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Do you prepare bands of NPC adventurers?

Derulbaskul

Explorer
One of my favourite things in some of the older D&D products (particularly for some of the 2E adventures for the Forgotten Realms) was the inclusion of bands or groups of NPCs with names and some background.

I've been wanting to spend a bit more effort on NPCs in my next campaign and I was wondering:

1. does anyone here prepare bands of NPC adventurers?

2. how do you do it?

3. where do you get the inspiration from?

4. would you care to share some examples?

Thanks in advance for any ideas that this may generate.
 

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Gilladian

Adventurer
I will be doing so as my current campaign advances; one of the conceits of my dungeon is that other adventurers are drawn to the rumors of wealth and power to be found there, and will be raiding it "alongside" the PCs.

Generally, I go to the forums here and look for PCs that have been posted, and "borrow" them. Or I use the 3.5 NPC wiki.

Or I just spin concepts out of my head, and generate stats for them more or less at random. The DMG tables help to keep them close to accurate. Since they are either mostly roleplay color characters, or they die quickly, I'm not TOO worried about exact mechanical accuracy.
 

IronWolf

blank
The closest I have come is creating a party of orcs with class levels that were sent into a complex as the "swat team" to help deal with some pesky PC adventurers. This was made slightly more interesting by having them follow a fair amount of minion orcs. It worked fairly well.
 

Evilhalfling

Adventurer
Sure I do.

Some of them are originally designed for 1-shots or convention games.
Others are more loosely designed based on the needs of the campaign.

The Raiders of Redcliff - low level group of outcasts, several from a nearby big city magic university, mostly unaligned.

Big Dam Heroes - based on the 5-man band archtype (see tv tropes wiki if you have time to lose) Hero, Chick, Lancer, Big Dummy, Nerd (good, except for lancer)

Blades of Vengeance - obnoxious drunken frat-boys with swords. (unaligned)

Ward Circle of World Preservation - actually recruited by PCs because every member had used Charisma as a dump stat and they did not get along: (even alignment split)

Left hand Band - 5 dwarves, designed as lackies for the PCs - they have good social skills (streetwise, diplomacy, bluff) and look up to the PCs goliath and Dwarf who have poor Chr & social skills.
 
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Haltherrion

First Post
I sometimes prepare bands of NPC aventureres. They are a lot of work to create and run so it isn't all that often. Typically for me I create the bands at campaign start when the players are still casting around for what they are going to do in this campaign. The bands serve as foils, potential foes, potential allies; sort of a ready-made pool of interlocking stuff (characters, goals and story).

To create them, I usually focus on the one or two leaders in the group, give them motivations or a story and then round out the group. Some bands might be relatively vanilla (if I'm making several at once) but good to have them with some unique personality and visual appearance.

Most often, I will use them when there are several story hooks tossed in front of the players of the sort of "do this" or "find that" and I may want the group to either have competitors to put a time pressure on things, a source of information or a warning (you meet the group in town, you bluster and talk with them, you head off on the mission and find that same group dead or bloodied).

With NPC groups and a little roleplaying, it's often pretty easy to add a competitive edge to the game. Nothing like a little rivalry to motivate players short term until longer term themes evolve.

Once out of the campaign start, my focus tends to be more on individual NPCs who might have some other NPCs with them but I don't tend to think of them as parties.
 

aco175

Legend
I do make groups of npc's. 3.5 edition it was a bit of a process and time consuming. I used to have the party fight clones of themselves, or shadow creatures that had the same powers and abilities of the party. I did not need to make anything and the fight was tough. Players would run both their character and their monster. A few would nerf some of their attacks, while others would reliash in attacking another member of the party.

4E is easier. I thought on this site someone posted a book of npcs for download. It is more character classes and abilities. Mostly I steal monsters out of the MC on Wizards website. Looking for 8th level npcs I can search for some around that level and bump them a level up or down. i also like the companion rules for npcs that tag along with the party.
 

Mark Chance

Boingy! Boingy!
4. would you care to share some examples?

The Soft Corps (EL 16): Intelligent oozes led by a half-dragon svirfneblin!
* (CR 9) Blurblex, black pudding cleric 6
* (CR 9) Dolloppoli, advanced gelatinous cube barbarian 4
* (CR 9) Mublor, gray ooze rogue 5
* (CR 9) Xanumph, ochre jelly monk 4
* (CR 15) Frelbor Yandov, half-dragon (black)/half-svirfneblin rogue 3/illusionist 5/arcane trickster 4

Frost Ogres (EL 12):
* Frost Creature Template
* Ice Domain
* (CR 10) Oolwa, frost ogre cleric 6
* (C 4) Frost ogres (x6)

Nictoris, Naga Lich-Queen, and Her Lackeys (EL 22):
*(CR 20) Nictoris, dark naga lich dragon disciple 5/loremaster 5
*(CR 17) Grakk, advanced half-fiendish gray render
*(CR 17) Sskaltar, troglodyte wereconstrictor fighter 4/blackguard 8

The Hellfoot Clan (EL 7):
* (CR 1) Hellfoot Bandit (x6), fiendish halfling warrior 2
* (CR 4) Dagda Hellfoot, fiendish halfing warrior 4

The Mountain King (EL 14):
* (CR 13) The Mountain King, advanced phrenic gargoyle ravager 6
* (CR 7) The Mountain King's Personal Guard (x4), advanced gargoyle

Coven of Hags (EL 13):
* (CR 10) Brynhildr, annis hag sharklord 4
* (CR 10) Hildr, sea hag shugenja 6
* (CR 10) Sigrdrifa, green hag horizon walker 5

Streicher and Julia, Agents of Wastri (EL 19):
* (CR 17) Streicher, human rogue 7/evangelist 5/exemplar 5
* (CR 15) Julia, human cleric 1/paladin 5/warpriest 9
* (CR 9) Black glaives of Wastri, human cleric 1/monk 5/black glaive 3 (x10)
* Black Glaive of Wastri prestige class

Peace's Takers (EL 13):
* (CR 12) Peace Meilaender, human rogue 6/fighter 2/dervish 4
* (CR 8) Gilbert of the Changing Fist, human monk 1/transmuter 5/enlightened fist 2
* (CR 6) Ezekiel, human rogue 4/ranger 2
* (CR 6) Newark, half-vampire human rogue 3/fighter 2

The Tenebrous Templars, Servants of Orcus (EL 16):
* (CR 12) Ahsryel Wightspawn, swarm-shifter deathlock rogue5/lurking terror 3
* (CR 12) Aldesal Vobert, advanced choker cleric 5/assassin 4
* (CR 9) Blood-Caw, achaierai pious templar 4
* (CR 9) Chopsis, hieracosphinx divine crusader 4
* (CR 9) The Tongue of Orcus, doppelganger bard 2/evangelist 4
* (CR 10) Yohandi, hooded pupil human cleric 3/wizard 3/true necromancer 3 (including two ettin skeleton guards)

The Brain in a Jar (EL 12):
* (CR 10) Hfuhruhurr, advanced brain in a jar wilder 5
* (CR 8) Hfuhruhurr's Crystal Guardian
* (CR 8) Marmaros, gargoyle fighter 1/death's chosen 3

Lava Children Squad (EL 10):
* (CR 8) Tunk, lava child fighter 5
* (CR 3) Lava Children (x6)

The Winged Madness (EL 14):
* (CR 11) Citanul, the Winged Madness: Mad Savant Advanced Elite Manticore
* (CR 9) Flame Paragon Fire Bugbear Sorcerer 5
* (CR 6) Flame Paragon Fire Bugbear Ranger 2 (x2)
* (CR 3) Flame Paragon Fire Bugbear (x20)

The Scion Squad (EL 9):
* (CR 4) Wink Silvertongue, a half-elf beguiler with a fey bloodline.
* (CR 4) Grusty Gurston, a dwarf copper dragon shaman with a storm giant bloodline.
* (CR 4) Badger Burrowshield, a gnome druid with a celestial bloodline.
* (CR 4) Thok of the Jungle, a jungle orc ranger with a titan bloodline.
* (CR 4) Byl Leebat Sün, a young lizardfolk champion who transforms into the sensational Scaly Avenger!
* (CR 4) Sir Oliver Shortshanks, a halfling knight with a gold dragon bloodline.

A Trio of Villains:
* (CR 7) Emyr Kendal the Hunger Dog, human shielded fighter 6/assassin 2
* (CR 7) Bricius Morcant, elf acrobat 6/shadowdancer 2
* (CR 10) Paora Mikaere, fey-touched young human phantasmist 11

Evil Halflings:
* (CR 2) Rondo, phalanx soldier 3
* (CR 2) Zondo, cavalier 3
* (CR 2) Chondo, brutal pugilist 3
* (CR 2) Londo, Zen archer 3

Saltar Anura & Company: Boggard and lizardfolk enemies
* (CR 6) Saltar Anura, boggard summoner 4
* (CR 4) Oavpa, lizardfolk antipaladin 3
* (CR 4) Apoblnta, boggard oracle of battle 2
 

One of my favourite things in some of the older D&D products (particularly for some of the 2E adventures for the Forgotten Realms) was the inclusion of bands or groups of NPCs with names and some background.

I've been wanting to spend a bit more effort on NPCs in my next campaign and I was wondering:

1. does anyone here prepare bands of NPC adventurers?

I have done it, but don't do it all the time. I like having potential rivals out there for the PCs to contend with, and potential allies as well. In my modern mafia game, I have tons of other crews all plotted out (but in that genre it is almost a requirement).

2. how do you do it?

I just make a team of characters and decide on each person's role in the group. I also note things like their overal motivation (to find treasure, to obtain power, etc).
 
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Scott DeWar

Prof. Emeritus-Supernatural Events/Countermeasure
What might help is to treat them as a template:

the healer, the arcanists, the skill monkey, the front line fighter, the ranged arcanists.

make states per a point value you decide on, arrange the stats per the main attribute while using the same set for all of them Set them as a first level group and add to that for higher levels. Use the advanced template to toughen them up if you need to. It adds 2 to the cr, i think.

varie accordingly, such as make the arcanist as a necromancer if you want to go that way.

but if you keep the base characters as first level you can have a feated and skilled and equipped party ready to go.
 

jedavis

First Post
I did this thrice during my last Traveller campaign. I rolled random ability scores in-order, then developed the character and skills of the NPCs from there. The first group was a set of bounty hunters who were after the PCs, the second was a squad of mercs who were guarding some cargo the PCs were trying to hijack, and the third was a band of cultists being pursued by the PCs. I don't have the stats anymore, as I modified them as they took damage, but the approach was sound and rather fun.

I don't think I would do it for D&D, though - too much time. More likely I'd grab Enemies and Allies, pull the iconics from the back, change their weapon and spell selection, alter their names, and add backstories. I guess I did have a group of custom-built Gnoll NPC adventurers once (Man were those 10th-level PCs surprised when a pack of gnolls dropped the cleric... I'd been using random encounter tables with unaugmented gnolls on them, and they'd been easy fights), but that was over a summer when I had a lot of prep-time.
 

Crothian

First Post
I've done it before. I had a few rival Adventuring groups for some of Thieves World campaigns or other games that the characters would run into the sme people over and over.
 

Scott DeWar

Prof. Emeritus-Supernatural Events/Countermeasure
Ah yes, those repeat encounters. Play them like a pc group where they retur to fight another day and that makes for some interesting campaigns.
 

One of my favourite things in some of the older D&D products (particularly for some of the 2E adventures for the Forgotten Realms) was the inclusion of bands or groups of NPCs with names and some background.

I've been wanting to spend a bit more effort on NPCs in my next campaign and I was wondering:

1. does anyone here prepare bands of NPC adventurers?

Absolutely. However a "band of NPC adventurers" aren't necessarily really "adventurers". Often I design NPC parties who may have very different goals. A rival team of adventurers could be fun too, but I've yet to do so.


2. how do you do it?

Pick an idea I want to use, then "graft" it onto a generic monster I design of the appropriate level.

3. where do you get the inspiration from?

Several sources.

Sometimes I take an older supplement (2e or 3e) and convert NPCs from there. I've used Enemies & Allies and several Dark Sun adventures for ideas.

In one case, I took an FR novel and "stole" the NPCs from it, creating not one but two NPC parties (one epic and good-aligned, one paragon and evil).

Sometimes I "steal" ideas I see online.

4. would you care to share some examples?

Posting from my index card collection would take time. I suppose if I had time, but at the moment I do not.
 


Always. It helps to have a set or two of rival adventurers that the PCs can interact with, either to cooperate with or compete against. Depending on how hte relationship evolves, you can have recurrign villains or allies as you level up the NPCs over the course of the campaign.

One way to build thme is to model them on one-offs of the PCs (see also: the Linear Guild of Order of the Stick). I've also used this approach as DM to play with individual character ideas I wanted to try out myself.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
I did it once in my 3e campaign. It wasn't such a good idea because it was a terrible amount of work for little benefit. For one or two session there was some fun roleplaying with several of the npc party and one even accompanied them for a while. But when a fight started between the pcs and the npc party it was one of slowest (and therefore longest) combat sessions we ever had.
 

Scott DeWar

Prof. Emeritus-Supernatural Events/Countermeasure
But when a fight started between the pcs and the npc party it was one of slowest (and therefore longest) combat sessions we ever had.

there is always that problem. But it opens the minds of players of the toughness of themselves when faced with them selves.
 


haakon1

Adventurer
I did it recently. I ripped off the sample PC's from Paizo's Pathfinder adventure paths. The characters are so well done, my PC's assumed they were actual PC's from my other campaign (I run an email and a live campaign, with some overlap of NPC's and references to each other's parties).

The ones I chose were all from Pathfinder 3 "Hook Mountain Massacre" (to get the appropriate levels):
-- Valeros the Fighter (party leader)
-- Seoni the Sorceress
-- Kyra the Cleric
-- Merisiel the Elvish Rogue
-- Harsk the teetotaller Dwarvish ranger (actually from Pathfinder 9 "Escape from Old Korvosa")

The PC's ended up making a deal with Valeros' party and becoming allies.

The other party I'm running will likely go into the Shackled City Adventure Path soon, and face off with the Stormblades.

Note that Valeros' party doesn't have a name . . . I've never had a PC party wth a name, so it seems unnatural and pretentious to us to name a party -- perfect for the Stormblades. :)
 

Scott DeWar

Prof. Emeritus-Supernatural Events/Countermeasure
OOC: Harsk the teetotaler Dwarvish ranger


A dwarf that takes drought naught? that is like some sort of paradox lost, is it not (or naught)?
 

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