These are the Non Player Characters that the game or GM's create (though GM created NPC's is very rare, and usually in the form of a lightning wielding god). These more commonly are more the different nameless influences that you tend to hear about during the progress of game play. There are a few different types of NPCs that you will run into, they are as follows:
These are NPCs that participate in battles.
That is right. The men that the player character recruits, pays, and sends into battle are actually game NPCs. If they're not paid they will desert, just as they will if their morale goes too low. A player character can tell them what to do and how to do it, but at the end of the day they have a mind of their own as it were.
If a player character wants to have a bit of fun with them, they can be named or interacted with in a more general fashion. The various actions you can have them do are sources of entertainment (civil work, looting, entertainment, training, etc.). For example, troop leaders in Outer Tilog have the option to torture their troops. These bring a morale boost, a source of roleplay, and usually a few injuries or fatalities. Roleplaying losing men in combat, troop elation after victory, or losing morale after defeat are other ways of having fun with these NPCs.
These NPCs are drafted by recruiting centers built by regional Lords. Cost of recruitment varies depending on training, equipment, and morale. Pay depends on the number employed as well as training and equipment factors.
These are the roving bands of monsters that tend to appear and attack from time to time. These could range from Brigands to Dragons. A good way to fill in the blanks and come up with your own angle at what they are is look at the Combat Strength of the unit and then divide that by how many are in the rogue unit. If the individual in the unit is on the low-end (say under 20 CS) then these are lesser monsters, like maybe brigands. If they are in the higher ends then it's time for players to start really using their imagination.
A large mob, sick and tired of the enemy's looting, murdering, and burning of their land, bands together with any nearby farm tools to fight against all odds, an (usually) immensely larger enemy army in an attempt to expel them from their homes. I'm sure you can think of something to roleplay about that.
These NPCs tell what is going on and where. Some are part of daily reports while others players have to go out and find or even pay for information. These are as follows:
These are the most common of the informative NPCs. Like soldiers they have to be payed for when recruiting them, and then be paid while employed as well. They can be found in regions that have scouting guilds. Scouting Guilds are built by regional Lords.
Some entertaining ways to roleplay these NPCs usually involve when they do not return. For example blaming the enemy for doing something unseemly to the missing scout, or even more fun when they are lost in realm and denizens of ones own realm can be blamed. Like, Ok which one of you ate my scout?!?
Lords of the Realm
The daily voices that tell the positioned characters and and Lords how the realm feels about things are those of the NPC Lords. These range from all levels of lords which would be assumed as landlords. These reports are given at the beginning of each full turn.
When roleplaying these voices it should be assumed that these are people with actual voice in the realm. These are the same people that are report to replaced in hostile and brutal takeovers of woed in friendly takeovers. They are your government.
And being that a realm of nobles, knights, lords, dukes, and royals would not accept peasant troop leaders, it is also assumed that such realms would not entrust their everyday government to peasants either. The player character nobility are the warriors and also the most powerful of the realm because of that. By the same token they do not count the gold, collect the rents, and micromanage everyday life of the realm. Lesser lords do those jobs.
So when government officials are being killed, replaced, and persuaded, or those whispered voices tell you that they want peace with this realm or war with that... they should be roleplayed as lords of the land and not peasants.
When one mixes with the locals, they are mixing with the peasants, serfs, and minor landlords of the land. These are the people that will likely never travel more than 10 miles from the place that they were born in their entire life time. They are uneducated, simple, and were likely born bonded.
These people do need liberating... but not from their governments in the propagandic way the world seems to work in modern times, but from a repressive system, on which the player character sits a top of. Yes a realms enemy oppresses their peasants, but it is no ones goal to free them from the oppression, it is everyones goal to be the oppressors instead of the realm currently oppressing them. These people are not the player characters friends and will not being singing ballads about the player characters greatness. They will die in the fields usually before they are thirty so that the player character can have live as luxuriously as possible.
That odd uncle that hangs out with rebels to gage the sympathy to their cause, that aunt that is slipping you money (we are too polite to ask what you did to receive that much gold from your aunt... well not polite, we just don't want to know), and those that sit about the dinner table. They are a little of both Game NPCs and if the player so chooses to flesh them out, Player NPCs.
These NPCs can only be found at the Family Mansion which is located in the families home region.
PC - NPC Relation
Please note that NPCs never out rank a PC. Think of BattleMaster as a two caste system with a Hierarchies in each caste and limitations one each caste. The Player Character Caste are always nobles and never a member of the peasantry, and the NPC caste are never greater that than any member of PC caste.
Of course, this is not true for the Adventurer class, where player characters are indeed commoners.
Finally, we have the category of Game Master Characters. Thaat's what we call fully fleshed-out characters that are played by a GameMaster, often with special powers that go beyond the abilities of player characters.
There is a special page on those, Game Master Characters.