NPC creator and tracker for DMs

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35 comments

  • Official comment
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    BadEye

    Since this has received so many votes, I'm curious how this would be any different than the current functionality in the "Creatures" section of the character sheet?

    In that section, you can add any NPC stat block for easy access and hit point tracking. If we entered the NPCs from that adventure as individual monsters, you could access them there, or in the meantime they could be homebrewed and added.

    I could see expansion to other types of tracking outside of only HP, but otherwise I genuinely would like to know how this potential feature would be different than the system that's already in place.

    Let me know your thoughts - thanks!

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    The Gay Cousin

    This would be a very useful feature!

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    Cath

    @BadEye - I interpret this feature request to refer to using NPCs that are made in the Character Builder instead of using stat blocks.

    However, I could see your suggestion of using creatures (plus other types of customization and tracking, like spells/features) helping to fill that need.

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    Ryan Leach

    In my mind, it would be more like adventure building / publishing. and using them.

     

    E.g. tracking reputation with each of the players.

    Tracking plot points, secret knowledge, and story beats.

    Combat stats & tracking, just in case.

    Notes of history of interaction with the players, to make recapping easier.

    Notes inserted on multiple different NPC's could be summarized at the end of the session, in order to review DM session notes / journal-ling.


     

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    Joshua Coffel

    I see this as a way for the DM to track NPCs like Harbin Wester from LMoP. How did the party treat him? What did he tell them? And a way to build out a town and easily be able to be like "oh yes Javis Tuttlestuff works at the Sleeping giant Inn."

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    Mchadd

    As a DM i'd like a listing of NPC's for the Campaign that I can open individually and either import the monster stat block and make changes or import from the character builder and then be able to pull that info into encounters in an overall campaign management scenario with notes for DM's.

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    Keith M Jones

    I think having giving NPCs their own space for DM management, with each NPC having a toggle as to whether players can view/edit them would be very helpful. On the one hand, you generally want to be able to add whatever information standard you want -- so a standard character sheet seems to make sense, but on the other hand you want quick access to basic relevant information like where they might be found, physical appearance, roleplaying notes, motivations, who their enemies and allies are, and whatever else is important to have in mind when the PCs encounter them. So while they could just have their own character sheets (after all, the NPCs might have creatures of their own!), all that would be buried in the notes section... . Moreover, it'd be nice to have a bona fide "NPC Management" area within a campaign. Featuring a "quick look" list of all NPCs, which could either be sorted or, ideally, organized by tags or folders. So maybe I have a filter that shows me the NPCs from Out of the Abyss that are in Blingdenstone, or only those in Grackletugh.   NPCs are used differently from PCs and a DM has to manage possibly quite a few over the course of a session, so it's reasonable that NPC management should be treated differently from PC "management". (Though I'd love to have the requested "PC key data quick-look" feature as well.)   Something like this would be a great boon to DMs who want to get the most out of D&D Beyond while playing, and I think that's why it has so many votes. 

    I currently handle some of this stuff with a Google Docs spreadsheet, but now that I have a subscription to D&D Beyond, I'd like to be able to do as much within the site, since tabbing between a bunch of disparate applications can get tedious, and the spreadsheet is really just a band-aid.  Also, I have to copy all the info from the book into the data fields, which is tedious. D&D Beyond has it all there, but hasn't yet given me tools to manage that information.

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    Nox Tripp

    @badeye The problem I have is that y'alls creature creation is designed like an item edit instead of a character edit. I would love to see a revamped creature creator but y'all have mentioned that already in the pipes for much later.

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    Keith M Jones

    Another comment on this: I see NPCs coming in three basic types: (a) NPCs that have character classes (and therefore need character shees), (b) NPCs that are monsters, like a Rakshasa that makes a handful of appearances, or a Dragon buddy, (c) NPCs that have no particular powers, but may still be very important for story or for fun roleplaying purposes. In all cases, you want the NPC to be treated as individual -- keeping track of their personality, and what experience they've had with PCs, what's happened to them, where they're located, etc.  It'd be nice to have a way to track all that which would allow for any of those three types of NPCs. 

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    Dan Aprahamian

    I currently get around this by making a homebrew monster for each character.

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    Christoph Hering
    1. I see the problem. You can really understand very different things under "NPC creator and tracker".

    This are my 2 cents and my dream for this topic:

    We first have to define where a NPC actually differs from a monster etc. with a stat block.

    NPCs (especially for own campaigns) often have to be more comprehensive than monsters. They have to be able to develop (level up). They often act as companions over a longer period of time and therefore need a more detailed background.

    Also important: they are not necessarily antagonists, but also often allies, friends or even neutral acquaintances.
    - So, you would actually need more information than it is given in the typical stat block of a monster.
    - It’s important, that the NPC is able to develop (level up)
    - But even for the typical villain who is important in the campaign for a longer period, this is true.

    My idea for the whole topic looks like this:

    Step 1: Create an area for NPCs in campaign management.
    A small area under the list of player characters would be perfect. In this area, the DM can draw both, monsters (NPCs from official campaigns), as well as his own created characters. For the monsters, a homebrew integration would be desirable. Here you could use almost the same design as for the Character and Monster presentation in the  Encounter Builder. However, if you click on an NPC that was created in the Character Builder, you will be directed to his character sheet, instate to the stat block.

    Step 2: Integrate the NPC section into the Encounter Builder and (Initiative) Tracker.
    If you plan your Encounter, you can directly use the NPC section of the campaign. Here it would also be sensible to choose the side for which the NPC fights. That would greatly enrich the builder and tracker. So far, I have not found an encounter builder, or tracker that allows an easy use of allies in Encounters.

    This combined with the things Keith mentioned would be very nice.

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    Keith M Jones

    As always, I greatly appreciate hearing the official feedback and thoughts. DnDB has been awesome about being responsive, and it's wonderful -- definitely turning me into a superfan with all their efforts and high quality communication. I'm only posting here again because this request is conspicuous for being widely desired, as measured by votes -- to the extent that it currently has the by far the most votes without yet being planned for some sort of implementation. I hope that the "different people are wishing for different things"  sentiment doesn't prevent further consideration of something like this. (If I recall, Adam may have expressed that during one of the dev videos in response to my question.)  Even a more minimal effort that just helps us organize and track basics of NPCs in some way would be extremely helpful. To use Christoph's language, some of the comments people have provided, certainly mine and likely others, are "dream" ideas. Or "if I had a magic wand, I'd make this thing happen."  I hope DnDB seek the commonalities among what people are posting, and determine what's feasible and reasonable for them, and go from there. I think most of us will be happy with any efforts in this direction, and those of us with more fleshed out ideas are not necessarily expecting we'll get exactly what we envisioned.  I know you folks are doing a ton already, and I'm so excited to see how what you've already got in the works develops, but I hope you'll keep this, or something like it, in mind to, to help DnD Beyond really become a one-stop resource for DMs. 

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    BadEye

    Everything on this list is being seriously considered, particularly something that has received so many votes and comments as this.

    The vagueness about what the "this" is prevents us from marking this as 'Planned' at this time - i.e. I'm not going to give something that status if I'm not clear on what we would even build.

    Definitely doesn't mean that we are not parsing feedback and doing additional work to understand why this topic is oft-but-divergently requested. Obviously some folks want "NPC Tracking." Now we have to do our best to figure out what that means for the most people.

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    Johndavidcoy
    Obviously some folks want "NPC Tracking." Now we have to do our best to figure out what that means for the most people.

    Our DM creates "UNASSIGNED CHARACTERS" to keep track of NPCs stats and it's works for now. The issues with this are all players can see the characters when the DM wants to keep some things private, and the character sheets are overkill and not specific to what's necessary. As a DM you want a quick way to pull an NPC up and quickly read notes. 

    The option to toggle campaign UNASSIGNED CHARACTERS to private or public and unique NPC character sheets for ease of access would be a good start. 

    I hope that helps. :)

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    Josh Daniels

    The practical application doesn't seem to be as confusing as the official reply is making it. My PCs encounter a number of NPCs in their travels, and some of them need to be built out using Character Sheets so they have access to the same progressions, spells, and potential for leveling if they travel with my players. I CAN currently do that by simply building them out, but then my players can see in our campaign which NPCs I deem important enough to develop more than being a simple creature. Additionally, even if I make them private, they're still privy to Name+Race+Class+Level, so if any of that was supposed to be withheld from the PCs, the players now have access to it.

    Hell, even an option to hide characters from the campaign menu would solve this problem for my use. Just give me a Visibility toggle.

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    jeff reynolds

    To respond directly to BadEye: What I think DMs want is the ability to create NPCs via the character builder (not as a creature), assign them to a campaign, and optionally make them completely hidden so that their name/race/class/existence isn't visible to the entire party.

    The option to visually separate NPCs from the PCs in a campaign would be nice to have as well.

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    Jef Cozza

    I find most of the functionality folks in the comments have described to be really desirable. Personally, I've been running Princes of the Apocalypse for YEARS as part of the same campaign, and it's really hard for me and my players to remember who they've met, who they've rescued, who has a good reputation with a certain NPC, how individual NPCs feel about various characters, what they might know, etc. It would also be great to be able to track relationships between characters, a bit like you can do with World Anvil or Fantasy Grounds. 

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    Caleb R. Joyce

    A huge thing is just being able to organize characters into folders... Not even within the campaign, though that would be helpful. With a myriad of characters all just in a list, it would be great to organize them by campaign, location in the world, allegiances, etc. 

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    Jarrod Neuhaus

    I would be happy seeing this done in one of two ways.

    1) Shareable character sheets to use others characters as NPCs or as premade characters.

    2) A separate designation under creatures so that its more creatures/NPCs.  

    The benefit of the shareable characters would be giving a full class/attacks/spells to major NPCs.  Having an Orc Chieftain that's a Champion Fighter that I can file as a NPC and share with others.  I would love to be able to look at others work for inspiration too.  

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    Ryan Leach

    By far the most useful thing I need, is basically a DM Notes and Player Notes section for each NPC to track their renown etc with the players, and any interesting things the players may have done to antagonize the NPC.

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    Mark McCollum

    Yes, I would be very content with a DM notes and player notes section for each NPC. Just give me a text box that I can track what I need to, at least as an initial iteration.

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    Cameron

    I think this feature is less needed as its own feature and more the monster builder needs a revamp and the campaign manager needs more options for secrecy and notes. Both of those are sort of already known though so I think once they happen this feature will be covered rather than being its own feature. 

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    Tobbun

    This would go hand in hand with a more powerful version of the monster builder.

    Possibly with the alternative to convert between a stat block and a full character sheet, so that you can build a character and turn it into an npc stat block.

    In essence this would be an expansion/redesign of the campaign manager and monster builder, like Cameron mentions

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    Jonathan Quimby

    For me, the monster builder is great for monsters, but it doesn't really suit my purpose for NPCs.  I don't care about their combat stats.  I want to detail their description, motives, personality, relationships and how they might link to quests.  I want to be able to group them into locations or associations.  I want to be able to attach them to encounters.  Currently, I'm building these as monsters and then linking to them from google docs.  This works, but just seems like a backwards way to do it.

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    Trent Cantrell

    Working on an upcoming encounter, I find myself wishing for a character builder light to quickly stat out a group of NPCs the players might be facing off against.  There are basic sorcerer, druid, mage ect to be found but they are at set levels, most of them being too much or to little for the encounter. 

    At the very least, I want to be able to specify their race, levels and spells. Ideally, there would be a biography section where I could record their history with the group. 

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    Alan Escreet

    I don't understand BadEye's workarounds for NPCs.

    I've tried creating new monsters per NPC, but this gets seriously unwieldy very quickly and only creates generic stat blocks - not individual NPCs - so HP, spell slots, etc. cannot be tracked.

    Creating characters is also not feasible because not all NPCs are of player character races or classes - so making that work means going through a very long, tedious and complicated process of homebrewing new races and classes just to make one NPC. Way too much work to be viable.

    The "Creatures" section on a character sheet? Really? That means creating an "NPC" character in the campaign and giving it a nonsensical race, class and stats just to host a bunch of "creatures" that are really NPCs... of which you have to select from pre-created homebrewed monsters anyway... plus all players in a campaign can see and view the stats and abilities of all NPCs in the campaign - again not viable.

    We even have Sidekicks now available through Dragon of Icespire Peak... but no support for them. NPCs and Sidekicks seem to me to be very similar if not identical use cases. Neither are fully-fledged player characters obeying player character rules and restrictions, but both are more than generic monster stat blocks that have no functionality to track HP, spell and ability usage.

    How about this for a concrete proposal:

    A link in a Campaign to campaign NPCs. These NPCs are almost like the Creatures in a player character sheet, but with a little extra tracking functionality... specifically spell slots and ability usage. This would mean expanding the monster and/or NPC/Creature/Sidekick functionality with spell slots and abilities that refresh on either a short or long rest - the NPCs would then also need a short/long rest button, as the fully-fledged player characters. This would be pretty cool to have for Creatures attached to characters too - as many have abilities and spells that are not use-at-will, except for the ones attached to player characters it would probably make sense to tie their rests to the character's rests. The NPCs could also be given NAMES (!!!) but otherwise be based on a generic monster stat block.

    I've also heard that some people prefer to just play a sidekick rather than a full player character - Could we also just create a Sidekick separately and assign them in campaigns to players rather than always have them attached to a player character?

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    Jef Cozza

    I'm also confused by BadEye's workaround. BadEye, can you explain your workaround in more detail? I'm currently using WorldAnvil to keep track of all my NPCs, but if there's an easy way to generate NPCs on DNDBeyond and add them to my campaign, I'd rather stay on a single platform.

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    FallenForge

    also, I'd like it to create a random backstory on the fly if that would be posable if someone couldn't think of one at the moment, also add roles for them like what kind of job they have.

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    Jlee Ucf

    BadEye Personally, I would prefer the ability to add hidden NPCs to my campaigns so that I can flesh out full character sheets for reoccurring allies and big-bads without my players seeing anything. Adding an NPC as a creature just isn't sufficient for the really key NPCs and it gets really awkward to home brew them as creatures when a perfectly functional character builder is available. As a work around I've been creating them using the character builder but not adding them to the campaign they belong to.

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    Scottishkiltmaster

    BadEye so to me this would require first a feature for creating NPC character sheets that a DM could have in a campaign folder.  To my mind it would be ideal if this were typically hidden from players, but could be revealed and/ or assigned to characters in a campaign if they could potentially run them (as an ally if the DM assigns the NPC to them) or if they would need to coordinate with the players even if the DM is still going to run them.  It would also be great if in pre-written adventures all of the npc's that include stat blocks for allies would have such sheets already in this folder  Such NPC sheets would be streamlined in that you would not have background, organizations, personality, alignment, allies, or similar info available (Or well possibly it would be good to have, but not visible to players).  This in and of itself would make things so much cleaner as a DM since if i wanted to make an ally for the players I wouldn't have to clutter up my own character page, and I wouldn't run the risk of over populating a campaign with characters even if I left them unassigned.  Further by giving them a sort of character sheet, allies could have grown more powerful or do things like change out spells to better suit the situation if they are traveling with characters.

    Heck even with you example BadEye, I would love it if as a DM if there was an option to have character sheet view of all monsters and creatures as well.  When I create an encounter it would make it much easier to track if I were to be able to tick off the use of an ability or if I could just add damage and healing as you do on a character sheet.  Take your own example of the creature tab.  You can assign a wildshape stat block, but it would likely help players as well if they had even just the health counter on that sheet instead of just the stat block.  As a particular feature there it could be connected and once damage taken exceeded the animal's hp the remainder automatically went back to the player's sheet.  

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