D&D General Are NPCs like PCs?

Lyxen

Great Old One
Can either one be created by a player using the PHB and-or house rules? (assume for the nonce that a player for some reason wants to play a merchant)

No, they can't. The merchant has expertise with no levels, and the bodyguard has abilities that no class has.

If yes, all is good. If no, there's a problem.

And which one is that ? They are both specialised, but not along the paths of the PCs. Is there some cosmic rule that prevents this ?

Also, were it me I'd stat out the bodyguard as if it was a PC anyway, because for all I know the party will take a shine to him and try to hire him into their crew!

What do you mean "hire" ? If it's as a henchman, where would the problem ? A player could even play it as a side-kick and it would be way easier because it's simple. And if a player want to replace his PC, why not, he is absolutely welcome to a character that is absolutely unable to progress further as it has reached the limits of what his abilities and choice of training can give him.

Because that's what PC represent, exceptional characters with almost unlimited advancement, whereas most people in any world (and if you want verisimilitude and "realism", this is exactly what you should have) cannot progress past certain points.

In any case, it's in part for reasons like this that I don't and never will use 3e-5e style feats. Bleah! For me that bodyguard would just be a lowish level Fighter specialized in unarmed combat and with an unusually high (but PC-achievable!) Wisdom or Charisma* for a Fighter.

And he would be cinematically poor and very uninteresting as an adversary, whereas my bodyguard will make a very intersting foe especially if the PCs are in a hurry to kill the merchant, and have either to go through or around the bodyguard. By doing things by YOUR rules, you are depriving yourself of very interesting possibilities.

You and others keep raising the spectre of a huge amount of work, and this is a straw man. There's nothing stopping you from just quickly choosing and assigning stats, feats, abilities etc. rather than rolling them - the only constraint is that the end result be something that could in theory be generated by rolling it up the long way.

And, after doing that for years in 3e especially at high level, it's not a strawman at all. It once took me three hours to create a NPC, and after that I just said "screw this I have better way to spend my time" and completely skilled the "check that the end result could in theory by generated by rolling" and the next one took me a few minutes and was just as satisfying to play. All the bonuses where totally winged and certainly incorrect, some abilities were certainly incorrect and not available, but he was as fun to play and as much as a challenge.

So sorry, no, it's not a spectre, it's absolute reality, and many people here tell you this from experience.

Now if 5e gives you too many feats and abilities etc. to choose from and thus bogs down the process that's a fault of the system.

3e was way worse, for 5e it's so easy to take an existing monster/NPC and just take another ability that looks fun in another stat block and just play that way. It certainly could not be generated (which a constraint that YOU impose on YOURSELF for no good reason other than your personal view that it should be available to player), but it's blindingly fast (much faster than generating a character using the PC way), and it creates many more possibilities which are way more consistent with the setting. Why should an expert merchant always be an outstanding thief ? Where is the setting consistency in that ?
 

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And what I find slightly annoying is the fact that you believe that because some of us are not following the class structure, our NPCs are less consistent.
You are free to feel annoyed, of course, but at no point did I articulate such a belief. I was illuminating my process - which is necessarily personal - and, no doubt, diverges from your own in any number of dimensions.

Perhaps you should consider not being annoyed.

And my perspective is that not only are you doing a huge amount of work (which is fine if you have the time for it and enjoy it, of course, but it's still time that I could have spent writing complex intrigues and plots for example)
I prefer not to write complex intrigues and plots, and would rather have them emerge through play. If you want to spend your time doing that, that's fine. I don't think that because of your preference, you're asserting a claim of any kind of superior system, and you can rest assured that it doesn't annoy me.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
You are free to feel annoyed, of course, but at no point did I articulate such a belief. I was illuminating my process - which is necessarily personal - and, no doubt, diverges from your own in any number of dimensions.

Perhaps you should consider not being annoyed.

And perhaps you should consider using words that do not make other readers feel that you are a superior DM for not being faint-hearted, for being consistent (implying that others are not), for creating "complete" NPCs (implying that others are incomplete), for having "mechanically compliant NPCs (implying that others' NPC are uncompliant - which I remind you is only a constraint in 3e, not in any other edition) and in general making others feel as if their game is inferior for not doing what you do.

I prefer not to write complex intrigues and plots, and would rather have them emerge through play. If you want to spend your time doing that, that's fine. I don't think that because of your preference, you're asserting a claim of any kind of superior system, and you can rest assured that it doesn't annoy me.

Which is why I stated clearly that it was just my preference, it does not make my game superior, just different, more suited to the tastes at our tables. As for plots "emerging from play", it is not incompatible. The thing is that I believe that a consistent world is one where the PCs are at the centre of the action, but they are not the only movers and shakers (and that is also the usual approach to the genre). So while not dictating their path and leaving them free to create their plot, I still spend time imagining what the NPCs are doing in the background, so that when it intersects the PC's path, they will have a sense of a living world around them, and feel that their adversaries are dangerous, plotting, nefarious, etc. And the the actual plot emerges from play as a combination of what all actors in the world do, whether PCs or NPCs.

Which is why having consistent NPCs is very important to me, and contrary to your opinion, it does not mean that the consistency has to be with PC classes and technical build. This, for me, is more a constraint that prevents me from having NPCs truly consistent between their position, their personality, their abilities, and how these are used in the plot.
 

And perhaps you should consider using words that do not make other readers feel that you are a superior DM for not being faint-hearted, for being consistent (implying that others are not), for creating "complete" NPCs (implying that others are incomplete), for having "mechanically compliant NPCs (implying that others' NPC are uncompliant - which I remind you is only a constraint in 3e, not in any other edition) and in general making others feel as if their game is inferior for not doing what you do.
If you read my words without prejudice, you'll notice that my reference to "faint-hearted" was because of the inordinate investment of time which full-splat 3e requires. It was not a comment on my play style. I was not asserting "superiority."

I was otherwise articulating my feelings - those things which I have, and you do not - and my process, which I was sharing.

You are bringing a lot of unnecessary animus to an interaction, and inferring a great deal surrounding my emotional disposition which I have not demonstrated.

The problem here, Monsieur, lies with you, not I.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
If you read my words without prejudice, you'll notice that my reference to "faint-hearted" was because of the inordinate investment of time which full-splat 3e requires. It was not a comment on my play style. I was not asserting "superiority."

When combined with all the other use of words like "consistent", "solidly mechanical", "reality" on one side, and others like "noncompliant" or "incomplete" on the other, it paints a very definitive picture that this last post completes.

I'll leave you to think about it, since this has nothing to do with the subject of the thread.

But back to the subject, you did not answer on the real points which are that making a character technically compliant to the PC creation, which is not at all a requirement of the rules does not make a character more consistent to his character, personality and role in the setting and the plot, and can actually induce constraints that are not necessary.

For example, how do you do a merchant, expert in bargaining and deception, but not at all resilient or savvy in combat ?

5e allows it very easily and the characters are absolutely compliant to those rules, but I don't believe that you can create such a character using PC rules.
 

Reynard

Legend
Yeah. That's more or less what I understood from the shorter version. :p

What I'm saying is that it's not a good reason to sacrifice what makes sense.
And here is where the unbroachable difference lies: insofar as I care about what "makes sense" (which isn't a lot in the first place) it is only in the context of how it makes the game more fun. I don't care about simulation at all, and I don't care to go through the process of balancing a one time NPC ability for 20 levels of PC use.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Because they are cool, and show the power of antagonists. Avada Kadavra ! is totally unbalanced and very, very scary, obviously a NPC only spell. Still it exists and it's at the core of what makes the story as good as it is.
And the fact that non-Death-Eater witches and wizards choose not to use it doesn't mean they can't, it means they won't.

And that's a big difference. Having something available yet choosing not to use it is vastly different than not having it available at all; I'd rather make things available and let the characters (via their players) make their own choices.
But it does. Look at Lord Soth or Voldemort or Stradh, they have had setting-wide implications.
Voldemort had no business losing, given how he was presented. His tactics were abysmal.
First, it's absolutely untrue, a Death Knight having Parry at will will not make a huge difference on the setting. The Hellfire Orb does not make him more dangerous than a lot of lower level wizards. It does, however, make him scary for adventurers on one encounter, and his evil influence is well felt on the setting as well.
Again, inniate abilities are what they are, and (in 1e anyway) there's a limited number of Death Knights (I think it's 12) meaning they're not likely to have a great influence on the setting as a whole.
That is true, but the real reason of pun-pun is using the sarrukh power, which is not and should never have been available to PCs, whereas on the other hand, it makes perfect sense in the setting for the domination of scaly creatures in their era. And YES, it was totally integrated in the setting with its consequences. Is that a reason for giving it to PCs, obviously not.

And yet we have kobolds PCs officially in 5e, but no punpun because some powers are for NPCs/Monsters only.
Two immense design mistakes caught in one sentence - well done!

Kobolds are monsters and should not be PCs - mistake one.
NPC Kobolds get powers that PC Kobolds do not - mistake two.
And they have no right to "advocate for their character", they are there to play the game, amongst friends, with all the same intent, to have fun. They are not there to nitpick and whine and confront the DM with demands.
They have no right to advocate for their character?

Yikes.
And the answer would be: Why don't you go ask Zariel to see if she can do that for you, but if she does, you will become an NPC, since you will hae decided to completely depart from the flow of the campaign. Where is the problem in that ?
First off, my PC is my PC; within rules and genre constraints I in theory have full control over what it does in the setting and just because it does something you don't like doesn't give you-as-DM the right to take it away from me.

Second off, who says I'm departing from the flow of the campaign? (and who set that flow in the first place?) Maybe I'm setting a new flow.
Not necessarily, as a DM, why would I ever claim that right ? I can do whatever I want, and it might be cooler and more appropriate to giving my players a good time.
With rights come responsibilities; the corollary responsibility to the DM's right to do what you want is to not diminish the long term campaign for the short-term fun. Precedent is important; and every time you toos in one of these "cool and appropriate" ideas you're setting a precedent for the rest of that campaign.
Of course, rather than one Voldemort with Avada Kadavra, let's just put 20 incompetent death eaters instead, it obviously does the same effect. :(
You misread me, I think.

The example is flawed, but I'll run with it for now: if Voldemort without Avada Kedavra is too weak, don't replace him with 20 death eaters but instead give him a lieutenant or two with almost the same powers and abilities he has.

In D&D, if you're looking to run a solo Dragon and fear it'll be too weak as it stands, instead of giving it more abilities etc. add another Dragon to the mix by giving it a mate.
That is your opinions, but if I may, it's a purely gamist view, which is your own and certainly not supported by either the genre (see all my examples above) or by the rules.
It's gamist only in that in my view the setting rules and constraints apply equally to everyone within the setting, exactly the same as how real-world physics apply equally to everyone on Earth.
Listen, I'm sure you are a great DM, but you are working using constraints that work for you and your table and that are not necessary for many other gamers (or actually writers of the genre) to create extremely entertaining media for other people.
If an author is going to go to all the work of creating a vibrant and believable setting it seems a complete waste to then go and violate that setting just to make chapter 9 a bit more exciting. The Wheel of Time novels are awful for this, which is too bad because otherwise they're good reads.
 

Fun trumps sense.

And frankly sacrificing 'sense' and 'verisimilitude' in D&D is its own reward. The smell as the burn upon the alter of having a fun game is intoxicating.
To some of us things not making sense lessens our fun. And not just in this media. I'm so tired of movies and TV shows where the events don't make any logical sense, but hey, look, cool CGI and explosions!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
No, they can't. The merchant has expertise with no levels, and the bodyguard has abilities that no class has.

And which one is that ? They are both specialised, but not along the paths of the PCs. Is there some cosmic rule that prevents this ?
The merchant's "expertise" is that he's good at being a merchant.

The bodyguard having abilities that no class has is a big red flag: either those abilities should be made avilable to at least one playable class (even if they're of no use in the field) or the bodyguard shouldn't have them.
What do you mean "hire" ? If it's as a henchman, where would the problem ?
You don't stat out henches as if they're full characters???
A player could even play it as a side-kick and it would be way easier because it's simple. And if a player want to replace his PC, why not, he is absolutely welcome to a character that is absolutely unable to progress further as it has reached the limits of what his abilities and choice of training can give him.

Because that's what PC represent, exceptional characters with almost unlimited advancement, whereas most people in any world (and if you want verisimilitude and "realism", this is exactly what you should have) cannot progress past certain points.
There's another big difference between us, then: I see it that everyone in the setting has the potential to advance in levels but only a relative few choose to follow up on this potential and even fewer choose the risky fast-track advancement method that is adventuring.
And he would be cinematically poor and very uninteresting as an adversary, whereas my bodyguard will make a very intersting foe especially if the PCs are in a hurry to kill the merchant, and have either to go through or around the bodyguard. By doing things by YOUR rules, you are depriving yourself of very interesting possibilities.
Were I the DM he'd be as cinematically engaging and interesting as I decide to play him. I don't need mechanics for that!
And, after doing that for years in 3e especially at high level, it's not a strawman at all. It once took me three hours to create a NPC, and after that I just said "screw this I have better way to spend my time" and completely skilled the "check that the end result could in theory by generated by rolling" and the next one took me a few minutes and was just as satisfying to play. All the bonuses where totally winged and certainly incorrect, some abilities were certainly incorrect and not available, but he was as fun to play and as much as a challenge.

So sorry, no, it's not a spectre, it's absolute reality, and many people here tell you this from experience.
Fair enough - I've never had the "pleasure" of running high-level 3e and have no real intention of changing that status. :)
Why should an expert merchant always be an outstanding thief ? Where is the setting consistency in that ?
An expert merchant can be just that: very good at his trade. Thievery need not ever enter into it; nor need any other mechanics, really.
 

aco175

Legend
The bodyguard having abilities that no class has is a big red flag: either those abilities should be made avilable to at least one playable class (even if they're of no use in the field) or the bodyguard shouldn't have them.
What if I gave the bodyguard something like Pack Tactics instead of giving him abilities from a class. Instead of finding a few things to fit a role this ability feels like a good fit for a bodyguard, and simple to add.

I do not think that a fighter or rogue should learn that ability, but the player may want to know how they can learn that. Should I come up with something to explain my method such as not giving him 2nd wind, pack tactics, and 2 attacks at 5th level. Should I let the player choose to give those abilities up to gain the pack tactics?

I'm still thinking that there are powers and abilities that PCs do not get to have.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
What if I gave the bodyguard something like Pack Tactics instead of giving him abilities from a class. Instead of finding a few things to fit a role this ability feels like a good fit for a bodyguard, and simple to add.

I do not think that a fighter or rogue should learn that ability, but the player may want to know how they can learn that. Should I come up with something to explain my method such as not giving him 2nd wind, pack tactics, and 2 attacks at 5th level. Should I let the player choose to give those abilities up to gain the pack tactics?

I'm still thinking that there are powers and abilities that PCs do not get to have.

I can see Wizards commonly wanting to know how to get a new spell - getting new spells from books is a thing they do. A Cleric, for example, seems less problematic in many cases because their thing is working for their deity and a spell focusing on another domain would be odd. Even if the same domain, it might be something especially symbolic for one deity or another. Fighting styles seem like something any fighter might like -- if they fit what the character does.

For Pack Tactics, does this fighter often work closely with others and would they generally be training with others? Or are they by themselves? Do the creatures and humans in the monster books that have pack tactics all live and train together for a long time? If so, that could be a gate.

It feels like there is a difference between "a PC being able to be structured from the beginning to get something including their background" and "a PC being able to get something now".
 



Reynard

Legend
Player agency does NOT include "I get whatever I want." It means you can try anything you want, and in the case of some unique NPC capability, trying to have access to that thing is akin to trying to fly across a chasm by sheer force of will. You can try, but it is impossible. In my games, at my table, obviously (i hope obviously, I think we can all allow that we are discussing our preferences and not one true way).

Again, I can't think of a single actual at the table occurrence where a player in a D&D game came away from an encounter unhappy that an enemy could do things they couldn't do.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
And the fact that non-Death-Eater witches and wizards choose not to use it doesn't mean they can't, it means they won't.

First, Voldemort is not not the only wizard to use it in the series, I can think of at least two others, but it does not change the fact that, practically, it's an NPC only spell.

Whatever the reasons, it's what it comes down to.

Voldemort had no business losing, given how he was presented. His tactics were abysmal.

That has nothing to do with the fact that he had a huge impact on the setting.

Again, inniate abilities are what they are, and (in 1e anyway) there's a limited number of Death Knights (I think it's 12) meaning they're not likely to have a great influence on the setting as a whole.

Unfortunately, Lord Soth proves that a death knight can have a critical impact on a setting all on his own.

Two immense design mistakes caught in one sentence - well done!

As long as we agree that one of them was not restricting some powers to NPC, I am sure that we agree it's well done... :)

Kobolds are monsters and should not be PCs - mistake one.

Actually, we had a very interesting kobold character in our biggest campaign ever, he ended up being the god of scalebearers when almost the whole adventurers guild (it was a really special setting) ascended.

NPC Kobolds get powers that PC Kobolds do not - mistake two.

Actually, they forgot that one, and they gave PC kobolds the same powers as monsters through a stupid class power....

They have no right to advocate for their character?
Yikes.

If "advocating" means pestering the DM for advantage or trying to impress that "by RAW they are entitled to" whatever, no, they don't. Call me a tyrant...

After that if, in character, their character pesters NPCs it's absolutely fine, as long as they are prepared to deal with the consequences.

First off, my PC is my PC; within rules and genre constraints I in theory have full control over what it does in the setting and just because it does something you don't like doesn't give you-as-DM the right to take it away from me.

Actually, we completely disagree here. If, as a DM, I say "no evil PC" (which is a common campaign restriction) and your PC willfully commits an atrocity, and as a DM I judge that it turns him evil and therefore an NPC, that specific character in that campaign becomes just that, an NPC, which I control as the DM. You can find yourself another character to play, or leave the campaign and recreate the PC somewhere else, but the real character is still part of the campaign, as a NPC.

Second off, who says I'm departing from the flow of the campaign? (and who set that flow in the first place?) Maybe I'm setting a new flow.

And maybe it's not one that, as a DM, I want to master, and especially not one that the other players want to have in their game. So it's fine, it's a new flow, but controlled by the DM.

With rights come responsibilities; the corollary responsibility to the DM's right to do what you want is to not diminish the long term campaign for the short-term fun. Precedent is important; and every time you toos in one of these "cool and appropriate" ideas you're setting a precedent for the rest of that campaign.

Actually no, I don't. This is why I love 5e and its "rulings over rules". When I create such a ruling, it's local and adapted to the circumstances. As I'm pretty sure that these exact circumstances will not happen again, I am free to rule again as I wish for the next set of circumstances, which will be different.

You misread me, I think.
The example is flawed, but I'll run with it for now: if Voldemort without Avada Kedavra is too weak, don't replace him with 20 death eaters but instead give him a lieutenant or two with almost the same powers and abilities he has.

And it really does not work as well, noone does that in the genre so I don't in my campaigns either.

In D&D, if you're looking to run a solo Dragon and fear it'll be too weak as it stands, instead of giving it more abilities etc. add another Dragon to the mix by giving it a mate.

Or I just create a mythic dragon with special abilities and it works splendidly.

It's gamist only in that in my view the setting rules and constraints apply equally to everyone within the setting, exactly the same as how real-world physics apply equally to everyone on Earth.

It's the same for me, the rule that "only the chosen emperor-god of Zap can cast the debilitating death spell" applies equally to everyone, it just happens that none of the PCs can ever become the emperor god of Zap, since they are not chosen by the evil gods that govern him.

If an author is going to go to all the work of creating a vibrant and believable setting it seems a complete waste to then go and violate that setting just to make chapter 9 a bit more exciting. The Wheel of Time novels are awful for this, which is too bad because otherwise they're good reads.

I'm not even sure what you are referring to, but the Wheel of Time has a fairly consistent magical system, which actually follows fairly closely what happens at high level in campaigns, with PCs becoming powerful, then taking on responsibilities, then needing to abandon them for a time, etc. And the same thing with anti/counter magic thingie, which suddenly pops up to create obstacles, then becomes wielded by the characters, before some anti-anti-magic things pop up.

After that, while I agree that the middle books are quite slow, it's still one of the best sagas of the genre, and the final (Brandon Sanderson again) is absolutely epic.
 

dave2008

Legend
@Lanefan, I have a question for you. I tried to get the answer by looking through your posts, but I couldn't find it. If you have already answered and I missed it, sorry for rehashing it. Also, to be clear I am fine with NPCs & monsters being different from PCs. Ok, to the question!

Why do you feel that PCs and NPCs should be created the same?

Why is important that the NPC bodyguard only has abilities that a PC could have (even if all your PCs are casters)?

Why is important that a spell casting Monster can only cast spells a PC could have (even if all of your PCs are martials)?
 

dave2008

Legend
Again, I can't think of a single actual at the table occurrence where a player in a D&D game came away from an encounter unhappy that an enemy could do things they couldn't do.
Yes! This is my experience as well. I have never had a player even question that monsters and NPCs have abilities that they do not.

@Lanefan. is your experience different?
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The merchant's "expertise" is that he's good at being a merchant.

And how do you model that in game terms ? Or are you just saying to the players "he is a good merchant, so you cannot get good prices from him" ? Do you roll checks, maybe persuasion ? What bonus do you ascribe ?

The bodyguard having abilities that no class has is a big red flag: either those abilities should be made avilable to at least one playable class (even if they're of no use in the field) or the bodyguard shouldn't have them.

Where does it say this ? Because honestly, almost all the NPCs in the Official MM have abilities like this. You might not like it, but it's absolutely the official way to do it...

You don't stat out henches as if they're full characters???

Of course not. Henchmen have always been NPCs, why should they have all PCs abilities ?

There's another big difference between us, then: I see it that everyone in the setting has the potential to advance in levels but only a relative few choose to follow up on this potential and even fewer choose the risky fast-track advancement method that is adventuring.

To each his own, but having people limited is for me a much better way to manage verisimilitude and adherence to the genre... For example Harry Potter is a Wizard, but Mrs. Figgs will never be one.

Were I the DM he'd be as cinematically engaging and interesting as I decide to play him. I don't need mechanics for that!

I'm a bit lost there, why then do you need PC mechanics ?

Fair enough - I've never had the "pleasure" of running high-level 3e and have no real intention of changing that status. :)

It was fun for a while, but the hassle was incredible, whether in preparing or running the game with all the round-to-round recomputing of bonuses, combats took hours and hours... So you're right, don't ! :)

An expert merchant can be just that: very good at his trade. Thievery need not ever enter into it; nor need any other mechanics, really.

The thing is how do you create the NPC ? How do you assign abilities to him that make him a master merchant which is certainly not an adventurer ? Don't you need a +7 or more in persuation or deception ? How do you do this with PC rules without giving him levels ?
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Why is important that the NPC bodyguard only has abilities that a PC could have (even if all your PCs are casters)?

Why is important that a spell casting Monster can only cast spells a PC could have (even if all of your PCs are martials)?
Not @Lanefan obviously, but I don't think he ever said the current party in their classes should be able to get those powers. But that if a player wanted to end up with those powers there would be a path starting at character creation that would let them get there as they advanced, if they wanted to. So, if there is a spell out there cast by the archmage, the fighters in the all martial party certainly wouldn't get it, but it is something that a PC mage who paid the appropriate price could. And if there was a spell only castable by bugbears, then the PC who wants to cast it might need to pick bugbear as a race. And if there's a merchant skill, and a player wanted their PC to have it, why not (although they might not like sacrificing two levels of fighting skill to make up for all the time the merchant spent perfecting there craft).

The thing is how do you create the NPC ? How do you assign abilities to him that make him a master merchant which is certainly not an adventurer ? Don't you need a +7 or more in persuation or deception ? How do you do this with PC rules without giving him levels ?
If the PC needed a +7 in persuasion or deception that would come with years of training in a market, maybe I would let the PC swap out some other character things to get it. (Did you give up your school of magic training because you worked in the market place? A point of to hit and your armor training?).

It seems common in games I've been in to use rule 0, which you mention upthread, to let players modify the classes to fit their vision (a weapon proficiency they might not have by RAW, a different spell list for their cleric, etc...). Merchant training instead of a bunch of class skills seems ok (but I might warn the player that those skills might be much less useful to the party than some others).
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Again, I can't think of a single actual at the table occurrence where a player in a D&D game came away from an encounter unhappy that an enemy could do things they couldn't do.

Yep, same experience here, over many, many years of gaming...

In 3e, I have had players asking me how an NPC could do certain things and questioning whether I had computed bonuses properly, which I found really annoying, but it was mostly to reassure himself that I was not "cheating" as a DM, which is a very bizarre and disrespectful thing to do as I'm never playing against the players anyway, but it's not exactly the same thing.
 

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