Sunday, September 16, 2012

Creating NPCs with class levels in D&D 4E

NPCs with class levels and powers are not common in D&D 4E.
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.


book with numbers and letters
Free image courtesy of
I start with the race, class and level.
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.

Explain Powers

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.

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