Archives of Nethys

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All Rules in Creating Monsters

Step 1: Array

Source Alien Archive pg. 126
The following pages give you statistics for creating your NPCs, from AC and skills to attacks and damage.

Combatant Array: Choose the combatant array for an NPC that will primarily fight in physical combat, such as a bodyguard or a feral beast. Such NPCs represent significant threats on the field of battle. These attacks are often physical, but they might also be strange supernatural abilities. The combatant array is used for the solarian and soldier class grafts.

Note: Combatants have lower ability and spell DCs. If you have an NPC with a powerful ability as one of its main attacks, increase the corresponding DC by 2.

Expert Array: Pick the expert array for skilled enemies such as stealthy scouts or noncombatants such as merchants or advisors. The expert array is also used for the envoy, mechanic, and operative class grafts. Expert NPCs benefit from a wide array of skills, making them competent at specialized tasks such as sneaking or sabotage.

Spellcaster Array: Use the spellcaster array for any NPC whose main capabilities come from casting spells or using spell-like abilities. Spellcaster NPCs usually have the most unusual abilities. The spellcaster array is used for the mystic and technomancer class grafts. An NPC with this array automatically gets spellcasting. See Step 8: Spells on page 143 for full instructions on picking spells. This array is for NPCs that spend most of their actions in combat casting spells.

Note that not all NPCs that rely on magic use the spellcaster array, nor do all combatants rely on physical combat. If spellcasting is only a minor part of the NPC rather than its main focus, or if it relies on supernatural attacks rather than actual spells, you can choose another array and give the NPC the secondary magic special ability (see page 142). Likewise, an NPC that relies on supernatural special abilities (such as magically turning creatures to stone) might be better served with the combatant or the expert array, depending on what other abilities you want it to have.

Using an Array

Source Alien Archive pg. 127
In this system, you don’t calculate an NPC’s final statistics the same way as a player character would. Instead, you take the numbers directly from the array and then make a few adjustments based on grafts and special abilities chosen later. In other words, if the array says the NPC’s Reflex saving throw bonus is +6, that number already represents the benefits of its statistics or any gear it might have.

Each arrays is spread out between two tables; the first table lists the NPC’s main statistics and the second table has the NPC’s attack statistics.

CR: Find the CR you want for your NPC in this column, then read across that row to determine the other values to use.

EAC, KAC, and Saving Throw Bonuses: Use the listed numbers for your NPC’s EAC; KAC; and Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saving throw bonuses. If it would be thematically more appropriate to switch the saving throw numbers around, you can swap them (giving a combatant a low Reflex save and high Will save, for example).

Hit Points: Use the listed number for an NPC’s Hit Points, adjusting it if you want the monster to be especially tough or frail.

Note that NPCs don’t have Stamina Points, and most NPCs don’t need Resolve Points. See the Stamina and Resolve sidebar on page 128 for more information.

Ability and Spell DCs: Use the Ability DC entry for all the NPC’s abilities, such as a breath weapon or poison, that don’t function as spells. If the NPC uses spells or spell-like abilities, determine the DC of each spell or spell-like ability separately, adding the level of the spell or spell-like ability to the number in the Base Spell DC column. For example, a CR 3 expert NPC’s DC for a 1st-level spell is 14.

Ability Score Modifiers: NPC stat blocks display only a creature’s ability score modifiers, not its ability scores. The array lists numbers for the NPC’s three highest ability score modifiers. Assign these as you see fit based on the NPC’s theme. A combatant usually should have at least the top two among Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution; a spellcaster should have its highest ability score modifier in what would thematically be its spellcasting ability. With a few exceptions, these modifiers don’t influence other statistics, so set an NPC’s Dexterity bonus where you want it without worrying that you’ll change its Armor Class, for instance. After assigning these top three scores, you can set the NPC’s remaining ability score modifiers as you see fit, usually equal to or less than the lowest listed modifier.

Special Abilities: Choosing special abilities (see page 141) is where you set your NPC apart from others of its CR and array. Choose the number of abilities indicated; these can be an adjustment to its statistics, a universal creature rule, or simply a feat. You can also give your NPC unique abilities you invent; see page 142 for advice on doing so.

Some special abilities are designated as “free” abilities as they don’t count against the number of special abilities an NPC gets at its CR. These are described in further detail on page 142.

Skills: The two columns for skills indicate the NPC’s bonus with skills it has mastered and with ones it’s good but not exceptional at (see page 142). All other skills default to the NPC’s relevant ability score modifiers.

Each entry also lists a number in parentheses. This is a suggestion for how many master skills and how many good skills an NPC of that CR should have. NPCs generally have Perception as a good skill, and it isn’t included in these numbers. If you want, you can pick Perception as a master skill and choose another good skill for the NPC.

All the numbers in these charts are flexible, especially for skills. You can add or remove skills without making too much of an impact on a melee combat–focused NPC, for instance.

Attack Bonuses: The second table of an array lists high and low attack bonuses for the NPC. Use the high value for the NPC’s best attacks and the low value for the rest. Use one value for all ranged attacks and the other for all melee attacks (you generally don’t need to worry about differences between one weapon and another in the same category). For example, if your NPC is a sniper, you should use the high value for its ranged attacks and the low one for its melee attacks.

Ranged Damage: If an NPC uses ranged weapons, you can give it a weapon with an item level equal to the creature’s CR. An NPC always adds its full CR to its damage to mimic the Weapon Specialization feat (0 if its CR is less than 1), regardless of the weapon’s category. It doesn’t add the bonus to damage it deals with grenades. If you don’t find an appropriate weapon at the given level, you can choose an item with a level between the NPC’s CR – 3 and its CR + 1; the NPC’s specialization bonus will make up some of the difference. If you end up with a weapon that’s far from the right level, you might need to give the NPC a higher or lower attack bonus or a different benefit or drawback.

If the NPC has a unique ranged attack, such as an acidic spit attack, using the value from either the Energy Damage or Kinetic Damage column as appropriate for the damage type of the weapon. If you want the NPC’s attack to be especially deadly, you can use the damage entry from the row for the NPC’s CR + 1. If you do, it’s usually best to lower its attack bonus or AC a bit or give it some other shortcoming.

Melee Damage: As with ranged attacks, you can give an NPC a weapon and add its CR and its Strength modifier to the damage dealt. If the NPC has natural weapons, use the table to determine the damage they deal. If the NPC has the multiattack universal creature rule (see page 155), and thus can attack more than twice with a full attack, use the relevant column to determine the damage each attack deals. For an NPC that can do more than four attacks with a full action, it’s better to give it a penalty to further attacks rather than to decrease the damage.

Because melee attacks tend to target KAC, there aren’t separate entries for energy attacks. Instead, reduce the damage dealt for a standard melee attack against EAC to the three attacks value. If the NPC can make three attacks using an energy weapon, reduce the damage dealt to the four attacks value.

Other Statistics

Source Alien Archive pg. 128
These statistics don’t appear on the array tables.

Initiative: Unless you increase it with the Improved Initiative feat, a graft, or an ad hoc adjustment, the NPC’s initiative bonus is equal to its Dexterity modifier.

Speed: Choose the speed that suits your NPC. Movement modes such as climb or swim usually don’t count as special abilities in this case, though if your NPC has an especially high number of special movement modes or a very fast speed, that should probably count as one of its special abilities.

Feats: Most NPCs don’t have feats. Many of the bonuses granted by feats can simply be incorporated into a creature’s stat block. However, you can give an NPC a feat as a special ability (see page 142).

Languages: An NPC that has the capacity for language knows its racial tongue, and it likely knows Common and the language of its home planet (if any). Particularly intelligent NPCs might know other languages as you deem appropriate.

Everything is Optional

Source Alien Archive pg. 127
When creating an NPC, you are free to enact whatever changes you need to in order to make your creation work the way you intend. For example, an array might tell you to select two special abilities, but you know you need four—or only one. Go ahead and make the change! If you want your combatant NPC to have a really high AC but not many Hit Points, you can increase its AC by 1 and use the expert array’s HP. This doesn’t make the statistics wrong; rather, it helps the statistics match your concept. Creating NPCs is fundamentally a creative process, so while these steps are useful to keep the NPC’s capabilities from going too far astray for its CR, don’t treat them as hard restrictions.

Stamina and Resolve

Source Alien Archive pg. 127
Stamina Points: NPCs don’t have Stamina Points. Any abilities that would normally affect an NPC’s Stamina Points affect its Hit Points instead.

Resolve Points: Most NPCs don’t need Resolve Points, but if you give an NPC class features or special abilities that specifically use them, it receives a number of Resolve Points equal to its CR divided by 5, plus 3.