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    Default [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    I never understood this.

    First off, an NPC of the same level as the PCs is suppsoed to be an even fight at 4 to 1 odds? And at a fraction of the wealth/gear no less?

    Also, what if you run a sandbox world like myself, and do not expect your NPCs to die. Instead you expect them to be fair and/or major fights, and if they happen to win (which you do not fudge or prevent) they can possibly just be used later on in the next campaign or a later one?
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pika... View Post
    I never understood this.

    First off, an NPC of the same level as the PCs is suppsoed to be an even fight at 4 to 1 odds? And at a fraction of the wealth/gear no less?
    It's not supposed to be an even fight, it's supposed to be a challenging one. Basically, the PCs should be able to win handily, but only by expending daily resources, leaving them with less resources for the next fight. After 4 of them the PCs need to sleep or they risk death. And you give them less than normal wealth otherwise killing 4 NPCs=2x WBL for the PCs.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    I agree with the above post.

    In addition, you should remember that some classes do better with less money, such as casters. After all, if you don't have to make attack rolls and never expect to get hit in melee (say a summoner) think about how much gear you just don't even need to walk around with.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pika... View Post
    I never understood this.

    First off, an NPC of the same level as the PCs is suppsoed to be an even fight at 4 to 1 odds? And at a fraction of the wealth/gear no less?
    Because if every NPC had equivalent wealth as PCs for their level, then fighting equal ECL fights would result in player wealth doubling every fight.

    This quickly becomes utterly ridiculous.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    It is no small secret that classed npcs are notoriously weak for their crs (though less so for spellcasters, who can use buffs to mitigate the loss of eq).

    The designers simply screwed up the 1 class lv = +1cr guideline there.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    By the math I've done (I know, I know, you'll just have to take my word for it, or do the math yourself) even at npc wealth, an npc with the same number of levels in a pc class as one of the actual PC's should be a nearly even challenge for one PC. Mind you, that doesn't take into account the fact that certain classes are inherently better suited to fighting certain other classes, or the cleverness of some players. It's also somewhat true that the one extra HD that an npc with an npc class has can somewhat mitigate the fact that the PC that's supposedly of the same CR has class features. This falls completely apart with spell-casting classes and the commoner class.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    This problem, like all of them, stems from the low levels. At times i think WotC tested levels 1-5 and then just called it a day. WotC, as well as many other RPGs (Dragon Age comes to mind, along with KotoR 1 and 2 which are d20) seems to have decent balance at the low levels which then just skews out of proportion until the game is barely recognizable at high levels.

    Example:
    A level 1 fighter wielding a great sword (or worse, a spiked chain) and moderately equipped (scale mail) is a serious threat to TPK.

    Imagine the Wizard 1, the Rogue 1, the Cleric 1 and the Fighter 1 face off against the Fighter 1e (for enemy). Cleric 1 and Fighter 1 are standing in front getting ready to take on Fighter 1e. Fighter 1e gets a good swing off at Fighter 1, for 2d6+6 damage (no power attack). Fighter1 has 15 con and has about a 50% chance of falling into negatives off one attack. Cleric1 then swings at Fighter1, with an attack bonus of +2 (14 strength). Even if he hits, 1d8+3 isn't going to be enough to drop the fighter, and he needs a 12-14 to hit depending on dex. Wizard starts casting Sleep (can't use color spray because he can't only hit the fighter), Rogue plinks for 1d6 damage. Fighter then disengages from the Cleric sucking the AoO to possibly charge the Wizard PAing for 1. Wizard now takes 2d6+6 or 2d6+8 depending on whether charge+PA, PA, or no PA. out of the Wizard's 6 HP, the wizard is now unconscious and possibly dead outright. Rogue plinks for 1d6.

    Now it's Cleric1 Rogue 1 vs Fighter1e, though admittedly Fighter1e is pretty low on HP. Still you're only a couple of unlucky rolls away from watching Fighter1e take out the cleric no problem meaning it's Fighter1e vs Rogue 1, who's alone in his leather armor.

    Is it likely to happen? Not at all, but compare to even two levels later when the Wizard is sporting his Invisibility spell on the Rogue, the Cleric can pause to buff, and the Fighter's 2d6+10 (from Power Attack) is unlikely to one-shot Fighter3. Add that to the fact that between levels 1 and 3 attack bonus goes from 5 (+4 STR, +1 BAB) to 7 (+4 STR, +3 BAB) while AC goes from 14 (Scale Male) to 18 (Full Plate). Eventually it goes all the way to level 20, where a Fighter 20 doesn't have a reasonable shot at making either of the Cleric or Wizard 20 break a sweat in SOLO combat, let alone a combat where the Cleric/Wizard20 have Fighter20 and Rogue20 backup.

    (At level1 it gets terrifying with a tripper. I almost TPKed a CR 5 party today with a 6th level chain tripper... and would have if I didn't "forget" to use some of his extra attacks. Granted, no wizard analogue, but still.)

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    I am certain even the most negligent designer should have noticed that a lv20 fighter would nowhere be near the challenge posed by a tarrasque or dragon...

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    By the math I've done (I know, I know, you'll just have to take my word for it, or do the math yourself) even at npc wealth, an npc with the same number of levels in a pc class as one of the actual PC's should be a nearly even challenge for one PC.
    Which is actually pretty close to what an even-CR fight should be, one-on-one. Sometimes it feels like they actually did this level of testing, and then just didn't bother considering how it would scale up when their "fair fight" dueling monster was faced with 4-8 actions and would get buried under the disparity.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Besides, an individual monster's CR is only part of the formula for a decent encounter. If you're going to use just one monster you really have to give it a decent edge ie: the element of surprise and advantageous terrain. Even then, it's almost always better to use several enemies in any given encounter, say 2 enemies whose individual CR's are 2 less than the party's level. Now the action economy only has the bad-guys down by 2:1 instead of 4:1, combined with either surprise or terrain advantage you've got a decent encounter. I, personally, like to use at least 3 enemies at party level -3 and add in potentially advantageous terrain, but I really enjoy a strategic fight rather than a mook-mop-up, even for basic, random encounters. I'll still throw the group a mook-mop-up every now and again just so the players can feel like bad-asses. Usually right before a BBEG but after a regular encounter.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Runestar View Post
    I am certain even the most negligent designer should have noticed that a lv20 fighter would nowhere be near the challenge posed by a tarrasque or dragon...
    I can put together a Fighter 20 that can take down a CR20 dragon about half the time. He'll be geared up specifically as a dragon slayer though.

    Sorry for the double post
    Last edited by Kelb_Panthera; 2010-01-16 at 11:07 AM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    I can put together a Fighter 20 that can take down a CR20 dragon about half the time. He'll be geared up specifically as a dragon slayer though.

    Sorry for the double post
    Ah, but the question was "an equivalent challenge" which is to say

    "Take two million identical parties. Divide them into two groups of 1 mil. Write up a large number of goals; we'll say 20 different goals. "Get the cure for the plague before everyone dies" or "steal the gold chalice" and so on. Divide the two groups into segments so an equal number of parties has each objective. Assign a dragon to oppose half the parties and a level 20 fighter to oppose half the parties. Record how many different ways there are for a dragon to pose problem, and how man different ways there are for a fighter to pose a problem."
    Last edited by shadow_archmagi; 2010-01-16 at 11:54 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Because the treasure given by an NPC fight is already very high. Giving him PC wealth would make the treasure insane.

    And an encounter of CR = PC level in a party of 4 is supposed to be a typical day's work. Heck, you can do it 4 times a day and still have the entire party alive. Try CR = party level + 4 if you want to risk a couple PC deaths or maybe even losing the fight. A little higher gives you an even chance of a TPK.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi View Post
    Ah, but the question was "an equivalent challenge" which is to say

    "Take two million identical parties. Divide them into two groups of 1 mil. Write up a large number of goals; we'll say 20 different goals. "Get the cure for the plague before everyone dies" or "steal the gold chalice" and so on. Divide the two groups into segments so an equal number of parties has each objective. Assign a dragon to oppose half the parties and a level 20 fighter to oppose half the parties. Record how many different ways there are for a dragon to pose problem, and how man different ways there are for a fighter to pose a problem."
    I think you're being sarcastic, but I can't tell what you're being sarcastic about. Perhaps you're saying that determining EL is needlessly complicated?

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    I can put together a Fighter 20 that can take down a CR20 dragon about half the time. He'll be geared up specifically as a dragon slayer though.
    Could the dragon slayer beat a dragon specifically geared up to face a single fighter?
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    NPCs need to survive one fight.
    PCs need to survive at least four in one day.

    While dumping all of an NPC's WBL into consumables would be bad, they should still have a decent amount invested in such, and be fully able to use it before engaging the PCs. Doing so makes them the challenge they are supposed to be.

    Also, as others have noted, if they had any more treasure, PC wealth would spiral out of control after every encounter. As it is, if you have too many NPC encounters compared to "ordinary" monster encounters with Wealth by CR, you will still get dangerous PC wealth overload from looting.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    Could the dragon slayer beat a dragon specifically geared up to face a single fighter?
    Maybe. The major problem the dragon has is size. It would have a heck of a time finding magical equipment that fits its ginormous body. There's also the question of sticking with core or going all out with all the splatbooks. But the raw (not RAW) dragon, that is the MM entry without gear is an even challenge for a level 20 character, adding gear changes the EL.

    EDIT: actually, giving a dragon level appropriate gear would make it phenomenally more powerful. Using its listed treasure value would put it pretty close to PC level wealth.

    @the OP, actually, major npc's (read BBEG and his immediate lieutenants) can have PC level wealth if you like, you just need to either precede them or follow them with a few low treasure encounters to make up the difference.
    Last edited by Kelb_Panthera; 2010-01-16 at 02:15 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Firstly: Do give the major NPC's full-level wealth. Bosses and the like. But be sure to compensate for the added wealth elsewhere, so that WBL isn't completely screwed up. You average soldier, cultist, or the like will have far less than full WBL, and many things can easily have their treasure entries ignored because of how little sense it makes for them to have something.

    The second thing would be to have certain things that the PC's simply can't use and won't be able to easily or likely find a buyer for. Mindblade-type weapons that are tied to the person, evil items that give negative levels to everyone and can therefore only be used safely by undead, and so on.

    Thirdly, scale encounters up. When the PC's have an action advantage, CR gets screwed up *horribly.* Four level 12 PC's? Put them up against a level 14, a level 12, and a handful of lower-level mooks. And give the NPC's terrain advantages. Realistically, monsters/NPC's won't be fighting the PC's unless they think they have a reasonable chance of living, which means if the PC's outnumber them, surrender or escape is in order. If you do throw them up against single enemies, pump hit points and damage reduction, and give them a damn good reason for continuing the fight while being outnumbered.

    Throw out the normal experience tables, and instead ad-hoc how hard fights were: give full experience for a fight that was noticeably tough, give less experience for a fight where they drop the guy in a round. Well-built PC's can drop another class of 4-5 levels higher in a single round, but that doesn't really even warrant the experience of an equal-level fight, let alone one 6 levels higher.

    Edit: I may of gone a bit to a side topic. Oh well.
    Last edited by lsfreak; 2010-01-16 at 02:19 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    Maybe. The major problem the dragon has is size. It would have a heck of a time finding magical equipment that fits its ginormous body. There's also the question of sticking with core or going all out with all the splatbooks. But the raw (not RAW) dragon, that is the MM entry without gear is an even challenge for a level 20 character, adding gear changes the EL.

    EDIT: actually, giving a dragon level appropriate gear would make it phenomenally more powerful. Using its listed treasure value would put it pretty close to PC level wealth.
    It's mostly armor and weapons that dragons have trouble with. The majority of wondrous items can be worn, if not exactly how they were originally designed.. a dragon may look a little silly with a Cloak of Resistance strapped on its back, but it doesn't stop the item from working. And if needed any dragon that is at all sociable can get items made for it or altered to suit it the same way PCs do.

    Generally, the method of equipping a dragon I like best is to roll its treasures randomly as per a standard treasure haul, and then the dragon uses any of them that are useful.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    Generally, the method of equipping a dragon I like best is to roll its treasures randomly as per a standard treasure haul, and then the dragon uses any of them that are useful.
    That's how I do it.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Runestar View Post
    It is no small secret that classed npcs are notoriously weak for their crs (though less so for spellcasters, who can use buffs to mitigate the loss of eq).

    The designers simply screwed up the 1 class lv = +1cr guideline there.
    This is why I use Incarnum Gestalt when making NPCs: They get their limited WBL, but they get abilities that make up for it without breaking them. That way they can put any cash to good use. Even if my players are not Gestalt, I've used Gestalt NPCs to make up for the WBL differences. Casters are the only exception.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    Maybe. The major problem the dragon has is size. It would have a heck of a time finding magical equipment that fits its ginormous body. There's also the question of sticking with core or going all out with all the splatbooks. But the raw (not RAW) dragon, that is the MM entry without gear is an even challenge for a level 20 character, adding gear changes the EL.

    EDIT: actually, giving a dragon level appropriate gear would make it phenomenally more powerful. Using its listed treasure value would put it pretty close to PC level wealth.
    I was thinking more along the lines of customizing their spell selection. Anti-magic field?
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Wait it out. If you're mounted, you can likely stay out of reach until the amf wears down, then resume fighting. The most important thing to remember when hunting dragons is: if things turn south, RUN!! You can always get patched up and try again later. Besides, if you stick to evil dragons there's only the blacks that can even throw down an amf at CR 20.
    Last edited by Kelb_Panthera; 2010-01-16 at 03:13 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    I just throw something that's three or four CRs above their suggested CR at my players and hope they don't kill it too soon. I'm not as good as them at optimizing quickly and they don't get four encounters a day every day. Although I usually give the NPC's (all PC classes) gear that would make sense for them on a roughly NPC wealth level. It also results in the loot being a lot of the similar stuff so they loose money selling it.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    The obvious reason is that you don't want the players gaining a full set of WBL appropriate to their level in one fight.

    NPCs are supposed to have approximately triple treasure, which is supposed to make up for the fact that they otherwise suck. Naturally, the truth is that you're now handing the players an enormous reward for completing the encounter.

    The maths saying that one CR 5 monster is equivalent to a level 5 character is totally out. Four guys are wiped out after the equivalent of 16 encounters with the equivalent of one of those guys.

    What you actually need is the equivalent of 1.8 guys, or a force about twice as powerful as a single SGT PC.

    Those calculations put the EL of the PCs themselves at about APL +2 - any one SGT PC has a CR of roughly level -2.

    I'm pretty sceptical of the idea that a level 7 rogue is a match for two level 5 guys though - actions are everything, and the level 5 rogues' actions aren't necessarily that weak.
    Last edited by lesser_minion; 2010-01-16 at 04:55 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    Wait it out. If you're mounted, you can likely stay out of reach until the amf wears down, then resume fighting.
    How many hit points will the mount have? I'm pretty sure the dragons can kill it with a full attack and still have attacks left to scratch the fighter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    The most important thing to remember when hunting dragons is: if things turn south, RUN!! You can always get patched up and try again later. Besides, if you stick to evil dragons there's only the blacks that can even throw down an amf at CR 20.
    But if the fighter can run away, why can't the dragon do exactly the same?
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    Maybe. The major problem the dragon has is size. It would have a heck of a time finding magical equipment that fits its ginormous body. There's also the question of sticking with core or going all out with all the splatbooks. But the raw (not RAW) dragon, that is the MM entry without gear is an even challenge for a level 20 character, adding gear changes the EL.

    EDIT: actually, giving a dragon level appropriate gear would make it phenomenally more powerful. Using its listed treasure value would put it pretty close to PC level wealth.

    @the OP, actually, major npc's (read BBEG and his immediate lieutenants) can have PC level wealth if you like, you just need to either precede them or follow them with a few low treasure encounters to make up the difference.
    It's not out of line at all to let intelligent creatures use items that are in their treasure. Also if the pc's get too burdened with treasure, taxes and thieves are around to lighten the load.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by elonin View Post
    Also if the pc's get too burdened with treasure, taxes and thieves are around to lighten the load.
    This only applies to PCs without the ability to lie and hide gold. IE, every rogue, ever.
    Last edited by Tyndmyr; 2010-01-16 at 05:21 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    How many hit points will the mount have? I'm pretty sure the dragons can kill it with a full attack and still have attacks left to scratch the fighter.



    But if the fighter can run away, why can't the dragon do exactly the same?
    Never said he couldn't, but how many dragons do you know that'll up and abandon their treasure. In game it'll mostly come down to terrain and initiative. Ride by attack will figure prominently until until/unless the amf goes up then withdraw until either amf drops or until it's obvious it's time to get out of dodge. Also while a horse is what the term mount generally evokes, griffins, hippogriffs, giant eagle/owls are also mounts. And again, of the evil dragons that would likely be targets only 1 of 5, the black, is actually capable of casting amf at cr 20.
    Last edited by Kelb_Panthera; 2010-01-16 at 05:50 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The point of giving major NPCs less wealth/NPC wealth?

    I have actually had a dragon flee once...leaving behind treasure. It was a situation in which the dragon had literally no other option with a chance of living.

    The barbarian was at first pissed that it fled before he got to kill it....until they found the loot. That's one dragon that'll have it in for the party.
    Back from a lengthy vacation from Giantitp. I've been dabbling with 3d printer technology and game design, PM if you're curious.

    "World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimization."

    New: Tyndmyr has a game shop!

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