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I've just now decided to access the resources that are the Wizards forums. Haven't been here in quite some time. I'm trying to make a decision for the D&D 4e campaign I'm running for a couple of my friends. I want to make a party that they will meet with occaisionally, but the other party are complete antithesis to the players. The problem is that I don't really like the way monster stats and NPC stats are made for the game. It doesn't feel right for this party.
Is there any major detriment to fully making stats in the normal PC way for these NPCs? What do I lose when I don't use NPC generation?
NPCs shouldn't have the full PC's character sheet worth of powers and abilities, it's just not meant to be like that. I suggest using the DMG/Dragon Mag to generate the NPCs as Companion Characters or the like. If you really have to make them like a real PC's stats, use Essentials. But again, my overall advice is to not do it, period.
Okay, I can take advice like that, but why not? Even if the system isn't meant to do it, I see them as a pretty substantial tool if they're built like that. What do they lose in terms of flexibility? Or do they become too powerful in a 1-1 level ratio?
It can probably work, but don't expect combat with such enemies to be anything like normal combat. If it's to the death (which should only rarely be the case with even run-of-the-mill combat) it will probably take quite a long time, since player characters are designed to have resources that last a good long time, whereas monsters are designed to last only 1 combat encounter.
On the other hand, PCs have lots of daily resources, and can pop a lot of corks at once to end combat quickly. So, if the point of the encounter is just for these enemies to kill the PCs (which, again, should rarely if ever be the case for any encounter), they could probably do it quickly, since they would lack the player incentive to conserve resources.
The other consideration is that you'll be filling in a lot of details that are extraneous, and might even get in your way. Monsters don't need magical equipment, for instance, or feats. They just have what they need to make them interesting enemies. Frankly, they don't even need skills, especially since PCs can simply roll against appropriate static DCs. Lots of monsters have an Arcana skill, but... why?
Bottom line, if you try it be prepared for lots of strangeness, compared to "normal" enemies. I recommend making encounters with these antagonists about something other than whittling down their HP. Delay them, take something from them, learn something about them, get them to exhaust certain resources, or something else and have success at that mean that the players have succeeded in their larger goal, even if these enemies survive. On the flip side, the enemies could also have a goal that doesn't require or even benefit from wiping out the PCs.
That's the advice I've got.
Another way to go about it is to have them always been one-step ahead of, behind or away from the party. Have the players hear about them, see them in visions and always be looking to the horizons when it seems like the other group may be about. They should have monster stats like the others say, but it seems like what you want is a good buildup, which can be fairly easy with the right storytelling.
Traveling through the woods and they see smoke on the horizon. They get to a town to find it smoldering in ruins and one old man lives to tell the gruesome tale (or nobody lived if they have Speak With Dead). They find that the anti-group went through here and also learned of a tomb nearby where goblins were living that may contain powerful treasure. If they go to the Tomb they find outside the entrance a couple of goblins brutally tortured to death obviously for information. In the tomb they find several traps sprung and dead goblins who were lead around as trap-finders on ropes strewen through the ruins. At the end they feel residue from a teleportation spell and a bunch of empty chests. In their haste the other group didn't notice a secret room which contains pieces of a magical McGuffin/Weapon set / Spell / Suit of armor that they can tell the anti-group has the other part(s) to. A ghost of an ancient hero tells of how much havoc the full set could wreak if it was in the wrong hands and how much good could be done for the world if it is in the right hands.
Something like that
I think it would be too complicated to try and run 5 PCs. Trying to managed and remember all thier feats and items seems difficult and unecissary. You can design them like monsters, but maybe give them some powers or affects that PCs have acess to.
Also, it could be too strong. Several PC daily powers can lock down another group of PCs very easily, and it might be a one sides battle, for either of the 2 groups.
also, some PC powers are completly ineffective against other PCs.
Chris Perkins has several great articles about making antagonists for PC's in a campaign using some of the best resources available; Television.
I'd recomend reading them. anyone here able to fish a link, having trouble finding it for some reason.
I am making an assumption you want these bad guys to have PC stats because you want them to be hard, and memorable. Monster stats may 'seem' limited but you can always change thigns up by creating and utilizing mechanics by customizing some abillities in direct compliment of the battlefield. That is just one example to make the enemies more memorable during combat.
Simply making them hard doesn't ensure they'll be memorable however. Again I am only assuming this is the reason you want to make them using PC stats because you want them to be hard and 'on par' with the party. So if I'm wrong then my bad. When it comes to making memorable or long term antagonists, you may as well be rolling a d20 and hope it lands on a specific number. It's your players that choose if an enemy is going to be long term, short term or even enjoyed all depending on reactions and a little bit on your part. Personality and introduction can go a little ways, but again you won't always see results. I don't know how many times I've had some awesome idea for a story villain, i'll do a little lead up, and then despite my little bag of DM tricks, they either wind up dead on their first appearance or the party doesn't even care enough about them for it to be interesting. the same has happened for characters I've made where i gave them little to no thought in the grand scheme of things, and yet somehow became major personal quests for party members to hunt them down and destroy them, that's when you know you've struck gold.
I'm going to stand on the same boat as most people here and say, if you really feel the need to make these baddies with PC stats and powers, do it, it's your game, but I highly recomend against it. If anything it may even carry the opposite effect, your players could end up becoming resentful towards these characters and dread sessions when they show up, because it could hold the potential of bogging down encounters.
All it takes is making a baddie with the typical monster stats and possibly coming up with some unique mechanics if you truely want to set them apart from your typical goblins or lich king.and ofcourse a flair of personality, or even an action. In my current campaign, I made a badguy and I had high hopes of him being a long running villain, well ofcourse I was foiled when my players found a way to best him and essentially wrote him off by cutting out his tongue and crippling him in his debut encounter. a few months later they encounter his son, and they are suddenly fueled with rage and an instant desire to eliminate him. "haha, success!" may not have been apparent right away but in the long run it worked somewhat. My last bit of advice is to keep playing with it, and read perkins' articles onthe subject of antagonists and villains. I wish i could find it. Again you coan simply ignore all of us saying not to make these guys using PC stats and see what happens, it's your game. Just hopefully helpful advice from someone that's been there.
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