Inspired by this article, Calibrating your Expectations I cap NPC classes (except for adept) to level 8.
The levels look like this
L1 Regular Folks, young
L2 Experienced People
L3 Highly Capable People
L4 Experienced and Highly Capable People
L6 Experienced Elite and Masters
L7-L8 Borderline Super-Human
The classes fit into the world as follows
Commoner -- People with very limited opportunity, peasants, serfs and the very poor. There is no adventuring equivalent.
Expert-- Highly skilled persons who have had opportunities for learning. Adventuring versions include Savant and Rogue along with other skill intensive classes.
Warrior -- People with formal combat training but no special knack for combat. People with that knack are typically Fighters but may be any of the other Full BAB combat classes.
Aristocrat -- The Wealthy-- The PC version is either Cavalier or Noble
Adept-- I almost didn't use this class as I think its a bit redundant. However I decided that the work-a-day casters spellcasters, tinkers and hedge-mages make up this class. The PC versions are obvious ...
When designing cities and such, if I use the old "book2" demographic rules I tend to simply replace any non adepts above 6 or so with the PC class version.NPC's of 7th to 8th level get names and backgrounds
And yes this does slightly increase the number of NPC's with core type classes. I think thats just fine.
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