View Full Version : How do YOU avoid the "One Trick Pony?"

2007-12-23, 04:45 PM
Exactly as the title says, how do you keep your character interesting while not doing the same thing over and over?
Personally, I usually try to make a versatile character, like melee/ranged. or Melee/caster. or psychic warrior.... :D

2007-12-23, 04:54 PM
Tome of Battle.

2007-12-23, 04:55 PM
Usually by giving my character a personality. I find that a multifaceted character with realistic motivations and desires is seldom considered a "one-trick pony."

Also I tend to play rogue-types, who rely heavily on skills and lateral thinking to solve problems in effective, if unorthodox, ways.

Azerian Kelimon
2007-12-23, 04:55 PM
Gishin', ToB'ing, using illusions, and using ineffective tactics.

2007-12-23, 05:09 PM
Be a bard. 'Nuff said.

2007-12-23, 05:22 PM
I find my duskblade always has something new to do. More so than the warlock or barbarian in our party.

2007-12-23, 05:24 PM
Bard. You can use illusions (I remember faking having summoned eight fiendish trolls, mwahaha), grease, buffs, you can trip with whips and stab 'em with swords.

Azerian Kelimon
2007-12-23, 05:29 PM
Or be a Factotum and do that and more, while saying "I can fireball, even if I wouldn't ever do it! Neener-neener!" It helps satisfy childish urges.

2007-12-23, 05:29 PM
I find my duskblade always has something new to do. More so than the warlock or barbarian in our party.

Yeah duskblade is always a good choice. My raptoran duskblade could own at mellee and ranged combat even with out spells. Sense motive is good in social situations and you have several spells that funstion well outside of combat such as dimension door and spider climb.

2007-12-23, 05:33 PM
ummm.....Scream different warcries?


2007-12-23, 05:37 PM

Trying to do everyone elses job:smallbiggrin:

2007-12-23, 06:02 PM
I'll echo "roleplaying".

My longest-lived character on these boards is a decidedly un-optimized half-orc barbarian, who's gone from level 1 to 9. Because of the nature of PBP, each fight seems new, since it's taken a month of real time between IC combats. So it never gets old!

2007-12-23, 06:24 PM
Just play Rogues. With sneak attack, Use Magic Device, and a diverse array of skills, the options are too numerous for the character to only have one (or two, or three) tricks to play.

2007-12-23, 07:03 PM
Martial Adepts or Spellcasters

Though the other classes can sort of save themselves by taking UMD to emulate spellcasting and/or the Martial Study feat to emulate Martial Adepts.

Everyone else is move/swing, move/swing, move/swing

Emperor Demonking
2007-12-24, 03:51 AM

Make a character with more than one way to attack.

mabriss lethe
2007-12-24, 03:57 AM
roleplay, roleplay, roleplay...

can I say it again?


and hexblades built around lancing/ horse archery ... gotta love'em.

2007-12-24, 05:22 AM
Well, the major problem of being a one-trick pony, IMO, is being unable to 'adapt' to various situations. This however, can be covered by other party members (you ain't the only one who's playing this game, mind ya) and if I do my one-trick fairly well (I'm the primary damage dealer, making the most of Battlefist I have), I see no problem.

Playing the damage dealer of the party can be very, very boring when only things we do are smashing things up and looting the bodies and/or softening up the baddies a bit before the party's bard do the charm trick. As I am the only experienced player in my current playing group, I usually do the role of the 'strategist', making tactical advises/suggestions in-character. Even if my character is a monk, I never find it boring to play someone who's done-this-and-done-that. Of course, the lowly charisma score of 6 makes it even more interesting to play it out.

So, yeah; role-play.

2007-12-24, 07:32 AM
Teach the pony two tricks. They have at least a 1 intelligence, so they can learn TWO tricks.

Silly people never use the Handle Animal skill? Sheesh.

2007-12-24, 07:38 AM
Yup: Roleplaying.

Also, I try avoid building characters around their combat ability as much as possible. Not to say I don't optimise that ability, but I always look to be good at something relevant to the game that isn't fighting.
A current character that I'm playing (Half-orc fighter) is very pious about his esoteric religion (plenty of ranks in Knowledge Religion, with a circumstance bonus for his own), which is proving useful to the rest of the party as they travel in lands where that culture is more common. He is biased about the other "lesser" cults, and full of praise and awe for his own god. It distracts from the otherwise monotonous fact that with his mighty longbow he is an archery killing machine.

2007-12-24, 08:07 AM
Roleplay as well. Mechanically, though, I find tactical feats to be a wonderful thing. I try to have two at a minimum - that gives me 6 different possibilities to do cool things in any given combat.

2007-12-24, 11:19 AM
By not playing D&D.

2007-12-24, 12:40 PM
Damnit Fixer, you preempted my crappy joke.

2007-12-24, 01:30 PM
I cast Divination the day before to see what the nasties are. The only way you can have a one trick pony is if you're always facing the same opponents. Unless Divination is the one trick...

2007-12-24, 01:31 PM
Wizard. It's sort of an 'every-trick' pony.

2007-12-24, 01:51 PM
If I'm DMing the game, I do a few things.

1) Give them different monsters. I give them monsters that have different sorts of DR, different magic abilities, different CRs, all that jazz. It keeps them on their toes.

2) If they're relying on a particular weapon/skill/ability, I give them something that hinders that. If it's a weapon, I wait for a critical miss, and have it break (not irreparable, just enough to give them some sort of disadvantage). If it's a skill/ability, I just either make up, or find some kind of spell that makes it impossible to use.

I can be a jerk.

If I'm playing the game, I like to use my surroundings. Surroundings change a lot, so I have the DM describe it in detail. I look for windows to push people out of, broken boards, torches, anything that can make for an interesting fight. If not, I just stick to my trusty weapon.

However, if you're playing a spellcaster, just get some interesting spells that work well in combination.

3) Roleplaying. It makes it much more interesting than just "I attack" "hit. damage"

I actually just played a game with a really bad DM, and eventually, i took over, because he had no idea how to describe things.

2007-12-24, 02:13 PM
Roleplay, don't 'game'.

That said, you should be able to predict how a well-defined character is going to behave in most situations. The trick is playing the sort of character who you enjoy watching their moderately predictable actions. Look at the sort of characters you most enjoy in movies and television.

Stay away from strong-and-silent invincible heroes. Maybe some people get a kick out of these sorts of characters, but I find that they are only fun when they are winning, and being invincible, and when everything rotates around them. I'm sure everyone has had a character like this in their games. It's neither fun to play, or play with. Especially if the player lacks the emotional maturity to handle failure.

Find a character you can have fun just sort of observing - you know what they will do but it's fun to watch anyway - just like a good character on TV, rather than designing them and playing them like the shortest route to victory is the only thing that matters. Do this and they will never feel like a one-trick pony.

Mr. Moogle
2007-12-24, 02:40 PM
Be a bard. 'Nuff said.

Wouldnt that end up being a NO trick pony? :smalltongue:

2007-12-24, 03:20 PM
My first post was for humor.

At low levels a character has limited versatility. They have limited feats, skill points, and class abilities. One trick ponies at this level have the highest survival chance in a combat-centered game. In a social-centered game, they fare poorly.

At 4-7 range, characters can have far more variety. Wizards can go batman. Rogues can have multiple high skills. Bards start getting reasonable combat skills to work with their diplomatic. Clerics can start being more frugal with turn attempts. etc etc.

2007-12-24, 05:12 PM
My first post was for humor.

At low levels a character has limited versatility. They have limited feats, skill points, and class abilities. One trick ponies at this level have the highest survival chance in a combat-centered game. In a social-centered game, they fare poorly.

That would depend on what your "trick" is, of course. :smallwink: *cough*Diplomancer*cough*

2007-12-24, 05:24 PM
I think alot of it depends on the player. A spiked chain fighter who trips and battle field controls probably wont change how he fights much. Mechanically its difficult to do.

However....through RP, intreasting use of items, and tactics the spiked chain fighter can stand out as something other than a one trick poney.

2007-12-24, 06:10 PM
Skills. Skill-monkeys are never one trick ponies.

Factotum/Unseen Seers or Factotum/Cloistered Clerics can do ANYTHING.

2007-12-24, 06:24 PM
Awaken Animal

2007-12-25, 08:52 AM
Rogue, Psychic Rogue, Bard, Factotum, Chameleon spring to mind.

Build a multiclass human generalist with a good Charisma and Intelligence using BAB averaging and mixing to taste:

Rogue - 1 at first level for maximum skill points (2 for Evasion if you want that 3rd level of rogue sneak attack later 8 + 1 + Int Mod times 4 is a great skill monkey foundation.

Factotum -1 (3 eventually depending on race and multiclassing rules (Really sweet with the Oriental Adventures Iajutsu skill for damage dealing (Factotum - 8 gets an extra action with IPs)) all skills are class skills

Shaman - 1 (Fast Healing 1 aura is pretty good even with the below 50% limitation, really nice if your DM will let you learn a Minor Marshal Aura or two instead of the standard auras (Motivate Charisma))

Marshal -1 (Minor Aura Motivate Intelligence) and Skill Focus Diplomacy

Bard - 1 (Bardic Knowledge and Music) plus a few cantrips like Read Magic for reading a scroll and Prestidigitation for general utility + 2 more to taste

F - 1 or 2 for (BAB, HD and Bonus feats)

Crusader - 1 (Depending on when taken could pick up a level 2 or 3 manuever despite only having a single level)

Chameleon - 2+ for some minor spell casting and the open daily bonus feat (use it for taking Crafting feats and can really enhance party magical resources in a suggested wealth by level game)

Swordsage - 1 (Depending on when taken can pick up a few level 1, 2, 3 and possibly a level 4 mauever depending on when the level is acquired (If delayed until level 17 it would open up level 5 manuevers (Level 16/2 = 8 + 1 SS = 9 = level 5 manuevers) now combine that with Factotum and IPs attacking.

Monk - 1 or 2 (Evasion with a single level of Rogue)

Warblade -1 (Depending on when taken can pick up a few level 1, 2 or 3 manuever (Some manuevers have prerequisites of "knowing" lesser manuevers and the 3 core martial art adepts generally share a few or more discipline with another martial art adept class). Warblade has the best manuever recovery so you can do a lot with a single level multiclassing with MR if there is another martial adept class level helping you fulfill you manuever knowledge prerequisite requirements)

Artificer - 1 ((to 3), (more if you want to be a one trick pony burning up wands with meta feats

In a level 20 build with 10 levels in Chameleon or Ur Priest for spellcasting that leaves 10 levels to play around with. IMO Rogue - 1, Factotum -3 and Marshal - 1 is pretty strong for 5 of those 10 levels along with 1 to 3 level dips in ToB classes later in the build to acquire higher level manuevers.