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Gamemastery Guide NPCs (Rant Warning)


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This came up in another thread I was in, and I just wanted to get this out of my system and see what others thought on the matter, and just so we're on the same page, I direct you to Calibrating your Expectations.

The subject of this thread is the Gamemastery NPC Gallery that has been referenced on the boards once or thrice. I seriously thought that nobody actually took these NPCs as serious examples of people in the default game, as they really don't fit in any campaign settings I've ever seen, including Golarion, as far as power goes; but it seems some do. They believe these are the examples of normal men & women throughout your typical game.

But why? Most of these NPCs are verisimilitude breaking in the extreme, or don't follow the rules (such as having special attacks not found elsewhere). The 3.x/PF system was designed for emulating a combination of modest fantasy (levels 1-5 or so), right up to gods engaging in fisticuffs.

For example...

On the NPC gallery table, we can see the lowest CR dude is in fact a trained footsoldier; warrior 1; CR 1/3. That is, a trained military soldier ready for battle. This guy is pretty much to be expected. He follows the expectancy of your average soldier's power.

A squire; aristocrat 1; CR 1/3 is also fair. It's a nice example of using a class that implies one thing to represent another (aristocrat vs squire). So far so good.

Village idiot; commoner 1; CR 1/3 is fair but should be CR 1/4 because he lacks equipment (see Gamemastering, Core Rulebook). His statblock is incorrect because his sling deals 1d3+1 damage but should be 1d3, and I can't figure out where the -1 penalty to hit is from. But ok, it's modestly fair.

But compare to...

Everything else.

Your typical bandit is warrior 2; CR 1/2. So your average highwayman is actually more skill in combat than a trained soldier. Ok, a little odd, but let's continue...

Barmaid is commoner 2; CR 1/2. Oh damn, here it goes. Your average barmaid is now tougher than your average soldier. She sports a higher CR than a bloodthirsty orc (who are typically CR 1/3 warriors), and even has a few special attacks not seen, such as using drinks to dazzle foes. Her base attack is equal to a 1st level Fighter, and she sports more HP than your average warrior. WTF? Did she take an arrow to the knee?

Beggar is commoner 1/rogue1; CR 1. Ok, this is getting stupid. Your average beggar is now stronger than most 1st level NPCs and hobgoblin fighters. Seriously? Why the hell is he begging when he is a 1st level PC, complete with 13 Hp, sneak attack, etc. This guy is a a bruiser! Your average armed 1st level hero doesn't want to meet this guy alone in the dark alleyway. Why do we need adventurers when even the homeless people begging for coin are hardened killers and make orcs look like wussies? Maybe they're not actually begging for coin, but politely letting you pay them to not kill you.

Caravan Guard is fighter 2; CR 1. While I can't help but wonder why this guy isn't using the Warrior NPC class, rather than Fighter, I have to say the consistency is bad. The caravan guard is pretty good at making 1st level adventurers look like noobs, but it's just amusing that the description for them is "hardened veterans", but they're about as dangerous as your typical beggar. In fact, a couple of beggars could pretty easily kill this guy with their +8 Stealth, 1d6+1+1d6 clubs, flanking, etc. Maybe most carvans should include a healthy mixture of level 2 fighters, waitresses, and homeless bums.

Doomsayers are just raving preachers, but they're also 3rd level adepts; CR 1. Maybe they're raving about the right gods afterall, since despite being pretty mundane, are still stronger than your average orc, and are as combat trained as soldiers.

Drunkards are commoner 1/warrior 2; CR 1. Wow, it just keeps getting better and better. If the beggars weren't enough, your average drunk is sporting 23 hit points and a +2 base attack, meaning that a single drunkard can wipe the floor with a few trained soldiers before he is taken down. God help the wife at home he's beating to death, since most 1st level commoners have 3 Hp and a +0 BAB. Also, it even notes that these guys exist in almost every town. "As ubiquitous as the barkeeps and serving wenches who serve them, drunkards may be found in almost every tavern in every town." I ask again: Why do we have adventurers when the average townsfolk person makes you look like a pansy?

Guards are warrior 3; CR 1. Somehow, they are actually less durable than your typical drunkard, and apparently show that the average police force is better than several trained military soldiers. I suppose in Pathfinder, the more mundane you are, the more badass too. It pretty much notes all they do is break up brawls and occasionally defend the town walls from external threats. These guys are better than soldiers AND the hardened mercenaries.

Prostitutes are expert 1/rogue 1; CR 1. Man, ok, next to the beggars are the prostitutes. Your average prostitute is stronger than a 1st level rogue. In fact, they probably don't have pimps, because a couple of prostitutes would just kill anyone who dared to exercise the pimp-hand. They have skill focus Profession (Courtesan) but they're naturally better at both singing and dancing, and apparently impressive acrobats, thieves, diplomats, and more. There's no place to hide in Korvosa because all the homeless beggars and prostitutes are hardened killers who lurk in the night to relieve you of your coin from the shadows...

Shopkeeps are expert 3; CR 1. Oh boy, oh man, this is bad. Apparently being your average shopekeeper means you have to be a trained warrior (BAB +2), have twice the Hp of a soldier, and rock skills like a proper skill monkey. Once again, the average shopekeeper is as strong as a 2nd level PC character. The more mundane we get, the more badass they become. Heaven help you if you encounter a Traveling Merchant, as those guys are CR 5 and level 7!

Barkeeps are expert 4/warrior 1; CR 4. I guess you should come to taverns to find people to rescue your daughter, but man adventurers aren't who to ask. Just grab the tavern staff. A barkeeper, a pair of town drunks, and a couple of waitresses would be happy to go beat the ever loving crap out of some gnolls to rescue your daughter and bring back a few hundred gold pieces worth of treasure. Then little Sally "Bloodsport" Mains can buy that new +1 mithral serving tray she's been wanting for so long.

It seriously just gets worse from here on out.

So my question is, "wtf guys"? Why couldn't we have been given some NPC statistics that we might actually use in game, or give new GMs are good idea as to what the power scale is. You have every Tom, Dick, and Mary in a town capable of olympic level feats of ability. Stats like these make games like Rise of the Runelords laughable, since you could have just let the commoners spank the crap out of the goblins while the PCs sit back and eat popcorn, laughing at the shrill deathcries of goblins being fried over Sally's mithral fryingpan.

Couldn't we have gotten something that was more usable? I mean you would have saved a ton of page space if every fool in town wasn't an action hero. I mean these NPCs have notes for using them for other things by swapping their skills around. What would be wrong with something like...

Average Person, Commoner 1; CR 1/4 (no gear). This is the average person, and the average person fills most roles in society. Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, you can just replace one of their 3 skills with a Profession or Craft depending on what they do. 3 Hp, +0 BAB, etc.

Thug, Warrior 1; CR 1/3. Thugs are average warriors. They run the gamut for military recruits, hired goons, and town guards. Their stats can also be used for caravan guards, bandits, and pirates (if you replace Ride with Profession Sailor).

Hedge Wizard, Adept 3; CR 1. Most villages might have a hedge-wizard. They provide much of the healing and basic magical services available in small towns, and most learn to craft some sort of magic items. Most of them are capable of fending for themselves when not trading their services for coin or allying themselves with a local authority. Most have Craft Wondrous Items and a familiar of your choice. For an alchemist, give them Brew Potions instead. For a spiritual adviser or healer, replace Knowledge (Arcana) with Knowledge (Religion).

Knight, Warrior 3; CR 1. Knights are generally elite soldiers who often engage enemies from hoseback. The stats for knights can also be used for any warrior that is noticeably stronger than typical thugs, and can be used for veteran soldiers, hired bodyguards, or elite thugs.

Then use the rest of the space for the stuff most newbies would have difficulty with, like designing BBEGs, spellcasters, and so forth. Why is so much space wasted on useless NPCs, rather than something that is actually usable? Why not give us some examples of extraordinary individuals and some examples of how they might fit into a campaign, rather than painting every priest you run across as being strong enough to raise the dead and screw up large numbers of soldiers by themselves?

I can't the only one who has a bad taste from these NPCs?
/rant


I guess they are just sample npcs not the final rule on it, if you want a warrior 1 bandit use the soldier stats, the commoner 2 barmaid is prolly a named barmaid with a plothook or two.. likewise with the beggar and the like, they are premade stats with exmaples for which they can be used.. not much more than that. As it goes I find it fairly useful to make npc with minor adjustments necesary.


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I basically agree with your sentiment. The NPC Gallery was something I was looking forward to the most when I got the book, after looking it over and after a year or so passed by, I haven't used a single one of these stat blocks for anything other then examples to better make my own stat blocks. They don't fit the setting or type of games I run.

Still a nice book, for nearly every other section.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

My thought is that if you rant about Fort saves of Barmaids and HPs of Village Idiots, you have way too much spare time on your hands. :)

Silver Crusade

I'd love to hear from the developers on the intent behind structuring the Gallery that way, but I'd always assumed that it was built from a narrativist (instead of a simulationist) viewpoint. That is, in a narrativist structure, the NPCs gain extra levels to represent large their "role" is in the game, similiar to the infamous "Star Trek" redshirts. Supposedly trained security staff were pushovers, but a ship's counselor could kick ass when the need arises, because people expect that from main characters. Consider the hardened warrior with a surprise serving tray to the head.

Essentially, the NPCs get the stats to represent their role in the story, instead of a more "realistic" simulation of how strong they would be objectively. The town guard is robust enough to give the PCs a challenge when arresting them for petty thievery, but those same guardsmen would have much lower stats in a war scene where they were but a handful in a group of hundreds.

Silver Crusade

Warrior 1 is a mook or redshirt with a sword. CR 1/2, against CR 1 from a beggar... and, I'll ask ? How is it strange that the local beggar is probably tougher and more sneakier/dangerous by it's experience, network and knowledge that a basic simpleton with a sword ?

Or are you suggesting that a CR 12 Fighter can totally beat up a CR 10 Wizard just because it's how the CR works ?

Sorry you just discovered that D&D isn't a simulationist game.

Taldor

Well something to keep in mind is that NPCs aren't meant to exist in a vacuum.. they're intended to be used interactively with a PC. Take this to an extreme end of the logic, and they basically don't exist when PCs aren't around.

A more practical way to look at it however is that you don't need to worry about things like why is a barkeep CR 4 when a soldier is only 1/3. Don't think about them in relation to each other, think about how they relate to PCs.

The barkeep is there to take part in the ubiquitous tavern scenes in adventures.. places where PCs are notoriously prone to partaking in barfights (if not starting them outright). A barkeep is intended to be either a figure of some sort of stability, or the trump who ends the nonsense.

How does a soldier interact with PCs? 99% of the time, as mute or barely-speaking scenery. If they're being interacted with at all, they're probably making a bad perception roll vs PCs' stealth. In the rare event that nameless mook soldiers are fighting PCs, they fill the role of nameless mooks in every other RPG. They're there to go down.. and go down in large numbers. CR 1/3 is appropriate.

PS- its the same thing as with monsters. Why are CR 10+ monsters lurking in the wilderness around a city full of CR <1 humans.. and haven't just rampaged thru untouched until their tummies ache with all the babies they've eaten? Because there are level appropriate PCs nearby, and the monsters exist solely to be encounterd by said PCs.


If you drop the expectation that the world is designed with 1st level PCs being important and capable then things start to fall into place. I usually start PCs off at 3rd or 4th level and the problem is gone while leaving much more variety in low level NPC design (important to me since they are very oftenthe most common "monsters" my players encounter).


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I'm going to second the poster who mentioned time and hands and there beeing way too much of one in the other...If this is what gets you riled up and makes you need to vent...the world is going to be a very scary place...

Grand Lodge

I felt the need to vent and scream as well... but I never posted on it.

You are 100% correct but then again I am a E6 fan (for which 'Calibrating your Expectations' was a foundation document).

I have considered actually doing as you said and making a bunch of realistic NPCs but never got around to it.


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Maxximilius wrote:

Warrior 1 is a mook or redshirt with a sword. CR 1/2, against CR 1 from a beggar... and, I'll ask ? How is it strange that the local beggar is probably tougher and more sneakier/dangerous by it's experience, network and knowledge that a basic simpleton with a sword ?

Or are you suggesting that a CR 12 Fighter can totally beat up a CR 10 Wizard just because it's how the CR works ?

Sorry you just discovered that D&D isn't a simulationist game.

That basic simpleton with a sword is a trained killer. Martial weapon proficiencies, armor proficiencies, BAB +1, etc. The beggar is...well, a beggar. Some homeless guy. A commoner with Endurance I could understand, and maybe cross-classed skills. Heck, maybe even Profession (Beggar) would be fine. But this isn't about simulation, it's about verisimilitude.

One of my favorite things about 3.x/PF is in fact the fact the world makes sense when you put it together as it's intended by the designers. You can tell how much hotter something is, or how much stronger something is, by simply looking at the numbers. You can view the world and it tells a story by the mechanics within it. It's the mark of a truly magnificent system.

For example, how hot is dragon's breath exactly? Well, an ancient red dragon can slag a suit of full plate in 3 seconds flat. Now imagine that for a moment, and how hot that must be. To have a fire, a blast of fire, so hot that it doesn't merely bend, warp, or partially melt, but actually destroys a full suit of full plate in one blast. A blast that takes the dragon about three seconds. Not even blast furnaces are that hot! So we can easily see the difference between your typical open fire and steel-slagging dragon's breath by glancing at their stats.

Likewise, the Alexandrian page I linked shows that 3.x/PF D&D isn't terrible for a simulationist game at all. It's pretty worthy of being called a simulation game without getting bogged down in too many details. Perhaps Simulation-lite would be a good way to describe it.

But for those of us who like narratives and verisimilitude, this is pretty terrible. Like I said, it opens up a lot of plot problems. I mean, when the bartender can beat the crap out of your party's fighter merely because he's your average bartender, and is actually stronger than the guards he would normally send for to break up the brawl, you have a problem. I gave Rise of the Runelords as an example. Without spoiling anything, I could say that there is a village that is attacked by goblins. Basic goblin warriors. Who would get trashed by...the local prostitute and beggar. Or the local drunk who could probably have driven them off on his own.

The mayor of your average town, by the NPC gallery, is a 10th level character. Your average noble is a 10th level character. What kind of world do you have when the leader of every town is capable of fighting off most monsters by himself, and warriors are trumped by the town bums? One that doesn't even make sense in the context of itself. One that is pretty much sucktastic to be a part of.

All that space that could have been used for writing up different archtypes of characters who might actually see the light of play without leaving PCs thinking "Why are we even here?", or "Why doesn't anything make sense in its own context? We don't need realism but a little consistency wouldn't kill us either".

I mean, if you want some higher level foes, you could have gotten creative with it, but god not for townsfolk and such. I don't play Pathfinder society, but I know you only reach about 12 level, ever before you retire as one of the grandest heroes known in the world. Unfortunately, by the gamemastery book, that's not very impressive, since every priest is a 9th level character, and puts you on the same existance as a ... Bounty Hunter (12th level Ranger). Congratulations! You went from being a trained warrior who was less than a barmaid, to the worlds average bounty hunter, who can fall thousands of feet from the sky.

This isn't a fault of the system. This is entirely the fault of the way these NPCs have been built. I've used this system for 11+ years now, and I know it works. It works well. That's why I'm still playing with it, and not any other RPG. It works well for games a little closer to reality (like E6), and for games a little closer to crazy powerful (11+). But these NPCs would only serve to confuse new GMs as to where the power levels lie, and reduce the verisimilitude of their world.

So...why didn't we get usable NPCs?

Kyonko wrote:
I basically agree with your sentiment. The NPC Gallery was something I was looking forward to the most when I got the book, after looking it over and after a year or so passed by, I haven't used a single one of these stat blocks for anything other then examples to better make my own stat blocks. They don't fit the setting or type of games I run.

Pretty much this. I mean, the section could have been useful, but the majority of the NPCs aren't worth anything in an actual campaign. They don't fit in Golarion, nor Greyhawk, nor Forgotten Realms, nor Mystara, or even Planescape.


Ashiel wrote:
I mean, the section could have been useful, but the majority of the NPCs aren't worth anything in an actual campaign. They don't fit in Golarion, nor Greyhawk, nor Forgotten Realms, nor Mystara, or even Planescape.

When I read through the gallery, I had a similar initial reaction. But I took a step back, and considered the purpose and motivation for publishing such a gallery, and I eventually remembered a snippet from one of the developers (in a blog, a forum post, or an Adventure Path introductory comment) to the effect that a handily common GM trick was to take a published stat block (for a Troll, say) and use the bulk of its statistics while describing the creature that the party sees as something entirely different (a mostly-white lump of mottled flesh with two skeletal limbs (of different structure) that extend out of the lump to attack, and retract back in). And perhaps you tweak some special abilities to additionally disguise the monster's mechanics (in this case, perhaps the regeneration is only overcome with acid or electricity, or whatever). Presto, a new "unique" monster that some wizard created to defend his secret lab, made up with roughly 30 seconds of actual work.

That's when it hit me. Statistics blocks published by Paizo are *not* creatures -- they're templates for creatures (and I don't mean templates like the Vampire template, I'm using the word in its general English context). In a programming environment, they'd be classified as default structures or somesuch, but as in advanced programming situations, they can be altered in their specific incarnations - the monster encountered by the PCs need not exactly match the monster in the Bestiary. Thus, the NPC Gallery doesn't describe **every** Beggar, Footsoldier, Mayor, Barmaid, Brigand, Doomspeaker, or Baron, it describes any of those characters (possibly with names swapped around) that might suit your campaign, for your PCs to interact with. The NPC Gallery doesn't present people who *do* exist, but people who *might* exist at the discretion of the GM, who naturally will come up with inventive and creative reasons for their class structure.

The Gallery presents options that I, for one, (having realized this) greatly appreciate - it's always nice to have more of the work done for me, so that if my 12th level PCs decide they want to investigate the rumors of banditry in the neighboring barony, I can decide to make the bandits a level-appropriate challenge *if I want to*. ^_^

Grand Lodge

Ashiel wrote:
Likewise, the Alexandrian page I linked shows that 3.x/PF D&D isn't terrible for a simulationist game at all. It's pretty worthy of being called a simulation game without getting bogged down in too many details. Perhaps Simulation-lite...

I am totally with you. BUT that only works with the philosophy that Gandalf was a 5th level Wizard (Possible Aasimar).

Don't blame the game for NOT being E6. I wasn't designed to be that (initially at any rate). Some people like being 12th level and finding the town guard are 4th level fighters and pick pockets are 3rd level thieves. Different strokes and all that.

I have to say relax on this one - it is what it is. Play the game you want. Its not TOTALLY useless - it shows some CR 1/3, 1/2 and 1 examples and provides examples of what you don't want to do.


As far as "usable NPCs" as a concept goes, your recognition of Pathfinder as appropriate for simulation, or simulation-lite as you expressed it, is key to understanding the interrelations involved in these stat blocks. The Foot soldier whom you decry as being easily mugged by the beggar is a raw recruit, without much in the way of experience, whereas the beggar mugging him has lived for many years in his station, honing his skills. The barkeep who calls for the guards (whose response unit might contain a smattering of NPCs drawn from the following stat blocks: Foot soldiers (CR 1/3), Guards (CR 1) and Guard officers (CR 3)) might be of equal life experience as the Guard Officer, but has developed his skills along different (less combat-centric) lines; also, the Guards are multiple whereas the Barkeep is a single individual. He and his barmaids might be able to keep the fight from escalating, but probably wouldn't be able to contain it the way that properly equipped guardsmen can.

And so it goes - generally speaking, it seems reasonable to me that those NPCs presented as being higher level are usually older as well, and thus have had more time to earn their experience. To be sure, this perspective relies on an expansion of the non-combat related methods for gaining XP to include things like negotiating a trade agreement, persuading a village to accept higher taxes, getting adventurers to spend money on ale and mead but keeping them from molesting the barmaids, and so forth. NPCs can and should earn XP for the jobs that they do, typically at a substantially slower rate than PCs experience; most campaigns don't need anyone to really recognize this fact, and as a result it hardly ever gets mentioned. It is, however, essential to a simulationist presentation of the Pathfinder rules. A Gamist presentation doesn;t care if the NPCs get XP for farming or merchanting, as it's not central to the story, but a Simulationist presentation that includes a substantial number of recognizable NPCs must recognize that NPCs earn XP and can level up over the months or years. This is precisely why a human farmer (age 34) is a better farmer than he was when he started his farm (at age 24) - he's had 10 years to get XP from dealing with farming issues, and has placed his skills in a fashion to improve his ability to be a farmer.

The NPCs presented in the Gallery all seem to me to make sense from this perspective. Your other issue seems to be, roughly, "if these are average members of the population, why are my adventurers necessary?" The answer to that is one of personality, and is best illustrated by example. Yes, mechanically, the local beggar, prostitutes, and town drunk are statistically capable of fighting off basic goblins that attack their town. However, if the local beggar, prostitute or town drunk were any of them the kind of person who saw marauding goblins and thought to themselves "I can take 'em!" they wouldn't be a beggar, prostitute, or town drunk, they'd be an adventurer. Just because they could doesn't mean that they would be so inclined, or that they know that they could. Also, they have no good basis for assuming that the goblins are just basic goblins, since a basic goblin marauder looks a lot like a goblin marauder with 3 levels in Rogue in the middle of a surprise nighttime attack involving fire and rubble. Looking on the situation from our elevated position where we can see all the cards, it's easy to say "those NPCs can take those goblins, why are the PCs necessary?" but what that overlooks is that there's no way for those NPCs to know that, thus necessitating the intervention of PC heroes who are brave (or insane) enough to be unconcerned that for all their characters know, one of those goblins has the ingame skills that constitute a +12 to stealth and a +3d6 sneak attack.

Layout and Design, Frog God Games

Ashiel wrote:
Maxximilius wrote:

Warrior 1 is a mook or redshirt with a sword. CR 1/2, against CR 1 from a beggar... and, I'll ask ? How is it strange that the local beggar is probably tougher and more sneakier/dangerous by it's experience, network and knowledge that a basic simpleton with a sword ?

Or are you suggesting that a CR 12 Fighter can totally beat up a CR 10 Wizard just because it's how the CR works ?

Sorry you just discovered that D&D isn't a simulationist game.

That basic simpleton with a sword is a trained killer.

No he isn't. He's a guy they gave a uniform and a sword to. Your assumptions are off, not the Gamemastery NPCs.

Layout and Design, Frog God Games

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Also, town guards are expected to travel in units.

There's no way a streetwise beggar is going to cause trouble for 10 guards.

And I would bet on a 35-year-old bar waitress over a rookie deputy any day of the week in a fight.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Maybe you don´t know what a beggar is or what a beggar were on medieval europe. Beggars were spies, thieves, informants and receivrs. There were beggars guilds that were quite powerful inside a city. Still of today there are beggars organizations aroud the world with mafia level powers where crime run rampant. Of course there are regular homeless beggars around, but some of them are just dirty and sick on the outside.

Google it.

Qadira

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Ashiel,

I think the reason you find these NPCs so unreasonable is that you are making an incorrect assumption about them.

Let's use your logic: My 3rd level fighter is in the big city to have a few ales and spend some of the gps he's picked up with his party in the nearby dungeon. He turns a corner to head for an armory, only to find that the square ahead of him is full of beggars. He should immediately turn and find some other way to go, because if the encounter turns hostile he'll get shanked, but good, by all those rogues.

Wrong.

Those beggars don't need to be statted out, because they're not really an encounter. Chances are my fighter will wade through them, brushing off hands and snarking about them getting jobs. (Unless he's a kind-hearted man with a "G" in his alignment, in which case he'll toss out a handful of coppers.) Stats are unimportant, because the guy with no legs and filth fever tooling around in a wheeled box is not an XP-worthy encounter.

Now, let's say while making his way through the square, my fighter makes a really good Perception check. He notes a one-legged beggar leaning on a crutch lift his belt pouch, full of coins he was going to spend at the armory. He starts to protest. Then, suddenly, the "beggar" sprouts another leg and jams his crutch up into my fighter's family jewels (sneak attack), and then takes off. Now we have an encounter. Now that beggar statblock from the book comes into play, because this is an encounter for the fighter to interact with on a level that requires a statblock, and a possible XP award.

"Real" stats for "real" NPCs aren't necessary, because the actions of most of those people aren't going to come into play in a regular game. Shopkeepers, barkeeps, and temple priests will sell their wares to PCs without so much as a single die being rolled. It's background stuff. Why? Because those people are boring. They're vehicles necessary to get the PCs out of the mundane and back into the adventure. To assume that every NPC of a certain type will use those stats is silly.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I talked about this just recently over on my blog. There's no need to repeat it here, but I think it helps to ease the cognitive dissonance if you assume that some of these NPCs have lived a lot longer than others. The trained soldier, for example, is relatively young, whereas the beggar is much older, and so has managed to scrape together another level. What's missing is adding the aging modifiers to some of the stat blocks, is all.

I think a more fundamental explanation is that there's a severe disconnect between the rationale that's presented in Justin Alexander's D&D: Calibrating Your Expectations and the expectations that most gamers have. To put it another way, most people's expectations aren't calibrated.

Justin Alexander's points about how most people are 1st-, maybe 2nd-level is right. He's right to say that the people who make 5th level are legendary figures who'll be remembered for centuries. He's also right to say that the system is basically allowing for your PCs to ascend beyond that until they're essentially demigods tromping about the mortal world.

Most people don't think of the game that way, however. Most people think of the level 1-20 spread as showcasing the range of human ability, with 20th level being peak mortal ability. Because of that, you have things like 7th-level traveling merchants and 10th-level town mayors.

I think the major reason for this is that most GMs are intimidated by the idea of their PCs being once-in-a-generation powerful heroes who are legends in their own time. Simply put, that makes it extremely easy to wreck their interactions with ordinary people who can't even imagine making it to 3rd-level. At that point, the PCs can do whatever they want, and the local populace will either be in awe of them, in fear of them, or in love with them. It's hard to design a campaign world where that's the case.

The PCs are special, but the game is built around the assumption that they shouldn't be too special. That includes setting the power levels of the NPCs, and is why the level of what their abilities should be takes a backseat to what the game wants it to be.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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Aye, your 1st level PC's are wide-eyed high schoolers just getting out of their basic training, looking for a job.

Of course a stewardess is higher level then they are, especially in a rough and tumble medievel society where she has to learn to take care of herself, especially with barroom brawls and the threat of rape all around.

Same with the begger.

A level 2 PC is like a soldier who just graduated boot camp. But hey, life deals lessons, too. An experienced barroom brawler/drunkard can clean the clock of some level 2 punk who just got his head shaved as easily in the real world as in D&D. At level 2, youa re still just like everyone else.

At level 3, you're a notch above most people, probably known as skilled at whatever your profession is, hardened by life in one way or another. You're one of the go-to guys when problems come up, be it coding computers or working a homicide scene.

At level 4, you are one of THE BEST. You are Olympian in quality, a seasoned professional who is known, if not widely in your field, at least in your immediate area. In your chosen profession you get referenced because you know what you are doing.

At level 5, you are World-Class. In your field, you are a mover and a shaker. Be it by hard knocks or unrelenting willpower, you've risen to a summit of ability few are going to rival. A level 5 expert is a legend like Steve Jobs...with sucky ability scores who can't fight for beans, but someone who changed the world. Or you're Bruce Lee, and you're such a damn good fighter they'll talk about you decades after you die.

At level 6, you're Batman or Doc Savage. Congratulations. You're so damn good you don't even exist in the real world, we just wish you did.

And then you hit level 7, and you stop being what we call human in this world.

So, yeah, Ashiel, calibrate your expectations. Of course the barmaid is better then a level 1...she's not level 1. She probably helped TRAIN your level 1 rogue. The drunkard is probably an old soldier. They have life experience, have been in more fights then you, and have probably kicked the ass of a lot of level 1's who thought they were something. They used to be level 1's, too.

And remember the combat progression in d20.

A commoner knows little more then what he's told.
An expert is a commoner who actually knows something.
An aristocrat is a commoner who bosses around other commoners, and learned some weapons to do it better.
A warrior is an expert who focuses on weapons and armor, not skills. He's part-time military...a commoner who actually knows how to fight, someone with a regular militia duty, rote soldiers hired to wear armor and crack heads in the name of the law, not really fight.

Fighters are full-time military. Ask any armed forces...there's a whole level of difference between police/law enforcement, and military. One is a bunch of men who are trained to inflict violent bodily harm on command to others. The others are officers of the law and peace, who are taught to defend themselves and others if a violent situation happens to come up. There's a world of difference in ability and aptitude.

So, a warrior is a man who knows how to kill, but is definitely not a trained killer in mental aptitude. A fighter is someone who lives and profits by fighting, and goes looking for battle. A warrior? Not so much.

So, no, a knight who is a full-time soldier is going to be a Ftr/3, and as a fighter/3 he's a quite skilled martial combatant who can take on a bugbear with a good chance of winning.

In a world with magic, if he doesn't get much better rather quickly, he's going to get pounded into paste, hence the rapid ascent to higher levels. Levels come as the result of dealing with stuff we in the real world just don't have to, and the magic of the game is that levels make humans equal to stuff that is actually much tougher then we are. If they didn't, they wouldn't survive the reality of d20.

==Aelryinth


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I posit the NPC gallery isn't for typical NPCs of their station, but interesting ones. I don't need stats for a commoner 1 beggar. AC 10, HP 4 will suffice. I need stats for when I want a beggar that is important.

The only reason I haven't used the gallery more is that my game was level 12+ when it came out. When I start my next campaign (likely Kingmaker) I will use these a lot.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Well, my campaings assume individues and not standards (more or less like greek mythology, were a regular weaver could challenge the goddess of weaver by simple being good enough). People go up in level by surviving and by having a strong desire to achieve something in life (so someone could meet a 20th level commoner whose dream in life was to raise a flower farm in the middle of hell and somehow managed to do it).
It´s a fantasy world, people have extreme dreams that don´t need to be adventuring.
Unfortunelly, as in real life, people who live up their dreams are rare. So the high level NPCs are just the ones the PCs meet in their adventure.


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In response to the notion that everyone in the world who are not "superhuman" must be at most 5th level, on the basis of certain correlations between the mechanics of the game and observed real-world metrics (as in the Alexandrian write up), I'm afraid that I must respectfully disagree. Some of the arguments presented as supporting the thesis of the Alexandrian article are well-grounded, such as the door-breaking and the encumberance, however these segments have nothing to do with character level. Those segments that do rely on level-based construction are guilty of the error that the earlier segments explicitly avoid: the failure to acknowledge a convention of abstraction for the sake of playability. In one case, the abstraction is the correlation of HP gain and level gain. Recognizing that HP gain as a result of leveling up is an abstraction, just as the entire HP system is, means that the basis presented for the breakdown of a 20th level Einstein is a specious straw man. In the case of the jumping rules, the original 3rd edition rules capped standard jumping for reality based on move speed and height, but these restrictions were axed for 3.5 and remained axed in Pathfinder, on the basis that the realistic rules were too complex for usefulness in play. The article recognizes ease-of-use as a legitimate reason for innaccuracies in encumberance correlation between the game and reality, so there should similarly be no objection to the lack of correlation for jumping. For base stats, the article remains a worthwhile study, but any conclusions about realistic level approximations are, sadly, inappropriate.

On the flip side, there are any number of skills that have wholly justifyable applications by NPCs at levels higher than 5th, especially with the alterations to skills introduced in Pathfinder that result in better scalability across 20 levels. Sense motive, diplomacy, many knowledge skills (based on the context of the world at hand), and perform skills all scale very well, as well as Acrobatics and Climb. Aside from that, one difference that the Pathfinder setting includes is the explicit idea that while the PCs are above average, they are not the only ones who are above average adventurers, and that other adventuring companies and individuals are active in the world. Thus, the PCs are not expected to be "once-in-a-generation powerful heroes" but rather just powerful heroes.

This being the case, having NPCs in the world that have skill sets capable of dealing from equal or near-equal positions with higher level heroic adventurers, PC or NPC, is not an unreasonable proposition. Pathfinder did and does represent a substantial departure from the previous contexts for D&D Heroes, where the presumption was that the PCs *were* by and large the only Heroic characters active in the game world.


The big problem with "Calibrating Your Expectations" is that it makes the completely unfounded assumption that Middle Earth orcs are the same as Golarion/Forgotten Realms orcs. They're demonstrably not.

In the Two Towers a force of orcs move at speed in what is described as heavy armor but in context means medium armor. There is no heavy armor in Middle Earth. The hobbits have to run to keep up. To do this the orcs must have PC class levels. At weakest they're Barbarian 1, making them CR 1/2 not CR 1/3. There are definite gradations in power among them so the officers must be at least Barbarian 2 and thus CR 1.

The White Hand orcs don't exhibit barbarian-like behavior, though, and are more likely Fighter 3-4. They fight as an organized force and don't rage, but they move at normal unencumbered speed in medium armor. Consider what that says about Eomer's company.

The textually supported alternative is that orcs combine the Dwarven ability to ignore encumbrance effects on movement speed with a 30' base speed, a capability that, since they don't have masses of negative stat modifiers to balance it, indicates they're stacking NPC or PC class levels on top of racial hit dice, This probably reduces the White Hand CR to 1-2 by letting them be fighter 1-2. That, in turn, lets Eomer's household troops be level 2 fighters.

From the PC angle the writer is assuming Aragorn has skill focus as a martial character, a dubious prospect. More likely he's level 8, especially since the orcs he's fighting aren't CR 1/3 jokes.

Gandalf, of course, isn't a wizard. The notion is laughable. Gandalf doesn't prepare spells. If he's casting level 3 spells he must be either a modified bard at level 7-9 or a sorceror at level 6-7. More likely the former, though, since he has longsword proficiency and more than three skills.

If you do want to assume monster comparability, though, you need to look at Bard and Smaug. Smaug must be at least an Adult Red Dragon. Let's say he rolled his hit dice and got nothing but 1s for a paltry 119 hp. Let's assume Bard's arrow was a +6 dragonbane adamantine artifact arrow, and, of course, that he critted. No previous arrows had penetrated, indicating misses due to natural armor. Let's give Bard a composite bow and 16 strength and weapon specialization. Let's give him max rolled damage as well. That gives him 75 damage. Deadly Aim at that level pushes him to 81 damage. At level 5 weapon training puts him at 84 damage. At level 6 vital strike brings him to 92 damage. Let's go straight to level 12 where he does 115 with Improved Vital Strike and Greater Weapon Specialization. So close. A belt of Strength +4 puts him to 122 damage for the kill if Smaug has the worst possible hitpoints for an Adult Red Dragon and Bard has Tyche's own luck. With more strength and maybe Devastating Strike he might be able to pull it off at level 10. There's absolutely no way, though, that we're talking someone who fits in an e6 game.

Or Middle Earth's dragons aren't D&D dragons, but that's a problem since the original analysis falls down if Middle Earth's orcs aren't D&D orcs or Gandalf's.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
deinol wrote:

I posit the NPC gallery isn't for typical NPCs of their station, but interesting ones. I don't need stats for a commoner 1 beggar. AC 10, HP 4 will suffice. I need stats for when I want a beggar that is important.

This.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Atarlost wrote:

The big problem with "Calibrating Your Expectations" is that it makes the completely unfounded assumption that Middle Earth orcs are the same as Golarion/Forgotten Realms orcs. They're demonstrably not.

In the Two Towers a force of orcs move at speed in what is described as heavy armor but in context means medium armor. There is no heavy armor in Middle Earth. The hobbits have to run to keep up. To do this the orcs must have PC class levels. At weakest they're Barbarian 1, making them CR 1/2 not CR 1/3. There are definite gradations in power among them so the officers must be at least Barbarian 2 and thus CR 1.

The White Hand orcs don't exhibit barbarian-like behavior, though, and are more likely Fighter 3-4. They fight as an organized force and don't rage, but they move at normal unencumbered speed in medium armor. Consider what that says about Eomer's company.

Atarlost, I think that if the biggest problem with Justin Alexander's essay is a few small points of difference between LotR and D&D, then that's pretty darn good. ;-)

But more seriously though, I'm not sure I understand where you're coming from on a lot of points:

1) Where does it say there is no heavy armor on Middle Earth?

2) Medium armor affects the wearer's speed to the same degree that heavy armor does. The orcs are simply making their checks to force march better than the hobbits.

3) NPCs can have medium and heavy armor proficiency (see the Warrior NPC class), so there is no necessitating that the orcs have PC class levels.

4) Designations like "officer" don't require gradations of class levels (though to be fair they are usually portrayed that way).

5) The essay was written for v.3.5 and not Pathfinder, hence the 1st-level Warrior orcs are CR 1/2 anyway.

6) The essay is talking about class levels, not Challenge Rating.

In other words, it seems completely plausible that the orcs are all level 1 Warriors.

There are other points, but the main one to underline here is that every single detail doesn't need to match in order to make a general comparison. That one character doesn't prepare spells doesn't mean he can't be a wizard - it can just mean that he's using a third-party supplement regarding magic in the game.

The greater points still stand, despite a few differences highlighting that not everything matches up perfectly. The idea is to put things to the lowest level of power where the sequence of events is generally plausible within the context of the game, even if a few areas don't quite match up.


1) You did read Tolkien, right? Armor gets mentioned. Hauberks exist. That would be chainmail, a medium armor. This was the heaviest armor common in Europe in the early middle ages and it's the top of the armor food chain in Middle Earth. There's also a distinct lack of high medieval weapons like halberds, arbalests, and horseman's picks. Why you're disputing a parenthetical when your own point (2) demonstrate you know medium armor effects the wearer's speed the same way heavy armor would is something I don't understand.

3) NPCs cannot have either armor training as a fighter to remove the speed penalty or +10 movement speed as a barbarian to offset the speed penalty.

4) Designations like "officer" don't require gradiations of class levels when officers become officers by buying commissions. They do when officers become officers by being stronger than the other orcs.

5) If 3.5 has a 1st level warrior orc as CR 1/2 what CR does it give something with a warrior level and a racial hit die or a barbarian level? Because if it it's the same something is very wrong with 3.5.

6) If, and I can't believe I need to spell this out, the orcs Aragorn is fighting are substantially tougher than minimum CR forgotten realms loser orcs, he doesn't continue to make sense as a level 5 character.

But go ahead and tell me how a 3.5 non-caster is going to kill an adult red dragon with one arrow.

The whole essay relies on the premise that storybook heroes are low level. The whole point is to show that heroic fantasy occurs at low level. If it doesn't then nothing else the essay has to say matters.

Silver Crusade

The whole "calibrating your expectations" is good, when in a LotR-like setting. Our bosses at level 4 were no tougher nor weaker than our level current 14 bosses from our point of view, but they still are damn more tougher, only we are too.
Big foes were already too high level for us (finding level 10 PC-geared, PC-classed ennemies was common when we were level 6), and big foes are now easy to deal with thanks to years of adventuring and learning in martial and magical matters. This doesn't mean we don't stumble on potential encounters equal to 4 PC-classed level 17 Faction Generals, before even accounting their highly skilled personal armies in the process with the tactical and build advantage (ranger bowmen army, favored ennemies : Elf/Human ? Composition of the group : humanx4, half-elfx1 ? No caster in the group ? Check.)

This doesn't change the fact that stated NPCs are the worthy ones, which will require real dice to roll for real consequences. 99,9% of beggars are level 1 equivalent, and the best ones will probably mean nothing when you reach level 5, but even they are still more snarky and dangerous until then than the average mook able to wear an armor and swing a sword before him in a general direction without hurting himself.


I completely agree ashiel.

90% of the world is a first level character. The oracle at delphi is over 10th. Arthur of camelot is, and possibly merlin. Maybe 20 people are 20th level. You put too many people that are incredible and suddenly the pcs aren't special.

Very few choose to be commoners. It's because they can't do anything else. Aristocrats have the status to be trained in social graces and the like. Expets were apprentices at one point in time, and so were trained. Warriors got martial training, but not like fighters.

Pcs are exceptional in training, experience, and natural talent. A prostitute might be good with a dagger for more dangerous clients, but I would give her a slight bonus to represent this, she is still a first level expert (to represent her various skills).

If mayors are level ten, why don't they kill PCs that aresnooping around in their town, ruining their nefarious plans. They could single-handedly take them down at lower levels.

Qadira

TheRedArmy wrote:


If mayors are level ten, why don't they kill PCs that are snooping around in their town, ruining their nefarious plans. They could single-handedly take them down at lower levels.

Sure, if the only law of the land is "so long as I'm a higher level than you, I can do whatever I please." Which it isn't, in most cases. See my previous post for the more detailed answer as to why not all mayors are level 10.


I don't think I understand why any of these people would even have stats. Who gives a crap how many hit points a barmaid has? Are people fighting barmaids? The only people that should matter are people with real class levels. I've never bothered with NPC classes before, and I doubt I ever will.

So, I guess I agree with the original poster to a degree, but I don't think what was proposed as an alternative (the "Typical Commoner," "Thug," and "Knight" thing) is especially meaningful or important, either.

Regular people don't matter--that's kind of critical to D&D sorts of stories. The only reason bartenders get levels and stuff is to punish PCs for being jerks and not following rules and laws because they can (and should be able to) kill anyone in a typical town without breaking a sweat. I'd much rather rely on the, "Hey, don't be a jerk" method.

Shadow Lodge

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Gorbacz wrote:
My thought is that if you rant about Fort saves of Barmaids and HPs of Village Idiots, you have way too much spare time on your hands. :)

Guilty. As. Charged.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

mplindustries wrote:

I don't think I understand why any of these people would even have stats. Who gives a crap how many hit points a barmaid has? Are people fighting barmaids? The only people that should matter are people with real class levels. I've never bothered with NPC classes before, and I doubt I ever will.

So, I guess I agree with the original poster to a degree, but I don't think what was proposed as an alternative (the "Typical Commoner," "Thug," and "Knight" thing) is especially meaningful or important, either.

Regular people don't matter--that's kind of critical to D&D sorts of stories. The only reason bartenders get levels and stuff is to punish PCs for being jerks and not following rules and laws because they can (and should be able to) kill anyone in a typical town without breaking a sweat. I'd much rather rely on the, "Hey, don't be a jerk" method.

There are also the occasions where having the stats of an NPC like a barmaid is helpful because they are the target of an attack the PCs are on hand to stop.

Ex. Barmaid is making her way home at night and is set upon by thugs and the PC's are in earshot and rush to help. Having a stat block in this case and similar situations is useful. Will you always need such a stat block? Probably not but when it comes up the NPC gallery might come in handy.

Shadow Lodge

Atarlost wrote:


3) NPCs cannot have either armor training as a fighter to remove the speed penalty or +10 movement speed as a barbarian to offset the speed penalty.

...

But go ahead and tell me how a 3.5 non-caster is going to kill an adult red dragon with one arrow.

The hobbits are not having trouble keeping up because of movement speeds, they're failing their ability checks to maintain a forced march beyond 8 hours a day, which the orcs don't have a problem with thanks to their better Con scores and possible feat choices.

Dragon Slaying Arrow. Possibly a Greater version.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've always loved the Alexandrian Myth.

Why? Because it's so funny to hear the justifications for it. :) First off, if nobody in the world is higher than level 5, then where do all these replacement PCs come from when one dies? There's always this magical supply of impossible people to replace the previous impossible person.

Then there is the fact that all these creatures of CR5 to CR20 are running around without slaughtering the entire world. Giants, medusa, dire bears, Rakshasa, dragons, just to name a few. Heck, a clan of 500 Rakshasa could invade a world with nothing but level 1 to 5 people and utterly slaughter them (at least, per the thread where a level 12 person can slaughter 10,000 soldiers!). After all, nobody could do anything to the Rakshasa, and they have no reason not to take over the world. And sense there are only a tiny handful of level 10 people in the world, the clan of 500 Rakshasa would have to be attacked by every high level person in the world to be destroyed. All at once.

So why are all these lowly humans not slaughtered in mass by the things running around? Since none of them have more than 10 hps? Oh, these things are rare? And yet, if they are so rare they can't do that much damage, and they're being constantly hunted by the 0.00001% of the populate that adventures, how do they still exist? They should have died off long ago from lack of population. You need at least 500 of something in a small area to even have a chance of keeping up the population more than a few generations (that's why we have the endangered species list).

Of course, all that goes away in E6, because you get rid of all the monsters above CR 8 or so. Which is why in an E6 game, Ashiel is right that all the world's NPCs are level 1 to 3. But since Pathfinder is not E6, and since all those nasties live out there and attack humans, it's inconcievable that the entire world is level 1 to 3. They'd all get eaten by bears and tigers or enslaved by Rakshasa.

What really chaps my hide is people pointing to the Alexandrian Myth, and claiming it's core for Pathfinder.

Shadow Lodge

Why, they come in at 1st level, remember? And if they're lucky, they survive whatever challenges their higher level partners encounter long enough to catch up. :)


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
TOZ wrote:
Why, they come in at 1st level, remember? And if they're lucky, they survive whatever challenges their higher level partners encounter long enough to catch up. :)

Oh, well, then that's ok then. I'm sure the level 1 can survive the Rakshasa spitting on him (well, ok, maybe not, but at least the player will be able to get a lot of experience with how level one ability work from lots of different classes).

Shadow Lodge

The rakshasa is not proficient with it's own spit, and thus takes a -4 penalty to hit. Combined with enough range penalties, the mewling kitten PC should be safe.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
TOZ wrote:
The rakshasa is not proficient with it's own spit, and thus takes a -4 penalty to hit. Combined with enough range penalties, the mewling kitten PC should be safe.

Creatures are always proficient with their natural attacks and weapons. :)


TheRedArmy wrote:

I completely agree ashiel.

90% of the world is a first level character. The oracle at delphi is over 10th. Arthur of camelot is, and possibly merlin. Maybe 20 people are 20th level. You put too many people that are incredible and suddenly the pcs aren't special.

Again, while individual campaign settings might vary, the Pathfinder setting contains intrinsic assumptions that contradict this way of thinking in a fashion that wholly avoids the diminishment of the "specialness" of the PCs. (Note, while of course stat blocks are applicable to any campaign setting run under the Pathfinder rules, the Paizo team freely admits to the publication of statistics that are designed to fit ideally within their own published setting.)

The Pathfinder setting presents a world large enough and turbulent enough and full enough of adventures that more than just one group of adventuring characters can stand out as special. The premise in the Pathfinder setting relies not on uniqueness of the PCs as the only significant adventuring group, but that the stories that result from the undertakings of the PCs will be more than sufficient to easily render them as "special."

From a properly equitable simulationist perspective, in fact, it's easy to demonstrate that a scenario where the PCs are incredible, remarkable exceptions from the normal gamut of characters is in fact not particularly simulationist, as it contains the intrinsic and necessary assumption that the PCs are by definition *different*. This assumption is entirely unjustified by any rationale, and simply exists as an axiom to be accepted, which seems to be wholly unrealistic and destroys the verisimilitude of the campaign setting. If the PCs can obtain "phenomenal godly powers" in under a year, and no explanation for why NPCs are unable to similarly attain such powers, that presents as rather a huge and unexplained discrepancy in the game world. If, however, other characters (NPCs) who belong to the same minority of motivated (and perhaps slightly crazy) individuals as the PCs are similarly able to advance in power (via adventuring and PC levels), the world continues to maintain logical consistency. In light, then, of the logically necessary not-insignificant population of NPC adventurers, a non-adventuring population that exhibits more level diversity than the 1-5 range is a logical necessity to provide proper support structures for the adventuring world. (In Golarion, a number of these NPC adventurers would be members of the Pathfinder Society, for example. Since the Pathfinders have no moral or ethical requirements, the probability that several of these adventurer NPCs will be unscrupulous approaches unity, which implies that there must be shopkeepers capable of resisting the wiles of these unscrupulous NPC adventurers, which further implies that other NPCs would need to be fairly high level in order to preclude the potential for these merchants to dominate the economy, and so forth, rippling across society.)

It's important to recognize that the game world presented in the Pathfinder system differs significantly from the (flawed) world structures that preceded it in the D&D system - the socio-economic structures depicted in the Pathfinder setting describe a consistent world that contains a myriad of NPCs across all levels, interacting in well-structured harmony around the PCs, and even in their absence. This shifts the paradigm from PCs that are axiomatically different without explanation (as in previous versions of the game) to PCs that are special and significant because of their actions, which is arguably *more* meaningful than being special due to some kind of plot-demanded fiat, as it emphasizes the work that makes the PCs special.


mdt wrote:
TOZ wrote:
The rakshasa is not proficient with it's own spit, and thus takes a -4 penalty to hit. Combined with enough range penalties, the mewling kitten PC should be safe.
Creatures are always proficient with their natural attacks and weapons. :)

Yes, but only those natural attacks detailed in their stat blocks, I thought, or natural attacks that deal nonlethal damage. Has there been an update to the Rakshasa stat block to add spit as a natural weapon that I've missed? (If so, I feel deprived of significant plot potential, as there was recently a situation in one of my games that Rakshasa Spit would have been a handy ace up the bad guy's sleeve. ^_^


Locke1520 wrote:
There are also the occasions where having the stats of an NPC like a barmaid is helpful because they are the target of an attack the PCs are on hand to stop.

Er, why would I need the barmaid's stats? In that scenario, I'd clearly have some sort of agenda for even running such a scene. If the PCs don't step in, she's going to die (or whatever bad thing I have planned), obviously, and the PCs get to feel horrible for not helping. If they do step in, I want her to either survive to make the PCs feel heroic and awesome, or die regardless to make the PCs feel the brutality of a particular location and drive them to make it better. I don't want to have no idea if she'll live or die and leave it up to chance--that serves no thematic purpose.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well, depends on your deffinitions. I'd say spitting is an unarmed attack (it's not one of the specified natural attacks in the back of the beastiary). It's not poison, just a wad of saliva. You don't see unarmed attack in any stat blocks.

:)

But no, I was being facitious, as a level 10 Rakshasa should be able to kill a single 1st level character as easily as spitting on him, and with the same effort. :)

Shadow Lodge

mdt wrote:
TOZ wrote:
The rakshasa is not proficient with it's own spit, and thus takes a -4 penalty to hit. Combined with enough range penalties, the mewling kitten PC should be safe.
Creatures are always proficient with their natural attacks and weapons. :)

However, spit is not a natural attack, but a special quality.


I like the NPC gallery. I consider those to be the NPCs worth interacting-with. I don't need stats for Joe Merchant if his only function is to jump out of the way when the PCs run by. I DO need stats for Joe Merchant if the PCs discover he is up to something, or knows something. Being up to something makes him exceptional.

I don't need stats for a prostitute if her only function is to disappear into some dark room. I DO need them if she is Joe Merchant's (see above) informant. Being an informant makes her exceptional.

It's 12:00. Happy New Year. In the spirit of the occasion, I won't mention what I think this thread is really about.


Quote:
Er, why would I need the barmaid's stats? In that scenario, I'd clearly have some sort of agenda for even running such a scene. If the PCs don't step in, she's going to die (or whatever bad thing I have planned), obviously, and the PCs get to feel horrible for not helping. If they do step in, I want her to either survive to make the PCs feel heroic and awesome, or die regardless to make the PCs feel the brutality of a particular location and drive them to make it better. I don't want to have no idea if she'll live or die and leave it up to chance--that serves no thematic purpose.

Some people prefer to not hold their players to a script. Let the dice and the PCs actions tell the story, not whatever the DM wrote down last night. Some people prefer a more open game then that.


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This reminds me of when me and my roommate calculated the half-life of people traveling in the Silver Marches in Forgotten Realms. I believe it came out to something like 10 hours. However, since it was Forgotten Realms we could realistically write off the necessity for traveling because epic level wizards were a dime a dozen. Now if you want the world to make sense with level 3 guards, you will have to lean heavily on the power of aid another. Level 3 warrior archer will have a +5 to hit likely and thereby make the aid another check 80% of the time and as a result a cluster of 20 archers will effectively have a +30 to hit. Using these tactics thought up by our level 4 expert / warrior general, a country's armies could quite possibly take down an group of 500 rakshasas.


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Try this explanation
http://alzrius.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/the-xp-training/
Too tired to hyperlink.


Gorbacz wrote:
My thought is that if you rant about Fort saves of Barmaids and HPs of Village Idiots, you have way too much spare time on your hands. :)

I'd rather work diligently to point out and fix inconsistent things and/or problems with the game itself (you know, things I've mentioned before) rather than blissfully ignore them or leave it up to the DM to "fix" them. But that's just me, I guess.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
My thought is that if you rant about Fort saves of Barmaids and HPs of Village Idiots, you have way too much spare time on your hands. :)
I'd rather work diligently to point out and fix inconsistent things and/or problems with the game itself (you know, things I've mentioned before) rather than blissfully ignore them or leave it up to the DM to "fix" them. But that's just me, I guess.

You phrased your post wrong, let me help you out:

"I'd rather work dilignetly to point out things that I consider..."

There, now that we have established that it's just your opinions and not universal facts, we can talk.

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