Monday, February 17, 2014

Simplified Stat Blocks

A common complaint I hear about Pathfinder and other d20 system games is how frustrating stat block creation can be. While it isn't that hard to create a low level stat block, creating stat blocks for higher level games can become incredibly time consuming and have a bad habit of slowly zapping away my creativity as I write my notes. Its one of the main reasons why I don't like going over 10th level.

In an effort to make my job as GM a lot easier and cut down on the prep time for each session, I've been toying around with a simplified stat block for less important NPCs. I'll still create full stat blocks for important NPCs for that adventure/campaign, but I can use the simplified version for minions and other characters that might just show up once or twice.

With these simplified stat blocks, I'm just going to focus on the information that I actually need at the table and ignore the superfluous information. However, I will have to decide exactly which parts of a character are actually necessary for me to know so I can actually run the character without constantly "winging it." I'll need to know the character's total amount of hit points, their total amount of hit dice for the purpose of certain spell effects, their Armor Class/Touch AC/Flat-Footed AC, their speed, their Base Attack Bonus/CMB/CMD, their attack information, their ability scores, their saves, any special abilities, and their gear. Since we'll only be focusing on that information, a regular goblin warrior's stat block might look something like this:

GOBLIN WARRIOR: HP 6; HD 1d10; AC 16, Touch 13, Flat-Footed  14; Speed 30 ft.; BAB +1, CMB +0, CMD 12; Short Sword +2 (1d4/19-20) or Short Bow +4 (1d4/x3); STR 11, DEX 15, CON 12, INT 10, WIS 9, CHA 6; Fortitude +3, Reflex +2, Will -1; Darkvision 60 ft., +4 bonus on Initiative, Ride, and Stealth checks; Gear leather armor, light wooden shield, short sword, short bow with 20 arrows. 

While looking at this stat block, you might notice that I omitted the goblin's skills and feats. Honestly, I really don't need to know your basic goblin warrior's skills or feats to run it. If I need it to make a skill check, I can just make a simple ability check. I also included the racial bonuses the goblin receives to Ride and Stealth checks so I can remember those and the bonus it receives due to Improved Initiative.

Now, this stat block is just a starting point and I'm still thinking about how it'll work for higher level characters or monsters that have unique powers. Most likely, I'll just write the unique powers underneath the stat block and focus on the important information there too. For NPCs that have spells and more feats, I'll probably just pick the ones that I will most likely use when running the character and ignore the others. However, I'll have to see how that works at the table and I'll try to work the kinks out. 

I'd also love to see other people use this format for their stat blocks and I'd love to receive feedback about how it works and what I should improve.