Monday, March 23, 2015

Clerics as Tanks, and The need for a fighter

The Friday night game is going well, and the players are learning that sometimes it isn't a good idea to kick down the door and charge in before you know what is in there.
The cleric is the closest thing we have to an actual face-to-face fighter, and that doesn't seem to be working out so well. He's not smart (the character, not the player. Rick is doing an excellent job of playing him as such), and just busts through doors.
This has led him to falling down pits and being used as a chew toy by giant rats, and as a training dummy for a handful of rat-men (Skaven, stats of goblins, but I don't have gobo minis, just Skaven).
Friday he fell in combat to a Skaven Grey Seer (Adept2)'s burning hands spell and several attacks by the warriors.
The wizard fell, and went all the way to -7hp before being stabilized, the rogue down to 1, the Ranger (ranged type) down to 2, before they managed to kill all but one of the warriors, who ran off to protect his badly wounded Chief, giving the players the opportunity to grab their wounded and drag them to safety, and send for the healer.
For a little background, we are playing a by-the-books 3.5 game, where the only house rule is: Up to level 4, you can change your character in any way. Change class, feats, skills, ability scores, whatever. Try to figure out what you want to play in those levels so you're ready to move on in the campaign as we go up.
All four of my players are brand new to paper/dice playing, so I want them to learn the book way before introducing all the house rules that mess with it, and then bring in house rules in later games when they have a firm understanding of the core concepts and what house rules do to alter them.

This brings me to the topic of this post, the need for a fighter.
Before I begin, let me just say to Demon that yes, a war priest is an awesome fighter, if you don't mind waiting 3-5 rounds for buffs.
Enough said, moving on.
Many players forego the Fighter as being too vanilla, not interesting enough. They want something cool. They want something that can throw fire and shoot lightning, call down the powers of the heavens or choke the evil with entangling vines while their pet bear gnaws on the remains. But the vanilla fighter is the tank for a reason. The shear number of feats he acquires gives him an amazing advantage, especially at low levels.
For example, let's take Togrun. Togrun is going to be a human male Fighter 1.
Using the basic stats (15,14,13,12,10,8) lets give him the following:

  • STR 15
  • DEX 12
  • CON 14
  • INT 10
  • WIS 13
  • CHA 8
HP: 12
Feats: Weapon Focus(Longsword), Sword and Shield Combat Style (+1 to hit, +1AC), Power Attack
Combat: +5 (longsword) 1d8+2/19x2
AC (chain shirt, lg shield) 18.
So he's very hard to hit, has a decent attack, and with a 3-11 damage, 4-12 with power attack, can smash out most any CR1/3 Skaven (Goblin) and CR1/2 Orc.
Compare this to the cleric, that didn't take too many combat buffs, and isn't a war priest, and we have To Hit: +2, 1d8+2/x3, AC 17.
Close on the AC and good on the damage, but that missing extra little bit from the BAB and WF takes its toll at the early levels.
Granted, this is Rick's first time playing, and it is a learning experience, but a good fighter is needed.

A well thought out character takes practice, and its okay to make mistakes and stumble along the way. Plan out a level map for your character with a concept in mind, so you know what to take at each level. Look over prestige classes to see what your requirements are so you can get the most out of them as early as possible while maintaining your concept. Think about what your game and Game Master focus on. Is it RP? Combat? Puzzles? or a mix? How will your stats and skills play their strengths to the GM's campaign goals?
Will that flavor point in sleight of hand come in handy when you suddenly have a need to not be seen pocketing the key while talking to the baron? Or is your answer to every confrontation, "I hit it with my axe"?
If you haven't played a vanilla fighter in awhile, try a revisit and experience the awesomeness that comes from always being combat ready.


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