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    Default (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Hi all.

    I'm fairly new to DM-ing, but I seem to have run into a problem: the party's ninjas. When I allow them to use Sudden Strike, they easily kills anything I put in their path, but if their enemies can discern them (through scent, mostly) they seem to be pretty useless.

    How can I find a middle road?

    The ninjas's players also brought up an interesting idea: what if the hit a monster with a glass ball filled with perfume, will the Scent-ability be temporarily disabled?

    I think this is the place to find answers, it usually is when I'm skulking around, thanks beforehand// Rensvind

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Make an encounter with a mix of monsters - some immune to criticals, like undead and constructs, some not?

    edit: as for the perfume idea, sure, why not? Maybe rule that the ninjas have to hit their face or upper body, a ranged touch attack with a -5 penalty?
    Last edited by Violet Octopus; 2009-08-23 at 07:06 AM.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Rensvind View Post
    When I allow them to use Sudden Strike, they easily kills anything I put in their path,

    Don't any of party's enemies have at least decent spot check to spot the ninja?

    Are ecounters always in places where hiding is possible and easy?

    Are enemies always surprised and attacked side?

    That would be, for me, reasons why they "kill anything in their path" and those are rather easy to change.
    Last edited by Spiryt; 2009-08-23 at 07:05 AM.
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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Try adding more enemies, or mixing in enemies that are vulnerable to sneak attacks and are both a) high value targets and b) hard to take down.

    For instance, have a wizard + golems attack, and the ninjas should go straight for the (flying, blinking, mirror imaged) wizard, while the party engages the golems. Or a really heavy hitting bruiser, like a giant with warblade or fighter or barbarian levels. Lots of HP, hits hard. Also include some stuff that the ninjas won't be so good at taking down- a fiend with true seeing or some undead or creatures with scent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    Don't any of party's enemies have at least decent spot check to spot the ninja?

    Are ecounters always in places where hiding is possible and easy?

    Are enemies always surprised and attacked side?

    That would be, for me, reasons why they "kill anything in their path" and those are rather easy to change.
    Ninjas turn invisible, which gives them +a lot to their hide checks.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Myrmex View Post
    Ninjas turn invisible, which gives them +a lot to their hide checks.
    Yes, but as far as I know, 10th level ninja can do it about ( let's say) only 8 rounds a day, which is hardly sufficient for killing every ecounter they meet a day. And doesn't help move silently checks much.
    Avatar by Kwarkpudding
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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    Yes, but as far as I know, 10th level ninja can do it about ( let's say) only 8 rounds a day, which is hardly sufficient for killing every ecounter they meet a day. And doesn't help move silently checks much.
    A 10th level ninja can make 4 attacks/round, at +5d6 each. It's certainly sufficient to do a lot of hurt to many encountered creatures that are dangerous. And listen only lets you know that an invisible creature is there- it doesn't make you any less flat footed.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Using monsters with damage reduction can help mitigate the impact of a sudden strike or anything with extra-sensory perception, like thermosense or blindsense will know where the ninja is the minute he walks in range. Really though, doing massive amounts of damage some of the time and nothing at all other times is what (D&D) ninjas are all about, it's what makes ninjas frustrating to play and overall weaker than rogues or scouts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Myrmex View Post
    A 10th level ninja can make 4 attacks/round, at +5d6 each. It's certainly sufficient to do a lot of hurt to many encountered creatures that are dangerous. And listen only lets you know that an invisible creature is there- it doesn't make you any less flat footed.
    Listen can make you "less flat-footed":

    Quote Originally Posted by The SRD
    Determining Awareness

    Sometimes all the combatants on a side are aware of their opponents, sometimes none are, and sometimes only some of them are. Sometimes a few combatants on each side are aware and the other combatants on each side are unaware.

    Determining awareness may call for Listen checks, Spot checks, or other checks.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    ^You're still being struck by an enemy that is invisible, i.e. has total concealment, i.e. you're flat-footed, i.e. sudden strike.

    It seems to me like the rest of your party is less than optimized, meaning that a ninja's +5d6 seems like a lot. If you were playing with optimized fighters that deal 3d6+eleventy from their power attack, it'd seem a lot less.

    Damage comparison: 10th level ninja, who is invisible.

    4 attacks, let's say that all of them hit. that's 24d6, assuming shortswords. Averages to about 91.

    Barbarian, let's say he has the dip for pounce, and whirling frenzy. 3 attacks, let's say all 3 hit. Strongarm Bracer-ing Large Greatsword, shock trooper full, gives us 9d6+60+3x STR modifier of the barbarian. Let's conservatively call the total damage average 105.

    Now more realistically only 2 attacks on each of them will hit, especially considering that many enemies' flat-footed ACs aren't that much lower than their normal AC. Also more realistically the barbarian won't charge every round. So let's knock that power attack down to 5, which puts his accuracy at approximately the same as the ninja, considering that the barbarian likely has a 24 strength in rage (conservative estimation), the ninja's dex is 20(conservative estimation), the barbarian's BAB is 3 higher, and his weapon probably has higher pluses on it. That means the ninja's damage is 12d6 per round, or about 46, and the barbarian's damage is 6d6 +20 + triple strength mod(24), which averages to 64. 1 more level and the barbarian gets his 4th attack, which isn't much at a -9 to hit, but it's something.

    Even a humble fighter can have weapon focus and greater weapon focus and specialization (though he's more likely going to be a tripmonkey), so he can power attack about as well as said barbarian.

    So, what was the point of all that? Just sayin' that you should expect rogues to do that much damage, but you should also expect it from fighters as well. It's really not out of line, and you should plan encounters based on how much damage your ninjas do.

    Also, demonstrate how awesome power attack is to your fighters. Just toss some ogres at them and power attack them silly.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Myrmex View Post
    A 10th level ninja can make 4 attacks/round, at +5d6 each. It's certainly sufficient to do a lot of hurt to many encountered creatures that are dangerous. And listen only lets you know that an invisible creature is there- it doesn't make you any less flat footed.
    Even if there's only 180 feet of open space (any town square is going to be at least that big) ninja moving at normal speed is going to need 3 round just to approach the target. And that assuming that enemy doesn't move himself.

    If enemy hears the invisible creature and has at least one level of cleric, it can cast obscuring mist to hide from attacker, use Sanctuary to spoil at least few attacks. With one level of wizard enemy can just try Color Spray - he doesn't need exact location at all.

    If enemy is a Green Hag it can just become invisible as well.
    If enemy is Medusa, it can just gaze.

    Those are just random exapmples, I don't know what's going on in game.

    If character's Barbarian - well there's another problem.

    And any character that notices presence of the invisible, or even survived first round(s) can just run in differen't direction/ stay away, find cover/wait for a better opportunity. (rather natural if something you cannot see attacks you).

    Even unintentionaly, he can reach the end of ninja's ki power that way.
    If creature can fly, things can be even easier.

    In short, if ninja's are killing things so easy, some things are seriously to much set for their purpose. Enemies just staying in place and waiting to get killed can be one example.

    Especially that ninja is not a strong class AFAIK.

    EDIT: Also, like I said don't just assume that players are never going to be surprised side. Or that enemy isn't going to be sometimes wary of possible attack (and doesn't - just for example - stay close to some water to see if someone isn't approaching him)
    Last edited by Spiryt; 2009-08-23 at 10:33 AM.
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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Thanks everyone for your tips, they will come in handy.

    Yes, my party is very under-optimized, but I like it that way...
    1 Halfling Barbarian Monkey Gripping (yes, Monkey Grip) a medium greataxe
    1 Human Cleric going for Malconvoker
    1 Human Ninja
    1 Tiefling Ninja (bought of the LA)
    1 Desert Elf Druid, wants to go MoMF (he's the power-gamer)

    I did show them what meleers could do, but I changed the damage, didn't want to kill the whole party... Didn't think that MM2 Thri-kreen rangers could do so much damage dual-wielding gythkas and having humans as favored enemies

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Drop a lot of low-level encounters at them. They'll still have the "power trip" from their early success but once they'll exhaust their daily use, they're doomed.

    For the perfume idea, they can also use spice, garlic or anything with a powerful and disturbing scent. Doesn't even have to hit the target, it just have to engulf an area.
    http://www.d20srd.org/srd/specialAbilities.htm#scent
    False, powerful odors can easily mask other scents. The presence of such an odor completely spoils the ability to properly detect or identify creatures, and the base Survival DC to track becomes 20 rather than 10.
    Opponent of choice :
    What about a
    • Ogre-mage
    • 2nd level Fighter
    • with Blind-Fight and Improved Trip
    • wielding a Heavy Flail

    That's a +13 Force check, immediately followed by a melee attack (2d8+7 damage /20). This should give a hell of a encounter to your party, as it can be invisible himself but still fight them without penalty.
    Last edited by Johel; 2009-08-23 at 11:14 AM.
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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Just a point of order: Using invis, you can only sudden strike with the first attack. And Damn, but shock trooper is disgusting...O.o


    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/20040224a

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Susano-wo View Post
    Just a point of order: Using invis, you can only sudden strike with the first attack.
    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/20040224a
    Well, yeah I wrote quite a long post and had forgotten that attacking breaks invisibility.

    Anyway, if ninja follow the same rules, I can't really see how the can kill things so easily.

    Leaving aside the number of attacks, they're perfectly vulnerable to attacks until they trigger invisibility again in their round.
    Last edited by Spiryt; 2009-08-23 at 11:48 AM.
    Avatar by Kwarkpudding
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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Susano-wo View Post
    Just a point of order: Using invis, you can only sudden strike with the first attack. And Damn, but shock trooper is disgusting...O.o


    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/20040224a
    Ah, but there's a catch: A Ninja's Ghost Step ability (from which the Ninja gets invisibility) doesn't have the clause about it ending when you attack that invisibility, the spell, has.
    Of course, by the time I finish this post, it will already be obsolete. C'est la vie.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    hmm, I'll have to look it up in CA when I get home...Crystal keeps version of each is truncated ^ ^

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Susano-wo View Post
    hmm, I'll have to look it up in CA when I get home...Crystal keeps version of each is truncated ^ ^
    The Errata actually clarifies it, IIRC.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Scent doesn't stop sudden strike / ghost step. Even if they discover which square the ninjas are in through some ability, they are still flat-footed and still have 50% miss chance if they can't see them. Blind-fight might work though.
    So you never have to interrupt a game to look up a rule again:
    My 3.5e Rules Cheat Sheets: Normal, With Consolidated Skill System
    TOGC's 3.5e Spell/etc Cards: rpgnow / drivethru rpg
    Utilities: Magic Item Shop Generator (Req. MS Excel), Balanced Low Magic Item System
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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Scent doesn't work? Ooops... well, if I hadn't misunderstood that, none of them would have been turned into wererats, and i wouldn't have had nearly as fun

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Enemies with Uncanny Dodge might help - they can't be caught flat-footed except in certain rare circumstances.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Rensvind View Post
    Scent doesn't work? Ooops... well, if I hadn't misunderstood that, none of them would have been turned into wererats, and i wouldn't have had nearly as fun
    Ya but at least you know which square to target. Here's another method: Any time someone attacks or casts a spell or etc. they automatically give away which square they're in (no check). But they could just attempt to move silently for their move action afterwards if they still have one. Then the opponent attempts a listen check to hear him and find out which general direction/area he's in. He must beat the DC by 20 to pinpoint exactly which square he's in. But, in all these cases he's still flat-footed and gets a 50% miss chance, assuming he even pinpoints the square (or guesses it correctly). The blind-fight feat fixes that to some extent.

    From there the baddies can try bags of flour, glitterdust, area damage spells, spilling a nearby container of liquid on the floor to catch footsteps, etc. But don't make monsters too prepared for invisible opponents unless they somehow know they're coming.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2009-08-23 at 05:29 PM.
    So you never have to interrupt a game to look up a rule again:
    My 3.5e Rules Cheat Sheets: Normal, With Consolidated Skill System
    TOGC's 3.5e Spell/etc Cards: rpgnow / drivethru rpg
    Utilities: Magic Item Shop Generator (Req. MS Excel), Balanced Low Magic Item System
    Printable Cardstock Dungeon Tiles and other terrain stuff (100 MB)

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    Scent doesn't stop sudden strike / ghost step. Even if they discover which square the ninjas are in through some ability, they are still flat-footed and still have 50% miss chance if they can't see them. Blind-fight might work though.
    Creatures with scent can pinpoint a target within 5', so yes, it does stop sudden strike/ghost step, but it's easy to circumvent by using a reach weapon. There's a variety of alchemical items such as catstink and scentbreaker than can be used to make things difficult for creatures using scent, and I think there's a Scentblinder magic item in Savage Species that nullifies it completely.

    The perfume idea is a good one. This is the kind of clever thinking you want to encourage with the players, so I'd say let it work.

    Likewise, if you start throwing golems, plants, oozes, and undead at the ninjas, then yeah maybe that first fight or two they are going to feel useless, but make sure you put some hints in about how to get around the problem. Scrolls of golem strike, vinestrike, or grave strike, or some tip about where a Golembane Scarab or Greater Demolition Crystal can be found. Otherwise, make sure there are squishy targets around that the ninjas can attack and use their abilities on.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
    Creatures with scent can pinpoint a target within 5', so yes, it does stop sudden strike/ghost step, but it's easy to circumvent by using a reach weapon. There's a variety of alchemical items such as catstink and scentbreaker than can be used to make things difficult for creatures using scent, and I think there's a Scentblinder magic item in Savage Species that nullifies it completely.
    No it doesn't, they still have total concealment, and as a result their target is still denied a dex bonus. Knowing what hex your attacker is in isn't sufficient to keep your dex bonus.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    Even if there's only 180 feet of open space (any town square is going to be at least that big) ninja moving at normal speed is going to need 3 round just to approach the target. And that assuming that enemy doesn't move himself.
    I would use invisibility AFTER I got into melee range.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Myrmex View Post
    I would use invisibility AFTER I got into melee range.
    Certainly can be good idea, but then you obviously can't sneak up so effectively. Or at all, if cover to hide behind is scarse.

    Something for something.
    Last edited by Spiryt; 2009-08-24 at 05:20 AM.
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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    In my Wednesday group, we have one of the best optimiser aside from myself (who's DMing) playing a Ninja 3/Rogue 4/Invisible Blade 1 (so as to max out his SA/SS). Thanks to lousy AD&D treasure (converted module) he's also got Wings of Flying. So, he's got about 6 rounds of effectively Greater Invisibility per day, TWF and a high damage (mostly from SA/SS as his Str is poor and, or course, he's only using daggers).

    At level 8, D4-1+5D6 on about one to two hits (average 19-38 damage; slightly more as he's a jammy sod with the dice, but that's not a mechanical issue!), he is capable of dealing a fair whack of damage. But not that much more than the (Rebalanced) Paladin, who is dealing out two attacks with 2D4+11+3D6 Smite Evil (thrice per encounter) plus PA (average 26.5 or 53 damage plus another 6-10 per attack from PA); the dagger-chucking-specialist fighter (six attacks (Boots of Speed, ITWF, Imp Rapid Shot) at D4+5 (often +6 with PBS and higher with magical daggers the first round or so) four of which are at his full BAB - and, given the number of attacks at least one crit more often than not; or, on a good day when I don't consistently make my saves, the blaster sorcerer or psion.

    His invisibilty is a nuisence (in fact to start with, we said he became visible for a fraction of a second when he sustained it round to round); but in the end? Not really that powerful. Heck, we're now at the level where Greater Inivisibilty is available anyway, so, not at all that powerful. And, if he does run into something that renders invisibility or SA/SS useless, his damage drops down to negligable.

    So, the answer to Sudden Strike is: don't worry about it. It's less good than Sneak Attack (if you're having problems with sole ninja, imagine what a rogue dual wielding will do; they don't have to be invisible). Remember, while Ghost Step is powerful it's basically there soley to allow Ninja to be useful at all, since they rely on it to allow them to make Sudden Strikes. Rogues can SA all day, but Ninja can't. Ninja are kinda binary; either their invisibility/etherealness works and they Sudden Strike a lot or it doesn't and they are pretty useless. And fragile. Not a lot you can do about that.

    Best solution in this case, is let them have their fun. Your party is by your own admission, under-optimised, so you're gonna have to be careful with 'em whatever you do. So, let them spam there invisibility in the encounters that don't matter (and of course, if they do, remember that if they have more than one or two encounters per day, they'll either learn to be sparing or run out of effectiveness very fast!)

    When you do want to make an encounter a serious/dramatic/BBEG battle, make sure there's plenty of cannon-fodder and/or higher-priority targets for them to go against instead of just one or two. Make them have to choose when and where to strike, rather than just unloading on the nearest target. (Remember, too, that Glitterdust is a great counter to invisibility for a low-level spell as well, and that some creatures can see invisible or even ethereal creatures.) If this doesn't work (and it may not, depending on the collective tactical and co-operative accumen of your players; though getting pummelled due to poor tactis might make them learn this fast), there's not a lot you can do, aside from setting up nice dummies for them to knock over.

    If your party is horribly under optimised, I really wouldn't worry about the Ninja, because if your sole optimiser is playing a druid, he's going to absolutely dominate in later levels (Natural Spell...) unless he deliberately chooses not to.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Thanks to all of you for your help, I've gotten an idea or two out of it...

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Try using waves of enemies. Start with a small/moderate sized group. If the PCs kill them quickly, then throw more enemies at them. If they have a hard time, then the reinforcements never come. If they have a really hard time, have the enemies run away when they see one of their friends get killed.

    Enemies should come in varying groups, with varying tactics, and varying motivations. If you do enough of this, then no one build will ever dominate.

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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Rensvind View Post
    Hi all.

    I'm fairly new to DM-ing, but I seem to have run into a problem: the party's ninjas. When I allow them to use Sudden Strike, they easily kills anything I put in their path, but if their enemies can discern them (through scent, mostly) they seem to be pretty useless.

    How can I find a middle road?

    The ninjas's players also brought up an interesting idea: what if the hit a monster with a glass ball filled with perfume, will the Scent-ability be temporarily disabled?

    I think this is the place to find answers, it usually is when I'm skulking around, thanks beforehand// Rensvind
    Make a monster that has scent and sometimes not - sometimes has blind and tremor sense too... or psychic sense where it reads a mind and knows its location. Give it a ton of hp but make it slow. On harder encounters it can shape shift. It'll be the only monster your PCs can ever encounter, ever. Call it a newbie.

    Is that what you're looking for?
    Last edited by imp_fireball; 2009-08-26 at 11:11 AM.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: (D&D 3.5) How to deal with sudden strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
    Creatures with scent can pinpoint a target within 5', so yes, it does stop sudden strike/ghost step, but it's easy to circumvent by using a reach weapon. There's a variety of alchemical items such as catstink and scentbreaker than can be used to make things difficult for creatures using scent, and I think there's a Scentblinder magic item in Savage Species that nullifies it completely.
    As I explained, pinpointing a target does not negate concealment nor sudden strike. It only reveals which square to target. There are other methods to pinpoint a creature with the same effect, as mentioned. i.e., smelling exactly where someone is isn't any better than hearing exactly where they are; they still have concealment. Listening is the most easily available method to everyone. Especially the auto-success regardless of check when an enemy attacks or casts a spell, as explained in the darkness rules. Tremorsense is another example that specifically says it pinpoints without negating concealment, IIRC. Blindsight is the only method I remember that actually lets you "see" a creature without seeing it, like Daredevil.

    Blindfight is a very common way to negate melee sneak attack or the like, and should be the DMs best & most plausible option IMO. For example it's specifically listed as one of the feats dragons like to take, and dragons get a lot of feats from HD.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2009-08-26 at 02:33 PM.
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