NPC classes


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


What do you people think of NPC classes? I've always disliked them, since I think how powerful a person should be ingame should be determined by natural talent (ability scores) and experience (levels). With NPC classes (especially commoners), you have to give the leaders far higher levels to actually know something.

Also, they often don't make sense. I don't get why a wizard who's spent most of his life in a library should be as hardy a commoner who's worked on the fields for many years, probably hunted a bit in the woods, and maybe fended of thieving goblinoids a few times.
Right now, the best class for a blacksmith is rogue. Gets all the class skills, and more skill points than the expert, with some more skill-related abilities.

I've heard the argument that the difference is that some of these people have adventured and some haven't - more like "adventuring classes" and "non-adventuring classes", but I just can't see it. Many 1st level wizards and clerics have a storyline indicating that they haven't ever adventured, and some fighters are the same. Also, life in a fantasyworld would often be hard and unforgiving, so even those who don't call themselves "adventurers" would probably have seen their fair share of hardship.

I'd be in favor of classes that were meant mostly for NPCs in that they focus on non-combat abilities and things not useful for adventurers, but I don't like that many of the classes are like worse variants of classes that exist. The only NPC class with SOME unique features are the expert.

Silver Crusade

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NPC classes exist so that the Farmer is not a Fighter, the Blacksmith does't have sneak attack and rogue tricks and that the village Friar doesn't run around in Heavy...oops..Medium armor, and the Nobleman isn't a Bard.


Gorbacz wrote:
NPC classes exist so that the Farmer is not a Fighter, the Blacksmith does't have sneak attack and rogue tricks and that the village Friar doesn't run around in Heavy...oops..Medium armor, and the Nobleman isn't a Bard.

Yes, I understand the reason, but why not make NPC classes that are actually good at what they should be good at? I mean currently, a fighter can be as good at farming as a farmer is - and be better at fighting at the same time. The farmer is also worse at hunting game than the sorcerer is, even barring magical hunting. The farmer is only proficient with a single simple weapon. And the rogue can be as good a blacksmith as someone who's worked as a blacksmith their whole life is - while having sneak attack and rogue tricks at the same time.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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The biggest reason that NPC classes are 'worse' than the heroic classes is built right into the names: Heroic classes are meant to be heroic, while NPC classes are your bystanders and seat-warmers. Actual heroic levels are exceptionally rare in these fantasy worlds, which is why most people live their lives farming for a few copper a day instead of slaying monsters and keeping their treasure. The people who develop into heroic classes are the talented and exclusive minority, so the NPC classes are less powerful by design.

Of course, the game system does take some of that into consideration, which is why a 1st level Expert is worth fewer XP than a 1st level Rogue.


Crystal Frasier wrote:

The biggest reason that NPC classes are 'worse' than the heroic classes is built right into the names: Heroic classes are meant to be heroic, while NPC classes are your bystanders and seat-warmers. Actual heroic levels are exceptionally rare in these fantasy worlds, which is why most people live their lives farming for a few copper a day instead of slaying monsters and keeping their treasure. The people who develop into heroic classes are the talented and exclusive minority, so the NPC classes are less powerful by design.

Of course, the game system does take some of that into consideration, which is why a 1st level Expert is worth fewer XP than a 1st level Rogue.

That reason is dependent on them already existing. If all classes were "equal" or rather that all classes had their niche, heroic characters would simply have better stats, more levels, or classes more suited for heroic deeds. A farmer has no buisseness in a cave full of orcs, but he should outshine the sorcerer when hunting game, or growing crops, or whatever.

I mean, if I lived in a D&D world, I would by all means be a 1st-level commoner, probably with intelligence a little above average (say 12). These are the skills I think I'm trained enough to have ranks in:
Wilderness Lore - boy scout for 13 years
Knowledge (Nature) - see above
Knowledge (Engineering) - two years of education in the electrical field, as well as a general interest in technology
Profession (Bartender) - it's my profession, simply enough
Craft (Cooking) - general interest, have been doing vegetarian cooking for many years and for different organizations
Perform (Poetry) - I've been writing for 9 years and performing at poetry slams and the like for 4 years now.

These are 6 skills, and then they're fairly generalized and only counting that which I've done for many many years. Most people have far more than 2 (or 3 or possibly 4 for really smart people) skills they are good at. And most are still 1st level commoners.

Dark Archive

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I like Adepts, Aristocrats, Warriors and Experts as 'base classes,' that can be upgraded later if the NPC becomes an adventurer. A Warrior who has spent five years wandering back and forth on the caravan-guarding circuit and become a 2nd level Warrior could 'trade up' and gain the advanced training necessary to transform those Warrior levels into Fighter levels, while an Expert could learn the necessary specialized skills to become a Rogue.

I allow NPC class levels to progress on a faster EXP track than PC class levels, and a PC wishing to upgrade from NPC class to (an appropriate) PC class simply has to earn the difference in XP and go through some in-game explanation of why Bob the Caravan-Guard hardened up and went to soldiering-school and learned how to wear his armor better.

Because of the wonkiness of the Adept -> PC spellcaster transformation, I use the Game Mechanics alternatives of Divine Adepts and Arcane Adepts presented in Temple Quarter (Acolytes and Apprentices / Hedge Mages), with the divine adepts transitioning to Cleric or Druid and the arcane adepts transitioning to Sorcerer or Wizard. The arcane adept gets the usual familar-at-2nd-level of the core Adept, while the divine adept gets the Eberron option of a single Domain at 2nd level, so, as is my wont, I tweaked the concept a bit.

(I could also use the Magewright or the Gleaner, NPC classes from Rich Baker, from the Eberron Campaign setting and the Giant in the Playground forums, respectively, but I'm fine with just having the two adept variations.)

The one NPC class I've got no use for whatsoever is the Commoner. Every NPC is either an Expert, a Warrior, an Aristocrat or an Adept. Even that pig farmer they have as the 'iconic commoner' a 1st level expert or warrior, depending on his upbringing (master horse breeder / former peasant levy organizer), in my game. The Commoner seems designed to model 'useless' people, and, oddly enough, I've got no use for useless people in the games I run.

If the person is that irrelevant, mechanically, I'm not going to waste the 5 minutes of my life it would take to stat out what they'd get for their 3 levels of Commoner, when I could be doing something meaningful, like pushing back my cuticles.


Set wrote:
I like Adepts, Aristocrats, Warriors and Experts as 'base classes,' that can be upgraded later if the NPC becomes an adventurer. A Warrior who has spent five years wandering back and forth on the caravan-guarding circuit and become a 2nd level Warrior could 'trade up' and gain the advanced training necessary to transform those Warrior levels into Fighter levels, while an Expert could learn the necessary specialized skills to become a Rogue.

Yeah, that seems more reasonable. They then become something more like "0th level characters", and that doesn't seem too dumb an idea. And it makes more sense than having a 5th level warrior.

Set wrote:
The one NPC class I've got no use for whatsoever is the Commoner.(snip)

Agreed. That seems to me to be the worst idea ever, to have a class for worthless people. Yes, some people ARE quite stupid and unskilled, but that should IMO be represented by a low intelligence or wisdom score.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So, take the Commoner out of the game. How are you going to mechanically represent Farmer Joe ?


Gorbacz wrote:
So, take the Commoner out of the game. How are you going to mechanically represent Farmer Joe ?

1st level expert. Ranks in: Knowledge (Nature), Survival, Handle Animal, Profession (Farmer), as well as two more random skills he has (most people have a talent for something), good ideas might be swimming, diplomacy, bluff, perform, knowledge (local), climb, gather information, craft (cooking), or anything like that.

Though I could think of a Farmer class with a few levels :3 Average bab/hd, 4 or 6 skills/level, class features such as improved gardening, animal empathy and so on. But still, expert seems to do the trick.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Experts have medium BAB, d8 hit die, light armor proficiency and good Will saves. Bit too much for Farmer Joe, IMO.


Gorbacz wrote:
Experts have medium BAB, d8 hit die, light armor proficiency and good Will saves. Bit too much for Farmer Joe, IMO.

A 1st level character have the same BAB regardless of low/medium BAB; it's +0.

But yeah, d8 HD and simple weapon proficiency means he can beat the wizard in a barfight (and have a decent chance in a fight against the priest), and hunt game decently without being afraid a housecat will kill him. I actually forgot that humans get a free proficiency, so the farmer could have bow proficiency regardless of being commoner or expert, sorry for that. And light armor proficiency just means that if he knows he might get into trouble, he'd put on his padded armor, or if he's a wealthy farmer or has a knack for leatherworking, a leather armor.

Sure, the will save might be unfitting; i'd house rule it to fortitude save instead. However, the "stubborn ol' farmer" isn't a too uncommon stereotype.


stringburka wrote:
I actually forgot that humans get a free proficiency,

They do? When did that happen?


Umbral Reaver wrote:
stringburka wrote:
I actually forgot that humans get a free proficiency,
They do? When did that happen?

Damn, I don't know what I'm talking about. They get no proficiencies. Where did I get that from? :S

Oh, and here's Farmer Joe:
1st level expert (4hp, AC 10)
Str 11, Dex 10, Con 11, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 12
Skills: Gather Information +5, Handle Animal +8, Knowledge (Local) +4, Knowledge (Nature) +4, Profession (Farmer) +7, Survival +4.
Feats: Skill Focus (Profession (Farmer)), Skill Focus (Handle Animal).
Attacks: Sickle +0 (1d6).
He owns a small farm, and lives pretty self-sufficient with his family. He still spends some time in the village, selling and buying things as needed, and spends more than a few hours in the local bar, trading rumors with passing merchants. He's a social and well-liked guy that sometimes even get to mediate.

Here's Lumberjack John:
1st level expert (5hp, AC 12 from rough leather clothing)
Str 12, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 9
Skills: Climb +5, Craft (Woodcraft) +4, Knowledge (Nature) +4, Profession (Lumberjack) +7, Survival +4, Swim +5.
Feats: Skill Focus (Profession (Lumberjack)), Endurance.
Attacks: Dagger +1 (1d4+1), sling +0 (1d4+1), light crossbow +0 (1d8)
Joe's brother, he never had such a good hand with either people or animals, and as such he prefered to work in the forest alone. He usually leave the lumber at Joe's for him to sell at the market, and while he's in the forest he usually do some hunting too.

Dark Archive

stringburka wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
So, take the Commoner out of the game. How are you going to mechanically represent Farmer Joe ?
1st level expert. Ranks in: Knowledge (Nature), Survival, Handle Animal, Profession (Farmer), as well as two more random skills he has (most people have a talent for something), good ideas might be swimming, diplomacy, bluff, perform, knowledge (local), climb, gather information, craft (cooking), or anything like that.

Pretty much my solution. Some are 1st level Experts. Others, those who got called up for peasant levies, or did a little bouncing at the tavern, or were 'just plumb mean' local bullies, are 1st level Warriors.

If I really, really felt a burning need for a useless NPC class in my game, I'd put the Commoner on the 'fast, fast' XP track, and allow an NPC to transition up to the 'not entirely useless' Warrior, Expert, Aristocrat tier on the 'merely fast' XP track if they became relevant enough to stat up. But, in my games at least, anyone who is at that scrub level is best summed up by 'urchin boy, AC 11, 3 hp' and not a class.

Who knows, maybe some useless scrub could transition from Commoner 'idiot Jed, not even competent enough to be a successul farmer' to Warrior 'I got me in a barfight, and I didn't lose!' to actual Fighter 'we done learned soldierin' ma! I whupped me some goblin butt on the lines!', over the course of a story!

The Exchange

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*Sings*

"Come 'n listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed
a poor NPC who was a bit touched in the head,
he got into a barfight and it had him seein' red
so he joined the infantry and he shot a goblin dead."

*edited to not repeat "head" as a rhyme

Grand Lodge

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My biggest complaint about NPC classes is that they are supposed to be much more common than PC classes and yet in actual game PCs almost never meet anyone with NPC classes. The reality of the game is that PC classes are far more common than NPC classes.


Any given NPC is only as useless or useful as the DM makes them, regardless of class.

To get back to String's original thought - making NPC classes better at non-adventuring stuff than PCs are - the fastest thing I can think of off-hand is to strip Craft and Profession skills from PC classes. This makes Profession (farmer) a cross-class expense for the Fighter and puts him behind the Commoner on the power-curve.

Also, any PC class X who tries to be as good a Y as an NPC class will be the worst X on the planet. So, a Rogue who devotes himself to being a blacksmith may be as good as any expert blacksmith, but he'll be the worst Rogue.


I rarely bother with statting up the bystanders, etc when I make a campaign. but if I did, I would have no problem with most people being commoners, for example. then again, I don't ask too much realism from my PF/DnD.

I've come across 2 interesting uses for NPC classes, both of them to challenge (read screw over) players. The first is to restrict players to NPC classes. pretty mean, but it can be an interesting challenge. The other is to advance monsters to the point of being challenging without boosting their CR through the roof. this is particularly effective if they have special abilities that depend on HD (vampires come to mind).

but yeah, the commoner gets the short end of every stick and isn't very flattering when we consider that most of us would fall in that category.


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stringburka wrote:
stuffs

My biggest thing is I don't want a commoner that sits around and farms all the time to be a better combatant/ more survivable than a wizard or sorcerer. That just seems wrong to me.

I can handle the expert being such (though I'm still not pleased with it), I expect the warrior to be, I "understand" the aristocrat, and the adept still works as is...

But the commoner should be the weakest of the pack. They are the NPC equivalent to goblins and kobolds.

Also remember that you don't actually have to have ranks in something to do it either, and in general a Profession skill covers a lot of over lap with other skills in a specific area of expertise.


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stringburka wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:

The biggest reason that NPC classes are 'worse' than the heroic classes is built right into the names: Heroic classes are meant to be heroic, while NPC classes are your bystanders and seat-warmers. Actual heroic levels are exceptionally rare in these fantasy worlds, which is why most people live their lives farming for a few copper a day instead of slaying monsters and keeping their treasure. The people who develop into heroic classes are the talented and exclusive minority, so the NPC classes are less powerful by design.

Of course, the game system does take some of that into consideration, which is why a 1st level Expert is worth fewer XP than a 1st level Rogue.

That reason is dependent on them already existing. If all classes were "equal" or rather that all classes had their niche, heroic characters would simply have better stats, more levels, or classes more suited for heroic deeds. A farmer has no buisseness in a cave full of orcs, but he should outshine the sorcerer when hunting game, or growing crops, or whatever.

I mean, if I lived in a D&D world, I would by all means be a 1st-level commoner, probably with intelligence a little above average (say 12). These are the skills I think I'm trained enough to have ranks in:
Wilderness Lore - boy scout for 13 years
Knowledge (Nature) - see above
Knowledge (Engineering) - two years of education in the electrical field, as well as a general interest in technology
Profession (Bartender) - it's my profession, simply enough
Craft (Cooking) - general interest, have been doing vegetarian cooking for many years and for different organizations
Perform (Poetry) - I've been writing for 9 years and performing at poetry slams and the like for 4 years now.

These are 6 skills, and then they're fairly generalized and only counting that which I've done for many many years. Most people have far more than 2 (or 3 or possibly 4 for really smart people) skills they are good at. And most are still 1st level commoners.

So, it sounds like you have one skill rank in each of these. (Maybe 2 or three in Engineering and Bartending.)

As an Eagle Scout myself, I'd say that being a boy scout gives you 1 rank in Knowledge Nature and Survival. At best. And one rank in Poetry and cooking. So, you'd be about a 2nd level commoner. Or Expert. (with actual school training in Electrical, I'd go more for expert.)

Sovereign Court

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I generally like the idea of NPC classes to represent "everyone else," but I agree - the whole thing of a fighter being a better blacksmith than an expert blacksmith has always bugged me. It always struck me that NPCs ought to be pretty good in their niches, albeit, in their non-combat, non-competitive with PCs niches.

To make experts better at what they do that the average PC, I always thought they should have a higher max skill ranks than other classes in Craft/Profession/Perform. Whereas all other classes have max skill ranks = level, why not allow Experts max skill ranks = level +2 ? That way a Expert blacksmith could always be better than a non-Expert blacksmith. Don't even change his/her number of skill points, just let an Expert sock all his/her points into one skill - a skill I might add that's not very adventurer useful, but essential for mooks with regular jobs.

I also think Profession ought to be cross-class (non-class now in Pathfinder) for everyone except Experts.

Part of the problem is that D&D/Pathfinder is pretty good at modeling combat and magic and what not, but the rules for mundane stuff like crafting items and day jobs are just there to fill in story, not model anything with any accuracy. But mundane is what NPC classes do. The Profession skill, for example, is well enough defined for you average adventure with one or two ranks that he puts into Profession for role-playing reasons, but if you actually try to explain what a barrister does using ranks in Profession (barrister), you're going to have a hard time. It's just not what the game is about, so the rules are weaker here, and that's fine, but it means that you can't look too closely at NPC classes to accurately represent everyday folks.

BTW- I always wanted to see NPC classes called Acolytes and Thieves to round out the less-than-heroic party where Warrior<Fighter and Adept<Wizard.

Aristocrats are the other weird one - what are they good at? Court intrigue? Diplomacy? Seems like they might actually deserve some class abilities. Or are they just Experts with a little more combat training?


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there are some cool NPC classes in 4Winds Paths of Power


gigglestick wrote:


So, it sounds like you have one skill rank in each of these. (Maybe 2 or three in Engineering and Bartending.)

As an Eagle Scout myself, I'd say that being a boy scout gives you 1 rank in Knowledge Nature and Survival. At best. And one rank in Poetry and cooking. So, you'd be about a 2nd level commoner. Or Expert. (with actual school training in Electrical, I'd go more for expert.)

2nd level characters are quite rare, so I'd be far over the average person in that case. And I'm very much a commoner.

Even for my 17-year old brother, I could say that he no doubt has more than 2 skill levels, and surely he isn't a 2nd level character. Remember, most people will never attain more than a single level.

On a side note, I don't know if boy scout is the correct term since I'm swedish and we have a different system, I meant I've been in the scouts as in the organisation, not the character class XD. I've been there from age 7 to being a leader now at 22, in any case, so it should be 15 years anyway.

Abraham spalding wrote:
stringburka wrote:
stuffs
My biggest thing is I don't want a commoner that sits around and farms all the time to be a better combatant/ more survivable than a wizard or sorcerer. That just seems wrong to me.

"Sitting around farming" usually involves heavy labor, simple hunting and the like - that's probably going to give you far more sturdiness than reading books would. But okay, it's a matter of taste - we want the exact opposites, so it just is a non-issue for you but an issue for me.

Abraham spalding wrote:

I can handle the expert being such (though I'm still not pleased with it), I expect the warrior to be, I "understand" the aristocrat, and the adept still works as is...

But the commoner should be the weakest of the pack. They are the NPC equivalent to goblins and kobolds.

To me, the only NPC class that really makes sense is the aristocrat, since it's the only one that has a niche. The other ones are just lesser classes. I could see the use for them as "0th level", but not outside that.

Goblins and kobolds are weak due to racial stats, not due to having a bad class (well, since they are warriors by default they DO have a bad class, but so do orcs and bugbears).


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Of course, the medieval peasant farmer isn't the same as a beefy midwestern farmer with dozens of acres, with plenty of food and lots of exercise, who hunts to supplant his table and has to handle bales by hand before they're loaded on the wagon.

The commoner farmer has probably 1/4 acre subsistence level living or sharecropping, which leads to poor nutrition, and no/few weapons to go hunting with beyond throwing stones. These are the people who spend most of their lives knee deep in mud and dung, have worms, marry at 14 and die by 40. THAT is a commoner, and being as they'd be lucky to be literate, I see no problem with them having very few skill points.

Heck, look at the Amish. (Or better, don't.) They do everything the simple hard old-fashioned way, and yet they're not natural supermen toned by hard work - by and large, they're usually a bit thin, have bad joints by middle age, etc.

As for skilled artisans or tradesmen, the answer is simple: All their points are invested in that skill. A blacksmith would thus have all their points in Craft: Smithing, perhaps their bonus point in Profession: Smithing. Now, that's for a village smithy. Your master armorsmith isn't going to be a level 1 expert.


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Yeah by goblins and kobolds I meant they were the NPC the party might interact with and understand why they are being sent on a quest. After all if the NPCs are level 3~5 and need a daughter rescued why turn to a party of level 1~2 PCs? Well if they are NPC classes they are at a disadvantage and would come to someone more heroic to do it.

It really comes down to what you want from your players actually.

If you want them to be "just another joe" then everyone should have PC class levels.

If you want them to be "A cut above the rest heroes" then have everyone else be NPC classes means that the PCs are actually a cut above the rest.


Why do farmers need scores?
A kobold guard had much more training in fighting a farmer has. Kobolds with one HD die when you sneeze too hard. And they don´t hit. So why even bother with farmers that die almost by alone?
Crafting and knowledge stats don´t matter too, I mean, when do you roll them? So the blacksmith has ranks in smithing. Now what? The DM will never roll for him since the swords the players buy are already made.

The only difference lies in antagonists, who can fight and use social skills a little bit but are not as strong as an "endboss" and in small opponents like city guards. Noble class and warrior class fit.

"so, how much experience do I get for the farmer?"


I´m on the fence in that matter. OTOH, I don´t think a 3rd level commoner is something the game needs. In older editions, there was the "normal human" or 0-level human that filled all your needs for the general populace, be it farmers, merchants or even basic guards. So, there is no real need for the commoner class if you have a 0-level character. (BTW, the medieval farmer had to work all day just to keep his family fed - he would have no time to develop other skills.)
OTOH, some NPC classes are justified IMO: a warrior filling all fighting roles below the professional fighter, like guards, militia, bandits and so on. The expert fills a multitude of roles, and with 10 class skills, he can be a renaissance man. (As it stands, the typical craftsman can be a commoner, no need for the expert there.) The noble is an archetype, as is the adept. Most NPCs around will be members of one of these classes, but the PCs interact with only a few of them.
One reasoning behind these classes is probably "If everybody is special, then nobody is." The NPCs classes are the answer to the question why the world needs heroes - because your average citizen is not suited to adventuring. A party consisting of a noble, a warrior, an expert and an adept will probably die in their first adventure - and that is the way it is meant to be.
For me, there are commoners, who are without a level, and some folks with some more experience or specialized skills (other NPC classes), and very few professionals (the PCs). Perhaps some ideas about changing a commoner into an NPC class character, and changing from NPC to PC class might be a possibility to give a reason for these classes. PC classes are highly trained professionals - like todays soldiers, engineers and scientists. Most NPCs just don´t have that specialized training.

Stefan

Grand Lodge

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The CR for NPCs needs to change. A CR 8 aristocrat is weaker than a CR 4 NPC. Also, the NPC classes are unbalanced. Does anyone know how to find a correct CR for NPCs with NPC classes?

Grand Lodge

A corrupt king the PCs fought in one of my campaigns didn't have a high enough damage bonus to defeat a summoned bat swarm. The king was a higher CR than the APL because it was supposed to be a boss fight.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

NPC classes are listed as having a CR as 2 less than their level; ie: a 10th level aristocrat is CR 8. And yes, a CR 8 fighter is going to be more of a challenge.

Also, any martial type is going to have a rough time vs a bat swarm as they are immune to weapon damage.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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I don't think it's a fair comparison to try and compare a modern average person to a PF commoner - we have a lot of advantages that help us in both the health and learning areas. For example, I'd argue that anyone raised in a modern first-world nation likely can roll any Knowledge skill untrained due to a combination of public education and the internet.

Also, Skill Focus feats are what makes the professional farmer or blacksmith better than the PC. Most PCs aren't going to take SF in a craft or profession skill, and if they do, then they really are that good at it and I'm comfortable with that.


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Seannoss wrote:

NPC classes are listed as having a CR as 2 less than their level; ie: a 10th level aristocrat is CR 8. And yes, a CR 8 fighter is going to be more of a challenge.

Also, any martial type is going to have a rough time vs a bat swarm as they are immune to weapon damage.

in that case, wouldn't that mean a commoner isn't technically a "0" level but a "-2" level? which would make commoners from level 1-3 basically first level characters?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

CRs go into fractions at low levels. Technically a 1st level commoner is CR 1/3rd, while a PC class as CR 1/2 at 1st level.


Seannoss wrote:
CRs go into fractions at low levels. Technically a 1st level commoner is CR 1/3rd, while a PC class as CR 1/2 at 1st level.

that still doesn't change the gist of my comment, which is that at that point shouldn't the npc's be considered as common as first level adventurers up to their 3rd level of npc class?

Liberty's Edge

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stringburka wrote:
2nd level characters are quite rare, so I'd be far over the average person in that case. And I'm very much a commoner.

Well, here's your first problem: That's not true at all. Check out the Gamemastery Guide. The default Farmer is 2nd level. The default Barmaid and Bandit likewise. Only a very few people are actually 1st level. That's generally reserved for the very young (with no real world experience) are 1st level. So you're probably 2nd level.

Published adventures and location guides bear this out, for reference. As do the Settlement Rules. Speaking of which, I actually did a Population Demographics Thread a long time ago based on those rules. It's pretty accurate most times for guessing rough numbers of people in official stuff.

stringburka wrote:
Even for my 17-year old brother, I could say that he no doubt has more than 2 skill levels, and surely he isn't a 2nd level character. Remember, most people will never attain more than a single level.

And now we get to the other bit: Your brother, and you of course, went to school, right? Probably most days for most of your childhood? Learning History, Algebra, grammar, all that stuff?

I expect you did. Most people in 1st world countries did. That kind of schooling doesn't result in a Commoner. It results in an Expert. Commoner is the class for people who haven't enjoyed that sort of educational advantage, and indeed have quite possibly been kept actively ignorant of many things by their rulers.

Almost nobody on these forums would be a Commoner. Heck, even the default 'Farmer' NPC has a level of Expert as well as one of Commoner. He's got some life experience in there, even if he lacks a formal education.

So, with Int 12 and 2 levels of Expert can you build yourself? I'd imagine so. Most people can. And that's about the appropriate amount for an adult in a First World society with a bit of life experience.

stringburka wrote:
On a side note, I don't know if boy scout is the correct term since I'm swedish and we have a different system, I meant I've been in the scouts as in the organisation, not the character class XD. I've been there from age 7 to being a leader now at 22, in any case, so it should be 15 years anyway..

Some ranks in a variety of things might well arise from that, yeah.

stringburka wrote:
"Sitting around farming" usually involves heavy labor, simple hunting and the like - that's probably going to give you far more sturdiness than reading books would. But okay, it's a matter of taste - we want the exact opposites, so it just is a non-issue for you but an issue for me.

Well, most Wizards probably don't have as much Constitution as most Commoners, and likely don't put their Favored Class Bonus into HP either.

PC Wizards do, but PC wizards also go out and fight things professionally, which is not what a Wizard who 'spends all his time reading' does. They get hardy or they die.

stringburka wrote:
To me, the only NPC class that really makes sense is the aristocrat, since it's the only one that has a niche. The other ones are just lesser classes. I could see the use for them as "0th level", but not outside that.

I think they work well to represent people without the specialized training, skill set, or potential that PC Classes represent. Local militia or regular soldiers are Warriors. Elite special forces or those trained personally by a master swordsman are things like Slayers, Fighters, and Swashbucklers.

stringburka wrote:
Goblins and kobolds are weak due to racial stats, not due to having a bad class (well, since they are warriors by default they DO have a bad class, but so do orcs and bugbears).

That's true enough.


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I have returned form the dead to take over the worl- oh, holy craaaaaap! *its head rolls off the side of the screen*


ryric wrote:

I don't think it's a fair comparison to try and compare a modern average person to a PF commoner - we have a lot of advantages that help us in both the health and learning areas. For example, I'd argue that anyone raised in a modern first-world nation likely can roll any Knowledge skill untrained due to a combination of public education and the internet.

Also, Skill Focus feats are what makes the professional farmer or blacksmith better than the PC. Most PCs aren't going to take SF in a craft or profession skill, and if they do, then they really are that good at it and I'm comfortable with that.

Semi-seconding this (old) post... but, since I'm super-pedantic (sometimes), rather, I'd suggest that the DC of knowledge skills has decreased. So, for example, due to the availability of knowledge, things are considered less "rare" and more "common" - this begins interacting weirdly when you get to alternate living conditions, but I feel it would more accurately represent our modern living conditions.

To explain what I mean: while some certainly have combat potential among our modern living individuals, we als live in relative peace. Doing it this way (modeling lower DCs due to common knowledge) allows us to more accurately model various "toughness" and combat abilities, compared to other thugs. Buuuuut this is a game, soooooo... only sort of. :)
EDIT: I posted for hasty summons...

Liberty's Edge

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Undead Strongbad wrote:
I have returned form the dead to take over the worl- oh, holy craaaaaap! *its head rolls off the side of the screen*

Oh, damn. I totally missed that this thread was undead. I usually notice thread necromancy.

Must be slipping. Ah, well.


Other than warrior and auch i think you should move hp for npc classes to one a level and limit bab and other such additive numbers other than skills and the like - then you could get necessary skills wihout ultra tough commoners.

Verdant Wheel

Since Ultimate Intrigue, i feel like NPC classes are wrong. We now have archetypes for adventurous nobles and majordomos. It´s not farfetched that maids and serfs are far behind. Borderland Farmer could be a ranger archetype nowdays.


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The thing that annoys me about commoner is that it's literally worse than just having hit dice of humanoid. They should probably be the same, both representing creatures with no real training beyond their natural abilities.

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