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southboundslunk
2009-12-12, 12:07 PM
(I'm rather new to this forum and as such don't know if certain topics are taboo or not, so many apoligies in advance if I say something which leads to burning me at the stake :-) )

So, I've recently bought the core rules for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and my friends are getting a small group together to play. Only the dungeon-master and two other have experience with tabletop games, and so we're starting at first level with a cave full of low-level creatures.

I've decided to play it safe and make a first-level fighter, hoping to make it through by hitting things repeatedly with a lump of metal.

I can't offer much in return, but could Giant in the Playground offer any advice on surviving my first game? :smallsmile:

Gamerlord
2009-12-12, 12:08 PM
Fighters are underpowered, expect to be the underdog.
Also, EXPECT ANYTHING!

At level one, death waits behind every corner!

Myshlaevsky
2009-12-12, 12:09 PM
Fighters are underpowered, expect to be the underdog.
Also, EXPECT ANYTHING!

At level one, death waits behind every corner!

Not at level 1, to be honest - and it's often hugely less obvious with an unoptimised group.

southboundslunk
2009-12-12, 12:10 PM
Ah, so should I generally keep on my toes and keep in good terms with the cleric?

Gamerlord
2009-12-12, 12:11 PM
Ah, so should I generally keep on my toes and keep in good terms with the cleric?

Yep, pretty much that.

The Dark Fiddler
2009-12-12, 12:13 PM
Most important thing: Level 1 is lethal. One bad roll, and you're dead.

So yeah, Armor Class and Cleric are your good friends.

Comet
2009-12-12, 12:13 PM
Ah, so should I generally keep on my toes and keep in good terms with the cleric?

I'd say that you should stay in good terms with everyone. Except the monsters. Those you should kill :smallbiggrin:

Other than that, just get into it and have fun. You shouldn't be horribly underpowered no matter what class you pick.

Tengu_temp
2009-12-12, 12:14 PM
Ah, so should I generally keep on my toes and keep in good terms with the cleric?

And the rogue. Each trap he finds and disarms is a trap that won't hurt you.

southboundslunk
2009-12-12, 12:18 PM
So, stay on my toes, make every hitpoint count, make friends with the party and make sure the rogue enters the suspicious hallway before I do?

Many thanks for the advice, and I'll be sure to find any in-character excuse to have your names carved into the first awesome thing I kill :smallsmile:

Gamerlord
2009-12-12, 12:19 PM
Most important thing: Level 1 is lethal. One bad roll, and you're dead.

So yeah, Armor Class and Cleric are your good friends.

That is why level 1 is my favorite level, combat is quick, and it is lethal.

UglyPanda
2009-12-12, 12:23 PM
Try to remember what's on your sheet and have a well-organized one. Combat can slow down significantly if a player is bad at math and recalculates everything every round. There have also been many many instances where characters have died because they forgot they had a potion or something simple.

Never underestimate your mundane gear. You will always think of something silly to do with it and it will surprise you how often it works in your favor.

awa
2009-12-12, 12:25 PM
if human you should consider power attack and cleave as your first feats at this level at lot of enemies can be killed in one hit.

Also while its not great at high level getting your armor class as high as possible is really good at low level, their a lot fewer things that just get to ignore armor.

Remember to flank for the +2 to hit it can make a big deal at low level.

If your playing a one off game with no expectation of going to higher levels toughness is not a terrible choice (if you are going to higher levels don't take toughness it scales very poorly)

Tengu_temp
2009-12-12, 12:25 PM
Apart from your ordinary weapon, bring a dagger and a club as backups - some enemies are resistant to some kinds of damage, for example skeletons have 5 DR against slashing and piercing damage, but not bludgeoning. A ranged weapon could be useful too, in situations where you can't reach the enemies easily.

southboundslunk
2009-12-12, 12:30 PM
Apart from your ordinary weapon, bring a dagger and a club as backups - some enemies are resistant to some kinds of damage, for example skeletons have 5 DR against slashing and piercing damage, but not bludgeoning. A ranged weapon could be useful too, in situations where you can't reach the enemies easily.

Ah, so versatility is an important aspect?

Tengu_temp
2009-12-12, 12:34 PM
Mostly on lower levels. Don't concentrate on being versatile, find your niche - but emergency backup is important in many situations, and weapons are one of them. You don't have to invest much money in your backup weapon, it can be as well some cheap crap you find in the dungeon - but it should be something that will do the job when your main one fails, either because the enemy is resistant to it or because you somehow lost it.

Ladorak
2009-12-12, 12:35 PM
First of all, welcome to the world of D&D:smallbiggrin: I suspect you shall enjoy your stay.


Ah, so versatility is an important aspect?

There's an old maxim, always be as prepared as your maximum carrying capacity allows.

Fiery Diamond
2009-12-12, 12:38 PM
Later on, make sure to have the party get a bag of holding to carry your loot.
Be creative.
Never underestimate either yourself or the monsters you are fighting. Or your allies.

southboundslunk
2009-12-12, 12:40 PM
Mostly on lower levels. Don't concentrate on being versatile, find your niche - but emergency backup is important in many situations, and weapons are one of them. You don't have to invest much money in your backup weapon, it can be as well some cheap crap you find in the dungeon - but it should be something that will do the job when your main one fails, either because the enemy is resistant to it or because you somehow lost it.

Ah, how unfortunate it would be to die horribly because I forgot to bring my weapon with me.

I'm very grateful that you all managed to answer my questions, trusting me with the knowledge of low-level survival. Next time you adventure, make sure to keep an eye out for a mutilated corpse laying next to a brick wall with your names scrawled on it. Thank you very much :smallsmile:

Mark Hall
2009-12-12, 12:40 PM
I've decided to play it safe and make a first-level fighter, hoping to make it through by hitting things repeatedly with a lump of metal.

I can't offer much in return, but could Giant in the Playground offer any advice on surviving my first game? :smallsmile:

The first rule of Fight Club* is have fun.
The second rule of Fight Club is to HAVE FUN.

Seriously, though, in your first game, do what you can to have fun. Learn the basics of the rules, worry a bit less about the specifics, and enjoy the character you're playing.

That said, being a good fighter is about 3 things:
1) Damage
2) AC
3) Getting Bonuses.

As a fighter, you have two primary jobs: Do damage to the enemy, and take hits that are meant for squishy people. The wizard can drop people to sleep a couple times a day, but your sword keeps going. It is generally best to kill one thing, then move on to the next; each person you kill is someone else who is not throwing spells or poking you with sharp pointy things. To accomplish your goals, learn what gives you bonuses and what gives you penalties. A few things in your bag of tricks.

1) Charge. Charge is a little problematic, as it causes a penalty to your AC. You're more likely to get hit if you charge... but you're also more likely to HIT, which can make all the difference. If they have spears, watch out on a charge... they may choose to set them against your charge, which means twice the damage.
2) Flanking. Flanking is a wonderful thing, both for you and your usual partner, the rogue. When you and the rogue flank something (i.e. stand on opposite sides of it), you both get a +2 to hit. Your rogue friend gets to do an additional 1d6 damage per odd rogue level. His 1D6 shortsword does 2D6.
3) Aid another. A frequently over looked option, it can come in real handy, especially when combined with flanking. If the rogue is having trouble hitting something, he can choose the action "Aid another". He then only has to hit an AC of 10 and he gives you another +2... with flanking, this becomes +4, and you can hit him a lot harder.
4) Spells. Remember how we said "Love your cleric?" He's got some spells that can add a couple points of damage to your attacks, or a couple points to your to-hit. If there's a bard around, he's another friend of yours. Get used to buying drinks... you need these guys.

When building, you're going to want to look at race. You didn't specify race in your post, so let me start by saying that, in the PH, you should be a Human or a Dwarf. That +2 to strength for being a Half-orc looks tempting, but it doesn't make up for the rest of it. Humans are nice for the bonus skill point and, especially, the bonus feat. At the beginning, you'll want as many feats as you can, though they become a little redundant later in the game. Dwarves have a bonus to an attribute you need (Constitution), a penalty to an attribute you don't (Charisma... it's not bad, but not mechanically necessary), and a lot of good abilities for a fighter, including the ability to use some nice weapons (dwarven waraxe is great, especially with some of my later advice), resist magic (as a fighter, your saves aren't so great), and avoid getting tripped or pushed. That's on top of the other bonuses a dwarf gets.

For Stats, your main priorities are Strength and Con. You'll probably want a 13 in Int and Dexterity, as those open up most of the feats you'll want. Wisdom comes next; a lot of skills that can be used untrained are based on Wisdom. Charisma is nice, but it's not essential.

Now, feat selection. The standard fighter's starting feat is Power Attack, and I like Cleave as a second feat. Great Cleave is usually a bad idea (you'll seldom get to kill more than one thing in a round), but Cleave lets you make a second attack when you DO kill something, which is always nice. You may want to make sure you have the Int for something like Combat Expertise, though, to be picked up as a human feat, or later. There are a lot of good options off of Combat Expertise.

Lots of people will say that you want to go two-handed weapon as a fighter, and there's something to that... Power Attack is a lot more useful with a two-handed weapon. However, at low level, chances are you can't afford the really nice armor, so the +2 to AC you get from a 7gp wood shield are worth it in the beginning. Once you start getting better armor, go with two-handed weapons, but at the outset, a shield is a good friend to have. If you're a human, you're probably going to want to start longsword and shield, with Chainmail if you can afford it. If you're a dwarf, go for a dwarven waraxe, instead, and still get a shield.

And have fun. Try things, find out if they'll work. If your character dies, it's not the end of your world, just his. Live, learn, and then go back and beat up something.


*Fight Club being the local union of Fighters, being an offshoot of the Eternal Order of Fighters.

awa
2009-12-12, 12:42 PM
At low levels things like caltrops can be really useful. Also always buy rope you never know when you need to tie something or climb something

erikun
2009-12-12, 12:47 PM
Heh. I would be careful about listening too closely about what is "overpowered" and what isn't on the forums. Yes, a wizard is powerful and has lots of options, but if you don't know what they are, it is easy to end up splattered on a wall. :smalltongue:

Fighter is a good choice. Your race will make a number of choices for you. Humans can pick up Power Attack + Cleave to get extra attacks when killing stuff (Power Attack isn't useful by itself), while a Dwarf can swing around a waraxe in one hand. Backup weapons are handy. You'll want a club or mace for bashing in heads, something like a sling (later a bow) for hitting at a range, and a dagger has lots of uses.

Probably the best advice I can offer: Don't split up with the party unless you're sure you can handle yourself. Help out the rogue and don't get in the way of the wizard's spells. More first level fighters have died from rushing into a crowd unprepared than just about anything else.

Also, don't be afraid to ask for buffs if the cleric or wizard has any. You'd be surprised at how much a simple Enlarge Person can increase damage.

Oh yes, I second the clear character sheet. Fumbling around with dice will end up making sessions long and boring.

kjones
2009-12-12, 12:49 PM
Buy up as much of the standard equipment list as you can. The difference between a new gamer and an experienced gamer is that the experienced gamer always carries as much equipment as is physically possible.

Grumman
2009-12-12, 12:51 PM
I've decided to play it safe and make a first-level fighter, hoping to make it through by hitting things repeatedly with a lump of metal.
Fighter is not "playing it safe", especially for a newbie - there are too many feats that aren't as good as they sound, and without them you might as well be playing an NPC class. You'd be better off as a barbarian. Doing so would net you 2 HP, 6 skill points (4*2, minus 2 to become literate), +10 foot of move speed and the option to rage. In exchange you lose proficiency with heavy armour you can't afford to buy and a single feat.

southboundslunk
2009-12-12, 12:52 PM
Wow, you guys really know some fantastic things about D&D

I'm jealous :3

Well, my available free time to browse on the internet falls short so I must be making my way for now. Thanks once again for helping me out and I hope to visit the forum when the next opportunity arrises.

Ta ta! :smallbiggrin:

oxybe
2009-12-12, 01:05 PM
Not at level 1, to be honest - and it's often hugely less obvious with an unoptimised group.

huh?

at level 1 a fighter will proabably have in the environs of 13 HP. thats 2 solid hits from an orc's weapon. with an unoptimized group i would imagine it's even more obvious.

a few tips? always bring a towel. and a crowbar. and a good lenght of rope. maybe a few flasks of oil. and a hand mirror.

chalk, candles & other light/cheap stuff can come in handy to mark things (i've often used chalk to mark out pressure points in a dungeon so we don't step on it).

a few flasks and maybe a spare waterskin. who knows when you might find rare WhositWhumpus or Speckled Whackadoodle. sometimes these critters have poison or some other fluid you might want to harvest or you might find a magical fountain of... something. grab some for now and test it out later.

speaking of poisons & fluids: a thick pair of leather gloves. these should come standard with most non-metal armor, IMO, but make sure to note them down.

buy a few thick leather sacks as they can be used for holding stuff: body parts, organs, treasure, small animals, ect..

i would recommend saving your first 115gp for an everburning torch and a metal scrollcase. pop a whole in the bottom, slide in the torch. open/close the cap for your own D&D flashlight.

oh should be be able to afford it a spellbook+ink for note taking (a spellbook is a hundred pages of leather-bound parchment 15gp. 100 individual pages of parchment? 20gp).

keep in mind that your biggest asset is your creativity, especially as a martial-type as you don't have access to the reality-shattering spells. if you want to try something ask your DM and don't be afraid to "McGuyver" your way to victory every so often.

GolemsVoice
2009-12-12, 01:13 PM
Plan ahead, and keep in mind that choices you make at level 1 will carry on till level 10, or twenty. Many feats or classes will seem incredibly effective at low level, only to later be replaced by something much better. So, look into all the books you've got, at the feats, at the Prestige Classes, and pick your path to glory. Nothing can be more frustrating then suddenly finding a Prestige Class you have overlooked and realizing you can't take it because you took just the wrong feats. Although a lenient DM might allow you to repick, if you convince him that you didn't knwo about the class before.

Also, try roleplaying! Many newbies have basic ideas of what they want, often broad archetypes, like "strong and brave", "clever and sneaky" etc., and that's fine. But try to not only rely onstereotypes. Bring your character fully into the game, and you can add a whole new level to it.

Myshlaevsky
2009-12-12, 01:19 PM
huh?

at level 1 a fighter will proabably have in the environs of 13 HP. thats 2 solid hits from an orc's weapon. with an unoptimized group i would imagine it's even more obvious.

A level 1 fighter is typically not particularly less powerful than a level 1 wizard or cleric. In an unoptimised group it's not uncommon for the martial/caster power imbalance to go unnoticed, even at higher levels.

pffh
2009-12-12, 01:26 PM
The only thing I have to add to what's already been said is lawful good =/= lawful stupid. This is really important if you (or someone in your group) is playing a lawful good character.

Mark Hall
2009-12-12, 01:27 PM
A level 1 fighter is typically not particularly less powerful than a level 1 wizard or cleric. In an unoptimised group it's not uncommon for the martial/caster power imbalance to go unnoticed, even at higher levels.

Furthermore, consider the unoptimized wizard. At 1st level, he likely has 4, maybe 5 hit points. He's got an AC of 14 (shield or mage armor). He's pretty easy to squish. While there are a number of "Fighter traps", their stats are pretty hard to irrevocably mess up (you might have WANTED a higher intelligence in the long run, but putting it into Wisdom or Charisma doesn't cut you off from everything, and pretty much everyone will realize that Strength and Con are big for fighter), especially for a low level game.

Zincorium
2009-12-12, 01:29 PM
A level 1 fighter is typically not particularly less powerful than a level 1 wizard or cleric. In an unoptimised group it's not uncommon for the martial/caster power imbalance to go unnoticed, even at higher levels.

A barbarian, on the other hand, IS more powerful at first level- no feat available at that point is better than rage, and barbarians get all sorts of cool toys to play with.

nepphi
2009-12-12, 01:41 PM
One bit of advice I recommend is talking to your DM about the retraining system in either DMG2 or PHB2 (I can't remember which at this point). This is a nifty little system that lets you change one element of your character per level (say you take a skill-related feat that you really aren't as happy with as you would be with say, power attack. you can swap them). It's a way of avoiding trapping yourself in a build you don't enjoy.

But the most important thing to remember - as long as you're trying and use a little common sense, you are not "wrong" to do things. Maybe you shouldn't have charged, but it was brave and cool to try. Don't feel bad for experimenting, have a good time and try things that sound awesome. DnD is a great game for great ideas, so run with what you got!

oxybe
2009-12-12, 02:04 PM
A level 1 fighter is typically not particularly less powerful than a level 1 wizard or cleric. In an unoptimised group it's not uncommon for the martial/caster power imbalance to go unnoticed, even at higher levels.

it has nothing to do with optimized or not: at level 1 you're usually one or two hits away from death, almost regardless of class (exception is a decent con barb: 15-16 HP at level one when raging means 3-4 hits).

Duke of URL
2009-12-12, 02:11 PM
A barbarian, on the other hand, IS more powerful at first level- no feat available at that point is better than rage, and barbarians get all sorts of cool toys to play with.

Yeah, but at level 1, rage is only 1/day. I imagine most new players aren't going to pull the "15 minute adventuring day" nonsense.

Myshlaevsky
2009-12-12, 02:16 PM
it has nothing to do with optimized or not: at level 1 you're usually one or two hits away from death, almost regardless of class (exception is a decent con barb: 15-16 HP at level one when raging means 3-4 hits).

Look: my comment was completely directed at gamerkid's statement: "Fighter is underpowered". I'm talking about two issues here:

1) At level 1, Fighter is not massively underpowered. Or rather, Fighter being underpowered is redundant - everyone is close to death, as you say.

2) In an unoptimised group, at higher levels, people (specifically people who don't frequent D&D internet forums) are often unaware of the power imbalance. Alternatively, they may be aware of it but not of its significance

DonEsteban
2009-12-12, 02:47 PM
Oh would you please stop ranting about what classes are overpowered and why not! Seriously, I've been reading this forum for a few days only and I'm already sick of it. Don't you guys ever get tired of this? If you really think you must do this, then at least use your own thread.

Back on topic (although I hope this is pointless, because the original poster has already left and is not going to come back): Don't listen to anyone talking obout "optimizing" your character here. This is not what D&D is about (well, for most people anyway). It's about having an idea of a character and trying to figure out how he/she is going to act and react to whatever is going to happen. Make your own decisions (and your own mistakes) and have fun. Also remember to

have fun
don't be afraid to do something wrong, because actually you can't
do something cool every gaming session (because its fun)
so something smart every session (yeah)
do something stupid every session (making mistakes is often much more fun than doing something right)
dying can be fun, too


And, yeah, a fighter is a better choice for an unexperienced player than a wizard or the like.

And did I mention having fun ;)

Sorry, didn't mean to insult anyone.

Sliver
2009-12-12, 03:11 PM
Ahh I remember my first game.. At least you have the books! I didn't know any of the rules :smallbiggrin: If you can, barbarian is a better choice indeed, and won't require more work.. But in the end, everything comes down to you having fun. If you aren't playing in a optimize heavy game you won't have problems with that. Just don't make a sorcerer with magic missile and mage armor that doesn't know the magic of 5ft steps :D

Artanis
2009-12-12, 03:11 PM
If the DM has/allows Complete Arcane, then the Warmage is also good for a starter. The Warmage has many of the advantages of a caster, but is both a bit tougher and a LOT less complex. You also don't have to worry about AC or feats as much as a Fighter. Just hang back and blow stuff up.



*Yes, yes, the Warmage is less powerful than the Wizard blah blah blah. But how much of a Wizard's power is somebody going to be able to use on their first character? :smallwink:

Shyftir
2009-12-12, 03:36 PM
You should let total newbies make the lawful stupid paladin mistake. They'll miss the stereotype otherwise, and many hilarious moments.

Pally: "I Detect Evil."
GM: "They are evil."
Pally: "I wanna charge them and smite them."
GM: "You sure? You guys are trying to sneak into the dungeon right now."
Pally: Yeah.
GM: "Roll initiative. Looks like the pally wins. What do you do?"
Pally: "BRANDON STEELE!!!!!!" *bellows war cry and charges...

a little later:

GM: "Wow, you guys all died."

Morty
2009-12-12, 03:41 PM
The fighter isn't that much of a worse choice than a barbarian for a new player. A 1st level human fighter simply chooses Power Attack, Cleave and some other straightforward feat and hits stuff until it dies. Not much more complicated than a barbarian and you don't have to worry about your one rage per day.

tbarrie
2009-12-12, 05:59 PM
I'd say that you should stay in good terms with everyone. Except the monsters. Those you should kill :smallbiggrin:

No, stay on good terms with them too if you can. Usually you can't, but your survivability goes WAY up if you can.

Gamerlord
2009-12-12, 06:08 PM
No, stay on good terms with them too if you can. Usually you can't, but your survivability goes WAY up if you can.

Plus, diplomacy bot is pretty tough to kill under standard rules :smalltongue: .