A guard is an NPC that guards a person, place or thing in the game world.

Guard NPCs may begin as normal interactive NPCs until the player preforms a trigger action on whatever it is guarding. After this point the guard NPC can either become an Enemy, or force a Dialog Tree with the player, which gives the player a chance to talk their way out of the situation.

Guard NPCs can function as blockades, preventing the player from moving forward until conditions are met and threatening the player with attack if they are not yet met.


  • Guarding: the guard NPC will attack the player if they preform a trigger action on one of the objects guarded. Common guarded objects include portals to important areas, items, and other NPCs.
  • Trigger Action: what actions taken on the guarded objects will cause an attack on the player. Occasionally this action is activating a physical trigger in the world. Common trigger actions include: kill actions,activate actions, and move actions.
  • Chase Area: how far the NPC will chase and attack the player if a trigger action is performed. Often this area will be infinite, but can also be bound to specific rooms or map areas.
  • Line of Sight Required vs. Not Required: whether it is required that the guard NPC can see the trigger action happen in order to activate and attack on the player.
  • Defeatable vs Undefeatable: once triggered, is the guard defeatable in combat, or are they immortal? Compare Oblivion's city guards, who are defeatable, to the inquisitor's men on the first island in Risen. See also Unwinnable Fight and Soft Gate.


  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Killing a civilian in an Elders Scrolls city triggers the city guards to attack.
  • Dragon Age: Origins. Pouring dragon's blood on the urn of sacred ashes in Dragon Age will trigger its guardian to attack the player.

In Worked Examples

  • Unwinnable Fight - See the variable undefeatable. Activating a guard NPC's trigger may result in an enemy that cannot be killed, and will continually attack.
  • Soft Gate - If a guard NPC is protecting an area, or item that is needed to advance the game, and he is a much higher level than the player, that guard acts as a soft gate, impeding progress until the player is of high enough level to face him.
  • Trigger - All instances of the guard pattern involve some sort of trigger attached to an object or area, which determines when they become hostile.

Quest-Level Relationships

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