Some Tips Using NPC Spells and Monster Abilities Effectively

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Some Tips Using NPC Spells and Monster Abilities Effectively

Post Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:05 pm

Evil DM/Rational Caster Spell Tactics

Sleep is very effective against low-level PCs. An entire party down, especially since many versions allow NO saving throw for characters below 4HD, And since players ALWAYS pick sleep if they can, and ALWAYS use it immediately on mobs I see no reason not to turn the tables. My NPC wizards are at LEAST as smart as the PCs are, and he has more resources and prep time. Sleep is an no-brainer and I feel it's actually cheesy for a wizard (who knows sleep) not to use it as a first or second resort on a troublesome party - for the same reason it would be silly for PCs not to use it on a horde of Goblins.

Fireball, for the reasons above, can be super-effective. Since PCs tend to cluster together in tight quarters and try to focus their attacks on on melee target (and thus maximize deaths/round) and NPC casters are usually a bit higher in level individually than the average of the party, a Fireball can kill an entire party with one hit. All the wizard has to do is send ONE orc at your party, watch them try to do a 'defeat in detail' tactic by surrounding him, and drop a fireball right in the middle. Assuming a normal spread, that means the PCs might be level 4 facing a level 6-8 Magic-User. That's 6d6-8d6 damage to everyone in the party, who have 4d8/4d10+12 HP at maximum.

Polymorph works great on PCs. Instantly turn the party's MU or cleric into a pig, and they're basically screwed. The party's pig probably won't even be smart enough to run away with the party, making it an easy mark for arrows and orcish butchers.

Hold Person isn't as cool as Sleep, but since PCs are humans and demi-humans this works in a similar manner. Again, since NPCs usually outnumber PCs a simple Hold Person on 1-3 party members will allow the Orcish henchmen to tie up/execute all of the players while immobilized and/or gang up on any who aren't so frozen.

Slow works very well, because it has the effect of giving everyone on the NPC side Haste against the party - again, since NPCs usually outnumber PCs it's more 'spell-slot' efficient to simply slow the party than to only haste SOME of your own party. Also, since casting Slow on someone else doesn't come with the negative aging effects of Haste on yourself this would probably be preferred by a caster, anyway.

Summon Monster - anything that's poisoned. Don't bother summoning high HD monsters - summon a ton of crappy snakes. Multiple attacks with a chance of 1-shot death beats stronger attacks that have no greater chance of killing targets instantly, and multiple attacks are better than a bonus to hit in-game mechanically.

Blind, whether from the spell Light or Blind, can be permanent or at least last for the length of an entire combat and gives the PC targeted by it a serious malus to attacks and AC. Basically, it's like making ALL of the NPCs invisible with ONE spell.

Web and similar spells can be SUPER-effective for NPCs that have a large number of ranged weapons - pin the PCs down and keep running away, firing missile weapons. The PCs will take serious damage before they can get close enough for melee or the spell's duration ends. Of course the PCs can return fire with missile weapons, but if the enemy takes cover (something the PCs can't do because they're moving too slowly/stuck in the middle of a field) they will still have a serious advantage in the exchange.

Illusions, very simple ones - put a perfectly ordinary looking stone floor illusion over a pit of spikes. One spell and an afternoon with some grunt laborers can manage to injure/trap/kill at least one PC most of the time, and also creates a barrier between the PC and NPC enemies that favors ranged and spell slinging. And, again, since NPCs usually outnumber PCs the ability to engage in multiple ranged attacks means the NPCs are more likely to hit and kill even if they're lower level. Unlike melee, dozens of orcs can fire arrows at the same PC wizard.

Silence will of course neuter PC casters pretty well, and prevent them from using buffs, heals, and offensive spells against the NPCs. NPCs may also find themselves adversly affected, but again the superior numbers mean that the Orcs can be sent in to wade through the blood while the NPC caster hangs back with a magic missile ready for any survivors.

Magic Missile isn't usually a 1-shot-kill spell, except that NPC casters are usually higher level than PC casters. Thus, their magic-missile damage may be the same as the PC Caster or Thief's hit-dice. Unless their target cast Shield already, they stand a good chance of being 1-shotted.

Spells which cause Confusion or random actions are also extremely effective, since PCs need control of their own characters and group coordination to act effectively. Deny their ability to choose their next action, target, or spell and you've done serious damage to their tactical cohesion. Bonus points if the spell has a chance of causing PCs to attack each other.

The Sanctuary spell is EXCELLENT for NPC clerics - with this trivial spell the cleric can indefinitely force the players to ignore his actions and maneuvers (so long as he doesn't break the terms of the spell), and while the PLAYERS want to target the enemy caster, their CHARACTERS are forced to melee frogs and Bullywugs while the 8' necromancer whistles a tune and puts himself in position for an AoE death attack or just plain healing/rezzing all those Bullywugs. (Thanks to Dave R on G+ for pointing this one out).
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Re: Some Tips Using NPC Spells and Monster Abilities Effecti

Post Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:06 pm

Hey, good stuff...thanks.
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