[RPG] n’t I use fully statted PC characters as NPC antagonists in D&D 4E


According to the DMG (187), NPCs in 4e seem to be run as a weird sort of template halfway between a monster and a PC – you don't generate an actual character with a full array of powers and feats. Is there a particular reason why I shouldn't create a fully-fledged character with PC levels to face off against the party, other than that this would make the encounter more challenging? The one issue I can see is that with more than one surge, depending on class the NPC's heals might make the battle drag on too long. Also, I can't seem to find the XP reward for an NPC as per the DMG – would it be the same as a standard monster of its level?

Best Answer

There are many reasons why NPCs built as PCs work differently than those built as monsters. 4e is carefully balanced and designed to make encounters interesting, and PC-class NPCs disrupt this design. Some reasons:

  • They have far fewer hit points, but have more ways to regain hit points
  • They do less damage with at-wills and have the potential to do much more damage with encounters and dailies
  • They are much more versatile and complicated, meaning that there's more paper-shuffling and figuring out what to do, making turns last longer
  • They are designed to work in teams more than monsters are
  • To make them competitive, they will need a full supply of magic items; an encounter's worth of these items will likely be more than an entire level's treasure value
  • Unless they're appearing in multiple encounters, which is unlikely, they can blow all their dailies immediately, which can be devastating
  • They're a lot of work to build
  • They have a lot of powers that are fun to use, but not many that are fun to fight against

If you want to build an NPC like a PC despite all of this, there's no game-breaking reason why not to. Just be aware of the tradeoffs.

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