View Full Version : One of my party members doesn't feel like he's contributing. How do I help?

2018-12-16, 03:40 AM
I am in a Pathfinder game, and one of my party members is playing a caster cleric focusing on support and damage in a group that already has some insane damage potential. He does a good job of getting the necessary buffs, debuffs, heals, and control spells out when they're needed. He also does a good job of getting in his share of damage. As a party, we all think he's doing a great job. However, he seems to disagree.

There are 3 main problems as far as I can tell:
1. The party's damage output is on a level that it can wipe out waves of minions within a round or 2, and mini bosses within 3-5 rounds. Granted, some dice rolls need to be a little better than the norm, but its not terrible odds that it happens. So by the time Cleric gets done with his 1st round, theres not really much left to do. The NPC's AI's are also getting smarter as well. They are beginning to be more tactical and making it harder for us to engage them while they try to fight us.

2. On the other hand, we're getting into the levels where enemies are going to have good saves and are going to be harder to hit. Most recently we've fought against a few enemies with evasion, some spellcasters with good will saves, and all of them have been giants with good fort saves. When he does finally get a chance to throw out an offensive spell our enemies have been making a lot of their saves.

3. This brings me to the 3rd problem: Dice. Our GM's dice have been rolling hot fire since almost day 1. He's even been rolling them in front of us so that we can see them. Our dice on the other hand have been fickle. Our Archer and blaster mage can confirm 5 total crits in 1 round to kill a dragon, but our tank can't roll above a 10. I know theres not really much we can do here, but it really hurts morale when the bad guys make most of their saves and only a few players are really getting the glory.

What can we do so that Cleric doesn't feel like he's been sidelined?

P.s I'm a player as well. Not the GM

2018-12-16, 05:47 AM
It can be a thankless task being the buff and heal guy - despite it being a vital party role.
When you deal out big damage, openly acknowledge that you only did it because of the Cleric's buffing.
When you get healed, point out that this is the sole reason you're able to continue adventuring.

Also, are there skills the Cleric is good at, like Diplomacy or Knowledge? Let them be the one to deal with those skill checks.
I recently played a bard who was fairly useless in a fight, but totally carried the party outside of combat.

2018-12-16, 06:09 AM
I suggest you check for the following things:

1) Take a good look at all character builds and try to figure how close in optimization level they are. It´s also important how much of the others gain from being buffed-up by the Cleric, how much of their performance is based on him - and point that out.

2) That is more a gm issue, really. There's a rather huge range of monsters and an experienced gm can always pick ones and decide on tactics based on what they feel hits the right spot for a given table and which would be represent the CR range for that table. Some tables like a challenge, so it is fine when things like demons and devils show up from level one, others tone that down a little bit. Simple solution: Have an open talk about it.

3) Nothing to be done there. That's the thing with an RNG, at least you reach auto-win stats.

2018-12-16, 06:37 AM
Maybe try putting the party into a position where the cleric doesn’t get a chance to pre-buff the party. An ambush or attack at night after the daily buffs have worn off

That will demonstrate the difference in power level the party has when the cleric has them loaded for bear and when they start with empty magazines and have to hand load.

2018-12-16, 12:21 PM
Thanks everyone for their help so far. I should probably add that we do go out of our way to let him know how important his contributions have been. I'm about 90% sure his Protection From Evil spell saved us from a TPK in our last fight.

2018-12-16, 12:42 PM
It can be hard when you don't have all the zazzle of doing the damage or casting the save or die. Unless clerics are built towards doing these, they are really best off casting those background spells that keep everyone alive and fighting well.

I mean, blessings of fervor alone is one of those spells that lets the party swing way over its level, mainly for action economy. If nobody else is buffing and casting defensive spells the party would be dead.

Divine magic as a whole lacks a lot of the BOOM that arcane has. There are always options though, and if your friend wants to they can start summoning hordes of monsters which do damage and tank for the party. The thing about divine magic is that a lot of it can change the course of the campaign, be it more subtly. The out of combat aspects of a caster can shine even at lower to mid levels, and at high levels it is the way the game is. Sure the martial and gishes can do tons of damage, but the cleric can teleport across planes at the snap of their fingers.

2018-12-16, 03:28 PM
So, it sounds to me like you have two approaches - change the perception, or change the reality.

You are currently working on trying to change the perception, and having limited luck. Try to see it from his perspective - ask him what he wanted out of the character, and why he thinks that he hasn't achieved that.

To change the reality, you could ask the player what he wants out of the character, then try to convince the GM to send challenges where he can achieve that. Or, in a sufficiently sandboxy game, seek such challenges out yourselves.

Jay R
2018-12-16, 06:11 PM
A. Remind him that all attacks from healed people who would otherwise be dead or incapacitated are attributable to him, as are all extra damage from pre-fight buffs.

B. Ask the DM to make encounters that will last long enough that most kills come after a couple of rounds of healing.

This will work if his actual frustration is that he doesn't feel like he's contributing.

But often, when somebody says that, their real frustration is that they don't get to roll hits and count up damage from them. Nothing can fix the person who wants to swing the sword but isn't swinging the sword.

Son of A Lich!
2018-12-16, 07:13 PM
I'm going to look into my crystal ball here and make some astounding observation to amaze and wonder...

*Hand wavey-ness*

The Cleric's player is sitting at the table... His turn comes up... no one is hurt... so he looks through his list of buffs to cast... sighs and chooses whatever has worked for him in the past...

And on... the next player's turn... When the now-enlarged Fighter hits the bad guy... The DM doesn't make a show about the BUFF the character has, just the attack the character made..?

Am I looking at the right table, yeah?

I think your DM has failed to maintain the first two rules of DMing; 1) Talk to your Players, and 2)Talk To YOUR PLAYERS.

This isn't a 6v1 game, The DM needs to be comfortable having conversations with the party on an individual level to check in that everyone is doing well.

Usually, when I have this issue, it's with bards or party faces, I'd imagine rangers would have this problem too but 5E doesn't seem to produce many rangers for some reason.

Basically, I breeze past social interactions because it can be jarring when you have someone who isn't social trying to be charming, but I need to be mindful that, y'know, if they want to play the ultra-sauve Rogue and are trying to seduce local ladies of the tavern and I just hand wave that past (Thinking I'm doing them a favor), they feel like I don't care about where they want to shine. This means that they don't get a chance to contribute their strengths. Just like little guys at the gym want to work on the pecs to improve themselves, the socially awkward have a habit of leaning into Party Faces to work where they feel the most lacking.

I think the cleric is going through the same thing, but in a different way; He wants to contribute and associates this with helping, ala buffs and heals. But just like I have the habit of assuming that socially awkward people don't want the lime light, Your DM is assuming that the Cleric knows he is 'literally' contributing, but isn't making a show of it because it seems obvious to him (The DM).

A little more focus on the Narrative, highlighting the "Strength of St. Cuthbert races through your blood as you stand up anew!" when casting healing spells and what not, and really tying the actions of the cleric into the weight of dictating the flow of combat and he should be fine.

*Thumbs Up*

2018-12-16, 07:41 PM
When he does finally get a chance to throw out an offensive spell our enemies have been making a lot of their saves.

That is part of the frustration and problem of a cleric (that is not specifically built to debuff or channel negative energy). The one thing that works every time is buffs. Debuffs take saves, damage spells on clerics are pretty weak, and other than having a mini story arc about zombie invasions doesn't let the class shine.

Clerics are pretty awkward to play. They are powerful in subtle ways, and they allow so many builds that are almost exclusive to each other. Personally I really prefer the Oracle as it is better designed, less MAD (sure you got your spells preselected and step down a tier) and the fluff is insane.

I played a Bones Oracle who was basically the buffer for our group but more often than not I started off not by buffing everyone but by summoning my skeletal champion (or in the latter parts spirit walking out of danger). If the problem is system inherent rather than with the perceived utility of the character, I'd suggest switching classes.

2018-12-16, 09:38 PM
Flattery. Express how his buff spell helped. When you hit an enemy or make a saving throw but only by just, thank him for that +1 or +2 he provided. When you aren't hurt as you could have been because of a spell he had cast, like Resist Energy or Death Ward, let him know. Cheer the teamwork. Him doing his job keeping you alive lets you do your job making the bad guys not alive. Never boast who got the kill, i.e. whose attack brought the monster to 0 hit points. Everyone got the kill. Everyone did their job taking away the monster's hit points or enabled another party member to take away the monster's hit points.

2018-12-17, 07:23 PM
When a fellow player healed my barbarian back from the brink of death, I (my character) brougt it up at opportune moments (telling of grandiose stories, etc.) thus bringing spotlight to the player, paying all room&borading fees for that character and did offer minor favours and presents all the time, in game, like buying expensive silken shawls, etc. All as thanks.

OOC it's just a mechanical conifrmation, but in character is were the money is. ;)

2018-12-18, 06:28 AM
If the reassurance and confirmation of the party/DM isn't sufficient, then maybe you can talk to your DM about creating a situation where the Cleric cannot contribute to the fight. Show how much more difficult things go without his buffs/heals/etc.

The DM would have to construct an encounter/plot that will prevent a TPK, but will still clearly show the necessity of the Cleric's input. Maybe that'll make him realise how valuable his role is.