Do you roll NPC/Monster stats?

Water Bob

Adventurer
GM's: when you're prepping your game, do you roll up stats for NPCs and monsters? Or, do you use the averaged stats shown in the monster entry or the standard arrays for humanoid entries?

Just curious.

I like to roll stats. Yes, it takes more time, but I find it also increases individuality among the bad guys and helps me creatively in making the NPCs more believeable.

Recently, I rolled up an NPC with a low CON but high STR, and because of these two stats, I ended up creating an entire backstory for the NPC where the character was mauled by a wolf when he was young, and today hacks up flem all the time. I made him blind in on eye, too, and put fierce scratches on his face.

I also try to vary weapons and equipment among my NPCs, unless there's some reason for all of the NPCs to carry like weapons (such as them all part of a strict military unit).

NPCs in my game never carry much wealth, but I will put something interesting on some of them. For example, searching an NPC might turn up a small sack that holds human teeth.

With monsters, I usually just use the stats provided in the monster listing, but I'm prone to roll up hit points instead of use the averaged number shown.



What about you? Do you like the quickness of a pre-made baddie, or do you spend time, like I do, customizing the beings that your PCs encounter?
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I mix & match.

For the run-of-the-mill types, I just use average assumed stats. For important NPCs- BBEGs, recurring NPCs, etc.- I roll stats. For a very rare and super important few, I assign stats- that is, I make sure their stats match their narrative purpose. IOW, if someone is supposed to be the "wisest of the wise", his or her Wisdom will be ridiculously high; beyond expectations.
 

VariSami

First Post
I simply pre-stat. I used to roll them but it's just so much easier assigning low and high scores to match the persons I'm creating. One can get quirky with the stats even without rolling them, too.

I used to roll the stats, though. I once rolled so high for a pair of Mineral Warrior Gargoyle guards that I actually phoned the person who was in charge of a campaign in which I was a player and asked if I could use these stats for a new character. Since we were allowed to roll new characters without drawbacks, he allowed for it and I got to play around with the rare "MAD-compatible" stat line. Too bad the party I was DM'ing for never faced the original Gargoyle guards...
 

Sekhmet

First Post
I arbitrarily assign stats within a standard deviation depending on CR and creature type.
For a typical, level 1 Orc, I might give him 2 str higher than the average and a greatsword instead of a falchion. He'll probably wear chain mail, too.
Other Orcs in his group will recognize him as the strongest among them, and he'll get any new items the orcs might come across. One of the Orcs might be weaker, having a -2 to Con and Str. He'll wear studded leather like the rest of them, but he'll be using a club instead of a falchion.

Ogres might see a 4 or 6 change in Str and Con, one might even be a failed Ogre Magi with fewer spell likes and a reduced Int, so he's just trying to fit in among regular Ogres.

I do this because I like to encourage non-combat resolutions to encounters, so people don't feel like they have to optimize combat stats just to survive.
 


Dog Moon

Adventurer
I only use the stats for humanoid monsters in the monster manuals if I'm not adjusting their stats at all. If, however, I'm adding class levels, I will use this: 16,15,14,13,12,11. After that, I apply monster adjustments and sometimes, if I'm doing something special with the monster, I'll maybe up a stat by a couple. Like a creature with -4 Charisma, even if I put the 16 in Charisma it will still end up a 12, which is not good enough for a Sorc, so I'll DM fiat it back up to 16.

What I do for other monsters is use the stats as listed but occasionally DM fiat a higher stat if it makes it for a more interesting monster, again like bumping up a Hill Giant's Wisdom stat if I want to make a Hill Giant Cleric.
 

nijineko

Explorer
i use the listed stats for mooks, bump up and/or switch around the stats, or even swap out an ability or two for those frequent occasions i want something a little different, and i usually only roll stats for the big bads or otherwise important / significant npcs.

for example, i wanted to toughen up a frost giant barbarian. so i added some frenzied berserker. the only stats i had to calc were the adjusted str, con, hp, and to hits. the party sure didn't like that one!
 

Lady Chaomii

First Post
I don't roll for my PCs because I hate the idea of in built, intentional inbalance. So naturally I don't roll for NPCs either. However I do try to give each individual a personality and roll, regardless of whether they have a speaking roll or not. And knowing my players, they will often interact with NPCs who were never even meant to be interacted with.

In fact, a large majority of NPCs don't even have stats. With the obvious exception of planned or optional fights, NPCs will at the very most be given a vague idea of their class and level, and that's if they are a powerful character. (Such as a young girl who displays exceptional level of power is a Level6 Urban Barbarian)

If an unplanned fight breaks out, I always keep the NPC Class Template page bookmarked. Since our game is online it is easy to do this, particularly since a fight is easy to see coming and I can quickly draw up the stats for the fight before it happens. There has only ever been 1 fight that wasn't planned. The NPCs in question were mercenaries so I made them a group of 6 level1 fighters. 2 of them were armed with rifles.
There was also the other time where one of the PCs shot an old man as a knee jerk reaction, which regrettably killed him instantly since he only had 3HP and she dealt 13 damage (Unluggy) but I'm not sure if that would count. Interestingly, the player regretted that action more than the character, and she wasn't one of those overly serious Action Hero types either (Quite the opposite actually).

Anyway I think I've rambled on a bit too much... ^^
 

If it's just a standard monster out of the manual, like a pack of wolves or gargoyles, I use the stats as presented.

If they're NPCs that I'm going to give levels and gear to then I typically use the elite array.

If they're someone important, like the BBEG or some other important NPC, then I roll their stats.
 
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Crothian

First Post
I either use the stat provided in a book or assign the numbers that I think the character or monster should have. We assign attributes for the PCs the same way so it works for us.
 

Drowbane

First Post
I don't roll for stats either way (PC or NPC). Randomization is great for combat, but I am over it for character creation. And as a DM I just give whatever stats makes sense to me at the time. Mooks are generally pretty average in everything but what I need them to do. NPCs of note are built on a similiar scale to the Heroes. BBEGs are generally superior to the heroes in every way that matters.
 

Sekhmet

First Post
I don't roll for stats either way (PC or NPC). Randomization is great for combat, but I am over it for character creation. And as a DM I just give whatever stats makes sense to me at the time. Mooks are generally pretty average in everything but what I need them to do. NPCs of note are built on a similiar scale to the Heroes. BBEGs are generally superior to the heroes in every way that matters.

I still enjoy a little randomness in my PC generation. Seems the point buy system is always the same stats, every time. I don't like that.
D&D Next's current playtest has character generation Roll 4 Drop Lowest, or 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 (with mention that the DM can have any method he wants to use in place).
 

Drowbane

First Post
I still enjoy a little randomness in my PC generation. Seems the point buy system is always the same stats, every time. I don't like that.

Well, perhaps unfortunately, there is a "right way" to make a Fighter (for example). High Str and Con is far more effective than say going with Dex and Cha (swashbuckler style?)

Until that changes, expect players to want certain scores in certain stats for certain class configurations. This is "true" regardless of Point Buy vs Rolling. In pt buy you just have a better chance of hitting that mark.

D&D Next's current playtest has character generation Roll 4 Drop Lowest, or 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 (with mention that the DM can have any method he wants to use in place).

So roll and hope for awesome or suffer the mediocre? No thanks. I played 2e for roughly a decade, we dropped random stats about half way through. edit: oddly enough, it took a couple years of playing 3e before again saying no to random rolls for stats.

5e still have time to impress me enough to buy it. 4e (and PF) failed to do so... I do not expect 5e to do so either.

I do not require that my gaming system still be supported to find it playable... so WotC has an uphill battle for my dollar.
 

Sekhmet

First Post
[MENTION=23396]Drowbane[/MENTION] I don't like every character to feel the same, and "random" rolls seem to be a good way of accomplishing that without sacrificing character builds.
I've even used the video-game style character generation, where you roll your stats, subtract them all to minimums, and build upward from there using standard point buy mechanics.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
RE: Random PC Generation

I like point buy in certain games. But, in D&D, random roll makes more realistic people. I tend to gravitate towards random roll. I like the true "characters" it makes rather than the more stereotypical results of point buy with everybody in a certain range.

I mean, life isn't balanced. All of us are different. I like it when the characters relfect that.
 

Drowbane

First Post
RE: Random PC Generation

I like point buy in certain games. But, in D&D, random roll makes more realistic people. I tend to gravitate towards random roll. I like the true "characters" it makes rather than the more stereotypical results of point buy with everybody in a certain range.

I mean, life isn't balanced. All of us are different. I like it when the characters relfect that.

Sure, sure. I don't tend to play realistic people in D&D. I play Heroes (and sometimes villains).
 

Orius

Hero
Generally I'll roll up or specially prep stats for important NPCs/monsters like "bosses" and the like, but anything that's cannon fodder generally goes by the book, with maybe some weapons and anything related like feats adjusted to the situtation. This seems to be a pretty common approach.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
Sure, sure. I don't tend to play realistic people in D&D. I play Heroes (and sometimes villains).

I usually hear that from point buy people. To each his own. As long as you're having fun.

I like to see the character that rises above his stats to become a hero--sometimes, in spite of his stats.

For me, even though I do play point buy in games where that is the default, I find that point buy always turns out similar characters.

But, hey, I know there's another taste out there. I'm just saying what I prefer.
 

green slime

First Post
I usually hear that from point buy people. To each his own. As long as you're having fun.

I like to see the character that rises above his stats to become a hero--sometimes, in spite of his stats.

For me, even though I do play point buy in games where that is the default, I find that point buy always turns out similar characters.

But, hey, I know there's another taste out there. I'm just saying what I prefer.

As DM whatever the story needs. I don't point buy, nor do I bother with rolls. Not too often there is a call for a high level Wizard with 12 Intelligence.
 


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