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Welcome to DM’s Pocket Guide, where we discuss the rules, spells, and monsters of Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition.
Tricia: Okay, today we are going to talk about Guards.
T: They are on page 347 of the Monster Manual, and I like to think of them as the human equivalent of goblins.
R: Yeah, yeah. They actually kind of are. They have the same challenge rating of 1/8?
T: Yeah, they’re easy. They’re often like, a faceless horde of creatures – they are just a bunch of guards. But they do have a lot of possibility to make them more interesting and more diverse and like, individualize them in the same way as goblins – like, there’s always gonna be that one goblin your group wants to adopt. There’s always going to be that one guard that you’re like, “Oh, Ted has a wife and kids.”
R: Yeah exactly. It is that area where you – in any town or any settlement, you’re probably gonna have guards at some point, and it’s your opportunity as a DM, this is the place where you can show your diversity. Guards are going to be a group that your players interact with. So that’s where you can introduce…
T: Yeah, because they don’t have any official alignment, and no official race –
R: It just says any race, medium humanoid, any alignment. So you can have good guards, you can have evil guards, you can have neutral guards, lawful guards, chaos guards!
T: Dragonborn guards.
R: Halfling guards.
T: Yeah, anything. So, don’t just default to, oh, these are probably all human men,
R: That’s the easy thing to do, but challenge yourself and make your guards a little bit more diverse than that.
T: Yeah. So whats the stat block?
R: Armour class of 16. They are armored with chain shirts and a shield, so that’s why it’s a little bit higher, makes sense. And hit points are 11. So yeah, pretty…
T: If you can get past that armour class, they’re squishy.
R: And have a speed of 30 feet, so pretty standard. Their ability scores are pretty low across the board, just +1 in strength, dexterity, and constitution, +2 for perception. I suppose they are on the look out for trouble. And and then passive perception of 12, and they can speak any one language.
T: Sure, whatever race you’re choosing, they can speak that.
R: Right. And yes, that’s most of the numbers in the statblock and then their one action, which is spear.
T: All guards have spears.
R: Apparently. But I’m sure you can change it up to swords as well. But the start block has only seen fit to give a spear. +3 to hit so just pretty low. And then they’re going to do 1d6 +1 piercing damage, and or 1d8 +1 if they use two hands to stab.
T: So these guys are not a big bad. They’re the minions for human or humanoid settlements. And I think the other thing to talk about with guards is there’s another book called The Monsters Know What They’re Doing that I highly recommend by Keith Ammann. I don’t know how to say his last name, but it talks about actually giving your monsters and creatures motivation. Guards are one of those that like – they’re humanoid creatures, they are intelligent creatures. That can make their own decisions. This is one of those fights that if you are fighting with the guard, there’s a good chance they don’t want to die.
R: No, they’re just on the payroll.
T: Yeah, this isn’t worth dying for.
R: Yeah, they want to spend that money that they are earning on something, you have to be alive to do that. So, well, if I’m gonna die then I can’t spend the money I make from this. Oh, I see. No, I’m just gonna go over here now.
T: Yeah, yeah. So this is also kind of a way to establish world building through your combat with guards. If they do fight to the death, this is probably a pretty authoritarian place where they’re gonna die if they don’t die keeping you from doing the thing.
R: Yeah. Or there’s something that they’re being rewarded with other than money,
T: Right, yes. So there’s a lot you can do with guards actually to establish your world and what that looks like.
R: Yeah man. I’m thinking differently about Guards all of a sudden.
T: Right? They seem so simple. And I do also recommend giving the guards stat block a look because of the number of times that my players walk into a village and there are guards. I’m thinking they are not going to be attacked because this is a good village and my players wouldn’t do anything. But of course they’re murderhobos, and they’re gonna kill somebody. And then the guards have to get in there and fight, and I’m scrambling to be like, “I didn’t expect this, what is a guards stat block?”
R: Yeah, it’s also a nice base stat block. There’s nothing too complex in there. You could add some resistances or vulnerabilities in there to make really tough guards, or make ones that have just come out of a battle or something. You know?
T: Yeah, I like that. If you are looking to personalize some sort of combat feature and you’re not sure where to start, this is a really good one to start with.
R: So that’s Guards on page 347 of the Monster Manual.
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