarnation. But truly, all reincarnations pale in comparison to the authentic Captain of the original game.
Captain Placeholder was a holder of many places. He held a place in Menethil Harbour. He held places across Azeroth. And now he holds a place in the MMOGames' MMORPG NPC Hall of Fame.
But most of all, he holds a place in our hearts.--
And so ends our MMORPG NPC Hall of Fame. But, perhaps with enough input from the community of another MMORPG, there may be plenty more to be inducted. Better yet, perhaps you can think of one or two villains of the NPC role that would better fit into our upcoming MMORPG NPC Hall of Shame.
Whether it’s to speak for the criminally forgotten, or bring our attention to the MMORPG NPC scoundrels that deserve to be held to account, make sure you follow our socials to reach us.
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