View Full Version : New 3.5e group, never played before. Need options.

2011-02-06, 10:19 PM
Hey guys, this might run long but I'm super excited. I've never played pnp D&D before and I've finally gotten my chance. I've watched it be played back in around `91, played RPGs since the NES days and still playing them now(hate jrpgs, love sandbox medieval ones) and always loved everything about D&D, though strangely I'd never had a chance to play it.

So I'm out with people from work last Friday having beers and somehow someone brought up LARPers and we were having a good laught about it, then it switched to D&D. Long story short 4 of us decided we wanted to play and got 2 others involved. A week later (friday night) we were rolling chars! DM is a first time DM though he played a 4 year campaign through his college years and is very familiar with the rules. He is also super excited and motivated to make this fun. 3 of the guys have played D&D 2.0 in the past and me and one other guy are totally new.

Funny thing is I've already gotten a huge grasp of the rules due to my game playing (NWN2, KOTOR, etc..) so my basic lacking is the actual experience of playing it pnp style. So ...

My homework is to create my character background and also to come up with kind of my career path. DM wants to tailor the game to our backgrounds and have an idea of what are characters are going to be. I'm on a total roguish kick right now so I went Rogue. Here are the basic guidelines:


1 Human Rogue (me)
1 Dwarf Cleric
1 Gnome Wizard
1 Half-Orc Fighter
1 Human Ranger

We're sticking pretty basic the first time out, nothing too esoteric at least in the beginning. Basically a classic party. I went rogue because I knew we'd need one and because I enjoy playing the stealthy guy that can have some DPS when properly planned and executed.

Rolling was very strict (no point buys), just role 4d6 6 times and pull out the lowest. No re-rolls.

I got 9,7,15,17,14,15.

Obviously dex to 17, con to 15 for hps, int 14/15 for skill points(skill monkey and future class feat), which leaves the rest. I had originally thought to put in 15 to str then 9 wis, 7 cha. Take a hit on my already low wis saves but could do Iron Will with human bonus feat. The cha is whats bothering me. The only other possible face we have is the cleric whom I despise due to the totally awesome rolls 3 17's and nothing below 12!

Anyways here's my dilemna. I don't want to just fight, I'd like to be able to be a face and sweet talk, gather information and bluff sometimes. Can I get away with a low CHA if I boost those skills with lots of points? Or would it be better to lower another stat and get CHA to 14 so I can get a boost to those skills?

I'm going to talk to my DM at work tomorrow and I think I'll be able to talk him into letting me lower 2 of my higher rolls a point each and put them into the lower ones leaving me with 10,8,15,17,14,15. I'm also going to see if he's okay with "Complete Fighter" and "Complete Scoundrel" so that I can bring in swashbuckler and daring outlaw. I love the idea of the class and can make use of my high int. We never actually discussed everything that will be allowed but he said he's getting his books out of storage and mentioned having some of these so I doubt it will be an issue.

Looking at something like Rogue 4/Swashbuckler x. Just enough Rogue to get the starting skill points, trapfinding and 2D6 SA, then switch to swashbuckler for the bigger hit die. My thinking is I'll be a better fighter with more hps, great dodging ability while still having a good portion of my rogue talents. The ranger is going ranged so it'll be me and the half-orc doing most of the melee. I need to be able to survive a bit more than a pure rogue if things don't go well for a round or two.

Anyways this all comes down to point allocation. I want to be able to bluff and gather information when needbe, not to mention use magical device, so I really don't like the idea of using CHA as my throw away stat. Unless someone with experience can tell me I can make up for it in pure skill points and not really ruin my chances. For RP purposes however with an 8 cha even if I get lucky rolls does it fit the whole "dashing swashbuckler" angle? I mean it's -1 vs +2 on any cha skills, will it make a huge diff in the long run?

My thinking is with swashbuckler I get the "insightful ??" skill to use my high int as bonus damage so I can do with lower str. If I bring str to 10 and get no modifier, I can put the CHA as a +2 and then deal with the -1 will saves. I can get Iron will as my bonus feat at lvl 1 and make up for that. Just wondering if the high CHA will truly help me or if I should say screw cha, rely on skill points and put that high roll into WIS so I don't burn a feat.

What do you guys think? It's my first time out and I know some things will matter more than I realize and some will matter less. My goal is a han solo/mad martigen style guy. Fancier fighter that can smooth talk, but of course has weaknesses. If I go with lower CHA I'd be more of a brawler but not so pretty or silver tongued. I can do either, I'd like opinions on which might suit me better. I can tell already that our DM isn't going to do only dungeon crawls, he wants NPC interaction in town to get information and such.

Option 1 -Handsome, silver tongued, cinematic swashbuckling anti-hero.

Str 10
Dex 17
Int 14
Con 14
Cha 14
Wis 8

Feats: improved initiative, Iron will(to help weak saves) or can do it later on and just hope I don't have to roll for many will saves until I get a few levels under me.


-High cha for NPC interaction and use magical device rolls
-Fits my character idea better
-Party probably needs a face (or not?)


-Low wis so have to burn a feat to make up for it (or not?)
-Wasted feat will make my fighting ability lag behind option 2
-No str bonus to add to damage along with the SB special feat

Option 2 - Man of little words, speaks with actions but tougher in a fight guy.

Str 14
Dex 17
Int 14
Con 14
Cha 8
Wis 10

Feats: two weapon fighting, improved initiate


-Str bonus to attack damage (can hold more weight too)
-Wis has no negative mod so can skip iron will and get a combat feat
-A bit more survivable at early levels as I could take down a monster faster, thus getting hit less.


-Low cha means weak rolls on bluff/feint and UMD
-Doesn't fit my ideal character bio though for the better survivablity it may not matter.

I'm leaning towards option 1, hoping that we get in situations where my bluff and such might make a difference. However since I've never played a pnp rpg before I'm not sure how much these number will end up mattering.

Is taking iron will get my will save to +1 worth it at lvl 1 or can I just hope to get a magic cloak at some point to make up for it thus not burning the feat?

Is +str modifier going to matter if I lose it to cha? With two weapon fighting and SA will it actually be worth it, especially with int bonus as well?

Are there good cha magic items that are fairly cheap to help with cha rolls so I can still be a decent face even with the better fighting of option 2?

So many decisions! :P Sorry to drag this out but I'm super excited and want my first attempt at pnp to be enjoyable and sure don't want to get this guy killed after all this time working on him!

2011-02-06, 10:41 PM
First things first:

Rogue Handbook (http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19871666/The_3.5_Rogue_Handbook)
A Newer Rogue Handbook (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=8711233)

Rogue benefit greatly from multiclassing. Swashbuckler/Rogue is a good route to take. I would also suggest picking out a Prestige Class to shoot for in the future.


I suggest putting the higher stat in Charisma rather than Strength. It will pay off more in the long run.


Now, most rogues will quickly go after two important sneak attacking feats: Weapon Finesse and Two-Weapon Fighting. Weapon Finesse will allow you to use your great Dexterity for your attacks and Two-Weapon Fighting will allow you to attack with 2 weapons instead of 1 so that you can get more sneak attack damage off on your targets.

Swashbucklers get Weapon Finesse early on, so you can wait a little while to grab that for free, but Two-Weapon Fighting really is a must-have feat for Rogues that aren't focusing on ranged attacks.

This will be a much better use of your feats than something like Iron Will, which can easily be replaced by a low-cost item. (A Cloak of Resistance +1 gives +1 to all saves for 1000gp and the same benefit can be obtained from a Vest of Resistance +1 for the same price.)

Although it will complicate your character a bit more and require extra books as sources, I highly recommend checking out the different Rogue Alternate Class Features.

Penetrating Strike which replaces Trap Sense (note: Not Trapfinding) is an AMAZING ability because it allows you to sneak attack enemies for 1/2 damage that would normally ignore all of your sneak attack dice. This may not sound like a big deal now, but you'll be pissed off when you get mobbed by low CR undead and get your butt kicked because they're all immune to your sneak attack awesomeness.


There's also great improvements that a rogue can get from a book called The Tome of Battle, but your group may not want to get into that yet. It will be easier to argue for the other non-core books.

2011-02-06, 11:09 PM
Thanks for the answer. I've been digesting tons of info this entire weekend trying to prepare, though in some ways it's just bringing up more questions heh. It seems my intuition was somewhat right, I figured I could get by without iron will if I got some sort of magic item. Trick is to not have to roll against my will save until that happens since at level 1 I'm broke. Though I did roll for 140gp so I have the essentials.

Two weapon fighting is my planned bread and butter. Without iron will I can get TWF and combat initiate at level 1. Hopefully I'll always be able to get my first SA in on most fights and with some lucky rolls maybe take one guy out right away.

I'm thinking:

Rogue 1) TWF + combat initiative
Swashbuckler 2) weapon finesse for free and better hit die

Then at least 2 more rogue levels for the 2d6 SA and if I go to 4 total I'll get uncanny dodge. Swashbucklers and rogues seem to be very good at dodging things so seems a simple choice. Question is what is the next feat? I get mobility for free with SB, though spring attack requires dodge as a prereq so it seems I'd still have to pickup dodge to advance further in that chain. Even if so is spring attack worth picking up dodge for since I already will get dodge bonuses with SB?

According to the RAW the dodge bonuses that a SB get always apply to one creature, however they can either stack or be used seperately on 2 creatures with normal dodge. I was thinking I could skip dodge and rely on grace, high dex and bonus dodging to give me another offensive feat. However it may be nice to have the ability to dodge 2 difference creatures if I'm surrounded as well as open up spring attack for later. Rogues/SB have to really be picky about their feats it seems. More survivability or more damage hehe.

2011-02-06, 11:11 PM
Oh an I'll look into the penetrating strike, it sounds perfect so I can still be useful against the creatures immune to SA damage. I do have a cleric that is getting extra turning so undead may not be a problem, but the constructs and ooze type guys I may struggle at.

Hopefully DM will allow it. As long as it's in one of the more common books.

2011-02-07, 12:44 AM
You've come across a great example of a feat trap. It's good that you learn this while building your character and not get stuck with it later.

Spring Attack is a good feat for a Rogue. Dodge is a terrible feat and Mobility is a terrible feat. Why? Dodge only gives +1 AC and only against 1 enemy. Mobility gives +4 AC against AoOs (Attacks of Opportunity), but you're a Rogue!

Rogues use their Tumble checks to move at half speed with a DC of 15 to ignore all AoO. If you have 4 Ranks in Tumble and a +3 modifier from dexterity, then you have 7 Skill points in tumble already (note the difference between ranks and points). So, you only need an 8 on a d20 to avoid AoO at level 1. This will only get easier when you level up and get more skill ranks, ability score boosts and items to improve your abilities. However, even at level 1 with 7 points in Tumble you already have a 65% chance of pulling this off. You can get this to a 75% chance if you put 4 skill ranks into Jump to get the Synergy bonus (pg 66).

One of the often disliked features of many of the books that were published during the 3.5e run was that the developers would introduce options through feats and classes that were suboptimal so that players would learn to wade through the good and the bad options and only pick out the very best of abilities.


If you're truly interested on doing hit and run tactics with a weapon, then there is a decent PrC called the Dervish that pulls this off. Otherwise, that's an unwise tactic in 3.5e D&D.


If you're stuck with Core Only feats, then Improved Initiative is a good one. Two-Weapon Fighting is obviously a must.

You can also consider the Combat Expertise feat line. Unlike the Spring Attack line, the feats involved are each useful in their own way. Improved Disarm and Improved Trip are both good feats. Combat Reflexes is another option with your high dexterity.

There are far better feats in other books, but the PHB ones are too terrible for a rogue.


Other mentions: use your skill points wisely. Check out which skill require training and which can be used untrained (pg 63) . Putting 1 skill rank into each of the skills that require training to use them can help you a lot later on when you need extra options available to you. This is doubly true for the Knowledge skills.

2011-02-07, 01:05 AM
Thanks a bunch, your're a huge help. I'm still not fully keen on the skill points versus ranks and the trained vs untrained. Also thanks for the tip on jump synergy with tumble. I'll have to read up on these a bit.

I think I'm going to work with my DM on getting more resources in. Since he only has a number of books I think I can get him to allow any legit 3.5 book that can be physically present at the table. The first night he was already frustrated at having to resort to PDFs while he was getting his books mailed to him from out of state. If I offer to bring some of the books I'm interested in using feats and such from then it will help the entire group and make it easier for me to get my requests in.

I've been reading up on the variant options and the arcane stunt and shield of blades seem very interesting. Shield of blades seems inherently better than grace and arcane stunt seems way more resourceful than just dodge bonus. And I'm definitely going for penetrating strike, I'd be a fool not to.

Just out of curiosity, sense you mentioned combat expertise, disarm and trip do you have any experience in a rogue and/or SB using spiked chain instead of TWF? Seems an interesting path.