D&D 5E How common are magic, monsters, and NPC's with class levels anyways?

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Is it possible to reach some kind of consensus here?
I don’t think it is, but fortunately, I don’t think it’s truly desirable either. The variety of worlds with different baseline assumptions is a feature of D&D, not a bug. I think rather than forming a consensus about some universal assumptions, we would do better to make clear the specific assumptions of the worlds we are discussing.
 

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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Well, I figured it was a pipe dream, but I thought I'd ask. It really does make it difficult to talk about some topics though. I'm a big fan of how the modern world came to be, and the often strange turns of events that led to many advances throughout history. Now D&D isn't trying to modern any historical period (it being a rather eclectic mishmash of different eras, usually trying to dance around anything that "feels" hi-tech, despite having rapiers, bastard swords, and galleons but not having recurve bows or cannons), but trying to figure out how a campaign setting works is a topic that fascinates me, even if I'm sure my DM's wish it didn't.

I remember playing Kingmaker and being really impressed by the ramifications of Golarion having printing presses, for example, wondering if, with the right inks, one could mass produced spellbooks...

But anyways, a few posts seem to think my goal is to fit D&D into a nice box. It's not. If you want to create an uber gritty or utterly fantastic world, you can, of course, and that's a good thing! But the model of "you see, a typical D&D world is like Europe in the 1200's except for magic and monsters!

But yes to full plate armor and halberds and no to hand cannons and the Bessemer process, thank you very much.

And my first question is, yeah but how? I mean not how magic or monsters work, but how the world chugs along as if these things didn't exist (except when it doesn't).

Anyways, about the Super Guards- I don't think I've ever specifically seen 7th level PC's challenged by town guards, but I have seen DM's smack down players with surprisingly competent NPC's when they decide "Great Gygax! We're powerful, let's take this town apart like Emirikol the Chaotic!", even if they had previously said that there likely isn't anyone with more than 3 or 4 Hit Dice in the whole area besides the PC's...
 

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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
This reminds me of a post on an Eberron forum, where a demon (or devil) with Teleport Without Error (at will) and Dominate Person (at will) could literally take over the entire setting.
I'm pretty sure a god would intervene in this.

I've gone by this advice from the DM's option: High Level Campaigns for years:
Good advice. I'd say the short version is this:

NPCs above 1st level are 1/100, with a declining rate at higher levels being a portion of that 1/100.

And, yeah why not, let's just all agree on that. 🤓
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
But it makes discussing the game difficult since everyone has a different idea of how common or uncommon these things are. Is it possible to reach some kind of consensus here?

In a word, no. There is no consensus to be had, because we don't all run games the same way.

That's why discussion to find "the right way" are less constructive than discussions intended just to ferret out the various approaches people use, without trying to tell anyone they are incorrect in their approach.
 


Massively depends on the campaign setting!
  • Dragonlance tends to be pretty low level overall, and the characters are movers and shakers who can turn the tides of an entire war.
  • Forgotten Realms is ruled by a number of powerful spellcasters in a MAD stalemate, but common adventurers can still have an impact by virtue of being able to act without triggering the MAD.
  • Exandria seems to have a have a higher average level, and a handful of truly high level characters in every capital city, but the setting is so character driven that players of any level feel relevant.
  • Dark Sun is fairly similar to Forgotten Realms, except the Sorcerer Kings and other major factions feel simultaneously less personally involved while still feeling very present in the "I could be enslaved or have templars hunt me down" sense.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Well, I figured it was a pipe dream, but I thought I'd ask. It really does make it difficult to talk about some topics though. I'm a big fan of how the modern world came to be, and the often strange turns of events that led to many advances throughout history. Now D&D isn't trying to modern any historical period (it being a rather eclectic mishmash of different eras, usually trying to dance around anything that "feels" hi-tech, despite having rapiers, bastard swords, and galleons but not having recurve bows or cannons), but trying to figure out how a campaign setting works is a topic that fascinates me, even if I'm sure my DM's wish it didn't.
I think most of us feel the pull of wondering "how" a campaign setting works from time to time, some of us less and some of us more. I think that interest tends to pull you more in the direction of sandbox world building, which is totally cool, but clashes with a lot of 5e's current design direction.
 

Having done it before, I've found it is more trouble than it is worth to stat out any NPCs with PC levels. Volo's and Mordenkainen's more than have it covered for my campaign's NPC purposes. But if someone finds leveled NPCs fun, have at it. I mean, in theory, I find it fun, too - but I'd rather spend my limited prep time on other aspects of the game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Massively depends on the campaign setting!
  • Forgotten Realms is ruled by a number of powerful spellcasters in a MAD stalemate, but common adventurers can still have an impact by virtue of being able to act without triggering the MAD.
What does MAD mean in this context? I feel like multi attribute dependent doesn't fit right. :p
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Based on the description of tiers, the base assumption of 5th edition assumes there are NPCs of tier 2 (level 5-10) scattered in every major nation.

The 5th edition knight NPC has 8 HDs. If you say this is average then the base assumption assumes at least 50% of knightly fiefs has at least one 8 HD buff dude on it.
 


MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
Publisher
Agree than no consensus can or should be reached. It is one of many aspects of a setting that each group can customize to their liking.

Another guy says "well monsters are rare", to which my response is, then how to the PC's keep running into them?

Because that's there job. Kind of like how house fire are rare but firefighters keep running into them. At least that's how I've done it in my campaign. I've had people travel weeks looking for the PCs because nobody else can deal with the rampaging monster.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Again though, this thread is simply a reaction to how everyone has a different view of how things occur in a D&D world. One guy says "high level characters are rare", great, fantastic, so why don't monsters run amok? Another guy says "well monsters are rare", to which my response is, then how to the PC's keep running into them?
Fate. Look at the legend of Hercules. Monsters were practically non-existent, yet he ran into more than one. That and they go looking for them.
 

bloodtide

Adventurer
Well, the model is a bit more: A lot like 1400 Europe filter set in 1600 America After The Fall in a Post Magical Apocalypse.

That makes the easy answer that anything you think might have been discovered was lost in the fall.
 

Based on the description of tiers, the base assumption of 5th edition assumes there are NPCs of tier 2 (level 5-10) scattered in every major nation.

The 5th edition knight NPC has 8 HDs. If you say this is average then the base assumption assumes at least 50% of knightly fiefs has at least one 8 HD buff dude on it.
It’s roughly what I use for my home brew.
Tier 2 npc, are what I call « professional », estimated around 1/1000, and are the backbone of a nation.
Tier 3+ npc, are elite, around 1/10 000, maybe more like 1/100 000. strong individual Character with a backstory, created on need. They are out of statistics.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Is it possible to reach some kind of consensus here?
Consensus on a single option? Probably not.

Consensus on a sliding scale for all those elements and maybe a half dozen common combinations? Probably.

If you think of Magic, Monsters, and CLNPCs (Class/Leveled NPCs) each ranging on a scale from None - Low - Moderate - High my own typical setting would be low in all three categories.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
It’s roughly what I use for my home brew.
Tier 2 npc, are what I call « professional », estimated around 1/1000, and are the backbone of a nation.
Tier 3+ npc, are elite, around 1/10 000, maybe more like 1/100 000. strong individual Character with a backstory, created on need. They are out of statistics.

I could see that.
Tier 2 is supposed to be Heroes of the Realm. This would be the top professionals of their realm's culture.
Tier 3 would be the elite of them.
Tier 4 would be one of the best of them that ever lived.

If any class epitomizes a part of your realm's culture,, they would be the heroes of your realm and within Tier 2. Knights in militaristic feudal nations. Priests and paladins in dueling theocracies in crusades.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Technically none of the monsters in 5E have class levels, to inlcude the humanoid, NPC monsters. While "assassins", "priests", "Archmage" etc all have abilities that closely mirror class and subclass features, these do not get the breadth of or number of features available to PCs.

Unless your game has custom NPCs built from classes the real answer is the only creatures in the entire multiverse with class levels are the PCs.
 
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