3.5 Stat Blocks Kill my creativity
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  1. #1

    3.5 Stat Blocks Kill my creativity

    I discovered this awhile back:

    I HATE typing up stat blocks for NPCs. It's tolerable with lower level NPCs but by mid-level, stats blocks become a burden. And I've seen stat blocks for a high level character take most of a page (2 columns) in Dungeon Magazine.

    Sure, I could use an NPC generator, but a lot of those results are kinda wacko for my tastes and I end up tinkering with them anyway.

    Everytime I write up an adventure, I think of a cool encounter where the characters face off against several NPCs. I go through all the neats ideas but then I get to "oh crap, I have to type up the stat blocks."

    So I break out the books. I use the pregenerated NPCs in the DMG as a guide or I cut and past stat blocks from previous adventures. But its still time consuming work that I'd rather use on writing up the adventure. Thank God for word processors. 3e/3.5 would be horrible to run if you had to hand write up these stat blocks. I wouldn't play it if I had to.

    All these options and feats and skills and special abilities are great--but they are hard to remember--unless you have huge stat block for reference!

    In order to combat the stat block generation from intruding too much into my story generation time I've done the following:

    1. Including only necessary stats. If the NPC is going to be only used in a combat encounter, I don't include any knowledge or social skills.
    2. If I know how a special ability works, I don't list it.
    3. I don't write down every single stinking spell a spellcaster has memorized.
    4. I page reference for Bards and Rangers. Especially Bards.

    Lastly, I've concluded that, because of this and other problems that get in way of the story, I don't like playing Dungeons & Dragons. So when my campaign ends in the next month, that's it! I'm done.

    I'll still play RPGs--just not D&D.

  2. #2
    Try Castles & Crusades.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Ulrick
    I discovered this awhile back:

    I HATE typing up stat blocks for NPCs.
    Don't use them. I ran an entire game without stat blocks last week. Magic users, rogues, barbarians, and everything. My players didn't stone me, and in fact a good game was had by all. The only people using a stats sheet were the players, in fact, and my stat sheet consisted of hit points, AC attack bonus, and damage.

    I CAN and HAVE run heav stat-block game sessions before, but a DM can run without them, too.

  4. #4
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    I CAN and HAVE run heav stat-block game sessions before, but a DM can run without them, too.
    Five years and I have yet to fully stat out an NPC. You don't have to do it, and it fact not doing it is easier and rarely noticed by the players. There are lots of reasons to quit D&D, but stat blocks are not one of them because they are so not needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ulrick
    Lastly, I've concluded that, because of this and other problems that get in way of the story, I don't like playing Dungeons & Dragons. So when my campaign ends in the next month, that's it! I'm done.

    I'll still play RPGs--just not D&D.
    I've gotten to that point as well- the stats to play a D&D/D20 game have become so burdensome and unweildy that it detracts from the fun of the system. I like being able to prep a game I don't even need the books for- just got down some nots, eyeball some stats out, and go! I used to do this all the time with 1E and 2E, but with 3.x you simply can't.

    We've started playing the new Warhammer RPG- and its brought back all of the fun of gaming for us with minimal baggage. The career system is much more dynamic and flavorful, the characters aren't superheroes, and most important- ITS NOT A CHORE TO PREP FOR!!!! Check it out- its worth the investment.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Ulrick
    Sure, I could use an NPC generator, but a lot of those results are kinda wacko for my tastes and I end up tinkering with them anyway.
    I use Jamis Buck's NPC generator in stat-block format and generate them 50 at a time, picking the one that's closest to what I had in mind. Despite having to tinker with the results (and an annoying bug that pops up with Rangers that I need to look into), it still saves me a lot of time and gives me fully statted NPCs. Basically, I just add weapons, armor, and magic items around the recommended value and adjust the skills and spells around a bit as needed. I copy the skill list for the class(es) in from the SRD and it's fairly easy to play "Take 10 points from this goofy skill and put it in that skill, instead" while looking at the ability scores. Similarly, I can splay "swap out" using the spell lists. I do most of it with cut and paste (between the generator and the d20srd.org data) in a text editor, which keeps the typing to a minimum.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulrick
    1. Including only necessary stats. If the NPC is going to be only used in a combat encounter, I don't include any knowledge or social skills.
    2. If I know how a special ability works, I don't list it.
    3. I don't write down every single stinking spell a spellcaster has memorized.
    4. I page reference for Bards and Rangers. Especially Bards.
    At that point, I think the Jamis Buck generator could still work for you and do a lot of the grunt work. Like I said, generate them 50 at a time (except rangers -- because of the bug, try 10 or 20 at a time and keep trying until you don't get an error). There will usually be something close to what you want. Even if you have to modify it, it should save quite a bit oftime.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Gothmog
    We've started playing the new Warhammer RPG- and its brought back all of the fun of gaming for us with minimal baggage. The career system is much more dynamic and flavorful, the characters aren't superheroes, and most important- ITS NOT A CHORE TO PREP FOR!!!! Check it out- its worth the investment.
    I ran quite a bit of Warhammer FRP using the first edition over the years. From what I've seen so far of the second edition (which I own but haven't done more than flip through yet), it's definitely worth a look. I used to run most of my Warhammer FRP games largely extemporaneously with little or no prep. You can also squeeze a heck of a good D&D-type game out of Fudge but it requires some effort of a different sort.

  8. #8
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    I agree with the stat block problem. D&D enters the realms of accountants at higher levels.

    You don't have to do it, and it fact not doing it is easier and rarely noticed by the players.
    That works some of the time. But I played in a high-level campaign with a DM who did this and he would always forget things because he didn't have his NPC's stat'ed out. Sometimes those fudged rolls and stats matter. As a player, I don't like knowing that the DM is "winging it" back there.

    My advice for generating stat blocks: use the SRD. Copy and paste a stat block and then edit that. That alone will save you some time.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Gothmog
    just got down some nots, eyeball some stats out, and go! I used to do this all the time with 1E and 2E, but with 3.x you simply can't.
    I like 3E (or perhaps I should say D20) but I don't like stat blocks either. I can think of a few basic changes to the DnD rules that could have gone a long way to making "stats on the fly" more plausible. The goal would be to be able to have a template and essentially change some parts without breaking the character/rules.

    1. intelligence bonuses are *not* multiplied by level in to your skill bonus (that way stat changes don't have such a profound effect on the character design)
    2. the "feat tree" is flatter, with few/no prerequisites (that way you can add/remove feats without as much thought)
    3. the power of feats is less, they are essentially flavor (if you forget a feat, your character doesn't suddenly become a wuss when compared to others of the same level)
    4. few class abilities per level: rogues get skill points, fighters get the high hitpoints and attack bonus, clerics get cleric spells and wizards get wizard spells. (the extra abilities don't seem to add much to the nature of the classes - except in exceptional situations like druids)

    I've already basically house ruled all of this in my game anyway. I like where C&C was trying to go but from what I've seen so far, they either didn't like or didn't understand some of the basic rules of 3E that I do like. Maybe 2nd edition C&C.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlassJaw
    That works some of the time. But I played in a high-level campaign with a DM who did this and he would always forget things because he didn't have his NPC's stat'ed out. Sometimes those fudged rolls and stats matter. As a player, I don't like knowing that the DM is "winging it" back there.
    If he forgot things he didn't prepare enough. THe trick is not no stat block, but only the stuff that is needed. And to know the rules and the options just in case you forget to write something down. THe more books a DM uses the harder this becomes, and DMing is not for everyone.

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