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DMing advice

DMing advice
DMing advice | simony

Part 5 - Simple Epic

Part 4 - Low level gods

Part 3 - What matters?

Part 2 - Brevity

Part 1 - Humanity

GMing for Deities

Part 2 - Doing it the Easy Way

Ok, so I lied - I have a different column than the one promised. You'll get the one with more tales of Thrin (and how to keep him and other deities happy) next time. But this one is really really useful, so listen up…

Super-Quick NPC Creation Rules for All Levels

Based off an original post by Henry on ENWorld. I have a system I use that works well for me, so far regardless of play level. It was written for classed creatures and NPCs, but works also for "unlevelled" monsters - at least for me.  DISCLAIMER:  This method will not work so well for Major NPCs, and Major Villains. If you want to give certain villains their utmost prowess, you may need to stat them fully. However, this will work for 80%+ of all the “shock troops” combat NPCs, and almost all the essentially noncombatant NPCs - shop keepers, bellhops, stable boys and scullery maids at low level, senators, mayors, princesses and allied deities at high level - your PCs will ever likely meet.

1. Start with Name, Alignment, Class, Level, and details. Write these down. That’s it. No need to be specific if this is an NPC they won’t be fighting.

2. If you need a specific skill - this is a skill that you envisage is actually coming into play; NPC is bargaining with PCs, NPC is repairing armour, etc, then figure if the NPC is just decent, or GOOD at that skill. If decent, assign 1 skill rank per level. If GOOD, assign skill ranks = level +3. Factor in a magic item bonus if desired & the NPC is high-level, eg +5 or more.

3. Don’t worry about attributes unless needed. If needed, figure which how many scores the NPC is GOOD at, and assign a bonus of +2 (ie reflecting a stat score of 14 or 15) for those stats. Everything else, assume average. You can assign bonuses above +2 if desired, but be careful - mooks with STR & CON +4 (ie 18-19) before level mods are a very different prospect from STR & CON +2.

'Typical' 16 point buy NPC : 1 GOOD, 5 average.
'Competent' 20 point buy NPC: 2 GOOD, 4 average
'Elite' 24 point buy NPC: 3 GOOD, 3 average
'Ultra-Elite' 28 point buy NPC: 4 GOOD, 2 average

High level NPCs especially may if desired be better than +2 bonus in their single best stat. Note though that a character could advance from 1st to 20th without ever increasing a stat bonus, by raising odd scores to even, so only do this if you want the NPC to stand out as remarkable or to present a larger combat threat.
Assuming the stat started at 14, and points are added at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th & 20th level, the best-possible stat bonuses are as follows:

Level 1-7: +2
Level 8-15: +3
Level 16-20: +4

The GM can assign stat-enhancing magic items to higher level NPCs if desired.

Epic & Deity Level NPCs are usually best created from a points pool - a pool of stat bonuses that is, not the standard point-buy method, that's far too time-consuming. You take a bunch of bonuses and assign them to all the NPC's stats; for a typical deity-level NPC I recommend something like 25%, 20% 15% 15% 15% 10%, which adds up to 100% of the pool, but you can do it however you wish - I'd just recommend not placing more than 1/3 the bonus points in any one stat, 4 w 25% each & 2 no-bonus would be ok for some, maybe Baghtru the orc god of strength has really low INT & WIS…
The exact totals you use can come from the Immortals Handbook for deities, for typical Epic NPCs I'd recommend something like level/2 in total bonuses, but you might prefer a lower total, maybe 5 + Level/4, or even 5 + Level/6 - rem these bonuses include Inherent bonuses from Wishes & such, but not item bonuses unless you prefer to abstract those in at this stage.

Sample Epic NPC Default Arrays (with Level/2 bonuses):
22nd Level (16 points): +4 +3 +3 +3 +2 +1
30th Level (20 points): +5 +4 +3 +3+3+2
40th Level (25 points): +7 +5 +4 +4 +3 +2
50th Level (30 points): +9 +6 +5 +4 +4 +2

That 50th level character's stat bonuses (which is all you ever need in play) translate back into 'actual' stat array of 28 22 20 18 18 14 before magic, which seems ok to me. Adjust the points totals by level as desired to fit the tone of your game - for a typical campaign only major villains should have stat totals that exceed PCs of similar level.

3. Don’t worry about FEATS until needed in play, combat or otherwise. Feats hide a multitude of sins. Eg if the NPC is a melee brute he probably has Power Attack. High-level Fighters have Weapon Specialisation. Archers may have Rapid Shot. Don't sweat the small stuff.

4. Hit Points.
If combat is needed, assume hit points are high-average each level, including first, so take Level multiplied by half of hit die number; rounded up. I usually round up for individual NPCs, without factoring in maximum hp at first level - I find this gives excellent results and avoids the tendency for NPCs to become relatively weak at higher level. It's tough at the top! For groups of high-level mooks, rounding half up & half down gives some nice variation, and helps prevent players working out exactly how many hp the enemy have!

For D&D PCs:
Hit Die CON bonus HP/level, rounded up.
d6 0 4
d6 +2 6
d8 0 5
d8 +2 7
d10 0 6
d10 +2 8
d12 +2 9

BAB is = level, 3/4ths level, or ½ level, based on class. Armour class is = armour.

5. Saving throws.
Good saves = (Level/2)+2, rounded down.
Poor save = (Level/3), rounded down.
Remember to apply the stat bonus if the save falls under a good (+2) stat score.

6. If NPC is a monster, and you EXPECT to get into combat with them, write down AC, touch AC, speed, Melee and Ranged attack, damage, and hit points. That’s it. Figure out feats and skills JUST like you do for other NPCs.
 You will wind up with characters that are only 80% accurate. Will this matter? NO. But you will wind up with generic monsters and PNC's that took you all of 30 seconds to stat, that are playable, and for whom your players won’t be able to tell the difference.

Typical 'Good' (+2 or better) stats (D&D), & Good saves:

Class / Good Stats/ Good Saves
Barbarian STR CON DEX / Fort
Bard CHA DEX INT / Ref Will
Cleric WIS CON STR / Fort Will
Druid WIS CHA DEX / Fort Will
Fighter STR CON DEX / Fort
Monk WIS DEX STR / Fort Ref Will
Paladin STR CHA WIS / Fort
Ranger DEX CON STR / Fort Ref
Rogue DEX INT STR / Ref
Sorcerer CHA DEX CON / Will
Wizard INT DEX CON / Will
Aristocrat CHA WIS STR / Will

Alignment (if used):
Class/level (and Divine Status, if any):
Physical Description:
Decent skills (rnks=lvl):
Good skills (rnks=lvl+3):
Good attributes (+2, or better as noted):
Relevant Feats:
Hit Points (lvl x ½HD +CON):
Combat stats:
BAB: (1x / ¾x / ½x lvl):
Good Saves (Level/2,+2):
Poor Saves (Level/3):
AC (armour):
Melee atk&dmg:
Ranged atk& dmg:
Special Equipment (suggest "+" 1 per 4 character levels for best item, 1 per 6 for lesser items, eg at 22nd level would have a +5 primary item and +3 secondaries)

Next: GMing for Deities Part 3 - What do you give the PC who has everything?

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