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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default The Party Powerhouse Problem

    So recently I've noticed that one of the characters in my group's party has become surprisingly tough, and while that's all well and fine, I fear it may upset the balance in the party too much.

    The character in question is a Lizardfolk Sorcerer/Fighter/Dragon Deciple, and for a while he was in a power lull as none of his abilities matched those who had not multiclassed, he has now ended up on the other side with alot of power.

    He is only level 11, but has 95hp, 25 Strength, Atk 10/5 and 10 with a Holy Gnome Hooked Hammer as well as a bite attack, AC 26, and F/R/W of 11/4/8.
    Part of this power is from his more recent purchases, which include the party putting enough money together to get him the Belt of Giant Strength +6, something I didn't think they'd go for for a couple more levels at least. His Gnome Hooked Hammer has the hammer end as Holy, which he will Power Attack with two-handed for huge damage. And his armour is Mithril Breastplate with the Twilight enchantment for reduced Arcane Failure.

    He's managed this becuase the party has been kind enough to lend him money for the more expensive items knowing that he'll be able to tank better, but now I'm faced with the problem of enemies finding it difficult to scratch him while the others (being a rogue/shadowdancer and a ranged-weapon cleric) take only a few hits to fell. They of course have their own magic items to help themselves but not as powerful as the Lizard's, so they themselves struggle sometimes to hit, let alone do as much damage as the Lizard does.

    The one other thing that he does is in his buff. He casts Enlarge Self and follows that up with Rage, to give him a +4 to his strength and -3 to AC. If he does that and power attacks (likely with True Strike active instead of Rage) two-handed on an evil enemy, he's going to crush them, too quickly.

    Aside from an antimagic field on him, what could I do to make it fairer? I may take away one or more of the magic items, but I won't be doing it too soon considering he only just bought the belt and has had the hammer as Holy for a session or two longer, they'd feel cheated and like it was a waste of money to do it too soon.

    What to do? I'm looking for ways to make him a little more vunerable where the other party members could help. Any ideas?

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Well, one thing you could do is politely ask him to play another character if the character ends up being that big of a problem.

    You say he has an AC of 26, but what about his touch AC? If it's low enough, you could target that with certain abilities/spells instead.

    Also, for a character who is level 11, his reflex save absolutely sucks. Targetting his reflex saves with AOE effects could be nice.
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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    His touch AC is 15, which ironically may still be the highest touch AC in the party (the others being 13 and 14 I believe). I don't want to ask him to play another character, this is a recent issue to a character he's played for over a year now.

    I could throw some AoE stuff at him, though he does often go for spellcasters first to take them out quickly with his hammer or a fireball, as does the Cleric, so sticking them somewhere difficult for even spellcasters to hit them may work.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    1. Not every item has to be available for purchase; indeed, many items shouldn't be available. If the party is pooling money to get one character stacked with items which are considerably better than he should have, then just don't make those items available. Even then, a Belt of Strength +6 takes thirty-six days to craft, and a lot can go on in-game between that. An urgent adventure may take them to a land far away from where the item was commissioned, and by the time they finally arrive back to retrieve it they may find that the creator has sold it to someone else, but he'll make a new one for them after another thirty-six days. It's partially your own fault that this has happened.

    2. You said he's a Lizardfolk with Sorcerer, Fighter, and Dragon Disciple, and he's currently level 11 but casting Rage. Rage is a 3rd level spell, Lizardfolk have a +1 LA and two mandatory Humanoid racial HD, so that means that unless either he's cheating or you've made some ill-informed houserules he's gone LA +1/ Humanoid 2/ Sorcerer 6/ Fighter 1/ Dragon Disciple 1. Dragon Disciple does not grant access to any higher level spells than he already had access to. That's not even considering the extremely short duration of Rage considering his low caster level and the action requirement for concentration. If you made houserules which allowed him to do this, then again it's your own mistake that this has happened, if not then you need to audit his character sheet and make him fix anything that's not permissible.

    3. Use mixed encounters, throw in a big, strong opponent which the problem character has to deal with personally, and several other opponents who are a fitting challenge for the rest of the party. Looking down the CR 8-10 list in the Monster Manual, such creatures could include a Greater Elemental, a Stone, Frost, or Fire Giant, various Gargantuan Monstrous Vermin, a Hydra, etc. If the party is one strong character and several weaker characters, then make the encounters more complicated with a strong opponent that the weaker characters won't want to engage but plenty of other opponents for them to deal with.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Even against a level 11 party a well timed/placed Tanglefoot Bag or Entangle spell can really slow PC's down and reduce the chance of them taking out/countering your spell casters in the first turn.
    If you really want to make it more difficult for him to avoid these, make them into traps.


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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    While of course balance is relative, I will say that those stats seem in no way excessive for 11th level. For example, a straight-up core-only Half-Orc Barbarian 11, with no buff spells, could have:

    137 hp, AC 25, Saves +15 / 9 / 8
    Attack +15 (2d6 + 22)
    Raging Attack +18 (2d6 + 27)


    Maybe the other characters could use a little bit of help. The Rogue should have some hefty damage capability with the right circumstances (flanking or blinking for a full-attack of Sneak Attacks) and probably wants to be in stealth whenever they're not doing that. The Cleric archer is a potential powerhouse just by using some buff spells.

    I'm not saying that's the only approach to take, but it will have the benefit of making your game more compatible with future characters of a similar power level (like say, a plain Wizard 11 that's not trying much).
    Last edited by icefractal; 2012-10-07 at 01:43 AM.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    @ Biffoniacus, we are using some slight alterations for DD, I should have mentioned that. We stripped most of the additional benifits (a couple of +Ability stats, the Natural Armour increase and bonus spells) for increase to arcane caster level every other level. At the time I certianly thought he needed it because he was really falling behind (and he used to be a gnome until he was reincarnated into a Lizardfolk). Those house rules may be my fault but it seemed fine should the reincarnation not have ended up making him something with +2 instead of -2 to strength. Nonetheless it is a problem I now have to deal with.

    I also wouldn't normally have given such powerful magic items so soon, but it was part of a storyline from back when they were level 4 when they found that a shop had that belt, and he obviously remembered that when they revisited the town.

    I will probably end up throwing a bunch of mixed encounters at them

    @Malak'ai, sounds like a good idea with the spells, but I wouldn't be surprised if the traps were triggered by the Rouge instead (he's a really crap trapfinder, he triggers them almost every time instead :P)

    @icaefractal, I'll look into it. The Cleric archer is doing okay, though as she only has a strength of 9 (11 with gauntlets) she can't use Composite bows for added damage there. The Rogue can do a fair amount of damage when he does hit with sneak attack, but that normally means the Lizard is stood on the other side of the target so he's going to be smashed into dust fairly quickly anyway :P

    Thanks for the ideas thus far guys :)

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    This sounds like an absolutely terrible character.

    As long as his enemies are using their actions in the first two rounds (debuffing, controlling, grappling, whatever they do), I'm amazed this guy's survived past the second encounter.

    Sorry if this isn't useful feedback, but I actually have no idea how you could tone this down and leave it capable of taking on ECL 6 challenges.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    If the party is actively helping him becomes more powerful and they're fine with him doing this stuff I say don't change much.

    Hell one time my party did just that. I gave them a DMPC that was kind of an experiment. It was a warforged golem that was basically bare bones, but who could be upgraded with alchemy/fusion.

    The party then proceeded to completely ignore themselves in exchange for turning the Golem into a walking death machine that could take a Pit Fiend on one on one.

    I'm not joking, the final battle literally was "We send in the golem and wait outside the room."

    5 minutes later they walked in and looted the tomb after she had smashed the entire undead army.

    If the party wants to just smash stuff, sometimes making one character powerful enough to do a lot of the work isn't a bad idea.

    But again. If the other party members are complaining ask him to tone it back a bit or do some kind of counter.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    The whole party is feeding this guys abilities, meaning that if you nerf them you effectively nerf the whole party. My suggestion is to keep a couple beefy but low offense minions around that can tank your tank. Gargantuan or colossal vermin are good for this, or summoned celestial bisons/fiendish apes. They make for good stories (it was huge!), they extend combat and they aren't likely to kill of your party members.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by eggs View Post
    This sounds like an absolutely terrible character.

    As long as his enemies are using their actions in the first two rounds (debuffing, controlling, grappling, whatever they do), I'm amazed this guy's survived past the second encounter.

    Sorry if this isn't useful feedback, but I actually have no idea how you could tone this down and leave it capable of taking on ECL 6 challenges.
    Well, likely they aren't debuffing, just my guess. The fact that he "goes after spellcasters first" tells me that they aren't being slippery enough, because as a front-line fighter playing with a DM that like his battlefield control, let me tell you that it is HARD.

    My advise? Web. Glitterdust. Grease.

    GREASE. THAT REFLEX SAVE OR FALL. Seriously, Grease him repeatedly. he won't get anywhere, but your rogue/shadowdancer should get past it with flying colors and tear the mage a new one. There you go, rogue feel like he has a purpose.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugenides View Post
    Well, likely they aren't debuffing, just my guess. The fact that he "goes after spellcasters first" tells me that they aren't being slippery enough, because as a front-line fighter playing with a DM that like his battlefield control, let me tell you that it is HARD.

    My advise? Web. Glitterdust. Grease.

    GREASE. THAT REFLEX SAVE OR FALL. Seriously, Grease him repeatedly. he won't get anywhere, but your rogue/shadowdancer should get past it with flying colors and tear the mage a new one. There you go, rogue feel like he has a purpose.
    In addition to just pitting him up against spellcasters that make his reflex save sad, fighting in unusual areas can exploit his weaknesses. Swinging blades halls in dungeons, cliffs near chasms, etc. Balance checks, even with a racial bonus, make melee tanks scared. Fight at the top of a waterfall, or a swinging bridge over a canyon.

    Also, I'm sure you're beating yourself up over this already right now, but Reincarnate is kinda a terrible / gamebreaking spell. There's a reason Lizardfolk have 2 Humanoid HD and 1 LA; even though it's a bit excessive, these are to counterbalance the numerous strengths and bonuses a lizardfolk gets, especially the massive natural armor and secondary bite attack.

    Dragon Disciple is already a strong class with a D12 and numerous stat boosts (if you're keeping core) and although it may seem reasonable to swap out the stat boosts for spellcasting progression, bear in mind that spellcasting, even sorcerer spellcasting, is probably the strongest class feature in the game by a large margin. Even 1/2 spellcasting on a d12 prestige class is pretty strong.

    That being said, bear in mind your group chose to make him the front-liner, and his drawbacks (in terms of terrain, reflex, and disables) should serve to make life difficult enough for him that everyone is involved.
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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Some character combos have more relative power at certain levels, which fades later. Most likely the rest of the party will catch up in a couple of levels. I don't see anything in this build which is game breaking.

    So: I would just wait and see for now, though having an unbalanced party sucks.
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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem



    I don't see anything wrong here.

    The harder my players try to be powerful the more non-linear I make their goals, while balancing how useful each person feels.

    Simple.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by blazinghand View Post
    Also, I'm sure you're beating yourself up over this already right now, but Reincarnate is kinda a terrible / gamebreaking spell. There's a reason Lizardfolk have 2 Humanoid HD and 1 LA; even though it's a bit excessive, these are to counterbalance the numerous strengths and bonuses a lizardfolk gets, especially the massive natural armor and secondary bite attack.
    Eh - Lizardfolk are mildly better than the standard races. Worth +1 LA? Could be, in a low-op game (which this sounds like). Worth 2 humanoid HD? Heck no, not even close. Especially for a Dragon Disciple where they already get the claws and bite.

    Dragon Disciple is already a strong class with a D12 and numerous stat boosts (if you're keeping core) and although it may seem reasonable to swap out the stat boosts for spellcasting progression, bear in mind that spellcasting, even sorcerer spellcasting, is probably the strongest class feature in the game by a large margin. Even 1/2 spellcasting on a d12 prestige class is pretty strong.
    Ok, I have to disagree here. There are two main ways to use Dragon Disciple.
    1) A pure warrior type, with one level of Sorcerer for wand usage and to get those bonus spells. For this purpose, it's a not very powerful but ok class with some fun flavor. In this case, getting extra spellcasting would be pretty minor because you're still mostly in "wand usage or party tricks" territory.
    2) As an actual gish (aka warrior/mage split). For this purpose, it's terrible, trashing your casting completely for buffs that don't at all compensate. With 1/2 casting - it's still actually rather weak. But less so, I guess, apparently enough less so that it can be the MVP in a very low-op game.

    HD are kind of a red herring, IMO. While a d12 HD does have some utility, the actual amount gained is like 12-18 hp. That's not nothing, but it's going to be less of an impact on overall survivability than AC, saves, or defensive spells/abilities.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    Eh - Lizardfolk are mildly better than the standard races. Worth +1 LA? Could be, in a low-op game (which this sounds like). Worth 2 humanoid HD? Heck no, not even close. Especially for a Dragon Disciple where they already get the claws and bite.
    I'm willing to concede that the total of 2 HD and +1 LA for lizardfolk is probably overdoing it, and just a way to make the MM entry a "slightly tougher humanoid" for parties to fight. That being said, I really don't think the physical stats of Lizardfolk should go without some sort of level adjustment, especially the natural armor. Reincarnating a Gnome into a Lizardfolk and bypassing this isn't a great way of doing things at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    Ok, I have to disagree here. There are two main ways to use Dragon Disciple.
    1) A pure warrior type, with one level of Sorcerer for wand usage and to get those bonus spells. For this purpose, it's a not very powerful but ok class with some fun flavor. In this case, getting extra spellcasting would be pretty minor because you're still mostly in "wand usage or party tricks" territory.
    2) As an actual gish (aka warrior/mage split). For this purpose, it's terrible, trashing your casting completely for buffs that don't at all compensate. With 1/2 casting - it's still actually rather weak. But less so, I guess, apparently enough less so that it can be the MVP in a very low-op game.

    HD are kind of a red herring, IMO. While a d12 HD does have some utility, the actual amount gained is like 12-18 hp. That's not nothing, but it's going to be less of an impact on overall survivability than AC, saves, or defensive spells/abilities.
    Dragon Disciple obviously isn't a great Gish class due to the lack of any spellcasting progression-- I typically see it as Sorc/Pals or Sorc/Fgts or something look for a way to bulk up and get some more casts of True Strike per day. In any case, compared to serious optimization, a lot of the DMG prestige classes are hilariously bad. I just think that adding on spellcasting progression to a class with decent HD and 3/4 BAB, when the usual limit on arcane casters is their poor hit points and combat abilities, is questionable.

    It's obviously no pun-pun but slapping a spellcasting progression onto a class that didn't have one, without giving similar buffs to other party members, as well as reincarning your gnome into a lizardfolk, is a recipe for exactly this kind of situation.
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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Eh, seems like a mildly prepared mage could do it? They're level 11, every mage they ever meet should be able to fly/teleport/warp out of existence and still cast spells at him. Or even completely immobilize/paralyse him for that matter. I might be wrong, but it sounds like you're sending waves of melee-focused encounters against a melee overgod...

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    How good is his WILL SAVE??? You might try to drive home the point that the party is putting too many eggs in one basket, so to speak.
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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Well if he has extra loot then make sure other party members get a bigger share in the future. That's the obvious part.

    Lizardfolk and dragon disciple are excellent for melee btw. You could do better with splatbooks but it's almost the very best in core. EDIT: assuming he only took 1 or 2 levels of sorcerer...

    Going up a size isn't that great of a buff. It's more offense but it's also less defense (total -2 AC not -1 btw) and it costs him a round. If he doesn't have a buffing round he'll do more damage by getting into melee and hitting an extra time. That may be part of the problem: when he's standing still for a round his allies become targets. Encourage him to get into melee immediately. Foes will then have a harder time going around him when they're in melee range.

    Both of his allies do seem weaker but they've also got very good defensive abilities. With the dragon disciple in front the archer should have a safer time plinking arrows. He can also heal himself and some exceptional buffs are worth a combat round too (unlike enlarge). The shadowdancer should be using his hide in plain sight more to be frequently untouchable. At any moment he can move to hide which means he can attack, tumble away (if needed) and hide again in a single round. Then repeat each round to fight safely. It's harder if he needs to close into melee without spring attack, but then he can still hide every other round and take half damage. Both strategies do less damage than the dragon disciple but they stay out of harm's way and can contribute skills and spells later. Try some tricky dungeons instead of all hack and slash.
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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Thanks for all the feedback guys, I'm sure I'll be using it in the near future :)

    And just so people know, he was reincarnated by the Druid we had before the Cleric, and she rolled on the reincarnation chart to get the Lizardfolk :P

    Mind-stealing tactics are one I've used before to, uhh, great effect. Psionic glass cannon rolled a 1 on a will save and ended up annihilating the rest of the party, stopped only by a lucky Troll who was working with the party at the time :P I would fear that such a thing would occur again, but I think the other two can handle themselves better :P

    I think Lizardfolk are worth the +1 Lv because of their +2 to Str and Con, as well as their +5 Natural Armour, though only just.


    I'm certainly going to be screwing him over with some Grease spells now, though I think he'll start to get frustrated and throw fireballs around instead. Well, any fire resistance takes that away from him, so it should be all good :P

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Oh, it's that day of the week already!

    You know, 'you're doing it wrong, low OP guy'-day
    Last edited by ThiagoMartell; 2012-10-07 at 09:26 AM.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by ThiagoMartell View Post
    Oh, it's that day of the week already!
    This is a melee character edging toward the higher levels who dedicated a feat to the gnome hooked hammer and who effectively removes himself from combat for the first couple rounds of a fight.

    Specifically targeting this guy or trying to cancel him out isn't hard. Throw a wall at him, have a spider spit at him, throw an archer or a mobile combatant into play, sit on a horse and outmaveuver him, burrow, fly, hit his reflex or will saves, etc.

    But if they're fighting CR 11 monsters anyway, specifically giving the character a hard time is probably overkill. Just making CR 11 monsters pay attention target this character sounds like it'll kill him (just look at how easily effects like the Air Elemental's Whirlwind will throw this character around, how quickly a Cryohydra or dragon attacks will wear through his HP or how unfavorably trading blows with a Retriever or Wereboar Hill Giant is going to go for this guy, even if they sit on their hands for the first couple rounds, waiting for him to buff up).

    EDIT:
    I get that some people like playing at a lower optimization level. That's fine. But treating this character as a powerhouse who needs to be specifically targeted is probably just going to kill the character; even *without* specifically targeting him, any problems there are probably not going to be long-lived.
    Last edited by eggs; 2012-10-07 at 01:37 PM.

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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    From the sounds of it, you've got two characters feeding most of their wealth into buffing up a third character. That that third character has now become considerably more powerful is only a logical consequence.

    If the players have a problem, it's their own fault. Logical answers are
    Short-term: the players consider selling off some of the loot they've overclocked their friend with.
    Long-term: Put up with it for the moment, but give the Lizard a significantly reduced share of treasure so that the others can catch up in terms of wealth worn.

    If the players don't have a problem, I'd go with the option of throwing one big 'un and a group of minions at the players, so all characters have something they can reasonably face off against.
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    Default Re: The Party Powerhouse Problem

    Try going outside core and throw a warlock at him. Teleportation, invisibility, flying, ranged touch attacks, debuffs...nothing that's going to instantly kill him, but plenty that's going to make life suck for a few rounds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eggs View Post
    This is a melee character edging toward the higher levels who dedicated a feat to the gnome hooked hammer and who effectively removes himself from combat for the first couple rounds of a fight.
    I don't think he dedicated the feat, they said he started out as a gnome before he was reincarnated.
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    A camp of cyclops on a partially-dead magically-blighted plain.


    ThiagoMartel:
    Anime is a media, not a genre. Banning something for being 'too anime' is like banning something for being 'too book'.

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