D&D General Are NPCs like PCs?


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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
"No. They're NPCs. They're built different for various reasons we're not going to litigate but which include the fact that you just requested a feature that hurts you just to prove a point. Everyone else is getting real tired of these antics. Please leave the table."
Or else people just want things to make sense and this sort of Schrodinger's Drow nonsense where they simultaneously have and don't have poison blood grates on them.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
While the venenous drow case is possible, in my experience it was more magical abilities that were contentious, because of one of (common) way to play a wizard as (a) obsessed with magical knowledge (b) pre-modern scientist of the arcane. Combine those and expect any supernatural effect to be dissected, if only for the character to publish a paper about it in the Faerunian Journal of Necromancy.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It instantly makes sense if you accept you're playing a game where the rules aren't physics and sometimes NPCs can do things the PCs can't because it's better for the game.
It doesn't make the game better, though. And even if it did, it still wouldn't make sense. It would just be nonsense that is more fun for your personal table.

If you have 1 singular drow who had some sort of magical accident, explained in fiction that grants the magical poison blood, that's one thing. If it's just "NPC drow" that have the ability, it's nonsense. My PC drow was an NPC right up until he became a PC at whatever age I started him at, so he should have that blood, too. It doesn't go away just because he became a PC.
 




Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Another way is to state that Drow poison effect is a Lolth gift for a true follower.
How? It needs a reasonable in fiction explanation. And since there are several drow gods, do only those who worship Lolth get the poison? A lot of NPC drow wouldn't have poison if you limit it to Lolth like that.
 

How? It needs a reasonable in fiction explanation. And since there are several drow gods, do only those who worship Lolth get the poison? A lot of NPC drow wouldn't have poison if you limit it to Lolth like that.
The Drows described in the MM are likely Lolth followers. it look like a good fiction explanation.
If a DM use drow in another context, poison usage should be replaced or explain differently.
Drow are free from evil now, they should be free from poison too!
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I understand the frustration, that being said, it's not that hard to correct. First, contrary to previous editions, in 5e, unless I'm mistaken, once applied, the poison stays on the blade for one minute, which is way longer than most fights, so there should not be a reason to reapply it.

As for applying it, for the sake of fairness, I would require NPCs like drows and assassins to use bonus action to apply it, with the assumption that they did it before combat in most cases. After that, find additional doses is another matter. Poison is not that balanced in the game, never has been whatever the edition, sop allowing too many doses of very potent poison for PCs is unbalancing the game, and I'm not sure that there is much that can be done about this.

Some individual poisons differ, but the general rule for injury poisons is that they stay potent until delivered through a wound or washed off. However, in general they only work once, and then have to be reapplied, which is why the action type to reapply it matters. My Battlemaster/Thief could use a bonus action to apply poison, which I'd get on my first successful attack. Poison-using NPCs, however, get the bonus poison damage on all of their attacks without needing to reapply it, even when they get multiple attacks per round. So simply saying that the NPC applied it before battle doesn't work as an explanation after the first hit.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The Drows described in the MM are likely Lolth followers. it look like a good fiction explanation.
If a DM use drow in another context, poison usage should be replaced or explain differently.
Drow are free from evil now, they should be free from poison too!
That's a good start, but there needs to be more. Did she grant it to them by altering their bodies magically? if so, then the PCs can still get it, they just need to devote themselves to Lolth. Is she just giving them a specific poison? If so, the PCs can still use it by looting it off of their bodies.

The important part is consistency and the ability for a PC to do the same thing, even if it comes a a cost too high to pay, like becoming a full Lolth believer and being magically altered.
 



jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
I generally refer to PCs as "Protagonist Characters" and NPCs as "Non-Protagonist Characters" because that more accurately reflects how they're used in my games.

I generally agree with you about monsters and NPCs not needing to be created using the same rules as PCs (in fact, creating monsters and NPCs using nearly the same rules as PCs has caused me to burn out as a GM of some games).

The exception is if the rules for creating PCs are simple and elegant. Like Risus. What I did not like, for example, were 3x and Pathfinder 1e for foisting what were ultimately very complex NPC/monster creation rules on the GM.
 
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Lyxen

Great Old One
While I think ability score damage are complicated, it was one of the way to do it well: it was effectively a NPC-only option because the players very rarely cared if the foe they damaged would die after a few hours or minutes... they wanted them defeated now. Assassins could thrive using a hit and run tactic, leaving their target as good as dead for story purpose, it would force the use of ressources from the heroes (like restoration or equivalent potions) and provide very little imbalance.

I completely agree, but you see right here in your reasoning that it's a game reason, not a world reason. There is no world logic around it, it works technically but it does not really make sense. And that's all that I'm saying, there have been good technical implementations, but they relied for balance on a difference between PCs and NPCs which does not really make sense in the world (which is different from acquiring powers).
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I generally agree with you about monsters and NPCs not needing to be created using the same rules as PCs (in fact, creating monsters and NPCs using nearly the same rules as PCs has caused me to burn out as a GM of some games).

Yes, same for me, it's a very real difficulty and thy 3e thankfully is the oddball in the editions in that respect.
 

That's a good start, but there needs to be more. Did she grant it to them by altering their bodies magically? if so, then the PCs can still get it, they just need to devote themselves to Lolth. Is she just giving them a specific poison? If so, the PCs can still use it by looting it off of their bodies.

The important part is consistency and the ability for a PC to do the same thing, even if it comes a a cost too high to pay, like becoming a full Lolth believer and being magically altered.
Giving physical poison to handle put us back to the usual situation. Not so good.
Magic alteration or infusion is a nice explanation.
Can PC have this? Why not! live in a Drow city, struggling with other noble houses for power,
making constant raid to supply the city for slaves and sacrifices, that should qualify to be a Lolth followers and receive innate poison attack. Just writing « Lolth follower » on top of the character sheet is not enough!

I doubt a players will last long, role play a character in the constant fear of Lolth, fulfilling all her demand or her high priest demand. note that Lolth demand will rapidly interact within party asking to eliminate all non followers in the party. Being a Lolth follower is being trap in a miserable life under the continual fear of a tyran that manipulate you, giving power but always at the price of having more control over you.
 
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