posted Sunday, October 7th 2007 by
Dungeon Mastering Advice
There’s a difference between players and dungeon masters. Players want to build the most awesome character possible in order to win. Dungeon masters—and here is our big secret—also want the players to win. Maybe if you’re playing Nethack style or Tomb of Horrors, the GM is definitively trying to win. Because the DM calls all the shots, however, this is far too easy.
As a dungeon master, your goal is to make sure the players have a good time. Herein lies the difference between PCs and NPCs. While player characters must be optimally built, NPCs can afford to be mediocre. Traditionally subpar feats like Combat Casting and Toughness are valid choices. Poor multiclass combinations are feasible. Not everyone is an adventurer or a hero.
Now, this isn’t to say all your villains have to be pushovers. Danger, as I’ve said before, is exciting, and a villain who can push your players until all that can save them is teamwork and luck is something to aim for. Just don’t feel constrained to munchkin every NPC. In my opinion, it makes your villain more interesting if he’s a one-eyed wizard with levels in aristocrat, than if he’s simply an all-eighteens archmage with Spell Focus in Instantly Killing Everything.