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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2019

    Default PC classes as villains

    Is there an estimation or guide to approximating the challenge rating of PC classes? With bounded accuracy, it seems to me that even if a villain had several levels on the PC's, they'd still be able to take the villain out with more actions, smart play, what have you. How far could this go? Would a level 10 character be a good but winnable boss fight for a level 6 party?

    I know a lot of the answer is going to depend on the party in question, but even a rough guess would be helpful.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2013

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    It varies dramatically based on the Villain's class. 5E tells you to crunch the numbers using the tables in the DMG.

    I don't like this answer, but it is accurate.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2020

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    I use https://www.enworld.org/threads/enco...fix-it.367697/ to estimate encounter strength, whether or not the adversaries have class levels.

    Bear in mind that PC classes don't play like monsters. They usually have more offense, more options, and less survivability.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Orc in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Utah

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    There really isn't, the spellcasters have decent analogues. The martial characters have okay analogues.

    Druid as an example
    Level 4 CR: 2 tortle druid.
    Level 9 CR: 5 frost druid.
    Level 12 CR: 7 Druid of the old ways
    Level 18 CR: 12 Arch druid.

    Even here the respective creatures have more hp then a druid of that level probably would.
    The Best advice I've ever heard on DMing a fun game.

    1. Once the session begins don't look at the rules, Make a decision and move on.
    2. When in doubt rule in favor of the Player, You can always have a complication pop up if you need more excitement.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrum View Post
    Is there an estimation or guide to approximating the challenge rating of PC classes? With bounded accuracy, it seems to me that even if a villain had several levels on the PC's, they'd still be able to take the villain out with more actions, smart play, what have you. How far could this go? Would a level 10 character be a good but winnable boss fight for a level 6 party?

    I know a lot of the answer is going to depend on the party in question, but even a rough guess would be helpful.
    As a rough guideline, 4 Nth level PCs will have a very tough time against 4 Nth level NPCs--the fight could go either way. They'll have a pretty good chance to beat 3 Nth level PCs (9:16 force ratio means PCs are almost twice as strong as NPCs). They will trivially crush 2 Nth level NPCs (4:16 force ratio means PC are four times as strong).

    Setting up fights with classed NPCs is actually easier to do than with CR'ed NPCs, since the NPCs are measured on the same scale as PCs.

    Of course, not all Nth level PCs are created equal, and e.g. a Rogue 2/Shadow Monk 3 Skulker human abusing Pass Without Trace + Cunning Action (Hide) + Stealth Expertise could give an entire 7th level party a very tough time at night.
    Purple text = personal judgment which I don't expect you necessarily to share. YMMV.

    Everything on the Internet is opinion but purple text is my way of highlighting that I am not interested in persuading you to share mine.

    This is the Most Important Video You've Never Seen About 5E Design. 5E designers Mike Mearls and Rodney Thompson tell you how game design was done, how classes were balanced against each other, etc.

    Why Mark of Storms Warlocks Are Better Tanks Than Most Fighters

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Halfling in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2019

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post

    Of course, not all Nth level PCs are created equal, and e.g. a Rogue 2/Shadow Monk 3 Skulker human abusing Pass Without Trace + Cunning Action (Hide) + Stealth Expertise could give an entire 7th level party a very tough time at night.
    Funny, this is not far off from something I was thinking of doing. 2 level 3 rogues using cunning action to constantly hide in a thick forest and launch sneak attacks, with goblin mercs backing them up (the goblins can use this strategy with their racial abilities). The goblins would pepper them with weak attacks, and the rogues would unload significant hurt.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrum View Post
    Funny, this is not far off from something I was thinking of doing. 2 level 3 rogues using cunning action to constantly hide in a thick forest and launch sneak attacks, with goblin mercs backing them up (the goblins can use this strategy with their racial abilities). The goblins would pepper them with weak attacks, and the rogues would unload significant hurt.
    Do it! The players will be terrified until they figure out that the right countertactic: ready actions to go off as soon as one of the rogue attacks, and before they can Hide again.

    That learning process (that which was difficult becomes easy) is why we play the game.

    P.S. The counter-countertactic is for the Rogue to seek locations and angles that minimize the number of PCs who can fire back at them when they reveal themselves, and/or that let the Rogue fire at normal range while the PCs other than the Rogue's target have to fire back at long range (only works if the Rogues are using longbows or the PCs don't have longbows/heavy crossbows; Rogues aren't proficient in longbows but that doesn't mean they shouldn't use them in this case, especially since a +2 proficiency bonus isn't that big in the first place).

    One counter-counter-countertactic is for the PCs to hide too, so the Rogue can't be sure whether he has a good position or not. A counter-counter-counter-countertactic is for the Rogue to spend actions Searching for the PCs while hidden, and another is to lurk in the middle distance until the PCs give up and move on and/or get engaged with another foe, and then re-join the fight against the PCs.

    You don't necessarily need the Rogue to employ the counter-countertactic or the counter-counter-counter-countertactic but it's good to know what they are in case you want to increase the challenge level.
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2021-05-03 at 08:39 PM.
    Purple text = personal judgment which I don't expect you necessarily to share. YMMV.

    Everything on the Internet is opinion but purple text is my way of highlighting that I am not interested in persuading you to share mine.

    This is the Most Important Video You've Never Seen About 5E Design. 5E designers Mike Mearls and Rodney Thompson tell you how game design was done, how classes were balanced against each other, etc.

    Why Mark of Storms Warlocks Are Better Tanks Than Most Fighters

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Halfling in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2019

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Do it!
    Would it be too cruel to make the rogue variant human w/ sharpshooter? Attacking w/ longbows from hidden would mean +1 attack w/ advantage (potentially at pretty extreme ranges), doing 1d8+dex+2d6+10 damage. ~25 damage a shot.

    I want to do it but that seems like a lot. That's gonna one-shot a caster.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Orc in the Playground
     
    NinjaGirl

    Join Date
    Feb 2015

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    If youíre going to do that then donít target the caster. One shot, splat youíre down isnít much fun for the player who just became a spectator. Hit the tank - the casters will still panic when they hear the damage.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrum View Post
    Would it be too cruel to make the rogue variant human w/ sharpshooter? Attacking w/ longbows from hidden would mean +1 attack w/ advantage (potentially at pretty extreme ranges), doing 1d8+dex+2d6+10 damage. ~25 damage a shot.

    I want to do it but that seems like a lot. That's gonna one-shot a caster.
    IMO, it's fine. Sharpshooter arguably isn't even as good as Skulker in this scenario anyway, although the synergy between them is pretty neat if you bump the NPC to Rogue 2/Shadow Monk 4, since Skulker prevents you from giving away your position on an attack unless you hit, and Sharpshooter helps you make the most of every hit and also helps you deal damage from longer range--but players have the right tools to fight back against that long range.

    For a Rogue 2/Shadow Monk 3, the damage is more like 1d8+1d6+3+10 (21), which is unlikely to one-shot a level 6 caster (typically ~30-42 HP IME) unless they have unusually low Constitution, and even then they're only at zero HP if you're playing with RAW death saves so it's more "scary" than "deadly", and scary is usually good (it makes the players feel like they accomplished something hard when they overcome it). I don't see where you're getting the other 1d6 BTW.

    Go for it. The worst that can happen is that your players scream like little girls and run away from the NPCs instead of continuing the adventure (i.e. your adventure prep gets wasted), in which case you can just turn them into a recurring nemesis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Toadkiller View Post
    If youíre going to do that then donít target the caster. One shot, splat youíre down isnít much fun for the player who just became a spectator. Hit the tank - the casters will still panic when they hear the damage.
    With how vanilla 5E damage works, he's probably not even down for longer than it takes to cast Healing Word. :-/

    Hit the tank with the first shot if you want (as a DM courtesy to players), but then play intelligently and target whoever looks the most like a glass cannon/whoever is easiest to reach. This isn't just a dumb monster, it's an actual NPC. It should feel like a real person.
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2021-05-03 at 11:38 PM.
    Purple text = personal judgment which I don't expect you necessarily to share. YMMV.

    Everything on the Internet is opinion but purple text is my way of highlighting that I am not interested in persuading you to share mine.

    This is the Most Important Video You've Never Seen About 5E Design. 5E designers Mike Mearls and Rodney Thompson tell you how game design was done, how classes were balanced against each other, etc.

    Why Mark of Storms Warlocks Are Better Tanks Than Most Fighters

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    Bear in mind that player characters typically dish out more damage and have less health than a comparable NPC stat block. This will make fights a lot more swingy and brutal if you aren't careful.

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    As a rough guideline, 4 Nth level PCs will have a very tough time against 4 Nth level NPCs--the fight could go either way. They'll have a pretty good chance to beat 3 Nth level PCs (9:16 force ratio means PCs are almost twice as strong as NPCs). They will trivially crush 2 Nth level NPCs (4:16 force ratio means PC are four times as strong).
    It's worth noting that not every level is equal either. All else being equal a 4th level party will probably beat a level 3 party, but a level 5 party will turn a level 4 party into mincemeat. The power jump from 4 to 5 is not to discounted.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Zombie

    Join Date
    Jun 2015

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    This is very crude, but I look at one character level to be worth about 1/4 of a CR and it mostly seems to work out ok. It does have some issues though as, for example; a level4 mage that gets the jump on the party has a decent chance of killing or incapacitating one or more first level characters in the first round with almost no chance of surviving a round if all 4 PCs get to go before him.
    I am the flush of excitement. The blush on the cheek. I am the Rouge!

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigreid View Post
    This is very crude, but I look at one character level to be worth about 1/4 of a CR and it mostly seems to work out ok. It does have some issues though as, for example; a level4 mage that gets the jump on the party has a decent chance of killing or incapacitating one or more first level characters in the first round with almost no chance of surviving a round if all 4 PCs get to go before him.
    No, a party of four 12th level PCs can handle 4 CR 5 Barlguras without much problem (it's only Hard, no real chance of failure or it would be Deadly). But if you replace those Barlguras with four 20th level NPCs on the theory that level 20 ~= CR 5, the PCs are obviously going to get annihilated.
    Purple text = personal judgment which I don't expect you necessarily to share. YMMV.

    Everything on the Internet is opinion but purple text is my way of highlighting that I am not interested in persuading you to share mine.

    This is the Most Important Video You've Never Seen About 5E Design. 5E designers Mike Mearls and Rodney Thompson tell you how game design was done, how classes were balanced against each other, etc.

    Why Mark of Storms Warlocks Are Better Tanks Than Most Fighters

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2019

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    Have a look at the Spy (MM CR 1), Archer (Volo CR 3), Martial Arts Adept (Volo CR 3), Master Thief (Volo CR 5) and use those as a guide.
    Last edited by da newt; 2021-05-04 at 07:39 AM.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Apr 2020
    Location
    MN, US
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    Quote Originally Posted by da newt View Post
    Have a look at the Spy (MM CR 1), Archer (XGE CR 3), Martial Arts Adept (XGE CR 3), Master Thief (XGE CR 5) and use those as a guide.
    Just a note: I think all of those XGE references should be Volo's Guide instead.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2019

    Default Re: PC classes as villains

    Quote Originally Posted by x3n0n View Post
    Just a note: I think all of those XGE references should be Volo's Guide instead.
    whoops - edited

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