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D&D 5E NPC Allies?

Should recurring DMNPCs or Allies be a part of a game?


  • Total voters
    36
  • This poll will close: .
OK. Here's a poll for the community. I there are some strong negative feelings about this, but indulge me as I test the wind. I'll leave the poll open for 2 weeks.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I will sometimes include them if the PCs need someone as a resource, but only for a short time. As an example, Trukker d'Orien was a drunken, excoriated member of a dragonmarked house with a big elemental-powered rig that the PCs needed to traverse the Mournland in an Eberron campaign. So he featured on their journey, tagging along with them and getting into trouble, until the journey back when during a battle with the Lord of Blades' zealots, he drove into a radioactive crater and died.

I think the key part of successfully involving these NPCs is that they need to be short-run only, funny enough to outweigh being annoying, and they can never outshine the PCs except for one epic moment where they do something awesome (then hopefully die afterward).
 

If you mean an NPC that helps the party in combat, I think that is best used sparingly, if at all. If it is a matter of a small party, better to invoke sidekick rules and the the players control the action. The only exception to the rule I would endorse is teaching a new player how to play one-on-one (I provided my daughter’s character with 3 NPC friends to help her with some initial adventures - she was 8 at the time)
 

Nebulous

Legend
I don't really understand the poll question. Anyway, I think the DM decides if an NPC is recurring or temporary or permanent or whatever. I use them sparingly, unless the players are down one, then I will have a permanent NPC. Actually, when I ran Princes, we only had 3 players and I gave the party 2 NPCs, a priest and veteran, and they stayed with the party and slowly got better, but they weren't full classes. The healer got petrified by a medusa, and the veteran later was written out of the story when we had a 4th player show up. I think I had him turned into a wight and they had to kill him!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Every once in a while I'll add a DM NPC to the party for story reasons or to fill in for someone that can't be there. So an NPC cleric because the party needs a healer or an NPC that makes a guest appearance for story reasons.

In general I don't run the NPC mechanically, although I do have veto rights on actions in combat and I "speak" for the NPC out of combat. It doesn't happen often, I don't remember the last time it happened for more than a session or maybe two.
 

Nebulous

Legend
I have Ezmerelda who has just joined the party in Curse of Strahd. She's effectively a 5th member, a CR 8 and helps in combat. I have her there for story reasons but don't want her as a permanent fixture. In fact, the only reason she IS there is because the adventure has it scripted. She is tougher than the PCs individually and I don't want her to outshine them.
 

I don't like DMPCs but allies are fine if the PCs recruit them. Allies are always weaker than the PCs and are never in charge. They're not the same things, so I couldn't vote in the poll.
 

I think the key part of successfully involving these NPCs is that they need to be short-run only, funny enough to outweigh being annoying, and they can never outshine the PCs except for one epic moment where they do something awesome (then hopefully die afterward).
Thats my take on it too. If I have an NPC accompany the party its for comic relief, as a guide or some other specific function. They don't stay, (or last long) and I don't stat them out other than race, a personality trait or two and vague "class/profession". They never do more than 1d4 or 1d6 damage, but they are active in whatever encounters the PCs are in. Having them vanish into thin air until they are needed is just unbelievable and too convenient. These days I wouldnt run a fully statted DMNPC with the intention of them being a "party" member and havent in well over 20 years.
 

aco175

Legend
There seems to be several of these threads with the results split between those who do not like them since they feel that the DM is playing a super character from another game and dominates the others and the others that think they are making a balanced NPC that just tags along with the party and feeds info while being a minor help to the rest.
 

jgsugden

Legend
D&D is an RPG, a role playing game. Characters play a role in a story. NPCs may, organically, join with the PCs for a bit. When they do so, they are not the protagonists of the story. They should be there for a story reason, but that story reason should be written so as to make sure they do not take the spotlight away from the PCs.
 

There seems to be several of these threads with the results split between those who do not like them since they feel that the DM is playing a super character from another game and dominates the others and the others that think they are making a balanced NPC that just tags along with the party and feeds info while being a minor help to the rest.
Part of this is: it's not impossible for there to be a dm-controlled character who travel with the party and makes the whole game better for being there. It's just very easy to mess it up and cause more harm than good. So most people who've experienced it will tell you it's a bad idea or should be used very sparingly if at all.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Adventuring NPCs in the party are pretty much standard operating procedure around here, if for no other reason than if a party realizes it has a gap in its lineup (e.g. no Thief, or no Wizard, or could use another front-liner) they'll often go out and recruit someone to fill said gap.

What this means is that if for some reason everyone wants to play a Cleric the party's not then stuck with being all-Cleric: the flexibility is there to augment the party. That said, the players/PCs know there's drawbacks to overdoing this, mostly in terms of having to divide treasure and xp over more people.
 

Three things about having an ally NPC in the party:

1) They should never be better than the PC at anything that the PCs are focused on.
2) When used by the PCs as a source of information, they should not be the omniscient mouthpiece of the DM
3) If they get kidnapped, we'll rescue them once. ONCE.

Keep those in mind and they are very helpful to run errands and watch the horses.
 

Adventuring NPCs in the party are pretty much standard operating procedure around here, if for no other reason than if a party realizes it has a gap in its lineup (e.g. no Thief, or no Wizard, or could use another front-liner) they'll often go out and recruit someone to fill said gap.

What this means is that if for some reason everyone wants to play a Cleric the party's not then stuck with being all-Cleric: the flexibility is there to augment the party. That said, the players/PCs know there's drawbacks to overdoing this, mostly in terms of having to divide treasure and xp over more people.

As this is a 5e thread, I'd just like to point out that party "gaps" are not really a big worry anymore - unlike in 1e which is the basis of your games. It's helpful for new folks if you point that out to reduce potential confusion. An all-Cleric party can actually work really well in 5e without NPC augmentation.
 

tommybahama

Adventurer
The one in Avernus was ok but I hate the one in Strahd. Our DM is playing him for laughs and it just throws off every scene where he randomly speaks. Plus his cantrip damage is better than our Paladin's two melee attacks combined.
 

I do try to avoid it, but if the story calls for it I'll do it. My main issue is to avoid players abusing non-player characters as meat-shields and healbots.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I do try to avoid it, but if the story calls for it I'll do it. My main issue is to avoid players abusing non-player characters as meat-shields and healbots.
That's on you as their controller to play these NPC adventurers as real characters and maybe push back if the PCs are trying to sacrifice them in the front lines or force them into a nothing-but-support role.
 

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