D&D General Are NPCs like PCs?


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If you don't think a PC should be able to learn it then why on earth are you giving it to an NPC?
Should be able too and available feature of the class are not the same thing. There are ways to handle abilities outside the class structure.

For example: If a fighter wants to spend a feat, some downtime training, and maybe some gold to learn pack tactics. That seems OK (possibly) to me. It doesn’t have to be something hard coded as a class feature. There lies the path to madness
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What?! The game has never tried to place every possible NPC in a PC build. That is just ridiculous
Every NPC doesn't need a PC build, but those NPCs who are trying to emulate something a PC can do or be would use a PC build to get there.

The Bodyguard is clearly trying to emulate some sort of Fighter. OK, let's start at Fighter and tweak - using abilities the game already has, and gawds know it has enough of 'em - until we can create this guy.

Can't make it work? OK, let's design a new Bodyguard or Brawler class as a sub-class of Fighter and then - even if it's "underpowered" - make it PC-playable. (honestly, I think the game in fact has room for this - a mostly unarmed combat class that isn't a Monk)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Should be able too and available feature of the class are not the same thing. There are ways to handle abilities outside the class structure.

For example: If a fighter wants to spend a feat, some downtime training, and maybe some gold to learn pack tactics. That seems OK (possibly) to me. It doesn’t have to be something hard coded as a class feature. There lies the path to madness
So, hard-coded as a feat then, available to several suitable classes? That works...for those who use feats.
 

Every NPC doesn't need a PC build, but those NPCs who are trying to emulate something a PC can do or be would use a PC build to get there.

The Bodyguard is clearly trying to emulate some sort of Fighter. OK, let's start at Fighter and tweak - using abilities the game already has, and gawds know it has enough of 'em - until we can create this guy.

Can't make it work? OK, let's design a new Bodyguard or Brawler class as a sub-class of Fighter and then - even if it's "underpowered" - make it PC-playable. (honestly, I think the game in fact has room for this - a mostly unarmed combat class that isn't a Monk)
Like I said: down that path lies madness, IMO.
 


Every NPC doesn't need a PC build, but those NPCs who are trying to emulate something a PC can do or be would use a PC build to get there.

The Bodyguard is clearly trying to emulate some sort of Fighter. OK, let's start at Fighter and tweak - using abilities the game already has, and gawds know it has enough of 'em - until we can create this guy.

Can't make it work? OK, let's design a new Bodyguard or Brawler class as a sub-class of Fighter and then - even if it's "underpowered" - make it PC-playable. (honestly, I think the game in fact has room for this - a mostly unarmed combat class that isn't a Monk)
Is it not sufficient to say you could design a class with those features? I see no need to actually make the class that no one is going to use, just so I can say: well it is a “hard coded class feature”

what purpose does that possibly serve to actually make a class just so a DM can justify a feature on an NPC that will have little impact on the game? I feel my DM’s job is plenty hard as it is, why require all this extra work? Seems rather cruel to me for 0 benefit.
 


J.Quondam

CR 1/8
After loving and loathing 3e/PF1, I've come to feel it's vastly easier to just give an NPC whatever abilities seem weird or cool or simply suitable for the encounter. If a PC decides they want to learn it, we can work out if/how that's possible at the time. But for me, it's just a waste of effort to pre-determine something like that in advance, knowing full well it won't even come up 99.9% of the time.
 


Every NPC doesn't need a PC After loving and loathing 3e/PF1, I've come to feel it's vastly easier to just give an NPC whatever abilities seem weird or cool or simply suitable for the encounter. If a PC decides they want to learn it, we can work out if/how that's possible at the time. But for me, it's just a waste of effort to pre-determine something like that in advance, knowing full well it won't even come up 99.9% of the time.
this, exactly this
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Is it not sufficient to say you could design a class with those features? I see no need to actually make the class that no one is going to use, just so I can say: well it is a “hard coded class feature”

what purpose does that possibly serve to actually make a class just so a DM can justify a feature on an NPC that will have little impact on the game? I feel my DM’s job is plenty hard as it is, why require all this extra work? Seems rather cruel to me for 0 benefit.
Thing is, were I to be doing this I'd be doing it before the campaign started as part of the setting design. I'm not going to retcon it into the setting design well after play has started.

Or, and much simpler, the NPC just doesn't have that mechanical feature.
 






Thing is, were I to be doing this I'd be doing it before the campaign started as part of the setting design. I'm not going to retcon it into the setting design well after play has started.

Or, and much simpler, the NPC just doesn't have that mechanical feature.
Well I am glad my DM doesn’t cling to such archaic and inflexible partices. I guess it works for you though?
 

dave2008

Legend
Internal setting consistency.
That is not really setting consistency though. It is a meta restriction that has no place in a living world.
The PCs are first and foremost members of the setting's general population. A PC Elf, for example, is just like any other Elf in the setting. A PC Ranger is just like any other Ranger in the setting. PCs aren't special snowflakes just because they come with PC stickers on 'em, and I want the mechanics to reflect this.
I guess it depends on your starting point. We often start at level 0, but more recent editions the PCs start as already accomplished characters that are not standard people.

Regardless, it is not like you can plan a campaign from the beginning with every possible scenario in mind. I would rather have the flexibility to have an NPC with a new fun ability that I hadn't previous thought off and say - they are a snowflake, than have to make sure my PCs could do the same thing.

That said, the PCs might become special snowflakes because of what they do in the setting during their adventuring careers, but never because of their PC status alone.
Just like an NPC I would guess.
All my PCs might be martials now but it's ironclad guaranteed that won't always be the case, and I have to look beyond the immediate here-and-now at the campaign-wide picture.
But like I said, you can't possible predetermine every possible scenario and need that you will have 6 years down the road (the length of my current campaign).
Yes. In fact I'm sometimes that player myself, but only if someone else doesn't beat me to it.

If I'm playing an Elf and I see another Elf do something a typical Elf PC cannot, I ask (to myself) how and why can this be; and then in-character try to find the answers. And I'm by no means alone in this; if that NPC Elf has something that we can use, we want it. :)
I guess I have been lucky that my PCs trust me as much as they do then! But we have been playing for 30+ years together so it is understandable I guess.
Of course, it might not be the wisest idea for our characters to get it - e.g. let's say an Elf Fighter managed to Dominate a few of us during combat, on wondering how he did that we find a magic headband but the poor schlub PC who puts it on is in turn immediately Dominated by a major Demon who had been using the Elf Fighter as a puppet - but the opportunity should be there for us to find out if we can.
I guess my stance is: yes the opportunity is always there, but there is no need for me as DM to waste any time, energy, and thought on it when it is never going to be an issue.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
That is not really setting consistency though. It is a meta restriction that has no place in a living world.

I guess it depends on your starting point. We often start at level 0, but more recent editions the PCs start as already accomplished characters that are not standard people.
The starting point is irrelevant. You could start at level 20 and even then the characters would in theory still be members of their species' populations, only with more abilities etc. acquired through experience and training.

Underneath all those levels a Dwarf would still be a Dwarf, just like all the other Dwarves.
Regardless, it is not like you can plan a campaign from the beginning with every possible scenario in mind. I would rather have the flexibility to have an NPC with a new fun ability that I hadn't previous thought off and say - they are a snowflake, than have to make sure my PCs could do the same thing.
True, you can't hit all the possibilities but you can go through a string of what-ifs and plan ahead for them, and take things learned/ruled on from previous campaigns and bring them forward or tidy them up or re-visit it for the new campaign.

I guess were I running an in-print system my take would be that the books and materials that exist at campaign start can be assumed to be the locked-in limit for that campaign unless something new comes out during the campaign's run that blows our socks off, in which case we'll talk about integrating (some of) it and how to least-disrupt or invalidate what went before by so doing.
But like I said, you can't possible predetermine every possible scenario and need that you will have 6 years down the road (the length of my current campaign).
True, but when you've been running for 20 years before that you had that 20 years of experience to draw on beofre this campaign began. (this is one huge advantage of using the same system long-term: rules and rulings from one campaign can - if desired - carry forward into the next, or be tweaked/refined to suit if they didn't work out that well)
 

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