Big Group Discussion 1

Posted By: Phage

Alright guys we have a pretty big group going now, 6 player characters in total and I think we have all had time to get used to how each of us works. We are getting to the point in  a parties life where roles really need to be solidly defined. Basically people need to fall into a one of the primary catergories. Since I beleive 4.0e really has a good set of defined roles I will use theirs.

  • Controllers Deal with Large numbers of enemies at the same time. They favor offence over defence, using powers that deal damage to multiple foes at once, as well as subtle powers that weaken, confuse or delay their foes.
  • Defenders Have the highest defences in the game and good close up offense. They are the party's front-line combatants; wherever they're standing, thats where the action is. Defenders have abilities and powers that make it difficult for enemies to move past them or to ignore them in battle.
  • Leaders inspire, heal and aid other characters in an adventuring group. Leaders have good defences, but their strength lies in powers that protect their companions and target specific foes for the party to concentrate on.
  • Strikers specialize in dealing high amounts of damage to a single target at a time. They have the most concentrated offense of any character in the game. Strikers rely on superior mobility, trickery, or magic to move around tough foes and single out the enemy they want to attack.

The goal with any group is to fill these roles consistently, then the party is balanced to take on any challenge that might be thrown at them. Our group has a few characters that are in a grey area, Including myself. The goal here is to define roles of characters now and where characters are heading so everyone can prepare themselves so the party remains balanced and in turn as effective as possible. In my opinion here is what our current group looks like.

  • Holly(Striker): Currently Holly isn't 100% optimized but she is on a build path to become that way. The biggest issue I see with Holly is that she has a very difficult time hiting the enemy which hurts a striker since you need to hit in order to deal damage. Holly  is going in the right direction with the Master Thrower & Skull Clan Hunter, I just wish she was more effective now as well as later.
  • Phage(Controller): I have been bouncing character build ideas off Aaron to better set Phage up for this role. With her current build phage is gettting spread a little thin being partially a striker (Sorcerer) and partially a Leader (Cleric). With the new build setup I am propsoing to Aaron Phage will become more of a controler with her spell setup, and her skeletons playing the role as strikers or defenders. Phage will keep levels in Cleric but her healing effectiveness wouldn't quite make her a leader, she could help out in the catergory though.
  • Trib(Leader): Trib is a leader pure and simple, he is the groups prime healer as well as buffer. His elementals help reinforce in melee combat and has good spells that help manipulate the combat board to our advantage. If I recall Trib is even looking into moving toward a Striker or Defender role once his Healing spell capabilty is topped off. I don't know when this shift will occur. It does feel like something the group needs to prepare for. We can't afford to weaken ourselves in the healing department.
  • Truk(Striker): Two words, Ranged Damage. Truk has proven the effectiveness of ranged combat in only two sessions. He is an excelent point to rotate tactics around sense he is able to begin delivering large amounts of damage faster then anyone else in the group since he doesnt have to technically "Close the Gap". From the sounds of it Truk is gong to remain a ranged striking character throughout his entire life. Truk is, without a dought, the most defined character in the group.
  • Urshak(Defender/Striker): Technically Urshak is two things for the group right now, He is our main tank which makes him a defender and he is a huge damage contributor, often times beating out Truk, which makes him a striker. However we are begining to experience the downsides of Urshak as a Defender, what He lacks in AC he make sup for in HP. Sadly HP loss in combat needs to be healed through, in turn our healing (leaders) are being hard pressed to keep him standing. The fact that we burned through nearly an entire healing wand in 1 session is a sure sign of this problem. But we have no choice since Urshak is one of the groups primary damage dealer he neds to be in combat taking melee damage. The biggest issue with Urshak is his future build structure orients him as a pure striker instead of a defender. He will be moving around the combat feild pounding the living crap out of everything. Sadly he can't play the role as an effective Defender if he needs to move to do damage.
  • William(Defender): William is the hardest character to define in my opinion. Personally I have always defined Palladins as defenders, as does 4.0e. Palladins are supposed to be extremely durable, with high hit points and the ability to wear the heaviest armor. In 4.0e it even says Palladins can issue bold challenges to foes and compel them to fight you rather than your allies. I know Will has proven that he is tough, his ability to lay-on-hands is a sure sign of this. The biggest problem I see with Will is he has a tough time hitting things and since he doesn't strike the monster very often they don't view him as a threat. If the monsters ignore him he can't be a good Defender, and with Urshaks upcoming shift to pure striker we desperately need a Defender. I brought up to a few people the idea that maybe William can use his social skills, Intimidate and Bluff Specifically, to try to  coax the monsters into fighting him instead of the rest of the party. Either way,it is apparent we need to get better armor for William, and really help him settle into his defender position, god knows we need him there.

As you guys can see from the above assestment our parties biggest weakness are.

  1. Loosely defined or role switching Defenders that either can't takes hits for the team or take the hits inefficiently.
  2. Strikers that have difficulty effecting combat since they can't hit.
  3. A controller that is spread to thin to be strongly effective in combat.
  4. A hard pressed group of Leaders and/or healers that are being pushed beyond there limit to make up for the groups weakness through healing.

Now is the point where we need to come togather as a team, address these issues and figure out what we are going to do to fix them. I am not trying to take Jabs at anyone, ridicule their character or how they play, but it is obvious we can be better at this. Instead of fearing death like a normal person running through this cave we need to become Heroes and face this fear head on. We just have such a hard time doing this with the above listed problems and in the end we don't look or feel like heroes. In turn I ask each one of you; What Can we do to Fix this? Please either post your comments here on the Obsidian site or throw out an e-mail at work. If you don't have the time or need help from others feel free to ask. We are all here to help out and we all want to accomplish the same successfull goal. I really think that with cooperation we can work all these isues out and "Be All We Can Be!".

Phages Action Items:

Phage is looking into a more optimized build Utlizing aspects of the Dread Necomancer class to make herself and her skeletons tougher, remove herself and her skeletons from requiring spell driven healing through use of a Dread Necromancer ability, and allow access to a wider variety of spells to more effectely influence the combat enviroment. Phage will continue pursuit of Wand and Armor smithing. In turn her ability to heal will remain since she is keeping her cleric levels as well as use healing wands she can craft.  I don't think there is anyone in the group that wont benefit from the Armor crafting ability, especial William if we can Solidly Define him as a Defender.



Posted By: Urshak

I will respond in more detail when I get back on Sunday.

General view:

Will tanks the main mob, Holly damages the main mob.  Urshak and Truk mow through the lesser mobs.  Phage and Trib provide support/damage while their summons maintain battlefield control.

Posted By: DM

Like usual I have something different to mention.  Hopefully its value add.  The first thing is define party roles, much like what Phage had done.  However, I have slightly different terms, which aren't original but helps a little.

Scrapper –
High close range damage, Medium AC, Medium HP
Tanker – Medium close range damage, High AC, High HP
Blaster – High range damage, Low AC, Med HP (or Med AC, Low HP)
Controller – Ability to manipulate, controll, summon creatures monsters, Low damage, Low AC, Low HP
Defender – Ability to buff & Heal others, Low AC, Med HP (or Med AC, Low HP)

(S)crapper – Fighters are "the Scrapper", Monks, melee Rangers, Melee Rogues,
(T)anker – Barbarians, Paladins
(B)laster – "the Blaster" are Sorcerers and Wizards, Ranged Rangers, Fighters, ranged Rogues
(C)ontroller – "the Controller" is the Bard, sorcerers and wizards can be very strong, Druid
(D)efender – "The defender" is the Cleric, Bards can be effective defenders

Here is how I see the current breakdown…........

  S T B C D
Phage 2    X o
Phage   o x o
Trib o   x o
Holly o  x  
Will o x   
Urshak X    
Truk   X  
Totals 7 2 6 6 2

X – Primary (4), 0 – Secondary (3), x – Primary not optimized (2), o – Secondary not optimized (1), (0)
2 - Phage with the new Dread Necromancer Build

In the layout of the party there are two very big weak points, the position of the Tank and the Defender.  You can have a gap in one, however both have left the party vulnerable.  What would be ideal is if everyone could pick a primary focus and pick their feats, prestige classes, etc. to strengthen it to be dominant.  Currently I see only truk and Urshak as being focused, everyone has doubled dipped and thinned out their strengths slightly.  The party can help a great deal with optimized equipment.  A Primary tank and Defender would be ideal

I've added a new skill at the bottom of the House Rules page, take a look, I think that this could help alot.  I'm very interested in everyones input on this new skill use and any other modifiers.  I used intimidate as the base skill, as its used by Barbarian, Rogue, and Fighter.  While it may go against a Paladin code, I would also make this a class skill for Paladins.

Posted By: Phage

After a bit more research I am really starting to think we aren't hurting to badly when it comes to healing. Here is a really good article Titled: "A Player's Guide to Healing (And, why you will be Just Fine without a Cleric to heal)"

We are going to be implementing a handful of the ideas touched on in theis article such as…

  1. Wands of Cure Light Wounds
  2. Healing Belts From The Magic Item Compendium. DM, Is there anyway I can get a copy of this on PDF? I can make these with my Armorsmithing ability at lvl 7
  3. Phage taking Tomb Tainted Soul. Free heals for phage and her skeletons, and once Holly takes a level in cleric I can make Inflict Light Wounds Wands and she can heal Phage in case she falls in combat.
  4. Sheild other can be used by Phage. Cast it on the tank, Phage takes 1/2 the damage and heals herself for free with the Charnel touch ability. Its like doubling the tanks hit points. Catch is Phage will need to get her Hit points a bit higher, 17 wont quite cut it. She will probably use spells that grant tempory hit points to accomplish this

I agree with most of your table. However with the bonuses Phage's undead will be getting and the damage they should be able to output they might also be considered partial strikers, even partial tanks with the HPS they will have. Also it seems like alot of characters right now are in transition. Here what I think the table will look like in once everyone is level 6-8.

  S T B C D
Phage O o  X o
Trib  o  x x
Holly o  X  o
Will O X   
Urshak X    
Truk   X  
Totals 10 6 8 6 4

X – Primary (4), 0 – Secondary (3), x – Primary not optimized (2), o – Secondary not optimized(1)

Will become a solid tank, Holly will become a solid Blaster. Tribb told me his AC is going to go through the roof with the path of stone  he is taking.

I think we will be sitting alot better then we are right now.

Posted By: Truk

A lot of good stuff has been said about character development, but I think we also need to talk about our approach to combat in the meantime. As far as tanking/defending goes, the following are reasonably capable: Urshak, Will, Trib's elemental, and Phage's skeletons. I want to make sure we avoid "Death by Defense" in other words, having so many tanks around a target that the true damage dealers can't take it down. Tanks should also be concious of positioning themselves so that ranged characters have a clear shot. Since we're all engineers (or slightly inferior versions of the same-I know, the truth hurts) we should be able to do the math and predict our chance of success in battle. If, after learning what it takes to actually land a hit on a target, you have a low chance of doing so, either move on to a new target or get out of the way. This isn't meant to be critical of anyone's character, but in this game we have to play the odds. Feel free to tear this apart-I probably have the easiest job in the game, and I welcome the input of the defenders.


Posted by:  Urshak 10/27/08

I agree.  Some sort of taunting mechanic is necessary.  How else does a character specialized in defensive techniques keep attention on a mob?

I'll just go through your post and list my comments.

I don't understand the "not immune to fear" prerequisite.  Fear = you make something afraid of you.  Taunt = you piss something off so much it forgets about everything else.  These seem like polar opposites.  The typical uses of intimidate are related to fear, so this restriction makes sense.  However, in this usage of intimidate, it does not.

I don't think taunts necessarily have to be verbal.  For example, say we come across a blackguard.  If he sees Will put his hand over his holy symbol and say the name of his god, the blackguard is going to be pissed as hell.  Likewise for all evil beings.  If they see a pinnacle of goodness (like a paladin), they'll go after him first no matter what else is going on.  Just the fact that Will is the epitome of goodness is enough.  On the other hand, if Urshak starts off combat by throwing the head of a recently deceased grimlock at another grimlock, they're probably going to be pretty pissed off at him.

Instead of making shared language a requirement, give it a penalty instead.  You should still be able to do what you need with voice inflection, body language, and actions.  It will be harder to accomplish (which is why there should be a penalty), but it shouldn't be impossible.  Enforce the penalty, but foster and reward creativity (like the grimlock head situation stated above).  That makes it more fun for everybody, and the taunter isn't simply rolling the dice every time.  They're coming up with cool stuff to get the job done.

Persuasive and Bluff synergy should both be -2, not +2.  Probably just a brain fart on your part I think.

Great Taunt is cool.

I'd like to suggest a "3 Consecutive Successful Taunt" rule.  If you consecutively succeed on three taunts, the taunted can only perform actions that include the taunter as a target (i.e. any aoe is fine, but the taunter must be included in the aoe) until the combat encounter is over.  This can only affect one target at a time.  The reasoning is if something is tauntable, there should be a point where the target is so angered, they won't stop until the taunter is dead.  To balance this out, maybe increase damage done by the taunted against the taunter.


So, from what I understand, everyone's current roles are as follows:

William:  tank

Urshak:  striker

Holly:  blaster

Truk:  blaster

Phage:  controller/blaster

Trib:  leader/controller


If you would rather fill a different role, I think we could shuffle things around to make it work.  All you have to do is post what you want.

If anyone has any questions or would like other opinions on skills/feats/build choices to best fill your role, I'm sure there are a few people here that would enjoy helping you.

I'll start.  I'm building my character to do massive damage with a single strike.  I see myself killing off the lesser mobs as opposed to focusing on the boss/leader mob.  I'm building myself around charge-related feats and power attack-related abilities to maintain a high attack bonus and do a lot of damage.  I'm sacrificing my AC in order to accomplish this.  The thought is that the lesser mobs don't do enough damage to wear me down much.  Also, they won't get the chance to attack me very many times because they'll be dying so quickly.  The faster these lesser mobs die, the more attention everyone else can put on the boss.

Current Build and Damage Calculation

My damage calculation needs to be redone, but that's the gist of it.

Headlong Rush for increased charge damage.  Leap Attack for increased Power Attack damage on a charge.  Improved Bull Rush primarily as a prerequisite for Shock Trooper.  Shock Trooper to allow me to sacrifice AC instead of attack bonus for Power Attack on a charge.  There's synergy top to bottom, and they all scale as I level due to the underlying Power Attack mechanic.

If anyone has any suggestions or questions regarding this build (or think they have something better) please let me know.

DM again

We had talked about optimizing characters.  One thing that Holly has said she would be interested in is the Skull-clan hunter.  This is a class dedicated to the destruction of undead from a rogues manner of attack. Additionally in the Complete Adventurer there is a feat called razing strike.  It requires a divine level of 5, but you cash in a spell to do sneak attack damage equal to d6/spell level.  This combined with the skull clans ability to do d6 / 2 levels + sneak attack would be an awesome blaster.  Basically, you get all of your sneak attack (Lets say 3d6) + skull clan levels (lets say 3d6) and d6/spell level (3d6).  Therefore at 15th level she would do weapon damage + 9d6 against undead in one hit.


Today at break Urshak and I had a discussion  this post with the DM. Recently the DM has allowed me optimize my character by allowing me to rebuild her. He informed us that he is opening this option to anyone else that would like the opportunity. In turn, about 1/2 of Thursdays session will be devoted to group dynamics and character optimization. We all understand that only about 2/3 of the group researches outside of the session, in turn we are going to take time out of the session to work on characters with everyone. I am finished researching my build and am willing to help anyone else that needs it. Heck, I will even do some background research on my own time prior to the session. However doing your own  research ahead of time will help get character optimization finished and move quickly onto roleplaying.


Urshak 10/28/08

Just to play devil's advocate here:

"Therefore at 15th level she would do weapon damage + 9d6 against undead in one hit."

Normally, a 15th level rogue can do +8d6 against ANYTHING.  With the Opportunist rogue trick, you pretty much are guaranteed an opportunity attack (to which the +8d6 also applies), and this can be done against any target, not just undead.  Spec into dual wielding, and you're looking at 32d6 worth of sneak attack damage there, and you don't need to cash in spells to do it.  Oh, and by the way, with the Crippling Strike (which you can also have at 15th level), the target will also have a -8 STR penalty after all that.  Do the same thing next round, and they're at -16 STR.  Or there's a feat that will cause them to bleed for some certain amount every single round.  Get enough stacking bleeds on there, and damage will just be pouring off of mobs.

Everyone has a golden ticket to rethink what they want their character to do, so I figured I'd toss that out there.

Big Group Discussion 1

Age of Worms Urshak