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Author Topic: Speeding up NPC generation for D&D  (Read 790 times)

JongWK

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« on: June 26, 2013, 09:16:14 am »
I like D&D 3e and 3.5e, but I've always found that generating NPCs becomes a chore past a certain level. Are there any tools or tips out there to help with this, that don't end up becoming random stat blocks?
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Brad

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JongWK

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2013, 09:57:23 am »
Quote from: Brad;665753
http://www.myth-weavers.com/generate_npc.php


:hatsoff:
"I give the gift of endless imagination."
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Wolf, Richard

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2013, 10:04:02 am »
What else is there to NPC generation that is time consuming other than the stats?  

Pathfinder has the Rival Guide and NPC Guide which are basically nothing but NPCs.  Each book is 65 pages, if you shop for them check Amazon before buying from Paizo's site, because it's almost always cheaper.  A lot Pathfinder stuff is OGL and I know there is an NPC database for all Pathfinder OGL NPCs from all sources, unfortunately I don't have a URL for you.  All that stuff should be compatible with 3.5 if you aren't too particular with NPCs using exactly identical rules to PCs in terms of class abilities.  Either way the conversion is relatively painless.

There is 3e book, Enemies and Allies which is basically the same thing as the above mentioned Pathfinder books.  Again, a relatively painless conversion to 3.5 if that is your preferred edition.  I don't think any equivalent WotC 3.5 book was ever published (which is odd, since these seem to be popular, and these kinds of supplements were published for d20 Modern in the same time frame) and I'm not familiar with any any 3pp supplement either, although I'd say it's very likely that more than one exists.

The Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide also has statblocks for tons of generic NPC types (city guards, apprentice wizards, et cetera) even though you said you weren't interested in that, I thought I'd mention it. I've found it useful for just slapping stats on NPCs I didn't originally intend to need stats for.

Modules of course are always filled with NPCs, so if you've got any neglected ones laying around there isn't any sense in letting them go to waste.  Pluck them out and transplant them where ever.  More high effort than a big book o' NPCs but still lower effort than making them all from scratch.

Nicephorus

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2013, 10:05:26 am »
Quote from: Brad;665753
http://www.myth-weavers.com/generate_npc.php

I've used this quite a bit in the past.  They're not always optimized for combat - if your players are, bump the NPCs up a level or two.  But you can get interesting results.  It's easy to generate 5-10 examples and copy/paste the one you like.

Bill

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2013, 10:24:55 am »
My advice is to pillage from any printed/pdf source you can find.

Seriously.

The statblocks of fleshed out npc's are ridiculous in 3X. Wastes precious time that could be spent on the actual game.

Artifacts of Amber

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2013, 12:44:16 pm »
Yeah 3 and 3.5 has a big failing in the NPC's are expected to be generated following the same rules as Pc's I just usually Eyeball it based on what I need. Once you have played enough you'll get a feel for what is an average to hit, dam, skill roll etc for certain levels. Also using the PC's as a guide for those numbers if they are within a few levels of the opposition. I only fill in as many blanks as I need for the encounter, A combat one only has combat skills and feats noted.  A social one those feats and skills. I know enough that if I need to fill in a blank I can since often that blank means the person was not highly skilled or focused on that area.

I also use templates a lot to add flavor while being able to quickly adjusted a Monster. So I can use lots of things in the Monster manuals that wouldn't make sense without templating them for that Big bad.  So right now they are fighting a desert cult of a fallen god so I have three templates for the bad guys I can slap on animals and humanoids to give them the Theme and I don't have to make up creatures to fill that niche.

Only down side is the cascading affect in 3-3.5 of stat changes as they affect so many things but once you develop the automatic adjustment skills, which only came with time for me and repetition, it goes fast. I can template something in 5-10 minutes. A whole Classed and leveled NPC takes longer especially casters as I make notes of spell effects so I don't have to look them up in game.

jeff37923

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2013, 12:46:42 pm »
Quote from: Brad;665753
http://www.myth-weavers.com/generate_npc.php


Quote from: Bill;665763
My advice is to pillage from any printed/pdf source you can find.



These approaches have covered about 95% of my NPCs in the past. Specific ones I will take the time to hand-craft.

mcbobbo

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2013, 02:19:08 pm »
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/114214/File-Off-the-Serial-Numbers?term=file+off+the+seri

I thought this was worth the pittance asked.  The basic concept is "why stat out a Paladin when an Archon would do?"  Another example is Monk/Ape.

Note though that it wouldn't work that well if you have players that expect you to adhere strictly to the rules.
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JRR

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2013, 04:12:45 pm »
3d6 in order, roll hp, done.

Opaopajr

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2013, 07:41:31 pm »
Why would you go through the entire chargen process when you might only need a few base stats depending on the nature of the encounter?

Wouldn't it be more important to sketch out an alignment, motivation, and personality (possibly evena routine) before worrying about stats?

And even then only some of those factors depending on how important and frequent these NPCs will show?

I reserve full stat blocks for mid-level NPCs that will be seeing a lot of PC party facetime, either as aide or foe. Other than that, the rest can be random rolled up stats for mooks. Combat NPC needs AC and BAB, etc. Social NPC just needs skill foci (and then assume everything is 10+ skill ranks), etc. Spellcaster just needs favorite spells routine, etc.

Then use some random generators for mooks. Like AC & BAB is... +d6-d6. (i.e. +2 -4= -2AC, or +6 -1= +5AC) Or d4 to choose prime skills attribute out of Dex, Int, Wis, Cha. Or random roll off spell list to determine favorite spells.

What is the pressing need for fully statted NPCs so often?
Just make your fuckin' guy and roll the dice, you pricks. Focus on what's interesting, not what gives you the biggest randomly generated virtual penis.  -- J Arcane
 
You know, people keep comparing non-TSR D&D to deck-building in Magic: the Gathering. But maybe it's more like Katamari Damacy. You keep sticking shit on your characters until they are big enough to be a star.
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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2013, 05:31:10 pm »
I always just made shit up.  Of course, I do that for a lot of games other than 3.x too.
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Planet Algol

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2013, 06:55:18 pm »
Quote from: Opaopajr;665925
Why would you go through the entire chargen process when you might only need a few base stats depending on the nature of the encounter?

Wouldn't it be more important to sketch out an alignment, motivation, and personality (possibly evena routine) before worrying about stats?

And even then only some of those factors depending on how important and frequent these NPCs will show?

I reserve full stat blocks for mid-level NPCs that will be seeing a lot of PC party facetime, either as aide or foe. Other than that, the rest can be random rolled up stats for mooks. Combat NPC needs AC and BAB, etc. Social NPC just needs skill foci (and then assume everything is 10+ skill ranks), etc. Spellcaster just needs favorite spells routine, etc.

Then use some random generators for mooks. Like AC & BAB is... +d6-d6. (i.e. +2 -4= -2AC, or +6 -1= +5AC) Or d4 to choose prime skills attribute out of Dex, Int, Wis, Cha. Or random roll off spell list to determine favorite spells.

What is the pressing need for fully statted NPCs so often?

I believe that in some folks' 3.x paradigm, you're "fucking over the players/cheating" when you don't follow the rules.
Yeah, but who gives a fuck? You? Jibba?

Well congrats. No one else gives a shit, so your arguments are a waste of breath.

Opaopajr

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2013, 08:36:15 pm »
With that attitude how in the fuck could people do mass battles? Every encounter is going to have to be overtailored. This is an RPG campaign, it's ephemeral; it's  not leaving an enduring legacy of individualized terra cotta soldiers.

What does the 3e Monster Manual say in the human entry? No one expects named and statted orc and kobolds, so why must other disposable NPC humanoids be different? It's rather unnecessary GM overhead.
Just make your fuckin' guy and roll the dice, you pricks. Focus on what's interesting, not what gives you the biggest randomly generated virtual penis.  -- J Arcane
 
You know, people keep comparing non-TSR D&D to deck-building in Magic: the Gathering. But maybe it's more like Katamari Damacy. You keep sticking shit on your characters until they are big enough to be a star.
-- talysman

slayride35

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Speeding up NPC generation for D&D
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2013, 04:38:47 am »
I've really gotten more lazy with my Game Master Character Generation in Earthdawn lately. Basically, all I need are attributes and important skills and I am done. Its really the same deal in DnD. What are you gonna roll in combat? If you aren't gonna use that Lock Picking skill, why bother putting it on the page?
In a way, I really like the DnD 4e approach to monsters here, as they use a lot of simple "This is what you are gonna do with this monster" language.

For me in Earthdawn I use the Step 5, Step 6, Step 7 system, where the weak mooks have Step 5/D8 in everything, Step 6/D10 for henchmen types, and Step 7/D12 for the big bads for human opponents. Applying that to DnD, you could have all mooks have say 11s on everything (+0), use an elite array for henchmen (or something like straight 13s so that they are all +1) and say 15 (+2 for the main bad for all his stats). Its not particularly realistic to the game world's general stat distribution (at least the all 15s guy with DnD point distribution), but assigning attributes as minions +0, hench +1, leader +2 and then adding the various class identifiers can work well. Like for example a fighter with level = BAB, so a mook fighter at L1 would have +1, hench +2, leader +3. Add a D20 to that and you are golden for their hit rolls, then decide a weapon. Like dagger D4+0 for mook, D4+1 for hench, D4+2 for leader for example. At L5 its +5/+6/+7 for hit rolls. At L10 +10/+11/+12 for hit rolls. etcetera. As long as you remember your quick extrapolations, things get relatively easy. First key as Game Master is don't overstat if you can help it. Make things relatively fair but easy for you to remember.