D&D 5E NPCyclopedia

Li Shenron

Legend
Pure PC classed NPCs do not translate well to CR.

Check out the DMG page 274. There you will find a quick CR reference chart. Take anything you want to figure a CR for and calculate its defensive (AC and HP) rating and offensive (Attack bonus and DPR) rating and average them. All of these factors will effect the others. For spell or similar abilities use save DC instead of attack bonus when calculating offensive CR.

Just a quick glance at the hit point column will tell you that character level does NOT equal CR. An average CR 1 has over 70 hit points. If you assign a CR 1 to a 1st level fighter its going down really fast compared to any other monster of its supposedly equal CR.

Thats why I make NPCs mostly as monsters adding in some PC abilities and accounting for their effects in the overall offensive/defensive CR calculations.

Yeah but all this sounds like 5e does an appalling job at supporting something as simple as making a Wizard villain of the wanted level, which is a super-common thing in a RPG.

Because I have maybe 2 or 3 ready-made options like the Mage (CR6) and the Archmage (CR12) and that's it. There are at least 18 more CRs to cover, but I have to add more spells one by one and figure out the CR, with guidelines that don't work beyond a very few additions. If I wanted a CR10 Wizard, what do I do?

All in all, the best I can think about is to just create a Wizard (or Cleric or Druid, depending on the story) using the PC rules (not caring much for precision, just a gross design), throw it at the PCs without caring about estimating the CR, and cross my fingers that with bounded accuracy it shouldn't be outrageously off...
 

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hawkeyefan

Legend
I've never found CR to be all that consistently accurate since they inteoduced it, so I've always used trial and error to come up with threats for my PCs.

There's nothing wrong with PCs facing a threat that's beyond them or beneath them from time to time.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
From the DMG:

- chapter 4 explicitly suggest that one way (out of 3) to create an important NPC is to create it using the PC rules with class and level

- in that section it tells you: "Challenge Rating. An NPC built for combat needs a challenge rating. Use the rules in chapter 9 to determine the NPC's challenge rating, just as you would for a monster you designed."

- in chapter 9 there's a "Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating" table. This belongs to the "Creating Quick Monster Stats" paragraph, which says to look to the next section "Creating a monster stat block" if a more complete stat block is wanted. It might be somewhat usable, but it will be hard to retro-fit the damage output, and the Hit Point column is clearly totally unsuitable for a Wizard (and even quite off for a Fighter too!).

- the next section "Creating a monster stat block" actually refers back to the "Creating Quick Monster Stats" table :/

- in addition, it seems that both this (very long) section and the following (short) section "Monsters with Classes" pretty much sum it up by telling you that at the end you figure out the CR. But that's my starting point, not the end! :)
 

fjw70

Adventurer
This is why 4e is still in my rotation. If I want to be able to calculate precise challenges the I use 4e. For 5e I just wing it.
 

shoak1

Banned
Banned
Yeah but all this sounds like 5e does an appalling job at supporting something as simple as making a Wizard villain of the wanted level, which is a super-common thing in a RPG.

Because I have maybe 2 or 3 ready-made options like the Mage (CR6) and the Archmage (CR12) and that's it. There are at least 18 more CRs to cover, but I have to add more spells one by one and figure out the CR, with guidelines that don't work beyond a very few additions. If I wanted a CR10 Wizard, what do I do?

All in all, the best I can think about is to just create a Wizard (or Cleric or Druid, depending on the story) using the PC rules (not caring much for precision, just a gross design), throw it at the PCs without caring about estimating the CR, and cross my fingers that with bounded accuracy it shouldn't be outrageously off...

Yes, I agree. They could have added 1 paragraph entitled "NPCs built using PC rules" and a chart showing PC class by level and how it equates to CR.

All in all, the CR system is a complete disaster. Absolutely inexcusable imo. In 39 years of DMing D and D through all editions, it has never been so difficult to create balanced encounters. 5e overall I would rate 8 out of 10, but the CR system is an EPIC fail.

I suppose most people aren't bothered by it, since, in my experience, most people play vs rather easy CRs anyway, so if u make a mistake, its not gonna be a problem. But my group plays for the challenge, so we have less margin for error.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Yes, I agree. They could have added 1 paragraph entitled "NPCs built using PC rules" and a chart showing PC class by level and how it equates to CR.

All in all, the CR system is a complete disaster. Absolutely inexcusable imo. In 39 years of DMing D and D through all editions, it has never been so difficult to create balanced encounters. 5e overall I would rate 8 out of 10, but the CR system is an EPIC fail.

I suppose most people aren't bothered by it, since, in my experience, most people play vs rather easy CRs anyway, so if u make a mistake, its not gonna be a problem. But my group plays for the challenge, so we have less margin for error.

Do you ever design encounters from which your PCs should flee? Or do you design every encounter as a challenge that can be overcome?
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Yeah but all this sounds like 5e does an appalling job at supporting something as simple as making a Wizard villain of the wanted level, which is a super-common thing in a RPG.

It's easy enough to make a wizard villain of the wanted level - give them the required AC, HP, DPR, and attack bonus/save DC, and you're done!

If you want to build it as precisely equal to a wizard PC, it'll be a little hairier. Entirely possible, but it'll involve more research to find out how a wizard can get to those values, and a flexibility to make it whatever level it needs to be to hit those numbers.

All in all, the best I can think about is to just create a Wizard (or Cleric or Druid, depending on the story) using the PC rules (not caring much for precision, just a gross design), throw it at the PCs without caring about estimating the CR, and cross my fingers that with bounded accuracy it shouldn't be outrageously off...

You can probably do that; it's probably fine. :)

shoak1 said:
They could have added 1 paragraph entitled "NPCs built using PC rules" and a chart showing PC class by level and how it equates to CR.

I, for one, am happy they used that space for other purposes.

I wouldn't object to an MM of NPCs, but I think the needs for an NPC in an encounter are different from the needs for a PC, so I don't think a literal built-like-a-PC NPC would be the most useful thing to me.
 



shoak1

Banned
Banned
What tools did you use to balance pre-3e encounters?

XP and HD were the main tools. And monsters weren't as complicated, so it was much easier to judge their "CR".

Back in the day, more people seemed to be on somewhat similar pages re how difficult encounters should be. In 5e there is a HUGE disparity between what people consider to be a proper challenge. Back in 1e/2e days, gamers were more "hardcore' and wanted tough challenges. Nowadays you have more casual gamers used to respawn video games where you dont have to be that careful to get through an encounter.

The problem w/5e's CR system is that it is based on flawed mathematical formulas rather than on real gaming experience. Its like they hired a guy to do the math and assign the ratings w/o having some senior playtesters check it over to make sure it made sense.

And then the decision to make NPCs different than PCs is....bad. In my world, and many, NPCs and monsters are encountered just as frequently as each other, or at least 30% of encounters. There is a 5e MM I can refer to in order to get monsters, but just a few handfulls of pages of npcS. So I have to create the vast majority of them from scratch - that's a time sink. Not to mention then having to figure out their CR
 

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