Forums: Helping Hand > 5e Classes / CR

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I have been thinking... so 5th edition does not give NPCs "classes"... example, Zephyros is called a 12th level spellcaster and has wizard spells, but the source does not state he IS a mage... yes, NPCs may have fighter abilities, but each stat does not give a class... on the other hand, most (actually, maybe all) NPCs have a Challenge Rating (so does 3rd edition)... when a stat says Nth spellcaster, technically, there is no wizard or cleric attached... so, unless others disagree, 5e edition characters do not have Class Levels... thoughts? Also, can we add a Challenge Rating section to the Template:Person for 3e and 5e infobox sections?
- Darkwynters (talk) 17:46, July 27, 2017 (UTC)

Any thoughts :)
- Darkwynters (talk) 17:47, September 2, 2017 (UTC)

I was just thinking about this today, actually.

Frulam Mondath is a level 5 spellcaster. She exclusively uses cleric spells, uses wisdom as her spell modifier, and is connected to a site that contains a shrine to Tiamat. It is very clear she is intended to be a level 5 cleric of Tiamat, but 5e refuses to state that outright.

I don't have a solution to offer, but I do share your frustration.

Ir'revrykal (talk) 22:02, September 2, 2017 (UTC)

I don't know 5e, but this seems to be a question of correctness vs. practicality. In my opinion it would be fine to add a challenge rating, but if for NPCs the corresponding class is recognisable derived from the abilities, I would prefer to use the classes, even if they are not explicitely stated. It would just be much nicer to be able to compare with other editions.
Daranios (talk) 19:26, September 3, 2017 (UTC)

Cleric spells are cast by paladins, ranger, and even bards have those spells... and rangers use wisdom...
- Darkwynters (talk) 00:51, September 7, 2017 (UTC)

I think most of the "generic" spellcasting NPCs from Appendix B of the Monster Manual and Volo's Guide to Monsters probably have a more or less neat parallel with their respective classes, despite a few differences. For example, the Archmage is described as an 18th level spellcaster, with a number of wizard spells prepared. So whenever a character is specified to be an archmage, I'd say it's safe to call that character a wizard of 18th level. An Acolyte is a 1st-level cleric, and so on.

Non-spellcasting classes are trickier, and not at all obvious. For example, an Assassin deals 4d6 sneak attack damage and has evasion, which would suggest a 7th or 8th-level rogue, but also has multiattack, which would suggest a 5th-level in some other martial class. Since they have 12d8 hit points, it's probably 7th level rogue with the Assassin subclass and 5th level something that's not a fighter, monk or ranger, but gives them a second attack, crazy poison damage with their weapons and nothing else.

It gets even more complicated with the "special" NPCs that have their own stat blocks in the adventures, like Severin for example.

Moreover, the way CR is calibrated in 5th edition doesn't provide a simple solution like "multiply CR by 4 and then you get the effective level", and some NPCs are harder to draw parallels than others. Maybe the number of hit dice is a better indication of level, but the rest of the stats generally don't unequivocally determine the class (which is probably by design to provide some suspense, like legendary actions).

In summary, I don't think it is possible to have a catch-all class-equivalence algorithm for 5th edition NPCs, so a parallel with previous editions may not always be possible. I see two alternatives:

  • state the class when it's obvious (like the archmage) and keep the NPC name when it's not (like the assassin), as Daranios suggested; this provides a nice parallel, but may lead to disagreements on interpretation on trickier cases;
  • keep the NPC class in all cases and use CR instead of level in the 5e block.

I'm in favor of the second alternative, mostly because it keeps with the official content and provides a clean solution, despite sacrificing the comparison with previous editions. It would also not affect characters that have been officially released as PCs, like Minsc for example.

Sirwhiteout (talk) 02:51, September 7, 2017 (UTC)
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