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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Jan 2011

    Question Help with front-line leader

    So my group is starting a new campaign at level 1. So far, the party consists of:

    • Warlock, unknown race. High-experience player, probably medium-to-high op.
    • Wilden Druid, wild shape guardian build. Medium experience player, medium op.
    • Psion. Low-experience player, intentionally low-op.

    There are two more players: someone that is totally new to DnD but might have played SW:EotE before, and me. I'm waiting for him to pick whether he wants to be defender or leader, but I'm willing to bet he'll go defender, which leaves me as leader. Given the party mix (2 ranged, 1 defender, 1 mixed), I'm thinking I need to make a leader that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Druid or defender.

    I'm inclined towards a Dwarf Cleric, Warlord, or Runepriest. I don't need to be high-op, but I don't want to be the laggard of the party either. Dwarf is only a preference though it gets me the second-wind-as-minor ability.

    What's the general advice on a front-line leader? Go for a sword-and-board Str/Wis/Con cleric? I'm hesitant to go for Battle Cleric Lore since it'll cost me healing, but I guess it makes sense for a front-line cleric given the AC and attack bonuses. Go for a warlord and rely on my semi-controller and granted attacks to keep me a lesser threat? I've never seen a Runepriest in action, but they seem to fit the role, though they don't have the sea of feats, powers, and other options that cleric and warlord have.

    What are your thoughts?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Yakk's Avatar

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    Nov 2006

    Default Re: Help with front-line leader

    Wild shape druids -- do they have a functioning MBA? I forgot, but I think they can get it.

    With a defender with an acceptable MBA, and a druid, a Warlord would be quite viable.

    While the lazy warlord is fun to play, I'd be tempted to go for traditional warlord; there are great str-melee + granted attack powers.

    Great healing is less important than ending combats faster. Shorter combats saves on healing, and is less boring. ;)

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Help with front-line leader

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Wild shape druids -- do they have a functioning MBA? I forgot, but I think they can get it.
    They do, but she didn't take it. Pounce only functions as MBA at the end of a charge, the other two powers (Savage Rend and Grasping Claws) work as MBA, and she might retrain to that later, but for now she wants to go with fluff over optimization.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    With a defender with an acceptable MBA, and a druid, a Warlord would be quite viable.

    While the lazy warlord is fun to play, I'd be tempted to go for traditional warlord; there are great str-melee + granted attack powers.

    Great healing is less important than ending combats faster. Shorter combats saves on healing, and is less boring. ;)
    I've only built lazylords before, since they were usually DMPC's to fill out parties of 3. I'll go checkout the warlord handbook and take a peek at what they can do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Great healing is less important than ending combats faster. Shorter combats saves on healing, and is less boring. ;)
    Fair point. Right now I'm rolling up a cleric and the AC is impressing me. BCL gives scale and a static +2 shield bonus, taking Dwarven Weapon Training gives me the Urgrosh which is defensive, so now I'm rolling around with a 20 AC at level 1. But a high AC and a healer means fewer hits and more survivability... so very long combats unless our warlock does his thing.

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Yakk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Help with front-line leader

    Also, is your DM likely to play along with Brash warlord mechanics? (where you leave yourself open to an attack, and the power only really works if the foe takes it)

    If so, Brash can be awesome.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Help with front-line leader

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Also, is your DM likely to play along with Brash warlord mechanics? (where you leave yourself open to an attack, and the power only really works if the foe takes it)

    If so, Brash can be awesome.
    Probably not. I haven't played with him DM'ing before, but I get the sense he's going to be hyper-strategic.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Jul 2011

    Default Re: Help with front-line leader

    If you were my player I would ask "Okay how do you picture your character fighting? You want to be front line but do you see him like just racing in to bash things while throwing the occasional heal, do you see him more like a combat medic racing in to fight but quickly dropping things to help an ally, or maybe he just holds the front line, chanting a dwarven prayer to Moradin, each blow irradiating youir foe with your god's light so that your allies can have an easier time of it or well I could go on there are like dozens of variations. Thats just a few of the cleric options. From a mechanical standpoint, I'll point out that that leaders are most valuable as buffers. Especially if you have damage focused striker or a really good debuffing controller. Buffs basically directly increase and multiply the effectiveness of assisted ally(s), use them correctly and you can increase the effective combat level of your party a little over a whole level on your own."

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Help with front-line leader

    So I rolled up one of each, and decided that I want to go Cleric based on the improved defenses and weapon damage that I can achieve early on. This is a Str-based cleric with melee attacks and the AC and HP to stand up front with the druid and fighter (which I know now is a Human Fighter with 2 handed weapon talent, wearing scale and wielding a Mordenkrad, and it's the player's first ever RPG). The character concept is a disgruntled Dwarf battle cleric cast into the wind when the kingdom he serves is destroyed by an unknown antagonist.

    If anyone has a minute, I'd especially like some feedback on the weapon choice, ability array, and at-wills

    I picked the Dwarven Weapon Training and the Urgrosh since it'll give me a defensive bonus and heaps of damage. I'd love to get a +3 prof. weapon, but I'd either have to take the Dagger (+1 prof, -6 damage, -1 AC, feat freed up) or the Double Sword (+1 prof, -5 damage). I'm planning to pick up Versatile Expertise (Axes, holy symbols) at level 2. I might swap it out to a Mordenkrad (also covered by DWT) at a higher level, when I can make more use of the hammer feats and maybe need the AC boost less.

    I'm not too sure about my Cha & Wis (& Con) scores and my choice of Recovery Strike. Right now, it's melee based but adds only 1 THP and doesn't scale with level. I could switch my Wis and Cha abilities, but would limit constrain my options for ranged abilities (and skills). Alternatively, I could swap that out Recovery Strike for Sacred Flame (range 5, Wis vs Ref, 1d6 + Wis radiant, 1 ally gains Cha + half level THP), which makes use of my Wis score and the low Cha won't matter as much once we pick up some levels. Of course, I could also put Wis & Cha both at 12 and bump my Con to 16 (14 + 2 dwarf), which would up my HP to 28, surge value to 7, and surges to 10, which would be good for front-line survival.

    I'm not using Essentials (no Bludgeon expertise), so sticking to PHB 1/2/3, DP/AP/PrP/PsP/MP/MP2, AV 1/2 as sources. Willing to use Dragon but sparingly (e.g. for the publicly available 399 Cleric article). I don't have access to character builder, so I can't format as expected, but the build is:

    Spoiler: Character build
    Show
    Code:
    Dwarf Cleric
    Unaligned, Worships Kord
    Background: Ancestral Home Lost (trained in Perception)
    Weapon: Urgrosh (Axe/Spear, +2, 1d12/1d6, Double weapon, Defensive, off-hand)
    Armor: Scale
    
    Abi Scr Mod
    Str  18  +4
    Con  14  +2
    Dex   8  -1
    Int  10   0
    Wis  16  +3
    Cha  12  +1
    
    Defenses:
      AC:   20 = 7 scale + 2 BCL + 1 defensive weapon
      Fort: 14 = 10 + 4 Str
      Ref:  10 = 10 + 0 Int
      Will: 15 = 10 + 3 Wis + 2 Cleric
    
    Hit Points:
      Max: 26
      Bloodied: 13
      Surge Value: 6
      Surges/day: 9
    
    Skills:
      Acr -1
      Arc  0
      Ath  4
      Blf  1
      Dip  1
      Dun  5 (3 wis + 2 dwarf)
      End  4 (2 con + 2 dwarf)
      Hea  8 (3 wis + train)
      His  0
      Ins  8 (3 wis + train)
      Itm  1
      Nat  3
      Per  8 (3 wis + train)
      Rel  5 (0 int + train)
      Ste -1
      Stw  1
      Thv -1
    
    Racial:
      Cast Iron Stomach: +5 Poison Save
      Dwarven Resilience: Use 2nd wind as minor
      Proficient with throwing hammer and warhammer
      Encumbered Speed: Not slowed by armor or weight
      Stand Your Ground: -1 to forced moves, save on knockdown
    
    Class:
      Battle Cleric's Lore:
        Trained in Scale, +2 shield bonus to AC
        Target of Healing Word gets +2 attack until end of next turn
      Channel Divinity: Healer's Mercy: Blast 5, each bloodied ally can spend healing surge, you're weakened
      Channel Divinity: Divine Fortune: +1 to next attack roll or saving throw
      Healing Word feature
    
    Feats:
      Ritual Caster
      Dwarven Weapon Training: Prof. and +2 damage with axes and hammers.
    
    Powers:
      Basic Attack: Str vs AC, 1[W]+Str  == 6 vs AC, 1d12+6
      At will 1:    Recovery Strike (DP)  : Str vs. AC, 1[W]+Str, next ally to hit target gets Cha mod (1) THP
      At will 1:    Righteous Brand (PHB1): Str vs AC, 1[W]+Str, grant ally +3 melee attack vs. target
      Encounter 1:  Healing Strike  (PHB1): Str vs AC, 2[W]+Str Radiant, mark, you or ally spend healing surge
      Encounter x2: Healing Word    (PHB1): Minor, burst 5: target spends healing surge + 1d6, twice per encounter
      Daily 1:      Moment of Glory (DP)  : Wis vs Will, push 3 knock prone, allies in blast gain resist 5, sustain minor

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Yakk's Avatar

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    Nov 2006

    Default Re: Help with front-line leader

    I'd consider that over-optimized and too much spotlight stealing for the described party. So I wouldn't go with that build:

    You are likely to be tougher (higher AC, significantly) and deal the same or more damage than the fighter. The only thing you do worse is an inability to "taunt".

    Build wise, that 1 THP kicker is so bad I could see you never using that power. Anything, even a rarely used range wisdom power, is better.

    I assume lacking essentials that you cannot swap your +2 from Con to Str. Buying a 18 "raw" is really expensive!

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Jan 2011

    Default Re: Help with front-line leader

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Build wise, that 1 THP kicker is so bad I could see you never using that power. Anything, even a rarely used range wisdom power, is better.
    Yeah, I'll probably swap it to Lance of Faith (maybe swap to Sacred Flame at higher levels). That allows me to also step back from the line from time to time will still buffing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    I assume lacking essentials that you cannot swap your +2 from Con to Str. Buying a 18 "raw" is really expensive!
    Hmm, didn't realize the choice of second score upgrade was Essentials. It's in the Errata for PHB and our DM said to use it, so not going to change it now. The dwarf is +2 con and +2 to either str or wis, so my pre-racial scores are 16, 12, 8, 10, 16, 12.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    I'd consider that over-optimized and too much spotlight stealing for the described party. So I wouldn't go with that build:

    You are likely to be tougher (higher AC, significantly) and deal the same or more damage than the fighter. The only thing you do worse is an inability to "taunt".
    Fair point, and this would be especially bad if it causes a new player to not like the game. As it stands, he's slightly more accurate (+8 v +6, going to +9 v +8 at level 2) and he's dealing slightly less damage (2d6+4 brutal 1, vs 1d12 + 6, so 12 vs 12.5 average). I figure the high AC means I'll be a less likely target, and my Righteous Brand will be primarily boosting his accuracy.

    On the plus side, he's also the only one in the party (that I know of) with Athletics or Endurance trained (and maybe Intimidate and Streetwise), so he'll get to shine outside combat, too.

    Keeping in mind that boosting my accuracy boosts his accuracy (and chances to shine / avoid painful failures), a few options I could take to be less show-stealy:

    • Dagger and Versatile Expertise immediately, +8 and 7.5 melee | +4 and 7.5 ranged.
    • Morningstar and Versatile Expertise immediately, +7 and 9.5 melee | +4 and 7.5 ranged.
    • Halberd and Dwarf Weapon Training, +6 and 11.5 melee w/ reach | +3 and 7.5 ranged
    • Greatspear and Superior Weapon Proficiency, +7 and 9.5 melee w/ reach | +3 and 7.5 ranged


    Of course, the Urgrosh and the Halberd would both "catch up" on accuracy to the Morningstar as soon as I take versatile expertise, probably at level 2.

    The Greatspear giving reach and +3 prof might do well here: the fighter gets to shine by taking point while I stand back, and shine by OA'ing when someone tries to move past him to get me, and get boosts more frequently from me. Standing back also means I'll miss the defensive weapon less.

    What do you think?

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