5E NPCs and Encounters

NPCs - Non-player characters

Non-player characters (NPCs) are available only to the Dungeon Master. Open the list of NPCs in a module or campaign by clicking on the NPCs icon in the right hand menu. From here DMs can create new NPCs, edit existing ones and create encounters.

NPC Sheet Overview

  • The NPC sheet duplicates the standard layout of any NPC from the Monster Manual.

  • The Main page shows all of the necessary information and statistics to enable the DM to use the NPC in combat via the Combat Tracker.

  • The 'other' tab may contain general information and a linked image of the NPC.

  • The DM can make saving throws by clicking on the small 's' adjacent to the appropriate ability score

  • Similarly the DM can make an ability check by clicking on the small 'c' adjacent to the appropriate ability score.

  • Skill checks can be made by mousing over any skills noted on the NPC sheet and double clicking

  • The DM can use the sheet to make various attack, damage, and other rolls directly from the actions area of the sheet by mousing over the relevant sections and either double clicking or drag and dropping onto a target.

  • All of the information on the sheet can be edited by clicking the 'lock' icon at the top right hand corner to unlock the sheet.

  • DM's can also change the token which represents the NPC by dragging a new token and dropping over the existing token in the top right corner (Sheet must be unlocked first).

  • At the top right of the sheet is an ID toggle. This can have a value of red (unidentified) or green (identified). Unidentified creatures placed on the Combat Tracker will be seen as 'Unidentified Creature' by players. Below the header a Non-ID Name is available. DMs can add a name here and whatever they choose will be shown to players on the CT in place of 'Unidentified Creature'. For example if a Goblin NPC is selected and a non-ID name of 'Greenskin' is added and the Goblin is toggled as Not Identified (red) then the players will see 'Greenskin' on the CT.

  • Next to the token at the top right of the sheet is the ‘speaker’ icon. Clicking this will add this NPC to the NPC Speaker list at the bottom of the chatbox. The DM can then select this and type speech into the chat as this NPC.

Edit an existing NPC

An existing NPC can be edited by first making a copy of the NPC by dragging the existing NPC from the NPC list view and then dropping the copy back into that list. Then unlock the copy by toggling the lock icon at the top right of the sheet. The sheet can now be edited - see the paragraphs below for more details.

Create a New NPC

To create a new, blank NPC right click on the NPC list view and select ‘Add Item’. Or use the edit list button at the bottom left of the NPC list window. This will open a new sheet which can be completed with the relevant information using the details below.

  • Name: Add a name for the NPC where it says <New Personality>

  • ID Toggle: The ID button can be toggled to green (NPC is identified) or red (NPC is unidentified). If the NPC is unidentified then, when placed on the Combat Tracker, the players will see ‘Unidentified Creature’, unless a Non-ID name has been added. Identified creatures are shown as their true name.

  • Token: Add a token for the NPC by dragging one from the tokens bag and dropping it on the blank token icon. A token can be replaced by dragging and dropping the new token over the existing one.

  • Non-ID Name: Add a name here for when the NPC is unidentified. This name will appear on the Combat Tracker if the ID toggle is red. If this section is left blank then the NPC will appear on the Combat Tracker as ‘Unidentified Creature’ if the ID toggle is red.

  • Size: Fantasy Grounds uses the creature’s size to determine the size of the token on a map. Acceptable values are Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge and Gargantuan. For creatures of size medium or smaller Fantasy Grounds will place a token which covers one square on the map. For Large creatures it will place a token which takes up four squares and for larger creatures 9 squares. Size is also used in certain effects.

  • Type: Enter the creature type. Anything can be added here but only those types which are listed in the Monster Manual will be recognized by Fantasy Grounds for certain effects which can be applied to only certain creature types. See the effects article for acceptable creature types.

  • Alignment: Type in the creature’s alignment. Any of the nine acceptable alignments as detailed in the Player’s Handbook can be entered here. This can be abbreviated to the initials of the alignment - for example Lawful Good or LG. Fantasy Grounds recognizes and can use this alignment in some effects. Alignments outside of the accepted list will be ignored.

  • Armor Class: Enter the armor class in the first box and use the second box for any additional information. For example 13 (16 with Mage Armor).

  • Hit Points: Enter the average hit points in the first box and in the second add the dice string along with any modifiers for the hit point calculation. Fantasy Grounds will use the first box by default but the DM can set options for random or maximum hit points and then the contents of the second box will be used. For example 16 (3d8 +3).

  • Speed: The creature’s speed in feet. If the creature has various speeds list them separated by a comma. For example 30 ft., fly 50 ft., burrow 20 ft.

  • Statistics: Enter the creatures statistics by clicking in the box and typing in a new value. Bonuses will automatically be calculated.

  • Saving Throws: Where the creature gets any saving throw bonuses add these here separated by a comma. Use the abbreviated form of the ability score. For example Dex +3, Con +2, Wis +1. These values will be used rather than the ability score bonus when the DM makes a save using the small ‘s’ button next to the ability score. Leave blank if none.

  • Skills. If the creature has any bonuses to skills list these here separated by a comma. The full name of the skill should be used. For example Perception +7, Stealth +5. Leave blank if none.

  • Damage Vulnerabilities, Resistances and Immunities: List any damage types separated by a comma. Use the full name of the damage type using lower case. For example acid, fire, slashing. See below for more details. Leave blank if none.

  • Condition Immunities: List any condition immunities separated by a comma. Use the full word all in lowercase. For example charmed, frightened, poisoned. Leave blank if none. If a creature is subject to an effect for which it has immunity the effect will fail to be applied.

  • Senses: Enter the senses with a range (if appropriate). If more than one separate with a comma. For example blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 120 ft. Leave blank if none.

  • Languages: Enter any languages separated by a comma. For example Common, Draconic, Elvish.

  • Challenge and XP: Add the Challenge rating and XP in these boxes.

  • Traits: To add a trait click the edit button and then click the green +. Give the trait a name and then type in a description. Traits can be deleted by clicking the edit button and then double clicking the red button next to the trait to be deleted. Text can be edited in the normal way and can be copied by pressing CTRL+A to select all and the CTRL+C to copy. See details below for Spellcasting NPCs and for details of certain traits that Fantasy Grounds uses to create effects for NPCs.

  • Actions: To add an action click the edit button and then click the green +. Give the action a name and then type in a description. Actions can be deleted by clicking the edit button and then double clicking the red button next to the action to be deleted. Text can be edited in the normal way and can be copied by pressing CTRL+A to select all and the CTRL+C to copy. See details below for more information on the wording to be used so that NPC actions create appropriate effects.

  • Reactions, Legendary Actions and Lair Actions: These are all created, edited and deleted in the same way as actions above.

  • Innate Spells and Spells: This area of the sheet will list the NPC spells that they have available if they are a spellcasting NPC. See below for more information on Spellcasters.

Spellcasting NPCs

In addition to any other traits, a spellcaster has two possible special traits: Innate Spellcasting and Spellcasting. If an NPC is a spellcaster then in order to populate the spells in the character sheet specially worded traits must be added to the NPC sheet. If worded correctly and if the user has the Player’s Handbook (or any other module which contains the relevant spells) open in the campaign then Fantasy Grounds will automatically populate the NPC with its spells. It will also correctly calculate the ranged attack bonus and saving throw DC for relevant spells and add in any spell slots the NPC has available.

If you are creating a new spellcaster, once you have completed the trait you will need to close and then re-open the NPC sheet for the spells to populate (or you can add the NPC directly to the Combat Tracker). If you are editing an existing spellcaster then you will need to delete all of the spells which exist on the NPC sheet by clicking the edit button next to Spells or Innate Spells and using the red button beside each spell to delete them all. Closing and reopening the sheet will then force the spells to populate.

In all cases spells will only populate if the modules which contain the spells are open in the campaign.

The two traits must be worded as follows:

Spellcasting

1 2 3 4 5 Spellcasting The [NPC] is a nth-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is [ability]. The [NPC] has the following spells prepared. Cantrips (at will): <spell name>,<spell name> 1st level (4 slots): <spell name>, <spell name> 2nd level (2 slots): <spell name>, <spell name>

Innate Spellcasting

1 2 3 4 5 Innate Spellcasting The <NPC>'s spellcasting ability is <ability>. It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components: At will: <spell name>, <spell name> x/Day each: <spell name>, <spell name> x/Day each: <spell name>, <spell name>

Notes

  • The wording must be exactly as noted above

  • The ability used by the spellcaster should be written in full with a capital first letter. For example Intelligence

  • Each level of spells should start on a new line.

  • Cantrips should be followed by (at will) and spells with levels should add the number of slots after the header. Both should then end in a colon.

  • Spells should be listed with the exact name that they appear in the Player’s Handbook; all in lowercase and separated by a comma.

  • For Innate spellcasters the number of uses they get per day needs to be specified instead of the spell level and slots.

Overriding automatic calculations

As noted above Fantasy Grounds automatically calculates the spell save DC and attack rolls for relevant spells. This can be overridden by the user if, for example, the NPC has possession of a magic item which increases the spell save or attacks of spells. To do so you need to insert into the wording noted above what the actual spell save and attack bonus should be as noted here:

1 The [NPC] is a nth-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is [ability] (+x to hit with spell attacks, Spell save DC x. The [NPC] has the following spells prepared.
Examples
1 2 3 The war priest is a 1st-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Wisdom. The war priest has the following cleric spells prepared: Cantrips (at will): guidance, sacred flame, spare the dying 1st level (3 slots): bane, guiding bolt, inflict wounds
1 2 3 The fiends's spellcasting ability is Intelligence. It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components: At will: fire bolt 1/day each: fog cloud, thunderwave
1 2 3 The mage is a 9th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (+7 to hit with spell attacks, Spell save DC 15). The mage has the following wizard spells prepared: Cantrips (at will): fire bolt, light, mage hand, prestidigitation 1st level (4 slots): detect magic, mage armor, magic missile, shield

NPC Traits

There are as many traits as there are NPCs but some are special in that Fantasy Grounds recognizes these and creates effects on the Combat Tracker to make combat run more smoothly. These are all detailed below. In order for these to work properly the wording of the traits must be precisely the same.

Damage Vulnerabilities, Resistances and Immunities

As noted above in the NPC sheet many NPC’s can have resistances to certain damage types. This is usually just handled by typing in the various damages types into the appropriate section of the NPC sheet. Sometimes however creatures might be resistant to certain damage types but only from non magical weapons or those made with special metals. Fantasy Grounds can handle this kind of situation using the pling (!) character to exclude that type from the list of damage types when the character is placed on the Combat Tracker. In order to create these effects properly then the wording in the following examples should be used in the appropriate Damage Resistances or Immunities box.

  • Exclude Magic Weapons [Damage Resistances/Immunities] bludgeoning, slashing and piercing from nonmagical weapons

  • Exclude Magic Weapons and Other Damage Types [Damage Resistances/Immunities] bludgeoning, slashing and piercing from nonmagical weapons that aren’t [silvered/adamantine/cold-forged iron]

  • Exclude Other Types [Damage Resistances/Immunities] piercing from weapon attacks that aren’t [silvered/adamantine/cold-forged iron]

Regeneration

There are various possibilities for creatures that regenerate. In the following examples the trait name should always be ‘Regeneration’ and the wording of the trait used will depend on the type of regeneration the creature is desired to have..

  • Regeneration The <creature name> regains x hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point.

  • Regeneration with prevention The <creature name> regains x hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point. If the <creature name> takes <type> damage, this trait doesn't function at the start of the creature’s next turn

  • Regeneration with multiple prevention The <creature name> regains x hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point. If the <creature name> takes <type> or <type> damage, this trait doesn't function at the start of the creature’s next turn.

  • Death only on zero hit points The <creature name> regains x hit points at the start of its turn. [If the <creature name> takes <type> damage, this trait doesn't function at the start of the creature’s next turn]. The <creature name> dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and doesn't regenerate.

Magic

  • Magic resistance Include a trait called 'Magic Resistance'. The NPC will then automatically roll saves vs spells with advantage. There is no special wording required for this one as long as the trait is called Magic Resistance.

  • Magic Weapons Include a trait called 'Magic Weapons'. All damage done by the creature will automatically add the magic tag to the damage dealt. Similarly the trait requires no special wording as long as the trait is called Magic Weapons.

  • Gnome Cunning When this trait is present the NPC will have advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma saving throws against magic. As long as there is a trait with this heading no special wording is required for the trait itself.

Extra Criticals

  • Improved Critical Adding a trait named 'Improved Critical' to an NPC will allow them to make a critical roll on a 19-20

  • Superior Critical Adding a trait named 'Superior Critical' will allow an NPC to make a critical roll on an 18-20

In neither case is any special wording required for the trait description, as long as the trait name exists.

Damage Threshold

Some NPCs - particularly inanimate objects - have a damage threshold. This gives them immunity to all damage below a certain number from any single attack. They take normal damage from any attack which does more damage than this number or threshold. Fantasy Grounds can handle this automatically if the NPC has a trait called ‘Damage Threshold’ and the number is mentioned in the text of the trait as follows:

  • Damage Threshold: The <object> has a damage threshold of x.

NPC Actions

Fantasy Grounds has an in built parser which looks for certain keywords or combination of words and then uses those to create effects when an NPC is placed onto the combat tracker. You can see which words and phrases the parser recognises when you mouse over any NPC trait or action in the NPC sheet. Anything which highlights will create an effect when the NPC is placed on the Combat Tracker. The words and combination of words needs to be fairly precise otherwise the parser isn’t going to pick them up. Below is a list of the wording that users should use to make these effects appear on the Combat Tracker. All of these apply not just to actions but also to Legendary Actions, Lair Actions, and Reactions.

Weapon Attacks

  • Basic Melee Weapon Name. Melee Weapon Attack: +x to Hit [reach 5ft., one target]. Hit: x (ndn + x) <type> damage.

  • Basic Ranged Weapon Name. Ranged Weapon Attack: +x to hit, [range n/n ft., one target]. Hit: x (ndn +x) <type> damage

  • Two handed option Weapon Name. Melee Weapon Attack: +x to Hit [reach 5ft., one target]. Hit: x (ndn + x) <type> damage or x (ndn) <type> damage if used with two hands.

  • Melee or Ranged Melee Weapon Attack: +x to Hit [reach 5ft., one target]. Hit: x (ndn + x) <type> damage or Ranged Weapon Attack: +x to hit, [range n/n ft., one target]. Hit: x (ndn +x) <type> damage

  • Multiple damage types Hit: x (ndn+x) <type> damage plus x (ndn+x) <type> damage

  • Special Damage Types Hit: x (ndn+x) <type>, <magic>, <adamantine>, <silver>, <cold-forged damage> damage

Notes

  • Attacks should all be given a unique name on the same NPC.

  • Acceptable damage types are: acid, bludgeoning, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, piercing, poison, psychic, radiant, slashing, and thunder.

  • Special damage types recognised by Fantasy Grounds are: magic, silver, adamantine, and cold-forge iron. These damage types can be combined (separated by a comma) with any of the normal damage types where a weapon does a normal and special damage at the same time. For example a silver longsword on a hit would be written: Hit: 1d8 slashing, silver damage

  • In the case of the magic damage type there is no need to include the magic type to damage if the creature has the trait ‘Magic Weapons’ as seen above.

Damage and Healing

  • Basic Damage The target takes x (ndn) <type> damage or The target takes x <type> damage

  • Extra Damage The <NPC> does an extra x (ndn) <type> damage

  • Ongoing Damage Hit: x(ndn+x) <type> damage and the target takes x(ndn+x) <type> damage at the start of each of its turns

  • Heal The <creature name> regains ndn hit points or The <creature name> regains x hit points.

Notes

  • Such lines may well appear in traits as well as in actions. For example a creature might have a trait which allows them a sneak attack bonus.

Saving Throws

  • Basic Save The target must make a DC x <ability> saving throw.

  • Save for half damage The target must make a DC x <ability> saving throw, taking x (ndn+x) <type> damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

  • Save against only one damage type Hit: x (ndn+x) <type> damage and the target must make a DC x <ability> saving throw taking x (ndn+x) <type> damage on a failure [and half as much damage on a successful one].

Notes

  • Again these lines may well appear in traits as well as in actions.

Conditions

The parser will recognise all of the standard conditions listed in the PHB at appendix A except for exhaustion.

  • Basic Condition effect the target is <condition>

  • Prone condition the target is knocked prone

  • Save vs condition The target must make a DC x <ability> saving throw, and on a failure the target is <condition>

  • Multiple conditions The target is <condition> and <condition>

  • Duration the target is <condition> until <the end of your next turn> / <for x rounds> / <for x minute(s)>

Notes

  • These phrases in many instances will follow or be combined with attacks or saving throws. For example some creatures may cause an effect to apply to a target after a successful hit as well as damage. For example ‘On a successful hit the target takes 4 (1d8) slashing damage and and must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw and on a failure is blinded for 1 minute.

  • These phrases may also appear in traits as well as actions.

Creating Encounters

Encounters are anything that the player characters might come upon during the course of an adventure. Not all of these are necessarily going to be hostile and not all of them even need to have anything special done to run them. Fantasy Grounds allows the GM to prepare an encounter in advance of a game, place the NPCs on a map where they are going to be encountered and then link the encounter to a story entry for that location.

The basics of creating an encounter are described below.

  • Click the 'encounters' button in the right hand menu to open the encounters dialog.

  • Create a new encounter by right clicking and selecting 'Add Item' or click on the edit list button and then add new.

  • In the new encounter dialog type in a name for the encounter.

  • Drag in NPCs from the NPCs dialog. NOTE: this is the only way to do this, NPC's cannot be dragged directly from any module.

  • Alter the number of NPCs appearing if needed by editing the number in the box on the left hand side.

  • Other NPCs can be added, each one dragged in will add a new line to the encounter; even if it is the same NPC type.

  • The name of the NPC can be edited directly in the encounter line. This name will appear for the Player Characters when the NPC is placed on the Combat Tracker.

  • By clicking on the green ID button the NPC can be made unidentified. If no Non-ID name has been given for this creature in the NPC sheet the players will see ‘Unidentified Creature’ on the Combat Tracker.

  • Clicking the small skull icon next to the ID toggle will cycle through the faction options. NPCs always default to hostile but using this feature they can be changed to being initially friendly or neutral.. Each line is a separate choice so not all of the NPCs in the encounter need to be from the same faction.

  • You can replace the token for all of the creatures on the same line by dragging a token from the token bag and dropping it on the token at the far left of the NPC line.

  • Once all NPCs are present and the numbers are correct click on the curly symbol next to the CR box to automatically calculate the CR and XP of the encounter.

  • Once completed the NPCs can then be dragged to a map to place the encounter if this is desired. To place an encounter drag the token icons under the NPC name and drop those onto the desired position on a map. The encounter can then be closed and Fantasy Grounds will remember where the tokens were placed. Subsequently when the encounter is activated the tokens will appear on the map at the correct positions.

  • An encounter can be linked to a story entry by dragging the encounter and dropping it on the story entry.

  • DMs can also create links on a map by dragging and dropping the encounter directly onto the map. This will create a map pin which can then be clicked on to open the encounter sheet.

  • When opened in the campaign the NPCs can then automatically populate the Combat Tracker by using the 'Add encounter to Combat Tracker' button at the bottom left of the encounter window (or by dragging and dropping the encounter into the Combat Tracker).. If the NPC tokens have been pre-placed on a map as above those tokens will also appear on the map.

  • NPCs on the Combat Tracker and the map are initially invisible to the player characters unless the faction was set to ‘Friendly’.

Creating Random Encounters

Sometimes the players might stumble upon an encounter where the number of NPCs isn’t set. Fantasy Grounds can create such encounters using the random encounter dialog.

  • To create a new Random encounter click encounters in the right hand menu and then on the 'Random' button at the top left of the window that opens. Then right click and select Add New or use the edit list button at the bottom right.

  • Name the encounter as normal and drag in whatever NPCs are to appear in the encounter from either the NPC list or from the resource being used.

  • In the box which appears to the left of the NPC enter a dice expression or drag and drop dice from the dice pool

  • Dice expressions can be ndn, ndn+n, ndn-n or ndn+ndn. So 1d6, 2d8+4, 1d10-1 and 1d4 + 1d6 are all supported.

  • Note that the encounter thus created cannot be used as an encounter itself.

  • To generate the encounter click on the 'Generate encounter' button at the bottom left of the random encounter template.

  • This will generate the encounter with the number of NPCs and also calculate the CR and XP of the encounter if this is appropriate.

  • Random encounters can also be programmed to create encounters based on the number of player characters. For this to work the PCs must be on the Party Sheet. To create an encounter with one NPC for each PC use '$PC' in the dice string box next to the NPC name. Multiples can be used and take the format of x*$PC. Thus 2*$PC will produce an encounter with 2 NPCs for each PC on the Party Sheet.