The 3 sample book NPCs use default array, ie 'elite array' 25-point-buy, which does seem rather good for typical 'mooks' - eg Picts with DEX 17 & such.
I posted the following quick-NPC system on the '101 NPCs' thread. It allows for average NPCs with a good stat or two.
It divides NPCs into 3 base categories:
'Average' - they have 1 +2 stat and 5 +0 stats. That would cost a minimum 16 points.
Competent - 2 +2 stats & 4 +0 stats. Cost is 20 points.
Elite - 3 +2 stats & 3 +0 stats.
Cost is 24 points.
- This works out for low-level NPCs, for 10th-17th level stats will be at least +3/+1, at 18th-20th becomes +4/+2.
Unless you're someone who enjoys taking 30 minutes to stat the 3rd guard from the left, I recommend the following system, from a post by Henry on ENWorld. I find it particularly suitable for Conan RPG.
Henry's NPC Creation Rules
I have a system I use that works well for me, regardless of play level. It was written for classed creatures and NPC's, but works also for "unleveled" critters - at least for me.
This method will not work well for Major NPC’s, and Major Villains. If you want to give certain villains their utmost prowess, you may need to stat them fully. However, this will work for 80% of the “shock troops”, shop keepers, bellhops, stable boys, scullery maids, and senators and mayors your PC’s will ever meet.
1. Start with Name, Alignment, Class, Level, and details. Write these down. That’s it. No need to be specific if this is an NPC they won’t be fighting.
2. If you need a specific skill (this is a skill that is actually coming into play; NPC is bargaining with PC’s, NPC is repairing armor, etc), then figure if the NPC is just decent, or GOOD at that skill. If decent, assign 1 skill rank per level. If GOOD, assign skill ranks = level +3.
3. Don’t worry about attributes unless needed. If needed, figure which how many scores the NPC is GOOD at, and assign scores of +2 (ie 14-15)to those. Everything else, assume average.
'Typical' 16 point buy NPC : 1 GOOD, 5 average.
'Competent' 20 point buy NPC: 2 GOOD, 4 average
'Elite' 24 point buy NPC: 3 GOOD, 3 average
4. Don’t worry about FEATS until needed. Feats hide a multitude of sins.
5. If combat is needed, hit points are slightly above average (Level multiplied by half of hit die number; round up).
For Conan NPCs of levels 1-9
Hit Die CON bonus HP/level
d6 0 4
d6 +2 6
d8 0 5
d8 +2 7
d10 0 6
d10 +2 8
BAB is = level, 3/4ths level, or ½ level, based on class. Armor class is = armor.
6. If NPC is a monster, and you EXPECT to get into combat with them, write down AC, touch AC, speed, Melee and Ranged attack, damage, and hit points. That’s it. Figure out feats and skills JUST like you do for other NPC’s.
You will wind up with characters that are only 80% accurate. Will this matter? NO. But you will wind up with generic monsters and NPC’s that took you all of 30 seconds to stat, that are playable, and for whom your players won’t be able to tell the difference.
Quick NPC Form for Conan RPG
Class: Level: BAB:
Decent skills (rank=level):
Good skills (lvl+3):
Good attributes (+2):
Hit Points (levelx1/2hd+CON):
If NPC is for combat:
Parry: Dodge: DR:
Melee and Ranged attack:
Typical 'Good' (+2) stats:
Class / Good Stats
Barbarian STR CON DEX
Borderer DEX CON STR
Noble CHA WIS STR
Nomad STR CON DEX
Pirate DEX STR CON
Scholar INT WIS CHA
Soldier STR CON DEX
Thief DEX INT STR