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weenie
2008-12-28, 11:20 AM
How much worse is sword & board compared to two handed fighting for a fighter restricted to core books only?

SilentNight
2008-12-28, 11:27 AM
More AC, less damage. It does let you got into two weapon fighting but dissimilar weapons really isn't the best for that. I would wait for someone with a more in depth knowledge to come as well.

Spiryt
2008-12-28, 11:34 AM
I have a lot ideas how to fix the two weapon fighting and swoard and shield, to make them worthwile and interesting.

They're waiting for some work to make actual homebrew rules from them. And they're waiting. And waiting. Waiting.

Anyway, large shield gives you + 2 to AC, and limits your damage badly. It's unfortunately much worse.

Eloel
2008-12-28, 11:47 AM
Can you dual-wield spiked shields? Do their AC bonuses stack if you can?

Matthew
2008-12-28, 11:47 AM
Generally, weapon and shield is better at early levels where opponents have few hit points and an extra two points of armour class is maybe 25% of your total bonus. At higher levels, a two handed weapon is better, as you need a higher damage output and armour class bonuses are easier to come by.



Can you dual-wield spiked shields? Do their AC bonuses stack if you can?

Yes you can, and no they do not.

arguskos
2008-12-28, 11:50 AM
Can you dual-wield spiked shields? Do their AC bonuses stack if you can?
Yes and no. However, you CAN use a Tower Shield and a Spiked Shield. Use the Spiked Shield for attacks and the Tower for AC, and if you REALLY need to boost your AC, use the Tower Shield for cover, and the Spiked Shield for a shield bonus to AC (cover is not a shield bonus, so this works, IIRC).

kamikasei
2008-12-28, 11:54 AM
Offhand it isn't nearly so bad as if you look outside core, since the various power-attack-boosting feats aren't available. You're losing up to 40 damage per hit from power attack, plus the strength-and-a-half bonus for two-handed wielding is cut down to just strength.

It's still a hit. As Matthew says, it's as your total damage output and your enemies' hit points climb, and the importance of a few points of AC drop, that it really bites. And unfortunately, the best options for using a shield as a weapon are also outside core.

GrandMasterMe
2008-12-28, 11:55 AM
Two weapon fighting will end up with seven attacks per round, and sword and board will have four. Assuming you are 20th level for the purpose of this example, we can say you have sufficent funds to have a +5 large shield and a +1 longsword of speed, or for TWF, you have two +1 longswords of speed. Now with the two weapon fighting you will have 9 attacks/round and with sword and board you have 5. More attacks means a higher chance of hitting you opponent. So you will be doing more damage with TWF, but you will have about 7 less AC due to a lack of shield if you decide to go with the TWF. If you want to go with the sword and board as I assume you want to, I would recomend talking to your DM about using a few feats from Complete Warrior. Then you could get a spiked shield a sword and still be a two weapon fighter, take improved shield bash from Complete Warrior that way you retain your shield bonus when bashing. Suddenly you are a two weapon fighter with a sword and shield. Hope this helps
*note some of these figures may be a little off as I am on my way to a family christmas and don't have my books*

Eloel
2008-12-28, 11:58 AM
TWF & Dancing Shield is the best of best :)

arguskos
2008-12-28, 12:00 PM
TWF & Dancing Shield is the best of best :)
Thri-Kreen TWF+Dancing Shield+Tower Shield for cover+some other weapon. :smallbiggrin:

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a monstrosity.

Eloel
2008-12-28, 12:00 PM
Rechecking it, it's animated shield, not dancing shield, my bad.

Eldariel
2008-12-28, 12:42 PM
The principal problems with Shields:
-Improved Buckler Defense means that for a feat, you get to wield a two-handed weapon and use a shield.
-Animated Shield means that for the cost of a +2 enhancement, you get to wield a shield and use a two-handed weapon.
-In core, shield doesn't protect others. This means that even though you can improve your own defense (although not by much), the hit you're taking to your attack means that with a shield, you're actually worse at protecting your allies than without it. Basically, if you wield a shield, enemies have even less of an incentive to fight you. This gets better outside Core, but unfortunately your other options get a greater boost.
-In core, shield doesn't protect you from spells. This means that even though you can improve your AC, the hit you're taking to your attack means that with a shield, you're actually worse off against spellcasters.


Basically, it boils down to two things:
-It's quite cheap to get the shield benefits without losing your damage output.
-Offense works in all scenarios. Shield only helps when you are targeted by attacks against your AC. Basically, it's horrible for party playing, and it's horribly sitiuational.

ToB helps, but still...most Shield-use comes from its offensive applications, which is just sad.

woodenbandman
2008-12-28, 01:03 PM
I like using an oversized spiked heavy shield as a 2 handed weapon. It otherwise counts as a 1 handed weapon, and it deals 2d6 damage. Nothing says you can't use it as a shield, and I believe there's improved shield bash which lets you keep its AC bonus when you attack with it (it's still a shield bash, maybe).

Eldariel
2008-12-28, 01:06 PM
I like using an oversized spiked heavy shield as a 2 handed weapon. It otherwise counts as a 1 handed weapon, and it deals 2d6 damage. Nothing says you can't use it as a shield, and I believe there's improved shield bash which lets you keep its AC bonus when you attack with it (it's still a shield bash, maybe).

Yea, it's generally either the Sword or the Shield that's obsolete. Shield is actually a fine weapon, and if you focus on it, you're much better off wielding it two-handed than using sword in the other hand. On the other hand, if you don't go that extra mile, your sword is just better. Not to mention, unless you're building Captain America, wielding only a shield as your weapon seems a bit silly. For some niché builds? Maybe. Mainstream to make shields worth it? Eww...

ericgrau
2008-12-28, 02:31 PM
How much worse is sword & board compared to two handed fighting for a fighter restricted to core books only?

Uh oh, this again...

I'll try to be brief. This is just a rumour, though it's fueled partly by non-core splatbooks where you can get insane DM-kicks-you-out damage with two-handed splatbook cheese. A long time ago, I spent days and days on a try-all-possible-combinations computer program tweaking this problem to death. In general, sword & board is much, much better than two handed fighting. And two handed fighting is a little better than two weapon fighting. The exception is the animated shield, which makes two-handed fighting better at higher levels than sword-and-board. So every high level warrior should pick up an animated shield to be optimal. I think that's kinda silly but that's how it is (can you imagine the many legends being pictured out on urns?)

Basically sword & board costs you a tiny bit of str & weapon damage while providing a massive boost to defense. Remember each +1 AC is a 7%-20% miss chance. For someone who's already heavily armored and already forcing the baddy to roll ~15's, the value of another point is closer to 20%. And enchanting 3 items (armor,shield, ring of protection) gives cheaper AC than enchanting 2. AC is cheap & easy to get, damage is not. As for power attack (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=87339), it is a situational feat that may often have little benefit or even hurt your attacks due to the penalty to AB.

There are situational exceptions, which is why THF, TWF, ranged attacks, etc., etc. exist, but SAB is the baseline. And you can always switch up your style mid-combat.

Cybren
2008-12-28, 02:51 PM
there are some good feats that help out sword and boarding. Agile Shield Fighter let's you twf without a dex investment, Shield Slam I think it is gives you a trip attempt after using a shield on a charge. Leap attack and shocktrooper still work even if you're using a shield. And there's no reason you can't make your opening attack a two-handed shield charge into the enemy for full power attack with shocktrooper.

Eldariel
2008-12-28, 02:55 PM
There are situational exceptions, which is why THF, TWF, ranged attacks, etc., etc. exist, but SAB is the baseline. And you can always switch up your style mid-combat.

Eric, you forgot the fact that Sword & Board is much worse at playing for a team than a two-handed fighter, simply because your shield doesn't help when anyone else is attacked, and shield doesn't help against magical attacks, so against both of those, a shielded character just doesn't contribute on the same planet as a two-handed fither.

Not to even mention, there're no one-handed martial weapons with reach, which further weakens your ability to protect the weaker characters and control enemy movement (and both, causes you to provoke more AoOs and robs you of lots of chances of having opponents provoke).

Kantolin
2008-12-28, 02:55 PM
I do agree with Ericgrau that a lot of the (particularly core) Sword & Board hate is exaggerated: While worse, it's not nearly as ineffective as many make it out to be. People have similar reactions to several other non-optimized options, which tend to be more useful than people give them credit for.

Now that said, as someone who plays mostly Sword & Board fighters, it is indeed underpowered. From a math point of view, you're halfing your damage which makes it difficult to... do things. In core especially, power attack is just too vital for improving your damage.

But honestly, if you ask me, that's not the worst part. You stated:


Basically sword & board costs you a tiny bit of str & weapon damage while providing a massive boost to defense.

And... and that's the bigger problem, in my opinion. It's not a 'massive boost to your defense'. It is, in fact, usually a very mild boost to your defense. Then in D&D, unless you constantly pour a heck of a lot of money into your defenses, you usually fall behind enemy's to-hits: If that troll needs to roll a 4 to hit you, then your AC (While still having an effect) is still relatively moot.

If you ask me, that's the most frustrating part of sword & board: Your AC tends to make a very, very slim difference. Especially if you end up at the point where the enemy needs to roll a 2 to hit you, which happens with frustrating frequency unless you really dogpile the AC on yourself.

Eloel
2008-12-28, 02:59 PM
Semi-relevantly, what would be a good (average enemy needs 10+ to hit) AC for a level 20-21 character?

Eldariel
2008-12-28, 03:02 PM
Depends on whether you're playing against monsters or built characters and whether you expect characters to be using spells to improve their To Hit, and stat stacking and such. Against monsters? 45-60 is plenty (The Tarrasque is an exception, but you don't really need to straight-on fight it). Against PCs? When it matters at all, 60-100 (preferably Touch). Without Polymorph-type spells, the PC numbers are vastly lower.

Eloel
2008-12-28, 03:08 PM
So (twisting topic to my purposes, mwahaha) would 64 AC, 56 Touch, 49 Flat-Footed be good enough?
http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheets/view.php?id=99120

I checked against tarrasque, he needs a 7 to hit me :)
A Great Wyrm Red Dragon needs 15 to hit me. (d20srd....)
Pit Fiends are officially unable to hit me under 1=-10 20=30 system

ericgrau
2008-12-28, 03:10 PM
Semi-relevantly, what would be a good (average enemy needs 10+ to hit) AC for a level 20-21 character?

My standard build has 38ish AC at that level, but by level 20 you have so much wealth that my program can't make use of it all with flat bonuses. You could tack on up to +5 with barkskin potions, for example. As for average or enemy needing to roll a 10 to hit, I'd have to check a few monsters. As a wild guess I'd go 5 lower than 38. So 33?

Kantolin: No, the damage gain doesn't even come close to the AC boost. I think you made that up or heard some guy say it.

I have a 10th level build on hand. 18 str, 12 dex, 14 con, 14 wis before item & level modifiers. Dwarf fighter 10. Boost str to 20 via levels. Notable gear: boots of speed (10 rounds haste), MW adamantine waraxe, spare MW waraxe, +3 heavy shield, +3 full plate, +1 ring of protection, dusty rose prism ioun stone, gloves of str +2, amulet of health +2. Basic stat boosting feats, combat expertise, w/e. Stats (including boots of speed): 117.5 avg HP, 28 AC, 20/20/15 AB, 16.5 avg. damage, crit 19-20/x3. Will utterly annihilate any core THFer in a straight fight unless he has an animated shield. Though other classes using SAB can do slightly better using limited use/day abilities. Anyhoo, give it a shot.

Eloel
2008-12-28, 03:11 PM
My standard build has 38ish AC at that level, but by level 20 you have so much wealth that my program can't make use of it all with flat bonuses. You could tack on up to +5 with barkskin potions, for example. As for average or enemy needing to roll a 10 to hit, I'd have to check a few monsters. As a wild guess I'd go 5 lower than 38. So 33?

That, sounds, low?

Eldariel
2008-12-28, 03:22 PM
So (twisting topic to my purposes, mwahaha) would 64 AC, 56 Touch, 49 Flat-Footed be good enough?
http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheets/view.php?id=99120

I checked against tarrasque, he needs a 7 to hit me :)
A Great Wyrm Red Dragon needs 15 to hit me. (d20srd....)
Pit Fiends are officially unable to hit me under 1=-10 20=30 system

For a campaign without Epic Spellcasting and Polymorphing, it's definitely enough. For arena, it'll still be very helpful. Those numbers are definitely worthwhile. Just beware that much of the attacks will be magical and ignore your AC. But that grants you a great partial protection against attacks and touch spells.

ericgrau
2008-12-28, 03:28 PM
That, sounds, low?

Can't tell if you're being serious or not. I've seen builds that can't do a thing offensively with 60+ AC. While OTOH I've heard people say that I must be optimizing purely for AC or something, when really that same build has 58.5 damage per hit, 5 attacks and good AB at level 20 (again w/o making full use of all that extra wealth on things like stat boosts via wishes). In reality it's just a simple balanced build.

As for magical attacks ignoring AC. Yeup, my sim found that there was a cutoff around 50% of attacks ignoring AC. At that point, you drop the AC gear down to hardly anything and increase offense instead. A cloak of resistance or wis doesn't give enough of a save boost to do much, your only hope is offense. Interestingly enough, a level 13+ monk in full plate with a weapon does better than other classes in that situation, thanks purely to his SR. Picking a race that already has SR and getting full BAB levels might be a more sane option but I dunno I never tested it.

TempusCCK
2008-12-28, 03:39 PM
Perhaps a simple houserule could make shields better?

For instance, we could rule that a shield acts the same was as a two handed weapon when used in conjunction with the Combat Expertise Feat, double your bonus from Combat Expertise when using a shield.

Then we could use alot of the neat little AoO enhancing things like Robilars Gambit, combine it with those feats that add to attack bonus when you avoid an enemies attack, can't remember the name of them, though there's a few of them, and you may have a decent defensive opportunist build...

Triaxx
2008-12-28, 03:44 PM
What most people are forgetting is that a Sword and Board fighter is a much better tank than a two handed, or two weapon wielder. Why? Because he's got seven more AC, and when he dumps his BAB with Combat Expertise, he's suddenly got 12 more. And that's only core, plus I'm sure I've missed something.

Eldariel
2008-12-28, 03:47 PM
The best way to fix it is to make you somehow able to use shields to also protect nearby allies (Shield Block-maneuver from ToB is a great version of this - also, simply giving your Shield-bonus to nearby allies would be nice) and making it effective against some Magic (allow adding it automatically to Touch AC and Reflex-saves; maybe allow trying to block line of effect with an attack roll opposed by caster level+caster stat or some such).

Basically, it needs to be able to protect your allies and protect you against Magic to be viable. Also, increasing the bonuses helps, as does making Buckler unable to be used against spells in the similar manner (it's too small to be effective like that) and making animated shields unable to protect you against magic or some such. That gives you real decisions between defense and offense. I like the idea of doubling Combat Expertise-efficiency too; maybe extend that to Two-Weapon Fighting as well.

EDIT:

What most people are forgetting is that a Sword and Board fighter is a much better tank than a two handed, or two weapon wielder. Why? Because he's got seven more AC, and when he dumps his BAB with Combat Expertise, he's suddenly got 12 more. And that's only core, plus I'm sure I've missed something.

This just isn't true. It actually makes him less of a threat to the opponents and thus the opponents can just bypass the shield fighter and go for the juicy casters in the back and he doesn't have the damage to turn their attention, nor the reach to restrict their movement.

Also, the AC difference is much smaller than that; Animated Shield with Magic Vestment on it is just as good as a basic shield with Magic Vestment and only costs 9000 more; that buys you 2 points of AC on average (less as you increase in levels as the higher improvements cost more; with +1 bonuses, it'd actually be 4 points, but at that point, your shield would only grant +2-+3 so you simply don't buy the Animated Shield yet). So actually, he has 2 points more of AC (or 1 point and 1 feat if using Improved Buckler Defense), not 7.

And all that defense makes you useless offensively, meaning you're a sitting duck against spellcasters, trippers, grapplers and everything else.

Tallis
2008-12-28, 05:28 PM
What most people are forgetting is that a Sword and Board fighter is a much better tank than a two handed, or two weapon wielder. Why? Because he's got seven more AC, and when he dumps his BAB with Combat Expertise, he's suddenly got 12 more. And that's only core, plus I'm sure I've missed something.

True, if you're soloing or in cramped quarters you can be a much better tank. The problem is that in 3.5 there aren't many options for keeping enemies focused on you which makes tanking irrelevant in most cases.

I tend to think that sword and board is a better option at low levels than at high levels, but that's an opinion based on other people's work, I am not a number cruncher myself.

Prometheus
2008-12-28, 07:43 PM
Shield, Tower
...However, you can instead use it as total cover, though you must give up your attacks to do so. The shield does not, however, provide cover against targeted spells; a spellcaster can cast a spell on you by targeting the shield you are holding.
I think the italicized rule should either be houseruled out or have a feat that prevents it. The cover granted would also give a bonus to reflex saves for area of effect spells as do other forms of cover.

Similarly, the excerpt says nothing about how far behind you this cover extends, but because the game allow "soft cover", I say that it is fair game to hide behind the shield as if it was a thin wall.

Vic_Sage
2008-12-28, 07:55 PM
Semi-relevantly, what would be a good (average enemy needs 10+ to hit) AC for a level 20-21 character?
Sorry to say but at that point AC becomes pretty irrelevant.

Stephen_E
2008-12-28, 09:49 PM
The biggest weakness of SaB as well as 2WF is the lower max damage.
While in many situations this doesn't matter to much, if you run into DR10 when you don't have the appropriate bypass you're suddenly in a world of hurt. The 2HW fighter is often doing several times the damage of the SaB and 2WF.

Also a point to remember re: Using Combat Expertise. It makes you more vunerable to been disarmed.

Stephen E

Triaxx
2008-12-29, 09:18 AM
The trouble comes assuming I'm not just standing there to give the rogue a flanking bonus. Or to force you to move through the spaces the Barbarian is threatening rather than going around. Of course, I might well have prepared an action to bull rush anyone trying to go around me. Not to mention that I have in the past disguised rogues as casters.

Not to mention any caster with a level 2 spell is going to be airborne. Nor does it mean I'm not going to have Power Attack as well.

Eldariel
2008-12-29, 09:30 AM
The trouble comes assuming I'm not just standing there to give the rogue a flanking bonus. Or to force you to move through the spaces the Barbarian is threatening rather than going around. Of course, I might well have prepared an action to bull rush anyone trying to go around me. Not to mention that I have in the past disguised rogues as casters.

Not to mention any caster with a level 2 spell is going to be airborne. Nor does it mean I'm not going to have Power Attack as well.

None of that makes you as important a threat as the rest of your party so tactically savvy opponents are going to ignore the bastion of defense. If you had a two-handed reach weapon, you'd be much better at that. Not to mention, Power Attack would be way more effective that way.

bosssmiley
2008-12-29, 09:45 AM
How much worse is sword & board compared to two handed fighting for a fighter restricted to core books only?

Goodman's Games "Warriors Power Gamers Guide" spends an entire chapter answering exactly this question complete with statistical breakdowns of average hit chances and damage for S&B vs. TWF vs. 2H.

The download is gold for a Core fighter-type and is only $2 from paizo ('til New Year).

Thurbane
2008-12-29, 05:14 PM
Yes and no. However, you CAN use a Tower Shield and a Spiked Shield. Use the Spiked Shield for attacks and the Tower for AC, and if you REALLY need to boost your AC, use the Tower Shield for cover, and the Spiked Shield for a shield bonus to AC (cover is not a shield bonus, so this works, IIRC).
That's actually a very interesting tactic.

Triaxx
2008-12-29, 06:57 PM
Of course, this assumes no seperation of DM/NPC knowledge. Fortunately, most DM's understand that, and realize that what they know is different from what the NPC knows.

Godna
2008-12-29, 08:30 PM
so they cant see that it would be safer to take out the squishy guys in the back first and than gang up on that shield wearing heavily armored fellow?

Lycar
2008-12-29, 08:40 PM
None of that makes you as important a threat as the rest of your party so tactically savvy opponents are going to ignore the bastion of defense. If you had a two-handed reach weapon, you'd be much better at that. Not to mention, Power Attack would be way more effective that way.

To that:


Of course, this assumes no seperation of DM/NPC knowledge. Fortunately, most DM's understand that, and realize that what they know is different from what the NPC knows.

This, and Eldariel, you are not playing the GAME, you are playing the RULES.

What is the game then you ask? Basically that is a bunch of people coming together to play an elaborate game of make-believe with dice, with the intention of having FUN.

Having FUN means not having your choice of character class belittled or made irrelevant, just because someone is so 'clever' to abuse the flaws in the rules.

The GAME is about a bunch of fantasy type heroes goiong about doing heroic stuff. That assumes a few things: Warriors who fight stuff and are good at smacking down things, wizards who can do amzing things with magic (but still don't rule the world somehow.. or maybe they do...), rogues who get by on skill and luck...

There are also certain assumption, cliches and conventions: Like that the warrior types DO get to battle hordes of enemies, protecting his weaker companions and such. That the rogue DOES get to bypass traps and unlock doors and generally be crafty. That clerics and paladins are holy men who DO think it is a good idea to use the magic granted to them to help OTHERS.

It does NOT assume that 'clever' enemies simply ignore the fighter, because he 'doesn't do optimal damage per round'. It does NOT assume that a oh-so 'clever' wizard makes a rogue totally obsolete. It does NOT assume that a cleric only buffs up himself and then takes away the role of the fighter.

That is the GAME. The creators of D&D tried to come up with rules, trying to codify the GAME to make it playable. The rules aren't perfect. They ARE abusable. But just because you CAN abuse something doesn't mean you should.

There is, for example, no law forcing you to yield your seat on a crowded bus to, say, and old man, or a pregnant woman.

There is just a certain convention that you do.

You DO realize what ignoring this convention makes you?

Same when you insist on playing the RULES instead of the GAME.

Yes, you can point out all day how so-and-so style of fighting is 'mechanically superior' to another. But you do NOT tell another player what he 'has to play' to 'pull his weight' in the party!

He plays whatever he damn-well-pleases. This may mean that he'll have to roll up another character some day because he got killed or gets bored. Maybe he makes some choices that make the game unfun for the others. Then he should reconsider.

But you are NOT to tell him 'you can't do this because I don't like it'. Because that is what it comes down to when someone bemoans 'inefficient characters not pulling their weight'.

Yes, even in a dungeon corridor a fighter technically can't protect anyone because enemies have so many ways to ignore him.

That doesn't mean that it happens. Because that is not FUN. You seriously have no problem with wizards tossing spells around left and right but you balk at the idea that enemy mooks just run up against the bulwark of defense that is the fighter, only to have wave after wafe of them broken against his shield? Or that, in an open environment, they swarm ALL the PCs and the non-martial ones fight tooth-and-nail to hold their own while their fighter buddy thins the ranks and shouts to them 'I'll come and help you, just hold on a little longer!' ?

That is what the GAME is about. All people playing together! And not one stealing the fun for all others because he's so 'smart' only to play the 'good' classes. And knows all the exploits. And (ab)uses them.

That is playing the RULES.

And quite frankly, if you have a problem with the kind of suspension of disbelief required to make the set of rules that D&D, in ANY of it's incarnations is, work, then, maybe, games of make-believe just aren't for you.

You would be MUCH better suited with a boardgame. Eurogames preferrably. The are mechanics first, fluff second. Much less abuseable. Ideally no 'win buttons' to be exploited.

But if you absolutely HAVE to come down on each and every inconsistency, flaw or oversight in the rules to make the GAME unfun, don't play RPGs.

Seriously, just don't.

Lycar

horseboy
2008-12-29, 09:06 PM
There is, for example, no law forcing you to yield your seat on a crowded bus to, say, and old man, or a pregnant woman.There is in Maryland. Big blue stickers over the front 1/3 of the seats say so.


Yes, you can point out all day how so-and-so style of fighting is 'mechanically superior' to another. But you do NOT tell another player what he 'has to play' to 'pull his weight' in the party!

He plays whatever he damn-well-pleases. This may mean that he'll have to roll up another character some day because he got killed or gets bored. Maybe he makes some choices that make the game unfun for the others. Then he should reconsider.
And when others don't have fun because they don't think it's fun watching someone struggling against bad mechanics to try and do what they're supposed to do by their convention, then what? Or if they're just tired of having to go rez the meatshield because he's died yet again, because that's pretty much all he can do, then what? A party has to be in the same range of optimization or else either the one not "pulling his weight" will constantly die, resulting in no fun for them, or everyone has to essentially fight with one-two hand(s) behind their back to go down to the weakest's members level. "Not pulling your weight" is a VERY valid problem. One that should be discussed at the beginning of the game to make sure everyone has FUN.

Eldariel
2008-12-29, 09:32 PM
Of course, this assumes no seperation of DM/NPC knowledge. Fortunately, most DM's understand that, and realize that what they know is different from what the NPC knows.

Except monsters know how the game world works too (e.g. not like real world so you can't draw parallels to the real world rules from the game world - the game world acts by the game rules and actions should make sense in that context, not in real world context since it isn't the real world). Also, it's kinda trivial that magical opponents are more feared than the ones wielding a sword (because magic is more arcane, mysterious and basically every fear can be brought to life through magic; not to mention, what isn't understood is feared, so just about any intelligent creature fears magic more than a sword), and thus would be the first to be targeted and thus the melee combatants should strive to pose means to stop that from happening. Team game, remember.


To that:

stuff

I'd like to respond to your comment point by point, but I don't have that kind of time right now and I feel this requires an immediate response so if you'll excuse me, I'll abbreviate. Yell if you think I glossed over some non-trivial point


This, and Eldariel, you are not playing the GAME, you are playing the RULES.

What is the game then you ask? Basically that is a bunch of people coming together to play an elaborate game of make-believe with dice, with the intention of having FUN.

Having FUN means not having your choice of character class belittled or made irrelevant, just because someone is so 'clever' to abuse the flaws in the rules.

Here you go wrong, making a sweeping generalization. Having fun is not an universal concept. While a make-belief efficiency may be enough for some, others like to have their heroic champions actually able to perform those heroic deeds. Not only that, but it needs to be challenging.

If you walk up to a dragon and stab it once with a sword, you won't feel like you accomplished much. The same applies to if the dragon isn't played intelligently. It isn't very rewarding to beat up a dragon that keeps hitting the guy using Improved Combat Expertise for +20 to AC with no chance of hitting while being peppered by arrows and spells from the rest of the party as if it were a dumb, animalistic beast with no ability to think.

That just isn't how you expect a Dragon to behave; beating an epic monster requires an epic fight to truly grant the gratification to many players. And to that end, the players and the DM need to be able to provide the epic fight. And sadly, there's little place for that Sword & Board Fighter in that epic fight, or many other epic fights for that matter.

Having a mechanically sound character adds to the enjoyment of the game, especially when everyone has one. If someone builds a mechanically unsound character, the more experienced character builders can help him build a character after the same concept, but mechanically better so that the less experienced/less optimizing-inclined player can play the character he wanted while not causing grief to the others by getting the party killed constantly, and not having to stand around uselessly when fighting.


The GAME is about a bunch of fantasy type heroes goiong about doing heroic stuff. That assumes a few things: Warriors who fight stuff and are good at smacking down things, wizards who can do amzing things with magic (but still don't rule the world somehow.. or maybe they do...), rogues who get by on skill and luck...

Yes, the "game" assumes all that. But if the rules don't comply, you're in a conundrom. If things should be in a certain way, then that's how they should pan out in the game too. But if the rules and the game world work in such a way that these characters cannot do what their fantasy archetype assumes they would be able to do, the fun suffers. And as you said, that is what the game is about. It's not about fantasy cliches. It's not about roles. It's about fun, and the only right way to play is the play which results in the most fun for everybody.


There are also certain assumption, cliches and conventions: Like that the warrior types DO get to battle hordes of enemies, protecting his weaker companions and such. That the rogue DOES get to bypass traps and unlock doors and generally be crafty. That clerics and paladins are holy men who DO think it is a good idea to use the magic granted to them to help OTHERS.

It does NOT assume that 'clever' enemies simply ignore the fighter, because he 'doesn't do optimal damage per round'. It does NOT assume that a oh-so 'clever' wizard makes a rogue totally obsolete. It does NOT assume that a cleric only buffs up himself and then takes away the role of the fighter.

And yet, breaking those cliches and assumptions can lead to much more fun than slavishly following them when the game rules don't comply.


That is the GAME. The creators of D&D tried to come up with rules, trying to codify the GAME to make it playable. The rules aren't perfect. They ARE abusable. But just because you CAN abuse something doesn't mean you should.

It's not abusing the rules when you try to ensure the maximal enjoyment for everyone. The maximal enjoyment does not always come from having smart enemies act stupid to try to make the game seem like somethign it isn't.

This is not rules abuse. Building mechanically sound characters is simply maximizing the system for what it offers. You can abuse the rules, but you don't do that in game - that's not the intent. What does serve a purpose is making characters that can live up to what you'd expect them to be able to do. That's doing just what you're claiming is the way to go; playing a hero of legends capable of epic deeds. If you play a hero of legends, you need to be capable of those epic deeds.


There is, for example, no law forcing you to yield your seat on a crowded bus to, say, and old man, or a pregnant woman.

There is just a certain convention that you do.

You DO realize what ignoring this convention makes you?

Same when you insist on playing the RULES instead of the GAME.

Yes, you can point out all day how so-and-so style of fighting is 'mechanically superior' to another. But you do NOT tell another player what he 'has to play' to 'pull his weight' in the party!

He plays whatever he damn-well-pleases. This may mean that he'll have to roll up another character some day because he got killed or gets bored. Maybe he makes some choices that make the game unfun for the others. Then he should reconsider.

This is the thing. If he does get the party killed, he is making the game unfun for others. If he can't live up to his fantasy archetype, he will not enjoy it. Do you have to let everyone make the same mistakes and let them get annoyed even though you could've prevented that from happening? Is it not your damn duty as the more experienced player to make sure that everyone is having as much fun as possible? Why would you not give him the tools to build the character he wishes to build?


That doesn't mean that it happens. Because that is not FUN. You seriously have no problem with wizards tossing spells around left and right but you balk at the idea that enemy mooks just run up against the bulwark of defense that is the fighter, only to have wave after wafe of them broken against his shield? Or that, in an open environment, they swarm ALL the PCs and the non-martial ones fight tooth-and-nail to hold their own while their fighter buddy thins the ranks and shouts to them 'I'll come and help you, just hold on a little longer!' ?

I have a problem with the idea that enemies act stupid. Again, defeating great challenges gives many players the rush of victory. If the enemies act stupid, the challenge just isn't nearly as epic. If all the mooks run at the fighter and the fight becomes just slapping them down one by one, it's not very epic.

If they run past the fighter and swarm the weaker party members and there's real danger of death and defeat involved and the party comes out victorious, then it does feel epic; they were threatened, they were put to the test, they fought tooth and nail and they managed to come out on the top! Basically, the DM needs to threaten the party to truly provide them with the enjoyment you all seek in the game. Intelligently acting opponents are way more threatening than stupid opponents. Therefore, intelligent opponents provide more enjoyment than stupid ones. Therefore the DM should play opponents intelligently whenever it makes sense because that gives the most enjoyment from the game! And you can help that sword & board Fighter guy build a character that does not just sit by idly and wait for that to happen. The tools are there! Make use of them. Make mechanics match the flavour! That's why the game has rules.

The game doesn't have rules just because someone decided it would be cool to have a bunch of them. The game has rules to model interesting conflicts. When the outcome is not governed by the DM or the players but the dice, that's where the excitement comes. There's a true risk of defeat, and a chance of victory. You need a chance of defeat to truly enjoy the victory. That's why the game has rules, and that's why you shouldn't pretend the rules don't exist. That'll detract from the game for many types. If your group doesn't have a simple player who enjoys defeating tough opponents, sure, go ahead, throw the rules to the backburner. At that point, you shouldn't be playing D&D though. The selling point of D&D is the rules. A freeform game would suit that type of game much better; you don't need the rules for anything if you're just playing the fantasy game for the flavour! Toss the rules away and enjoy a more wide open world.



Also, you seem to forget that this thread is asking why sword & board is mechanically inferior to two-handed fighting. I answered the question. People brought up some points, I clarified why two-handed fighting is still the superior option. Then I offered suggestions on how to make the game more enjoyable for those who want to play sword & board.

The rules have problems, but there's no reason why the players couldn't fix those errors as they go about the game. For good or ill, D&D is a rules-heavy game. That has some advantages, such as the fact that fights have the luck component. That gives the game so much. But it also has the problem that all characters are not created equal. This is why it's important to understand the distinction between character concept and character build.

You can build the same character in many ways. Some of them are mechanically better than others. To truly be heroic, you should work with your friends to build the mechanically best version of the concept. If the whole concept (such as Sword & Board) is just mechanically not as good as others, work with your DM to change that. Make the game fair. It doesn't take handwaving; you can make the rules set fair! That's why threads like this exist: to determine what's wrong and how to best fix it.

If your group doesn't care about this part of the rules, more power to you. But don't tell others not to care; that's none of your damn business. If the OP asks the question, chances are that he or someone in his gaming group does care. If that's the case, instead of just rising your arms and saying "pretend you're more heroic than your character acts" or dumbifying all the opponents, you could fix the problem.

UserClone
2008-12-29, 09:54 PM
Ignoring the senseless arguing about how the game should be played:smallyuk:, I actually really like the comment about making a shield double your Combat Expertise the way that 2-Handers get double Power Attack. I also like the idea of giving a feat which equates to Deflect Arrows, but have it apply to a shield only instead of UAS's only. Thoughts?

Stephen_E
2008-12-30, 12:54 AM
Ignoring the senseless arguing about how the game should be played:smallyuk:, I actually really like the comment about making a shield double your Combat Expertise the way that 2-Handers get double Power Attack. I also like the idea of giving a feat which equates to Deflect Arrows, but have it apply to a shield only instead of UAS's only. Thoughts?

I agree. Having a Shielded doubling the effect of combat expertise is good.
A few conditions.
1) The Shield must be weilded. No animated shields giving the bonus.
2) It must be a true shield. Bucklers don't cut it. Otherwise people would use a buckler and the feat that allows you to use a weapon in your offhand at the same time as you get the ac bonus from your buckler.

As a side note if someone is using the Leap Attack feat with Shield Charge I'd add the extra damage from Power Attack/Leap Attack to the Trip roll.

If you really want to give the S&B fighter the ability to protect you could also allow Shield Slam CW be done as an AOO. Shield Slam causes your target to make a fort save or be dazed for a round.

Stephen E

Thurbane
2008-12-30, 01:15 AM
"Not pulling your weight" is a VERY valid problem. One that should be discussed at the beginning of the game to make sure everyone has FUN.
Except for the person shoehorned into playing a character/build he really wasn't interested in, because everyone told him that his character concept was suboptimal...

We've all been frustrated by someone in the group playing "less than effective" characters, either through the mechanics of builds, or general poor/cowardly play, but telling someone what character they "must" play is the height of poor form IMHO. It's like the bad old days when they last player to join was cajoled into being a Cleric (back when Clerics basically sucked).

Each to their own, but I simply wouldn't play in a game where I had to submit my character for the group's approval when joining a party. :smallfrown:

horseboy
2008-12-30, 01:26 AM
Except for the person shoehorned into playing a character/build he really wasn't interested in, because everyone told him that his character concept was suboptimal...

We've all been frustrated by someone in the group playing "less than effective" characters, either through the mechanics of builds, or general poor/cowardly play, but telling someone what character they "must" play is the height of poor form IMHO. It's like the bad old days when they last player to join was cajoled into being a Cleric (back when Clerics basically sucked).

Each to their own, but I simply wouldn't play in a game where I had to submit my character for the group's approval when joining a party. :smallfrown:
Which is one of the problems with D&D. Basic concepts which should work epically fail.

Harperfan7
2008-12-30, 02:02 AM
Sword & Board is the style for generic fighters. If you have combat expertise (which you should), you can gain up to +7 AC than someone without it, +12 with a +5 shield. If you have Power Attack, you can drop your shield and use your weapon two handed. This style works best with a bastard sword or waraxe. If you are using a shield, the weapon specialization feats help with the loss of damage, and the weapon focus feats help with attack bonus. The real benefit is versatility. What works in one battle might not work in others, and with this kind of build, you might not specialize in any one area, but you are good enough for all.

Also, I have never had problems with fighters being underpowered, wizards being overpowered, or for that matter, alignments restricting the fun of the game. I think a lot of you aren't playing the game the way it was designed to be played.

Thurbane
2008-12-30, 02:20 AM
Which is one of the problems with D&D. Basic concepts which should work epically fail.
I somewhat agree, but I often feel the alleged "uselessness" of certain builds/classes etc. is vastly exaggerated, especially on various internet forums...

It also depends heavily on how much of an optimization/powergaming based group (and DM) a person is involved with. The balance issues in 3.5 only seem to become a major problem when everyone is heavily min/maxing, and even then, much moreso at higher levels than low-mid levels.

arguskos
2008-12-30, 02:34 AM
That's actually a very interesting tactic.
It is!! And it works rather well (though... I do let the player in question do things while using his Tower Shield for cover, it's not RAW legal). His Tower Shield+Spiked Shield+Quick Draw+Longsword fighter is great fun, and pretty good too (read: fun and decent enough).

I can provide details if you wish, just PM me. :smallcool:

horseboy
2008-12-30, 02:36 AM
I somewhat agree, but I often feel the alleged "uselessness" of certain builds/classes etc. is vastly exaggerated, especially on various internet forums...

It also depends heavily on how much of an optimization/powergaming based group (and DM) a person is involved with. The balance issues in 3.5 only seem to become a major problem when everyone is heavily min/maxing, and even then, much moreso at higher levels than low-mid levels.Well, I do play with guys responsible for WOTC having to publish 3.5. Because they would publicly demonstrate just how broken 3.0 was. :smallamused:

Stephen_E
2008-12-30, 02:56 AM
Just contemplating an "Optimised Tank/S&B":smallbiggrin:
Tanked on AC and Saves

Nixie - Fighter 2/Hexblade 4 (Dark Companion option)/Blackguard 3/Monk 2/
ECL 13, Lev 11 (1 LA brought off)
Basic Stats Str 17, Dex 14, Cha 16, Con as high as you can get
Racial Mods, -4 Str, +6 Dex, Int +2, Wis +2, Cha +8
+2 Cha from lev, +4 Cha from Cloak
Feats - Cleave (prereq), Imp Sunder (prereq), Power Att (prereq), Combat Expertise, Divine Shield, Combat Reflexes (mnk)

AC = +1 siz, +4 Mithril Breastplate (+9), +4 Tower Shield (+8), Divine Shield +Cha (+10), +5 Combat Expertise, +5 Dex, Ring of Prot +3, Amulet of NAC +3.
Total = AC 54 at ECL 13.

Evasion, Mettle
Fort 30+Con bonus, Ref 30, Will 28+Will bonus (note this is adding Cha twice to saves from Both Hexblade and Blackguard).

She will be suffering multiclassing penalties unless the DM rules Hexblade is favoured (Nixies aren't given a favoured class, but they are Neutral, and Hexblade is like a sorceror, which is the Pixie favoured class) or get an additional Fighter and Monk level.

Stephen E

Mark Hall
2008-12-30, 11:34 AM
It's like the bad old days when they last player to join was cajoled into being a Cleric (back when Clerics basically sucked)

Did no one else hire their clerics? We did that several times... go to a good temple, say "We want to hire a cleric to adventure with us." They got a share of treasure, maintenance (i.e. room, board, equipment replacement), and usually a bonus (like the one who wanted a suit of plate armor if he was going to be going into battle). Not expensive, and well worth it if no one wants to play the cleric.

And when, really, did clerics basically suck? They weren't popular, but they rocked. Good armor, decent weapons (go warhammer; faster under Weapon Speed rules, and with a decent damage... plus, you can Thor Shot them later), good HD, good attack tables/ThAC0, and good spells. Sure, your 1st level and 4th level slots were usually healing spells... but with no healing spells in 2nd and 3rd level, you could load up on Hold Person, Spiritual Hammer, Animate Dead.

They may not have been popular, but they never really sucked.

Starsinger
2008-12-30, 11:41 AM
Wasn't there an awesome (atleast I thought it was) Cleric spell in 2e where you summoned magic hammer(s) and threw it/them?

PinkysBrain
2008-12-30, 11:58 AM
How much worse is sword & board compared to two handed fighting for a fighter restricted to core books only?
It depends ...

If you have a carebear DM then it's fine all the time, he will throw all the melee and ranged at you even if it's not very smart for your opponents to do so. With a deadly DM a shield only makes sense if you can block a choke point or if you are fighting something stupid.

You generally can't force opponents to fight you other than making yourself a high priority target, your shield actually makes that harder. If you have the most hitpoints in the party, you should not try to be a low priority target.

In Order of the Stick shields are picked up or discarded as the situation calls for them ... that is the logical way to use them.

Mark Hall
2008-12-30, 12:28 PM
Wasn't there an awesome (atleast I thought it was) Cleric spell in 2e where you summoned magic hammer(s) and threw it/them?

Spiritual Hammer. 2nd level, meaning it didn't interfere with healing.