NPC Generation Made Easy

Download PDF

The few following easy steps are enough to create an NPC using this system:

  1. Determine the three Stats
    1. Physical
    2. Social
    3. Mental
  2. Determine other Traits
    1. Permanent Essence
    2. Willpower (and Willpower Pool)
    3. Weapons
    4. Armor
    5. DVs
    6. Health Levels
    7. Motivation
    8. Charms
  3. Tips and Tricks

The three Stats

When creating an NPC you assign them only three stats, which are used for all dice rolling purposes, including Ability rolls in their relevant field. These stats are:

1. Physical: Use for almost all combat-related pools. Also use when making any involving Strength, Dexterity or Stamina.

2. Social: Use primarily in social combat pools. Any ability roll using Charisma, Manipulation or Appearance uses this pool.

3. Mental: Used with any roll using Intelligence, Perception or Wits, such as Join Battle for example.

These stats are purposefully inflated, often beyond what could be easily achieved using base Attribute and Abilities. This system justifies these inflated dice pools by assuming the NPC is using some combination of Excellencies, scene long Charms, Artifacts, stunting and Virtue channeling to achieve these pools. As such, the Storyteller should not assign the NPC any bonus related to these nor should they assign the NPC any Excellencies or Charms that do nothing more than boost dice pools, add successes or so on.

Method A: Assign Stats based on challenge

Using this system, you can create a rudimentary challenge rating for an NPC encounter by controlling how many dice the NPC is assigned in the three areas. To determine how much of a challenge the NPC will be take a PCs highest rating unmodified by Charms in the relevant area. Then add or subtract dice to get the relevant score.

Extremely WeakMeant primarily as cannon fodder and non-threats-5 dice-4 dice-3 dice
WeakMeant to serve as inconveniences more than actual problems+0 dice+0 dice+0 dice
ChallengingMeant to challenge players but be overcomeable with judicious Charm use+5 dice+4 dice+3 dice
PowerfulMeant to push the NPCs resources to the limit and require creative thinking to overcome+10 dice+8 dice+6 dice
Extremely DangerousMeant to be beyond the players ability to overcome without epic circumstances+15 dice+12 dice+9 dice
This table shows the dice pool relative to the Player Character (of a particular type) that an enemy of a particular threat level should have.

For every additional increment of dice added to the NPCs pool, the PC will face greater and greater challenges overcoming them. Twenty dice or more over the PC is almost insurmountable as an advantage. Use increments of 5 dice for Solar/Abyssal/Infernal Exalted power levels. For less powerful player character you may want to adjust the values accordingly: Dragonblooded use increments of 3 dice, while Sidereals and Lunars use increments of 4.

Method B: Assign Stats based on type

Alternatively, you can use this alternate method to determine the three stats based on the type and experience of being encountered. Consult the following table and then assign the different priorities (primary, secondary, tertiary) to the different stats (Physical, Social, Mental) to define the final pools.

For tables listing sample dice pools, see here.

Other Traits

To round out the character you should assign a few other important stats.

Permanent Essence
Generally this should be 1/5 or 1/4 the characters maximum dice pool, or 1 for Mortals. The character gets 10 times their permanent Essence in motes. Any motes above and beyond this are assumed to be tied up in commited Charms, artifacts, frequent use of Excellencies and so on.

Willpower (and Willpower Pool)
Willpower is set to five by default. These points are used to pay for Charms and Combos. Any points beyond that are assumed to be used for Virtue Channels and so on. Also optionally choose one Virtue to be rated at three. This has no mechanical effect on the characters stats but can be useful to know for Social Combat.

Choose one weapon for the character. Use the characters Physical stat as the baseline for the weapons Accuracy and Defense, adjusting accordingly. The characters Damage trait should be equal to permanent Essence + weapon damage. In unarmed combat you can just assume that Acc = Physical, Def = Physical and Dam = Essence.

Choose a set of armor for the character. Add the characters Permanent Essence to the Bashing and Lethal soak of the armor. Thus, unarmored character have Bashing/Lethal soak of Essence.

Calculate the characters Dodge DV (one half Physical+Essence, round up or down as appropriate), Parry DV (one half Defense, round up or down as appropriate) and Mental DV (one half Social, round up or down as apporpriate. If you want to differentiate between Mental Dodge and Parry DV add Essence to Social before halving it for the Mental Dodge DV. Mental Parry remains Social/2).

Health Levels
Note the character’s Health Levels. These typically are the standard seven but feel free to add Ox-Bodies for elder creatures.

Select a Motivation and one or two Intimacies.

Select a few choice Charms for the character. Do not choose Charms that add dice, successes, reduce target numbers or otherwise adjust the characters dice pools. The base stats of the character (and their truncated Essence pools) already assume the effects of these Charms have been applied. Instead select a few Charms you think would be useful for the character to have.

Try and go for signature effects, stuff with personality rather than sheer utility. You shouldn’t sweat stuff like prerequisites. Just assign a few Charms and be done with it. This can be as simple as “Anything in the Solar Melee tree” to something as complex as “the character knows Elemental Bolt Attack, With One Mind, Dragon-Seared Battlefield, Auspicious First Meeting Attitude and Bestow the Saffron Mantle” or whatever you prefer. Generally speaking, for short encounters anything more than four or five Charms is more information than you’ll need.

Once you have put these finishing touches on the character you’re finished. Ideally, this should take about five minutes and most of that time will be spent scanning Charm lists for a few signature effects. The more familiar you become with the Exalted rules system, the less time it should take all told. You’ll find that the more you use this system the less you have to write down. Eventually it should be possible to create characters completely on the fly.

Tips and Tricks

The following tips make use of these NPCs even easier:

Assign Martial Arts Styles
A trick for combat encounters is to simply assign the NPC a Martial Arts style. Say “They know all Charms of the Dreaming Pearl Courtesan” or “they have mastered Water Dragon up to the Form” and so on. This instantly gives the NPC some personality and gives you an excuse to use all those funky martial arts effects at the same time.

Keep the stats!
If you’re writing down NPC stats, keep the stats. Ideally the stats for almost any NPC should fit on a 3×5 index card. If you don’t bother naming an NPC you can reuse the same stats repeatedly.

Social Combat Styles
Create a few “social combat styles”. These should be collections of three to five Social Charms that work well together. Just assign these Charms in clusters when creating characters. For instance, a “Solar Trickster” style could be Memory Reweaving TechniqueIrresistable Salesman Spirit and Heart-Compelling Method.

All content unless stated otherwise is ©2021 Chris McNeil. He can be contacted here. The banner picture is courtesy of Jason Heavensrun. You can find more of his stuff at Checkmate Studios.