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  1. #1
    Zacchaeus's Avatar
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    How to Automate effects on NPCs

    Every so often the subject of what wording is required on NPCs so that the attacks and effects are automatically entered onto the Combat Tracker. This post is an attempt to answer that question as fully as I possibly can. The codicil is that I have no special knowledge of what is acceptable; what follows is what I have found works through trial and error mostly. Additionally the wordings suggested might not be the only acceptable wording but these definitely work.
    Note also that this was written with revision v3.2.2 in mind – certain changes have been made in this version to catch some additional wording.

    How the parser works

    I don’t have the technical details of how exactly the parser works but from what Moon Wizard has said in the forums the parser within FG latches on to certain key words and creates the effect from those words. However the words themselves are not sufficient; it is the context in which the words are found that is important. The reason for this is that if an effect were to be produced every time a key word was recognised there would be a huge number of false positives which would be undesirable.

    Weapon Attacks

    Melee Weapon Attack: +x to Hit [reach 5ft., one target]. Hit: x (ndn + x) <type> damage.
    Ranged Weapon Attack: +x to hit, [range n/n ft., one target]. Hit: x (ndn +x) <type> damage

    Each different attack should be a new statement. For example the correct result will not be obtained if a melee and ranged attack are combined as in “Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack:”. Such a line will show only the one attack on the CT. Where an attack could be melee or ranged then the correct statement would be:
    Melee Weapon Attack: +x to Hit [reach 5ft., one target]. Hit: x (ndn + x) <type> damage or Ranged Weapon Attack: +x to hit, [range n/n ft., one target]. Hit: x (ndn +x) <type> damage
    The damage type should conform to one of the standard damage types in the PHB. Damage types can also be chained if, for example, an NPC does two different damages from the same attack. The format for this would be:
    Hit: x (ndn+x) <type> damage plus x (ndn+x) <type> damage
    Damage types should always be kept separate like this since each damage roll is made separately so that a target which is resistant or immune to one type of damage gains the correct resistance or immunity from the hit for that damage type only but takes the full damage for the other one.
    For example if the damage dealt is as follows:
    Hit: 5 (1d6+2) fire damage plus 5 (1d6+2) slashing damage
    Then a target who has resistance to fire will take all of the slashing damage and half the fire damage.

    The damage type can also have an additional criteria separated by a comma. For example
    Hit: x (ndn+x) slashing, magic damage
    The additional tag, in this case ‘magic’ will allow for situations where the damage is being dealt by an NPC wielding a magical weapon. Other possible tags are ‘silver’ and ‘adamantine’. There can be more than one tag; for example ‘slashing, silver, magic’

    Note: this isn’t necessary if all of the creature’s attacks are magical – see below.
    See also below for situations where part or all of the damage can be negated by a saving throw.

    Saving Throws

    An important thing to understand about getting saving throws to come up correctly (and usefully) on the Combat Tracker is the order in which things need to happen. In a normal case the player will roll the save then something will happen on a failure and something else might happen on a success. So that is the order that things should be written in the NPC sheet.
    A basic saving throw is written as follows.
    The target must make a DC x <ability> saving throw.
    The ability must be written in full i.e. ‘Constitution’ works ‘Con’ will not. Similarly ‘save’ won’t be recognised it must be ‘saving throw’
    For half damage on a success the save should be written as follows:
    The target must make a DC x <ability> saving throw, taking x (ndn+x) <type> damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
    Where a creature does multiple damage types from a single attack and a saving throw is available to negate or avoid part of the damage then things need to be separated out. For example:
    Hit: x (ndn+x) slashing damage and the target must make a DC x <ability> saving throw taking x (ndn+x) <type> damage on a failure and half as much damage on a success one
    Conditions

    The parser will recognise all of the standard conditions listed in the PHB at appendix A except for exhaustion.
    As I said in the introduction the word itself isn’t sufficient to generate an effect on the CT; it is the context in which the word appears that is important. So if we take the poisoned condition the word ‘poisoned’ itself won’t produce anything. However if we insert the word ‘is’ before the condition then it will be accepted by the parser. So in most cases a phrase such as:
    the target is <condition>
    will work.
    Where there is a saving throw involved the phrase would be:
    The target must make a DC x <ability> saving throw, and on a failure the target is <condition>
    This phraseology will work for all of the conditions listed in the PHB Appendix A except for ‘prone’ which requires the work ‘knocked’ in the phrase as in ‘the target is knocked prone’.
    More than one condition can be specified in the phrase and can usually be joined together with ‘and’. For example
    The target is grappled and restrained
    Ongoing Damage

    Sometimes in addition to immediate damage a creature might suffer ‘bleeding wounds’ or some other thing which causes damage to be inflicted over a period of time. To create this effect use the following wording:
    Hit: x(ndn+x) <type> damage and the target takes x(ndn+x) <type> damage at the start of each of its turns
    Immunities and resistences

    Certain creatures have traits which can also cause certain effects to appear on the combat tracker. The most common of these are damage immunities, vulnerabilities and resistances. These are handled by filling in the appropriate boxes in the NPC sheet. Each damage type should be entered in lower case and if more than one separated by a comma. If the resistance or immunity can be overcome by certain weapon types or by magical weapons then there is wording which can be used to create the proper effect on the CT.
    Some examples are as follows
    [Damage Resistances] bludgeoning, slashing and piercing from nonmagical weapons
    This creature will resist damage from bludgeoning, slashing and piercing weapons that are not magical. It will take full damage from any magical weapon even if it does the specified damage.
    [Damage Immunities] bludgeoning, slashing and piercing from nonmagical weapons that aren’t silvered
    Immunity to the specified damage types except if the weapon used is either silvered or magical.
    [Damage Immunities] piercing from weapon attacks that aren’t adamantine
    Immunity to slashing except if the weapon is made of adamantine

    Traits

    A few creatures have traits which can also be interpreted and cause an effect to be applied. A common one is where a creature’s attacks are magical. All that is required here is a trait called ‘Magic Weapons’. It doesn’t matter what the wording of the trait is as long as the heading is as stated. This will cause the DMGTYPE: magic to appear on the CT and the magic type will apply automatically to any damage done by the creature.

    Another common trait is regeneration. The wording to use here is as follows:
    The <creature name> regains X hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point.
    If the regeneration can be halted by certain damage types then this can also be included in the description:
    The <creature name> regains X hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point. If the <creature name> takes <type> damage, this trait doesn't function at the start of the creature’s next turn

    Recharge

    To automate a recharge of an ability the name of the action must be:
    Breath Weapon (Recharge x)
    This will trigger a d6 throw at the beginning of the NPCs turn and if the d6 is equal or higher than x the action is recharged.
    (thanks lasmela for pointing this one out)

    Spellcasting
    If the NPC can cast spells then you can automate the population of the actual spells into the NPC sheet. Additionally with the correct wording FG will work out the attacks and spell save DCs where those are present in the spell/ The trait should be named 'Spellcasting' and the wording should be as follows:
    The [NPC] is a nth-level spellcaster. Its spell casting ability is [ability] (spell save DC x, +x to hit with spell attacks). The [NPC] has the following spells prepared.
    Cantrips (at will): <spell name>,<spell name>
    1st level (4 slots): <spell name>, <spell name>
    2nd level (2 slots): <spell name>, <spell name>
    It is important that the wording is exactly as above including the punctuation. All spell names should be in lower case separated by a comma.
    If the NPC has innate spellcasting abilities then replace the heading with 'Innate Spellcasting' and replace the 1st level, 2nd level etc with 3/day, 1/day or whatever the NPC rate of casting is.


    Conclusion

    I have probably missed some stuff and so please post anything below as well as any questions or corrections.
    Additionally the best place to start if you are creating an NPC and want to emulate a particular condition, is to find an NPC from the Monster Manual or other resource and replicate what is in there changing the numbers as needed.
    Last edited by Zacchaeus; April 19th, 2017 at 19:17.


  2. #2
    This looks great! Thanks so much for putting this together!

  3. #3
    This is a nice write up and sure will help in the future, when i'm building NPCs. I would add the "Recharge" of abilities too.
    To automate a recharge of an ability the name of the action must be:
    Breath Weapon (Recharge x)
    This will trigger a d6 throw at the begin of the NPCs turn and if the d6 is equal or higher than x the action is recharged.

  4. #4
    Zacchaeus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lasmela View Post
    This is a nice write up and sure will help in the future, when i'm building NPCs. I would add the "Recharge" of abilities too.
    To automate a recharge of an ability the name of the action must be:
    Breath Weapon (Recharge x)
    This will trigger a d6 throw at the begin of the NPCs turn and if the d6 is equal or higher than x the action is recharged.
    Added; thanks for pointing it out.


  5. #5
    Thanks so much for putting this together. Awesome! Sticky please! I'm sure this will be a reference for some time.
    Currently running:
    5e one-shots: (when I can!)
    5e DM: Princes of the Apocalypse (started 11/10)

    Live stream: https://www.twitch.tv/gwydione
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    Free stuff:
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  6. #6
    Zacchaeus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post
    Thanks so much for putting this together. Awesome! Sticky please! I'm sure this will be a reference for some time.
    It's already in the stickies


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Zacchaeus View Post
    It's already in the stickies
    Can you give yourself negative reputation??? If so I deserve it! Thanks again for doing this and next time I will be less on the typing triggering and more on the looking first trigger...
    Currently running:
    5e one-shots: (when I can!)
    5e DM: Princes of the Apocalypse (started 11/10)

    Live stream: https://www.twitch.tv/gwydione
    Youtube replays of fg sessions: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQr...bIpAauZB41z8gA

    Free stuff:
    D&D5e FAQ module for fg: http://www.dmsguild.com/product/196704/FAQs

  8. #8
    JohnD's Avatar
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    Great post.
    DMing since 1979. Ultimate License holder.

    Currently GMing:
    * The Gran March - 5E Greyhawk
    * The Kron Hills - Castles & Crusades Greyhawk
    * TWD Winnipeg - Savage Worlds War of the Dead
    * The Yeomanry - Rolemaster Greyhawk

    Playing In:
    * Against the Slavers by GunbunnyFuFu

    Thanks for 5+ years of gaming via FG my friends (3.5e / Rolemaster Classic / Castles & Crusades / Pathfinder / Savage Worlds (War of the Dead) / 5E).

  9. #9
    Ooo! YES! Super-useful for custom monsters.

    I've been searching DMG to copypasta till now.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Zacchaeus View Post
    [Damage Immunities] bludgeoning, slashing and piercing from non magical attacks that aren’t silver

    So, I've been trying to figure this one out. I applied "bludgeoning, slashing and piercing from non magical attacks that aren’t silver" to the damage immunities section but what I see is.




    It seems to just make silver part of the immunities?

    Also, where on the weapon does "silver" need to be included, properties? Does the format matter for that also?

    Thanks for the work on this write up! It's been a tremendous help.

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