Tuesday, August 16, 2016

NPC Classes

So continuing my campaign planning, I was going to put together a party of NPCs to serve as drop-in adversaries to challenge my player characters. Now, given that I'm running Labyrinth Lord, my class choices are (by the book) both limited and predictable.

I got to thinking about how to spice things up and I recalled back in some of the old issues of Dragon that we often saw write-ups on NPC classes. Death Master, Archer (and Arch-Ranger), Thug, etc. Back then, I took the very player-centric and entitled stance of "That's not fair! I should be able to play an Arch-Ranger too, if I want."

Now, in my older and more treacherous years, I'm feeling quite different. By having NPC classes, it allows me to throw something new at my player characters while they hold fast to the fantasy archetypes of the genre. I'm not saying every single NPC or adversary needs to be something special, but spice it up on occasion.

So, I'm going to build a team of mercenaries and bounty hunters. They'll be neutral and chaotic in alignment, hired by whatever evil organization happens to fit based on how the campaign goes. Being bounty hunters, I'll include a ranger - which is convenient, since Labyrinth Lord doesn't appear to restrict ranger alignment according to the AEC. Add in a fighter or two, and maybe a thief and I've got a nice simple threat. But the leader of this unnamed band of thugs? Well, for that I'm going to go with +Jason Paul McCartan's Murderhobo - probably the Low Templar variant. Maybe he's a former Paladin who got kicked out of the Church of Law and Order. On the surface, he'll seem like another martial goon, but he'll have a collection of talents and abilities which will help me as the DM adapt to the inevitable clever plans my PCs will devise.

Does this mean I'll be allowing Murderhobos as PCs? Heck no! Other classes outside the AEC? Surely not! But the important thing is that it presents a fresh, but fair, challenge to my player characters and creates an engaging game for them.

Besides, it's always fun to have someone in a campaign that the players love to hate. For bonus points, maybe I'll introduce the Murderhobo early on as McCartan's new class: the Hench. This Hench will likely be someone the player characters hire early in their career and use as a meat shield. After leaving him for dead, the Hench becomes a Murderhobo who takes particular pleasure in his newest bounty...

5 comments:

  1. Monsters aren't made the same way PCs are. It's not a fair fight, and it's not supposed to be! It should be a fun and possibly scary fight, but it doesn't have to be fair.

    As soon as you read "NPC class" as "Monster Type" it all makes perfect sense.

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  2. I was always partial to the witch class myself! ;)
    That and the Death Master.

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    1. I picked up your the "basic" version of The Witch some time ago and I really like it, especially the various class options. One thing: any chance you'll ever put out an update with a larger font? Reading it on a tablet is a major pain due to the smallish font size. Not a deal breaker, of course, but it would make it easier on the ol' eyes.

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    2. I hear ya! (I also got your email).
      I have been thinking about an update for sometime to be honest.

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  3. I really, really like McCartan's Hench class (I find it fun to compare his with the one you detailed in Henchmen for Hire). I also like the Murderhobo class...which may say more about me then I should probably admit. :)

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