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Petty Alchemy wrote:
My understanding from another forum is that in general, the game expects a day that goes 2 encounters, short rest, 2 encounters, short rest, 2 encounters, long rest to allow all classes to shine, but I'm finding it hard to design more than 2-3 encounters a day (just to pack that many baddies into a single day).
Maybe try waves of enemies? Like reinforcements show up 1d12 rounds after combat starts? Or while most of the guards are fighting, another one begins releasing wardogs from their cages?
In 3.5, I ran a pirate campaign, and people swinging on ropes would add their Use Rope skill check to their Jump checks or Acrobatics checks to determine how far they could travel.
In PF, I ran an "Aztec" ball game where they could use an immediate action to catch a thrown ball, or make a DC 5 or 10 Reflex save to do the same.
I'm finding using the Life cleric's Channel Divinity: Preserve Life kind of annoying. It only heals up to half your maximum, so PCs need to be very hurt to benefit from it. I wish it worked like Pathfinder's channel energy ability, where it just healed, no matter how hurt you are.
We have a barbarian in the party that draws agro like crazy, and I've spent more than a few fights spending tons of spell slots and potions keeping him up. Granted, that's my job as a cleric, and I like it, but I wish I could me more efficient at it. We're playing Rise of the Rune Lords, so we're often fighting tons of giants at once. In combat healing is what keeps us alive.
I might speak to my DM and see if I can spend a feat to let my Channel Divinity: Preserve Life work no matter how injured the party is.
5th Edition might be the key. It feels like 1st Edition, but plays like 3.5/PF.
The mechanics are roll d20, add modifier, so it's really easy to play (no THAC0, charts, tables, or clunky mechanics). Very elegant, especially the way the Proficiency bonus is the same for attack rolls, skill checks, saving throws, spell save DCs, etc. It's VERY elegant. The Advantage/Disadvantage system replaces all the little bonuses and penalties. It really simplifies things a lot.
But it's not dumbed down. Using higher level spell slots can increase the potency of many spells, particularly cures and damaging spells.
It plays like 1st Edition, though. Low level monsters can still be a threat at higher levels, and a low level party can plan and plot and possibly even scheme and succeed against a much higher CR encounter.
I know a lot of the older players I play with really like it.
Have you considered using player-controlled henchmen with NPC classes? They can shore up action economy and provide some additional support without stealing the limelight from the PCs. Maybe just a couple warriors or a warrior and an adept for some extra healing and divinations?
NPC classes lack the complexity of PC classes, so they're relatively quick to run in a fight.
Human War 3/Fig 1 with Power Attack, Pushing Assault, Combat Reflexes, Stand Still. Equip with favorite reach weapon.
PCs approach NPCs, provoke AoO, get pushed back 5 feet and stop moving. NPCs then attack and step back 5 feet. PCs then need to move 10 feet forward to melee, rinse, repeat.
Maybe sprinkle the battlefield with 10 by 10 cages? A hidden NPC could control the cage doors.
Anyone else inspired by Brian McClelland's Powder Mage Trilogy?
I'm reading Promise of Blood now, and I can't tell if the Powder Mages are an archetype of the magus or a hybrid of the alchemist and gunslinger.
Powder Mages exist in a quasi-18th century fantasy land. They inhale or consume gunpowder to enhance their senses and aim, physiques, and can telekinetically nudge bullets. They can also sense and ignite gunpowder at a distance. They can also burn gunpowder to empower their bullets.
A bard would be really effective in a party of 6 with 1 or 2 animal companions and possibly some summoned allies.
But if you want to play a sorcerer, play a sorcerer. The other wizard can go arcane trickster if they want some rogue stuff, or the fighter and/or ranger can dip too. Probably less effective for the cleric to multiclass rogue, but if the druid wildshapes, it might get 2 to 5 sneak attacks a round--and can summon its own flanking buddy, or use its animal companion.
Maybe the ranger or fighter can take a dip into rogue for the trap stuff? Even 4 levels of rogue will reduce their BAB by 1, but will grant them a lot more skill points (well, a few more skill points for the ranger...). Plus sneak attack, a couple talents (bonus feats!), evasion, and uncanny dodge...
Play what you want. At least 3 characters can already use Cure Light Wound wands, so they can heal the fighter up after the trap goes off. :-P
I'm playing in a 5th Edition conversion of RotRL right now, and while our rogue is helpful, she isn't vital. We have other ways to deal with locks (axes). Sneaking is always useful, but the ranger can do that.
There ARE large groups of monsters in RotRL, so blasting IS useful!!!!
Terrain and mooks are the way to go. Eat up resources, including action economy.
Maybe traps of negative energy that hurt the PCs but heal the undead mooks?
If they are using fireball a lot, counter it with cover.
Are your fights usually in big square or rectangular rooms? I like to sprinkle in columns and damaged columns for cover and difficult terrain. Narrow tunnels connecting lots of smallish chambers (10 to 15 feet across) can be fun too. Also, balconies and terraces and narrow bridges.
Use a mix of monsters in each encounter. Just 2 or 3 different kinds of creatures, especially ones that synergize well. Also, try to use Combat Maneuvers. Bull rush them into fires or off cliffs, disarm their favorite bow and shoot them with it, steal the cleric's holy symbol and the wizard's spell component pouch, use dirty trick for a bunch of minor de-buffs, grapple or swallow a PC--then run away with the PC, resulting in a chase scene. Sunder can be kind of a dick move if you destroy their favorite magic item, but damaging armor and shields and weapons so they have the broken condition can be an effective debuff.
Use non-lethal damage. A lot of PCs panic when they think they are going to be captured--and have all their loot stolen!
Make the PCs climb a cliff, and hit them with a bunch of sneak attacks (they lose Dex to AC when climbing). Or waste resources flying and dim-dooring.
But remember to keep the encounters fun--11th level PCs should be very successful at what they do! Let them shine.
Maybe grant the knife-slinger a "Share Enchantment" ability that lets her keep a magical throwing weapon on her person, and her thrown weapons gain the magical abilities of the throwing weapon for 1 round when she throws them?
And maybe the knife-slinger can have a number of magic knives equal to her Int/Wis/Cha mod/Grit?
Yeah, sometimes emphasizing your flaws can be super fun.
I have a dwarf barbarian 1/magus 7 with a Charisma of 6 that still tries to be the party face. At least he discovered agro--horrible Diplomacy checks!
I also have a 5th Edition half-elf rogue (thief) urchin with an 8 Intelligence. He is "street smart," which means "actually dumb" and is a hoot to play.
Our Pathfinder group was feeling a bit of burnout until we started 5th Edition, and now we try to play twice a month instead of maybe once a month.
Another group tried 5th Edition just to spice things up, and the perpetual rogue archer LOVES all the changes to sneak attack. They're easier, they're multiplied on a crit, and they don't require super precise tactical finagling.
5th edition feels like 1st edition, but plays like a stream-lined 3rd edition/PF. It's also very elegant.
I made some NPC fighters that were pretty effective at battlefield control.
Basically, you hit opponents and push them back 5 feet. They can't move, and you step back 5 feet. Now, they need to move 10 feet to reach you, and provoke more AoOs. At higher levels, you can combine this with Lunge to hit them when they are 10 feet from you (not with your AoOs, though).
And fighters do have some useful skills, like Knowledge dungeoneering and Survival. You also have enough feats that you can spend one on Additional Traits so you can pick up some additional class skills. Or multiclass into Ranger for more skill points.
Ranger is actually an excellent introductory class for new players. The Slayer is a Ranger/Rogue combo, so it would probably be a fun class for, since it combines a fighting class with skill class and teaches you some rogue stuff, like sneak attack.
We (my dwarf life cleric 8, elf arcane trickster rogue archer 8, human diviner 8, human ranger hunter archer 8, human eldritch knight 8, and half-orc barbarian 8) recently fought 3 bone devils and a stone giant evoker 11, and we used a lot of boosted spells. I began with a 4th level bless so I could affect all 6 of the PCs.
Bless is awesome. +1d4 to attacks and saving throws! Very effective against AC 19 foes that are using lots of poison and area effect spells.
I then used a 4th level spiritual weapon so I could do 2d8+4 damage on successful hits. I also used higher level cures to keep the barbarian up and a 3rd level guiding bolt a couple times.
The wizard uses lots of higher level chromatic orbs too.
Yikes! Then mind-affecting spells are probably a no-no. Hmmmm...
Are there any good divine battlefield control spells? Would consecrate be good? I'm thinking summoning spells might be good, too. Maybe with Sacred Summons? I don't know how big your party is, so I don't know if summoning is a fun option (I personally think it's more fun when you have a small party, and kind of extraneous if you have a large party, especially one with pets too).
Buffs might be good too. Greater Magic Weapon to overcome DR?