So I wanna take my “NPC Faction” idea on the road.

What I need is a method by which I can rapidly scale NPCs to whatever level I need them. A table with per-level NPC stats would be perfect for this, the way I once made those tables for 3e and 4e monsters.

But, I also want the “typical” encounter with NPCs to be overwhelming.

Like, on purpose.

So first I need to “decrypt” the weird 5e encounter system with its “XP thresholds” and nonsense. It sounds like “Deadly” is the only encounter type worth running: “could be lethal for one or more player characters.”

There’s also this thing about a “too many monsters” multiplier. If I want to have a sensible number of NPCs, say nine, then they’re effectively two-and-a-half times as dangerous. At least initially, I suppose. That’s kind of obnoxious.

I wonder how well this holds up in practice?

So, let’s say the average number of player characters in a party is five, because New School players lack the sense to bring along “glory-stealing” henchmen that might spare them a spear through the left nostril.

I’ll make a full table of this, but for now let’s just say for reference that five 1st-level PCs have an “XP threshold” of 500. Divide that by 2.5 and you get 200. But that’s the total XP. You have to divide by 8 to get 25 per monster.

A “Deadly” encounter for five 1st-level PCs is eight CR-1/8 monsters.

This all follows, actually.

But what it means is that if I want to present a sizable NPC encounter, I’m going to have to make sure they don’t deviate too much from the standard CR numbers. Put another way, I need shenanigans!

One of my core assumptions is that 5e players are sissies.

For example, they’ll probably have an 18 or a 20 in at least one stat. They’ll probably have a Constitution modifier of at least +1 to get an extra hit points per level. And they’ll probably have between the “average” and the “maximum” number of hit points per level (if they don’t just have the maximum).

Accounting for the likelihood that players will have above-average hit points for each level (and if they don’t, I applaud them for being hardcore — they’ll probably appreciate the challenge), a PC should have 7 hp per level.

What I did was take the hp average and the hp maximum of every class . . . and averaged them together. Seven hp per level jives pretty well compared to monster hp, which works out to be about twice that at 15 per +1 CR.

As I said in a previous post, an enemy should ideally knock off about a third of a PC’s hit points in one turn. This makes it possible for enemies to gang up on targets quickly and meaningfully. It’s how I usually run things.

But at 7 hp per level, I’m assuming PCs will have on average 140 hp at 20th. An NPC will basically never need to deal more than 47 damage in a turn.

That damage is easily doable at CR 7.

At higher levels, I can really crank the attack bonus up. At a rate of +1 CR for every +2 accuracy, an NPC can achieve the highest accuracy (+14) with only an equivalent “CR 15 offense.” What you want is the CR 7 though.

In fact, hypothetically a group of eight to nine CR 7 NPCs ought to be a good challenge for a group of five 20th-level PCs. Don’t quote me on that.

I really don’t know.

If I keep AC on the high side, hp on the low side (closer to equivalent PC hp), fights will tend to be shorter, more brutal, and uh . . . other good stuff.

I may have a full table by the end of the week.