I just finished up Game of Thrones (yeah, I know I’m late to the party). In terms of Fifth Edition stats, most of the stuff in Game of Thrones is pretty self-explanatory (although Game of Thrones dragons aren’t really Dungeons & Dragons dragons, I digress).
If there was one creature that stuck out in the whole series that deserves some Fifth Edition statistics, I’d say it has to be the Night King.
By the way, there’s going to be some major Game of Thrones spoilers here. You’ve been warned.
Who is the Night King?
The Night King is the leader of the white walkers and has existed since the first age of men. He is more or less the BBEG of the series and was finally defeated in the Battle of Winterfell when Arya stabbed him with a Valerian steel dagger.
How can we stat the Night King?
Each time I do one of these Stat Anything articles, I like to break down the individual parts of a creature and give details on why I believe that their stats should be a certain way. Of course, you’re free to disagree–and folks often do–but I do enjoy showing my work.
Without any further ado, let’s make the Night King for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition.
Creating the Night King: Step by Step
Here are my notes for creating the Night King for Fifth Edition.
The Night King stands about six feet tall. His size is Medium.
Most would probably consider the Night King undead. However, I disagree. Certainly, he commands a massive army of undead, but he, himself, does not share a lot of the same traits as undead. He’s immune to fire and cold and incredibly difficult to kill. He rarely speaks, but appears to have a form of telepathy and seems to know when he’s being scryed upon. Plus, he has a vulnerability to “cold iron.”
My bet is that he is a fiend.
A few folks have pointed out that GRRM considered the white walkers fey. While I was going off what was in the show, I think that’s a fair categorization. So fey he is.
Obviously, the Night King is evil. He hopes to wipe man off the face of the nameless planet that’s home to Westeros and Essos. But is he lawful, chaotic, or something in between?
With Thanos, I went neutral only because Thanos doesn’t care about the laws set forth by any others. However, his armies are well organized.
With the Night King, however, his undead legions aren’t organized. And there are no co-leaders or sub-rulers other than the other white walkers. It’s basically him commanding them all. And he seeks to destroy everything in his path.
Therefore, the Night King is chaotic evil.
Before I dig into the quantitative aspects of the Night King, I think it makes sense to set a Challenge Rating for him. This is not easy to do–definitely not as easy as it was for Thanos (Mr. T got the ol’ 30 right off the bat).
The thing about the Night King is that there isn’t a lot about him that screams that he’s super powerful. Any time he kills in the series–especially the 3rd episode of the 8th season–he does so after a character is already considerably worn down.
Let’s consider the damage he took during the Battle of Winterfell.
In his dog fight with Jon and Dany on dragons, he was knocked off his own dragon and probably took maximum damage from that. A fall from that height deals 20d6 damage (it was easily 200 feet up). That’s an average of 70 damage right there. When we see him next, he doesn’t seem too bothered by it. So he has at least 140 hit points, otherwise, he’d be “bloodied.”
Next, Dany blasted him with dragon fire and he no-sold it. However, was that just him showing off his high hit point count, or was that immunity? I’m going to lean towards immunity.
Finally, Arya nails him with a Sneak Attack that kills him instantly. Arya is easily one of the toughest characters in the series. Let’s assume that she’s a 17th level rogue assassin archetype armed with a +1 cold steel dagger.
We’ll say the Night King was “surprised”–although, some may argue against that–allowing her to use her Sneak Attack and her Death Strike feature, plus she scored a critical hit.
- Arya’s Dexterity is probably at least 18. So her attack bonus is +10. If the Valerian steel dagger is low-key magical, we can toss in another +1.
- The save DC for Arya’s death strike would be 18.
- Normally, on a successful sneak attack, Arya deals 1d4 + 6 + 9d6, for an average of 40 damage.
- She scored a critical hit, so the damage bumps up to 74 damage.
- If The Night King failed his Constitution saving throw against her Death Strike, the damage doubles again to 144.
- Lastly, let’s say that he’s “vulnerable” against cold steel. That would double the damage dealt again to 288.
In a best case scenario, that means the Night King has hit points somewhere between 288 and 358. We know he has immunities, so that means he’ll get at least a 1.25 multiplier for those immunities (if he’s a high CR creatuer). That gives us a range of effective hit points from 360 to 447 to work with.
This puts the Night King’s defensive Challenge Rating somewhere between CR 15 and CR 22. Now, this won’t account for all the other AC and hp boosters that I might give him.
I don’t believe the Night King has Legendary Resistance. After all, he failed his Constitution saving throw against Arya’s Death Strike. And at no other point in the episode did we see him “making saving throws.” Potentially against the dragon fire, but he didn’t even take half damage from that. And he took it head on, so there was no Evasion at play there, either.
I also don’t believe the Night King has Legendary Actions of any sort. His actions are methodical, but not overwhelming and not quick.
The only time we really see the Night King make an attack is when he chucks the ice spear at Viserion, killing the dragon instantly. Exactly how much damage was dealt?
First things first: Game of Thrones dragons aren’t the same as Fifth Edition dragons. They’re built like wyverns without front claws, and have low Intelligence, probably 2 or 3.
The second dragon to die in the series, Rhaegal takes three hits from the scorpion ballistas in Season 8, Episode 4. A ballista normally deals 16 (3d10) piercing damage on a hit. Since these are scorpions that Euron’s men were using, let’s bump it up to 33 (6d10) piercing damage. And the final hit that killed Rhaegal was a critical hit. So we’re dealing with 132 piercing damage to kill the dragon.
This is when things get really nuts. How can the Night King deal 132+ damage with a single javelin made of ice? The answer is simple: it works like a spell. The Night King creates it from the ice and cold. He has to make a ranged attack, sure, but that leaves it open for critical hits. To deal that sort of damage, the weapon would have to deal as much as 66 (12d10) damage, which puts it on par with an 8th-level spell. Crazy powerful, but also offset by the necessity to hit it with a ranged attack.
Of course, 66 damage in one round isn’t a ton of damage. That only puts the Night King at Offensive CR of 10 before any modifiers. Speaking of which…
Time for controversy. I don’t think the Night King has a high CR. He doesn’t have Legendary Resistance or Legendary Actions. He got lucky with his ice javelin against Viserion, (maybe using a spell like true strike to get advantage on the attack) but missed with his second against Drogon. It’s rare he enters combat unless he knows for sure he’s going to win–such as when he chases Bran and the others down in the cave. Plus, he’s flanked by his wights and undead hordes almost all the time.
I think he’s got roughly 220 effective hit points and that’s it. And his offensive CR is even less than I originally guessed since he has a limited supply of those ice javelins (probably a once per day action).
For now, I’m going to pencil in CR 10.
If the Night King’s a CR 10 creature, then his AC should be around 17. He wears leather armor, but I think that’s just to look cool. He gets all his AC from natural armor.
The Night King’s Armor Class is 17.
As I mentioned above, the Night King probably has effective hit points of 220 or so. We know that he’s got immunities, and if he’s below CR 11, his actual multiplier for hit points is 2x. Therefore, the Night King should have around 110 true hit points.
As a CR 10’ish creature, his Constitution score is probably around 18. I think that’s a pretty comfortable number.
That means the Night King has 13 hit dice. His hit points are 110 (13d8 + 52).
There doesn’t appear to be anything supernatural about the Night King’s speed. His speed is 30 ft.
Here are how I think the Night King’s abilities are laid out.
I think that the Night King’s above average Strength, but not insane. He certainly uses Strength, showing that he can fight in melee and use thrown weapons. But there’s nothing about him that screams “strongest man alive” like The Mountain.
The Night King’s Strength is 16.
The Night King is tough, but he’s not one to dodge, nor does he use finesse weapons. I think above average works, but not much crazier than that.
The Night King’s Dexterity is 13.
He’s a tough bastard, but not abnormally so. Constitution, as I pointed out in my article on the ability, is more about the relative Challenge Rating than anything else. And with the Night King’s hit points, I gave him an 18 Constitution.
The Night King’s Constitution is 18.
Cold, calculating, and incredibly patient. Plus, he’s smart enough to stay back. The Night King is both intelligent and wise. He was smart enough to draw Dany into his “trap” and capture the dragon, giving him what he needed to go over the wall. It’s clear that his plans take years to set up.
The Night King’s Intelligence is 19.
Again, the Night King knows to keep his distance and not put himself in unnecessary danger. Plus, he is incredibly perceptive, able to see Bran when he was being scryed upon, which tells me he’s got a high Wisdom saving throw.
The Night King’s Wisdom is 19.
As a fiend, the Night King’s powers are drawn from his unearthly Charisma. The save DC for CR 10 creatures is 16, so if I reverse engineer the number, I come up with a Charisma modifier of 18.
The Night King’s Charisma is 18.
I think the Night King only needs one good saving throw: Wisdom. I don’t see any other reason to beef up the others. He looks easy enough to knock over. He’s not particularly quick on his feet. He’s got plenty of resistances and immunities which he’ll rely on instead of Constitution–and he failed his saving throw against Arya’s Death Strike. Psychic attacks probably won’t ever come into play against him, and nobody is going to banish him anytime soon.
The Night King is proficient in Wisdom saving throws.
Does the Night King have any good skills? He’s good at grappling, so athletics–good enough to hold an action to grapple Arya when she tried attacking him. And he’s been alive, well… forever! So history, too. Finally, it’s tough to sneak up on him. I think he’s got proficiency with Perception, too.
The Night King is proficient in Athletics, History, and Perception.
Resistances, Immunities, and Vulnerabilities
Since Arya doesn’t really need the Night King to be vulnerable to her magic dagger, I’m going to skip that part. However, the Night King is still very much immune to cold, fire, and poison–assuming he’s a fiend. Plus, he’s immune to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks not made with Valerian steel or dragon glass.
He’s probably immune to being frightened and charmed, too. Doesn’t seem too disturbed by what’s going on around him and I can’t imagine someone charming the guy.
The Night King has “Night” in his name. So he’s got darkvision at least. But he can also see beyond and is incredibly perceptive. Let’s give him truesight out to 120 ft.
He seems to understand the common tongue and I would wager that he’s got some form of telepathy, too. That’s how he communicates with the other white walkers.
So what traits does the Night King have? Since he’s a fiend, I’ll toss in the usual suspect: magic resistance. Plus, he seems to be able to control weather, obscuring the battlefield, so there are some innate spellcasting abilities there.
He can control the undead, but that’s more of a “parent/child” relationship between those he and those he’s raised using his Raise Dead action (see below).
The Night King has a few unique actions. His weapons deal considerable cold damage and he’s armed with a couple major ones. He’s got his ice javelin which deals at least 12d10 damage. And there is the ice glaive that he carries around on his back, too. It would appear that his touch deals cold damage, too.
For special actions, he can raise the dead. What’s insane is the range he has on his raise dead power. He uses it while standing a good 200 yards away from Winterfell and it has enough range to raise the dead in the crypts below the castle. Plus, there’s no limit to the number of dead that he can raise.
Putting it All Together
Now that I’ve got all my notes out of the way, it’s time to add it all up.
The Night King
Medium fey (white walker), chaotic evil
Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
Hit Points 110 (13d8 + 52)
Speed 30 ft.
Abilities Str 16 (+3), Dex 13 (+1), Con 18 (+4), Int 19 (+4), Wis 19 (+4), Cha 18 (+4)
Saving Throws Wis +8
Skills Athletics +7, History +8, Perception +8
Damage Immunities cold, fire, poison; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons not made with Valerian steel or dragon glass
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, poisoned
Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 18
Languages Common, telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
Fear Aura. Any creature hostile to the Night King that starts its turn within 20 feet of him must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw unless the Night King is incapacitated. On a failed save, the creature is frightened until the start of its next turn. If a creature’s saving throw is successful, the creature is immune to the Night King’s Fear Aura for the next 24 hours.
Innate Spellcasting. The Night King’s spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 16). He can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
- At will: fog cloud, true strike
- 1/day: control weather, destructive wave
Magic Resistance. The Night King has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Marshal Undead. Unless the Night King is incapacitated, all undead creatures of his choice within 120 feet of him have advantage on saving throws against features that turn undead.
Ice Glaive. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d10 + 3) slashing damage plus 44 (8d10) cold damage.
Ice Javelin. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 30/120 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage plus 44 (8d10) cold damage.
Raise Dead (1/Day). The Night King reanimates all dead creatures within 500 feet of him. The creature becomes a skeleton if it is mostly bones or a zombie if it is still a relatively fresh corpse. Undead raised in this way gain immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical attacks not made with Valerian steel or dragon glass.
On each of the Night King’s turns, he can use a bonus action to mentally command any creature he has made with this effect if the creature is within 1 mile of him. He decides what actions the creature will take and where it will move during its next turn, or he can issue a general command, such as to guard a particular chamber or corridor or attack the walls of a castle. If he issues no commands, the creature only defends itself against hostile creatures. Once given an order, the creature continues to follow it until its task is complete.
The creature remains under the Night King’s control until the creature or the Night King is destroyed.
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