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So, Apparently NPCs Suck


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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And @ Deadmanwalking: seriously dude, hope all is well. You just sort of disappeared mid-thread.


Just one other instance of "why melee NPC's suck" from my Carrion Crown session last week: Six NPC fighter lvl 8 against one PC Barbarian lvl 11. She proceeded to slaughter them without breaking a sweat.

I had even reworked the Fighters from their official stat block to focus on Greater Trip/Disarm builds ( changing out some usual useless feats like Alertness ). No dice, she had a CMD of about 34 in her rage, while they only could work up a +16 CMB.

Had I focused on attacking her AC, I would have hit a few more times, but she had between 150 to 180 HP while raging and those guards do 1d8+8 damage.

NPC's are just fodder, if you use the ones from Paizos AP's. Sure, I could invest even more time and re-do every single one of them. But what do I buy the AP's for, then?

The discrepancy between what a PC can do and what a normal NPC does has become once again much clearer in the last weeks. The Barbarian does triple the damage of one of those guards, same as the Fighter in the group. The Gunslinger doesn't lag much behind and almost always hits his attacks against touch AC. I don't grudge them their prowess ( I get to play a player character in another group, too, after all ), but I'd wish that those official NPC's would challenge them more. You'd think that an NPC only three levels below a PC would present more of a challenge, let alone six against one.


What point buy do you run at, Magnus? I'd guess the discrepancy is just too much. Also why didn't you use power attack on these fighters, if I may ask? I'd also suggest using the aid-another action in this kind of situation, as well as flanking for another +2. What's more, you can and should use potions and magic gear to bring those numbers up to scratch. No doubt the Barbarian is sitting on a nice pile of goodies.


15 point buy for the PC's, so it was on the same level as the NPC's. The fighters tried flanking, but that heightened the chance for a successful trip/disarm from about 10% to 20%... and only one trip succeeded. Since the Barbarian was benefitting from the Clerics Blessing of Fervor spell at the time, standing up wasn't a problem for her.

Aid another could have worked better, but I simply forgot about that option, I will admit.

Still, even if the dice would have worked better for me and the fighters would have gone for hit point damage ( I built them for tripping/disarming because the other melee characters have a very high AC and the normal attack bonus of those fighters is insufficient to seriously threaten the other PC's, both by their low chance to hit and their low damage when they hit ), the Barbarian has so many HP that she would still have decimated those six guys. Alone. With only one buff spell from the Cleric on her. :-/


Huh. That's a shame, then. Sometimes the numbers just aren't in your favour, especially when combat manuevers are concerned. As a GM you have to fight for those tactical advantages where you can, and adjust encounters and tactics on the fly.

I think at the level you're playing at, you want to consider giving your NPCs buffs and potions, regardless of how much it makes sense and how far it deviates from the adventure. Some of Ashiel's posts further up the thread will probably illustrate this point better than I could, but the GM has to try and match all the tools the players have at their disposals as well.

Also Barbarians are scary, but consider that fight as the Barbarian in her element (which is awesome fun for the player, but over time can be frustrating for the GM). I'd imagine she has cleave, and her ridiculously high HP makes her born for melee. I'd say disabling spells and terrain, as well as magic, darkness, and other concealment, would do a better job of challenging her.

Of course, this is about as presumptuous as my last post. I don't know your game, but hopefully I can provide helpful advice.


Well, I could tailor every encounter to specifically counter as many in the party as possible, but why do I buy AP's if not for the material given to me by the official writers?


I used this tactic against a barbarian in my own game: Sunder the weapon. (But sensei, I can take this guy! SUNDER THE WEAPON! Do you have a PROBLEM with that Mr Lawrence?)

Seriously though it was a dragon they were up against, so decent stats (not the flaming discrepancy your situation had) but the dragon recognized his weapon was common and therefore not treasure, thus it sundered and my one-weapon PC made a mad dash for the horde in the next hall.


We don't use sunder in our group, since 3.0 came out more than a decade ago. Because sundering is bad for loot and pathetically easy to do, for both PC's and the GM. It's more or less a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. ^^


magnuskn wrote:
We don't use sunder in our group, since 3.0 came out more than a decade ago. Because sundering is bad for loot and pathetically easy to do, for both PC's and the GM. It's more or less a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. ^^

...

And sunder is not used on you?

Bad for loot... Hmmm. Yes, yes it is. I think you need harder opponents then. Real tough matches where sunder is an important tactic to play. Sunder is a great counter to barbs and fighters, or any class that becomes dependent on a weapon or item.

Memory kicking in. Indeed, yes, in the last game I played where I had a sundering character, the party meembers obsessed with loot and wealth did complain when my char sundered the weapons of enemy bosses. In other games I have sundered the circlets of intelligence of evil wizards, so that others would not be seduced by heightened magic power.

As a dm, yep I use it. Not all the time though. Seven games into the latest and there have been two sundered items.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

What about steal, then catch off guard? A horde of 8th level monks + these 2 feats could end in a very wierd encounter for a barbarian.

But that's not what this thread is about.

Human warrior 6
feats: Agile Maneuvers, Weapon Finesse, Combat Expertise, Improved Trip
Weapon: sickle, cat o' 9 tails, guisarme
build focused on tripping and keeping foes down, even to the exclusion of damage. By 6th level, excluding their stats they are at +8 to CMB to trip. Consider a heroic array (15 dex) +1 at 4th level = +3 to attack; +11 to CMB for trip attacks.


3.5 Loyalist wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
We don't use sunder in our group, since 3.0 came out more than a decade ago. Because sundering is bad for loot and pathetically easy to do, for both PC's and the GM. It's more or less a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. ^^

...

And sunder is not used on you?

Bad for loot... Hmmm. Yes, yes it is. I think you need harder opponents then. Real tough matches where sunder is an important tactic to play. Sunder is a great counter to barbs and fighters, or any class that becomes dependent on a weapon or item.

Memory kicking in. Indeed, yes, in the last game I played where I had a sundering character, the party meembers obsessed with loot and wealth did complain when my char sundered the weapons of enemy bosses. In other games I have sundered the circlets of intelligence of evil wizards, so that others would not be seduced by heightened magic power.

... and I guess the other players were okay with that? I wouldn't be. But I guess it comes down to group dynamics.


Ravingdork wrote:
I've had entire military squads supporting my spellcasters. Short of using no save spells like enervation, the spellcasters still usually end up as a joke in direct confrontations.

Some tricks you can try.

1) Controller magic like the wall spells or methods of taking advantage of the environment. Telekinesis to bullrush characters into traps or water or lava is also useful for this purpose.

2) Dimension Door, but never in the same room you are in! I like to dimension door out of the villain chamber and in to a room previously cleared by the PCs and then trap pincer them. This gives the caster more turns to participate while not being directly threatened. It is also just fun when the party thinks the caster ran and two rounds later summoned monsters start flanking them from the rear.

3) Buffs! The communal spells are pretty great for splitting up those long term buffs over a large party of mooks especially if it will protect them from some long running status spell you are about to drop (i.e. cold resist before frost fall)

4) Any combination of all the advice above. Direct casters can make some dangerous encounters, but savvy players build to shore up their saves for that reason. A caster is a solution finder, so find new ways to challenge them other than save or suck. Sometimes those long term but slow acting can serve a wizard better than a single save.

Edit: Oh and shatter! Shatter everything all over the place.


pobbes wrote:


Edit: Oh and shatter! Shatter everything all over the place.

I know. I am seriously chomping at the bit for a chance to use that spell on an alchemist.


cranewings wrote:
pobbes wrote:


Edit: Oh and shatter! Shatter everything all over the place.
I know. I am seriously chomping at the bit for a chance to use that spell on an alchemist.

There have been two threads on that very subject already.

Shatter Eliminates Alchemist?
Is the spell Shatter the bane of the Alchemist?


Azten wrote:
cranewings wrote:
pobbes wrote:


Edit: Oh and shatter! Shatter everything all over the place.
I know. I am seriously chomping at the bit for a chance to use that spell on an alchemist.

There have been two threads on that very subject already.

Shatter Eliminates Alchemist?
Is the spell Shatter the bane of the Alchemist?

Yeah, I remember those threads vaguely. I'm not really concerned with any counter argument. As far as I'm concerned it works unless the alchemist has some sort of counterspell or magical ability ready to deal with it.

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