NPC Allies: How should they be written up?


General Discussion

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Should NPCs intended to be allies of the PCs be written up as if they were PCs?

NPC vs NPC combats tend to be brutal, with the NPC having the potential to do more damage then the PCs, but also suffering more damage in turn.

This has been a problem at least twice.


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I'm not a fan of the new NPC system at all. While it makes creating npcs/monsters easier, it's a complete different creation system, it dictates your enemies equipment or the players can't really use their knowledge to estimate the enemies power ("NPX X has a MK II. laser rifle, while the rest have MK I Pistols, so be careful X didn't hit you").

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Tryn wrote:
I'm not a fan of the new NPC system at all. While it makes creating npcs/monsters easier, it's a complete different creation system, it dictates your enemies equipment or the players can't really use their knowledge to estimate the enemies power ("NPX X has a MK II. laser rifle, while the rest have MK I Pistols, so be careful X didn't hit you").

We had better get used to it though, as it is about to become CORE in PF 2nd. :(


Tryn wrote:
I'm not a fan of the new NPC system at all. While it makes creating npcs/monsters easier, it's a complete different creation system, it dictates your enemies equipment or the players can't really use their knowledge to estimate the enemies power ("NPX X has a MK II. laser rifle, while the rest have MK I Pistols, so be careful X didn't hit you").

That's simply not true :

Alien Archive p.128 wrote:
If an NPC uses [...] weapons, you can give it a weapon with an item level equal to the creature’s CR

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Valfen wrote:
Tryn wrote:
I'm not a fan of the new NPC system at all. While it makes creating npcs/monsters easier, it's a complete different creation system, it dictates your enemies equipment or the players can't really use their knowledge to estimate the enemies power ("NPX X has a MK II. laser rifle, while the rest have MK I Pistols, so be careful X didn't hit you").

That's simply not true :

Alien Archive p.128 wrote:
If an NPC uses [...] weapons, you can give it a weapon with an item level equal to the creature’s CR
While true, it wanders from the original question. "What is the best practice?"

  • Write Up the NPC ally using the NPC rules?
  • Write Up the NPC ally as if it was a PC?


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Are the NPCs helping you in a single battle, or are they long term companions? I would use NPC stats for the former and PC stats for the latter in most cases.


What happens if the players keep them around for a lot longer than anticipated? Would the stats just arbitrarily change at some point?


I find that only very, very rare NPCs are worth the trouble of statting as PCs. NPC allies will still contribute their fair share to combat -- though with nothing like PC versatility and durability -- and I think that's okay, it keeps the focus on the party. The exceptions are long-term mentors and recurring characters who may need to adventure with the party for more than an encounter or two.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
The Sideromancer wrote:
What happens if the players keep them around for a lot longer than anticipated? Would the stats just arbitrarily change at some point?

If I was uncertain whether NPCs would join the party long term, I might stat them as though they would just in case.

If I really did not expect them to become long term traveling companions, I would probably convert them the next time the party leveled. If everyone does not level at the same time in your campaign, I would convert the NPC(s) during the next week or so of downtime.


I would also make them 2 levels lower than the party.


If the NPC has a CR equal to the APL, he might overshadow the PCs effort in battle easily. If he's going to hang around for a while, I'd stat him as a PC, and make him at least one level lower than the rest of the characters.

You might also want to make him specifically built for a non-combat related area... like an envoy medic.

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