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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    4x Pun-Pun, obviously.

    Now that that's out of the way, let's get on to what I really mean.

    So, when I say "the optimal party for", what I mean is, ideally, a party that would be reasonable for or even struggle with other similarly-leveled content, but are surgically designed to excel at this particular module. I use Red Hand of Doom as an example, because it seems one of the most popular modules discussed on the Playground. I could be convinced to choose a different module, create a new thread for a new module, or discuss multiple modules in this thread. But, until then, let's use RHoD as our guinea pig.

    The reason I ask / the way I came up with this thread is, I created what I considered an "optimal" RHoD party, and was thinking about how well/poorly they'd do in other scenarios. And I figured it'd probably be possible to beat the module with much less generally-competent adventurers than the party I had created.

    So, Playground, whatcha got? What makes RHoD different from the mean? What's the "worst" party you can imagine having an easy time with RHoD?
    Last edited by Quertus; 2019-12-06 at 02:00 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    tiercel's Avatar

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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    If the RHoD thread is any indication, the module is reasonably balanced and challenging for the Iconic Four Blaster Wizard, Healer Cleric, Skillmonkey Rogue, Bashy Fighter, which means anything more generally optimized (much less optimized specifically toward the foes of that campaign) is going to be more likely to roll the Red Hand — a reason that so much of that huge thread has various ideas for optimizing the bad guys so that the story is still a challenge for more souped-up PCs.

    In terms of RHoD-specific optimization, I’d presume a few telling factors might include:
    • Favored enemy: always much stronger than usual if you know that a certain foe type will predominate
    • Targeting Will saves (and large numbers of minions generally) — larger groups of weaker victims, er, foes, are more vulnerable to single-spell wipes than smaller tactical groups
    • Superior outdoor mobility: given the majority of the campaign has a Big Evil Invading army marching across GoodGuyLand, it’s arguable that repeated harrying attacks by mobile PCs could actually inflict more damage by attrition than recruiting a bunch of snooty incompetent elves with Owls of Unusual Size
    • Mind control: for captured enemy commanders, both for interrogation and for creating a fifth column within the Red Hand itself


    All of the above are but a few factors that might not necessarily contribute to overall optimization in other campaigns, but which would likely bear fruit for PCs in this one

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    Obviously the fewer casters you have, the worse the party is overall. Thus, finding a team of non-casters that's excellent against Dragons and some high level casters and hordes of mookish enemies alongside some brutes would be the way to go. Indeed, Ranger is probably a safe bet.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    Once we got to level 8, I pretty much soloed the game as a Wizard/Incanatatrix via Persistomancy. Having a Hood cohort helped much.
    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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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    Once we got to level 8, I pretty much soloed the game as a Wizard/Incanatatrix via Persistomancy. Having a Hood cohort helped much.
    Much like Pun-Pun, that sounds like a character who would be well suited to solo many campaigns, not just RHoD.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    Obviously the fewer casters you have, the worse the party is overall. Thus, finding a team of non-casters that's excellent against Dragons and some high level casters and hordes of mookish enemies alongside some brutes would be the way to go. Indeed, Ranger is probably a safe bet.
    I must admit, I hadn't considered Ranger. Seems like the right Ranger could be strong in RHoD.

    And the plethora of healing potions makes the "healer" role redundant, removing the necessity of a party Cleric, something you couldn't get away with as easily in many modules.

    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel View Post
    If the RHoD thread is any indication, the module is reasonably balanced and challenging for the Iconic Four Blaster Wizard, Healer Cleric, Skillmonkey Rogue, Bashy Fighter, which means anything more generally optimized (much less optimized specifically toward the foes of that campaign) is going to be more likely to roll the Red Hand — a reason that so much of that huge thread has various ideas for optimizing the bad guys so that the story is still a challenge for more souped-up PCs.
    Sounds like I should read that - thanks for the link!

    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel View Post

    In terms of RHoD-specific optimization, I’d presume a few telling factors might include:
    [][*]Favored enemy: always much stronger than usual if you know that a certain foe type will predominate
    Yeah, the right favored enemy would get a workout in RHoD.

    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel View Post
    [*]Targeting Will saves (and large numbers of minions generally) — larger groups of weaker victims, er, foes, are more vulnerable to single-spell wipes than smaller tactical groups
    Will saves? Yeah, the module is kinda broken by Charm Person, let alone anything stronger.

    Mook killing spells? I'm not seeing it.

    I mean, don't get me wrong, the module has a whole army of mooks, it's just that… a) they rarely are any threat IME; b) even with not being threatening, they are often spaced too far apart for most AoE effects; c) the module does have a mix of solo encounters and crack squads, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel View Post
    [*]Superior outdoor mobility: given the majority of the campaign has a Big Evil Invading army marching across GoodGuyLand, it’s arguable that repeated harrying attacks by mobile PCs could actually inflict more damage by attrition than recruiting a bunch of snooty incompetent elves with Owls of Unusual Size
    Superior mobility? Yeah, this is how we first broke the module.

    Attrition? Not so much. The module fiat cheats, and declares the army immune to attrition, due to constant reinforcements.

    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel View Post
    [*]Mind control: for captured enemy commanders, both for interrogation and for creating a fifth column within the Red Hand itself[*]
    [/]
    As I said under "will saves", the module explicitly calls out how it was designed to be broken by Charm Person.

    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel View Post
    All of the above are but a few factors that might not necessarily contribute to overall optimization in other campaigns, but which would likely bear fruit for PCs in this one
    Agree on most counts.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    The campaign caters to stealth and archery too. 2xRanger with e.g. Bard and like Barb or Rogue or a 3rd Ranger in the mix could be nice. Optimize Favored Enemy with like Solitary Hunter, Improved Favored Enemy & Nemesis (feel free to add Enemy Spirit Pouch and even pick Goblinoids and Dragons, use basic Inspire Courage optimization but without Dragonfire Inspiration (to make this worse elsewhere). As a bonus, everyone can UMD and fight at a range. You have some of those sweet Will-targetting spells too. Hell, add Wise to your Ways for a defensive buff vs. all the enemy casters. Party Dragonhunter. Girdle of Hate could also be good down the line.
    Last edited by Eldariel; 2019-12-07 at 11:30 AM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post

    Mook killing spells? I'm not seeing it.

    I mean, don't get me wrong, the module has a whole army of mooks, it's just that… a) they rarely are any threat IME; b) even with not being threatening, they are often spaced too far apart for most AoE effects; c) the module does have a mix of solo encounters and crack squads.
    AoEs don’t utterly break the whole module, sure, but there are several “enemy base” scenarios where the default assumption seems to be that the PCs face the Red Hand defenders one encounter group at a time — but it’s not implausible that the PCs could just roll up to the front door, make a ruckus, draw all the defenders at once, and BOOM, one miasma of battlefield control and/or AoE nuke spells later, loot the whole base in one go.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    We got a lot of mileage out of Slow. xD

    As written, the campaign is very low-op. With the exception of those Spawn of Tiamat, pretty much everything is from MM1. The few spellcasters are listed with terribly inefficient prepared/known spells. In the entire campaign my character had to roll exactly one Will save.

    Conversely, what you DON'T need is Thief skills. If memory serves the entire module has only one serious trap, and it's in a place where a Rogue probably won't be able to disarm it. There are a few secret doors but anyone can find those. I don't remember any locked doors, or at least none that would have been immune to a pickaxe.

    Funniest moment in our game: we hit the enemy army, commando style. Infiltrated with DimDoor, knocked out and kidnapped their supreme General, then charmed him. We kept him around as our "friend", and he even helped us out when our Cleric was killed in an unfortunate incident through absolutely no fault of yours truly *cough*.
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    Have one Frenzied Berzerker and have it kill the entire army.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    Be evil. Or at least unconcerned. Poison everything in the enemy camp. Some psions with psionic minor creation and a bit of stealth should wipe the army fairly easily. Assassinate anyone who survives in surgical strikes.

    As always evil is the way to go, its quicker easier and better.

  11. - Top - End - #11
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    PirateCaptain

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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    I'm currently running this for a somewhat charge-focused Warblade, a fairly generic tanky Crusader, and a blasting focused Wizard, none of whom are very experienced with the system (but I've given all of them some help with their character builds). It's been fairly close several times, but I've also been pushing up the quality of their foes. I'm running Warblade Bladebearers, gave an extra age category to Ozy, made Koth a Warsoul (would not recommend, I had to have him make some seriously stupid tactical decisions to not kill them all, and he still got the Warblade), and slapped the Monster of Legend template on a raiding Chimera to make it more threatening (that template is definitely not CR+2, probably closer to CR+4), which almost killed them all in a daytime solo fight against a fresh party. Overall, I'd call the unmodified adventure fairly easy for decently capable adventurers as written, at least through the first section and a half.

  12. - Top - End - #12
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    The guide provided earlier is a fantastic resource. Even with low optimization the campaign is pretty easy until near the end. It unfortunately makes people lazy when a real challenge occasionally shows itself. Rebuilding most of the enemy mooks into something unique is a must, otherwise its really boring whacking hobbos over and over again. Teamwork/aid another feats for the rank and file make them marginally more threatening and interesting.

    I ran it under Pathfinder, and ranger's absolutely destroy most of the early/mid game, and bane weapons do the same. Blaster caster of some sort is a good idea, healing needed was fairly minimal if I recall. If you scale(ha) the dragons up (which you should, at least 1 age category) recall that while they dont want to be in melee range when they are they HURT. The tankiest tank can easily be one rounded by a full attack. Likewise they also drop like a ton of bricks.

    I journal'd the early bit of our campaign with the changes I made, it went quite well: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...1#post16502541

    Also I really wanted to make Miha Serani relevant, that was discussed here a bit: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...1#post17094751

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    If you want more of a challenge for RHoD, require that all characters be of tier 3 or below and use a 25 point buy. No flaws and no templates.

    And remember, as a warband, most these foes are smart and employ PC-like tactics!
    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.
    My Complete Tome of Battle Maneuver/Stance/Class Overhaul

    Arseplomancy = Fanatic Tarrasque!

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    Oh that reminds me. One of our party dabbled in Charging a bit, while wielding a glaive. It did not work out for him. Most of the maps are too cramped quarters and/or riddled with difficult terrain to permit even a 10ft charge when you also have Reach.
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

  15. - Top - End - #15
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    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    I first played this as a hobgob duskblade.

    It was interesting to say the least...

    The most broken character I've seen was a mystic ranger. Just used archery to one shot every hobgob and had plenty of utility outside as well.

  16. - Top - End - #16
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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    I seem to remember back on Gleemax someone posting about a warlock zombifying the first dragon and the party blowing the bridge with troops marching across. In general I believe a necromancer animating the difficult monsters does a good number on the campaign.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: Optimal Party for… Red Hand of Doom

    Quote Originally Posted by Sutr View Post
    I seem to remember back on Gleemax someone posting about a warlock zombifying the first dragon and the party blowing the bridge with troops marching across. In general I believe a necromancer animating the difficult monsters does a good number on the campaign.
    Then again, that goes for almost any campaign. Minionmancy in the edition is hideously strong. One of the reasons I like to have the Horde try to retain Dragon corpses and such: they have numerous Clerics of their own and a couple of Zombie Dragons in particular does a number on them.
    Campaign Journal: Uncovering the Lost World - A Player's Diary in Low-Magic D&D (Latest Update: 8.3.2014)
    Being Bane: A Guide to Barbarians Cracking Small Men - Ever Been Angry?! Then this is for you!
    SRD Averages - An aggregation of all the key stats of all the monster entries on SRD arranged by CR.

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