D&D General Should NPCs be built using the same rules as PCs?

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
So after we meet this Shaman who casts heals and fireballs, I-as-player say I should be able to play one as my PC. Now what?
Exactly as @Oligopsony said.

Why do you want to play this? What do you need from it to feel satisfied by it? Are you prepared to start off with few resources or powers and grow into them over time?

For example, if the only thing you care about is "I can cast both healing spells and fireball," consider playing a Wildfire Druid or Light Cleric. These are both characters that can heal and cast fire spells (though not specifically fireball, at least for the Wildfire Druid) Personally, I'm quite partial to the Wildfire Druid, and think the Light Cleric is kind of a dud; I would be willing to work something out so you could learn fireball as a Wildfire Druid if that specific spell is super important to you.

On the other hand, if your interest is simply "I want to be that powerful thing because it is powerful, no other reason," well...we're going to have a problem. That argument does not sell me on the concept. I need to be sold on it. I need to see that sincere enthusiasm, because that's a huge driver of my GMing, how I'm able to deliver exciting situations and deep conundrums.

On the gripping hand, perhaps you have an idea for a character who has discovered a unique magical tradition that draws out both the cleansing and destroying power of flame. We could work together to develop a Sorcerer subclass that blends some healing spells with fire-based offense spells. Or we could make a custom Warlock patron (probably using the Celestial patron as a starting point) that offers features which support such a concept, the "Soothing Flame" or something like that. A Tome Pact Soothing Flame Warlock could be a very good fit, if you have interest in pursuing the story of someone torn between healing and destruction.

I would let players play a depowered red dragon if they were sincere about doing so because it's what excites them, not because they're trying to do an end-run on the system. I'd let them play an honest-to-God balor, cursed with weakness until it proves itself a hero (that's a juicy story, and I can take leaves from Cthulhu Saves the World for it). I'd let a player play a "reformed" mind flayer that has sacrificed everything, including its greatest psionic powers, in order to be the first of their kind to live without needing to murder innocent sapient beings, slowly working their way up to becoming a new Elder Brain that can challenge mind flayer society from within. Etc.

But only so long as the player is sincerely enthusiastic--meaning, they aren't being exploitative, abusive, or coercive with their requests or behavior.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

jasper

Rotten DM
So after we meet this Shaman who casts heals and fireballs, I-as-player say I should be able to play one as my PC. Now what?
Did you kill him. OOPS.
Now you're a PC. You don't these powers. You will never get these powers. See the PHB and other approve books which has powers for PCs.
Did you make friends with him. Good. He likes Beanie Babies. He will trade healing spells for them.
 

Abilities are not available to PC - until a subclass is added to the game that grants them. One has to assume that the currently available player-abilities only represent a subset of all the abilities that could potentially be acquired. Otherwise no new classes, subclasses, races, etc could ever be added to the game.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Maybe yes maybe no. Contrary to some of the earlier claims 3.x did both by including npc classes as an option for the gm to use. 5e in contrast pretty much does neither and just assumes the gm will homebrew something any player feeling slighted can argue over if the gm is even allowed to make an NPC like that before even getting into if the specific choices made for the NPC stats skills & abilities were reasonable.
 

aco175

Legend
I remember first seeing the Redbrand Ruffian statblock in the Phandelvar box set when 5e first came out and thinking they should not get 2 attacks. They only have 3 hit dice. Then I compared it to a fighter or rogue and found it weak since it lacked all the other things PCs get.

1696077441784.png
 


Reynard

Legend
Abilities are not available to PC - until a subclass is added to the game that grants them. One has to assume that the currently available player-abilities only represent a subset of all the abilities that could potentially be acquired. Otherwise no new classes, subclasses, races, etc could ever be added to the game.
It's a really strange thing that the range of what makes a player character is fundamentally defined by the PHB (plus whatever) but the full range of the rest of the world is essentially limitless.

D&D needs a point based PC construction system.
 

delericho

Legend
I don't think they should be build like PCs, but they should have consistent and explicable capabilities - if an NPC Wizard casts fireball, it should have the same effect as when a PC casts the same spell, it should be counterspell-able in the same way, and so on.

(Incidentally, that "consistent and explicable" requirement only applies to those NPCs that are themselves PC-like. An NPC Wizard should about the same as a PC Wizard of the same level, but if the NPC is a bizarre alienist who has been exposed to the undiluted energies of creation, all bets are off!)
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
I don't care about screwing up balance but I very much do care about screwing up in-setting consistency. Thus, I do my best to make sure my ad-hoc NPCs (and many of them are) still fit within what the char-gen rules allow.
Fortunately, since none of the NPCs in the setting are built according to PC rules, and sometimes even the PCs aren’t built with the PC rules, in-setting consistency is maintained. :)
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
It's a really strange thing that the range of what makes a player character is fundamentally defined by the PHB (plus whatever) but the full range of the rest of the world is essentially limitless.

D&D needs a point based PC construction system.
Why is it strange? PCs are obviously a bounded subset of what exists within the setting. That’s true of most RPGs.
 

Remove ads

Top