Do all NPCs in your game need to be statted out?

Do NPCS need to be statted out ahead of time?

  • Yes - NPCS are for killing, not talking

    Votes: 5 6.0%
  • No - I like my NPCs to be freeform

    Votes: 31 36.9%
  • Sometimes - Only the evil NPCs

    Votes: 48 57.1%


First Post
Do you find it necessary to stat out every NPC in your campaign? I've always operated under the assumption that not every NPC has to be statted out because some are there for interaction only, not to be killed by the party just so they can take his or her stuff. What say you?

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First Post
Important NPCs need at the bare minimum a short back story, some goals & plots, some dirt on somebody(ies) and a reason to interact with the PCs.

If combat at some point is likely I'll stat them out, if not I'll just pick something close out of the rulebook if an unexpected fight occurs (or roughly wing it if I don't have the book handy or don't want the trouble).

Alignment is rarely a factor, but I prefer a shades of grey game for the most part.


Possibly a Idiot.
I have stats for characters that don't even exist yet.

One day I just sat down and made generic "monsters class" templates and applied them to every level because I was bored. At this point all I have to do is slap on a monster race template and one of those theme templates and I have combat stats for anything that I would ever need on the spot.

But I also custom tailor npcs with their own gimmicks if they are important.


Not everyone, but I feel recurring NPCs, good or bad, should be statted to some extent. For example, if the characters go for an afternoon of shopping and resupplying, I don't need stats for all the merchants. However, I might want to know that Ol' Hesterman, who the party often contacts for unusual (magical?) items or rumors has Appraise +10, Gather Information +6 and Haggling +12. Unless he regularly and literally arm-wrestles PCs for discounts, I don't need to know his Strength or probably even his hit points - unless say, he's about to be targeted for assassinations and the PCs are going to have to stop the assassin (or are the assassins).

When the group's rogue goes to pawn a diamond he found without the tax collector knowing, I might have full stats for Finch the Snitch and his two bodyguards, in case the rogue tries to start any trouble (even though the two have been business terms since childhood). And I'd definately want stats for the Lawful Evil priest Axenor the one-eyed, who while dispensing cures to the village in the name of Pelor, has been dispensing vigilante style justice on those who come to his confessional on Sundays. I'll need them once the PCs find out about his dastardly deeds, even if he is their beneficiary long before then.

Stats aren't just for bad guys; they're for anyone the party will come into conflict at one time or another, though usually you only need the stats for what areas of conflict an NPC may present.


Staff member
I voted "sometimes", but I stat out more than just the evil NPCs. I stat out almost every major PC in the campaign.

For medium level NPCs, i have templates- essentially a fully statted out NPC of a given class- and I just change minor variables, like HPs, treasure and equipment.

Everyone else, I do on the fly.

I'm somewhere between "no" and "sometimes." Or rather, the answer is sometimes, but I don't stat out all evil NPCs, either. Only the ones that I think are likely to get into combat with the PCs, and who are powerful enough that there's no reason not to just handwave it.

I've run city-based, politically oriented campaigns where the cast of recurring NPCs numbered in the scores, and where I only actually stated up maybe half a dozen of them.

Psychotic Jim

First Post
I voted sometimes. Usually if I expect them to have any direct mechanical interaction with the pcs, I'll give them something. That said, the details they get will vary depending on the length and depth of how they will be encountered. Quick bandits and the like will usually just get basic combat stats, whereas important cohorts or hirelings or recurring villains might get something approaching a full PC writeup.

Generally, if I can get away with using stock stats or premade generic character writeups, I'll try doing that. Cannibalizing other npc writeups and adapting to fit the current situation is another strategy I sometimes use to save time.


Between 'no' and 'sometimes'. If combat is likely or plausible, I'll write out very very loose stats ahead of time, adjusting on the fly as needed. However if the NPC is such that combat is not likely or absolutely pointless to provide stats for (I'm not giving stats for a baernaloth who manifests briefly as more of a plot element than an NPC that could realistically be fought), I won't write out any stats at all.

Aust Diamondew

First Post
But not just evil NPCs (or even all evil NPCs) only NPCs I think the PCs are likely to fight and would be a significant in a fight.
Insignificant NPCs in a fight are the sort that would cower in fear or could be just quickly statted (minions in 4e d&d are great for NPCs who don't contribute greatly to a battle).

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