Damage from NPCs


Conversions


I'm currently converting an old 3.5 adventure with many NPCs, and the chapter on Building Encounters in the GMG has been invaluable -- in particular the "Class Road Maps" page.

At low levels, the suggested numbers line up with those from player characters. However, as you rise up in levels, things start to diverge and NPC numbers get inflated compared to PCs. For example, a 7th-level creature doing moderate damage is expected to do 2d8+8 damage, or any other combination with an average of 17. For a PC to match that, they would need to be a fighter or barbarian with a +1 striking weapon, a few buffs from spells, and probably a damaging property rune.

I understand the reason for this discrepancy -- NPCs are built for a single encounter, so all their abilities should have a direct impact on the PC party. Yet, I can't help but feel a certain twinge when putting arbitrarily large numbers for damage when statting up an NPC adversary.

So, I'd like to know how you handle this situation:
1) Follow the guidelines from the GMG -- Who cares if numbers are inflated? It'll just make for a memorable fight!
2) Follow the rules for PCs -- Internal consistency is paramount!


A 7th level fighter with a +1 Striking Longsword would be doing 2d8+7 without buffs or property runes, while a 7th level rogue might be doing 2d8+2d6+6 when sneak attacking and a giant instinct barbarian might be knocking both of them out of the park in per-hit damage with 2d10 or 2d12+16 - all without additional modifiers or any feats. The NPC numbers are a tiny bit high, for exactly the reason you identify, but not actually vastly out of line.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
coriolis wrote:

I'm currently converting an old 3.5 adventure with many NPCs, and the chapter on Building Encounters in the GMG has been invaluable -- in particular the "Class Road Maps" page.

At low levels, the suggested numbers line up with those from player characters. However, as you rise up in levels, things start to diverge and NPC numbers get inflated compared to PCs. For example, a 7th-level creature doing moderate damage is expected to do 2d8+8 damage, or any other combination with an average of 17. For a PC to match that, they would need to be a fighter or barbarian with a +1 striking weapon, a few buffs from spells, and probably a damaging property rune.

I understand the reason for this discrepancy -- NPCs are built for a single encounter, so all their abilities should have a direct impact on the PC party. Yet, I can't help but feel a certain twinge when putting arbitrarily large numbers for damage when statting up an NPC adversary.

So, I'd like to know how you handle this situation:
1) Follow the guidelines from the GMG -- Who cares if numbers are inflated? It'll just make for a memorable fight!
2) Follow the rules for PCs -- Internal consistency is paramount!

1. Nobody at the table gives a damn about internal consistency and about whether tiny little ducks are all inside their perfectly aligned boxes inside your brain.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Personal opinion when building a high-level NPC. Create unique abilities they can use that give them the damage enhancements they need to get to the recommended level, along with somewhat inflated attacks and damage.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Cydeth wrote:
Personal opinion when building a high-level NPC. Create unique abilities they can use that give them the damage enhancements they need to get to the recommended level, along with somewhat inflated attacks and damage.

This is a good approach when the NPC should thematically be using lower damage dice weapon so the numbers still line up despite rolling d4s for daggers.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Captain Morgan wrote:
This is a good approach when the NPC should thematically be using lower damage dice weapon so the numbers still line up despite rolling d4s for daggers.

Yeah, that's pretty much the reason I did it. In my case, I was building a custom dark elf master hunter for my home setting, and despite being level 12, she wasn't quite at the damage level I needed, despite having a +1 striking scimitar, and she was supposed to be an extreme damage dealer (or was it extreme attack, high damage? I don't remember off-hand). I debated on several ideas, like an action to add energy damage to the attacks, but I decided that didn't fit the non-magical motif I was going for. Here are the abilities I gave her, plus Double Shot.

Chosen Prey [one-action] The master hunter studies a creature within 60 feet and gains the following bonuses against the target for 24 hours; +1 status to Perception to Seek and Survival checks to track the target, and their strikes deal 3d6 additional precision damage. The master hunter may only have one chosen prey at a time, and loses the bonuses against a previous target once they use this ability again.

Eviscerate [two-actions] The master hunter makes a melee Strike against a creature. On success, the creature takes 5d6 additional slashing damage and 2d6 bleed. The damage and bleed damage are doubled on a critical success.


coriolis wrote:

I'm currently converting an old 3.5 adventure with many NPCs, and the chapter on Building Encounters in the GMG has been invaluable -- in particular the "Class Road Maps" page.

At low levels, the suggested numbers line up with those from player characters. However, as you rise up in levels, things start to diverge and NPC numbers get inflated compared to PCs. For example, a 7th-level creature doing moderate damage is expected to do 2d8+8 damage, or any other combination with an average of 17. For a PC to match that, they would need to be a fighter or barbarian with a +1 striking weapon, a few buffs from spells, and probably a damaging property rune.

I understand the reason for this discrepancy -- NPCs are built for a single encounter, so all their abilities should have a direct impact on the PC party. Yet, I can't help but feel a certain twinge when putting arbitrarily large numbers for damage when statting up an NPC adversary.

So, I'd like to know how you handle this situation:
1) Follow the guidelines from the GMG -- Who cares if numbers are inflated? It'll just make for a memorable fight!
2) Follow the rules for PCs -- Internal consistency is paramount!

The answer is option 1 if you want the challenge to equal the level given. It is how the game is designed

If you want to build using PC rules you should then compare the numbers the tables in the GMG to see what effective level they would be. Could be that an NPC using 7 class levels is actually only a level 5 or 6 challenge. This starts to fall apart with monsters though that cannot be built like PCs

But put simply - a character built like a PC will be unlikely to be the same level as the number of levels given

Internal consistency is out of the window. And there are a lot of reasons this is a good thing. There were some really wonky builds in 1E to try and get where the designer wanted to go. Some might say “arbitrary”. So may as well abandon the pretence


coriolis wrote:

I'm currently converting an old 3.5 adventure with many NPCs, and the chapter on Building Encounters in the GMG has been invaluable -- in particular the "Class Road Maps" page.

At low levels, the suggested numbers line up with those from player characters. However, as you rise up in levels, things start to diverge and NPC numbers get inflated compared to PCs. For example, a 7th-level creature doing moderate damage is expected to do 2d8+8 damage, or any other combination with an average of 17. For a PC to match that, they would need to be a fighter or barbarian with a +1 striking weapon, a few buffs from spells, and probably a damaging property rune.

I understand the reason for this discrepancy -- NPCs are built for a single encounter, so all their abilities should have a direct impact on the PC party. Yet, I can't help but feel a certain twinge when putting arbitrarily large numbers for damage when statting up an NPC adversary.

So, I'd like to know how you handle this situation:
1) Follow the guidelines from the GMG -- Who cares if numbers are inflated? It'll just make for a memorable fight!
2) Follow the rules for PCs -- Internal consistency is paramount!

Rather than thinking of it as internal consistency or not, I think of it in terms of complexity. If a mook statblock is going to be used in five fights, usually acccompanied by other moving parts or with 2-3 members present, I tend to be a bit less creative and simply use the GMG numbers. Makes the fight quicker when running. On the other hand, a named NPC with a distinctive fighting style will usually get numbers closer to a PC's and special techniques similar to Cydeth's advice to get their damage in the right range.

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