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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    smile Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance debate…

    Hi everyone,

    this is my first post in these forums, so please forgive in case I transgress any rules, ignore the great many threads out there which I have not read yet, etc. Also forgive any spelling errors I make since English is not my native language, and also the length of the post (so you may wish to get a snack …;-).). However, the issue of D&D3.5 core game balance and what has been written so far about it in these forums have been increasingly fascinating for me, so all of this got a bit longer than originally intended…

    Now on with the post:

    One of the prevailing themes in this d20 forum seems to be that even in core D&D3.5, the fighter, or even all non-full-spellcasting classes, are vastly inferior to the Druid, Cleric, Sorcerer and Wizard from around mid-levels to level 20. This goes so far as the opinion, that by the time the characters hit the maximum non-epic level 20, the fighter can no longer meaningfully contribute to combat situations and typical CR 20 combat challenges.

    Specifically, in several threads, Bears with Lasers (henceforth I join in the nice boards abbreviation BWL ;-) ) has posted the challenge whether please someone could show him a situation in which a Fighter would be able to somehow contribute to a fight vs a Balor (a CR 20 monster) or a dragon, let alone face it by him- or herself (let’s assume a male fighter in the following discussion).
    I must say that I greatly respect the stuff BWL has posted so far and I truly believe that he has some of the greatest insights in the game of the regular posters, in particular the ways casters with arcane or divine magic can really be very powerful with their spell tactics. In this case, though, I’d love to rise to his challenge…at least to fighting a balor. I’ll think something up vs a dragon at a later time…

    Let me, without (much) further ado, present, a fighter build that I would consider worthy of facing a balor, being actually (most of the time) able to kill it in one and a half rounds (by himself) without the balor being able to do much about it. This should prove three (core) game mechanics in my eyes:

    - a fighter CAN contribute to a group in fights at very high level play (20 and before)
    - at 20th level, the fighter is even quite well balanced for combat situations with AND even vs full casters (although I admit that the possibilities of a full caster situations outside of combat like research, diplomacy, travel, exploration etc. make them more powerful there. However, this is balanced vs the lower levels where the fighter is much more powerful in combat).
    - I’ll conclude with some suggestions of why the typical CoDzilla strategy for full casters is only an emergency solution to very specific situations and why it can be superior for those casters to buff the fighter instead of range attacking themselves, certainly superior to wading into melee CoDzilla-style themselves first.

    In general, I guess my opinion is that ALL character classes of D&D get extremely powerful by level 20. Also, I guess it is extremely difficult to DM a level 17-20 game, since ALL character classes have so much stuff available. After the following fighter build, I’ll then also try to say something about the balance of lvl 20 characters in general (and yes, I believe that full casters are slightly more powerful, but this mainly stems from the general possibilities they have, not from combat situations where the fighter – also – excels).

    THE FIGHTER BUILD
    *****
    This core build is simple (for a level 20 build): Human Fighter 20 (32-point buy). STR 18, DEX 30, CON 14, INT 14, WIS 20, CHR 8. (Note: STR, DEX, WIS are raised to this level through the usual magic items, plus level up from a start level of 14. It could easily be higher in case of an elf and starting level of 20, but for this purpose I like to make a more flexible fighter, say with potential for extra skill points for cross-class tumble and spot skills, as well as an extra feat)
    FEATS: Improved Initiative, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Far Shot, Manyshot, Improved Critical-Comp.Longbow, Weapon Focus-Comp.Longbow, WeaponSpecialisation-Comp.Longbow (these are the key feats for the 1.5-round kill. The remaining 11 feats of his 19 total depend on the flavour of the character, but for high-level purposes they could nicely go, for instance, to: Power Attack (typical must-have), Blind-Fighting (the most powerful defense vs crippling blinding attacks without saves), Improved Unarmed Strike, Improved Grapple, Stunning Fist (those three are nice when being captive/without equipment and almost, with a monk’s belt, put the fighter on par with the monk in closed unarmed combat) Leadership (for various resources if the fighter has to go alone on adventures/a fight etc), Iron Will (brings Will saves up to making most of the saves vs 9th level spells (see below)), Alertness (with cross-class skill ranks, this brings spot to a nice +17, +19 if elf as a race is chosen), Dodge, Expertise, (these two push AC beyond 40 for many purposes), Improved Sunder (or Improved Disarm, depending on the taste. Improved Disarm helps vs. the likely Balor’s telekinesis attempts in case it uses it vs the comp. Longbow).
    ITEMS: Boots of Speed, Potion of Invisibility, Longbow +10 eq. (+5 enhance, distance, seeking, bane-evil outsiders, holy), 20 Cold Iron Slaying arrows (not greater slaying arrows, since a Balor will save equally well vs DC 20 or 23 Fortitude), LuckBlade (can come with a wish left, but is not necessary), Bracers of Archery (Greater), Gloves of Dexterity +6, Tomes of +5 DEX and +4 STR. Again, these are needed for the 1.5 round-kill. There can be plenty more items for such a fighter (his resources of 750,000 gold are not used up yet). For instance, choose from: monk’s belt, Cloak of Resistance +5, Ring of Protection +5, Ring of Freedom of Movement, Periapt of WIS +6, Ring of Free Action, Buckler +1 with Spell Turning, Mace of Smiting (x4 critical vs Outsiders!), Gem of Seeing, Helm of Teleportation, Rod of Cancellation (vs Wall of Force or Force Cage; it does not get destroyed from these), Horn of Blasting for flavour ,etc. Note that this guy gets along without armour since for many of the dangerous ray spells, touch attacks are common (and he will not get weighed down by armour in case his STR gets some hits). Vs non-spell-casters, a 25,000 gp+some Mithral Full Plate+5 could still be a nice backup.

    Now, this build adds up to the following statistics:
    AC (touch, if fighting defensively, buckler adds another 2 in no-touch situations): 36
    (+10 DEX, +5 Deflection/Ring of Protection, +6 via Monk’s Belt (+1 AC, +5 WIS bonus), +1 Dodge, +3 fighting defensively as Tumble cross-class has been raised to 5, +1 from haste with boots of speed as free action at the start of each combat. Flat-footed it is still an impressive touch AC of 21)
    Hit Points: 164
    Saves: Fort +18, Refl +22, Will +19 (note that an elf would have will+21 vs enchantment spells like Domination etc. already)
    Initiative: +14 (DEX and Improved Initiative feat)
    Attacks with Longbow:
    4 as a standard action (due to manyshot feat) and 6 as full attack (Rapid shot, Haste from boots of speed)
    The attack bonus total is: +41 (+20 base, +10 DEX, +2 competence/Bracers of Archery, +5 bow enhancement, +2 bow bane, +1 Haste from boots of speed, +1 Weapon Focus)
    The attack boni with manyshot: +33 (-8 for 4 attacks). The attack boni with full attack: +39/+39/+39/+34/+29/+24
    The damage per attack (assuming no critical hit or fumble): 1d8 (arrow) + 4d6 (bane, holy) + 14 (STR +4, +5 enhance, +2 bane, +2 weapon specialisation, +1 competence/bracers of archery).
    Now, the range increment of this bow is 110 ft, + 55 ft from Far shot and doubled by distance magic ability of the bow to a total of 330ft.
    *****

    The devastating attack in the fight vs a balor plays out as follows:
    The Fighter drinks the potion of invisibility and gets to around 300 ft away from the balor. He may either have located the balor due to a hint/contact other plane/randommajordiviniationspell from his fellow adventuring group (they may even be with him!), or with his cohort resources from the leadership feat, or simply because the balor is a mighty monster terrorising the landscape and about to attack a large city with its army (in this case the fighter may stand on a tower overlooking the army of the balor, and he may be sworn to protect the city).
    At this range, all of the nice true seeing and detection abilities of the balor (as well as most of his offensive spell-like abilities) will not work. So our fighter gets a surprise round.
    This surprise he uses with activating his boots as a free action and using a manyshot. Since the balor is flat-footed (AC 28), the fighter will hit it except on a fumble. This will result in 4 times the above damage per arrow, or 4d8 +16d6 + 64 damage, on average 138 points of damage.
    Then, initiative is rolled. The fighter should win, since he has a +14 as opposed to the +11 of the Balor and, in the case of a tie, would win due to his higher DEX Bonus. More importantly, thanks to his luck blade, he can reroll any one roll per day. This should mean that he wins initiative around 84% of the time (don’t know the exact math, pls correct me if I’m wrong).
    Then, the full attack hits…assuming he does not hit the AC 28 with his sixth shot, this still amounts to another 5d8 +20d6 + 78 damage, or on average 166 damage.
    This is a total of 304 points of damage in 1.5 rounds (surprise round plus first round). Enough to make a bad day for an evil CR 20 dragon (if it were the subject of the attack and the bane bow was geared to dragons), but certainly enough to send the balor back to hell…ah, and of course due to the slaying arrows the balor had to avoid rolling a “1” 9 times…(not to mention the looming massive damage saves in case of a critical hit of an arrow. The Bow Crit range is 19-20).

    (…)

    Now, I concede that this situation may be “unfair” for the Balor. But it is not too easy to find a way to avoid such a threat from a lvl 20 fighter, as a CR 20 monster, lvl 20 non-caster or even lvl 20 caster. The Balor may have used some continous project image or illusion effect from an item (from its own “treasure”) to foil such assassination attempts. Or, a previously cast unholy aura (for other purposes) would provide it with a +4 AC, somewhat diminishing the damage taken from this attack. Or, it may also have a means of re-rolling its initiative roll or foreseeing with powerful divination of its demon prince or whatever to warn it of an imminent attack. Additionally, since the Balor has an INT 24 and WIS 24 vs. the fighter’s INT 14 and WIS 20 it is likely that the Balor has superior strategy & tactics, which really necessitates the whole 4-head archetypical 20th level group to work together (where the Wizard and the Cleric should have INT and WIS scores of 30, respectively). After all, a DM also at high level play should challenge his or her players, even if the monsters (as I believe have shown for the fighter, but others, such as BWL for full casters, or even rogues) are technically much less powerful on average than any single player character of the same level as the challenge rating.

    Still, in any case, I would hardly call the fighter useless.

    In various posts (BWL and others) there is a persistent notion that a single-class fighter should get into close melee with a balor or other CR 20 monster and should be able to excel there (since the fighter should excel at all combat). Now, this I believe is wrong. All character classes at lvl 20 are able to either get into close combat or use ranged attacks (excepting the monk, maybe, but the monk has the fastest movement). At such high levels, most characters have formidable ranged attacks available and should more often use those to avoid getting hit themselves. Why should the fighter (one of the few classes with longbow proficiency) be the only one to be so stupid as to engage a CR 20 monster in melee? (its vorpal blade alone should caution against trading full attacks vs the balor!). And even IF the fighter would be forced to do so (say, because the balor surprised him instead), he would be by far better equipped to withstand such an attack than all other classes (maybe excepting the Barbarian, Paladin and Ranger), due to his many combat feats and in the above example, defensive/expertise touch AC of 41 (total AC 43 with buckler). But if melee is something the player of the above fighter also likes, it is quite easy to trade 8 levels of fighter (and 4 of the 19 feats) in the core rules with 8 levels of the melee fighting duelist prestige class. In the above example fighter, this would add +4 to initiative (raising the modifier to a staggering +18!) and +10 AC to the touch AC (to a total of 51 with full expertise. This is hard to hit even for the balor).
    In a situation of mutual surprise, the fighter could quickdraw the bow and hit home with his full round attack of 166 damage; still nothing too shabby, in particular if he is still outside the range of a balor`s charge (180ft), putting him outside of most of the balor’s spell-like attacks sans insanity (DC 25 I recall, likely saved, in particular because the balor only gets 1 chance at most to use this) with quickened telekinesis trying to disarm him (an opposed check which he likely wins…).
    Similarly, the major advantages of spellcasters and magic over the non-casting classes can almost all be quite easily balanced by 1) magic items, which benefit the non-caster classes more than the caster classes, since the latter already have magic at their disposal. This is also the reason why the game designers used so few magic items able to copy feats or other class abilities. And 2) by group play and buffs.

    In the above example fighter, the saves are even without outside buffs already so high that most of the times, the fighter would probably escape even the balor 9th-level effects like the DC 27 Implosion or Dominate Monster. Similary, the touch AC is high enough to make it a bit troublesome even for optimised casters to overcome the fighter’s defenses with the feared ray spells or disintigrates (definitely the AC 51 of a 20th level fighter/duelist should only be hit with a “20” by full casters). Some magic may be difficult to overcome, but, for instance, power words fail to touch the fighter due to his large hit point total, and other threats too tough to overcome (or too surprising) may be avoided by an item that grants magic travel like a helm of teleportation.
    In many “fighter vs full caster” fights this would then easily result in a draw (the side feeling it is about to lose teleports away to safety). Note also that a fighter winning initiative vs a full spell caster who is unable to use his time stop in that case would be a severe threat (even a contingency windwall vs the 166 points of arrow damage may be overcome, and be quite too specific for any caster. Most casters more likely have a contingency teleport able to counter all kinds of suprising attack/lost initiative, but this would again result in a draw).

    Now, add to the above fighter buff spells from the full casters in an adventuring group. For instance, greater heroism adds the nicely stackable +4 morale bonus to skill checks, saves and attacks. A 20th level bard could easily provide the fighter with a +4 morale bonus as well with bardic music (non-dispellable!). And if a 20th level cleric simply uses Imbue with Spell ability and a Divine Favor (a stackable +6 luck bonus to attack AND damage) for the above fighter, that fighter could even attack 2 balors and hardly feel threatened. (truth to tell, the 2nd balor would use its teleport asap to get the hell away from such a threat. Flying out of range is not helping, at 360ft/round, risking flat-footed AC for several rounds before getting outside the terrible bow’s range. Even concealment does not help vs the seeking ability).

    In general, I would consider such buffing the fighter a better option for the CoDzilla casters. As mentioned above, getting into close combat with a balor or dragon or other CR 20 monster often is not such a good idea. And both the Cleric and Druid have great range and summoning spells. So why run needless risks? CoDzilla tactics were also advocated since allegedly the best buff spells are for the casters only.
    For the Druid I don’t know the spells well enough to make a full assessment here, but fighting as a wild-shaped HD 15 animal vs a HD 20 Balor in close combat certainly does not sound like a good idea to me, anyhow, even WITH buffs. The option to wildshape into a HD 16 Huge Elemental will not make such big difference here…Now, shapechange is a different matter, but if the druid turns into a balor himself, he would be a balor without its spell-like abilities and otherwise with a 50:50% chance to win in close combat- of course, he will not have the vorpal longsword, either…;-).
    But, at least for the Cleric, barring the divine power spell, buffs beat CoDzilla tactics, especially if the Cleric has to move to the Balor to get even a chance at a full attack. Because, with divine power in melee instead of using one of the buffs below on the fighter, a cleric is essentially a fighter without bonus feats in close combat. Very scary idea.
    Good Cleric buff spells and highly useful also at lvl 20 are, for instance:
    - using the above mentioned combo of divine favor and imbue with spell ability
    - all the attribute buff spells (note that magic items do not in the above example make enhancement boni completely unnecessary, and the situation of a character having +4/+6 stat boosting items for ALL stats should be rare)
    - Freedom of Movement (for all who do not have such a magic item)
    - Greater Magic Weapon (up to +5)
    - Death Ward
    - Disrupting Weapon (vs Undead)
    - Spell Resistance (grants 32 Spell resistance for 20 Minutes. The example balor will therefore only get past this resistance in 40% of all times. Highly useful)
    - Holy Aura (grants +4 AC of resistance bonus which may not stack. But the SR 25 vs evil creatures comes in handy)
    - Protection from Spells (gives +8 enhancement vs Spells, so it should add another +3 at the very least)

    Hope all this provides some futher input into the – it seems – eternal discussion of balance in DD3.5 (core). In any case, trying a strong direct attack spell or summoning spell is probably the best tactics for a Cleric or Druid (and definitely Sorcerer or Wizard), anyway, and buffing the fighter then is the 2nd best tactics, rather than trying to beat the fighter at his own game and go CoDzilla into melee (this is doomed to fail, as pointed out above).

    Now I admit there is ONE feature of the cleric that appears to be broken/unbalanced vs the fighter: the divine power spell, especially if it is quickenend from lvl 15 or so.
    The problem is that one can use the above build and equipment exactly as written and only replace “fighter” with “cleric”. The cleric, if using up all of his feats (including getting quicken spell) could easily emulate the above fighter AND still be able to cast 1-9th level spells (for instance, quickened divine favour in the surprise round for +6 luck bonus easily exceeds the weapon specialisation of the fighter). With the War domain (for bow proficiency and weapon focus) and the luck domain (for another re-roll per day) the “archer cleric” would be definitely superior to the fighter. This is a situation rightfully criticised by BWL and others, since the 1-9th level spells plus turn undead are better than the 11 (12 with martial weapons proficiency) additional feats of the fighter (most of the time, but not in all cases. For instance, the cleric would have difficulty adding the mightily useful duelist prestige class for the staggering initiative modifiers and AC without giving up some archery-related feats and 6th-9th level spells to qualify).

    However, I would like to add some further defence of the WoTC game designers here. When looking at the cleric, there ARE drawbacks that somehow make a direct comparison a bit more tolerable for the fighter. The fighter has NO drawbacks or dangers where he could lose class abilities. The cleric does.
    Not only does he or she have a restriction in relearning the spells per day which has to be done THE SAME one full hour every day, or the cleric won’t regain spells (that is a big vulnerability in high-level play, similar to the other’s own re-learning requirements, plus a wizard’s spellbook, a sorcerer’s inability to use the quicken spell feat and having the most limited spell list, and the druid’s generally weakest spell lists of the four along with a duty to defend nature).
    In addition, the cleric has to obey his or her deity (or set of beliefs) AND likely also his or her church (a membership of a church is what sets the cleric apart from favoured souls in non-core play, after all), or he or she will lose all spellcasting powers (in OOTS/Belkar-speak: “say goodbye cleric, say hello to the subpar warrior-without-bonus-feats…;-) “). This is the avenue where a gamemaster can easily reign in a too powerful/rampant cleric without being “unfair” at all. It’s all in the rules: big powers always come at a cost.
    Now finally add to this that the major class ability of the cleric (magic) is also highly vulnerable in high-level play (vs antimagic, abjurations, counterspells or dispel magics), whereas the fighter’s feats, as extraordinary abilities, are nigh untouchable (as are all the rogue, ranger, monk, paladin and barbarian non-spell abilities, for that matter).
    In total, I guess the cleric (as well as other full caster classes) IS more powerful at high levels and level 20. But not by a big margin (and not by a bigger margin than the fighter or other non-casting classes were in lower levels, a range where most players seem to play). As such, nerfing or limiting spellcasting classes beyond that which is already in the rules (but is often overlooked) should not be necessary in most circumstances.
    As a matter of fact, there is one class that has full spell casting to 20th level strength, but a great many other abilities that could also equate or even surpass the fighter in some situations: the similiarly (mistakenly) underrated bard. But that would be something for a different post…;-)

    Enjoy the game everyone! I truly believe the balance in the core SRD/D&D3.5 is much better than many believe.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Were-Sandwich's Avatar

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Wow. Wall of text. I'll admit I stopped reading after the fight bit, but I think this looks sound. Ranged fighters get round the one thing big onsters like dragons and balors have going for them: Flight.
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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Um, archers can contribute at high levels by neatly sidestepping the Mobility Problem (the Fighter's biggest), yes. They're still relatively easy to disable compared to spellcasters, but they can contribute most of the time.
    That's an archer character, though; the problem is Meatshields/Melee Guys being unworkable. If you've made an archer, you're a great fifth party member, but you're not the party tank--and the inability of the melee classes to actually fill the melee role is what's been criticized.

    (Incidentally, meet my friend Wind Wall.)

    As to your cleric's "drawbacks", they're either negligible or roleplay restrictions. Roleplay Restrictions do NOT a balance factor make! The cleric's god can arbitrarily take away his powers, but it's hard to justify it when it's a god of Buffin' Up and Whacking Things and the cleric's been buffing up and whacking things.

    The cleric's vulnerability to Dispel Magic is much, MUCH less than the Fighter's vulnerability to, well, anyone who can cast Dispel Magic (becuase they can cast other things as well, which will be much more devastating to the fighter than Dispel is to the cleric with its 45% chance of removing a buff from an equal-level caster--presuming your target didn't buff up with various Caster Level boosters like the Bead of Karma).

    I'll discuss your misanalysis of Buffed Up CoDzilla In Melee when I get back from class.

    You might also want to break down your point-buy and GP Spent--while it might be tenable to buy two tomes, three +6 stat boosters, two good weapons, great armor, etc. etc. at level 20, it's much, much harder at level, say, 10, or even 15 (level 20 gets a huge GP boost). Clerics and wizards and druids can certainly bring the house down at ECL 10 and seamlessly merge into destroying Tokyo and breathing atomic fire all over the place at ECL 20. If your archer is easy to disable until he gets his fifteen items, that's probably a bad sign.
    Last edited by Bears With Lasers; 2007-03-02 at 02:18 PM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Leadership is irrelevant, it's a feat only available by DM fiat meant for campaigns with a lack of players.

    Strength in high levels can not be balanced by weakness in low levels. Even if the game is played from low to high level we are talking about events which can be a year or more apart.

    Having appropriate bane arrows and starting the encounter at range with a surprise round stacks the deck.

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    HalflingRogueGuy

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Very interesting, thoughtful contribution. Thanks!

    Of course, as a subscriber to the "Casters dominate" school of thought, I choose to make only one observation in criticism:

    The fighter build you detail above owns Balors. What if he has to fight something else tomorrow? A powerful caster simply choose different spells. This guy is just less effective.
    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt." -Abraham Lincoln

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Hi BWL,

    glad you reacted so quickly (after all, many of your posts have inspired this one).
    And immediately you brought up some good points.

    - yes, in mid-levels full spell casters likely are quite ahead since a fighter may not be able to "buy" (or gain from treasure) items that may be necessary. Additionally, treasure is sometimes random in nature, whereas spellcasters can choose quite a few of their decisive spells. I'll try to think about this point later
    - now the ability to counter magic/dispel magic in my opinion hurts classes whose power stems from magic, not the non-casting classes. You are right that many of the buffs of the fighter or his magic items can be blocked by a simple dispel magic. However, in order to cast a dispel magic (even a quickened one) you have to go first. Against the above fighter, this is a challenge.


    Probably a major point: I simply do not quite understand why any core class is expected to be a "meat shield"? Now, there is the Dwarven defender prestige class, which is obviously meant to use that tactics, which is often so inferior that this whole prestige class was brought up with extra specialised powers to make it somewhat worthwile ("hold that corridor for me, will ya?"). However, as I pointed out above, going into melee against a fearsome monster with many nosave-die-effects (like a vorpal blade) is crazy. Still, the fighter is probably the best of all classes to survive such a situation. But he should never actively seek such a situation in the first place.

    So I guess the main point where we differ is not whether a fighter as a class can somehow contribute meaningfully at 20th level, but whether there should be any "meatshield" tactics, for any class.

    Anyhow, have to rush off myself. Will likely view the forum again tomorrow. Looking forward to your posts!

    - Giacomo

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Oops, already more answers. So just a quick reaction here as well_

    - Pinkysbrain: I guess leadership can be quite powerful, but you are right, it's highly campaign-specific. BWL also argued that the drawbacks of a cleric are campagin/roleplaying-specific. Here I would disagree, since it IS part of the rules. And any opponent worth its salt at 20th level (in particular a balor!) is likely to try to exploit the weakness of a cleric in that particular hour of the day...
    - chrisros: thanks! For Flexibility of the fighter: now, that's the task of the remaining 11 feats. I inserted some above (including melee feats) which I believe will cover most fighting situations. A Full caster, on the other hand (if he is not spontanous caster), will often have situations he is not prepared for.

    Anyhow, have to rush now. thanks!

    -Giacomo

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    It's not even that you might not have access to items--I'm a big believer in Wealth-By-Level and reasonable access to any item in the book. It's just that level 20 specifically is a huge jump in gold: try affording that even on a level 17 or 18 budget!

    Part of the reason why being a meatshield is such a big deal is that it's traditional (Tank/Healer/Skill-and-trap guy/Mage set-up). Part of the reason is that for many people/classes, it's the primary option: if you aren't specifically set up for archery--which classes like the Barbarian and Paladin and Rogue (due to difficulty of deliver sneak attacks with archery) pretty much never are--then melee is your default. Part of the reason is that until higher levels, having people between the enemies and the squishies IS useful. Part of it is that generally, melee guys can do a lot more damage. There are a number of reasons, both mechanical and archetypical; and then there's, well, that not everybody wants to play an archer.

    As to dispel magic, you missed what I was saying. My point was that an enemy who can cast Dispel Magic can also cast Slow, and one who can cast Greater Dispel Magic can also cast, say, Repulsion. Anyone who can dispel effectively can do other things, too; those other things would do more to a fighter than dispel would do to a caster.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    1) Clerics are not required to worship deities, by the RAW.

    2) I don't think you get the wisdom to ac class ability of the monk from the monk's belt. The SRD is unclear though, so you may be right, I've always presumed you only get the level-tied bonus AC.

    3) It just seems that all the work you've done indicates the balance you're arguing against. You built a fighter for this challenge, when a wizard would simply change his spell selection. That is the root of the wizard's power, the huge flexibility unlimited even by the laws of physics!
    Last edited by Counterspin; 2007-03-02 at 03:00 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    I would argue that this fighter build is well-suited for most challenges, actually. Might need arrows of a different material, but otherwise he's good to go.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisros View Post
    Very interesting, thoughtful contribution. Thanks!

    Of course, as a subscriber to the "Casters dominate" school of thought, I choose to make only one observation in criticism:

    The fighter build you detail above owns Balors. What if he has to fight something else tomorrow? A powerful caster simply choose different spells. This guy is just less effective.
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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    How does he see Mr. Balor from max range? You have +17 to your Spot. He has +38. That means that he can see you before you can see him, even with invisibility. Unfortunately you will never have the surprise round against the Balor.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Piccamo View Post
    How does he see Mr. Balor from max range? You have +17 to your Spot. He has +38. That means that he can see you before you can see him, even with invisibility. Unfortunately you will never have the surprise round against the Balor.
    Aside from the silliness of the spot ability outside of opposed spot/hide checks, the fighter can attempt to Hide and Move Silently while hunting, and will probably do pretty well considering his dex. Meanwhile, the Balor is probably not hiding.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Indon View Post
    Aside from the silliness of the spot ability outside of opposed spot/hide checks, the fighter can attempt to Hide and Move Silently while hunting, and will probably do pretty well considering his dex. Meanwhile, the Balor is probably not hiding.
    I doubt the fighter can beat a +38 spot or listen check. The entire fight depends entirely on the fighter getting the surprise round AND the first round. If the Balor either negates the surprise round or gets to act in it, that is one dead fighter.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Well, since Hide and Move Silently are cross class skills for Fighter, even if he invests everything he can into them, he'll still be boned.
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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Tweekinator View Post
    Well, since Hide and Move Silently are cross class skills for Fighter, even if he invests everything he can into them, he'll still be boned.
    There mere fact that he'll be trying to hide (since it's presumed he's aware of the Balor's location in the premise) and the Balor isn't (unless the Balor has a reason to hide. What does a Balor hide from?) would amount in +1d20 in his favor. And then his Dex bonus, and the character had a good bit of dex. Not much of an armor check penalty, either.

    So even without ranks, yes, trying to hide would make a big difference.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Wouldn't the Balor also get a d20?
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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Indon View Post
    There mere fact that he'll be trying to hide (since it's presumed he's aware of the Balor's location in the premise) and the Balor isn't (unless the Balor has a reason to hide. What does a Balor hide from?) would amount in +1d20 in his favor. And then his Dex bonus, and the character had a good bit of dex. Not much of an armor check penalty, either.

    So even without ranks, yes, trying to hide would make a big difference.
    I disagree. You have +20 maximum to Hide or Move Silently (remember, only 4 skill points per level, half of which would have to go to one of these). That means on average he has a 30 to his Hide skill; the balor has +38 to Spot. This means only on a 20 does the fighter get to close.

    When you have to rely on "if it was this way" or "if it was that way" or any other assumptions in one side's favor, the argument is probably already lost.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Piccamo View Post
    I doubt the fighter can beat a +38 spot or listen check. The entire fight depends entirely on the fighter getting the surprise round AND the first round. If the Balor either negates the surprise round or gets to act in it, that is one dead fighter.
    The fighter doesn't have to beat a +38 spot check. He has to make a +17 spot check against someone who is not trying to hide, while he himself can hide and take 20 (or, just keep rolling) on Spot.

    Meaning that the fighter can see the Balor at 370 feet, just by taking his time. The Balor can see the fighter at that distance easily, if he was looking and the fighter wasn't hiding. But if he's not looking for anything, he suffers a -5, and then he has to beat the fighter's hide check. The Fighter has a +10 Dex, meaning the Balor would have to reactively notice the Fighter with a 14 if the Fighter had no hide ranks.

    Oh, and if the Fighter's invisible he gets a +20 to his Hide check. Meaning at the fighters' attack range of 330 feet (well outside True Seeing range), the Balor'd need to roll a 30 on a d20, at least, if he were invisible.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Counterspin View Post
    1) Clerics are not required to worship deities, by the RAW.

    2) I don't think you get the wisdom to ac class ability of the monk from the monk's belt. The SRD is unclear though, so you may be right, I've always presumed you only get the level-tied bonus AC.
    The rule is perfectly clear. The belt gives you the AC bonus of a 5th-level monk. Look up the monk class; check under "AC bonus" in the text of the class features--the Monk AC bonus is Wisdom+X.

    He'd be better off with something like the Celestial Armor from the DMG than with the Monk's Belt, though.

    3) It just seems that all the work you've done indicates the balance you're arguing against. You built a fighter for this challenge, when a wizard would simply change his spell selection. That is the root of the wizard's power, the huge flexibility unlimited even by the laws of physics!
    Well, it's an archer with a high AB and damage. He'd be pretty effective against many enemies, because he doesn't have to get close to them, doesn't have mobility issues, and has thrown a large amount of gold/feats/stat points into fixing his biggest weak point (will save), although I'm having trouble seeing how he's starting with, what, 14 STR, 16 DEX, 14 WIS, and a decent CON (and then 13 INT for Combat Expertise, too?).

    Barring enemy casters with Wind Wall, archers are the most effective Fighters, even moreso than battlefield controllers. "Guy with a sword" is way, way, way too big an archetype to leave useless, though.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Indon View Post
    The fighter doesn't have to beat a +38 spot check. He has to make a +17 spot check against someone who is not trying to hide, while he himself can hide and take 20 (or, just keep rolling) on Spot.

    Meaning that the fighter can see the Balor at 370 feet, just by taking his time. The Balor can see the fighter at that distance easily, if he was looking and the fighter wasn't hiding. But if he's not looking for anything, he suffers a -5, and then he has to beat the fighter's hide check. The Fighter has a +10 Dex, meaning the Balor would have to reactively notice the Fighter with a 14 if the Fighter had no hide ranks.

    Oh, and if the Fighter's invisible he gets a +20 to his Hide check. Meaning at the fighters' attack range of 330 feet (well outside True Seeing range), the Balor'd need to roll a 30 on a d20, at least, if he were invisible.
    How would the fighter know the exact square in which the balor is standing, enabling him to sit there making spot checks until he sees it? Even if the Balor fails due to invisibility, the Balor still succeeds on Listen. As soon as he's aware of where the fighter is its curtain and this could potentially happen at distances greater than 380 feet.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Spot says that Spot checks can be called for to begin encounters. Listen doesn't. And the Spot DC's I'd put forth were actually in error; as far as I can tell from double-checking, they would require the fighter to roll a 0 on his check.

    Same with Listen; If the fighter rolls a 1 on his Move Silently when he moves to a new area to search (Edit:Provided the Fighter has zero ranks, at 370 feet), the Balor has to make a 15.

    Mind also that I'm not applying the Balor's -4 to hide, because the Balor isn't trying to hide and it's not really in the rules to apply hide penalties when a hide roll isn't being made... hunh. Re-reading the Spot skill, it implies that unless the Balor were hiding a spot check wouldn't really even be required, unless he were concealed in some other way.

    Edit: And Tweekinator; The Balor only gets a d20 to help him hide from the fighter if he is actually hiding.
    Last edited by Indon; 2007-03-02 at 04:45 PM.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Bears, what would you think of a spiked chain fighter with the winged creature template, that utilizes the new Cityscape Fighter substitution option? (the one that allows you to bull rush creatures into walls, large objects, and hint hint *wink* the ground if you are already flying). Combine with a spiked chain...

    At fighter 2 the damage is 2d6+2*Str. At fighter 6 it is 8d6 +3*Str

    More info here if you haven't heard of this new combo...
    http://boards1.wizards.com/showthread.php?t=791388

    Does this change your mind about fighters/melee?
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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Indon View Post
    Spot says that Spot checks can be called for to begin encounters. Listen doesn't. And the Spot DC's I'd put forth were actually in error; as far as I can tell from double-checking, they would require the fighter to roll a 0 on his check.

    Same with Listen; If the fighter rolls a 1 on his Move Silently when he moves to a new area to search (Edit:Provided the Fighter has zero ranks, at 370 feet), the Balor has to make a 15.

    Mind also that I'm not applying the Balor's -4 to hide, because the Balor isn't trying to hide and it's not really in the rules to apply hide penalties when a hide roll isn't being made... hunh. Re-reading the Spot skill, it implies that unless the Balor were hiding a spot check wouldn't really even be required, unless he were concealed in some other way.

    Edit: And Tweekinator; The Balor only gets a d20 to help him hide from the fighter if he is actually hiding.
    Listen checks are made as a reaction. You can completely disregard the die rolls because they average to the same number for both cases. +38 to a skill is d20 +38, just the same as the fighter's.
    Spot checks may be called for to determine the distance at which an encounter begins.

    That suggests that you get to make spot checks as soon as its possible to notice the opponent.

    You can't just continually stack the deck in favor of one side and say its a valid comparison.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    What kind of flight does Winged give? What's its LA?

    Using the Dungeonscape bull-rush substitition feature to get a bullrush into the ground on every hit is... well, cheese. Major cheese. But really, it amounts to damage output and fighters could already *do* that; this just makes them better at it. So are you recommending Winged to fix mobility problems, or what?

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Bears : I had always assumed that the monk ability which gives the bonus AC had a name, which is why I misread it. Presuming it has a name, it's weird that the name does not appear in the item section. Since it is entirely unique amongst class abilities I've always interepreted it differently, but you're clearly right.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Counterspin View Post
    you're clearly right.
    Yeah, I get that a lot. ;)

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Piccamo View Post
    Listen checks are made as a reaction. You can completely disregard the die rolls because they average to the same number for both cases. +38 to a skill is d20 +38, just the same as the fighter's.
    Spot checks may be called for to determine the distance at which an encounter begins.

    That suggests that you get to make spot checks as soon as its possible to notice the opponent.

    You can't just continually stack the deck in favor of one side and say its a valid comparison.
    Man, it's an encounter. Encounters are almost universally in the PC's favor, if only in the form of intelligence regarding the nature of the opponent (which in this case, it is specified that the fighter has, including the opponents' location. The Spot checks are for the Fighter to pinpoint a target he _already knows is there_)

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Indon View Post
    Man, it's an encounter. Encounters are almost universally in the PC's favor, if only in the form of intelligence regarding the nature of the opponent (which in this case, it is specified that the fighter has, including the opponents' location. The Spot checks are for the Fighter to pinpoint a target he _already knows is there_)
    Yeah, encounters are almost universally in the PC's favor...does that mean the Balor should lay down and take a nap as well? If you want an acid test of the encounter you can't stack things in favor of one side or the other. The balor isn't trying to pinpoint something he knows is there, but he does get to be reactive. He's not a rock sitting there waiting for an ambush by a bunch of adventurers.

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    Default Re: Rising to a Bear’s challenge and adding to the eternal fighter/caster balance deb

    Quote Originally Posted by Bears With Lasers View Post
    What kind of flight does Winged give? What's its LA?

    Using the Dungeonscape bull-rush substitition feature to get a bullrush into the ground on every hit is... well, cheese. Major cheese. But really, it amounts to damage output and fighters could already *do* that; this just makes them better at it. So are you recommending Winged to fix mobility problems, or what?
    Winged Creature Template is in savage species +2LA. Gives +4 Dex, +2 Wis, a fly speed based off your land speed+20. And a maneuverability based off your dex (need 17 dex after the +4 to get perfect maneuverability). “Winged” is an inherited template that can be added to any animal, giant, humanoid, monstrous humanoid, or vermin.

    You could instead use the Raptoran race to get permanent flight without a LA. Or you can go the magic items route.

    Winged is to fix mobility options, and to allow you to bull rush them in the ground every round. (since you don't need a wall anymore if you are just using the ground)

    And yes it may be cheese, but at such a level where you are fighting balors what is a pure fighter or similar build going to do to contribute?
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