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D&D 3E/3.5 Help me break my 3e addiction: NPCs with levels

BigCat

First Post
One of the things I really liked about 3e was using NPCs with levels as opponents. I had a very clear sense of what capabilities came along with what levels, so it made encounter building a snap: "ok, I want this guy to be able to be invisible, so he'll need three levels of wizard" or "spring attack will be cool, so..." Of course this took a lot of time, but I had an immediate sense of how to go about doing it.

But that's not really an option for 4e. I luuuv the new encounter building system, but I keep finding myself wanting to go back to NPCs with levels to accomplish specific things in the encounter. I know that 4e monster design says "just make up a power!" but I don't have any sense of how to calibrate them (eg, what kind of bonus should a 4th level leader monster be able to give? what level should somebody get invisibility?). Any advice on how to break my addiction to levels?
 

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Palladion

Explorer
The DMG has NPC rules using stripped down character classes as well as class templates to create elite monsters. You may want to look at those if creating "classed" opponents is in your blood.

Otherwise, think of the monster role, then compare to a similar monster. Steal powers and rename them, your PCs will never know (unless they are reading the MM for some reason).
 

theNater

First Post
Take my advice with a grain of salt, because I'm just working off the top of my head.

I'd say there are two ways to tell what level a power is appropriate for.

1)Find a monster with a similar power. That can give you a feel for what abilities are appropriate for monsters of that level. Note that monsters are more likely to have things like spring attack than they did in 3rd edition.

2)If the PC's have access to an effect at a level, it's probably reasonable for monsters to have access to the same effect. Wizards get Invisibility at level 6, so it may be appropriate for a level 6 monster. Do limit this to effects, though, as PC damage and monster damage scale differently.
 

Lizard

First Post
Yeah, that's my favorite part of 3x, too. :)

Simplest solution is to use the NPC rules, and pick the powers which best fit the goal. So if you want someone who can turn invisible, just apply the Wizard template, either via the functional template rules or the NPC rules, and pick invisibility-themed powers. This can provide a good base. Another way would be to note what level you'd need to make a wizard NPC to have him gain invisibility, use that as a guideline for what level monster should have it, and simply swap out one power the monster already has for 'invisibility'.

For example, invisibility is a 6th level power. So pick an appropriate sixth level monster, such as the Halfling Prowler, and swap, say, Catfall for invisibility, recharge :5::6: .
 

BigCat

First Post
2)If the PC's have access to an effect at a level, it's probably reasonable for monsters to have access to the same effect. Wizards get Invisibility at level 6, so it may be appropriate for a level 6 monster.

Another way would be to note what level you'd need to make a wizard NPC to have him gain invisibility, use that as a guideline for what level monster should have it, and simply swap out one power the monster already has for 'invisibility'.

Ooooh, does anyone know if it's an official guideline that its reasonable for a monster of level X to have a class power of level X? If so, that solves my problem perfectly.
 

Vempyre

First Post
Ooooh, does anyone know if it's an official guideline that its reasonable for a monster of level X to have a class power of level X? If so, that solves my problem perfectly.

I remember reading something about that in the DMG. That you could swap player powers to the monsters' normal powers to customize them without appliance of the "official" class templates which make the monsters elites. The DMG doesn't specify the lvl thing, but it's is a neat guideline to know ether or not a power would be too powerful for certain lvl of monsters.
 

JDillard

First Post
Ooooh, does anyone know if it's an official guideline that its reasonable for a monster of level X to have a class power of level X? If so, that solves my problem perfectly.

Just be wary of too much synergy. Giving an invisibility power to a brute-type monster or arcane wizard type is useful. Giving it to something like a rogue that gets large bonuses when it has combat advantage is much more than just useful.
 

MrMyth

First Post
NPCs with levels is still perfectly doable - as mentioned, you can take a normal monster and give it a class template, making it elite - but now it has all the power of a monster and of a class, which is pretty awesome.

However, you can also make levelled monsters from scratch using the NPC creation rules and the NPC Monster Races in the back of the MM. I just finished putting together a short Epic adventure (mainly to test out the high-level play in 4E), and decided to make it about Yeenoghu, the Demon Prince of Gnolls.

Which meant I got to put together a bunch of high-level Gnolls - and found the system extremely quick and easy, while still turning out some really cool foes. (Gnolls Gninjas, what could be better?)

And, of course, if neither of these works (you aren't using the humanoid races who you can easily level, and you don't want to make a monster Elite)... then you go with the power-swap method the DMG recommends, or build a monster of your own to fit the role. But I suspect that will be a last resort, and that usually there will be plenty of other options available to do the job.
 


shadowguidex

First Post
Here's a question: how would I create a human level 20 fighter NPC?

DMG page 184 has all the tools you need to make the npc.

Core Statistics:

1) Type: Fighter would be a soldier.
2) Assign Stats: I'll use normal numbers: Str 18, Con 14, Dex 13, Int 12, Wis 11, Cha 10
2) Hit Points (Soldier) = 8+Con+(level*8) = 182 hit points.
3) AC: level+16 = 36
4) Defenses: level+12+Stat Mod; Fort=36, Reflex=33, Will=32
5) Base attack hit (level+7 vs AC): +27 vs. AC
6) Base attack damage (chart on 185, low damage expression): 2d6+7

Powers:

1) Select 1-4 powers from Fighter's list (level 20 powers or under). I'll choose the following:
-a) Warrior's Challenge (Encounter) - PHB page 83
-b) Brute Strike (Daily) - PHB page 78
-c) Tide of Iron (At-Will) - PHB page 77

2) Adjust to-hit of powers. All these are vs. Armor Class so they go off the same to-hit as the standard attack (+27 vs. AC). IF they attacked another defense, lower the attack value by two (aka +25 vs. Fort/Reflex/Will)
-a) Warrior's Challenge (Encounter) +27 vs. AC
-b) Brute Strike (Daily) +27 vs. AC
-c) Tide of Iron (At-Will) +27 vs. AC

3) Adjust damage of powers. The NPC doesn't follow the damage values of the powers as a PC would, they agains utilize the charts on DMG 185, this time using medium or high damage expression.
-a) Warrior's Challenge (Encounter) Medium damage expression*: 3d6+8
-b) Brute Strike (Daily) - High damage expression*: 3d8+7
-c) Tide of Iron (At-Will) - Low Damage Expression: 2d6+7

*Arbitrarily chosen based upon what makes sense.

All done. Takes about 5 minutes to create a nice NPC.
 

MrMyth

First Post
Which certainly works, though I would recommend using the NPC creation rules on DMG page 187. Only really takes a couple minutes longer, but less need to make any real guesswork or arbitrary decisions, compared to using the rules for designing your own monsters.

Step One: Choose Level (20)

Step Two: Choose Race and Class (Human Fighter)
Check the NPC listings on page 188 for what class features you get: NPC Fighters get Combat Challenge, so they can mark enemies, and take an attack as an Immediate Interrupt if their mark shifts or attacks someone other than them.

Step Three: Determine Ability Scores
Start with the standard array, resulting in:
Str: 16, Con: 12, Dex: 14, Int: 11, Wis: 13, Cha: 10
Apply your Human bonus to Str, and then add in level bonuses:
Str: 23, Con: 13, Dex: 19, Int: 12, Wis: 14, Cha: 11

Step Four: Determine Hit Points and Healing Surges:
Fighter NPCs have 8 per level, plus Con score, so: 173 hp.
As a paragon tier NPC, the character has 2 Healing Surges.
Note that, as an NPC, it can use Second Wind once per combat.

Step Five: Calculate Defenses
AC and Defenses are calculated using the normal formula (10 + 1/2 level + relevant ability modifier), with armor or shields added in the usual fashion. Then it gains an NPC level bonus to represent various extra bonuses, magical or otherwise. For a 20th level character, this bonus is +7. Finally, add in any racial or class bonuses. Thus:
AC: 10 (base) + 10 (1/2 level) + 7 (Scale) + 7 (NPC bonus) = AC 34
Fort: 10 (base) + 10 (1/2 level) + 6 (Str) + 7 (NPC) + 1 (Human) + 2 (Fighter) = Fortitude 36
Ref: 10 (base) + 10 (1/2 level) + 4 (Dex) + 7 (NPC) + 1 (Human) = Reflex 32
Will: 10 (base) + 10 (1/2 level) + 2 (Wis) + 7 (NPC) + 1 (Human) = Will 30

Step Six: Choose Powers
At Will Powers: Choose One (Reaping Strike). Choose a second, due to being Human (Cleave)
Encounter Powers: Choose one of the NPC's level, and a second one (at a lower level) if it is 11th level or higher. (Exacting Strike, Anvil of Doom)
Daily Powers: Choose one of the NPC's level, and a second one (at a lower level) if it is 21st level or higher. (Reaving Strike)
Utility Powers: Choose one of the NPC's level, and a second one (at a lower level) if it is 11th level or higher, and another if it is 21st level or higher. (Iron Warrior, Into the Fray)
Iron Warrior: Daily Power, Minor Action, Spend a Healing Surge to regain 2d6+44 hitpoints and make a save against one (save ends) effect.
Into the Fray: Encounter Power, Minor Action, Move 3 squares, as long as you end adjacent to an enemy.

Step Seven: Choose Skills
Fighter NPCs can choose two skills from the Fighter class list. Choose a third, due to being Human. (Athletics, Endurance, Heal.)
Athletics: 10 (1/2 level) + 5 (Trained) + 6 (Str) = +21
Endurance: 10 (1/2 level) + 5 (Trained) + 1 (Con) + 16
Heal: 10 (1/2 level) + 5 (Trained) + 2 (Wis) = +17

Step Eight: Choose Equipment
Maul, Scale Armor

Step Nine: Calculate Attack and Damage Bonuses
Calculate bonuses in the normal method, plus the NPC bonus as mentioned in Step Five.
Basic Attack with Maul: 10 (1/2 level) + 6 (Str) + 7 (NPC) + 2 (Profiency) = +25 vs AC. Damage: 2d6 + 6 (Str) + 7 (NPC) = 2d6+13.
Running similar numbers for our powers, we get the following:
Reaping Strike: +25 vs AC: 2d6+13. Miss: 6 damage.
Cleave: +25 vs AC: 2d6+13, and a different adjacent enemy takes 6 damage.
Exacting Strike: +31 vs AC: 4d6+13 damage.
Anvil of Doom: +25 vs AC: 4d6+13 damage, and the target is stunned until the end of your next turn.
Reaving Strike (Reliable): +25 vs AC: 10d6+13, and push the target 1 square.

Step Ten: Choose Rituals
Not needed for this character.

NPC generation: Complete! Total Time: 10-15 minutes. Completely by the books, and resulting in a simple and easy to run NPC, that still feels and functions completely like a Fighter.
 

MrMyth

First Post
Just to give an overall summary, here are the various ways to make NPCs:

1) You want to make a levelled NPC of one of the PHB Races (or any other player races), or one of the NPC Races on pages 274-279 of the MM.

Solution: Use the NPC creation rules found on pages 186-188 of the DMG.

2) You want to make a pre-existing monster in the MM more powerful by giving it a class.

Solution: Use the Class Templates found on pages 182-183 of the DMG, making the monster Elite. Also refer to the normal rules for applying Templates, as found on page 175 of the DMG.

3) You want to give a pre-existing monster in the MM a class... but don't want to make it Elite in doing so.

Solution: Your best option here is to simply swap out existing powers for powers from a specific class, in order to give it the flavor of that class. For example, say I want to take an Angel of Valor, and make it feel like a Rogue. I could replace it's Lightning Strike ability with the level 7 Rogue Encounter Power Sand in the Eyes, and replace his Fiery Blades power with Sneak Attack +1d6. Unfortunately, this is generally a tricky solution - weighing these powers against each other is going to be a guessing game at best, and could easily be too little or too much.

A different option would be to create my own NPC Race for the Angel of Valor - while they don't have guidelines for doing so, it is pretty easy to look over the various monster races (on pages 274-279 of the MM), and see how they went about it. Copying their method, we might end up with the following:

Ability Scores: +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 squares
Vision: Normal

Languages: Common, Supernal
Skill Bonuses: +2 Intimidate
Angelic Presence: Attacks against you take a -2 penalty while you are undamaged.
Angelic Flight: You can use angelic flight as an encounter power.
Angelic Flight: Angel of Valor Racial Power
Encounter
Move Action Personal
Effect: You fly 8 squares.

Now we have a nice NPC race - and can go and use the solution for situation 1 (above) to create a full-fledged NPC of whatever level we like.

But, again, this method requires a bit of guess-work - giving enemies classes without making them more powerful is, unsurprisingly, not something the system is really designed to do.

Finally, if you want to build your Angel of Valor Rogue entirely from scratch, use the Creating Monsters rules on pages 184-185 of the DMG.

4) You want to create an enemy with multiple classes.

Solution: This is actually quite easy if you are using an NPC race. Make a levelled NPC as with the solution to situation number 1 (above). Then, applying a class template as with the solution to situation number 2 (above) - you now have an Elite enemy who is perfectly multi-classed! Your Drow Fighter/Rogue makes for a formidable enemy in combat. You can even go a step further and add another class template, resulting in a Solo NPC with powers and features from three different classes!

If you want to make a pre-existing monster multiclassed, you can mix and match some of these methods. Add two class templates, which results in it being a Solo enemy with powers and features from two different classes. Alternatively, you can simply swap its existing powers with powers from multiple classes - though, again, balancing can be somewhat tricky, and many creatures don't start with enough powers to really trade them all in without losing everything that made them a unique monster in the first place.
 
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