D&D General Are NPCs like PCs?

Lyxen

Great Old One
Cool. I didn't say it was an actual change to race in that post. I said it was essentially a new race(which means basically yes, while technically no), and I'm right. A substantial change to the essential nature of a creature is a fundamental change to what they are(race).

Humans do not have an innate +6 to natural armor, ability to drain blood with their teeth, call forth rats, bats and wolves, dominate the wills of others, create spawn by draining victims completely of their blood, change forms into bats and wolves, possess damage reduction, heal as quickly as vampires do, assume gaseous form, resist cold and electricity, spider climb, resist turning and possess the stat bonuses that vampires do.

So while that vampire is technically human, he's not "human."

My point was that "vampire" was not a race. Technically, the race is still "human", the template did not change the race, and the "original race" was kept as a basis for future evolutions.
 

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Undrave

Hero
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
NPCs and Monsters have no use for like 90% of what PCs have and their use is limited to usually one encounter. No. They don't need extraneous crap or pointless limit. They serve totally different purposes as game pieces.
 

HammerMan

Legend
OK, to be clear, we are talking about adding uncanny dodge and sneak attack (1d6) to the fighter?

So, in my game (5e) I would say you would need down time (not sure of the time off the top of my head), money (note sure the cost off the top of my head), and 2 feats, your 6th and 8th to get both of those.

If I think about it some more I may tweak that a bit, but that is the general rule-of-thumb I use.
now that sounds like a great house rule (one I would even give series thought to allowing if a PC said they wanted to) but again the system isn't really made for it.
 

dave2008

Legend
now that sounds like a great house rule (one I would even give series thought to allowing if a PC said they wanted to) but again the system isn't really made for it.
I disagree, I feel the system is completely made for it. It is the rulings over rules philosophy of 5e (and one I have always had anyway). It also is mostly right by the rules, or at least guided by them. The idea of feats being a semi-multiclassing option already exist RAW
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Our players don't do that, first we have many DMs amongst our players, and second they have a tendency to present multiple sides to discuss things. After that, and after the silliness of 3e, the ball is now clearly in the DM's hand to stop arguments quickly so that play can move on.
The ball's still in the players' hands, though to start them. :)

And once in a while those players have a point.
First, I'm not telling you how to play the character,
Yes you are. You're saying I have to play it within a bounded area of ethos, outlook, and actions regardless what the character might otherwise be or do; and that's telling me how to play.
I'm telling you that there are some areas which foster conflict around the table, which is why they are forbidden.
Out-of-character conflict around the table is bad but in-character conflict within the party is not, and one just has to trust one's players to be wise enough to keep the two separate.

And this alone is a good reason to spin the first few levels out longer than just a session or two each; as it's during these very low levels that the characters in-character can get these conflicts out of their systems and sort out who's welcome in the party and who isn't.
Honestly, it has not happened often, but the ownership has always been left to the DM. What would prevent him to have the character as an NPC in a campaign after a player has left it ? The player can claim all he wants that he has the character sheet, but all the history of the character is set in the campaign history, and that belongs to the table anyway.
The history of the character is part of the campaign, yes; but the future of that character still belongs to its player.
I have a different view here, and once more it's very well put forward in Tasha, in addition to the mutual respect between the DM and the players: "The players will respect one another, listen to one another, support one another, and do their utmost to preserve the cohesion of the adventuring party."
Orwellian groupthink has come to D&D. By this stricture individual thinking is banned. Individual or unilateral in-character action is banned. A character acting on its own agenda is banned. Chaotic PCs might as well be banned.

This type of advice intentionally ignores the fact that an adventuring party is made up of free-thinking individuals. Part of the true joy of D&D is that as your character - as well as your party - you can (try to) do what you want, often without the fetters imposed by real life.

I'm not one for burning books but if all of Tasha's is like this I might change my stance.
If the whole party goes in a direction, it's fine, but if one player decides to do a crazy thing that is disturbing the other players, it's a no-go for me. And that is honestly the situation that I've encountered the most often, one player deciding to torpedo everything that the party has been creating, usually because of personal boredom, or because he dislikes what the others are doing, to mark his territory or whatever.
If it's done in character it should be sorted out in character; and the players all have to remember that not every character is going to think like theirs do.

A common example is a party dithering on its tactics planning, which can get boring as hell after the first few minutes for characters (and players) not directly involved - i.e. the non-tacticians of the group. In these cases the sooner someone does something crazy the better, whether its my PC or someone else's.
I have the same idea about economics, but that is actually a subset of what I wrote above, this is a friends collaborative game, it's about playing together, not going on one's own all the time, or even worse torpedoing what the rest of the players are doing. It does not preclude discussion or dissension, but I'm not here to run X games in parallel for X players.
If the party splits in X directions it's my job as DM to run that many parallel games however I can until-unless they get back together.
Because they should trust the consistency of the world rather than the consistency of the rules. The rules can only be a very rough modelling of the world, again clearly stated in the 5e SAC: "no set of rules could reasonably account for every contingency. If the rules tried to do so, the game would become unplayable."

So just because a rogue managed to hide behind a barrel in a dark warehouse once when the guard was inattentive does not mean that he will always be able to hide behind every barrel in the world in all circumstances. Maybe the next barrel is going to be a bit smaller, maybe there will be more light, maybe the guard will be more attentive.
Sure; but the same underlying mechanics are being used, right? The barrel example is a simple case of passing one Hide check and failing the next - no problem there as it reflects the reality of the Rogue not being perfect every time.

What I'm talking about are precedent-setting rulings where the DM doesn't adhere to the precedent. An example: say my PC has got hold of an Adamantine Axe whose main property is that is cannot lose its edge no matter what. So, we get to a stone door our Rogue can't open and as my action I declare "I'll try using my axe to chop through it." The DM, who never considered idea this when dreaming up the Axe, thinks about it a moment then says "Well, if you don't mind spending half an hour at it and don't care how much noise you make then yes, you chop through the door" (i.e. makes a ruling and grants auto-success).

Simple fleeting moment in play, right. But wait. With that ruling the DM has just set and locked in a precedent: Adamantine Axes can cut through stone, albeit slowly. Which means I-as-player can now expect - or certainly should be able to expect - this to be a consistent thing going forward and thus can base decisions around this information; and if the next time I meet a similar stone door I'm told I can't cut though it I'm going to both in and out of character be asking why.

Edit: typos
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Lord Soth was human before he became a death knight,
The emphasis there is "was".

I've always taken the "Human" header in those type of undead stat blocks to be nothing more than a guide to narration: it was a Human, meaning it's about Human-sized/shaped/proportioned/etc. and so that's what it should be described as; as opposed to if it said "Dwarf" which would lead to slightly different narration.

The Ringwraiths were Human once, but nobody calls them Human now.
5e has almost done away with templates, but for story reasons I will never consider things like undeath or lycanthropy to be a change of race. You can consider it a change of race in game terms depending on the edition that you are playing and its jargon, but 5e does not have jargon anyway. :p
Undeath and lycanthropy are completely different things.

Lycanthropy is a disease or curse (depending how you frame it) within a living being; bluntly put, you're a Human with a problem.

Undeath is an unnatural state of a dead being. You're not Human any more, though you might look like one; you're a [insert undead type here].
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
NPCs and Monsters have no use for like 90% of what PCs have and their use is limited to usually one encounter. No. They don't need extraneous crap or pointless limit. They serve totally different purposes as game pieces.
Except they're not just game pieces, they're inhabitants of the setting just like the PCs are.

Only looking at them - or the PCs, for that matter - as game pieces is what blows up setting consistency.
 

dave2008

Legend
Except they're not just game pieces, they're inhabitants of the setting just like the PCs are.

Only looking at them - or the PCs, for that matter - as game pieces is what blows up setting consistency.
But it is also what can make the game great fun! Setting consistency, or even a setting at all, is not needed to have a great deal of fun in D&D. Now, don't take this to mean I am advocating no setting, but I know from experience the game works great without one. If you admit the game is a game, it can really free up your creativity and fun. At least for sum, I don't think that would work for you.
 


dave2008

Legend
I don't agree with that. While I don't think you have to build them the same(see my earlier posts), I do think that what one can learn to do, the other can learn to do. The reason for that is in the game world there are no PCs and NPCs. There are just people. PC and NPC are simply tags for the players to differentiate which people in the game world belong to which players. The PCs belong to the Players(capital P player) and the NPCs belong to the player who is DMing. Since there is no in-world differentiation between the two, what one can learn to do or acquire the ability to do, it's possible for the other as well. That's the internal consistency.
I agree. We are misunderstanding each other. I am suggesting that the game mechanic fixation is meta nonsense, not the idea that the "people" could or couldn't learn something. Lanefan was saying for an NPC (could have been in a different post - I've lost track at this point) to have a game mechanic, then a PC must have "hard coded" access to the same mechanic. That is not about living "people" it is a game mechanic symmetry that is foolish IMO.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The emphasis there is "was".

He was, but his skeleton is still that of a human. All his history and training are that of a human. This is what 3e rightly recognised in not losing track of what he was before. A death knight made from a lizardfolk would probably be quite different.

I've always taken the "Human" header in those type of undead stat blocks to be nothing more than a guide to narration: it was a Human, meaning it's about Human-sized/shaped/proportioned/etc. and so that's what it should be described as; as opposed to if it said "Dwarf" which would lead to slightly different narration.

You've taken it that way, but I have not. Clearly, in the case of the important undead of D&D history, what they were before was important, Lord Soth, Stradh, etc.

The Ringwraiths were Human once, but nobody calls them Human now.

And still, the fact that they were human is really important and mentioned all the time, they had the human rings.

Undeath and lycanthropy are completely different things.

Lycanthropy is a disease or curse (depending how you frame it) within a living being; bluntly put, you're a Human with a problem.

Undeath is an unnatural state of a dead being. You're not Human any more, though you might look like one; you're a [insert undead type here].

And sometime, undeath is the result of a curse as well. My point is that I loved the 3e templates, who did add things but did not overwrite what the character was before, so that if things were done to him, you knew what he would come back as. For example curing lycanthropy, or killing the undead and resurrecting the person. Both can be cured...
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
He was, but his skeleton is still that of a human. All his history and training are that of a human. This is what 3e rightly recognised in not losing track of what he was before. A death knight made from a lizardfolk would probably be quite different.
Only in appearance and description, I think; it'd still have the same abilities and properties of a Human-based Death Knight.
And sometime, undeath is the result of a curse as well. My point is that I loved the 3e templates, who did add things but did not overwrite what the character was before, so that if things were done to him, you knew what he would come back as. For example curing lycanthropy, or killing the undead and resurrecting the person. Both can be cured...
Undeath as the result of a curse still doesn't bypass the prime qualifier for undeath: you first have to be dead, at which point your species when alive becomes largely irrelevant until-unless you return to life via means other than Reincarnation.

As for destroying the undead and then reviving the original person, I have it that if a corpse becomes undead any thought of that person returning to life is pretty much off the table. A very-well-worded Wish is about the only way around this and it requires some thinking outside the box; simply Wishing the person back to life isn't enough.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Only in appearance and description, I think; it'd still have the same abilities and properties of a Human-based Death Knight.

In 5e for sure, in the 3. That was the thing about the templates, you could apply them to a human, but you could also have a titan death knight, and the titan part would certainly not be negligible. Templates are sometimes limited as to where you can apply them, for example, vampire: "
“Vampire” is an acquired template that can be added to any humanoid or monstrous humanoid creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature)."

For example centaure, doppleganger, gargoyle, Hags, etc.

Undeath as the result of a curse still doesn't bypass the prime qualifier for undeath: you first have to be dead, at which point your species when alive becomes largely irrelevant until-unless you return to life via means other than Reincarnation.

See above, a human vampire and a hag vampire are certainly very different.

As for destroying the undead and then reviving the original person, I have it that if a corpse becomes undead any thought of that person returning to life is pretty much off the table. A very-well-worded Wish is about the only way around this and it requires some thinking outside the box; simply Wishing the person back to life isn't enough.

That is your home rules, but if I take rules out of the box, even 1e is very precise: "Note that newly made undead, excluding skeletons, which fall within the days of being dead limit are affected by raise dead spells cast upon them. The effect of the spell is to cause them to become resurrected dead, providing the constitution permits survival; otherwise, they are simply dead."

So if someone has recently been made a zombie (and not too damaged), you don't even have to kill the zombie, you can cast raise dead directly on the zombie and presto you have the creature back to life.

Skeletons are out, because obviously the body is not complete enough for raise dead to work, but there is no such limitation as the one you voice above.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Actually, this is a general thread - we are talking all editions.
the entire thread maybe, but I responded to this... that calls out 5e
What you are talking about is PCs. And, the game actually does allow the PCs to do all of those things in the RAW (at least 5e does). Additionally, as the DM I am willing to work with anyone to allow them to do things beyond the limit of their class - that is what (again 5e) down time, training, and feats are for.

They system doesn't limit you much at all really. At least IME.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The ball's still in the players' hands, though to start them. :)
And once in a while those players have a point.

A point of what ? Of having more power because they think an interpretation of the rules say so ?

You know, as part of my usual DMing style, I don't care, when a player makes a suggestion of that nature (which does not happen that often and which I would hardly called "pushing"), my usual answer (unless it's absolutely outrageous but I don't think that has ever happened in recent years) is "OK, we'll do it your way to save time, as long as you are absolutely sure of your case and we will not come to regret it if we look at it in detail later". About half the time, the player simply drops it.

Yes you are. You're saying I have to play it within a bounded area of ethos, outlook, and actions regardless what the character might otherwise be or do; and that's telling me how to play.

No, I'm telling you that if out of the whole infinite potential area of ethos, outlook, and actions, you cannot refrain yourself from doing things which are contrary to the table's usual way of play, you are indeed not welcome to play with that table. This is a collaborative game, the most collaborative ever, and group arguments always trump individual ones (especially if it's the individual basically asking for a license to act like a jerk).

Out-of-character conflict around the table is bad but in-character conflict within the party is not, and one just has to trust one's players to be wise enough to keep the two separate.

And does this really happen with leaving sequels ? I had three friends (two now) who claimed that they could play that way, always had, but the result is that one of them was kicked twice from our tables, and out of the remaining 2, one has stopped playing in 2 of our current campaigns, and the last one is the ONLY ONE that still creates tension between players with his behaviour (I exceptionally allowed LE for my Avernus campaign, for another guy playing a priest of Tiamat, it's absolutely fine, but the guy playing - again - the assassin is very often at odds with the others, both in and outside of the game.

And these are very mature players. with decades of experience of the game, and really good friends out of the game.

And this alone is a good reason to spin the first few levels out longer than just a session or two each; as it's during these very low levels that the characters in-character can get these conflicts out of their systems and sort out who's welcome in the party and who isn't.

Listen, I have played that way for years, but first it's not true that it sorts things out naturally, conflicts can arise at any time with a new objective in the campaign, we see that all the time even with characters who are reasonably congruent.

Second, the reason we don't play that way is because we unfortunately have just a few hours to play every week (compared to almost every evening when we were playing in a more free form mode). This means that we want to have adventures TOGETHER, including with the DM, and that almost every minute spent scheming against the others is a minute where at least some of the table is not participating.

When you add this to the fact that it always leaves scories on the players when the characters really clash, it's simply not worth it.

The history of the character is part of the campaign, yes; but the future of that character still belongs to its player.

Nope, if the player leaves with his character, the character does not disappear from the campaign, the DM is absolutely free to keep the ACTUAL character (the sheet does not mean anything, the character has only "existed" by being played inside the campaign).

Orwellian groupthink has come to D&D. By this stricture individual thinking is banned. Individual or unilateral in-character action is banned. A character acting on its own agenda is banned. Chaotic PCs might as well be banned.

Huh, no. But it all comes back to Matt Colville's "do not be a wangrod", it's not because you could have a character that is a jerk that you are allowed to.

This type of advice intentionally ignores the fact that an adventuring party is made up of free-thinking individuals. Part of the true joy of D&D is that as your character - as well as your party - you can (try to) do what you want, often without the fetters imposed by real life.

This is not real life, it's a game. It's a collaborative game, that you play as a team, and by doing so you have to accept the rules of the team. It's simple respect. Your freedom stops where it begins to infringe on other's, and your fun HAS TO STOP when it infringes on the fun of others. Simple respect, simple consideration.

If it's done in character it should be sorted out in character; and the players all have to remember that not every character is going to think like theirs do.

And that is absolutely fine, the only thing is that characters do not really exist, they are just figments of a player's imagination, so they are under HIS control, and if the character is acting like a jerk and makes is so that the experience is not OK for another player, than it is simply not OK.

A common example is a party dithering on its tactics planning, which can get boring as hell after the first few minutes for characters (and players) not directly involved - i.e. the non-tacticians of the group. In these cases the sooner someone does something crazy the better, whether its my PC or someone else's.

And it happens at our tables as well, but there is a difference in doing it because the planners have been doing it for a while and should be respectful of the non-tactician too, or whether it's done on purpose, up front, in a purely destroying manner that has no respect for the planners.

it's all a question of balance, and of respect, of the PLAYERS (the characters have nothing to do in there, they are only what the players want them to be).

If the party splits in X directions it's my job as DM to run that many parallel games however I can until-unless they get back together.

And I don't consider it my job. My job is running a game for a reasonably united group of friends adventuring together, which again does not prevent discussion, dissension, even harsh words and fighting, or a bit of splitting, but as long as it stays within the boundaries of everyone having fun, which is not the case when people have to spend the majority of their time waiting for the DM to come back to them because everyone is off doing what they want in their corner.

We has sessions like this, which is why, call it a table rule, we don't do "side intrigues" with the DM going off with one player. We have exceptions of course, but in general everyone witnesses everything.

Especially in these days where it's so easy to zap out of the session on a phone...

Sure; but the same underlying mechanics are being used, right? The barrel example is a simple case of passing one Hide check and failing the next - no problem there as it reflects the reality of the Rogue not being perfect every time.

I thought it was an answer to your point about the players being able to assess the way the world and the rules work.

What I'm talking about are precedent-setting rulings where the DM doesn't adhere to the precedent. An example: say my PC has got hold of an Adamantine Axe whose main property is that is cannot lose its edge no matter what. So, we get to a stone door our Rogue can't open and as my action I declare "I'll try using my axe to chop through it." The DM, who never considered idea this when dreaming up the Axe, thinks about it a moment then says "Well, if you don't mind spending half an hour at it and don't care how much noise you make then yes, you chop through the door" (i.e. makes a ruling and grants auto-success).

Simple fleeting moment in play, right. But wait. With that ruling the DM has just set and locked in a precedent: Adamantine Axes can cut through stone, albeit slowly. Which means I-as-player can now expect - or certainly should be able to expect - this to be a consistent thing going forward and thus can base decisions around this information; and if the next time I meet a similar stone door I'm told I can't cut though it I'm going to both in and out of character be asking why.

In that case, I agree, that kind of WORLD consistency is important, as you can see, the rules matter little here...
 

Undrave

Hero
Except they're not just game pieces, they're inhabitants of the setting just like the PCs are.

Only looking at them - or the PCs, for that matter - as game pieces is what blows up setting consistency.
When it comes to the mechanics of the game, they ARE game pieces. You only need the mechanics that will be useful to you as the DM, everything else that makes them a person is part of the illusion you weave for your players and you don't need to set them down on paper unless it comes up.

That local Cleric the PC encounter? Does he know how to remove a curse? Sure, why not. What level is he? I dunno, high enough for Greater Restoration, and yeah he has it prepared why wouldn't he?

Trying to figure out how many spell slots a NPC has and what all of his prepared spells are and what he has in his backpack in detail... all that stuff's useless and I'll just make arbitrary decisions if it comes up and then jot them down and stick with that, but until then that NPC is just in a state of quantum flux.
 

When it comes to the mechanics of the game, they ARE game pieces. You only need the mechanics that will be useful to you as the DM, everything else that makes them a person is part of the illusion you weave for your players and you don't need to set them down on paper unless it comes up.

That local Cleric the PC encounter? Does he know how to remove a curse? Sure, why not. What level is he? I dunno, high enough for Greater Restoration, and yeah he has it prepared why wouldn't he?

Trying to figure out how many spell slots a NPC has and what all of his prepared spells are and what he has in his backpack in detail... all that stuff's useless and I'll just make arbitrary decisions if it comes up and then jot them down and stick with that, but until then that NPC is just in a state of quantum flux.
Sure. Though I feel that thinking about how common 'high level' people are and what sort magic is available at what level helps me to keep the world coherent, even if the NPCs weren't actually built using PC rules. I like the world to feel somewhat objectivish, so having such framework helps me answer questions like "would a person capable of casting such a spell be likely to be found in this location" without the answer being utterly arbitrary. I'm not talking about any sort of population distribution charts or anything so detailed or mathy, just some general idea of the ballpark.
 

Undrave

Hero
Sure. Though I feel that thinking about how common 'high level' people are and what sort magic is available at what level helps me to keep the world coherent, even if the NPCs weren't actually built using PC rules. I like the world to feel somewhat objectivish, so having such framework helps me answer questions like "would a person capable of casting such a spell be likely to be found in this location" without the answer being utterly arbitrary. I'm not talking about any sort of population distribution charts or anything so detailed or mathy, just some general idea of the ballpark.
Sure, you gotta be consistent with your world design, but you don't need precise rules to make those decisions, nor do you need to make those decisions in advance.

And, if you think you made a mistake, it's always possible to fess up to it to your players and fix it later.
 

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