How much are PCs and NPC henchmen worth?


4th Edition


How much XP is a PC worth? As and example, if I create a human NPC warlord, he would be the equivalent of an elite monster at 200 XP. Would PCs be the equivalent of a solo monster at 500 XP? So, it would take 2.5 NPCs (round down to 2 to avoid embarrassment for the .5 guy) to match the power of a PC? My logic is probably way off here, so someone please correct me.

Part of the reasoning here, is how much is this NPC worth to the party? If the NPC has a PC class, then he gets half of everything in a two party adventure (simple example to keep the math easy for all). If an NPC has an NPC class, then he only gets a quarter of the parcels and experience and the PC gets three-quarters of each.

I'm contemplating the costs for PCs to hire NPCs for combat/non-combat services.

What about non-combat services not in a dangerous area such as hiring appropriate staff for the adventurer's simple shop turned guild headquarters? I could wave my hands and say that the maintenance and service fees were already paid by a percentage of the reward from the patron that the PCs never see, though they still receive the same amount of treasure regardless. As they gain levels, their investments could automatically advance at the same rate going with this concept. I guess this could be applied to mundane equipment not found in the PHB with obviously more expensive items like land or the abandoned shop received as quest rewards.

Scarab Sages

Your questions fit much better into 3.5's simulationist view than they do into the more gamist 4.0, but I'll do my best at answering them - keeping in mind this is my opinion, of course...

A PC is worth the same XP as any other creature at his level. The PC is neither an elite nor a solo creature. If you tack on a PC class template to a monster, it becomes an elite creature, as it then has both the class and its own roster of abilities, hit points, etc. Now, a PC does have advantages over the creature - that's why we expect them to win most fights. But many of the class' advantages come over the course of multiple encounters. If you want to stat up a PC for the players to fight, it should still give the same XP as any other creature of its level.

If you add an NPC to a party, you should probably add more monsters to the opposing side for balance. But if you don't want to increase threats, count the NPC the same as you would a player of the same level. Numbers matter, and adding someone else to the players' team decreases their risk, so it should decrease reward as well.

I'm not aware of any guidance for the cost in gold for hiring NPCs, whether for combat or non-combat roles. My own opinion would be that combat roles would go for an equal share of the treasure.

For non-combat roles, you're largely on your own. But -- 4.0 has finally given up pretending that they're trying to simulate a real economy. They go over the buying and selling of adventuring gear, magic items, etc. You should probably follow suit, and separate out non-adventuring costs. If your players are amenable to obviously cooked excuses (no, the merchants dealing in magic items insist on ancient coins, and won't take the copper and chickens people deal with in town...) you can let your PCs run businesses, manage lands, and the like. It's less of a problem to have adventuring coin support these ventures, but there is an assumption that things can't go the other way. Anyway, that seems to be a built-in guideline for 4.0.

Drew Garrett


agarrett wrote:

Your questions fit much better into 3.5's simulationist view than they do into the more gamist 4.0, but I'll do my best at answering them - keeping in mind this is my opinion, of course...

A PC is worth the same XP as any other creature at his level. The PC is neither an elite nor a solo creature. If you tack on a PC class template to a monster, it becomes an elite creature, as it then has both the class and its own roster of abilities, hit points, etc. Now, a PC does have advantages over the creature - that's why we expect them to win most fights. But many of the class' advantages come over the course of multiple encounters. If you want to stat up a PC for the players to fight, it should still give the same XP as any other creature of its level.

If you add an NPC to a party, you should probably add more monsters to the opposing side for balance. But if you don't want to increase threats, count the NPC the same as you would a player of the same level. Numbers matter, and adding someone else to the players' team decreases their risk, so it should decrease reward as well.

I'm not aware of any guidance for the cost in gold for hiring NPCs, whether for combat or non-combat roles. My own opinion would be that combat roles would go for an equal share of the treasure.

I see your reasoning for NPCs in combat encounters. I still think the PCs are a cut above the rest, so I'll give them a little bit more in treasure, perhaps in art objects or other items that they get above the cut that they more than likely won't sell. An example would be a pair of ornate jeweled swords that the PC can hang over the mantle of their guild.

I'll think about it a little more, and hopefully I'll get some more advice on the matter.

agarrett wrote:


For non-combat roles, you're largely on your own. But -- 4.0 has finally given up pretending that they're trying to simulate a real economy. They go over the buying and selling of adventuring gear, magic items, etc. You should probably follow suit, and separate out non-adventuring costs. If your players are amenable to obviously cooked excuses (no, the merchants dealing in magic items insist on ancient coins, and won't take the copper and chickens people deal with in town...) you can let your PCs run businesses, manage lands, and the like. It's less of a problem to have adventuring coin support these ventures, but there is an assumption that things can't go the other way. Anyway, that seems to be a built-in guideline for 4.0....

Here's an idea that may belong in the craft skill thread, but I think the investment discussion below may differentiate it enough to keep it separate. I'll let the mods make that decision.

Some of the major and minor quests could return as treasure an investment opportunity. Basically, the PCs would receive farm land, a keep, a smithy, an inn, an adventurer's mercantile, a guild, etc. as a major or minor quest reward. Depending on the type of investment, once a week, two weeks, month, or more arbitrarily, level, or major or minor quest completion, the PCs make an investment or business roll to determine the results over the time frame.

We could mimic 3.5 rules to a point to achieve this goal. In 3.5 the craft and profession skills allowed PCs and NPCs to earn coin on a weekly basis dependent on the results. These same checks can be done with the DMG p.42 rules plus errata (haven't read yet). If the PC beats the easy challenge, then they receive 1/5 (perhaps 1/10 or 1/20 since there isn't the risk of death unless it's a merchant caravan or such) of a parcel of treasure for their level for the week or month of work. The type of treasure is dependent upon the craft/profession, but coinage is always a safe bet. I haven't done the math, so please pick these numbers apart.

The idea is that the investment opportunity upgrades or levels up by adding more workers, adding more land, or using better materials in the craft at the same rate as the PCs level up. Other investments would be one time deals like a merchant caravan that returns a full parcel as if it was another minor quest. The PCs could also micro-manage the business by working at the investment directly instead of relying upon just the employees.

To simulate the craft and profession rules, I suggest that the PCs take a skill training feat for craft/profession based on the most appropriate ability for the skill. I think both craft and profession should be in the same feat. With training, say in weaponsmithing, the PC can create simple weapons with the easy check, military weapons with the medium check, and uncommon weapons known to the PC/NPC with the hard check. If the check failed, then the difference between the DC and the roll is how many additional hours/days the weapon took to be created at the quality of the PCs level. The DM should definitely impose that a craft and profession check is trained only.

Wizards already come with the ritual casting feat by default to create magic items. I could easily see a magecraft feat available that works as noted above that allows the PC/NPC to sell magic items that they created at PHB rates + 10%. Maybe that's how low level wizards did it in past civilizations like artificers or that NPC class in Eberron. I would remind the PC not to make too many based on concept that the supply and demand of these items are not great. I'm sure this idea can be tweaked more too.

The investment idea could require no checks and involve a simple recharge roll. A missed roll represents the investment paying its bills and investing in an upgrade to the investment to bring in greater returns. The PC sees a return in investment via roleplaying with it such as a guild that produces new quests, a shop with employees, a keep and its guard, increased farm land or better quality crops such as potatoes to vineyard, or simply a base of operations called home.

The reasons for these boons could also lead into adventures. Your smithy is doing great, because the weapons were all destroyed by rust maybe sabotage.

Easy investments (recharge 4, 5, 6) per week or whatever: 1/5 parcel of treasure. Examples: Smithy (local guard resupply, rumors of war), Inn (fair or convention), Farm (harvest time).

Medium investments (recharge 5, 6) per week or whatever: 1/2 parcel of treasure. Examples: Keep (gold mine discovered, taxes), Merchant (rare commodity sold)

Hard investments (recharge 6) per week or whatever: 1 parcel of treasure. Examples: Adventurer's guild (successful adventure)

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