Created By: Hadashi on July 16, 2012 Last Edited By: Hadashi on November 11, 2012

Annoying Townsfolk

Name Space:
Page Type:
A common problem in top-down RPG's, the Annoying Townsfolk is when game NP Cs with collision detection:

  • Actively seem to get in your way and prevent you from getting about.
    • In particular: doorways, the standing in thereof
  • Walk around randomly, particularly in small spaces
  • In the worst examples running into an NPC will cause you to enter conversation mode - meaning that not only do they get in your face and block your way, they start getting chatty.
  • Block you in and never let you leave.


  • Elona Certain NP Cs in towns will talk to you if you walk into them. This can make getting around a hassle.

Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • July 16, 2012
    Weirdly the only example I can think of for this is Gilmore Girls. There are several episodes in which the main characters can't cross Stars Hollow without running into the last person they wanted to see, or someone who wants to stop and gossip with them when they're in a rush.

    What about a name like Overactive Townsfolk? In case the current version sounds too subjective? Not that I'm saying it sounds like that, I don't play enough video games tbh.
  • July 17, 2012
    I'm of two minds on this trope. I'll agree that having NP Cs block your path is annoying, but this isn't so much as a trope as general griping. Plus, any square-based RPG with NP Cs moving at random is bound to generate this problem in one place. It's either an Omnipresent Trope for the style, or people complaining about the game mechanics. Either way, this doesn't work.
  • July 17, 2012
    Already have it as Drone Jam.
  • July 18, 2012
    I'm not sure that Drone Jam should cover this. And it definitely is't Omnipresent, I can name you four games right now where it doesn't happen or very very rarely happens: Baulders Gate I & II, most Pokemon games, Arcanium, etc, etc.

    I think one trope should be for deliberate examples and one should not. Drone Jam's picture is of a deliberate example, but its description suggests it is a programming error. Indeed, Drone Jam is up for repair.

    Also, I really don't think Astro has read the description.
  • July 25, 2012
    Welcome to Corneria!
  • July 27, 2012
    Wherever you go in Assassins Creed, you'll find annoying people. Altair had to deal with annoying beggars who demand money and insane people who will just shove you for no reason.
    • The sequel manages to avoid this by allowing Ezio to toss coins towards the bothersome musicians, but they are far less annoying than the beggars.
  • August 1, 2012
    Bumping this YKTTW due to its relevance to the Dronejam TRS thread.
  • August 2, 2012
    The NP Cs that cause this problem are as likely to be party members as townsfolk and are sometimes neither. I don't care for the name.
  • August 5, 2012
    NPCs In The Way? That sounds like the Broken Bridge kind, though, and that's the other side of the Dronejam split.
  • August 6, 2012
    While paraphrasing, the page says

    "This is usually accidental, and was far more common back in the days of tile-based maps, when a door would be one space wide and could be completely blocked if a mindless NPC happened to wander in front of it. If it's intentional, placed there by the designers, you've got one of the more obvious forms of the Broken Bridge."

    Paraphasing in the sense there is a lot of irrelevant to this point text in between but Drone Jam is just the instance, whether intentional or not, and it is better that way because Tropes Are Flexible.
  • August 9, 2012
    Should something be added where the blocking NPC will eventually move to let you through. If NPC doesn't do that, it isn't this trope, and I don't know what it is (NPC/enemy traps you in a room or space, must fight him or find another way out).
  • August 9, 2012
    ^I think that's implied in this trope. (As pointed out on Drone Jam, if the NPC doesn't move, it's a Broken Bridge.)
  • September 6, 2012
    Update: Dronejam has been renamed NPC Roadblock and is now exclusively about NPCs as intentional Broken Bridges.
  • September 6, 2012
    So, that leaves us with a situation: is "Drone Jam", defined as NPCs unintentionally blocking your path in a video game due to random movement patterns, a trope or just lousy programming? I suggest this get a new name if it's going to focus on that, as Heart above demonstrates that the title is too ambiguous.
  • September 8, 2012
    ^ No, "dronejam" is the trope that just got renamed NPC Roadblock, which is about NPCs that intentionally get in your way and act as a Broken Bridge.

    And yes, this needs a new name. It also needs examples, but that problem should be solvable by simply sifting through NPC Roadblock's examples, since there are still examples of the accidental variety there that predate the definition change.
  • October 17, 2012
    Giving this a bump. After renaming Dronejam to NPC Roadblock and limiting the definition to intentional examples only, a user scrubbed the related pages and in-page examples. Reportedly, the "accidental" version accounted for nearly two-thirds of examples on the old page.

    The old examples list is currently preserved under Sandbox.NPC Roadblock.
  • October 17, 2012
    The "accidental" examples are now at Sandbox.Accidental NPC Obstruction. (Also probably not the ideal name, but it is just a Sandbox page.)
  • November 3, 2012
    Bump. I have some interest in taking this one over if Hadashi's out (though ironically, I can't guarantee frequent updates myself).

    This is one reason why modern RPG's will limit an NPC's movements to a specific 'area', or provide NPC's with fixed, predictable (and most importantly non-blocking) movement routes. For example, in many a Pokemon game there is rarely more than one wandering NPC next to another; I'd wager about half of all NPC's are completely stationary for one reason or another, and plenty of other NPC's (Triner or otherwise) who walk in fixed (back-and-forth or looping) patterns.

    Of course, I also think back on the definition of a Trope and think "something the audience has come to expect from a work or genre". Which doesn't always overlap with "something done intentionally by the creator", one of the other ways we define a Trope.
  • November 4, 2012

    U-Turn has a man named Bobby running from gambling debt collectors, whose car breaks down near a small backwater town in the Arizona desert. His battle to get his car fixed and get out ahead of his pursuers is complicated in part by creepy or annoying townfolk holding things up in some way or other--from the weird auto mechanic dicking with him, to a flighty local girl throwing herself at him which provokes her psycho boyfriend to keep getting in his face, to a mysterious and scheming woman getting him involved in her own personal drama. He is sort of a Jerkass himself though, so ends up an Asshole Victim.
    Bobby: "Is everyone in this town on drugs?"
  • November 4, 2012
    While giving the above example, I was looking for a trope that describes a character, often an Only Sane Man, trying to get out of a weird, creepy, or Crapsack town or place that they've wandered into, with one frustrating complication after another preventing them from doing so. U-Turn would describe that trope perfectly; the Eagles song "Hotel California" and the Bob Dylan song "Stuck Inside of Mobile With Those Memphis Blues Again" both suggest it, and I'm pretty sure I've seen this situation in other films as well. Just a side question: do we have a trope describing this?
  • November 4, 2012
    This example was in Dronejam until the TRS turned it into NPC Roadblock, whereupon it was tossed for not fitting the new definition. I'm sure there are others available in the page history.

    Simulation Games
    • Civilian ships in X3 are notorious for clogging up the docking ports on stations if they get there and the thing they meant to buy is out of stock (they'll just stick around until it's available). So much so that one modder wrote a script whose only purpose is to force every docked NPC to undock. They also have a tendency to be unable to dodge an oncoming player-piloted capital ship in a phenomenon known to players as "bug-splatting".
  • November 10, 2012
  • November 11, 2012
    In Baldur's Gate I, a game usually very well designed for not having these kind of problems, there is one such NPC in Nashkel city (he just follows you and keeps making conversation, which is a problem, since you can't really dodge dialogue boxes). I don't know if it counts, though, since the anyiance is totally planned by the development team (he's supposed to be an adventurer's fan or something).
  • November 11, 2012
    Isn't this just complaining?
  • November 11, 2012
    No, but I think this YKTTW will need a reboot with a more focused description.
  • November 11, 2012
    @Sligh_Br: The description has an option for NPCs who won't shut up. That example counts, and is likely an example of this trope being Enforced.

    @WeAreAllKosh: Searching for a trope usually works better in the Lost And Found.