Here’s a simple table for coming up with quick and dirty NPC motivations. It requires a little bit of thought on the part of the GM, but gives a good starting point. Simply roll a d4 and a d6 and compare the results to the table: d4 for the column and d6 for the row.
Some of the results overlap somewhat (like desire for freedom could be a desire for change) but it gets the job done fairly well. I’m hoping this will give me, and others, a good starting point for NPCs.
If you roll and realise that this guard the PCs are talking to has a Fear of Truth, then maybe that gives you the idea that he’s taking bribes and is afraid of that getting out, or maybe he has some evidence that one of his fellow guards is a murderer but is afraid to believe it.
The goal here is not to generate fully fleshed out motivations, but to give the GM a spring board for their creativity. Usually something going on in the plot or the PCs stories and hooks will give you an idea of where to go with the motivations.
|1-2: Fear of…||3-4: Desire for…|