Different rules for monsters

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Anyone have a problem explaining to players that monsters follow different rules than PCs?

I can think of three situations were the PCs felt it wasn't fair. 

1. Mounted combat.    

2. Monster HPs, one time I had a hard time explaining why the monster who had a class template, Human barbarian (elite brute) had way more hit points then the human barbarian in the party.    

3. Action points.   

How have you managed these situations in your 4e game?
 


Not at all. I just say "It's for balance." And that usually stops it.

And if a player desperately wants to play a monster; that's fine by me. They'll realise halfway through the encounter that for all of a monster's fun powers, it gets boring in the second encounter and only having 1 Healing Surge sucks a lot.
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I once statted out a human cleric, who was the villain of the campaign, as a solo monster. Some of my players were stunned at how he could take on the whole party, despite being "a human cleric". I explained it as the fact that he had the direct backing of his deity at the time, but frankly, some players just dont get that the monsters are statted out according to the story and not to any sense of equality to player characters (who themselves are ridiculously powerful).

Think of monsters as the Yin to the players Yang.  They are are complimentary opposites designed to work together for the goal of a fun and interesting story. 

Anyone have a problem explaining to players that monsters follow different rules than PCs?

No.  Though, when I run, it's not a campaign, just a one-shot at con or an introductory game at some sort of event, and the players are more focused on the rules that impact their characters directly.  I keep the monster mechanics 'behind the curtain' so it's not an issue....

 

 

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Not really, it's a story/narrative based game ... Why are the PCs different to commoners?  Why are the central protagonists in a TV series more likely to survive than 'red shirts'?
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Here's how you cure your problem. Generate a complete encounter, made with the CB, make the monsters as if they were PCs, and give them every last opportunity a player would have.

Then have your evil party of monster PC wannabes rip apart the group.  Then tell the group, just kidding, but I needed to show you how utterly wrong it is to pretend monsters have it good.
I don't play 4th edition D&D for Wizard's sake I play it for my sake.
First to address your 3 "problems".

1) Mounted combat -> Keep in mind that depending on your interpretation of a "monster", mounted combat might actually be a place where the monsters are weaker.  For example, the "Sorcerer mounted on a dragon" could simply be one stat block that basically treats both parts as one creature.

Even if you choose to have two separate stats blocks, the advantage is minimal.  The creatures act on separate turns, which makes it hard to combine actions.  And, there are no inherent bonuses for being mounted.  In fact, in general, being mounted comes with as many penalties as benefits (easier to target, easier to flank, etc.).

2) You are explaining hit points the wrong way.  Hit points are relative to scale.  PC attacks have a broader scale than NPC attacks, so monsters have a different hit point scale in order to better highlight the differences in PC damage.  Also, monster hit points represent the concept that monsters also use "healing" during combat.  But, rather than give a lot of healing powers to monsters (which has the potential to seriously make combats lopsided), the healing is just represented as higher hit points.

3) The action point disparity comes up in one situation and one situation only: solo monsters.  They are an exception.  You will note that some PCs can get powers or abilities that give them the same exception as well.



Now, onto the general statement.  Monster stats are designed to be meaningful for a single encounter.  If monsters were built like PCs they would have a lot of very meaningless stats (like a whole parcel of healing surges they couldn't use).  They would also be overpowered because they have no incentive not to use all of their daily powers right up front (it isn't like they have to worry about the next encounter).  Best case scenario, an even level "PC-built" monster would be equally powerful to a PC, which would give the PC a 50% of dying in an even fight.  More realistically, the monster would actually have a solid edge.  A 50%+ chance of dying in every fight is NOT fun.

-SYB
Also regarding the mounted combat thing; you can easily replace "Mount" with "Companion Character that allows you to ride it" and use the Monster Rules for mounted combat. Of course this means that an extra monster will be added to each encounter or players will earn less XP from combat to keep it fair.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Anyone have a problem explaining to players that monsters follow different rules than PCs?


No.

I can think of three situations were the PCs felt it wasn't fair.


The PCs are fictional. Who cares what they have to say.

How have you managed these situations in your 4e game?


I manage by gaming with players who are more concerned with having a good time than adhering to some illusion of "fairness".
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I manage by gaming with players who are more concerned with having a good time than adhering to some illusion of "fairness".



This. And most of my players have been around since BD&D, where monsters don't follow the same rules as PCs. Monsters playing by the same rules is purely a 3Eism.
Yeah, I have to admit, if a player asked me why his character couldn't bite, claw, claw, wing, wing, tail slap, I would probably just tell him to shut the hell up.

-SYB
I manage by gaming with players who are more concerned with having a good time than adhering to some illusion of "fairness".



This. And most of my players have been around since BD&D, where monsters don't follow the same rules as PCs. Monsters playing by the same rules is purely a 3Eism.



I think its even a RuneQuest-ism ... its certainly not a D&D tradition.
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The only time it's ever caused problems for believability is where the monster is an NPC or a playable race and purportedly with powers similar to the PCs.

Once I had an NPC wizard who was supposed to have been trained by the same wizard mentor the PC possessed.  The players noted that the NPC wizard's spells did more damage than the PC wizard's spells, among other issues.

Since then I've always taken care to make the NPCs (as oppoeed to the monsters) more carefully similar to the PCs statwise.
Why not just tell the players "balance"? The characters are unlikely to notice it being off anyway Tongue out
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Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Yeah, I have to admit, if a player asked me why his character couldn't bite, claw, claw, wing, wing, tail slap, I would probably just tell him to shut the hell up.

-SYB


Ha, this is what I'd do as well.

I can't imagine having a problem with it at the table, though, that "because it's easier for me, as the DM, and it's easier to balance" wouldn't solve.

Unless the player was just trying to be a jerk about it in the first place.
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It's an issue of 'verisimilitude' or simulation, yeah.  There are aproaches to gaming, or styles of play, that really count on the rules acting more like impartial 'laws of physics' with less abstraction.  Rulesets like 3.x/Pathfinder (or as Garthanos pointed out, old-school RuneQuest) cater more to that style of play. 

 

 

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I've never had it come up, personally.  I don't think anyone in my group cares.  The only questions I ever get are ones like, "Can I headbutt the dragon?", "How much damage can I do hitting the orc with his dead friend?", "How hard would it be for my goliath to pull the goblin's head off?", "Do kobolds taste good?"
I manage by gaming with players who are more concerned with having a good time than adhering to some illusion of "fairness".



This. And most of my players have been around since BD&D, where monsters don't follow the same rules as PCs. Monsters playing by the same rules is purely a 3Eism.



I think its even a RuneQuest-ism ... its certainly not a D&D tradition.




In older editions it is true that most monsters used Hit Dice (d8's) to determine HP's, but that die was the middle ground for hit points in the system.  Overall I think it worked out great because it made the Rogues and wizards a little weaker than the monsters, kept the clerics at the same, and made the fighters a little stronger.     In previous editions, even before 3.5e, npc used the same rules for selecting spells and they even had spell books.    If you could cast a particular spell so could an npc wizard.   Maybe you are thinking about one particular game mechanic that I'm forgetting about, but in general, weapon damage, armor class, spells etc were all the same.     I really do think it is a D&D tradition to keep the rules the same.   




 
It's an issue of 'verisimilitude' or simulation, yeah.  There are aproaches to gaming, or styles of play, that really count on the rules acting more like impartial 'laws of physics' with less abstraction.  Rulesets like 3.x/Pathfinder (or as Garthanos pointed out, old-school RuneQuest) cater more to that style of play. 




yeah, I was look at Castles & Crusades the other day, I really started to miss that particular brand of D&D.      
Anyone have a problem explaining to players that monsters follow different rules than PCs?

I can think of three situations were the PCs felt it wasn't fair. 

1. Mounted combat.    

2. Monster HPs, one time I had a hard time explaining why the monster who had a class template, Human barbarian (elite brute) had way more hit points then the human barbarian in the party.    

3. Action points.   

How have you managed these situations in your 4e game?

Even at the start of my adventuring days in CRPG D&D (I guess 2.0 and 3.0/3.5) and TRPG 4.0 D&D I never bothered talking about monsters at all, since I was too busy working on my own character.  Ever since I started DMing, I easily saw why monsters follow different creation rules:

1. Player characters take significantly more time to develop, even with the character builder.  An experienced DM would definitely take less time in creating monsters using the given template, regardless if the creature is humanoid or not.  Giving humanoid monsters different building rules relative to non-humanoid monsters is extra rules that limit the capabilities of humanoid monsters (can never be solo or standard [only elite or minion, and only minion because it's easy to turn standard HP to 1 HP, and rolled damage to average-based static damage], can only have PC powers [even if the story gives them access to unique spells or abilities], can never have themes, etc.), and even if you reuse the templates later on, it's not like players are so stupid that they can't recall attack patterns and monster attacks, so the moment they recognize you using the same player template, they can easily set up for it, just like if you used the same monster template... so why the extra effort needed?

2. Most of the player character components aren't necessary for monsters to function.  Do monsters need lots of healing surges?  Do monsters need daily powers on a regular basis?  Do monsters tend to use skills?  Perhaps in other DMs' games they all apply, but for the general setting I do believe monsters use ability checks more often than skill checks, only elites and solos get daily powers, and most of the time healing surges simply delay a fight's inevitability, so most monsters don't even bother with Second Wind, let alone healing.

I once statted out a human cleric, who was the villain of the campaign, as a solo monster. Some of my players were stunned at how he could take on the whole party, despite being "a human cleric". I explained it as the fact that he had the direct backing of his deity at the time, but frankly, some players just dont get that the monsters are statted out according to the story and not to any sense of equality to player characters (who themselves are ridiculously powerful).

That's one way to explain it.  Another way is that he simply is too stubborn to die just like that; just because he's human doesn't mean he isn't awesome ;)

More realistically, the monster would actually have a solid edge.  A 50%+ chance of dying in every fight is NOT fun.

-SYB

Technically, monsters would almost always have a significant advantage over regular (non-PC) opponents because of advantages in numbers, in firepower, and in terrain advantage (otherwise caravan-raiding would be so disadvantageous a tactic that bandits would just give up and have themselves fed by dungeonkeepers or something like that).  PCs are supposed to be elites, and thus are evenly matched or even superior to enemies in spite of numbers, firepower and terrain advantage... but that's assuming we're using the recommendations and builds in the DMG and MM.  If, let's say, all bandits in this raid had PC stats, as well as the bodyguards who are helping the PCs:

* The bodyguards and PCs have a long day ahead, so might end up saving their dailies for much later.
* The raiders have friends who can take their place after the hit-and-run, so they can spend all their dailies and take extended rests immediately after.
* The raiders would likely be superior in numbers, and have terrain advantage on top of that.

Five raiders using Blade Cascade along with five raiders spamming Twin Strike all over the place, with the ranged raiders having cover/superior cover and the melee raiders having Boots of the Fencing Master, and MC Rogue for Hunter's Quarry + Sneak Attack + minor action offhand attack + Twin Strike.

Let's see how quickly the party goes down.

I'd say that PCs vs PC-like monsters would give monsters a 90+% chance of winning unless you put those monsters at a lower level than PCs.

[ EDIT: This is realistically why you have guerilla tactics being so effective in forested and similar areas, the most recent example being Al Qaeda and its hideout(s) in the deserts and mountains.  Even if they're all out of their normal element, their sheer numbers combined with adequate strategy would put the players at a seriious disadvantage unless the players come up with additional support and tactics as well, turning our high fantasy RPG into a wargame... which, although technicaly really is going back to the D&D roots -- Chainmail -- isn't exactly focusing on the players as heroes, is it? ]

The only time it's ever caused problems for believability is where the monster is an NPC or a playable race and purportedly with powers similar to the PCs.

Once I had an NPC wizard who was supposed to have been trained by the same wizard mentor the PC possessed.  The players noted that the NPC wizard's spells did more damage than the PC wizard's spells, among other issues.

Since then I've always taken care to make the NPCs (as oppoeed to the monsters) more carefully similar to the PCs statwise.

I'd say that the NPC Wizard ought to have been a Character Companion instead, which would have put his damage well below PC expectations (level/2 + stat modifier, which at level 12 and 18 starting Int would be +10; in comparison, a level 12, 18 starting Int PC wizard would have +6 from Int, +3 from enhancement bonus, and maybe +2 from implement focus for a total of +11 [which isn't even the best that he could do; our level 12 LFR Wizard pumps out +17 damage regularly, +23 damage against a single target via Silver Fire]).
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In older editions it is true that most monsters used Hit Dice (d8's) to determine HP's, but that die was the middle ground for hit points in the system.  Overall I think it worked out great because it made the Rogues and wizards a little weaker than the monsters, kept the clerics at the same, and made the fighters a little stronger.     In previous editions, even before 3.5e, npc used the same rules for selecting spells and they even had spell books.    If you could cast a particular spell so could an npc wizard.   Maybe you are thinking about one particular game mechanic that I'm forgetting about, but in general, weapon damage, armor class, spells etc were all the same.     I really do think it is a D&D tradition to keep the rules the same.    

Prior to 3e, monsters rarely had stat numbers called out beyond a range of INT (like 'animal,' or 'low' or 'supra-genius') some, like Ogres and giants had specific STR scores, but, even then, they didn't add to monsters' attack & damage, it was all 'assumed' to be part of their hit dice.  Hit dice didn't map to levels, either.  Monsters used their own hit-dice based attack matrix.  Where PCs had stats, classes, race and equipment, monsters had a completely different stat block.  Monster AC didn't map to the kind of armor they wore, nor did their weapon use map to their damage.  Monsters just got whatever the author or DM felt like giving them.  A monster might 'cast sells as a 7th level magic user' or use 'continual light' at-will 'as the spell,' but they were just referencing mechanics, they didn't follow the same rules as the PCs, at all.  I think 2e might have started giving monsters stats... but they were still quite distinct from PCs

3e gave all monsters the same 6 stats as PCs, the same bonuses for those stats (which made giants and other very large monsters horrifyingly effective due to overwhelming STR), similar skill-point distributions and feats.  Monsters could have classes just like PCs or even be played as PCs via Level Adjustments.  

4e returned to monsters being very different from PCs, with just the mechanics needed for their roles as monsters.  Relatively few monsters were made playable as PCs, and even those that were varied a bit between the 'monster' and 'race' versions.

 

 

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I've never had it come up, personally.  I don't think anyone in my group cares.  The only questions I ever get are ones like, "Can I headbutt the dragon?", "How much damage can I do hitting the orc with his dead friend?", "How hard would it be for my goliath to pull the goblin's head off?", "Do kobolds taste good?"



Yes; 1d20 + your Strength modifier; POP!; Let's ask Mr. Owl

-SYB
It's an issue of 'verisimilitude' or simulation, yeah.  There are aproaches to gaming, or styles of play, that really count on the rules acting more like impartial 'laws of physics' with less abstraction.  Rulesets like 3.x/Pathfinder (or as Garthanos pointed out, old-school RuneQuest) cater more to that style of play. 


Not directed at you, but I don't think any system has done simulation right. What's the effect of the Michelson–Morley experiment on the point of origin of spell casting. Does relativity exist? How does genitics work? What is the chemical psychology inside an NPCs head and how does it respond to stimuli?

The rules for even a simple fantasy world couldn't fit in a book let alone a library of books.
Let anyone who complains DM an encounter with five or more fully statted PC-type enemies to run, which they have to build themselves, and then see how they like it.  Then you can bust their chops by looking at the character sheets for each monster and pointing out the illegal elements

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Oh look, another thread with kev being unhappy with 4th edition.

Will wonders never cease.

On topic, my players expected the monsters to be lesser than them, to not fucntion as a PC would.
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Oh look, another thread with kev being unhappy with 4th edition.

Will wonders never cease.

It's an interesting exercise to see why his being unhappy is wholly out of place.

Off-topic, I might risk an edition war or something to that degree, but from all the posting I've seen in the past few months about 3.xE relative to other editions (not just 4E), i'm beginning to think that of all editions, 3.xE was the least D&D-like edition, and 4E is the closest to the original feel and mechanics set by 2E and earlier, contrary to supporters of the 3.xE edition.  Feel free to convince me otherwise, but probably through PM rather than through discussion here (unless you're willing to keep the conversation civil and as close to the original post as possible).
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Why are the PCs different to commoners?

{Philosoraptor}Why are the PCs different from commoners?{/Philosoraptor}

Or, a better question, two farmboys join the militia and recieve equal training, and are the only survivors when they are ambushed by monsters. One becomes a PC. One becomes an NPC. Why are they different?

This is realistically why you have guerilla tactics being so effective in forested and similar areas, the most recent example being Al Qaeda and its hideout(s) in the deserts and mountains.  Even if they're all out of their normal element, their sheer numbers combined with adequate strategy would put the players at a seriious disadvantage unless the players come up with additional support and tactics as well, turning our high fantasy RPG into a wargame... which, although technicaly really is going back to the D&D roots -- Chainmail -- isn't exactly focusing on the players as heroes, is it?

It is a bit more philosoraptorian, but really: that depends a lot on what your definition of "hero" is.

---
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Why not just tell the players "balance"? The characters are unlikely to notice it being off anyway Tongue out

Who cares what the characters notice or think? While talking about out-of-game concepts, it's way more important what the players notice or think, no? :P

As for "balance", that's one of those answers that explains the why, but isn't particularly satisfying, and invites the question of, or at least wondering, "why was it designed to be balanced like that?"

----
----

Let anyone who complains DM an encounter with five or more fully statted PC-type enemies to run, which they have to build themselves, and then see how they like it.

Speaking of experience from 3x, rather than 4e, but I don't see how it differs that much ... It's actually pretty fun. What point are you trying to make?
Or, a better question, two farmboys join the militia and recieve equal training, and are the only survivors when they are ambushed by monsters. One becomes a PC. One becomes an NPC. Why are they different?



Because the one who becomes the PC is the elite who is central to the story, while the NPC is the companion who simply supports the PC.  If they have equal importance in the story, or if the NPC is more important to the story than the PC is, then what are the players there for?

It is a bit more philosoraptorian, but really: that depends a lot on what your definition of "hero" is.



In the general sense of "hero", even the average joe sacrificing his time and effort to help others can be considered a "hero", but as mentioned in the PHB 1:

You take on the role of a legendary hero—a skilled fighter, a courageous cleric, a deadly rogue, or a spell-hurling wizard



Your character is a combination of the fantastic hero in your mind’s eye and the different game rules that describe what he or she can do.



(emphasis mine)

Simply put, no we're not talking about normal day-to-day heroes, we're talking about Heroes level heroes and beyond.  We're talking about heroes who rise up to the call of adventure and who dare go where even the gods fear to tread.

Who cares what the characters notice or think? While talking about out-of-game concepts, it's way more important what the players notice or think, no? :P

As for "balance", that's one of those answers that explains the why, but isn't particularly satisfying, and invites the question of, or at least wondering, "why was it designed to be balanced like that?"



I'm pretty sure it's "balanced like that" in order to put emphasis on the PCs without overwhelming them or underthreatening them.

Why? Because as mentioned before, the players are central to the story and are meant to go through various challenges, both combat-wise and non-combat-wise, so the normal opponents they face should be powerful enough to threaten, but not too powerful as to cut the story short.

How do you do that if your players and monsters have the same design template, and not have combat break down into an arms race between player and DM?  And if players and monsters have the same design template, then how do you create fantastic monsters that do unique stuff, as opposed to simply humanoid monsters who are higher level than player characters?

And coming from someone who actually does pilot/manage multiple player character sheets at a time -- sometimes up to 4 character sheets (my wife's while she's taking care of the baby, my own, and up to two players who are absent or in the comfort room or what not) -- even if it is possible to use the powers, look up the traits, monitor everything, and even roleplay each character as how I know they ought to be done, it is not an easy task, especially for newbie players.  If a DM has to monitor two dozen different types of monsters over the course of a game -- even if half of them are mere alterations or modifications to one or two monster types -- it definitely helps if the monster stats are as simple as possible, without having to go through all sorts of convoluted stuff, so that not only is the creation simple enough, but also the actual use of these monster stats.
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This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Agh. Tired. Better reply tomorrow. Just wanted to reply to this part atm:

If they have equal importance in the story, or if the NPC is more important to the story than the PC is, then what are the players there for?

This continually rings of some sort of false equivalence to me, that "equal stats" or "equal rules" equates to "equal importance" to the story. I'm curious as to the logic and the set of premises that leads to that conclusion.

Or, a better question, two farmboys join the militia and recieve equal training, and are the only survivors when they are ambushed by monsters. One becomes a PC. One becomes an NPC. Why are they different? 



Think back to high school. You all received the same basic training. How many of those people were your clones? How many were different, simply because they were different people?

Now imagine the story being told from the viewpoint of the most capable person in your school, with everyone else in that school being less capable, either to the point of "close, but no cigar" or "not even in the same league" level, and it shouldn't be hard to understand why others have less capabilities, sometimes surprisingly much so, even when they come from the same school.

As for "balance", that's one of those answers that explains the why, but isn't particularly satisfying, and invites the question of, or at least wondering, "why was it designed to be balanced like that?"



I invite any such player to read The Art of Game Design or another such book, then design a game or two of his own, and then if he still wonders why the balance is such or thinks it's being done wrong, I'll invite him over for an evening of drinks, snacks and game design discussion. But not during the game, and not if you have no clue what you're talking about.
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Or, a better question, two farmboys join the militia and recieve equal training, and are the only survivors when they are ambushed by monsters. One becomes a PC. One becomes an NPC. Why are they different?

Because one is Biggs, and the other is Luke ****ing Skywalker.  One is destined to become great, the other is destined to become vapor over the wreckage of the first Death Star, galvanizing Luke into action.

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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
It's an issue of 'verisimilitude'


Actually it's the opposite of verisimilitude since stats and mechanics are an entirely meta aspect of the game. Monsters do not have to follow the same set of behind-the-screen mechanics to be verisimilar, they only need to adhere to the parameters established for monsters within the world.

What negatively impacts verisimilitude are NPCs - like some mentioned within this very thread - which are purported to be on par with the PCs yet demonstrate powers and abilities that far outstrip them.

Marty Feldman described verisimilitude well. If you've got five men on stage dressed in carrot costumes and standing on garbage cans and then a man walk in dressed in a business suit you'd better have a damned good explanation for why that man isn't wearing a carrot costume and standing in a garbage can.
Advice for DMs: When you are ad lib or improve DMing don't self-edit yourself. Some of the most fun you'll ever have is by just going with whatever crazy thing crosses your mind based on what your players are doing. Advice for Players: When your DM is ad libbing there are bound to be plot holes and inconsistencies that crop up. You'll all have a lot more fun if you just roll with it instead of nitpicking the details.
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Advice for DMs: Always dangle a lot of plot hooks in front of you players. Anything they do not bite you can bring back and bite them later. When considering a new house rule ask yourself the question "Will this make the game more fun?" Unless the answer is a resounding yes don't do it. Advice for Players: Always tell the DM not just what you want to do but also what you are hoping to accomplish. No matter how logical the result is it will never happen if it simply never occurred to the DM. "That's what my character would do" is not a valid excuse for being a disruptive ass at the table. Your right to have fun only extends to the point where it impedes the ability of others to do likewise.
In answer to the original question:

I have only had a player question the difference between PCs and monsters/NPCs once.  It was the very first time my friend played 4E, and the party was fighting kobolds.  When the first kobold shifted as a minor action, he thought I was cheating.  I said that it was a power kobolds get.  He said, "Oh, ok".  And that was that.

The bottom line here is that if your players dislike NPCs and monster being different in terms of mechanics, then make them the same.  You can make every NPC using full PC rules, you can alter monster HP to make it the same as the PCs, and you can give monsters PC powers.

It is important to remember that in 4E the game mechanics (and that includes damage and defences) are all relative to the PCs. They change even when the PCs become more powerful, for example think how a young dragon would be a level 4 solo when facing level 4 PCs, a level 8 elite when facing 8th level PCs, a level 12 regular monster when facing level 12 PCs and a level 20 minion when facing level 21 PCs. The fact is that level for a monster means something different than level does for a PC (it is much more comparable to the CR of 3E).

It is a different philosophical approach to a game like 3E where the mechanics for both monsters and PCs are relative to the same point 0. It means that 4E monster function well when monsters are facing PCs, but they can fail if monsters face monsters. Normally that is not a big problem, since under most circumstances you do not spend much time on monster vs. monster battles, but if a NPC that is supposed to be on par with the PCs travels for a long time with the PCs you need to modify their stats.

Personally I have never players wonder about the abilities of monsters. It is not as if in RL people are the same, let alone that a human can do the same as a cat. Besides, my players are well aware of the relativity behind the game mechanics. When they even think about a monster as level 8 ranger (and they rarely take such a meta-game approach to a fight), they think that five of those would be a appropriate challenge to 5 8th level PCs, never as that 8th level ranger IS the same as an 8th level PC.

Note btw as Pluisjen pointed out, the NPCs can very much follow the same mounted combat rules as the PCs. I have done so when I wanted the mounts to have the same indirect role (bag of hit points that does not act independendly of the rider) in a fight as the intent is of those rules for the PCs. If I run them as fully independend creatures I will give the PCs xp as if they are independend creatures. This is a decision of the DM and has nothing to do with the mechanics. The mechanics allow mounts to be independend creatures on the side of the PCs as well in which case you would not be following the mount rules either.

Or, a better question, two farmboys join the militia and recieve equal training, and are the only survivors when they are ambushed by monsters. One becomes a PC. One becomes an NPC. Why are they different?

Because one is Biggs, and the other is Luke ****ing Skywalker.  One is destined to become great, the other is destined to become vapor over the wreckage of the first Death Star, galvanizing Luke into action.

Actually, the differences between Biggs and Luke can be explained by class choice (since Luke multiclassed into Jedi and recieved all the attendent hax), by background choice (instruction by Obi-Wan) and by level (by that time he was certainly a few levels higher than Biggs). If the DM had let Biggs' also multiclasss into Jedi and gave him a few more levels he likely would have survived, too. :P

Personally I have never players wonder about the abilities of monsters. It is not as if in RL people are the same, let alone that a human can do the same as a cat.

No, but it is generally that the differences in people are better explained by differences in class, level, and stats, modified by background, instead of a magic switch thrown between "PC" and "NPC", and it comes from emerging from being an NPC and rising up to do awesome things that makes PCs more interesting than being born a PC. These differences are outcomes of unified mechanics.


But remember, kids! Being defined as a hero by your equipment instead of your actions is bad! Being defined as a hero by other game mechanics that are not unqiue to you and that anyone could take or have, which also make things easier for you, is not at all the same, and is perfectly fine! Somehow.
But remember, kids! Being defined as a hero by your equipment instead of your actions is bad! Being defined as a hero by other game mechanics that are not unqiue to you and that anyone could take or have, which also make things easier for you, is not at all the same, and is perfectly fine! Somehow.



  Thanks for the laugh.  That was very nicely done.
No, but it is generally that the differences in people are better explained by differences in class, level, and stats, modified by background, instead of a magic switch thrown between "PC" and "NPC", and it comes from emerging from being an NPC and rising up to do awesome things that makes PCs more interesting than being born a PC. These differences are outcomes of unified mechanics.



Better for you. I've enjoyed many more years of D&D where the characters follow a different set of rules than the PCs. To each their own.

No, but it is generally that the differences in people are better explained by differences in class, level, and stats, modified by background, instead of a magic switch thrown between "PC" and "NPC", and it comes from emerging from being an NPC and rising up to do awesome things that makes PCs more interesting than being born a PC. These differences are outcomes of unified mechanics.



Better for you. I've enjoyed many more years of D&D where the characters follow a different set of rules than the PCs. To each their own.





To clarify: I find explaining differences by class, level, and stats, modified by background fun when I'm focusing on a single character (i.e. I am a player). I do not find this fun when I am in charge of populating the rest of the entire world.
No, but it is generally that the differences in people are better explained by differences in class, level, and stats, modified by background, instead of a magic switch thrown between "PC" and "NPC", and it comes from emerging from being an NPC and rising up to do awesome things that makes PCs more interesting than being born a PC. These differences are outcomes of unified mechanics.



Better for you. I've enjoyed many more years of D&D where the characters follow a different set of rules than the PCs. To each their own.





To clarify: I find explaining differences by class, level, and stats, modified by background fun when I'm focusing on a single character (i.e. I am a player). I do not find this fun when I am in charge of populating the rest of the entire world.



To further clarify, did you mean "...follow a different set of rules than the NPCs." or did you mean that "...monsters follow a different set..."?  As it's written, you have characters (which are PCs) following a different set of rules than the PCs. (which are characters) Tongue out