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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Ok, so I have a character in a new campaign, and just recently got finished with the first encounter. My character is a Swordsage 1/Cleric 4/Crusader 2/Ruby Knight 3. I built him primarily to survive, defend casters, and do reasonable melee damage (not crazy 1 hit kill style, but enough to be said to be contributing).

    Unfortunately, I seem to be failing at my main goal. With some unlucky health rolls, I ended up with 63 hp with a +2 con mod. On average, I should be around 72 with the same con. That's strike 1.

    I'm wearing platemail and a +1 tower shield (sizing so that I can reduce it to a bucker and 2 hand power attack), but since I have no dex mod, my AC is only 23 unbuffed. With buffs, I can get in the 30 range, which is better. The problem is that my buffs are short lived (Poor caster level), meaning I have to cast them in combat to for them to be of any use.

    My character, and 4 other allies, were put up against a pair of hulking corpses and a blaspheme. They catch us by surprise, so I have no chance to buff, and I roll a 7 for initiative. The blaspheme hits me for about 20 damage, using it's ability to daze, and deal 1d6 strength damage (no save). One of the hulking corpses hits me with a full attack, dealing roughly 40 damage. Then activates improved grab. I fail. Rolls 3d6+12 rend damage. I then inform the DM that he's killed me, so the DM mercifully redacts the damage on the rend. I proceed to play defensively for the rest of the fight, using crusader strikes to restore my HP while doing relatively crappy damage. The DM seemed to avoid attacking me for the rest of the fight. Overall, I felt pretty worthless. I'm supposed to be a frontliner, and I can't even take two hits?

    Looking at the stats of the monsters, I might have just gotten unlucky (EVERYTHING hit me, even with only +7's on the off hand attacks). I do think that a no-save daze ability is pretty broken, but on the other hand, we (the party, not I) survived, so I guess it was ok. Mostly, though, what I'm after is strategies to survive longer then two rounds as a melee character. Are there tactics I'm missing, or was I just abysmally unlucky? My goal is to take damage instead of my allies, but how do I hold on longer so that I don't get destroyed?
    Last edited by Nich_Critic; 2010-10-06 at 01:44 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Tyndmyr's Avatar

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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Well, everyone hitting you when you have low health is unfortunate.

    Improved toughness is one way to improve the health. Even better, adding a +con enchantment to the appropriate item slot via MiC rules. +2 should be affordable at minimum, with +4 likely. Another 10 or 20 hp would probably serve you well.

    Next up, you need ways to get missed. Is your AC low? Do you have money to pick up static miss chances?
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  3. - Top - End - #3
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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    As I said, my AC is 23, but if I had gotten a turn it would have been at least 26 (Shield of deflection), maybe more depending on what buffs I cast.

    My armor gives me a miss chance (Blurring), but it's swift activated, so I couldn't get it up in time.

    Maybe I should trade my shield, which has abilities, for one with flat enhancement bonuses? That would give me a better all day AC.

    I think the issue was that I lost initiative. I need ways of getting things all day, or else win initiative so I can activate them. I already have an armor spike of warning to compensate for my lack of dex, but I think the DM would frown on me stacking more warning weapons.

    Retraining isn't an option, otherwise I would probably try for DMM persist. As it stands, the earliest I could get that would be level 18 (15 for a crappy persisted spell), so it's kind of out of the question for now.

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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Mmm, yeah, init might be handy as well then. Boosting it by getting at least a +2 dex bonus to your gear would be nice. The side effect on your AC will also be of help, as 23 isn't particularily great.

    I generally don't bother with sizing, instead packing a seperate tower shield for the few times I want one. More AC from that might also help a touch.

    Improved Init is always useful, if you've got a feat open.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    What cleric spells are you prepping/using? And which maneuvers? I know there are stances that grant DR, which would've helped a bit against that full attack (AFB and I don't remember what they are). Also, if you're allowed to re-build, some more crusader levels would give you a bigger delayed-damage pool, which is one of their main tanky benefits.

    Of course, losing init means a lot of that wouldn't matter; going first is very important for the tank.

    Oh, and if you can afford it, see about making the tower-shield Animated instead of sizing. Much more useful.
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Quote Originally Posted by Grynning View Post
    What cleric spells are you prepping/using? And which maneuvers? I know there are stances that grant DR, which would've helped a bit against that full attack (AFB and I don't remember what they are).
    Supreme Blade Parry is DR 5/-. I can't recall others, and that one has a small problem for OP - it's Iron Heart 8.
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    I think there's a Stone Dragon one - Stone Bones or something like that. Not terribly high level either, IIRC.
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Quote Originally Posted by Grynning View Post
    I think there's a Stone Dragon one - Stone Bones or something like that. Not terribly high level either, IIRC.
    Stone Bonus is DR 5/adamantium, IIRC. And a level 1 manuver.
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Quote Originally Posted by Grynning View Post
    I think there's a Stone Dragon one - Stone Bones or something like that. Not terribly high level either, IIRC.
    That's a Lv 1 Strike that grants DR 5/adamantine for 1 round on a hit.
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaydos View Post
    That's a Lv 1 Strike that grants DR 5/adamantine for 1 round on a hit.
    That's right. So it wouldn't have saved him in the above situation, but it's still handy.
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    There's really nothing you can do about a sufficiently overwhelming strike before you get initiative...If there's enough hitting you, you will die.

    Perhaps work on positioning? It seems like everything hit you, personally. I understand the desire to tank, but perhaps you might be helped by someone else joining you in the front rank, at least until after you get to act?
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    What's with the level of swordsage? It doesn't seem to contribute much to your build goal. What feats do you have? Improved Toughness and Practiced Spellcaster seem like decent choices to shore up your weak points.

    I'd say your biggest weaknesses, though, is the black hole that is your Armor Class. AC 23 is marginal to poor for an ECL10 tank. You might look into better enhancements on your shield and armor, plus a deflection bonus and a natural armor bonus. With your gear at your level, you should be sitting at AC 26-28 unbuffed. Consider an enhancement bonus to your Dex as well. If your current Dex bonus is +0, a +2 Dex enhancement will improve both your AC, Initiative, and Reflex saves (all of which are weak points for you).

    If you make all these changes (and boost Con, as suggested), you should be able to increase AC by 5-6 points, hp by 30 points, and caster level by 4. The difference will be like night and day.
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Ya, it more sounds like 1 bad coincidence where you rolled bad initiative and everything decided to attack you. Did no one do anything to the monsters to draw their ire?

    You list bad HP rolls as a problem, but even at avg, those extra 9 HP wouldnt have saved you. Your DM being unwilling to kill a char and gimping his monsters strategies to keep someone alive seems like more of an issue.

    If there's no risk...what's the point?

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    I realize the Crusader handbooks recommend low/medium AC to leverage steely resolve. I prefer a high AC, preferring to focus on battlefield control and defense.

    My Crusader 11 has the following:

    • STR=22 (18 base, +2 enhancement, +2 levelbonus)
    • DEX=16
    • CON=18 (17 base, +1 enhancement)
    • AC=31 (11 +3MithralFullPlate, 3 +1AnimatedLargeShield, +3 Dex, +2 Natural, +2 Deflect)
    • HP=114
    • IronWard Diamond: DR 5/-
    • Steely Resolve 15

    I use various maneuvers + Spiked Chain + Stand Still to keep the foes from getting to our back line. AC + DR + Steely Resolve keeps me pretty healty. Spells are an issue, but Steely Resolve + HP + Steely Resolve has kept me on my feet so far.

    I generally use my attack maneuvers/stances for the parties benefit (heals, -4 tohit vs party, etc). I still attack and can do a fair amount of damage.

    Some Recommendations:
    • Forget the Cleric buffs, your playing the tank role and generally can't afford to waste a round (or two) buffing. Unless you can quicken them (MetamagicFeat/CircletRapidCasting).
    • Memorize after battle "fixup" spells (CLW, Restoration, etc) and spells to deal with special situations.
    • Spend 50% of your net wealth on AC (ArmorClassGuide).
    • Boost your HPs to a typical Figher of your level. That may mean purchasing +CON items or taking Improved Toughness several times.
    Last edited by aeauseth; 2010-10-06 at 03:16 PM.

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    Tyndmyr's Avatar

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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Oh yeah, the ioun stone is also a good option if you need another +1 insight to AC. Insight bonuses to AC are remarkably rare, so the 5k is generally a great investment.
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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Quote Originally Posted by Diarmuid View Post
    Your DM being unwilling to kill a char and gimping his monsters strategies to keep someone alive seems like more of an issue.

    If there's no risk...what's the point?
    I see nothing wrong with a DM being unwilling to kill a character in the first round before he has had a chance to act at all. Doing so would be pretty terrible storytelling, and adversarial DM'ing, which most people do not appreciate.
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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Yeah, I don't mind that the DM pulled the attack, especially since I hadn't gotten a turn that I wasn't dazed in. I have the unfortunate habit of losing my characters and ending up way behind the party (Which contributes to more death, which leads to more behindness), so I can see why the DM took it easy on me. What bugged me is that he needed to do it at all.

    Aeauseth, I'm using a 32 point buy (and I'm a human), so scores like 18,17,16 are a bit crazy for me (That alone is a 39 point buy, with 8's in int, wis, or cha). Thanks for the rest of the stuff, though, I ruled out mythril armor because I didn't have any dex, but I should try to grab both in the near future.

    Thanks to everyone else for the ideas on increasing my HP/AC. TBH, I forgot about my delayed damage pool, which might have saved me, so there's that as well. I guess I just need to learn my features, and not get so close to potential dangers in the future.

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    Default Re: Help - DM has to go easy to keep me alive

    Quote Originally Posted by Grynning View Post
    I see nothing wrong with a DM being unwilling to kill a character in the first round before he has had a chance to act at all. Doing so would be pretty terrible storytelling, and adversarial DM'ing, which most people do not appreciate.
    Agreed. I play for fun, not for challenge, or experiencing a catharsis of pity and awe when my PC dies

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