D&D 3e/3.5e/d20The forum for conversations specifically related to the rules and procedures of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, 3.5 Edition, or any fantasy game using the d20 system or a variant thereof (commercially published or not).
I'm currently running a Tier 6 PbP game, and I've run across a small problem with a player's character.
He attempted to create an optimized Warrior by starting with a halfing (+2 Dex bonus = +1 Dex bonus to AC, +1 size bonus to AC, +1 size bonus to attack rolls, and numerous skill and save bonuses). He then put his highest score into Dexterity, giving the character a nice AC bonus, and also took the feat "Weapon Finesse", allowing him to shift the character's ability bonus to melee attacks from Strength to Dexterity. Not a bad plan, right?
Thing is, when he purchased equipment, he spent fully half of his gold on a shield (Hide Shield - +3 AC, -3 armor check penalty). Now, this seemed like it might have been a good idea since, with his armor, size, and Dexterity bonuses, it sent his AC to 20 at Level 1.
The problem is that when I was reviewing a round of combat, I noticed that he had given his character a +5 melee attack bonus. This was unusually high, especially with his AC bonus. Then I remembered that Weapon Finesse has a catch: armor check penalties from shields apply to melee attack rolls when using Weapon Finesse. It just so happens that his Dex bonus is +3, which should be negated by his shield....
In short, he attempted to optimize two aspects of his character and ended up wasting half of his gold or a feat, depending on how you look at it. When he realizes this, I suspect he's going to want to make some adjustments, but by rights, I should just have things left as they are. It was his decision after all.
Let him trade in the shield for half value at least (presumably the party will find treasure soon, etc.)? If he is a 1st level warrior he might be finding out in game that his plan is not such a hot one, so you could make a roleplay experience of it.
Who else is in this campaign?
When in doubt, disbelieve the illusion!
First, Str is still used for damage unless you burn another feat (Shadow Blade, which has two prereqs if you're Tier 6 since you can't take the Tier 3 class that meets them natively), which also really restricts your weapon choice.
Further, you can't two-hand most Finesse weapons (and those you can are Exotic, which burns yet another feat), so you don't get 2:1 Power Attack.
Even if you do get one of those rare 2h Finesse weapons, and take Shadow Blade, and your weapon works with Shadow Blade (i.e. it's a Spiked Chain, since that's the only option that fits all the criteria), Dex doesn't get Str's 1.5× damage multiplier with two-handed weapons. This is after 5 feats.
And you can't get Dex to Trip at all, which is a super-important low-tier ability.
Finally, 3.5 handles MAD terribly and it's almost required that you try to get any MAD you have under control by swapping abilities for things. In this case, doing so is exorbitantly expensive and doesn't even get you everything you'd want.
The character would be massively more dangerous with just Combat Reflexes + Improved Trip.
Please let him adjust. I really dislike it when DM's are sticklers like that. I once made an wendigo that had fire immunity and then the rest of my resources went into being a kensai specializing in a great sword. I even mentioned in my backstory that I've been a wendigo since i was a kid. Well two sessions into the game the DM rereads the wendigo template and it has an entry that says "A wendigo's only attack is it's bite" or something to that affect. And instead of letting me reorganize my feats and xp into my bite he makes me keep it. As if some how a wendigo who can only attack with his bite managed to train freakishly hard with a great sword but has never actually swung it at someone. Worst campaign in my life. And every time I hand my character in to the DM to review who ever is being the DM always says the same line "Have to make sure this isn't another wendigo haha" I finally just stopped playing with them.
Anyway, I was thinking more along the lines of "tanks"...
There's not really such a thing as a "tank" in 3.5, at least not an effective one. 3.5's maxim is that the best defence is a good offence. Even if you ignored applying the ACP from shields to attack rolls that still doesn't devalue strength. Sure you'll have a good to-hit roll and a good AC. But even if you're good at landing those hits it doesn't make a huge difference when you're not doing much damage. Most finesse-able weapons are low damage weapons. The highest two hander is the spiked chain at 2d4 and if you're going one handed you're stuck with 1d6.
Since he's a small character that goes down to 1d4. Now since his highest score is in Dex if we're generous and assume his second highest score went into strength and gives at least a +2 bonus that means his damage is 1d4+2. Yeah he has an AC of 20, but it's not like that's impossible to hit at level 1.
Now if we look at what a strength type could do, let's just use a basic level 1 human fighter as an example, they can use weapons like a 2d6 Greatsword or d12 Greataxe. Assuming the same highest stat that's going to be a +3 strength modifier. Which means their damage is going to be d12 +4 (1.5x for wielding 2 handed) before anything else. Their average damage is going to be doubled. And they still have a +4 to-hit. Plus they can sacrifice 1 point of to-hit (and still have more than enough to hit CR1 creatures) to add another 2 points of damage.
Consider the wolf, a CR1 creature. It has an AC of 14, and 13 HP. Assuming max damage the dex fighter with the shield can take it down in three rounds. Assuming average damage the strength fighter can do it in two. Assuming 1 point more than average on a power attack and the strength fighter can turn it into paste within the first round of combat.
And that's not even going into how all combat manoeuvres (bull rush, trip, etc) are keyed off of strength.
The point to take away from this is that while there are ways to make a dex based melee character work, strength is NEVER undervalued. Though really sword and board is sub-optimal no matter how you do it. I'd say let your player change things, you've only just started and no one likes a super strict DM. Plus it is partly your fault for not reviewing his character and noticing this beforehand.