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On building a balanced group: working out just what works and why you may have been doing it all along.


Advice

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ciretose wrote:

Conceptually I don't disagree that this is "an" approach, and a well presented one at that, but the beauty of the system is how many ways there are to skin the proverbial cat.

The mistake of 4e was over-defining roles. The outcome is thing, not the path to the outcome. Some builds/classes have better synergies, but when you start over-defining what everyone's "Role" is rather than asking what is needed in a given group.

I don't think of it as an approach. I think of it as the best result of actual thought and contemplation on what it is you actually do in combat. And in the end it usually boils down to one of three things.

Can you mix and match based on build and circumstance? Of course you can. I've already proven that. But in the end the result if done correctly is the same.


I really like this TarkXT. I think that it's rather accurate overall. Sure, some groups might find some minor variations and I don't think that it's all meant to be carved in stone. I think it's meant to be more of an overall guideline of what you've seen work in your games and from conversations with others on various message boards.

I would like to see you take the time to expand the arm, hammer, and anvil a bit based on archetype if you ever get the time. Some, like the lore warden, will probably fill a different role than the weapon master. I would like to see your thoughts on that.

I think there is a lot of hair splitting with some of the terms from some people and that's fine if they want to expand things for their own understanding. I agree that it isn't necessary. Some things, like "eyes" or "iron" are often pre-combat and are important but not the thesis of your essay. Perhaps the title led people to see one thing when you meant another.


Bob_Loblaw wrote:


I would like to see you take the time to expand the arm, hammer, and anvil a bit based on archetype if you ever get the time. Some, like the lore warden, will probably fill a different role than the weapon master. I would like to see your thoughts on that.

That would take a long long time and I think is best left to those who are more familiar with those classes than I.

Really though reading this you should be able to go back, particularly after reading some class guides, and be able to tell fairly quickly how good some classes are at fulfilling the particular roles I mentioned. It should be obvious to those reading my guide on clerics, for example, that clerics can fairly easily segue into any of the three tasks or even take one all three utilizing certain build options.


So by popular demand I'll see about putting this in google docs and adding one or two things I know will complement it well and support the argument tht this is making. I do encourage some of you to take a look at expanding this into some subjects like:

How and what classes can fit what tasks and how well.

Positioning. We never ever talk about positioning it seems. And yet it's so important.

Out of combat roles and combat prep: This is outside the focus of the model presented but that never made it unimportant. So perhaps it's worth discussing?


Great way to look at our groups through a particular lens. I like the analogy you chose (Hammer-Arm-Andvil). I'll mention this page in my games.

Thanks for sharing all this good work.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The Google Docs version.

I'll see about putting it in the class guide sticky for convenience.

Osirion

Your Cleric guide makes me sad, because I get all excited reading about the Undead Controller option, before remembering that I never get to play the undead controller. Perhaps, with Albina, that will change. :>


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This thread is really interesting. My groups and I have probably made many of the mistakes mentioned above;
Having a cleric try to heal during combat, only to be outpaced by damage output
Having Hammers who moved too fast for the Anvils to support
Having Hammers who were ineffective because they either focused solely on shtick, or defense

However, I’ve had very successful groups who had no spell focused PCs at all (fighter, rogue, paladin, and ranger). Offense was their defense, but they could also fall back on minor spell casting after combat. Of course, they also relied heavily on NPCs for gear and down-time spells.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TarkXT wrote:

I do encourage some of you to take a look at expanding this into some subjects like:

How and what classes can fit what tasks and how well.

Should this be a different thread?

Assuming not, it seems obvious that most spell casters can fill the role of Anvil. Can a Fighter or Rogue ever fill the slot of an Anvil?

A fighter may use a reach weapon and combat maneuvers to control the battlefield. Or he could even use smokesticks or other mundane means to control the battlefield too (Smokesticks against ranged opponents for example).

A Rogue could use things like Acrobatics for positioning (Anvil), or the Feint feats to give bonuses to his allies (Arm). Even Aid Other or flanking offer things that would aid allies.

However, are these enough to be considered effective as an Anvil or Arm.

TarkXT wrote:
Positioning. We never ever talk about positioning it seems. And yet it's so important.

I think this is very important too. The easiest tactic whic we use is taking advantage of a bottleneck. If there are multiple opponents, the fighter typically acts as the plug (blocking movement through a doorway or narrow hall for example). The Anvil and Arms buff away, making the fighter a killing machine, or creating distractions in the open space beyond. If the bottleneck is a little wider, fill the hole with two fighters.

If there isn't a bottleneck, we often leave and reposition. (I think it annoys the DM when we enter a room, see a gang of monsters, and we back down the hall for a more advantageous position.)

If people have any other positioning tactics, I'd love to hear them too.


Dragonchess Player wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
For the record I am happy people are finding this useful and easy to understand. If you do have ideas to apply in your own games (like the eyes and the iron) feel free to do so. I jut think it's unnecessary.

Having spent the last 16 years in the military, as well as nearly twice that playing RPGs, I may have a greater appreciation of the importance of the intelligence and logistics functions. How well you perform is tremendously influenced by what you know about the situation and what resources you have.

I've also seen plenty of groups that shortchange them, for one reason or another. Which is a shame, because a party that fills the eyes and the iron roles performs much better in the anvil, arm, and hammer roles. You seem to be making an assumption on how well the party prepares before combat; in my experience, that's not always a safe assumption.

The eyes may be able to find a way to avoid unnecessary fights in pursuit of their goal, so that the party can concentrate on the critical ones; or possibly just find a way to defeat the opposition in detail, instead of facing them together in a tougher fight. Even if neither of these is possible, having a good idea of the enemy's strengths, weaknesses, and position before engaging in combat provides the party with an advantage: they know generally what to expect and can plan ways to blunt the enemy's attacks while the party attacks at a weak point.

The iron is all about having the best resources possible. It's usually better to have one +2 weapon than four +1 weapons. A wand of cure light wounds is more immediately useful in/after combat than 750 gp (or 375 gp if using the magic item creation feats).

Logistics is certainly not a party role unless you have one busybody telling everyone else what equipment they have to use. In and of itself it's useless. You can have perfect logistics but if you're preparing for a royal wedding instead of a battle you'll have a very short adventuring career. Besides, iron in the analogy is the enemy.

The eye role is irrelevant to the model because it happens outside of initiative. If something happens outside of initiative it doesn't matter how the role is split up. If you have a mediocre hammer you have a problem that can get you killed. If you have a mediocre diplomat aid another has a DC anyone with undumped charisma can hit on a take 10 for +2 per party member because there's no opportunity cost to actions outside of initiative. The only eye skill you can't split is stealth, and one guy stealthing is asking for defeat in detail.


So I am currently in the process of converting bits of the Skinsaw murders to a Mythic level.

I was going to take the party I had written up for here, run them solo-wise through the encounters and possibly record the results as I have neither the time nor the patience to write out a full report. Video would be more entertaining.

But then I thought, hey why not stream it while rambling on about about strategy and positioning and group make up while b~$@~ing/exalting the virtues of the mythic system? Get people involved, entertain/boretodeath with the discussion and all that noise.

I'll post link up on the forums here once I go. Going to try and shoot for the first stream around 1:00 pm est saturday. Even if no one shows up I still get the desired effect of the recording.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Thanks for the shout-out in your doc. I should go back and work on that guide.


I like all this, and look forward to your podcast.


Stream Channel is here.

Will start live streaming in about 15 minutes. Just trying to get things so it runs okay. Sadly my computer is somewhat crappy.


Problems should eb dealt with. Will be streaming in 7 minutes.


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Atarlost wrote:
The eye role is irrelevant to the model because it happens outside of initiative. If something happens outside of initiative it doesn't matter how the role is split up. If you have a mediocre hammer you have a problem that can get you killed. If you have a mediocre diplomat aid another has a DC anyone with undumped charisma can hit on a take 10 for +2 per party member because there's no opportunity cost to actions outside of initiative. The only eye skill you can't split is stealth, and one guy stealthing is asking for defeat in detail.
CRB, pg. 86 wrote:
(You can't take 10 on a skill check to aid another.)


TarkXT wrote:

Stream Channel is here.

Will start live streaming in about 15 minutes. Just trying to get things so it runs okay. Sadly my computer is somewhat crappy.

For those interested my internet connection blinked about halfway through so sadly it seems only the second half is saved to the stream page.

In the first half I explained the characters im using and why im going with skinsaw murders.

First combat done was the hambley farm encounter (Buffs abused Wild Arcana to cast invisibility that lasted 8 minutes on grumpy so he could scout the place. Found the ghoul barn, lit it on fire and reenacted the walking dead.

Buffs tossed a glitterdust ona trio of ghouls as they ran out nailing only one with blindness but effectively taking him out of the fight for 4 rounds. Some shots were fired and soon some ghouls were taken out.

So that's what's been missed so far.

Also you'll noticed that grumpy the dwarf moved 30ft instead of 20ft. That is my bad. Buuuuttttt considering i forgot about his wolf and also didnt factor in his favored enemy the entire fight that one instance of heightened dwarven speed can be forgiven.


TarkXT wrote:
TarkXT wrote:

Stream Channel is here.

Will start live streaming in about 15 minutes. Just trying to get things so it runs okay. Sadly my computer is somewhat crappy.

For those interested my internet connection blinked about halfway through so sadly it seems only the second half is saved to the stream page.

In the first half I explained the characters im using and why im going with skinsaw murders.

First combat done was the hambley farm encounter (Buffs abused Wild Arcana to cast invisibility that lasted 8 minutes on grumpy so he could scout the place. Found the ghoul barn, lit it on fire and reenacted the walking dead.

Buffs tossed a glitterdust ona trio of ghouls as they ran out nailing only one with blindness but effectively taking him out of the fight for 4 rounds. Some shots were fired and soon some ghouls were taken out.

So that's what's been missed so far.

Also you'll noticed that grumpy the dwarf moved 30ft instead of 20ft. That is my bad. Buuuuttttt considering i forgot about his wolf and also didnt factor in his favored enemy the entire fight that one instance of heightened dwarven speed can be forgiven.

Oh hey just found that livestream saved all the stuff before the cut off of that last video as a draft. Published it and now you can watch all the mistakes in its full 2 hour glory.


Mythic playtest robots versus an Agile templated Dire Ghoul bat!

A bit of talk about marching orders, a bit more showcasing of the mythic powers, a very quick and absolutely brutal combat that lasts 1 surprise round and 1.7 real rounds.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

Excellent and interesting article.

You may or may not care, but I actually saw some guy on Youtube basically read this word for word in a series of videos. Possibly taking credit for the ideas.
I know gamers steal ideas all the time, it is to be expected, but seemed kind of odd that he would read it word for word.


Got a link?

In truth I don't particularly care too much. If someone added their own spin on it and took the time to yak in front of a webcam that's their business. But reading it word for word and not bothering to give credit is mildly irksome. It's the writer in me.


Well, I got a link but the second I commented he removed it instantaneously.

Sad really, this is the second time such a thing happened on completely free content where it would have been no thing to just cite the source.


Wonderful job Tark, it will be most helpful to me and my gaming group, thank you very much : )

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
TarkXT wrote:

Consider for a moment what your ultimate goal in combat is;

”TO OVER COME THE ENCOUNTER AS EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE”

Call me strange, but I always thought that my goal in this game was to have fun. Efficiency is for boosting my net margin at work, so I can be considered a "valued employee."


LazarX wrote:
TarkXT wrote:

Consider for a moment what your ultimate goal in combat is;

”TO OVER COME THE ENCOUNTER AS EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE”

Call me strange, but I always thought that my goal in this game was to have fun. Efficiency is for boosting my net margin at work, so I can be considered a "valued employee."

Well you are talking about two different goals here. One's the goal of the group in combat. The other the goal of the game. That does not make them mutually exclusive.

You try to be efficient so you can get a raise, buy a new house, maybe consider installing that gaming cave you always wanted.

Adventurers try to be efficient to avoid dying. Horribly.


By the way dying horribly is no fun.

Unless you are strange. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I had a character sacrifice himself to stop a wizard that had an infinite-charge staff of ogre creation. Sundered the staff straight up, thus ensuring that a possibly infinite number of ogres remained unborn/uncreated.

That was fun.


Cheapy wrote:

I had a character sacrifice himself to stop a wizard that had an infinite-charge staff of ogre creation. Sundered the staff straight up, thus ensuring that a possibly infinite number of ogres remained unborn/uncreated.

That was fun.

Well we already know you are weird.

Also unless the death involved ogres and the various horrible things they do it probably wasn't horrible.

If it's a death with manly tears and noble sacrifice it probably doesn't count.


I had a ranger that sacrificed her life to distract a rampaging God long enough for our Godly ally to get the decisive blow. She died saving the world from the rampages of a mad god. What more could a person ask for in a heroic story?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Oh, he died to the ogres. Well, he went negative from the explosion. The ogres ... well the ogres got a couple natural 20s on his unconscious body.

He earned a nickname for this act, which was engraved on his tombstone, but it's a bit too crude for public discourse.


Tels wrote:
I had a ranger that sacrificed her life to distract a rampaging God long enough for our Godly ally to get the decisive blow. She died saving the world from the rampages of a mad god. What more could a person ask for in a heroic story?

See above. Voluntary deaths to plot realted shenanigans don't count.

Meaningless avoidable deaths are more the province of what I'm thinking about.


Well, my friend had a Dwarf that was grappled then drowned in a lake by a black dragon, and couldn't be saved by the party. However, he thought it was an awesome combat and thought his character's death was cool. Everyone else that had died in the campaign were rather normal deaths involving being stabbed a bunch.


So I decided to perform a touch of thread necromancy to inform those who ahve read this that I plan on expanding it quite a bit. You see this essay dealt entirely with strategy, building a group to meet any challenge the game might throw at you, the next part will involve the actual fire of combat. In other words I want to break down and discuss tactics.

As a brief bit about my thoughts I concluded that groups in pathfinder win by leveraging one of three important parts of combat; numbers, actions, and positioning.

But anyway I've just begun writing the thing so it may be a bit before I have anything solid. Just wanted to toss out some food for thought.


TarkXT wrote:

So I decided to perform a touch of thread necromancy to inform those who ahve read this that I plan on expanding it quite a bit. You see this essay dealt entirely with strategy, building a group to meet any challenge the game might throw at you, the next part will involve the actual fire of combat. In other words I want to break down and discuss tactics.

As a brief bit about my thoughts I concluded that groups in pathfinder win by leveraging one of three important parts of combat; numbers, actions, and positioning.

But anyway I've just begun writing the thing so it may be a bit before I have anything solid. Just wanted to toss out some food for thought.

Thank you. I loved this and found it highly informative.


Very much looking forwards to more on this from you TarkXT, have already showed this to a few of the less combat oriented players I know and it really helped them understand what will aid them in being a valuable party member in combat.

Silver Crusade

Looking forward to seeing this, Tark. Nice job. I've shown that essay to a lot of people.


Dotted.


As fun as it is to watch everything suddenly bubble to the top I think I'm just going to stick all these thigsg in my profile.

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