Building a Villain as a PC

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Hey guys, this is kind of a weird question... but hopefully someone can help me out here.

How do I go about making a Villain for a campaign that is essentially using the same leveling system as a Playable Character? I know there are Monster Templates and Themes that can add class-specific abilities to pre-made enemies, but what would I do if I wanted to simply build a Playable Character of equivalent level to the PC Party and make him/her a stand-alone villain?

Would I simply level him/her to the Party's level, and assume with proper item selection and stat distribution that the enemy is balanced for the players? Or do I need to under/over scale them to provide adequate challenge?

Any help would be appreciated on the matter. 
How do I go about making a Villain for a campaign that is essentially using the same leveling system as a Playable Character? I know there are Monster Templates and Themes that can add class-specific abilities to pre-made enemies, but what would I do if I wanted to simply build a Playable Character of equivalent level to the PC Party and make him/her a stand-alone villain?
 


 The short answer is, you don't.  PCs aren't designed to fight other PCs... Even in a one-on-one fight, it's almost an absolute certainty that whoever goes first will win. An entire party will obliterate a single PC of their own level (or even a couple levels higher) in one round. That's what the monster templates and themes are designed for.
 Your best option is to find a Solo monster (which doesn't actually mean that it's going to be the only monster in the fight) that does essentially what you want the villain to do and simply reskin it to better fit your purpose using the themes and templates. Stat blocks are just numbers - what they look like and what they represent in-game from a narrative point of view are entirely separate from the mechanical effects of what they do in game terms.
 You can design your own Solo monster from the ground up if you want, but design it as a monster using the monster rules, not as a PC using the character rules.

  (Just as an aside, villains and npcs don't need to have stats until and unless the party interacts with them in a way that requires rolling dice to resolve - for the purposes of plot and storyline, they can do whatever the story requires them to do without needing a specific power or game-rule explanation to justify it. They have the Power of Plot. It's only when the party uses a skill against them or initiates combat that you need to have stats for them.)

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Seconding Mad_Jack's comments.

A PC-built opponent will either be a total cakewalk or for the PCs or a TPK. And the latter is only if you make it so high a level that the PCs just plain cannot touch it.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
Thank you for the swift responses.

Well, on the subject of character themes and templates: is there any sourcebook that contains PHB3 class templates? I was aiming to make a wizard/psion villain.

Also, when you apply a theme/template to a monster... how drastically does it ramp up that monsters difficulty? Is there like, a "limit" to the number of Templates and Themes I should apply to one creature at a time?
Just compare its attack boni and defenses versus normal monsters. This could give you an idea of its power.

I often look at PC classes when designing boss monsters for the PCs to fight. But I only use their powers to get an idea what they should be able to accomplish.
Items are only used, if the PCs should acquire them afterwards, but again I only use special properties/powers and have them not affect defenses or to hit values in a meaningful way.

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Thank you for the swift responses.

Well, on the subject of character themes and templates: is there any sourcebook that contains PHB3 class templates? I was aiming to make a wizard/psion villain.

Also, when you apply a theme/template to a monster... how drastically does it ramp up that monsters difficulty? Is there like, a "limit" to the number of Templates and Themes I should apply to one creature at a time?



Honestly I haven't used templates in ages. My suggestion would be to simply make (or take) and elite or solo of appropriate  level and give it powers from the class(es) you want, and make its NADs relative to what you want (being a wizard/psion he probably has a slightly higher will at the expense of lower fort). If it is a solo its definitely going to want a way to attack twice, or be packing some good aoe.

Templates  upgrade a standard monster to an elite, and i think 2 templates would bring one to a solo. The issue more arrises with the defence bonuses stacking, as they can make the enemy increasingly hard to hit.

Multiple Monster themes are unlikely to directly increase power unless they come into effect as minor action attacks and auras. A creature only gets so many actions in around, having 1000 standard action attacks doesnt mean much if you last 3 rounds and only use 3.
Lots of good advice here from experienced players, you'd be well advised to follow them. A villain designed like a PC will be a very unsatisfying end to whatever story you're trying to tell.

The best advice I can give is to forget custom design and take an elite or solo monster from one of the later books (MM3, MV, Dark Sun Creature book, Demonomicon, MV: TNV, Shadowfell, Gardmore Abbey) and reskin it as something else.

Unless you are very comfortable with the math and combat mechanics in 4e, there is a high likelihood you'll end up making a bad guy that will be either a cakewalk or TPK. This is especially true at higher levels where PC's have huge resources and monsters have to be borderline overpowered to challenge them.

Unless you really have system mastery, don't mess too much with solo design. And NEVER use a solo from MM1, they are flat out horrible grind fests or cake walks depending on whether or not the party can stun/daze/dominate them out of existance.
Moved to What's a DM to do? per VCL request.
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