Posts Tagged ‘d&d’
(Illustration by Ryan Ottley)
Next up in our Ghostbusters classes, the Brawn class! Ghosts, this is gonna hurt.
Brawn Class (First Draft)
Hit Die: d10
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier
Saving Throws: Str, Con
Proficiencies: Simple Weapons, Proton Packs, Slime Throwers, Padded Jumpsuit, a toolset of your choice
Skills: Choose two from Acrobatics, Athletics, Driving, History, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Perception, Pilot, Survival
|1||+2||Second Wind, Strong Back|
|2||+2||Action Surge (one use)|
|9||+3||Indomitable (one use)|
|11||+4||Extra Attack (2)|
|13||+5||Indomitable (two uses)|
|17||+6||Action Surge (two uses), Indomitable (three uses)|
|20||+6||Extra Attack (3)|
Starting at 1st level, on your turn, you can use a bonus action to regain hit points equal to 1d10 + your Brawn level. You must take a short or long rest before you may use this feature again.
At 1st level, your carrying capacity (including maximum load and maximum lift) is doubled, and you may always add a Ghost Die to Strength checks made to push, pull, lift, or break objects.
Starting at 2nd level, on your turn, you can take one additional action on top of your regular action and a possible bonus action. You must take a short or long rest before using this ability again.
At 3rd level, you choose a specialty for character. The choices are Athlete, Brawler, or Master Blaster. You immediately gain the first benefit associated with that specialty, and gain another benefit at 7th, 10th, 15th, and 18th level.
Whenever this option comes up, you have your choice of one of the following options: increase one ability score of your choice by +2, increase two ability scores of your choice by +1 each, or gain a feat.
Starting at 5th level, when you use the Attack action on your turn, you can attack twice instead of once. The number of attacks increases to three when you reach 11th level in this class and to four when you reach 20th level in this class.
Starting at 9th level, you can reroll a saving throw that you fail. If you do so, you must use the new roll, and you can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest. You can use this feature twice between long rests starting at 13th level and three times between long rests starting at 17th level.
Remarkable Athlete: Starting at 3rd level, you can add half your proficiency bonus (rounded down) to any Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution check that doesn’t already use your proficiency bonus. In addition, when you make a running long jump, the distance you can cover increases by a number of feet equal to your Strength modifier plus a Ghost Die.
Fast Movement: Starting at 7th level, your speed increases by 10′ while you aren’t wearing heavy armor or carrying anything that would otherwise impede your running speed.
Evasion: Starting at 10th level, when subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take half damage, you instead take take no damage if you succeed the throw, and half damage if you fail.
Roll With It: Starting at 15th level, you gain Resistance to falling damage or damage taken from slamming into walls or other obstacles. Also, when any effect knocks you prone, you may immediately return to a standing position as a reaction without expending any movement to do so.
Amazing Moves: At 18th level, when you Roll a Ghost, for any reason, you may immediately take an extra action (as if using your Action Surge).
Mighty Melee: Starting at 3rd level, your fists (feet, elbows, whatever) count as melee weapon attacks, doing a Ghost Die of damage. (Note that for critical hit damage roll calculations, a Ghost Die counts as a d6.)
Also, when you make a melee attack, Strength check, or Strength saving throw, you may add a Ghost Die to the d20 roll. You must take a short or long rest before you can do this again.
Hit ’em Where It Hurts: Starting at 7th level, when making a melee attack, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20. Also, your unarmed attacks gain +1d4 damage (on top of the Ghost Die they already do).
Blocking Blows: Starting at 10th level, you add your Strength bonus to your AC against all melee attacks. Also, the additional damage done by your unarmed attacks increases from +1d4 to +1d6.
Brutal Brawler: Starting at 15th level, when making a melee attack, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20, and you add an additional die of the type used by the weapon as well as the Ghost Die to the damage on a critical hit. Also, the additional damage done by your unarmed attacks increases from +1d6 to +1d8. (Thus, a critical hit with your fists would do a Ghost Die + 2d6 + 2d8 + your Strength modifier.)
Punishing Pugilist: Starting at 18th level, you add your proficiency bonus to all melee weapon damage rolls as well as your Strength bonus. Also, the additional damage done by your unarmed attacks increases from +1d8 to +1d10.
Nice Shootin’, Tex!: Starting at 3rd level, you gain +2 on all ranged attack rolls, including rolls made to capture ghosts (or add +2 to the DC a ghost must beat to avoid capture, as applicable).
Also, when you make a ranged attack, you may add a Ghost Die to the attack roll or damage roll. You must take a short or long rest before you can do this again.
Bullseye: Starting at 5th level, when making a ranged attack, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20, and when you make a critical hit with a ranged attack, you add a Ghost Die to the damage rolled.
Hose ‘Em: Starting at 10th level, once per turn you can use your action to make a ranged attack against any number of creatures within 10′ of a point you can see within your weapon’s range. You must have ammunition for each target, as normal, and you make a separate attack roll for each target. Note that this only counts as one “attack” for purposes of the Extra Attacks ability, but any other attacks made on the turn must be normal attacks and not volley attacks.
Hardball: Starting at 15th level, when making a ranged attack, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20, and you add an additional die of the type used by the weapon as well as the Ghost Die to the damage on a critical hit.
Nice Grouping: Starting at 18th level, you may subtract up to your full proficiency bonus from your attack roll when making a ranged attack. If the attack hits, it does an extra +2 damage for each -1 to the attack roll.
Whattya think? Next time: Guts.
(Image created by @MajorSheep)
Honestly, I like Savage Worlds as a home for a Ghostbusters game, but the honest truth is that switching back and forth between systems gets tiresome and we keep forgetting the rules. ¬.¬ And besides, 5E is just awesome. So, it’s worth it.
Still, it’s no small task. I kinda have to reinvent most of d20 Modern along the way in order to make it work, and then tweak it to fit the weird flavor of Ghostbusters. Since I’m a lot less confident of my 5E mastery than I was of previous iterations, I’m gonna send up pieces of it as I go in case anyone has feedback or suggestions, starting today with the Brains class– after a few preliminary notes which are necessary to understand some of the class mechanics. (The other classes– Brawn, Guts, Moves, and Wits– will come in future posts.)
Preliminary: Hit Points or Death (Or Lack Thereof)
Ghostbusters is light-hearted comedy action fare, so characters almost never actually “die”. Thus, hit points explicitly do not represent physical wounds in Ghostbusters. When you lose hit points, you get banged up, scratched, frazzled and stressed out, maybe some wear and tear on your clothes, but you aren’t really hurt, at least until you run out. When characters get reduced to 0 hp, they are knocked out. After three failed “death saves,” characters don’t really die, but they are put “Down For the Count,” which sends them to the hospital. Genuine injuries, when they occur, are represented by conditions, particularly the poisoned or exhaustion conditions.
Also Preliminary: The Ghost Die
Previous versions of Ghostbusters (going all the way back to the original WEG game back in 1985) had the “Ghost Die,” which was a d6 in which the 6 was replaced by a Ghostbusters logo. This die acted as a kind of wild card– whenever the ghost showed up, some crazy bad thing happened. But after some years of playing that way… honestly? It’s not as fun as it sounds. It makes the players hate to roll the dice, which is something that in a tabletop RPG should just not happen. So in my 5E conversion, Ghost Dice are different.
When instructed by the GM, you roll the Ghost Die with the other dice and add it to the total, unless it comes up a 6. When you roll a 6 on the Ghost Die (also called “rolling a ghost”), the rest of the dice in the roll are considered to be the highest possible roll. For instance, if you add a Ghost Die to a d20 roll and roll a ghost, the d20 is considered to have rolled a 20, and the total of the roll is (20 + 6 =) 26. If you add a Ghost Die to a 2d8 roll and roll a ghost, each d8 is considered to have rolled an 8, and the total of the roll is (8 + 8 + 6 =) 22.
Some circumstances may give your character multiple Ghost Dice, which you may use on various things. You may also be instructed to roll a Ghost Die by the GM due to the actions of an NPC, creature, or other circumstance. However, you only roll one Ghost Die at a time, regardless of how many things may be happening to prompt the Ghost Die roll. You may roll any number of Ghost Dice called for on a turn, but only one at a time.
Brains Class (First Draft)
Hit Die: d6
Hit Points at 1st Level: 6 + your Constitution modifier
Saving Throws: Int, Wis
Proficiencies: Electronic Tools, Scientific Equipment, two additional languages or toolset of your choice
Skills: Choose four from Electronics, History, Insight, Investigation, Medicine, Occult, Parapsychology, Religion, Science
|2||+2||Plan (one use)|
|5||+3||Retrograde Maneuvers, See It Coming (one use)|
|9||+4||Plan (two uses)|
|11||+4||See It Coming (two uses)|
|13||+5||The Horrible Truth|
|17||+6||Plan (three uses)|
At 1st level, choose two of your skill proficiencies, or one skill proficiency and one tool proficiency. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of the chosen proficiencies.
Starting at 1st level, you can add half of your proficiency bonus (rounded down) to any Intelligence check you make that doesn’t already include your proficiency bonus.
Starting at 2nd level, you can take an action to formulate a plan. Choose up to six creatures (including yourself) who can hear and understand you to include in the plan. In the next minute, each creature who is part of the plan may choose to roll a Ghost Die with their choice of any one attack roll or ability check per turn (this does not effect any other Ghost Dice they may be rolling on their turn for other reasons). You must complete a short or long rest before you can use this ability again. At 9th and 17th level, you gain additional uses of this ability before must rest.
At 3rd level, you choose a specialty for character. The specialties for a “traditional” Ghosbusters campaign the specialties are Anatomist, Inventor, and Professor. However, for a “Gonzo Ghostbusters!” campaign (see Campaigns in the Ghostmastering section) you may also choose Arcanist or Psychic. You immediately gain the first benefit associated with that specialty, and gain another benefit at 6th, 10th, 14th, and 20th level.
Whenever this option comes up, you have your choice of one of the following options: increase one ability score of your choice by +2, increase two ability scores of your choice by +1 each, or gain a feat.
Starting at 5th level, you may take the Disengage action as a bonus action.
See It Coming
Starting at 5th level, when you are instructed to make a saving throw, add a Ghost Die. You must have a short or long rest before you can use this ability again. You gain another use of this ability between rests at 11th level.
Starting at 7th level, you can use a bonus action to assess a creature’s weakness. Add your Intelligence bonus to all attack rolls, damage rolls, and ability checks against that creature for one minute. You must complete a short or long rest before you can use this ability again.
The Horrible Truth
Starting at 13th level, you have learned so many strange and terrifying things in your studies that nothing phases you any more: you now have advantage on all Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma saving throws.
At 15th level, your ability to analyze information and make deductive leaps is honed to a razor’s edge. When investigating a situation, looking for evidence or clues, or attempting to solve a puzzle or confusing situation, you automatically find all relevant information. Alternatively, as a free action on your turn, you may ask the Ghostmaster to answer up to three questions, which must be answerable with: “Yes,” “No,” “Good,” “Bad,” “Yes and No,” “Good and Bad,” or “Indeterminate.” Alternatively, the GM may choose to provide you with hints or suggestions of their own devising, such as, “The emphasis on ‘Keymaster’ and ‘Gatekeeper’ suggests the opening of a portal.” You must take a short or long rest before using this ability again.
Starting at 18th level, if any d20 roll you make results in a failure (including ability checks, attack rolls, or saving throws), you may declare that you anticipated this event and planned for it. You may immediately make the roll again, and take the better of the two results. You must have a short or long rest before using this ability again.
First Aid: You are trained in the art healing. At 3rd level, you gain proficiency with Wisdom (Medicine) if you do not already have it. As an action, on your turn, you may attempt to heal an adjacent character (or yourself) who has taken damage in combat, restoring 1d8 hit points + your Intelligence bonus. You may do this a number of times equal to your proficiency modifier, but then must have a short or long rest before you can use this ability again. You must have a first aid kit or in your possession or be at some sort of medical facility to use this ability.
You may also use your knowledge to help revitalize your allies during a short rest. If you or any friendly creatures you can attend to regain hit points at the end of the short rest, each of those creatures regains an extra Ghost Die worth of hit points as well. You must have a first aid kit or in your possession or be at some sort of medical facility to use this ability.
Finally, your enhanced knowledge of anatomy enables you to hit ’em where it hurts. Whenever you make an attack roll against a humanoid, beast, or other creature with a discernible anatomy, you score a critical hit against that creature on a roll of 19 or 20. This does not apply to oozes, incorporeal undead, or most aberrations, but does apply to things like zombies, ghouls, vampires, and terror dogs.
A Real Doctor: Beginning at 6th level, when you use your ability to administer first aid, you roll 2d8 + your Intelligence bonus. Alternatively, you may use your healing ability to remove one disease or any one of the following conditions from the afflicted creature: blinded, deafened, paralyzed, or poisoned. (Similar to the lesser restoration spell.)
Also, your knowledge of anatomy increases your ability to land effective blows in combat. Whenever you score a hit in combat (critical or otherwise) against a humanoid, beast, or other creature with a discernible anatomy, you roll a Ghost Die of additional damage. This does not apply to oozes, incorporeal undead, or most aberrations, but does apply to things like zombies, ghouls, vampires, and terror dogs.
Back On Your Feet! At 10th level, you have become such an accomplished healer that you can revive an ally who has been Knocked Out or put Down For the Count within the past minute (10 rounds). The ally is fully conscious and stable at 1 hit point and may act again as soon as their turn comes up again on the initiative count. When you administer first aid, you roll 3d8 + your Intelligence bonus.
Also your delvings into the weird anatomies of eldritch and otherworldly beings are so advanced that your critical hit chances and extra damage apply to all creature types.
Tampering in God’s Domain
Beginning at 14th level, your advanced weird studies have begun to unlock the secrets of life and death. You may now reanimate dead tissues, creating effects equal to the animate dead spell as if cast at a level equal to your proficiency bonus. Alternatively, you may temporarily restore a semblance of life to a dead creature (or inert undead creature), creating effects equal to the speak with dead spell as if cast at a level equal to your proficiency bonus. Be warned that neither of these activities are likely to be met with a sympathetic public. You must complete a long rest before you can use this ability again.
When you administer first aid, you may choose to provide true healing: the patient regains 70 hit points, and all blindness, deafness, and diseases affecting the target are removed. You must have a long rest before using this ability again (but it only counts against one of your uses of first aid).
Also, your knowledge of anatomy is so advanced that when you successfully make a critical hit in combat, you may choose to force the target to make a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence bonus. On a failed save, the target takes 14d6 necrotic damage, or half as much damage on a successful save. The damage can’t reduce the target’s hit points below zero. You must have a long rest before using this ability again.
Beginning at 20th level, you have become a true reanimator. In addition to the abilities granted by your tampering in God’s domain, you may create effects equal to the create undead spell as if cast at a level equal to your proficiency bonus. You must have a long rest before using this ability again, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re destroyed by your own creations, you monster.
You also gain the ability to use your enhanced healing and combat damage abilities under the Tampering in God’s Domain abilities twice each before requiring a long rest.
Gadgets: At 3rd level, you learn how to build amazing gadgets. You may choose a number of Prodigy-level gadgets from the Gadget List equal to your intelligence bonus (or come up with your own using the Custom Gadget). These gadgets are persistent items which you may add to your inventory, loan to friends or allies, etc. You may also leave “gadget slots” open indefinitely until such time as you decide to build a new gadget. If you have filled all your gadget slots and decide you want to build another gadget, you must first break down an existing gadget for parts. You must have a gadget in your possession to break it down.
Some gadgets are modifiers, rather than stand-alone items. “Elemental Modulation” allows an existing weapon to change its damage type on the fly for example. In that case, the final gadget (an elementally-modulated energy ray) actually counts against two gadget slots.
Building a new gadget (including breaking down an existing gadget, if required) requires a workshop and applicable tools, and takes two hours per gadget slot modified. (For instance, to break down an elementally-modulated energy ray would take four hours; to then use those parts to build another gadget would take an additional two hours.) The time does not have to be spent consecutively, it can be broken up over the course of days or weeks as desired. Up to four hours of this time can be combined with a long rest without interfering with the rest.
Unless specified otherwise, activating a gadget requires an action. You are always considered proficient with your own gadgets; however, you may also decide what other proficiencies apply to a gadget, subject to common sense and Ghostmaster approval. For example, a modified proton pack probably works with the proton pack proficiency. Rocket skates, on the other hand, would probably require their own proficiency.
If a gadget is lost or destroyed, that gadget slot cannot be reclaimed until the end of your next long rest. Gadgets loaned to friends or allies are not considered “lost” unless that friend or ally is also somehow “lost” and cannot (or will not) return the item to you.
Genius: At 6th level, you have figured out how to build Genius-level gadgets. Also, the time required to modify Prodigy-level gadgets is halved (to one hour per gadget slot).
Perfected: At 10th level, you may choose three gadget slots’ worth of gadgets. You have perfected those designs and may fabricate those gadgets as needed, without expending gadget slots on them. It takes twelve hours per gadget slot to fabricate a perfected gadget.
Mastermind: At 14th level, you have figured out how to build Mastermind-level gadgets. Also, the time required to modify Genius-level gadgets is halved (to one hour per gadget slot) and the time required to modify Prodigy-level gadgets is quartered (to half an hour per gadget slot).
Prolific Fabricator: At 20th level, you are no longer restricted by gadget slots. You may simply fabricate as many gadgets as you need (although the time required to create the gadgets is unchanged).
[Gadget List not included in post. Just assume that it’s full of awesome gadgety goodness.]
Specialized Knowledge: At 3rd level, choose two new proficiencies, whether skills, tool proficiencies, or languages. Also, choose two more skills for which you gain the benefits of Expertise. Also, when making a Wisdom (Insight), Intelligence (Investigation), or Wisdom (Perception) check, you may roll a Ghost Die and add it to the results of that check.
Cunning Action: At 6th level, you may use the Dash, Disengage, or Hide actions as a bonus action on your turn in combat.
Correlating Contents: At 10th level, your investigations and breakthroughs have enabled you to form a network of like-minded contacts throughout the world, putting vast stores of knowledge at your disposal. By taking half an hour to research a topic and “consult your brain trust,” you may unerringly: translate a passage of text or speech in any terrestrial language; decipher a code; discover hidden links in seemingly-unrelated data points (if any); discover the last known location of an item, piece of experimental equipment, or artifact; find all available information on the background of a person, location, or thing; discover official documents related to a person, location, or thing (including building blueprints, tracking vehicle license plates, etc.); or gather the complete text of any book or other literary work, including different editions or draft variations. This activity may be combined with a short rest. This ability can only retrieve information that actually exists: if a string of text is just nonsense letters for instance, no amount of “deciphering the code” will resolve it into meaningful data.
Font of Knowledge: Starting at 14th level, you studies have led you to memorize vast amounts of information and you can quickly recall and apply it. You can make Wisdom (Insight), Intelligence (Investigation), or Wisdom (Perception) checks as a bonus action, and you do not need any reference materials or other implements for any Intelligence check.
Superior Anticipation: At 20th level, whenever one or more of your class abilities are expended until taking a rest, you regain one use of one such ability of your choice when you roll initiative. (For instance, if you have used your Exploit Weakness ability already, you could choose to regain the use of this ability.)
Next time: The Brawn class.
Bertram Wilberforce “Bertie” Wooster
Medium humanoid (human), neutral good
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 9 (2d8)
Str 10/+0; Dex 14/+2; Con 10/+0; Int 14/+2; Wis 7/-2; Cha 15/+2
Skills Athletics +2, History +4, Performance +4, Persuasion +4, Religion +4
Proficiencies Automobile, Banjolele, Golf Clubs, Piano, Playing Cards, Trombone
Senses passive Perception 8
Languages English, French, Latin
Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)
Noblesse Oblige. Bertie has high social status and a substantial fortune inherited from his Uncle George.
Prompt Action Through Proper Channels. Bertie has advantage on ability checks and saving throws made to avoid or escape grapples.
Shimmy. Bertie has advantage on Athletics checks made to climb up or down drainpipes, knotted sheets, or other improvised climbing tools, or up onto furniture.
The Work of a Moment. Bertie may act on his initiative even when surprised, but only to move and take Dash or Disengage actions.
Distraction. Bertie attempts to befuddle a creature within 15′ that can comprehend a language he speaks. The creature must make a DC 14 Intelligence save. Success: The creature is unaffected. Failure: The creature becomes Stunned until the beginning of its next turn.
Medium humanoid (human), lawful good
Armor Class 10
Hit Points 28 (5d8+5)
Str 12/+1; Dex 10/+0; Con 12/+1; Int 18/+4; Wis 16/+3; Cha 10/+0
Skills Deception +4, History +8, Insight +7, Intimidation +4, Investigation +8, Perception +7, Sleight of Hand +4, Stealth +4
Proficiencies Automobile, Darts, Fishing Tackle, Serving Tray, Sewing Tools
Senses passive Perception 17
Languages English, French, Latin
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Concoction. Jeeves can brew up to three potions of vitality at will. Jeeves must have a long rest before he can use this ability again.
Discretion. Jeeves can escape notice at will. He may use the Hide action even when in plain sight as long as there is some form of distraction, and has advantage on Sleight of Hand or Stealth checks against members of the upper classes.
The Psychology of the Individual. Jeeves has advantage on a Deception, Insight, or Intimidation check made against a creature who is not a stranger to him. Jeeves must have a long rest before he can use this ability again.
Tact and Resource. By spending 10 minutes to study a problem, Jeeves gains advantage on an Insight, Investigation, or Perception check regarding it. Jeeves must have a long rest before he can use this ability again.
Kosh. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5′, one creature. Hit: 4 (1d4+1) damage, +18 (5d6) sneak attack damage if applicable, and the target must make a Constitution save with a DC equal to the damage dealt. Failure: The target is Stunned until the end of its next turn. If the target is reduced to 0 hit points by the attack, they are knocked unconscious, rather than killed.
Baffling Snare. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5′, one creature. Hit: The creature is blinded by being wrapped in a coat or other object around its head until the beginning of its next turn and must make a DC 12 Dexterity save. Failure: The creature is blinded and restrained until it succeeds at this saving throw. It can make a new attempt at the end of each of its turns.
Okay, okay, it’s not a monster writeup. But it has a monster in it, and it’s Monday. So deal with it!
Commission for Miertam, possibly the start of a new series, of Twilight learning all about monsters… the hard way. This episode’s entry is that adorable little six-legged tentacular light-warping critter, the displacer beast. Fluttershy, of course, thinks it’s adorable… and clearly Twilight is speechless with admiration!
Such a weird-honkin’ monster and one of my favorites, even if I rarely actually use them. 😀 Inspired originally by “Voyage of the Space Beagle” by A. E. van Vogt if my memory serves correctly, modified slightly and now immortalized by Dungeons and Dragons. Aside from its devious nature, the displacer beast has a permanent illusion of being some distance from its actual body. I never really thought that would actually be that confusing until I started drawing this, but now I can totally see it.
On an artistic note, for this pic I decided to do a piece that used the pony character models but drawn in my own style rather than trying to simply mimic the MLPFIM style. Whattya think?
Sometime a while back I happened upon some articles about worldbuilding with the Monster Manual, and I’ve been doing some thinking about it on my own since then, particularly in regards to the “normal people” of a D&D world.
Somewhere lost in the dim mists of the edition wars, there was an interesting article about the balance of 3.x, and how DCs, skill ranks, and ability scores all worked perfectly to simulate a realistic setting if you assumed that almost every person in the average D&D world is an NPC classed character of level 1-5 or so with ability scores ranging from 8-12. Even the paltry 1d4 damage of a dagger is deadly if you only have 4 hit points, and on that scale is the 5d6 damage of a fireball any more dangerous than the 2d6+3 battleaxe of an orc? Not really. To a low-level 3.x NPC, anything that has a positive attack bonus is likely to kill them with one or two shots.
With that discussion in mind, I started looking at the NPC stat blocks in the 5E Monster Manual to see what I could deduce about the “normal” population. Here’s what I found.
- Still sucks to be the 99%. Commoners (CR 0) have 10s across the board, 4 hit points, and a +2 proficiency bonus (but no proficiencies). Racial bonuses and any training you wish to give them will make the biggest difference– a racial stat bump and proficiency in a given skill will get them all the way up to the dizzying heights of +3 at something.
- Constabulary/soldiery quality varies widely. A Guard (CR 1/8) is almost three times as durable as a commoner, with 11 hit points and of course armor that makes them very difficult for the unwashed rabble to hit in the first place– but they are positively outclassed by the Thug (CR 1/2), whose 32 hit points and multiattack with their mace put the guard in big danger if the thug manages to win initiative. The guard still outclasses the Tribal Warrior (CR 1/8) by virtue solely of their better gear, but all three of them look like amateurs compared to the Veteran (CR 3) or the Knight (CR 3). The Gladiator (CR 5) is probably the scariest “normal” opponent, with a sturdy AC 16, 112(!) hit points, and three attacks.
- As I am a gentleman, sirrah, I beg of you, “Not to the face.” The Noble (CR 1/8) is fragile, with a mere 9 hp and only his parry to protect him. Even surrounded by guards a noble is well-advised to surrender to the Bandit Captain (CR 2) solo, with his three attacks and 65 hit points, much less one who’s surrounded by, y’know, his Bandits (CR 1/8), who are akin to tribal warriors in ferocity. Knights by comparison are much more fearsome, being well protected (AC 18), durable (hp 52), and can probably take the Bandit Captain one-on-one plus is a better leader.
- No, Mr. Bond, you are only CR 1. The Spy (CR 1) is roughly on par with a 2nd or 3rd level rogue, quite dangerous even to the Thug if they can get in a sneak attack or two, but not much danger to the Veteran in a straight-up fight. The Scout (CR 1/2) is tougher than a Guard or a Bandit but not by much.
- Using magic is cheating! Spellcasters weird the CR system. The Mage (CR 6) is a 9th level wizard, with 12 AC, 40 hit points, and one cone of cold, making it a glass cannon. The Priest (CL 2) is a 5th level cleric, and the Druid (CR 2) is a 4th level druid. 5E calculates CR almost entirely as a factor of hit points and damage output assuming a solo encounter, so the fragile mage and the not-really-a-combat-specialist priest end up being fairly low on the CR totem pole for the amount of impact they can have as part of a well-crafted team. But then we look at the Archmage (CR 12), who is an 18th level wizard. These crazy-powerful reshapers-of-the-universe who can stop time or grant a wish still don’t rate as powerful as a single storm giant because they “only” have 99 hit points and can only fire off cone of cold three times.
So when you look at these figures for the “baseline” populace, you start to see some trends. First off, hit points are all over the map. An assassin going after the king might have to be able to kill someone with 9 hit points, 52 hit points, or more depending on if that king is a mighty warrior or a feeble aristocrat. Still, it would appear that most members of the “normal” populace have about 5-30 hit points, which means that they’d fare wildly differently against a goblin’s knife but roast equally in the breath weapon of an adult dragon. It’s only when you get to the most battle-hardened NPCs (the Bandit Captain, the Gladiator, the Knight, the Veteran) that facing that kind of threat becomes even feasible, much less having any chance of success.
It also means that an NPC “adventuring party” consisting of a Veteran (fighter), Spy (rogue), Mage (wizard), and Priest (cleric) would be a “hard” encounter for a party of four 8th level PCs and “deadly” for anything lower. If we assume “hard” to be roughly where groups come into parity, that puts a generic group of adventurers solidly in the “heroes of the realm” tier.
If you look at skill levels as measured by proficiency, most skilled experts have about a +3 to +5 with their most tricked-out ability, and somewhere around +1 with everything else due to their ability scores. Few NPCs have saving throws to speak of, maybe a +2 or +3 with their best ability. A few outliers buck these trends, having +6 or up to +10 with one or two things.
Thus, an “average” person in 5E has something like AC 13, 20 hp, +5 with their best skill and +1 with any others, +3 to their best saving throw and +1 with the rest, and can do somewhere around 10 points of damage in a round of combat with their primary attack. In an average-person-vs-average-person fight, whichever one wins initiative and makes better use of situational advantages will probably defeat the other in 2-4 rounds, probably getting fairly beat up themselves in the process.
It also means that player characters start outclassing “average” people somewhere around 3rd level probably… which is just about right.
One of my old Fiend Folio favorites, brought to the new edition. The flavor text is not mine, I just did the stat conversion. NOTES: Is it nuts that a CR 2 creature can have 55 hit points? That seems nuts to me. 5E, you have strange math.
Tentamort (CR 2; 450 XP)
Medium monstrosity, unaligned
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 55 (10d8+10)
Speed 10′, climb 10′
Str 15/+2, Dex 14/+2, Con 13/+2, Int 3/-4, Wis 14/+2, Cha 5/-3
Skills Stealth +4
Damage Resistances poison
Condition Immunities prone
Senses darkvision 60′, passive Perception 12
Retraction. The tentamort may compress itself and all of its tentacles into small crevasses in rocky, swampy, or otherwise suitable terrain. Doing this gives it AC 15 and advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks but renders it immoble.
Spider Climb. The tentamort can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
Tentacle Sever. The tentamort’s tentacles may be targeted in combat. Each one is AC 12, 15 hit points. Damage done to a tentacle counts against the creature’s total hit points. A severed tentacle is destroyed and cannot attack. It regenerates severed tentacles over the course of three days.
Multiattack. The tentamort makes two attacks, one with each tentacle, or two with its poison tentacle against a grappled target.
Grasping Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 15′, one creature. Hit: 11 (2d8+2) bludgeoning damage and the target is grappled (escape DC 12) if it is medium or smaller. While grappling the target, the tentamort has advantage on attack rolls against it and can’t use this attack on other targets. The tentamort may attempt to push or pull the target 5′ per turn as a bonus action if it defeats the target in a contested Strength check.
Poison Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 15′, one target. Hit: 11 (2d8+2) piercing damage and the target must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for ten minutes. While poisoned, the target takes 9 (2d8) damage at the beginning of each of their turns and cannot recover hit points. The target may make a new saving throw to overcome the poison at the end of each of their turns.
(Text from the Pathfinder PRD.)
Tentamorts are eerie ambush predators, preferring to let prey come to them rather than seeking food out, and relying on their excellent senses to warn them of approaching meals. A tentamort possesses several tentacles, most of which are used for locomotion but two of which have evolved for singular purposes in securing food. One of these longer tentacles is covered with tiny, sticky nodules and is capable of constricting prey, while the other ends in a long, thin stinger. The tentamort’s method of attack is to grab its prey with its constricting tentacle and sting the grappled target with the other. Tentamort poison is particularly horrific, as it swiftly liquefies the creature’s internal organs into a rancid slurry the monster can then drink with the same stinger, siphoning out the fluid with foul sucking sounds. Larger creatures often require multiple stings (and multiple failed saving throws against the venom) before they can be fully absorbed by a tentamort. Tentamorts are almost mindless, possessing just enough intellect to make crude animal judgments about peril and food. Once a tentamort has grabbed prey, it tends to focus entirely on that creature, ignoring attacks upon it from other sources as long as its current victim remains a source of nutrition. After a tentamort finishes consuming a creature, all that typically remains are the bones and skin.
A well-fed tentamort uses the hollow corpse of its meal as a sort of incubator for its eggs, injecting the body with a caviar-like mass of black eggs that mature in the rotting carcass for several weeks until a dozen or so hand-sized tentamorts hatch and crawl out of their host’s orifices. Depending upon the availability of other prey, anywhere from one to six of these may survive, feeding on rats and Tiny vermin, until they eventually grow to adulthood. Tentamort young look like dark blue starfish with a single red eye in the center—they do not possess their longer, specialized tentacles until they mature. A young tentamort often attaches itself to a larger predator, clinging to it much the same way a remora clings to a shark, dropping off to feed innocuously on its host’s kills while the creature sleeps.
Some tentamorts grow much larger than their human-sized kin. Known as greater tentamorts, these ogre-sized creatures have at least  Hit Dice and are Large sized. Their two specialized tentacles grow to 20 feet long, providing the creature with greater reach than a Large monster normally possesses. Greater tentamorts are never found in groups, for these creatures can only achieve such monstrous size through cannibalism, as if there were some key nutrient in another tentamort’s body that allows them to exceed their typical physical limitations. Some of these creatures have mutations giving them two tentacles and two stingers. Yet the most disturbing quality possessed by these monsters is their unexpected intellect—greater tentamorts are often as intelligent as humans, or more so. They cannot speak, but possess an eerie form of telepathy that works only upon creatures they are in physical contact with—a feature they often use to “chat” with their food as they eat.