D&D General Are NPCs like PCs?

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
It boils down to two questions that are being conflated I feel;

1. Should you BUILD Npcs like you do Pcs? (No, use a smaller custom stat block, pick and choose abilities)
2. Should you RUN Npcs like you do Pcs? (Yes, a fireball by any other name* would burn just as sweet)

* there are always exceptions of course, a giant monster with the natural ability to cast say "Control Water" would not be actually casting a spell, and as such would not be dispellable.

However, IF (IF I say, IF...) WotC are replacing spells from obvious spellcasters across the board with non-dispellable abilities, thats bogus.
If they are changing spellcasting abilities to natural abilities for monsters and creatures that do it innately.cool, press on WotC.
 

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Lyxen

Great Old One
It is not a distinction without a difference. Monsters are treated differently than "Other NPCs"

But they are still officially NPCs, since the section that you are showing is in the Non Player Characters - Roles of the DM. Q.E.D.

Which shows that, although they have a slightly different treatment than other NPCs, certainly not all NPCs were built along the lines of PCs.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Beserkers say "Hi!"
Berserkers were an NPC subclass of fighter related to barbarians in 1e. They were in the Dragon Magazine as an NPC class, but in the 1e era where rules varied wildly from table to table, I can and did see Berserkers played as PCs. In 2e Berserkers were a PC kit. And in 3e it was a prestige class.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But they are still officially NPCs, since the section that you are showing is in the Non Player Characters - Roles of the DM. Q.E.D.

Which shows that, although they have a slightly different treatment than other NPCs, certainly not all NPCs were built along the lines of PCs.
It's not a slight difference. Monsters are built very differently than the NPCs in the Other NPC section. The latter were 0 level or else used class levels and included merchants, guards, elves, dwarves, wizards and all other similar NPCs. Monsters on the other hand didn't generally have class levels and often had special abilities that PCs could not learn.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It boils down to two questions that are being conflated I feel;

1. Should you BUILD Npcs like you do Pcs? (No, use a smaller custom stat block, pick and choose abilities)
2. Should you RUN Npcs like you do Pcs? (Yes, a fireball by any other name* would burn just as sweet)
There are other options than just those two. As I said in my first post, I use a mix. Some of my NPCs(the important ones) are built like PCs, and the unimportant ones are not. If the players go into a city and seek out an Archmage, I'll grab the stat block. If I have a specific Archmage NPC that they will be dealing with or as a BBEG, I will create it as the PC class.
 



HammerMan

Legend
This is a spin off thread from one of the long and meandering "Monsters of the Multiverse" threads.

The question is relatively straight forward: do you prefer that NPCs and monsters operate by the same rules as PCs, or that they operate by their own rules.
I like the illusion of being the same but for them to be nowhere near the same.

4e did it best but 5e isn't terrible, and with building in spells I think it is going to get better.

I like my "master swordsman" to be just that... and makeing a high level fighter doesn't always work.
 

Reynard

Legend
Berserkers were an NPC subclass of fighter related to barbarians in 1e. They were in the Dragon Magazine as an NPC class, but in the 1e era where rules varied wildly from table to table, I can and did see Berserkers played as PCs. In 2e Berserkers were a PC kit. And in 3e it was a prestige class.
I just want to be clear: you are saying that the berserker subclass existed at the time the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual came out and that the berserker in that book was a representation of that class?
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
It's not a slight difference. Monsters are built very differently than the NPCs in the Other NPC section. The latter were 0 level or else used class levels and included merchants, guards, elves, dwarves, wizards and all other similar NPCs. Monsters on the other hand didn't generally have class levels and often had special abilities that PCs could not learn.
I'm not disputing that, it's obvious that there are basically three sub-categories of NPCs, those built along PC lines, the monsters, and the rabble, but what is important is that people have a tendency to consider that only the first ones exist, which this section shows is clearly not true.

That being said, the MM clearly shows that there was already some hybridation, with monsters having some PC abilities. I had to wait for 3e to develop this side of things, and they did it so strongly that it became unbearable to some, but the hybridation already existed.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Berserkers were an NPC subclass of fighter related to barbarians in 1e. They were in the Dragon Magazine as an NPC class, but in the 1e era where rules varied wildly from table to table, I can and did see Berserkers played as PCs. In 2e Berserkers were a PC kit. And in 3e it was a prestige class.
So, you're appealling to unofficial material that was created well after the monster/NPC entry. Good job, you just showed me.
 

Reynard

Legend
However, IF (IF I say, IF...) WotC are replacing spells from obvious spellcasters across the board with non-dispellable abilities, thats bogus.
If they are changing spellcasting abilities to natural abilities for monsters and creatures that do it innately.cool, press on WotC.
Just for clarity, I don't have any idea what WotC is planning, nor do I care. this is just a question of preference and how individual GMs like to handle it.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
4e did it best but 5e isn't terrible, and with building in spells I think it is going to get better.

I think it's the reverse for me, 4e showed the path, but 5e actually opened up the possibilities, I can create an NPC along PC or monster lines, or make the hybrid that makes sense for the situation, in particular not overly complicating things if it's what I need. Best of breed.

I like my "master swordsman" to be just that... and makeing a high level fighter doesn't always work.

Exactly, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but at least you are not constrained like in 3e or 4e.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I just want to be clear: you are saying that the berserker subclass existed at the time the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual came out and that the berserker in that book was a representation of that class?
Nope. But I don't hold the belief that the entire edition is covered in the core three books. Not everything gets released in the initial books, so just because it could not happen immediately, doesn't mean that in 1e it could not happen.

I mean, if release dates mattered, then you couldn't even fight the monsters when 1e came out. The 1e Monster Manual was released in 1977, the 1e PHB in 1978 and the 1e DMG in 1979. So when the Monster Manual came out, there were no PCs at all.
 

Reynard

Legend
Nope. But I don't hold the belief that the entire edition is covered in the core three books. Not everything gets released in the initial books, so just because it could not happen immediately, doesn't mean that in 1e it could not happen.

I mean, if release dates mattered, then you couldn't even fight the monsters when 1e came out. The 1e Monster Manual was released in 1977, the 1e PHB in 1978 and the 1e DMG in 1979. So when the Monster Manual came out, there were no PCs at all.
All that's fine, but the entire point of the question was to get you to understand that your are constantly redefining terms and moving goal posts to "win" an argument that doesn't matter. The berserker is a non classed NPC statted up as a monster with special abilities unavailable to PCs in the 1E AD&D MM, proving literally every one of your claims to at least not be universal truths. So we can stop debating it, and everyone wins.
 

Reynard

Legend
I like my "master swordsman" to be just that... and makeing a high level fighter doesn't always work.
If you give your master swordsman a special move that you just make up because it is fun and cool (Redirecting Ripost: as a reaction the master swordsman may redirect a melee attack that would have hit him to an enemy that is within 5 feet of both the master swordsman and the attacker; use the original attack roll to determine if the new target is hit by the attack) do you feel obligated to make that ability available to PC fighter types (as a feat or maneuver or whatever)?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
All that's fine, but the entire point of the question was to get you to understand that your are constantly redefining terms and moving goal posts to "win" an argument that doesn't matter. The berserker is a non classed NPC statted up as a monster with special abilities unavailable to PCs in the 1E AD&D MM, proving literally every one of your claims to at least not be universal truths. So we can stop debating it, and everyone wins.
They are all still fighters, though, per the Monster Manual. Level 0 for most of them. And then level 1-10 for the leaders. Except for the possible clerics. Then you might find a 7th level cleric and 1-4 3rd or 4th level cleric assistants.
 

HammerMan

Legend
If you give your master swordsman a special move that you just make up because it is fun and cool (Redirecting Ripost: as a reaction the master swordsman may redirect a melee attack that would have hit him to an enemy that is within 5 feet of both the master swordsman and the attacker; use the original attack roll to determine if the new target is hit by the attack) do you feel obligated to make that ability available to PC fighter types (as a feat or maneuver or whatever)?
no.

I might (normally if you train with the master I would give you the equivalent of a magic item but as an innate boon) but I might not.

In the past I have created LOTs of maneuvers and techniques some I have let PCs play around with but not all. I always work on the assumption you are no more entitled to a boon then you are a magic item. And besides that sometimes it is shorthand for something a PC can do anyway. (Like how the veteran can make 2 attacks with a longsword or 1 extra with shortsword... a PC would have to use a bonus action to make an off hand attack)


Examples of ones I have let PCs learn "Dagger in the dark" when you have advantage and make an attack with a light weapon you can disregard advantage to instead make 2 attacks. "I never miss" when making longbow attacks if you miss you still deal your wisdom modifier piecing damage. "Fancy whip" treat a whip as reach 10ft instead of 5ft, and can make grapple attacks with the whip.

Examples of ones I have NOT let PCs use (atleast yet) "Sunder" when you score a crit against a target they lose 1d4pts of AC until they take a short rest. "Spring line attack" move up to your movement and make 1 attack against every creature you become adjacent to. "Bater Up" when you are targeted by a spell effect you can reduce the damage done by the damage die of the weapon in your hand + Dex modifire (plus magic) if it reduces it to 0 the spell rebounds back at the caster.
 

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