Dungeon 185 - Eye on the Realms: Gergul and Mithgryn

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Dungeon 185
Eye on the Realms: Gergul and Mithgryn

by Ed Greenwood

Necromancers, warlocks, and alchemists have use for this pair of grave robbers.

Talk about this Article here.

I liked it, but I have the same complaint that I almost always do after reading this series of articles, not enough or no crunch (something I haven't had to complain about in the Athasian companion series).  Stats for these two guys would have been appreciated.
Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon
Yes, stats would have been great.

Other than that, those NPC fit like a glove into my current campaign.

Very good article.
I liked the article. 2 shady NPC i must say.

I would have loved stats, but not having any means i can provide them with any of my own so they be more tailored to my campaign and level.
Great characters, but I really REALLY want to see some stats. Come on editor, we need some stats. It's just two guys. Please?

I'm curious as to why people feel that they need stats for NPCs like Gergul and Mithgryn.

First, stats pin NPCs to a level. If we state that these graverobbers are level 5 monsters, DMs running higher level games will be discouraged from using them. We want them to be useful in any campaign at any level.

Second, do your characters intend to fight them? Stats drive combat, and the presence of stats encourages combat. That's not what these characters are about. They're not warriors. If someone really, really insists on bullying these two guys into an alley and ramming 3 feet of steel through their guts, then pick some human stats of an appropriate level out of the Monster Manual and let them have their sadistic fun.

Occasionally, we'll offer stats for something that appears in Eye on the Realms, but only if in our estimation and Ed's, stats actually serve the purpose of the article. In this particular case, we feel that they would have only steered attention away from the point and diminished the article.

Steve

If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

That's true, though it may be that 4th edition is very combat-based and therefor statistics and rule mechanics are expected for most everything.
It's like Knights of the Dinner Table: if you add flavor in your decriptions and mention a flock of birds, some people will want to fight the flock of birds... :P

I found the two men had a bit of a 'Burke and Hare' feel, by the way.
And I think the accompanying image does not seem like it fits either of the two (they seemed younger?).

Gomez

As graverobbers and murderers, I would expect that most players would fight them eventually, and I think that the article depicts them more or less as villains (as well as being somewhat skilled warriors).  Sure, they could also serve as morally dubious contacts for the PCs, but lots of adventuring parties would try to kill or imprison the duo as soon as they got the information they needed.  They also don't strike me as particularly high-level threats (if I had to peg them at a level based on the article, I would say mid to high heroic).

In addition, I don't play in the Realms and rarely read articles in this series more than once.  If there's something cool in one of them that could fit my campaign, hopefully I'd remember it in the future so I could adapt it for my purposes.  However, I'm much more likely to actually use material from these articles if I "re-discovered" an interesting stat block or rules element while browsing the Compendium or Monster Builder.

Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon
Since NPC stats in 4e are relatively simple and abstract, it makes sense to see NPCs like grave robbers have several versions.  Just get a feel for where in a tier they might fall and stat 3 versions in that part of each tier.  Maybe there is a version at 5, 15 and 25.  That way they hit mid heroic, mid paragon and mid epic tiers.  The stats would just be appropriately scaled and contain a few minor power differences by tier.

Edit:  For me, hallmarks of the 2e and 3e Realms were NPC, town, region and other stats.  It was rare to see an NPC mentioned with out at least a parenthetical Alignment, Level, Class, etc mentioned, even if they were not full stated out.  This is the D&D game and we should be getting game elements to go with it.

I'm curious as to why people feel that they need stats for NPCs like Gergul and Mithgryn.



Because there is so little crunch in the magazines these days? You also don't realize that stats for them could equally be used for another thing, especially if the stat blocks are good. Good stat blocks are universal, a concept that I feel Wizards used to understand and now don't (hence why most articles seem to be cutting on stat blocks heavily).

DMs running higher level games will be discouraged from using them. We want them to be useful in any campaign at any level.



At higher levels their stats would be irrelevant, I don't believe there are a great deal of epic tier human grave robbers running about in any world - even FR. I might think low paragon is sensible, but anywhere in heroic, especially low to mid-heroic would be absolute best for these guys stat wise. At paragon/epic levels their stats are irrelevant because the PCs outlevel them so much. At heroic tier, they are actually pretty logical and having stats would be good.

Second, do your characters intend to fight them?



They're grave robbers, who will be frequently working for generally more nefarious sorts like necromancers. I felt this would have been a given they would frequently be antagonists.

I'm curious as to why people feel that they need stats for NPCs like Gergul and Mithgryn.

First, stats pin NPCs to a level. If we state that these graverobbers are level 5 monsters, DMs running higher level games will be discouraged from using them. We want them to be useful in any campaign at any level.

Second, do your characters intend to fight them? Stats drive combat, and the presence of stats encourages combat. That's not what these characters are about. They're not warriors. If someone really, really insists on bullying these two guys into an alley and ramming 3 feet of steel through their guts, then pick some human stats of an appropriate level out of the Monster Manual and let them have their sadistic fun.

Occasionally, we'll offer stats for something that appears in Eye on the Realms, but only if in our estimation and Ed's, stats actually serve the purpose of the article. In this particular case, we feel that they would have only steered attention away from the point and diminished the article.

Steve



This is an excellent, well thought out response. You brought up many good points, I especially like the idea of not pinning them to a level. However, a precedent has been set in many past 4e products whereby named characters get stat blocks. For example, in DMG1 the guy who runs the store was given a stat block (Naermar? can't quite remember) and in the 4e Eberron CG everyone and their dog gets a stats block. I suspect that my own desire to see stat blocks comes from the expectation of stat blocks and a percieved loss when they are not there. In hindsight, I agree with your opinions and I'm okay with the lack of stats. But don't be surprised if others are not. Like I said, a precedent was set with prior publications.
Normally, I wouldn't expect stats from Ed's NPCs, who normally do operate in a role where combat is not especially relevant - as players behind the scenes, or contacts for PCs, or the like.

This article, though, specifically describes the skills and capabilities of these guys and specific tricks they use in combat. That sets the image for an exciting and interesting combat if PCs do end up fighting these guys. Unfortunately, without stats for them, the DM either needs to grab appropriate stats from an MM (which won't live up to these guys reputation) or come up with stats on their own - no easy task given their unique capabilities.

I don't think all NPC articles need stats, but this one absolutely has a place for it.

As for level, that's a fair point. But I don't imagine it would be a problem to put them in at mid-Heroic level, and then have a sidebar with some possible upgrades (in addition to raw numerical bonuses) for them showing up at early Paragon level. And, as others have pointed out above, Epic level wouldn't really be a good fit for them anyway.
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