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  1. #1

    How Would You Handle NPC Ability Scores in this Example?

    I'm converting an adventure module from 2e to 5e, working on NPCs this weekend. I've decided to use the standard array of stats (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) as the baseline for all NPCs. The current NPC I'm converting is a dwarf. The adventure states that he has an 18 Strength and a 17 Constitution. He's also entitled to various racial and subracial bonuses to stats, as well as class-based raises since he's a fighter.

    What would you do with his ability scores? Would you give him the base 17 Constitution and then further augment it 2 points for race? Then his stat doesn't reflect "canon." Or would you presuppose that he has already received the racial bonus in the score and thereby hold to his "canon" Constitution score? Or would you start with the standard array and augment the abilities only insofar as the class and racial builds allow, achieving the book values only if the combination of standard array and various bonuses allow?

    Also, if I decide to make him a mountain dwarf, should he be presupposed already to have the +2 Strength bonus?

    There's no right or wrong answer, of course. But I'd like to know your opinion, especially since he'll (hopefully) appear in an FG module.

  2. #2
    I'm no expert in converting to 5e but from what I've picked up, NPCs don't have to follow any rules for their design. The end result is used to calculate the offense and defensive CR, the average of which determines the end CR. So don't worry about justifying any bonuses. Just give the NPC what stats you feel fit the situation and then check the CR to make sure it is appropriate.

    Given that 20 is the cap for ability scores, where 18 (19 with racial bonus) was the cap in 2e if I remember right, it should be fine to use the 18 and 17 in place of the 15 and 14 of the standard array. In the end it's the CR that matters as that is the measure of how hard to kill he is and how much punishment he can dish out.
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  3. #3
    LordEntrails's Avatar
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    For ease, I would probably just give him 18, 17, 13, 12, 10, 8 as his array. Maybe if he is high level bump up something more. But I'm a pretty seat of the pants type guy and don't worry about the little stuff.

    If he was above CR10 I might allow his strength or con to go above the current scores, or even bump up one or two of the others by a point or two. But as Nick says, I don't think there are any hard and fast rules you need to follow. Especially when converting older stuff. I just go by "feel", and since 5E stats are much lower than 3/3.5 I'm pretty stingy with NPC stats (which a lot of other people are not).

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Nickademus View Post
    I'm no expert in converting to 5e but from what I've picked up, NPCs don't have to follow any rules for their design. The end result is used to calculate the offense and defensive CR, the average of which determines the end CR. So don't worry about justifying any bonuses. Just give the NPC what stats you feel fit the situation and then check the CR to make sure it is appropriate.
    That's correct. I'm using the DMG guidelines (173-83), in which the rules for NPC creation are flexible and the CR calculation is crucial.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickademus View Post
    Given that 20 is the cap for ability scores, where 18 (19 with racial bonus) was the cap in 2e if I remember right, it should be fine to use the 18 and 17 in place of the 15 and 14 of the standard array. In the end it's the CR that matters as that is the measure of how hard to kill he is and how much punishment he can dish out.
    Yup, he's a 9th-level fighter, so he's entitled to ability score improvements at 4th, 6th, and 8th levels. If he gets those improvements in strength, he'll deal more damage. If his damage output increases substantially, his CR can increase.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by LordEntrails View Post
    For ease, I would probably just give him 18, 17, 13, 12, 10, 8 as his array. Maybe if he is high level bump up something more. But I'm a pretty seat of the pants type guy and don't worry about the little stuff.
    He's a 9th-level fighter and gets ability score improvements at 4th, 6th, and 8th levels. I may use those improvements to bump up some of the other abilities provided that the improvements don't overshadow Strength or Constitution, which Ed Greenwood indicates are supposed to be the given NPC's primary attributes.

    Quote Originally Posted by LordEntrails View Post
    If he was above CR10 I might allow his strength or con to go above the current scores, or even bump up one or two of the others by a point or two. But as Nick says, I don't think there are any hard and fast rules you need to follow. Especially when converting older stuff. I just go by "feel", and since 5E stats are much lower than 3/3.5 I'm pretty stingy with NPC stats (which a lot of other people are not).
    I'll probably leave Strength and Constitution at book value since the NPC is only 9th level.
    Last edited by L. R. Ballard; May 22nd, 2017 at 05:25. Reason: Changed "7th" to "9th."

  6. #6
    LordEntrails's Avatar
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    You can also assume the 18 & 17 are obtained from the ASI's he got at those levels. (In 2E he probably got them from experience, potions, magic etc)

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  7. #7
    I've converted a AD&D campaign over to 5E, and I did a straight swap of stats as they are, with the exception of exceptional strength which I made 19.
    I did not add anything for Race nor did I give the players the opportunity to increase stats retroactively from being over 5th level, basically their current stats are assumed to already have had the increase.

  8. #8
    El Condoro's Avatar
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    Wizards put out this guide a while back. Might help.

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    Myrdin Potter's Avatar
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    5e does not do quite an exact translation of classes to NPC. Look at guard and veteran in the MM as examples.

    I'm your case, I would take the veteran NPC, adjust the stats from human to dwarf, and then make any other changes you think is needed to make it the "9th level" fighter you were aiming at.

    5e fighters get to be battlemasters or champions or eldritch knights, so there are a few more traits you could add.
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  10. #10
    Thanks for the replies, and my apologies for the delay. I'm working on two academic editing projects this week. But I'll try to reply to posters this coming weekend, if not sooner!

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