Bonus Week Day 5: GM Tip: Making an Adventure (Story-crafting continued…BBEG) Phew! We made it to the last day of bonus week. Not another one of these until October. But before we start sipping some Mai Tais, let’s continue our story-crafting lesson. Let us work on our Big Bad Evil Guy. GM Tips away! (Missed Part III?)
We left off yesterday outlining the climax of our story. I am sure you felt it was incomplete, and you would be correct. There is still much more to go, but just a bit to work on for our outline. We do need to get a little more into designing our villain (even though we have not decided on his level).
BBEG: Big Bad Evil Guy
We have decided that our BBEG the players will face in our climax is the mayor. Most non-player characters will have NPC classes. Because we want him to be mayor we will be keeping the aristocrat NPC class as part of his levels. If he was simply an aristocrat, that would be fairly weak, but still within context. Because I have never had a gunslinger villain (or NPC for that matter) I would like to fit that in. Now, guns at low-levels can be very dangerous against PCs. Generally, your climactic encounter should be around average party level +3 (Epic encounter).
We need to make sure that our mayor is not going to one-shot the players (barring a critical hit). Our adventure last month was for a 3rdlevel party, so I want to avoid releasing another 3rd level adventure. I am going to slide this one in as a 4th level adventure; thus, I am looking at our mayor being a challenge rating (CR) of 7 (4+3). If he is going to be a Human aristocrat/gunslinger, how should we assign his levels?
Player Classes (PC) factor in as level-1 equals CR. NPC classes are level-2. To make things easier, we want to avoid any partial levels. If the number would drop lower than 1, we go to those fractions we are wanting to avoid. Because of this, we want more than 1 level in a PC class and more than 2 levels in an NPC class. So at minimum, we are looking at 3 Aristocrat/2 Gunslinger. Which is a CR of 2. We also should note the common monster statistics (he might as well be a monster) for a CR 7 creature. That way we know about where we need to hit for different areas so that the encounter is not too easy or too difficult. Balance is key. If it is too easy, the fight is anti-climactic. If it is too difficult, you might be looking at groups continuously rolling up new characters every time a party tries to play through your adventure. We aren’t making a deathtrap (today).
So, how do I know what is appropriate for this challenge rating? First, we bust open our Bestiary to get the common statistics for our CR 7. We need to keep in mind the following stats: Hit points (85), Armor Class (20), High Attack (13), Low Attack (10), High Damage (30), Low Damage (22), Primary Ability DC (17, Secondary Ability DC (12), Good Save (10), and Poor Save (6).
So how do we do this? Well, we need more than just those numbers. We are making the antagonist of our story. He is a type of master character, and thus should be somewhat similar. Because he is a master character he will be getting “heroic stats”. Now, if you are allowing your players to generate more powerful characters (high level stats) you may consider giving your BBEG a similar stat build. Otherwise, we look at our rule book. As a gunslinger, our BBE Mayor is more of a ranged combatant. So we move over to our ‘Creating an NPC’ section of our rulebook and we get the following common stats (before racial bonuses): Strength (13), Dexterity (15), Constitution (14), Intelligence (12), Wisdom (10), and Charisma (8). Now, as a human, we get to add +2 to any single stat of our choice. We also know that Gunslingers need Good dex and wisdom for their attacks and class abilities. So we are going to move our ability scores around and make our adjustments from there. S (12), Dex (17), Con (13), Int (10), Wis (14), Cha (8). That should work. We will be getting a +1 to an ability score for every 4 hit dice (or in this case, class levels). So the odd points in Dexterity and Constitution will help us to adjust up our attacks or hit points (or two of our three saves) to bring them into the clear for our monster range. Since we have our ability scores, we can now figure out how to get around our “normal” CR 7 statistics. HP, attacks, and saves will play heavily on our class levels. So we need to sort this out now.
To reach around 85 HP with our current Con, we need to look at the average HP of our classes. Aristocrat has an average of 5.5 HP/level and gunslinger has an average of 6/level. If we go with Aristocrat 4/Gunslinger 6 we will get: 58 (or 68 if we add a bonus point to Con). That is a bit off, so let’s try that again. Aristocrat 3/ Gunslinger 7 gives us: 58.5 (up to 68 still). No difference. We will also be looking at attacks of +12/+7 (+13/+8) and saves of Fortitude: 7 (8), Reflex: 10 (11), Will: 7 without raising ability scores (parenthesis = raised scores) or getting other modifiers. This places our hit points up to 80% of our goal, attack up to 100%, and saves all just over 100%. Pretty good mix. So let us take the +1 Dex and +1 Constitution for our 4thand 8th class levels, and build our Mayor as a 3rd level Aristocrat/ 7th level Gunslinger.
Try working on a build yourself from these numbers. That you can compare your decisions with mine and see the reasoning behind the decisions I make. Remember to keep in mind our normal statistics for a CR 7 monster. You can go above or below, but try not to stray too far from the suggested numbers.
(Click here for Part V, continues with a different topic)