I like NPCs in an adventure that are similar to PCs, and I have a way to create them easily.
In my campaigns I use a lot of NPCs with class levels.
NPCs are similar to the PCs but with a level limit, their experiences only let them reach a certain power level.
PCs have a level limit of 30.
In my opinion this increases role playing:
- Doing this makes the world more believable, the PCs are among many with class levels and powers.
- Players tend to associate easier with friendly NPCs of the same class.
- Fights against enemies that have similar powers are interesting.
Dungeon Masters Guide (DMG)
The DMG recommends not making many NPCs with class levels.
It is more work but I don't mind doing it.
The amount of work can be minimized.
I loosely follow the DMG guidelines regarding number of powers.
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I don't use defenders or leaders because they lengthen combat.
If I choose those classes I take away healing and make them more offensive.
I look the combination up in the book of NPCs.
Then I change the NPC stats according to what I find in the Character Optimization forums.
Those forums are handy to enhance powers and to look for flavorful powers.
Simple mooks will get At-Will powers and one Encounter power, major antagonists usually
get 10 or more powers (At-will, Encounter and Daily).
Monsters can also get class levels, for example: Dara, Vampire Cleric.
This makes monsters extremely powerful and should only be used for major antagonists.
Most powers in 4E are abstracted mechanics, and are hard to explain.
That is why I make each power of a NPC explainable.
If the players know the power I say its name.
I always explain how the NPC attacks.