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D&D 5E Character or monster builds for important NPCs?


Well, that was fun
Staff member
When you create an important NPC for your homebrew game do you use character or monster builds?

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Arcadian Knight
Monster builds. PC rules are for PCs. NPCs are not PCs.

(Yes, I realize I'm ringing the bell to get dogpiled.) :)
agreed almost always... (mumbles something here about DMPCs and that it might not be a good idea ) there are exceptions though not frequent


Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
A little of both, depending on the NPC. I frequently use a refluffed and slightly modified monster. Other times I'll add PC class and levels to a monster. It's pretty rare that I feel the need to write up a character from scratch.


I almost always just pull out one of the established NPC statblocks from the Monster Manual or Volo's, and make minor adjustments for race and/or equipment. If they're particularly important I'll re-work them more thoroughly, but still starting from such a template rather than a PC build.


Somewhere in between. I create simplified versions of PCs; similar enough for the players to recognize PC class abilities, but with a lot of the bookkeeping removed.

It's always entertaining when a player realizes, "Hey, that villain is the same class I am!" They really, really hate having their own tricks used against them. And the more they hate the villain, the sweeter it is to beat them.


Small God of the Dozens
If it's an appropriate humanoid it's got a class and level, if it's a monster it's a monster. I'll usually simplify the leveled NPCs, but I don't turn them into monster stat blocks. I quite enjoy using classed NPCs as big bads. If the players are using feats, so are the bad guys. Call it the price of admission.



If it's an NPC that may side with the party, then I tend to use PC builds. This allows one of the players to run it as another PC to take it off my hands, as well as someone they can play in case of the untimely death of their main PC.

Enemy NPC's are almost always monster builds. More flexibility, plus sometimes need legendary/lair actions.


Victoria Rules
If it could theoretically be a PC then it's built as a PC. (e.g. the Big Bad Human Wizard could in theory be a PC, so it's built as a PC)

If it's close enough to what could theoretically be a PC then it's built as a PC. (e.g. the Big Bad Drow Wizard is built as a PC even though Drow cannot be PCs in my game)

If it's a monster then it's a monster, except if its abilities overlap with those of PCs they use PC rules for those. (e.g. the Big Bad Lich Wizard uses monster rules for the Lich part and PC rules for the Wizard part).

Li Shenron

When you create an important NPC for your homebrew game do you use character or monster builds?

Mainly monsters build, in the sense that I just make something up. Normally however I don't design monsters from scratch, but I just take existing monsters and add extra features.

However, building PCs with classes is fun, so why not sometimes using that too for designing NPCs?


I enjoy building relevant NPCs with PHB rules. Not your regular foot soldier or thug, but that powerful sorcerer that advises the king? Definitely.


I definitely start with a pretty typical monster stat block. If the NPC continues to interact with the PCs, I may add more traits, equipment, actions, or whatever so that it eventually becomes something in-between a PC character sheet and monster stat block.

I generally do a little of both and bend the rules a bit to get the desired result. I just make sure they are interesting and beatable for the players.

I often think having good story is the most important stat block for NPCs tbh.

This!! As the years go on I have statted NPCs less and less. They generally start as a very small idea in game and I build their personality and details/minimal mechanics the more it interacts with the players. I read a good piece of advice regarding NPCs years ago and I have used this ever since. Obviously this requires some discretion and isn't used for everything but if an NPC is trying to do something, at the lowest common denominator theyre either going to succeed or fail so just roll percentiles, 50/50. Saves a lot of time and has served me well for over 20 years.


I always use monster stats for NPCs. I tend to layer PC abilities to make them unique, but the plan is to keep them simple. I may give a fighter-type NPC d10 for HP instead of d8 and maybe be able to crit on 19/20 as well. I also like to give 4e abilities as 1/rest powers. I have a close burst 1 fighter-type power where he can attack all the monsters/PCs next to him as an action.

Is there a point when a monster statblock becomes a PC statblock?

Level Up!

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