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D&D 3E
PCs, CRs, etc... 
30th-Apr-2007 10:24 pm
Let's say I make a playable character for use as an NPC. Whole gambit, create a.. level 3 sorcerer for example, the same way a player would. How do you calculate the CR?

If 4 Level 3 characters can walk into a CR3 encounter, then a single level 3 anything should not be CR3. Should it?

What level would you make a character if you want that one single character to be a CR3?
Comments 
1st-May-2007 08:35 am (UTC)
well as far as I can tell Wotc has at two different points in time had different opinions on this matter. it used to be CL -1 for regs and -2 for epics, and now it seems too be equal which is sorta lame.
Personally, I calculate CR at CL -1 per 5 HD (rounded up). so I make a 7th level Character CR 5, and a 13th level character CR 10.
Keeps things pretty solid, especially if you play the NPC tactically or give him some little minions to work with like animal companions with improved grab, goblin mercenaries or just a couple of Howlers for the hell of it and damnit why else did they print CHariot proficiency?
1st-May-2007 10:22 am (UTC) - Excellent.
I like that idea. I'll have to spend a few hours rolling fake combat scenarios between PCs and see how things come out. See how that formula works out.

Maybe spend a whole day doing it, I'll grab a friend and we'll just play combat all day long, weee. That'll probably get boring after a few hours, but hey, all in the interest of having fun later :)
1st-May-2007 09:00 am (UTC)
a CR encounter equal to the party's level (Assuming a 'typical' 4 player party of mage, cleric, fighter and rogue), is supposed to consume about 25% of their resources, so a Lvl 3 NPC is indeed a roughly CR3 encounter for 4 Lvl 3 characters (With sufficient handwaving and noise about it being guidelines not strict rules, etc.).
1st-May-2007 09:52 am (UTC) - Yeah, I read that part...
it's the "With sufficient handwaving and noise about it being guidelines not strict rules, etc." part I want to hear though :)

I dunno. I just rolled up a level 5 wizard to use as a necromancer, and I think the typical 3rd level party is actually going to kill her (I'm hoping for a recurring NPC theme here).

Unless there's something I'm not seeing about her AC only being a TWELVE. Which is possible, it's 2am here and all.

Wizard. Base AC of 10, add Dex(+2) for 12, wizards get no armor or shield proficiencies.. no magic items that increase her AC. Hrm.

Maybe this'll be why she flees, thye kill all her minions and she runs like mad. Sounds good to me.
1st-May-2007 10:11 am (UTC) - Re: Yeah, I read that part...
Ensure she has cast Mage Armour before the fight, AC 16. Cast Shield, AC 20. That's 2 1st level spells from an NPC that will be casting 3rd level offensive spells, so no major loss. If she has plenty of spell slots free, you can also cast Blur and Mirror Image from 2nd level. Hell, add in Cat's Grace and Bull's Endurance and that's another 2AC and 10HP. Most of these last 5 minutes, the mage armour 5 hours. There's no excuse not to have Mage Armour on, and as long as she's aware that there are PCs about, 5 minutes for the others is somewhat sensible. You could even have them on scrolls, to reduce the treasure the PCs get if she has the chance to cast them...

She is now actually harder to hit in melee than many melee classes, as well as being immune to magic missiles, and providing confusion of targets for magic users.

Ensure she has Expeditious Retreat packed if she is likely to want to flee.
1st-May-2007 10:27 am (UTC) - Ooooooooo,
I like this idea :D

I'm gunna have to play a wizard sometime so that I know this stuff.

>:| To bad I can never find a group to play with, I always have to DM...

(sheesh, talk about mood swings between replies here, eh?)
1st-May-2007 05:47 pm (UTC) - Re: Yeah, I read that part...
I have to agree with the whole mage armour and shield specs there, they are sorta the quintessential spells of wizards not dying in combat. but if the person is playing a necromancer, some other stuff works better or at least just as well as the blur and major image.
Minions are good gift to the morbidity infatuated. check out heroes of horror, and the summon undead spells. they make for a much more necromancy casting necromancer at lower levels, and personally I like to use shadow spells and dark magic when playing my necromancer's so they have that whole darkness and death thing going as opposed to summoning a ghoul and then hitting the pc's with a bright and shiny color spray.
Stuff like death armour, shadow mask, dark-bolt and the like. hard too find and you need like three books, but I can make a necromancer whose spells actually reflect what a necromancer does... which is nice.
also, check out the Dread Necromancer class in Heroes of Horror. It... a durable spellcaster.
1st-May-2007 09:58 am (UTC)
This is the RAW, but thinking about it this morning, I'm not sure a single equivalent-level NPC will consume 25% of a party's resources. Yes, it's equivalent in strength (disregarding gear...) to 25% of the party, but a party of four should be able to dispose of the NPC fairly easily, due to the benefit of numbers.

RAW certainly say that an NPC PC class is CR(level) and an NPC NPC class (warrior, adept, etc) is CR(level-1).

This works well if you start stacking NPCs up - if you have 4 equivalent level NPCs, then you're getting an EL of level+4, at which point this should be a very tough fight, and would be. Add some minions in to a standard NPC, and again I think it works OK. But a single NPC solo, I'm not sure it works. Then again, I don't think pitting a party against a solo NPC is ever going to be an interesting fight, unless the NPC is higher level than them, or has some other nasty surprises.
1st-May-2007 10:26 am (UTC) - Nasty Surprises.
5th level necromancer :) And thumbing through the evil critters I tagged earlier, some of them deal ability damage, so the party might well be "drained" by the time they meet her anyways.

(that was a really bad pun)
1st-May-2007 02:05 pm (UTC)
The 5th-level wizard listed above hits the party with a fireball, doing 17 hit points, save to 8. The fighter and cleric fail their saves and take 17, the wizard takes 8, the rogue saves and takes nothing. After the fight is over, assuming the cleric has cast no spells, he will use up an absolute minimum of five spells (out of his starting nine) healing the party up to full, and that's just from one fireball. It's well within the bounds of reason for the cleric not to be able to heal them all up to full, and if the bad guy rolls a bit better on his fireball and the wizard fails his save, the wizard PC could die, which definitely exhausts 25% of the party's resources... And that's just from casting one attack spell.
1st-May-2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
The wizard loses initiative. PC Fighter wins, charges the wizard and hits with a greatsword, doing 10 points of damage. PC Rogue also charges, hits with a rapier, doing 11 points of damage (gotta love sneak attack on a flat-footed foe). Wizard drops to the floor. Party has used no resources.

I don't disagree with your scenario; but the problem with a solo NPC is initiative can make such a huge difference. And, of course, wizards do have possibly the best potential to manage maximum damage in the short space of time they might possibly have, and especially with time to prepare, they can be devastating.

Alternatively, your scenario occurs. Fighter charges wizard, but picks the wrong mirror image (all buff spells from my previous post have been cast). Rogue waits, canny to the mirror image thing. PC Wizard casts magic missile, clearing two of the mirror images. Rogue now moves to flank the wizard, but fails to hit the 22AC/20% miss chance required. Cleric cures moderate wounds on himself, leaving himself only 5hp of damage. Wizard takes a 5 foot step back, and casts a fireball on the defensive, easily making the concentration check. PC wizard collapses to the floor, possibly dead. Fighter is staggered, rogue is fine, cleric is again badly damaged. Fighter power attacks the wizard, dealing an impressive 16 damage, but then collapses to the floor. Rogue and cleric both move in to melee, but both fail to connect. Wizard casts burning hands, cleric drops, rogue's luck finally fails and takes 12 damage. Rogue attacks once more, and finally hits, but with no-one to flank with him, only does a measly 4 damage. Thanks to the Bull's Endurance, our wizard still has 3hp left. She casts Cause Fear and the rogue flees. The wizard drinks a potion and then follows the rogue. When the rogue is out of charge range, she fires the first of two magic missiles, certain that the rogue can't attack before she can fire the second one which she is certain will kill him. At an expected 10hp each, she's not wrong...
1st-May-2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
Heh, having run through a long post, I then realise we are of course talking about a 3rd level wizard, so no fireball. This makes quite a difference to the lethality of a CR3....
2nd-May-2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
Lethality, yes, but not consumption of resources--my experience with very low level parties is that, especially if the people playing the spellcasters haven't played that class before, there is a mindset of "it's a new melee round, I must cast another spell!" Even if all the wizard has left is Mirror Image, the PC will cast the spell, even if there are three PC's between him and the one bad guy.
1st-May-2007 01:13 pm (UTC)
As others have said, an encounter against a PC class is supposed to be a CR equal to the class levels (NPC classes are CR equal to half their class levels).

Part of the issue is that despite what the game would like to believe, not all PC classes are equal. For example, at low levels spell-casters can be pretty fragile, making them not necessarily CR encounters (since one good hit from the barbarian will likely drop them). Similarly at low levels stuff like a Barbarian or a Fighter can be more dangerous, if only because they deal more damage before they go down.

So while it is probably safe to say that a well-played NPC has CR equal to their class levels, it is also likely that the EL (the encounter level) may be lower based on the conditions of the battle--a low-level wizard caught surprised is going to drop the EL a lot, while a low-level barbarian caught surprised may not as much.

Make sense?
1st-May-2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
As others have said, an encounter against a PC class is supposed to be a CR equal to the class levels (NPC classes are CR equal to half their class levels).

I once thought that and as a result truecatachresis nearly faced a 6th level Orc Warrior at second level, which I thought was CR3.

For NPC classes it is character level -1. (DMG pages 37 to 38). The Monster Manal (page 294) says that NPC levels are always non-associated which to me always seemed to imply that 2 NPC levels count as +1 CR when advancing an NPC, but I think this only applies to the point when they hit the monster's hit die, at which point the "-1" rule applies like it does out of the box for "0 hit die" PC races.
1st-May-2007 05:41 pm (UTC)
Huh. Good to know.
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