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Crow
2008-05-29, 11:24 PM
Not much need for this since people have the books, but here it is...

Article
As one of the most prolific races in a fantasy setting, humans are likely antagonists for any group of player characters. Whether the PCs are getting into a drunken bar fight, wandering into a bandit ambush, or fighting their way past castle guards, at some point they are likely to face off against human adversaries. For a Dungeon Master, this once meant creating a stat block for each human, including class levels, picking out equipment, spells, feats, skills, and so on.

All that has changed.

Although 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons still provides tools for creating NPCs with fleshed out stat blocks, those types of characters represent a small percent of human antagonists. Most humans are monsters. Mechanically, they resemble any other creature, from aboleths to zombies. This treatment of humans allows the DM to spend less time preparing stats, and more time developing the story and creating dynamic battles.

Each human stat block has the same basic elements as any other monsteróinitiative, senses, hp, defenses, speed, ability scores, and so on. Humans also have monster-like powers designed on their role and purpose. Although these powers might resemble or imitate the powers of a PC class, they have different expectations for attack, damage, and effects. And if one of the powers doesnít work for your purpose, you can easily swap it out for another.

In fact, with just a few alterations to the attack, damage, and flavor, virtually any power in the Monster Manual becomes a potential attack for a human. Itís as easy as switching a damage type, weapon, or power name. For instance, letís say you want to make the human mage (see below) into cleric. By making the damage type radiant and giving the creature a leader-like power, letís say, the incite faith power from the kobold wyrmpriest, you quickly create a cleric-like monster.

Incite Faith (minor; encounter)
Close burst 10; kobold allies in the burst gain 5 temporary hit points and shift 1 square.
To the players, this human now has the necessary flavor to give the impression of a cleric; as a DM, youíve saved the 10 or even 20 minutes it would take to generate a creature from scratch. Alternatively, the Dungeon Masterís Guide offers an array of class templates to quickly apply a character class to a monster, and for those that want to handcraft each human, the guidelines are still in place to create a vivid NPC. Regardless of the human you want to make, in 4th Edition you wonít see human stat blocks taking up half a page.
--Greg Bilsland




Artwork
http://img133.imageshack.us/img133/3874/20080530bd0dz8.jpg

Dig the black dragon, don't quite dig the humans as monsters preview.

Tough_Tonka
2008-05-29, 11:31 PM
You see its just an option you can use for a character, DMs still free to stat NPCs from scratch.

Mewtarthio
2008-05-29, 11:33 PM
*subtle cough* (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4ex/20080530a)

...Why does it take a DC 20 Knowledge check to know that humans used to have a mighty empire, and their ruins are still scattered about the land? Wouldn't that be like saying only well-trained scholars can be expected to have heard of the Roman Empire?

holywhippet
2008-05-29, 11:34 PM
Not much need for this since people have the books, but here it is...


I think that's kind of a minority. Amazon.com haven't shipped mine yet. I'm wondering if the stores that have shipped them will get into trouble.

I think the whole humans as monsters works into how 4th edition rules are aimed. It's no longer us vs. them with both sides using the same set of rules. It's now more in the way of giving powers to suit the flavour. For example, a human leading kobolds and using a power like the one listed - you could flavour it as him yelling out encouragement or giving orders which makes sense as he is their leader.

Collin152
2008-05-29, 11:35 PM
*subtle cough* (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4ex/20080530a)

...Why does it take a DC 20 Knowledge check to know that humans used to have a mighty empire, and their ruins are still scattered about the land? Wouldn't that be like saying only well-trained scholars can be expected to have heard of the Roman Empire?

The Roman what now?

Crow
2008-05-29, 11:39 PM
Lousy Amazon.com...

Is there are race that hasn't had a massive empire that crumbled?

Collin152
2008-05-29, 11:41 PM
Lousy Amazon.com...

Is there are race that hasn't had a massive empire that crumbled?

Gnomes.
Orcs.
Haflings?
Badgers. But that's just what they want you to think.

FoE
2008-05-29, 11:41 PM
Aw, you beat me to it. I wanted to start this thread and call it "Destroy All Humans! (4E Preview)"

Before anyone complains, I'll note that Humans used to be listed in the First Edition Monster Manual. There were stats for berserkers and bandits, along with merchants and pilgrims. They were fun to beat up. :smalltongue:

Rutee
2008-05-29, 11:42 PM
*subtle cough* (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4ex/20080530a)

...Why does it take a DC 20 Knowledge check to know that humans used to have a mighty empire, and their ruins are still scattered about the land? Wouldn't that be like saying only well-trained scholars can be expected to have heard of the Roman Empire?

Do remember that DnD is made in America.

Xefas
2008-05-29, 11:48 PM
Do remember that DnD is made in America.

I'm reminded of a segment I saw on Comedy Central a long time ago.

"Would you pay for a vacation to go see the Eiffel Tower in Australia?"
"What? I thought that was in...France?"
"No that's just a replica. The real one is in Australia."
"Oh? I didn't know that. Yeah, I'd love to go see that!"

Something like that. I don't even remember what show it was, but the hosts went on the street and asked random people questions like that.

Anyway, you change your avatar too often.

Farmer42
2008-05-29, 11:48 PM
About the knowledge thing: I'm willing to bet if you go find yourself a Normal serf from 900 CE and asked them about Rome they'd give you a blank stare. They might say something about church, but the entire empire thing is more than likely to be lost on them.

Mewtarthio
2008-05-29, 11:49 PM
The Roman what now?

You know... Heroes of college students everywhere? Inventors of togas and those instant boilable noodles?


About the knowledge thing: I'm willing to bet if you go find yourself a Normal serf from 900 CE and asked them about Rome they'd give you a blank stare. They might say something about church, but the entire empire thing is more than likely to be lost on them.

I considered that. However, even first-level people who are actually trained in the skill would likely miss out on that detail--Unless first-level characters can get +10 to their trained skills, they'll be clueless more often than not. We're not talking about your average peasant: First-level characters are already a cut above the rest, and actual training means they do care about it.

Note that you can't really claim that the human empire is so ancient that nobody knows about it: The primary language, Common, has been described as the language used by the last human empire, so it can't have been that long since it fell.

FoE
2008-05-29, 11:51 PM
Inventors of togas and those instant boilable noodles?

Those are RAMEN noodles, you ignorant hoo-man! :smalltongue:

Oh, I can't wait to start racking up the XP for you smelly apes. "Looking for Group" suddenly comes to mind ...

I see this village/What does it hold/What shall I butcher them with/Fire or cold?/

There's nowhere to hide/Nowhere to run/Your village will burn like the heart of the sun/With infinite glee/It's going to be me/That slaughters the wooooorld/

Jack Mann
2008-05-29, 11:56 PM
*subtle cough* (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4ex/20080530a)

...Why does it take a DC 20 Knowledge check to know that humans used to have a mighty empire, and their ruins are still scattered about the land? Wouldn't that be like saying only well-trained scholars can be expected to have heard of the Roman Empire?

You'd be surprised...

A lot of people in the feudal Europe didn't know a lot about the Romans, other than what they heard in from the priest. This gave rise, in fact, to a lot of the stories about giants, since they saw the ruins of Roman structures and assumed that normal men couldn't possibly have built them.

Collin152
2008-05-29, 11:57 PM
Those are RAMEN noodles, you ignorant hoo-man!

Man, I can't wait to get XP for killing you lousy pinkskins. :smalltongue:

Jokes on you, I'm a lich!
I ain't been a hoo-man for a long time!

So... Romans gave us togas... College students... Inventors of Beer?

These Romans... I do not like these so called Romans.

Farmer42
2008-05-30, 12:00 AM
You know... Heroes of college students everywhere? Inventors of togas and those instant boilable noodles?



I considered that. However, even first-level people who are actually trained in the skill would likely miss out on that detail--Unless first-level characters can get +10 to their trained skills, they'll be clueless more often than not. We're not talking about your average peasant: First-level characters are already a cut above the rest, and actual training means they do care about it.

Note that you can't really claim that the human empire is so ancient that nobody knows about it: The primary language, Common, has been described as the language used by the last human empire, so it can't have been that long since it fell.

Again, using Rome, Latin was used as a standard for centuries after the fall. And a level 1 character isn't really a huge cut above the rest. He's like that monk, who just learned to read and is going through The Histories for the first or second time. He might know a bit about it, but he's still a largely uneducated cretin.

Jack Mann
2008-05-30, 12:40 AM
Also, points of light. Points of fricking light, people. People in this world are isolated. What communication there once was has broken down. There isn't even a single, universal church to help different communities keep in touch, and keep history intact. Certainly, the various churches will do what they can, but competing as they are, it's unlikely any one will have the influence the Catholic Church once held. In between settlements, there are not only bandits and roaming armies, but there are large monsters that want to eat you. This makes it difficult to hold together the fragile threads of history and civilization.

Paragon Badger
2008-05-30, 12:40 AM
Gnomes.
Orcs.
Haflings?
Badgers.

Because it never crumbled to begin with, MWHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

....Sorry. :smallbiggrin:

Farmer42
2008-05-30, 12:54 AM
Because it never crumbled to begin with, MWHAHAHAHAHAHAH!


Oh, my god! the BADGERS! I told you all, but no one listened, did they?! But now they're listenening! Aren't they? Aren't they?

Skyserpent
2008-05-30, 01:07 AM
I really like that Human Artwork...

Anyway, this is good. Very good! though I hear Human racials are now sub-par.

Renegade Paladin
2008-05-30, 01:57 AM
This treatment of humans allows the DM to spend less time preparing stats, and more time developing the story and creating dynamic battles.
If the DM isn't willing to put in the effort necessary to create a couple of NPCs, then why the heck is he sitting in that chair? :smallannoyed:

FoE
2008-05-30, 02:01 AM
If the DM isn't willing to put in the effort necessary to create a couple of NPCs, then why the heck is he sitting in that chair? :smallannoyed:

Because none of his whiny players wanted the job? :smallamused:

I don't have a problem with human stats, honestly. It's just another tool, like Minion rules. Need some quickie guard stats? Look no further than the MM, my friend.

Rockphed
2008-05-30, 02:03 AM
If the DM isn't willing to put in the effort necessary to create a couple of NPCs, then why the heck is he sitting in that chair? :smallannoyed:

Because he is willing to put the effort into creating a world for those NPCs to inhabit. Because he is willing to put the effort into putting those NPCs into interesting encounters. Perhaps creating NPCs should be compared to doing long division: knowing how to do it is an important skill that nobody in their right mind ever uses if they can help it.

Xefas
2008-05-30, 02:12 AM
If the DM isn't willing to put in the effort necessary to create a couple of NPCs, then why the heck is he sitting in that chair? :smallannoyed:

It isn't that he isn't willing; it's that if he spends maybe 20 minutes creating NPCs every week instead of 3-4 hours, then he has extra time to do other things. Like create a more interesting plot, or flesh out the personalities of those NPCs more, or spend time with his family, or not have to cancel the week's session because he got caught in a meeting at work and now doesn't have time to mess around with everything.

All I know is that up until now, I've gotten statements from all but one of my players over the years to the effect of "I'd love to DM. I've got this great plot written up and I know exactly how to structure my world. I just don't have the time to learn all the intricacies of the system, and build the monsters/NPCs I need."

And now? Everyone wants to DM. We're thinking of rotating the DM out every month and having one big communal world because we all want to do it. DMing seems a lot more fun with a lot less effort.

Reel On, Love
2008-05-30, 02:19 AM
If the DM isn't willing to put in the effort necessary to create a couple of NPCs, then why the heck is he sitting in that chair? :smallannoyed:

Because he's putting in the effort on story and battles.

I don't really see a reason for the DM to have to be a mechanics whiz as well as Story Guy.

Skyserpent
2008-05-30, 02:57 AM
Because he's putting in the effort on story and battles.

I don't really see a reason for the DM to have to be a mechanics whiz as well as Story Guy.

Well... to be awesome...

Though I DO appreciate that they have these little sample humanoids, because: as a DM having premade NPCs makes life so much easier... I'll focus my attention on the big-bad and his kickass lieutenants thank you very much. I don't NEED to stat out standard soldier #79 who's going to have his head popped open by magic/sword/knife/mace/moremagic by round 2.

but if I really felt like it... I might just stat out standard soldier #32 who ended up befriending a PC and becoming the happy-go-lucky hench-sidekick-man...


my point is... erm... everyone's allowed to do what they want...

unless it's murder...

well... fictional murder is okay...

unless he's supposed to be an important NPC later on...

tyckspoon
2008-05-30, 02:59 AM
I don't NEED to stat out standard soldier #79 who's going to have his head popped open by magic/sword/knife/mace/moremagic by round 2.

In fairness, you probably were only going to design standard soldier #1 and then clone him 80 times anyway.

Skyserpent
2008-05-30, 03:00 AM
In fairness, you probably were only going to design standard soldier #1 and then clone him 80 times anyway.

It worked for the Galactic Empire!


...


for a while...

Draz74
2008-05-30, 03:05 AM
Do remember that DnD is made in America.

Ow.

It hurts because it's true.

I love America, and I'm proud of some things about it. One of them is NOT the average person's grasp of geography. :smallfrown:

Skyserpent
2008-05-30, 03:07 AM
Ow.

It hurts because it's true.

I love America, and I'm proud of some things about it. One of them is NOT the average person's grasp of geography. :smallfrown:

geogra-whatnow?

ghost_warlock
2008-05-30, 03:46 AM
Do remember that DnD is made in America.

...from parts pre-assembled in Taiwan.







What?

On Topic: I, also, love the 'human' artwork. That picture is pretty much what I want to be when I grow up.

I can't wait to see how those "class templates" will work. I can already hear the power gamers trying to figure out ways to use them as PCs for uber-munchkinry.

Zocelot
2008-05-30, 07:04 AM
The berserker's crit looks really, really painful. It deals 1d12+16 damage. I know PCs have more health in 4e, but that's still going to hurt a lot.

Theodoxus
2008-05-30, 07:10 AM
I really like that Human Artwork...

Anyway, this is good. Very good! though I hear Human racials are now sub-par.

Subpar compared to 3.5 or to the other 4e races? I think they rock, personally. An extra at will power? yes please. +2 to whatever my primary stat will be? yes please. +1 to all three defenses? why not? Then there's the equivalent of their 3.5 counterpart - the bonus feat and bonus skill. So... they tear 3.5 humans to shreds and are comperable to the 4e races.

Ok, so they don't get to breath a glob of fire/lightning/cold/poison. They can't teleport up to 5 squares. They can't force a new roll. They don't get a second wind. And they don't get a second bonus to an attribute... but hey, we can't all be human/dragonborn/eladrin/halfling/dwarves now, can we?

Aquillion
2008-05-30, 07:41 AM
Honestly, this makes sense to me. I'm reminded of something I saw in another thread. Basically, talking about trading spells with other wizards in your world, someone said:

"Even if other wizards only have their two spells per level, they're not likely to have the same two spells per level."

Now, take a moment to think about that logic there... It doesn't make sense. Yeah, sure, PC wizards get two spells per level to represent the time they spend researching new spells while adventuring. But... that's for adventurers, people who live exactly the life of a PC. All the rules in the PHB are for adventurers who live a very specific sort of life -- they tell you how you advance, basically, if you're someone who goes out and slays dragons. Yes, yes, there's room for different kinds of adventurers... but they don't tell you how you advance if you, say, sit in a tower studying magic for thirty years, or if you're a brigand who focuses on one highway robbing commoners and never really gets involved with adventures, or if you're a local city guard.

The usual assumption people make when modelling those characters is "Oh, they're like adventurers, but they don't get as much excitement so they don't advance as fast. Or the guy in the tower gets XP from their studies and advance just the way a PC wizard does."

That's silly. I shouldn't even have to explain why it's silly. The guy in the tower does not learn the same things as an adventurer at all. Now, if D&D really sought to model every tiny thing in its world perfectly, it would have rules for being a cabbage farmer or a researcher in a tower, but because it is "Dungeons and Dragons" and not "Dungeons and Tedium", it doesn't. Inventing them as necessary is perfectly reasonable.

The city guard / highway robber / tower researcher has followed a different path in life and learned different things from you. No, you can't follow that path, because if you wanted to follow the path in life that doesn't lead to dungeons and dragons, well... you get where I'm going with this.

Wraithy
2008-05-30, 11:53 AM
I can imagine 4e NPCs now:

DM: you come across a local nobleman called Pantalone
Player1: Pantalone again? wasn't he a rich merchant last time?
Player2: It could be worse, be thankful it wasn't il Dottore, you remember the last time
Player3(in fetal position):he talked for six hours... six straight hours

Ralfarius
2008-05-30, 12:19 PM
I am all up ons having the options to pull a prefab outta the book, slap some abilities quick-like to approximate something I want, or even do it from scratch. I think I have a particular like for the "mix n' match" variety of NPC generation, because it gives a quick and dirty way to make up some humans while flying by the seat of my pants. I don't have to stat out every NPC the players might decide to rough up, but I'm not left high and dry if they take an unexpected turn with a group of human(oids).

As for the knowledge DC... In the British Isles, the Romans were gone for just a few generations and no one except scholars had any clue who they were, where they actually came from, or how they did what they did. That was the whole deal with the dark ages, most of Europe was basically reset to muddy huts and violent tribalism, then had to slowly claw their way back to civilization approximating the classical period.

Collin152
2008-05-30, 01:46 PM
Ow.

It hurts because it's true.

I love America, and I'm proud of some things about it. One of them is NOT the average person's grasp of geography. :smallfrown:

Now I'm no Geographist, just your average American.
But it still stings.

Rutee
2008-05-30, 01:48 PM
How do you think I feel sharing a country with people who by and large can't be bothered to learn about the history of the rest of the planet? :smallfrown:

ShadowSiege
2008-05-30, 02:52 PM
How do you think I feel sharing a country with people who by and large can't be bothered to learn about the history of the rest of the planet? :smallfrown:

About the same as I feel for living in the same country where 20% of the population thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth. Geocentricism was debunked almost 500 years ago by Copernicus, and yet 1 in 5 Americans still hasn't gotten the news.

On topic, fast and easy NPCs are good. There are times where spending all the time to create a full PC classed enemy is worth it in 3.5 (ballista throwing the cleric into two other PCs was worth the hour or so), but for most purposes I'd rather have something quick and dirty.

Starbuck_II
2008-05-30, 03:37 PM
The berserker's crit looks really, really painful. It deals 1d12+16 damage. I know PCs have more health in 4e, but that's still going to hurt a lot.

That because Berserker uses Greataxe.
1d12 +[w] on a Crit for High Crit weapons means: 1d12 +12 + Str.

Scimitar would have dealt: 1d6 +6 + Str.

Chronos
2008-05-30, 03:49 PM
OK, so DMs can use simple, prefabricated stats for NPCs now. How is this any different from what DMs have been doing ever since RPGs were first invented? If I want 50 town guards, I'll just take a standard "town guard" build I created (which probably took me all of five minutes to put together), and stick 50 of them in the town. And then the next town the PCs come to, I just use the same town guard stats again. This is true no matter what system is used.

Oh, but in fourth edition, I can easily customize them by swapping out powers, if I want? Well, I can just as easily swap out third edition feats. This preview seems to be claiming that creating NPCs in 3rd edition is hard, because you have to choose all of their feats, but creating NPCs in 4th is flexible, because you can choose all of their powers.

Really, the only thing I see different between the third edition and fourth edition way of doing things is that in third edition, you use the same mechanics for everything, but in fourth, you use different mechanics for the "monsters" than for the PCs. How is having two different sets of mechanics "simpler"?

ShadowSiege
2008-05-30, 04:13 PM
OK, so DMs can use simple, prefabricated stats for NPCs now. How is this any different from what DMs have been doing ever since RPGs were first invented? If I want 50 town guards, I'll just take a standard "town guard" build I created (which probably took me all of five minutes to put together), and stick 50 of them in the town. And then the next town the PCs come to, I just use the same town guard stats again. This is true no matter what system is used.

The 4e way has the goal of rapidly creating non-identical NPCs of higher levels and distinct powers.

Yakk
2008-05-30, 04:18 PM
Because the effects of feats can be all over the stat block.

Because the 3e feats are ... damn small, compared to 4e powers, in impact. Powers are like modular spell-like abilities, with the note that nearly every monster has them. And, often, you can swap out these abilities from one creature of a given level to another, if you want a reasonably well polished version.

What is more, in the time it takes you to build a town guard, the 4e DM threw together 4 different kinds of guard, each of which has thematic powers that fit their role. Captains, Bruisers, Crossbowmen and Pikemen, say.

Each had a few flavor abilities, a to-hit and damage and HP that produced a fight that worked with PCs of the appropriate level, had some limited scaling, and was distinct.

Oh, and each took less room to write down. :)

Classes in 4e are more complex than (most) classes in 3e, because "4e class" means "3e style class, plus 9 pages of powers unique to that class, at least one class feature that is distinct from other classes, and 3 or 4 paragon paths (watered down PrCs)".

Races are about as simple as 3e races. But there seems to be more "room" in the race to deal with things like Minotaurs, as HD and the like are part of the "NPC class" rather than the race.

Ralfarius
2008-05-30, 04:27 PM
OK, so DMs can use simple, prefabricated stats for NPCs now. How is this any different from what DMs have been doing ever since RPGs were first invented? If I want 50 town guards, I'll just take a standard "town guard" build I created (which probably took me all of five minutes to put together), and stick 50 of them in the town. And then the next town the PCs come to, I just use the same town guard stats again. This is true no matter what system is used.

Oh, but in fourth edition, I can easily customize them by swapping out powers, if I want? Well, I can just as easily swap out third edition feats. This preview seems to be claiming that creating NPCs in 3rd edition is hard, because you have to choose all of their feats, but creating NPCs in 4th is flexible, because you can choose all of their powers.

Really, the only thing I see different between the third edition and fourth edition way of doing things is that in third edition, you use the same mechanics for everything, but in fourth, you use different mechanics for the "monsters" than for the PCs. How is having two different sets of mechanics "simpler"?
The idea is that you used to have to plot out each stat of the 'town guard' and then calculate that into everything. Like, you actually 'had' to write up a character sheet for him, because he used the same generation rules as the PCs. Now, NPCs have rules to build them bare-bones built right into the system. You can just pick out what numbers are pertinent to combat, put on a power or two, and throw them in. There's less need for math and fidgeting with numbers, because you don't need to decide on 6 appropriate ability-stats, then apply their modifiers to each of attacks, defences, modifiers from equipment to those.

The big difference is that, while you could do generation in a very bare-bones manner in 3.x, the system itself didn't really support it, because you were really tinkering with PC creation rules. NPC creation rules are supposed to be, at their core, quick to make it fast, simple, and well-defined for a DM. The less time a DM has to spend even writing up the one character sheet for the clone-able guard, the more time they can have to devote fleshing out the world and personalities of its inhabitants.

If there are fewer nonessentials in the basic NPC creation rules, the faster one can bang out said NPCs. I mean, why do I need a full stat block with things like INT for guards who are never going to make a knowledge check? Why do I need to even give them class levels and skill points for that matter? The PCs are either going to interact with them (via stabbing, talking, sneaking by, what have you), or they're not. I only need to know what is directly pertinent to things that a guard would ever roll for in these situations, and let the roleplaying flesh them out as people, or keep them faceless.

And when the base rules are simple and quick, then one can build up much more smoothly to more in-depth creation for NPCs of higher importance who require more stat & ability information.

Plus, I can take these basic archetypes provided and quickly, painlessly reflavour or retool them to suit my needs. It's not just for 'town guards' or 'bandits' - it's also for any other monster the PCs might fight. I can count the number of times I advanced or modified existing monsters in 3.x on my fingers... And maybe my toes. It just didn't lend itself well to customization, especially not on the fly.

I think that what this is all boiling down to is that 4e is trying to make monster generation/modification quick & easy at its core, so you can get complicated or stay simple as is best suited for the DM & campaign. 3.x, on the other hand, started complex and you either had to try and figure it out, or you scrapped it and just came up with something easy.

Edit: oh snap. Looks like my awkward, lumbering rambles were outdone by concise, informative ninjas.

Trog
2008-05-30, 04:33 PM
...

...

I'm a monster! Rawwwr!

Ralfarius
2008-05-30, 04:41 PM
...

...

I'm a monster! Rawwwr!
Get 'im, boys!

Collin152
2008-05-30, 04:43 PM
Get 'im, boys!

Legions of the dead, defend our comrade!

Yakk
2008-05-30, 04:49 PM
The complexity of a single PC should be on the same order of magnitude as the complexity of an entire adventure's worth of monsters.

Because the game is about the PCs, and DMs do not have infinite time. And each player is a person, so has about the same order of magnitude time to brood about their PC as a DM has (ok ok, that's stretching it :) )

In 3e, this was true if you used standard monster-manual non-caster monsters and caster PCs.

Now, PCs are more complex on average -- not as complex as a caster 3e PC, but more complex than most 3e PCs. Monsters, on the other hand, are simpler. You can build a high level monster, even a spell caster (remember those?) much easier.

You are allowed to use PC rules to build NPCs. The problem is that this is extra work for less marginal return on investment.

Chronos
2008-05-30, 05:46 PM
The idea is that you used to have to plot out each stat of the 'town guard' and then calculate that into everything. Like, you actually 'had' to write up a character sheet for him, because he used the same generation rules as the PCs. Now, NPCs have rules to build them bare-bones built right into the system. You can just pick out what numbers are pertinent to combat, put on a power or two, and throw them in. There's less need for math and fidgeting with numbers, because you don't need to decide on 6 appropriate ability-stats, then apply their modifiers to each of attacks, defences, modifiers from equipment to those.Let's see how long it takes me:

Town guard
Human warrior 5
Str 13, Con 12
27 HP (average of 5d8+5)
Long sword attack +6, damage 1d8+1

I really don't see how 4th edition can make that any faster. Yeah, I skipped a bunch of steps, because they're probably not relevant. I probably won't care what the guardsman's Int score is. If circumstances arise where I do care, then I'll decide what it is then (either assigning another score from the Standard Array, or rolling 3d6). Likewise, for his skills, age, and hair color.

KBF
2008-05-30, 06:00 PM
I really don't see how 4th edition can make that any faster. Yeah, I skipped a bunch of steps, because they're probably not relevant. I probably won't care what the guardsman's Int score is. If circumstances arise where I do care, then I'll decide what it is then (either assigning another score from the Standard Array, or rolling 3d6). Likewise, for his skills, age, and hair color.


Because people like me can't. I don't know what the relevant parts are, I don't know the number rules by heart, and you know what? That would have taken me 10 to 15, maybe even 20 minutes. Seriously.

AslanCross
2008-05-30, 06:11 PM
Because he is willing to put the effort into creating a world for those NPCs to inhabit. Because he is willing to put the effort into putting those NPCs into interesting encounters. Perhaps creating NPCs should be compared to doing long division: knowing how to do it is an important skill that nobody in their right mind ever uses if they can help it.

I agree. As a DM I honestly love designing even random mooks, but I find that it takes far too much time and that the rest of the adventure seems to get sidelined because of that. Of course that's lessened as the months go by, but I still find I spend most of my prep time writing statblocks.

Starbuck_II
2008-05-30, 07:05 PM
Let's see how long it takes me:

Town guard
Human warrior 5
Str 13, Con 12
27 HP (average of 5d8+5)
Long sword attack +6, damage 1d8+1

I really don't see how 4th edition can make that any faster. Yeah, I skipped a bunch of steps, because they're probably not relevant. I probably won't care what the guardsman's Int score is. If circumstances arise where I do care, then I'll decide what it is then (either assigning another score from the Standard Array, or rolling 3d6). Likewise, for his skills, age, and hair color.

Your missing perception checks (listen/spot in 3.5), AC, and defenses (saves in 3rd). As well as feats in 3rd and powers in 4th.

Aquillion
2008-05-30, 09:48 PM
Really, the only thing I see different between the third edition and fourth edition way of doing things is that in third edition, you use the same mechanics for everything, but in fourth, you use different mechanics for the "monsters" than for the PCs. How is having two different sets of mechanics "simpler"?Uh, you don't use different mechanics to play them (overall -- they still get powers, HP, etc; minions excluded, since they're supposed to be special), you just don't use the same mechanics to make them.

For instance, yes, in 3rd edition you would just grab a generic warrior template. The equivilent to this in 4th would be to have NPC classes, which you use to form your NPCs by reading off the number of powers they have at the level you want, etc. The rules are saying: Don't do that, at least not for typical throwaway NPCs.

Instead, you're encouraged to just grab powers (including ones you invented, or ones that are otherwise not generally within PC progression) and throw them onto the monster with no concern for how it learned them (well, no mechanical concern. You should think about what thematically appropriate for it to have learned, obviously.) Instead of having a detailed class for the monster, in other words, it's just a minimal collection of powers and the abilities you need to play it.

(Of course, there can also be monsters with classes, if they're supposed to be very similar to the PC. But a bandit, say, is not a 'level 3 bandit' or a 'level 4 commoner' -- he's just a collection of bandit-oriented powers you grabbed out of the box and slapped onto some vital statistics.)

I think this makes sense. A bandit learns different things than a PC in different ways, but there's no point in modelling this when he's not supposed to be levelling up or anything -- you just need the end results, not the mechanical foundation, and 'class' is purely mechanical foundation. This lets you create interesting NPC opponents very quickly with minimal work... you just need a grab-bag of abilities you can skim over and slap on as appropriate.

It's also worth pointing out that the end result of this, if it's done well, can actually be more like the PCs than 3rd edition's NPC classes. NPCs made with the 4th edition system may not have any class levels or anything, but they will have their own tricks, abilities, and so forth... NPCs with the 3rd edition one usually have nothing but BAB and vital statistics, which makes it feel like the PCs are the only people in the world who have actually learned anything.

Chronos
2008-05-30, 10:04 PM
Your missing perception checks (listen/spot in 3.5), AC, and defenses (saves in 3rd). As well as feats in 3rd and powers in 4th.OK, the AC, I'll grant. I should have included that. So let's say studded leather each, for 14 AC. Perception and saves, though, aren't part of the bare-bones: If someone tries to sneak past a guard, then I need their Wis scores (warriors don't have Listen and Spot as class skills, so I'll presume they didn't invest points), and if someone casts a spell on them, then I need their saves.

Even at that, though, I could have still put all of that on a 3x5 card. If that's still too much work, then I can just borrow a 3x5 card from someone else. I'm sure there are websites out there with galleries of generic NPCs. I guess it's nice to include those galleries in the DMG, but that's not a feature of the system.

Caduceus
2008-05-30, 10:09 PM
I can count the number of times I advanced or modified existing monsters in 3.x on my fingers... And maybe my toes.

I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my TOES. Humans are all around us, and so the feeling GROWS.

Yakk
2008-05-30, 11:38 PM
OK, the AC, I'll grant. I should have included that. So let's say studded leather each, for 14 AC. Perception and saves, though, aren't part of the bare-bones: If someone tries to sneak past a guard, then I need their Wis scores (warriors don't have Listen and Spot as class skills, so I'll presume they didn't invest points), and if someone casts a spell on them, then I need their saves.
You forgot feats as well -- how do they impact combat?

Spot and Listen are relatively core features for a guard. They probably spend more time Spotting and Listening than they do fighting or practicing fighting. :)

You can't say "bare bones", because the stats you failed to specify (wis and dex) determine their reflex and will saves. So that means another two stats to specify.


Even at that, though, I could have still put all of that on a 3x5 card. If that's still too much work, then I can just borrow a 3x5 card from someone else. I'm sure there are websites out there with galleries of generic NPCs. I guess it's nice to include those galleries in the DMG, but that's not a feature of the system.

Are there, really?

And because you skipped on feats (give the warrior weapon focus for the weapon in use, skill focus (profession guard), and ... toughness? for a basic set of feats that seem practical) (wait, that means adding profession(guard) skill), your characters aren't the CR 2.5 encounter that they where level-stated for.

Oh, and no ranged attack? Ooops.

What is worse? The character you created is really boring. :) The 4e guard is pretty simple, but it at least has a neat "capture" type move.

JaxGaret
2008-05-31, 12:15 AM
I'm reminded of a segment I saw on Comedy Central a long time ago.

"Would you pay for a vacation to go see the Eiffel Tower in Australia?"
"What? I thought that was in...France?"
"No that's just a replica. The real one is in Australia."
"Oh? I didn't know that. Yeah, I'd love to go see that!"

Something like that. I don't even remember what show it was, but the hosts went on the street and asked random people questions like that.

Was that Street Smarts with Frank Nicotero, the greatest show ever on the face of the planet?

I don't remember it ever being on ComCent, but it might have been.