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Creating NPCs

Aside from the players, everyone else in the game world is a non-player character (NPC). These characters are designed and controlled by the GM to fill every role from noble king to simple baker. While some of these characters use player classes, most lack any form of class and have base stats, allowing them to be easily generated. The following rules govern all of the NPC classes and include information on generating quick NPCs for an evening’s game. A list of pre-made NPCs can be found here.

The world that the player characters inhabit should be full of rich and vibrant characters for them to interact with. While most need little more than a name and general description of their personality and abilities, some require complete statistics, such as town guards, local clerics, and wizened sages. The PCs might find themselves in combat with these characters, either against them or with them as allies. In either case, the process for creating these NPCs can be performed in seven simple steps.

Quick-Start Rules:

Select a race, class, assign the stat array of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8, do not input any Limit Breaks, calculate average HP including 1st HD (unless they have PC classes, in which case the first is maxed), find their level and give them gear based on the table.

Step 1: The Basics

The first step in making an NPC is to determine its basic role in your campaign. This includes its race, class, and basic concept.

Step 2: Determine Ability Scores

Once the character’s basic concept has been determined, its ability scores must be assigned. Apply the NPC’s racial modifiers after the scores have been assigned. For every four levels the NPC has attained, increase one of its scores by 1. If the NPC possesses levels in a PC class, it is considered a heroic NPC and receives better ability scores. These scores can be assigned in any order.

Basic NPCs: The ability scores for a basic NPC are: 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8.

Heroic NPCs: The ability scores for a heroic NPC are: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8.

Table: NPC Ability Scores

Ability ScoreMelee NPCRanged NPCWisdom CasterIntelligence CasterCharisma CasterSkill NPC

Preset Ability Scores: Instead of assigning the scores, you can use Table: NPC Ability Scores to determine the NPC’s ability scores, adjusting them as necessary to fit.

  • The Melee NPC ability scores for characters whose primary role involves melee combat, such as beastmaster, fighter, monk, and all types of knight.
  • The Ranged NPC ability scores are for characters that fight with ranged weapons or use their Dexterity to hit, such as fighter, archer, gunner, thief and ninja.
  • The Wisdom NPC ability scores for characters with Wisdom spellcasting capabilities, such as astrologian, cleric, white mage, and geomancer.
  • The Intelligence NPC ability scores should be used by characters with Intelligence spellcasting capabilities, such as black mage, blue mage and time mage.
  • The Charisma NPC ability scores should be used by characters with Charisma songcasting/spellcasting capabilities, such as bard, illusionist, and summoner.
  • The Skill NPC ability scores should be used for characters that focus on skill use, such as bard, gambler, ninja, and thief.
  • Some NPCs might not fit into one of these categories and should have custom ability scores.

Step 3: Skills

Table: NPC Skill Selections

ClassSkill Selections*
Archer4 + Int modifier
Bard6 + Int modifier
Beastmaster4 + Int modifier
Black Mage2 + Int modifier
Dragoon2 + Int modifier
Fighter2 + Int modifier
Knight2 + Int modifier
Monk4 + Int modifier
Red Mage4 + Int modifier
Thief8 + Int modifier
White Mage2 + Int modifier


To assign skills precisely, total up the number of skill ranks possessed by the character and assign them normally. Remember that the number of ranks in an individual skill that a character can possess is limited by his total HD.

For simpler skill generation, refer to Table: NPC Skill Selections to determine the total number of skill selections the NPC possesses. After selecting that number of skills, mostly from the class skills lists of the NPC’s class, the NPC receives a number of ranks in each skill equal to his level.

If the NPC has two classes, start by selecting skills for the class with the fewest number of skill selections. The NPC receives a number of ranks in those skills equal to his total character level. Next, find the difference in the number of selections between the first class and the other class possessed by the NPC. Select that number of new skills and give the NPC a number of ranks in those skills equal to his level in the second class. For example, a hume fighter 3/monk 4 with a +1 Intelligence modifier can select four skills for his fighter class (since it receives fewer selections). These four skills each have seven ranks (equal to his total level). Next, he selects a number of skills equal to the difference between the fighter and the monk classes, in this case two skills. These two skills each have four ranks (his monk level).

If the NPC has three or more classes, you must use the precise method for determining his skills.

Once all of the NPC’s ranks have been determined, assign class skill bonuses and apply the bonus or penalty from the NPC’s relevant ability score.

Step 4: Feats

After skills have been determined, the next step is to assign the NPC’s feats. Start by assigning all of the feats granted through class abilities. Next, assign the feats garnered from the NPC’s total character level (one feat for every two levels beyond 1st). Remember that humes receive an additional feat at 1st level. For simplified feat choices, select feats from the lists provided for the following character types.

Step 5: Class Features

After determining feats, the next step is to fill in all the class features possessed by the NPC. This is the time to make decisions about the NPC’s spell selection, rage powers, talents, and other class-based abilities.

When it comes to spells, determine how many spell selections you need to make for each level. Choose a variety of spells for the highest two levels of spells possessed by the NPC. For all other levels, stick to a few basic spells. If this NPC is slated to appear in only one encounter (such as combat), leaving off lower-level spells entirely is an acceptable way to speed up generation, especially if the NPC is unlikely to cast those spells. You can always choose a few during play if they are needed.

NPCs should not generally have Limit Breaks, as those should be reserved for the player party. However, you may want a boss NPC to have Limit Breaks as has been shown in the series several times, which is totally fine to add into your game.

Step 6: Gear

After recording all of the NPC’s class features, the next step is to outfit the character with gear appropriate to his level. Note that NPCs receive less gear than PCs of an equal level. If an NPC is a recurring character, his gear should be selected carefully. Use the total gil value found on Table: NPC Gear to determine how much gear he should carry. NPCs that are only scheduled to appear once can have a simpler gear selection. Table: NPC Gear includes a number of categories to make it easier to select an NPC’s gear. When outfitting the character, spend the listed amount on each category by purchasing as few items as possible. Leftover gold from any category can be spent on any other category. Funds left over at the end represent coins and jewelry carried by the character.

Note that these values are approximate and based on the values for a campaign using the medium experience progression and a normal treasure allotment. If your campaign is using the fast experience progression, treat your NPCs as one level higher when determining their gear. If your campaign is using the slow experience progression, treat the NPCs as one level lower when determining their gear. If your campaign is high fantasy, double these values. Reduce them by half if your campaign is low fantasy. If the final value of an NPC’s gear is a little over or under these amounts, that’s okay.

Table: NPC Gear

Basic LevelHeroic LevelTotal gil ValueWeaponsProtectionMagicLimited UseGear


Weapons: This includes normal, masterwork, and magic weapons, as well as magic staves and wands used by spellcasters to harm their enemies. For example, a wand of fire would count as a weapon, but a staff of cure would count as a piece of magic gear.

Protection: This category includes armor and shields, as well as any magic item that augments a character’s Armor Class or saving throws.

Magic: This category includes all other permanent magic items. Most rings, rods, and wondrous items fit into this category.

Limited Use: Items that fall into this category include alchemical items, scrolls, and wands with few charges. Charged wondrous items fall into this grouping as well.

Gear: Use the amount in this category to purchase standard nonmagical gear for the character. In most cases, this equipment can be omitted during creation and filled in as needed during play. You can assume that the character has whatever gear is needed for him to properly use his skills and class abilities. This category can also include jewelry, gems, or loose coins that the NPC might have on his person.

Step 7: Details

Once you have assigned all of the NPC’s gear, all that remains is to fill out the details. Determine the character’s attack and damage bonuses, CMB, CMD, initiative modifier, and Armor Class. If the character’s magic items affect his skills or ability scores, make sure to take those changes into account. Determine the character’s total hit points by assuming the average result including the initial hit dice (unless they have PC classes, in which case the first is maxed). Finally, fill out any other important details, such as name, alignment, religion, and a few personality traits to round him out.

Challenge Rating (CR) is calculated as Heroic Level – 1 = CR (White Mage 3 would be CR 2, White Mage 2 would be CR 1, White Mage 1 would be CR 0.5), or Basic Level – 2 = CR (Malefactor 3 would be CR 1, Malefactor 2 would be CR 1/2)

Just So You Know…

“For boss NPCs, just give the NPC a PC’s wealth. That increases the boss NPC’s CR by +1, so a zero HD creature with class levels and PC wealth is a CR equal to his class level. We do this pretty much for EVERY major boss of an adventure path.” -James Jacobs on the PFRPG General Questions forum: May 15, 2010