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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Lightbulb Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Intro
    Greetings, all!

    Assume you are making a party of 1-6 main characters. (Minions obtained from classes, races, spells, persuasion, etc. are available and don't count as main characters for this thread.) Your goal as a party is to overcome challenges meant for a standard party of 4 built on a 25-28 point buy. This party starts at level 1 and must reach level 20 or higher.

    Assume the challenges for this group are varied: Thus, assume some combination of overworld/overland travel, interplanar travel, dungeon/underground exploration, social situations, knowledge situations, combat situations, and otherwise for this group.

    Character Creation
    -Note: These character creation rules apply to all main characters, cohorts, followers, thralls, believers, and hirelings. Other creatures, such as summons, called creatures, animals (including animal companions), simulacrum creatures, familiars, and psicrystals. have the standard ability scores.

    -Sources: All official 3.5, including unupdated 3.0. Magazine and web material is allowed. Use the latest versions of things.

    -Classes: Multiclassing and PrCs are allowed. Favored class penalties are optional.

    -Ability Score Generation: 0 point buy: All stats are base 8 before adjustments from race, age, templates, classes, spells, items, leveling, and other sources.

    -Starting Level: 1. You may choose to have a maximum initial level adjustment of 3 due to templates or races, but no racial hit dice. This level adjustment isn't free: You still receive reduced EXP of you take it. However, LA buyoff is available as per standard rules.

    -Feat Notes: Feats which require ability score minimums (Power Attack, Point Blank Shot, Dragonfire Inspiration, etc.) still do. You can take these feats without meeting these minimums, but can only use or be affected by these feats if you meet all ability score prereqs. Thus, an Orc Barbarian starts with 12 STR and can use Power Attack while raging since that increases his STR by 4 during this time.

    -Casting and Manifesting Notes: You still must meet the minimum ability scores to cast spells or manifest powers (normally 10 + spell level or 10 + power level).

    Modifier 1: No Shapeshifting
    The standard assumption is that shapeshifting abilities like Wild Shape and polymorph are allowed. How do things notably change if they aren't?

    Questions to the Audience
    -What party compositions do you favor? Why?

    -Where do you think your group will likely have the greatest difficulties and successes?

    -What abilities (feats, classes, races, etc.) notably change in value? For example, normally arcane casters are awesome, but now they require more help simply to let them cast anything. Also, normally Skill Focus and Weapon Focus are icky feats, but maybe they're seriously worth considering here.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Warlock would have a significant advantage out of the box, since they are one of the few classes that can function reasonably independent from their ability scores.

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    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Quote Originally Posted by mabriss lethe View Post
    Warlock would have a significant advantage out of the box, since they are one of the few classes that can function reasonably independent from their ability scores.
    This was my first thought as well. My second was that Sorcerers, Beguilers, and Warmages with Versatile Spellcaster work decently as well albeit at an effective CL-2 as Versatile Spellcaster doesn't seem to care about whether or not you can normally cast spells of the levels indicated, only whether or not you have spellslots and know spells.

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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Quote Originally Posted by RaiKirah View Post
    This was my first thought as well. My second was that Sorcerers, Beguilers, and Warmages with Versatile Spellcaster work decently as well albeit at an effective CL-2 as Versatile Spellcaster doesn't seem to care about whether or not you can normally cast spells of the levels indicated, only whether or not you have spellslots and know spells.
    You still need a high enough ability score to cast though. Starting at 8 means no casting unless you have race/template to boost it up to a useful value.
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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Anthropomorphic Bat druids, honestly just 4 of them really. (+6 Wis, LA: +0, flight) Buff riding dogs and summon nature's ally until wildshape comes online. Or just get hover and be an aerial T1 caster.

    Can you get PaO'ed somehow into a good giant race with very high int? Level 1 definitely doesn't have the gold, but once you do you can compete with elf wizard.

    Warlock has some solid invocations that don't have saves, 8 Con hurts.

    Necropolitan is appealing for everyone, see what cheese you can get for +Hps, Str, Dex for being created undead. Venerable necropolitan is an option. You need that +4 Str/Dex to created undead to carry anything. Note that if you are level 1 or 2 and become Necropolitan you die permanently, so this trick starts at level 3.

    Primordial Half-giant is one book and you have 12 Int 8 Con, only +1 LA.

    There is probably high cheese with venerable dragonwrought kobold, but I try not to look at those details.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Here's a list of the classes I think would work well for this:

    • Warlock - Touch Attacks, Good amount of stat-independent invocations
    • Swordsage - Shadow Hand and Setting Sun for touch attack galore
    • Truenamer - Surprisingly the only caster(I don't consider Warlock a caster) that kind of works unchanged, though it would require an extra high investment in skill bonuses to compensate for the 7-8 less from Int. Almost no utterances require saves or attack rolls, by the way
    • Binder - The only penalty for not having Charisma is having to deal with roleplaying
    • Dragon Shaman - Useless breath but the auras work just fine
    • Spellthief - Could steal the spells from a useless caster friend/cohort and cast them ignoring low ability scores, although save DCs would suck
    • Sorcerer - There's so many Sorcerer ACFs you can just spend all your spell slots using them and be a decent front-liner. It's why the Karcerer build exists. Also works well with Spellthief
    • Artificer - No infusions, but item creation would still work just fine as long as you get some UMD bonuses


    Quote Originally Posted by Covenant12 View Post
    Anthropomorphic Bat druids
    I forgot this is a thing.
    Last edited by MisterKaws; 2019-06-01 at 06:25 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Originally Posted by Endarire
    You may choose to have a maximum initial level adjustment of 3 due to templates or races….
    A kuo-toa druid might be a prospect, since +4 Wis would let it cast spells at first level.

    But it would fall behind without some additional source for a wisdom bonus, and I'm not sure if aging bonuses would be enough to compensate.

    Originally Posted by Endarire
    The standard assumption is that shapeshifting abilities like Wild Shape and polymorph are allowed. How do things notably change if they aren't?
    In this case, the kuo-toa is already struggling to keep up with spellcasting progression, and without Wild Shape he'd be severely gimped.

    .
    Last edited by Palanan; 2019-06-01 at 06:54 PM.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Miller View Post
    You still need a high enough ability score to cast though. Starting at 8 means no casting unless you have race/template to boost it up to a useful value.
    Again, Versatile Spellcaster doesn't have a clause saying you need to be normally able to cast the spell that it grants you, only that you "can use two spell slots of the same level to cast a spell you know that is one level higher."

    Clearly RAI is that you must be able to cast spells of both the sacrificed level slots and the higher level, but the RAW says you get to cast a spell period, no questions asked, as long as you know a spell of that level. So a 6th level sorcerer with 8 CHA could use two 2nd level slots to cast a 3rd level spell they know, even though they normally couldn't cast either 2nd or 3rd level spells.
    Last edited by RaiKirah; 2019-06-01 at 06:39 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Quote Originally Posted by RaiKirah View Post
    Again, Versatile Spellcaster doesn't have a clause saying you need to be normally able to cast the spell that it grants you, only that you "can use two spell slots of the same level to cast a spell you know that is one level higher."

    Clearly RAI is that you must be able to cast spells of both the sacrificed level slots and the higher level, but the RAW says you get to cast a spell period, no questions asked, as long as you know a spell of that level. So a 6th level sorcerer with 8 CHA could use two 2nd level slots to cast a 3rd level spell they know, even though they normally couldn't cast either 2nd or 3rd level spells.
    General restrictions and requirements always apply unless the specific rule says otherwise. Versatile Spellcaster doesn't say anything about ignoring the minimum ability-score requirement, so it doesn't let ignore it.
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    Maat Mons's Avatar

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    +0 LA Options
    • Gnome + Arctic + Dragonborn + Proto-Creature = 10 Str, 6 Dex, 16 Con, 6 Int, 8 Wis, 2 Cha
    • Jermlaine = 2 Str, 14 Dex, 6 Con, 6 Int, 14 Wis, 2 Cha
    • Muckdweller = 2 Str, 14 Dex, 8 Con, 8 Int, 6 Wis, 6 Cha
    • Water Orc + Proto-Creature = 16 Str, 8 Dex, 12 Con, 4 Int, 6 Wis, 2 Cha

    The Blood of Siberys ACF for Sorcerer gives you +4 to effective Cha for purposes of determining the highest-level spell you can cast. Combine that with one of the many +2 Cha races, being middle-aged, and putting all your ability increases from level up into Cha, and you'll hit 19 Cha by 16th level, so you'll never be unable to use your spell slots.

    Obviously, an Animal Companion, the Wild Cohort feat, and the Skeletal Minion ACF for Wizard are all strong choices.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    A kuo-toa druid might be a prospect, since +4 Wis would let it cast spells at first level.

    But it would fall behind without some additional source for a wisdom bonus, and I'm not sure if aging bonuses would be enough to compensate.

    .
    A Periapt of Wisdom would scale w/ WBL to make up the difference in that case, as well as the ability modifier every 4 levels, would it not?

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Remember, if you're willing and able to (drastically?) lower your physical ability scores, you can get +1, +2, or +3 to all mental stats via aging. Dragonwrought Kobolds have this stat benefit with no physical stat penalty.

    In addition, a Feral Half-Minotaur something gets a large STR/CON boost and Large size.
    Last edited by Endarire; 2019-06-01 at 08:07 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by GPuzzle View Post
    And I do agree that the right answer to the magic/mundane problem is to make everyone badass.
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  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Int can be set to a high value via Polymorph Any Object[Ethergaunt]. Given this a wizard is viable and furthermore can generate difficult saves about level 3, where it can be purchased.

    With all the other suggestions, it seems there is no serious spell limitation for Int, Wis, or Cha casting, so spellcasters remain strong.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    A half orc could take both half orc paragon and orc paragon for the str boosts. That gets the str up to 15 at level six. Half dragon gets more str and a breath weapon but has the la penalty.

    Or one could become a monk just to be “that guy”

    At higher levels, jade Phoenix mage could trade spell slots for melee damage.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Let's assume polymorph any object isn't for easy sale or acquisition anywhere before about level 15. How does that change things?
    Quote Originally Posted by GPuzzle View Post
    And I do agree that the right answer to the magic/mundane problem is to make everyone badass.
    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    If you're of a philosophical bent, the powergamer is a great example of Heidegger's modern technological man, who treats a game's mechanics as a standing reserve of undifferentiated resources that are to be used for his goals.
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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    Let's assume polymorph any object isn't for easy sale or acquisition anywhere before about level 15. How does that change things?
    That closes a loophole, but this is still a bad change overall for balance.

    A decent caster will find +4 or better somehow to his casting stat, and is simply less effective and more fragile. Compare to primary beatsticks who now are ineffective in combat, and hopeless outside it. And also fragile. (AC, Hps).

    It vastly increases abilities that ignore character stats. Animal Companion/Wild cohort, actual cohort, with effort familiar, decent mount abilities, polymorph, wild shape, summons, planar ally/binding, really all minionmancy, and spells without save DC's.

    It makes the game worse, but especially worse for the classes who need buffing. T1/T2 casters still do well enough, T4+ need a hard carry to fight monsters at CR. I mean, a group of 4 level 3 fighters and monks vs. an Ogre are looking at a good chance of TPK.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    If a caster doesn't have the base stat to cast spells, would progression in a spellcasting class still be possible? The example on PH 8 says that a character that doesn't have a high enough score can't cast related spells, but it doesn't forbid progression in that class. I know that's not really a normal thing, but to play along with this exercise, would any DMs on this thread allow that in this case if not normally?

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    At +3 LA both Grig (Str 2 Dex 16 Con 10 Int 8 Wis 10 Cha 12) and Nixie (Str 4 Dex 14 Con 8 Int 10 Wis 10 Cha 16) seem like decent options. Grig has enough Dex to be viable as a rogue - a class that synergizes well with it's racial abilities, and Nixie is a reasonable option for Bard or Sorcerer (and can charm someone to carry her around). DR 5/Cold Iron and Spell Resistance helps a lot when you don't have many hit points too.
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    I would probably go with a Magic Blooded x2 Unseelie Fey Lesser Aasimar Sorcerer. Gets a rather nice +8 Cha +2 Dex at the cost of -2 Con -2 Wis -2 Str. Seems like a pretty good trade for me especially for being LA +0. Before anyone disputes stacking templates well, you can. "You can add a template more than once to the same creature as long as it continues to qualify."
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    All things was already said. Spellcasters still could cast spells.

    Let's assume that spells as services are unavailable for the party. So no PaO to ethergaunt prior to 15th lvl. Actually shadowcraft mage could access it earlier.

    1) Aging bonuses for mental stats allows to cast.
    2) Choose appropriate race: elf for intelligence, anthropomorphic bat for widsom and so on.
    3) Severe strength deficiency means you could not carry even necessities. You need buy Mule and have druid to handle it.
    4) You could reset penalties with the Last Breath (need a druid in the party).
    5) Polymorph to living tree and awaken to refresh mental stats (need druid and wizard). 5th level spells are available at 9th level.
    6) Use +1 template "Divine minion of Toth" to get baboon and hawk wildshape at will. Out-of-combat healing, flying form and use baboon for everyday activity. Need wondrous item Pearl of Speech to make baboon speak.
    7) Other useful templates: half-fey (+2), white dragonspawn (+1) for kobold sorcerers.
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    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    The LA makes this kind of moot. Restrict it to PHB races only with no templates and the restriction is more interesting. Though then you just have a party of 4 Riding Dogs with 4 Druid cohorts.
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Leadership trivializes the challenge. It becomes essentially a -2 level handicap and nothing more.

    Wealth also trivializes this. Hire spellcasters for long term minionmancy spells and the like. Necromancy for example.

    I'm not familiar with diplomancer builds but aren't they just skill point based?

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Quote Originally Posted by flappeercraft View Post
    I would probably go with a Magic Blooded x2 Unseelie Fey Lesser Aasimar Sorcerer. Gets a rather nice +8 Cha +2 Dex at the cost of -2 Con -2 Wis -2 Str. Seems like a pretty good trade for me especially for being LA +0. Before anyone disputes stacking templates well, you can. "You can add a template more than once to the same creature as long as it continues to qualify."
    Technically, Magic-Blooded is not a template, it's a racial variant. Furthermore, these variants only apply to PHB races. Hence, you can't apply it twice and you can't apply it at all to an Aasimar.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Originally Posted by RNightstalker
    A Periapt of Wisdom would scale w/ WBL to make up the difference in that case, as well as the ability modifier every 4 levels, would it not?
    Assuming one is conveniently available, but I never make that assumption in a game.

    Originally Posted by RNightstalker
    If a caster doesn't have the base stat to cast spells, would progression in a spellcasting class still be possible?

    …I know that's not really a normal thing, but to play along with this exercise, would any DMs on this thread allow that in this case if not normally?
    This is a weird setup, and as others have pointed out it causes a lot of trouble for the PCs, including odd situations like this.

    For a druid, who starts with an animal companion and picks up wildshape fairly early, I’d say progression without spellcasting is plausible, since you can take Wild Cohort for an additional companion and essentially play as your own wolfpack.

    But for clerics and wizards, who don’t have much apart from spellcasting, I can’t imagine how the character would contribute. Whether or not I would allow it as DM is less important than whether a player would select a class like this, and why. If they wanted the RP aspect of a wizard who can't actually cast spells (and there are some good precedents in fantasy for this) then sure, but otherwise I would worry the player would quickly become frustrated with their character's lack of options.

    Originally Posted by RoboEmperor
    Leadership trivializes the challenge.
    The OP specifies the party starts at level 1, so they’ll need to survive the first five levels before Leadership arrives. Even then, the OP specifies that cohorts have same 0-point buy restriction as PCs.

    Originally Posted by RoboEmperor
    Hire spellcasters for long term minionmancy spells and the like.
    Apart from the clear attempt to skirt the thread’s premise rather than work within it, this also depends on whether outside spellcasters would be considered “hirelings” by the OP’s definition, which like cohorts have the same restrictions on ability scores. Pretty sure the OP stipulated that to avoid this kind of end-run around his premise.

    .
    Last edited by Palanan; 2019-06-02 at 09:02 AM.

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    The OP specifies the party starts at level 1, so they’ll need to survive the first five levels before Leadership arrives. Even then, the OP specifies that cohorts have same 0-point buy restriction as PCs.
    How embarassing. My bad. Sorry :(

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    Apart from the clear attempt to skirt the thread’s premise rather than work within it, this also depends on whether outside spellcasters would be considered “hirelings” by the OP’s definition, which like cohorts have the same restrictions on ability scores. Pretty sure the OP stipulated that to avoid this kind of end-run around his premise.[/COLOR]
    Yeah that's the problem? (might be a feature not a problem) of d&d. A level 1 commoner can kill everything with just money. Be it mercenary hirelings or better yet, adventurer hirelings (DMGII), spellcasting shopkeepers, wondrous items that don't need UMD, etc.

    And removing money renders all mundane classes worthless even with VoP so you gotta give the PCs money but if you do they can optimize spending money and make class and level irrelevant.

    This is probably what the OP isn't looking for so I will drop the subject here.

    edit: I personally would go a Fiendbinder Warlock and have fiends do the fighting for me.
    Last edited by RoboEmperor; 2019-06-02 at 09:28 AM.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Templates make it easy to get good enough stats; so I think it's more interesting/challenging without them. Phrenic is a solid template to get your casting stats up if you're gonna use them.

    I'd probably run a 6 person party; with 4 of them being people all capable early on; and 2 being ones that will be markedly weak until their spells kick in. A racial +2 to casting stat is enough to get spells to kick in at a passable rate.
    in the long run the +stats from leveling and a +casting stat item are enough to cast your 9ths, which is good enough.

    To pick more pointedly:
    1 crusader
    1 warblade
    both can be solid enough early on.
    1 druid; casting will be weak but the animal companion is enough for early.
    1 warlock due to no stat dependency.
    1 cloistered cleric to do some skill-monkey, and provide power casting late.
    1 wizard, who will of course be super weak early on, but once they get higher level spell access it'll be worth it.

    notably shifts: I might take toughness on some chars to help cover the early level survivability.

    it definitely seems very viable to succeed overall; the only question is how much cheese to use in order to enable it, and it doesn't really require enough to even qualify as cheese.
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  27. - Top - End - #27
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    zlefin: What do you mean by 'cheese?'

    All: Let's assume the base assumption is that casting for hire is only available for spell and power levels the party can already access. There's a Wizard out there able to cast PAO on your team, if they can already cast level 8 spells. Likewise with greater magic weapon and level 3 spells. And so on.
    Quote Originally Posted by GPuzzle View Post
    And I do agree that the right answer to the magic/mundane problem is to make everyone badass.
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  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    zlefin: What do you mean by 'cheese?'

    All: Let's assume the base assumption is that casting for hire is only available for spell and power levels the party can already access. There's a Wizard out there able to cast PAO on your team, if they can already cast level 8 spells. Likewise with greater magic weapon and level 3 spells. And so on.
    This may not be the restriction you want.

    An Anthropomorphic bat could potentially cast Owl's Wisdom at level 3 to reach Wisdom 18 and then DMM[Heighten] another level 2 spell to cast an 8th level spell, right about when PAO becomes economically feasible.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Originally Posted by Anthrowhale
    An Anthropomorphic bat could potentially cast Owl's Wisdom at level 3 to reach Wisdom 18 and then DMM[Heighten] another level 2 spell to cast an 8th level spell….
    And the OP was just asking what people meant by “cheese.”

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Group of Nobodies: The 0 Point Buy Party Thought Exercise

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthrowhale View Post
    Technically, Magic-Blooded is not a template, it's a racial variant. Furthermore, these variants only apply to PHB races. Hence, you can't apply it twice and you can't apply it at all to an Aasimar.
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ well then one can apply Unseelie Fey 3 times. Sucks to take the hits to ability scores but hey, it works.
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    It's still a level of cheese that not even flappeercraft would allow

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