Thank you. Perhaps you should have a go at posting some of these "Actor's guidelines" then?
(In all seriousness I would be quite interested in seeing your suggestions.)
Not sure I have much that's terribly tangible to contribute --- pretty much what I do is just work little flashes of personality - or memorable quirks into the few moments when I roleplay an NPC during a session. Usually when a player talks to an NPC - they want something from them: (information, equipment, assistance). (No one ever stops to ask an NPC: "How are you doing? No really - how are
you doing? Tell me about your childhood." Poor NPCs.
) So, the interaction can be very straightforward and a little boring. I try to use those moments to inject a little play-acting and make it a little more interesting.
For example - I ran a Western campaign (Werewolf: Wild West
) for 2 and half years. I tried to give most recurring NPCs some kind of memorable characteristic. For instance, in a small prairie town near the PCs hideout - the sheriff might compulsively check his pocket watch (ala the White Rabbit) every few seconds. The school marm might look for an opportunity in every conversation to proselytize about temperance or abolition, and the General Store proprietor might be a pseudo-intellectual former English professor who quotes the Bard (often incorrectly) at the drop of a pin.
//pretentious roleplaying wonk mode on//
I've got a love/hate relationship with long NPC biographies. I love the background info - but there's a very
small ratio (depressingly small, really - especially given the excellent material in a source book like Freedom City
) of it that can realistically every find its way into a game session.
What is very useful for me as a GM is for the NPCs to have unique, distinct characteristics and quirks that I can easily roleplay (like what you've presented here) that give some glimpse into their personality/background - (without stopping the session to launch into their life story). This enables me to make background characters seem more like unique individuals and less like stock archetypes from Central Casting. which, in turn, makes the world feel richer and makes the gaming experience more immersive.
//pretentious roleplaying wonk mode off//