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    Default Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    So, reading this thread brought up a question that I thought would be good to spin off into its own thread.

    Basically, I hear quite a bit about how the prebuilt/example NPCs in 3.5 books (don't know about PF) tend to not only be horribly built, but often flat-out don't work under the rules.

    This thread is to post the most flagrant examples you can find of the above. What are some of the worst-built NPCs in 3.5, and especially which are the ones that are actually illegal?
    Last edited by Sith_Happens; 2012-10-25 at 07:10 AM.
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    Default Re: Illegal Prebuilt NPCs

    One thing I'll point out is how builds often end up being illegal, using dirgesinger as an example. The PHB defines your order of operations at level up, and it says you pick your class first, then feat(s), then skill ranks (there are other things, but the order of those 3 is what matters here). This means at 6th level, for instance, you can't use your 6th level feat to qualify for a PRC you're taking that level, because you need to pick the PRC before you pick up a new feat, and you can't use skill ranks picked up at 6th level to qualify for a feat.

    In Libra Mortis, the sample dirgesinger is a bard5/dirgesinger2. But you can't get into dirgesinger at 6th level in this fashion, because dirgesinger requires the requiem feat, which requires 8 ranks in perform. Which means requiem would need to be taken at 6th level, which means you couldn't be a dirgesinger until level 7.

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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Wizards apparently had this fetish of multi classing their npcs to the brink of sheer uselessness.

    Off the top of my head,

    Exemplars of evil - some dusk blade/ranger/cancer mage, fighter/wizard/blackguard, half-dragon fighter/sorc,

    DMG2 - npc builds like fighter/sorc, rogue/monk

    Dragons of eberron - half dragon fighter10/sorc10 (cr22?!?)

    The various chosen of mystra. They are typically high lv spell casters, but tend to be diluted with lvs in other classes.

    These are just the tip of the iceberg.
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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Any kobold mook, because they are so poorly representative of the amazing glory that is the Dragonkin Hordes of the Tucker Warrens.

    Also, totally early 5e playtesting and kinda out of thread, but did you see that +2 Battleaxe with the Dwarf equipped? Seriously, that Battleaxe needs to optimize itself better.

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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Elminster could choose immunity to one spell from each level. For 9th level spell he chose Time Stop

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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    the dervish example doesnt have the required intelligence for combat expertise so the whole build falls apart. On top of that, the combat numbers listed for hit and dmg are all wrong (some of them too high some of them too low).

    The knight protector in the same book could not qualify for the prestige class. It lists a dwarven pld 6/ knight 10. A lvl 6 dwarf full paladin does not have the feats needed to pick up the cleave, great cleave, power attack, and mounted combat prerequ feats. He would have to dip fighter or switch to human or use flaws or some other means to get the extra feat if he wanted to enter at 7th.

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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Okay, picking a random book ... let's see, Complete Warrior. Cavalier NPC on page 20. The build itself isn't technically illegal, but the numbers they provide just don't add up.

    Strength 19 (+4), with Weapon Specialization (Lance) and weapon Specialization (Longsword). The statblock has him doing 1d8+6 damage with a +1 lance and 1d8+6 with a +1 longsword. The damage should be:

    Lance (assuming he's wielding it 1handed mounted, since there's a heavy shield in his inventory): 1d8+4(Str)+1(enhancement)+2(specialization)=1d8 + 7

    Longsword (again assuming 1handed): 1d8+4(Str)+1(enhancement)+2(specialization) = 1d8+7

    His attack (to-hit) numbers don't take into account one the following: +1 bonus to Lances or Swords granted by the first two levels of Cavalier, or +1 from magic weapons.

    His AC is listed as 24, with a dex of 14, +1 full plate, and a +1 heavy shield.
    However, the AC should be:
    10 + 8 (full plate) + 1 (magic) + 2 (shield)+1(magic) + 1 (max dex) = 23
    So either they forgot Full Plate has a max dex, or forgot to note that it was mithral; but in either case they added in the magic bonuses even though the attack numbers seemed to all disregard magic bonuses.

    ... and that's on the third NPC of a randomly-selected book. I may have missed something on the first two.
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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Random book: Complete Divine:
    Random prestige class: Contemplative

    Takes Martial Weapon Proficiency: Battleaxe on a gnome cleric/contemplative.

    Edit: Random book: Races of Destiny
    Random prestige class: Chameleon

    Human cleric with Int of 10 has two languages (and no ranks in Speak Language); feats include Dodge, Mobility, Stealthy, and Weapon Finesse (with a Dex of 13).
    Last edited by Novawurmson; 2012-10-25 at 01:29 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTrees View Post
    Knowledge (local) being trained only, and not a class skill for many classes, means that your average human may well not be able to identify other humans! This may explain the exceptional quantity of half-human hybrids.

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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Not illegal (and it largely doesn't matter due to Divine Salient Abilities), but Moradin has 14 levels in Expert. WotC decided that the God of all Dwarves took an NPC class.
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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Kobold-Bard View Post
    Not illegal (and it largely doesn't matter due to Divine Salient Abilities), but Moradin has 14 levels in Expert. WotC decided that the God of all Dwarves took an NPC class.
    Wow. Next dwarf I meet in-game I'm totally figuring out a way to rag on him about that.
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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Runestar View Post
    Wizards apparently had this fetish of multi classing their npcs to the brink of sheer uselessness.

    Off the top of my head,

    Exemplars of evil - some dusk blade/ranger/cancer mage, fighter/wizard/blackguard, half-dragon fighter/sorc,
    You know what's worse? Its ranger 3 / duskblade 2. Because we all know endurance is far superior to arcane channeling.
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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    This is fun.

    Random book: Complete Adventurer
    Random prestige class: Dread Pirate

    Does not qualify for the prestige class; class requires 8 ranks in appraise, while the maximum ranks he could have at level 5 as a bard 3/fighter 2 is 7 (as Appraise is a cross-class skill for Fighter).

    Edit: He also can't have the prerequisite ranks in Profession (Sailor), as that's also not a class skill for the Fighter.

    Edit: The Will save is also wrong. +3 (bard 3), +2 (Cha, Force of Personality), +1 (Dread Pirate 4), gives us +6 minimum; it's listed as +4 in the book.
    I am wrong. Thank you, eggs.

    Apparently, I'm just wrong about this one. Bard 3/Fighter 2 with the feats selected is still terrible XD
    Last edited by Novawurmson; 2012-10-25 at 02:00 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTrees View Post
    Knowledge (local) being trained only, and not a class skill for many classes, means that your average human may well not be able to identify other humans! This may explain the exceptional quantity of half-human hybrids.

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    Default Re: Illegal Prebuilt NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Hirax View Post
    One thing I'll point out is how builds often end up being illegal, using dirgesinger as an example. The PHB defines your order of operations at level up, and it says you pick your class first, then feat(s), then skill ranks (there are other things, but the order of those 3 is what matters here). This means at 6th level, for instance, you can't use your 6th level feat to qualify for a PRC you're taking that level, because you need to pick the PRC before you pick up a new feat, and you can't use skill ranks picked up at 6th level to qualify for a feat.

    In Libra Mortis, the sample dirgesinger is a bard5/dirgesinger2. But you can't get into dirgesinger at 6th level in this fashion, because dirgesinger requires the requiem feat, which requires 8 ranks in perform. Which means requiem would need to be taken at 6th level, which means you couldn't be a dirgesinger until level 7.
    Actually, you pick skill ranks before feats. That said, this still doesn't work, because you don't get a feat at 5th level.

    Quote Originally Posted by Novawurmson View Post
    This is fun.

    Random book: Complete Adventurer
    Random prestige class: Dread Pirate

    Does not qualify for the prestige class; class requires 8 ranks in appraise, while the maximum ranks he could have at level 5 as a bard 3/fighter 2 is 7 (as Appraise is a cross-class skill for Fighter).

    Edit: He also can't have the prerequisite ranks in Profession (Sailor), as that's also not a class skill for the Fighter.
    That's also not how max ranks work. Unless you mean he doesn't have high enough Intelligence?
    Last edited by Urpriest; 2012-10-25 at 01:45 PM.
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    Remember when someone put a halfway-optimized Arcane Trickster that dipped both Spellthief and Rogue in Exemplars of Evil and big chunks of internet went up in arms about WotC caving to the big bad munchkinning roll-players?

    Good times.

    EDIT:
    Quote Originally Posted by Novawurmson View Post
    Edit: The Will save is also wrong. +3 (bard 3), +2 (Cha, Force of Personality), +1 (Dread Pirate 4), gives us +6 minimum; it's listed as +4 in the book.
    I don't think that's a mistake. FoP is a circumstantial bonus; it would be weird to put it into the base save.
    Last edited by eggs; 2012-10-25 at 01:52 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Urpriest View Post
    That's also not how max ranks work. Unless you mean he doesn't have high enough Intelligence?
    More of a PF person, so it's completely possible I have this wrong. IIRC:

    Bard 1 - 4 ranks max
    Bard 2 - 5 ranks max
    Bard 3 - 6 ranks max
    Fighter 1 - 6 ranks max (1/2 CC level, rounded down)
    Fighter 2 - 7 ranks max (1/2 CC level, rounded down, costs 2 skill points).

    Yes? No?
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTrees View Post
    Knowledge (local) being trained only, and not a class skill for many classes, means that your average human may well not be able to identify other humans! This may explain the exceptional quantity of half-human hybrids.

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    Default Re: Illegal Prebuilt NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Novawurmson View Post
    More of a PF person, so it's completely possible I have this wrong. IIRC:

    Bard 1 - 4 ranks max
    Bard 2 - 5 ranks max
    Bard 3 - 6 ranks max
    Fighter 1 - 6 ranks max (1/2 CC level, rounded down)
    Fighter 2 - 7 ranks max (1/2 CC level, rounded down, costs 2 skill points).

    Yes? No?
    No. Once a skill has been a class skill, it will always be a class skill in reguards to max ranks. But you are right that the fighter will be paying 2 skill points per rank purchased.
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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Tome of Battle - example 5th level NPC warblade. Has two stances, one is 3rd level. RAW, warblades get second stance at 4th level, too early for a 3rd level stance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    No. Once a skill has been a class skill, it will always be a class skill in reguards to max ranks. But you are right that the fighter will be paying 2 skill points per rank purchased.
    You learn something new every day. I think he qualifies as he gets 4 ranks for each level of fighter (Int of 13, human bonus rank).

    I never really did understand the cross class/class skill system when I played 3.5.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTrees View Post
    Knowledge (local) being trained only, and not a class skill for many classes, means that your average human may well not be able to identify other humans! This may explain the exceptional quantity of half-human hybrids.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Novawurmson View Post
    More of a PF person, so it's completely possible I have this wrong. IIRC:

    Bard 1 - 4 ranks max
    Bard 2 - 5 ranks max
    Bard 3 - 6 ranks max
    Fighter 1 - 6 ranks max (1/2 CC level, rounded down)
    Fighter 2 - 7 ranks max (1/2 CC level, rounded down, costs 2 skill points).

    Yes? No?
    Interclass skills can have 2 points spent in them per level up to get a +1 bonus when you level up


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    Default Re: Illegal Prebuilt NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Novawurmson View Post
    More of a PF person, so it's completely possible I have this wrong. IIRC:

    Bard 1 - 4 ranks max
    Bard 2 - 5 ranks max
    Bard 3 - 6 ranks max
    Fighter 1 - 6 ranks max (1/2 CC level, rounded down)
    Fighter 2 - 7 ranks max (1/2 CC level, rounded down, costs 2 skill points).

    Yes? No?
    Actually it should be:
    Bard 1 - 4 ranks max
    Bard 2 - 5 ranks max
    Bard 3 - 6 ranks max
    Fighter 1 - 7 ranks max (1 skill point = 2 skill levels)
    Fighter 2 - 8 ranks max (1 skill point = 2 skill levels)

    This link puts it better. The relevant part is as follows: "Regardless of whether a skill is purchased as a class skill or a cross-class skill, if it is a class skill for any of your classes, your maximum rank equals your total character level + 3."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Novawurmson View Post
    You learn something new every day. I think he qualifies as he gets 4 ranks for each level of fighter (Int of 13, human bonus rank).

    I never really did understand the cross class/class skill system when I played 3.5.
    Took me a fair while to learn it myself. I've always felt PF fans give the system a bit more credit than its worth, but I gotta aknowledge that their simplification of class and CC skills works very well.
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    Default Re: Illegal Prebuilt NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Novawurmson View Post
    You learn something new every day. I think he qualifies as he gets 4 ranks for each level of fighter (Int of 13, human bonus rank).

    I never really did understand the cross class/class skill system when I played 3.5.
    it is involved, but not super complicated. basically, it works like this:

    if something is a class skill for you now, then you pay 1 point per rank, and your cap is your level + 3. let's use bluff as our example. Malsaern the Enlightened starts out as a rogue (like he should, to get more skill points at level 1) and takes some points in bluff. at level 1, his cap is 4, and those 4 ranks cost him 4 points. everything's groovy.

    if you leave that class and go into one that does not have bluff (such as a cleric without the trickery domain) your cap remains the same (if something is or ever was a class skill for you, the cap is always at your level + 3) but you now pay 2 points per rank. malsaern wants to keep maxing bluff so he can get into ur-priest on time, but now has to pay 2 points for that 1 rank. he now has 5 points in bluff as of level 2.

    due to stuff costing double, it is also possible to buy half-ranks in skills. this means that if malsaern needed to buy points in other stuff for ur-priest as well (he does) and ran out of room for bluff due to not allocating enough points to intelligence, having only 1 spare left over, he could add a half-rank at level 3.

    this means he'd pay 1 skill point, but since the conversion rate is doubled since it's not a class skill for cleric, he only gets 0.5 ranks in return. when you have a decimal rank, you round down for the purpose of rolls. half-ranks do allow you to make trained only rolls, and are not restricted as to what skills they can be applied to, so if you wanted to take a spare skill point you didn't know what to do with, chop it in half and put 0.5 into Forgery and 0.5 into Lucid Dreaming, you could if you really wanted to.

    so malsaern spends 1 point on bluff at level 3, but gets .5 in return. he is now at 5.5 ranks for bluff, with a cap of 6.

    if something is not a class skill for you, your cap is (your character level +3) /2. so at level 3 for malsaern, it's 3 for, say, knowledge (underwater basketweaving). skill ranks also still cost double for cross-class skills that were never class skills. these are the skills it's hardest to get points in, and prevents people from taking fun prcs.

    there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. able learner, from races of destiny will allow cross-class skills to be bought at only 1 point per rank. this is pretty darn huge, and means a character with able learner and a factotum dip can take any skills they like forever at-cost. some tables houserule that everybody has able learner to make it easier for people to qualify for fun offbeat prcs. I've tried it and it's hardly a game-breaker, and due to the cap still being in place with able learner, it doesn't invalidate skillmonkey types. the feat's human or doppleganger only and 1st lvl only, but talk to your DM. it's widely agreed that not including changeling was a simple typographical error.

    as far as my illegal prebuilt NPC goes, well, you've probably guessed it by now, it's good old Malsaern the Enlightened, the sample ur-priest from complete divine. what's most frustrating about him, aside from his horrible build, is that he easily could have actually met the draconian prerequisites to ur-priest due to having a level in rogue, which gives him bluff as a class skill, and enough skill points to buy a few CC ranks in the 3 knowledges he needs, none of which are on the rogue's list, and a cleric without a good int bonus (like malsaern, rockin' a 12) does not have enough points to consistently max fast enough to qualify for ur-priest on time.

    now, as far as his buiid goes, as mentioned, sample NPCs only have feats from the PHB and whatever splat they are released in, so I'm not going to bother to complain about his weapon focus (though it is with the morningstar, which is an absolutely brilliant reference given the class) and honestly, divine spell power is a step up from the kind of feats most sample NPCs have.

    what bugs me the most (aside from him actually taking cleric to get into ur-priest, and failing to take trickery domain to get bluff as a class skill) is that he takes his cleric levels first. take the class with the most skill points first! he would've had almost enough to actually qualify for the class if he'd done that.

    I find ur-priest the most egregious violation, personally. mainly because it's so simple to qualify for. I understand if something like ardent dilettante, trapsmith, dungeon delver, or some other thing with fifty zillion skill ranks required isn't properly qualified for, but ur-priest is comparatively simple.
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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Justicar doesn't meet the skill pre-reqs in time.

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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by ahenobarbi View Post
    Elminster could choose immunity to one spell from each level. For 9th level spell he chose Time Stop
    I am very new to DnD. Why would this be a bad choice?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Animastryfe View Post
    I am very new to DnD. Why would this be a bad choice?
    Its a headache trying to figure out how it works. In previous editions time stop drastically slowed down time in a radius origionating from the catser. This makes it fairly clear how you are immune, you ignore any affects the spell has on you. In 3rd edition, the spell grants 1d4+1 rounds of apparrant time. So how are you immune to a spell that buffs the caster?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Animastryfe View Post
    I am very new to DnD. Why would this be a bad choice?
    Time Stop isn't a harmful spell. It's one of the most desirable spell effects in 3e, and can only be cast on oneself.

    Essentially, he's using an ability that could give him immunity to some of the scariest abilities there are in order to prevent himself from using one of the most beneficial self-affecting spells there is.

    I kind of suspect that it's a holdover from an edition where Time Stop had more offensive applications.

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    Starbuck_II's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by eggs View Post
    Time Stop isn't a harmful spell. It's one of the most desirable spell effects in 3e, and can only be cast on oneself.

    Essentially, he's using an ability that could give him immunity to some of the scariest abilities there are in order to prevent himself from using one of the most beneficial self-affecting spells there is.

    I kind of suspect that it's a holdover from an edition where Time Stop had more offensive applications.
    I assume the RAI reason is to be immune to others using Time Stop (being immune to stop stop in 2E let you act during a Time Stop). This useage is common in 2E game Buldar's Gate like Demogorgon (however you spell) and some other enemies were immune to its effects.

    Time Stop in 2E alowed you to auto-hit enemies during a T' Stop. So Mindflayers with Time Stop were deadly (auto-hit tentacles to suck brain...)

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    Chimera

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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Animastryfe View Post
    I am very new to DnD. Why would this be a bad choice?
    By the rules, it wouldn't work, since time stop is neither an offensive spell nor allows for sr.

    Probably a holdover from 2e where rules could be more liberally interpreted.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    I can never understand WOTC's reasoning; taking RAW as a whole is like grabbing a book filled with fortune cookie sayings and basing your life off of them.
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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Starbuck_II View Post
    I assume the RAI reason is to be immune to others using Time Stop (being immune to stop stop in 2E let you act during a Time Stop). This useage is common in 2E game Buldar's Gate like Demogorgon (however you spell) and some other enemies were immune to its effects.

    Time Stop in 2E alowed you to auto-hit enemies during a T' Stop. So Mindflayers with Time Stop were deadly (auto-hit tentacles to suck brain...)
    Well, thst reminds me of one of the most successful tabletop groups i had, were we used to joke about El's timestop immunity all the times.
    Even considering RAI immunity (ability to act during other people's timestops), considering the number of high level arcane spellcsters in Faerun, thast meant that El would see the whole wold freezing several times/day.
    One of the best/worst mental image that originate from that was a timestop cast somewhere while El was... intimate with La Simbul.

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    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Worst Prebuilt NPCs

    If we are ragging on Forgotten Realms, let us not forget one of the iconics: Drizz't Do'Urden.

    His write-up in the FRCS book is a perfect demonstration of how not to build a melee character in 3.0. I am going off of memory here, but as an ECL 19 character, he has an Ac around 20 and his full attack is something like +17/+12/+7 for 1d6+6, with an off-hand of +15/+10 for 1d6+4 + 1d6 Frost. Also, he has the full Spring Attack tree, which meshes oh-so-well with TWF. I think about the only mistake he does not make is taking Toughness.
    I am not crazy! I prefer "reality impaired".

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