Channel Energy Problems


Homebrew and House Rules

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Dark Archive

After I found myself having to "adjust" a combat yesterday because of this I wondered whether anyone has had any similar problems and how they tackled them.

The basic issue is that a 3rd level cleric is *devastating* to a 1st level party - 2d6 damage 30' radius save for 1/2, especially on the 2nd or 3rd blast.

I saw that somewhere in the past there was a suggestion that channel energy be a 1 minute action. I think a 1 full round action like a summoning spell (with concentration checks required if interrupted) would be good too.

I would also add that channeling energy in this way requires holy symbol and voice and is *obvious* to all onlookers, allowing people to take evasive action.

What do you think?

Richard


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I think the cleric is holding his holy symbol up,calling on his god or whatever powers he believes in, and a wave of obvious energy is washing out from that holy symbol.

Unless you have a readied action, not much you can do to get out of the effect, but who is doing it is obvious. It's a giant beacon saying 'Please make me the focus of all your attacks! Please! I want to die as fast as possible!'

I would expect every PC in the area to switch to the cleric doing the channeling and make him priority target #1, even taking attacks of opportunity if necessary to get to him and shut him down.

Dark Archive

A party of 1st level characters isn't going to take a 3rd level cleric down in one round, especially after they've taken one blast already to tell them what they're up against. Second blast and you've a very good change of a TPK. Third blast and they're gone.

Richard


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
richard develyn wrote:

A party of 1st level characters isn't going to take a 3rd level cleric down in one round, especially after they've taken one blast already to tell them what they're up against. Second blast and you've a very good change of a TPK. Third blast and they're gone.

Richard

I disagree, first thing they should do is pull back and use ranged attacks while their own cleric channels positive energy to heal them. That slows down the damage. Plus, if a melee person can close with the cleric who's channeling and trip or overrun him, that will keep him from channeling. The big thing is, while a channel is nasty, you have to get people in the area of it. If you can only hit one person or maybe two with it while the others are shooting you with arrows or sling stones, you're toast. A single 3rd level cleric should be a tough, but not insurmountable, opponent.

He should have an AC around 18 (maybe 12 touch) or so, and only about 20 hps.

A first level fighter should be able to hit him about 35-45% of the time (Assume 16 str, +3, BAB +1, he needs a 14+ to hit, that's 35%). The mage should be using a ranged touch attack or magic missile to hit him (easy). Their cleric should be channeling energy into them (any cleric should take selective target first level to leave the cleric out). That's 1d6 healed to every partymember, cutting the enemy cleric's damage in half. And a rogue should be able to flank with the fighter and sneak attack and boost the fighter's to hit to nearly 50%.

Fighter : 50% * 1d6+3= 3hps per round, average
Wizard : Magic Missile : 3hps per round, average
Rogue : 40% * 2d6+2 : 4hps per round, average
Cleric : Healing

So they should be able to take him down in two rounds. 10x2. If they luck out, in one round. The mage should be outside the area of effect, his thing is get away and magic-missle/acid-splash the cleric. The teams's cleric should be close enough to channel to the fighter and himself. The rogue can either close and sneak attack or pull back and use a bow. It's an iffy one, I'll grant. One of those low-level 'If things go good, cake walk, if things go bad, ugh' scenarios.

I think the big thing is, play the cleric like a real person. A real person doesn't stay there and get pummeled, if he's below half-hitpoints, and has no good reason to, he's not going to keep fighting, he's going to retreat. Especially if the wizard is acid-splashing him from beyond his channel range. Sure, he can kill 3 of them, but if he dies to the wizard... what's the use? Unless he's mind controlled, he's got no reason to commit suicide to kill 2-3 people while their buddy kills him.


Our party had this happen to us recently. If the DM had gone for 3 bursts instead of 2 the entire party would have died. As it was, my rogue went to 3 points above negative Con. I don't think a rule-fix is necessary; any competent DM who wants to retain his gaming group wouldn't murder an entire 1st-level party with no recourse. There's a difference between being a tough DM and being a jackass :)

Zo

Dark Archive

At the end of the day, that's what I did, but it's always a bit dissatisfying when you have to do it.

And, and I know there's a danger of kicking off a big discussion here, if the challenge was fair (and this was a boss fight), shouldn't you let the dice run as they fall? An EL 3 encounter is hardly a deadly one.

But going back to the analysis, there's still an awful lot of TPK possibilities here.

If the cleric got everyone on the first blast, and rolled 9+ on 2d6 (which isn't *that* difficult), and the rogue or wizard, possibly the cleric, failed the s.t. (dc probably 13, so cleric will probably need an 8, rogue a 13 and wiz an 11) then those characters will be down. Once the cleric's down it's the end, and even if not - that cleric's fighting a losing battle if he has to be within range to heal (1d6 back) and next round he potentially takes another 2d6 (he better make that s.t.).

And even if the cleric's standing there's a good chance one or two of the others aren't, and assuming the cleric's healing pops them back up they'll *only* be back down again if they *succeed* a s.t.

And the fighter will probably need a 14 to save (if I know fighters :-) ).

And, of course, our 3rd level cleric has spells of his own. Sound burst in this situation is pretty nasty, and Cure Mod on himself when necessary.

----

The other point of your argument opens up another large issue which could spawn a big discussion.

It is the assumption in any of these RPGs that villains really don't act sensibly for their own survival. If villains only attacked characters when they could be sure of winning (which is what most sensible villains would do in the real world), then there'd be no adventurers.

Even if this 3rd level evil cleric found himself in actually the rather dire situation of facing a party of 1st level characters, if he couldn't run away or parley probably his best chance of survival would be a do or die wipe out attempt. Leave even one alive and before you know it they're pouring potions of CLW down each other's throats and coming after yours.

Richard

Dark Archive

1) An EL 3 encounter against four 1st-level characters SHOULD be difficult.

2) It will teach PCs to respect enemy clerics more than they do at the moment (at least the 10-15 players I've played with over the last few years).

3) If the evil cleric has allies, they will be equally hit (unless the evil cleric has Selective...)

4) A round spend channeling is one round less spent casting spells and vice versa. Once the evil cleric has been dealt 50% hp, unless he is suicidal, he would consider using that Cure Moderate to stay in the fight.

5) An EL 3 encounter against four 1st-level characters SHOULD be difficult.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Actually in Pathfinder a lvl 3 Cleric is CR 2.


As the instigator--if not the creator--of the scenarios the PCs are involved in, the DM has engaged in a social contract with the players to mutually create enjoyment in the GAME they intend to play. Now, some of my best, funniest, most enjoyable sessions are when our PCs are getting seven shades kicked out of them, but if it doesn't feel fair, players get unhappy. Who cares if it's by-the-book? Balance is everything, at least to me.

Zo

Dark Archive

I agree, it's just that I think in terms of balance at present, a level 3 cleric, as is, is more of a CR4.

Richard

Dark Archive

richard develyn wrote:

I agree, it's just that I think in terms of balance at present, a level 3 cleric, as is, is more of a CR4.

Richard

Statistically, this encounter would be equivalent to having a party of weasels fight a leopard. I'd argue the CR is spot on. The issue is the deadliness of 1st level. Consider that a PC's measurable power doubles from 1st to 2nd level. At no other level does this happen. A 1st level PC is not actually an adventurer, yet. Not much removes them from the commoners and artisans that pursue more sane professions. This encounter would not have been as difficult had the PC's been one or two levels higher.

To me, first level is about two things: 1) tactics and 2) DEATH. Channel energy presents a new variable to the Dnd paradigm that will take time to cope with, but once realized shouldn't be that big of an issue.

I question the PCs tactics. Why didn't they clear out of the area and attack the cleric with ranged attacks after the first channel? At 1st level, why didn't they prioritize acquiring hirelings to help them out? Were they given no chance to catch the cleric by surprise? What part of "servant of god's divine wrath" did they not understand?

Dark Archive

Also keep in mind that other things are just as likely to kill a party. Have them cross a lake and make their boat capsize( stormy weather, or nessy ). Have them start making swim checks and watch your pcs die.

Dark Archive

I agree that 1st level is deadly, and that tactics are important, but in order to address the balance of the encounter can I suggest approaching this from another direction.

I propose that a level 3 evil cleric is a much riskier encounter for a 1st level party than a single level 3 anything-else.

I say "riskier" rather than "tougher", although I think it may also be "tougher". It's riskier because the effect of a little bit of bad luck is greater on the party than in other cases.

And I want in particular to consider the TPK scenario. Especially these days, as long as at least one character survives the encounter, the whole party has a good chance (quickly pour the CLW potion down the cleric's throat and he then channels positive).

The cleric's channel negative energy is devastating because it has such an enormous range.

What do you think?

Richard

P.S. Just to answer the point about tactics. Getting the jump on the villain is nice but chances are far greater that they'll hear the party coming rather than the other way round. Running away is ok as long as you have some way of stopping them running after you (if you leave someone behind to fight them then ranged weapons are much harder to use), and preventing the cleric taking cover somewhere. Hirelings would more than likely have dropped like flies had they been in range.

P.P.S Add a zombie or two to the encounter (I'm not sure the EL would change, would it?) and things really get bad.


While I think good tactics are important to consider when dealing with this (or similar) situations, the 3rd level cleric/1st-2nd level party is a rough dynamic. Here's some of why:

mdt wrote:
I disagree, first thing they should do is pull back and use ranged attacks while their own cleric channels positive energy to heal them.

If they pull back 20'-30' into a cluster around their cleric (assuming they have one), the enemy cleric can easily move up and hit everyone again. If they spread out, party cleric can't hit everyone.

mdt wrote:

Fighter : 50% * 1d6+3= 3hps per round, average

Wizard : Magic Missile : 3hps per round, average
Rogue : 40% * 2d6+2 : 4hps per round, average
Cleric : Healing

Party cleric definitely cannot channel to heal the fighter and rogue while they are flanking without healing the enemy cleric (barring selective channeling of course). And *everyone* will be in range of the enemy channeling - yes, including...

mdt wrote:
The mage should be outside the area of effect, his thing is get away and magic-missle/acid-splash the cleric.

Acid splash has a range of 25' at 1st level. All the school/domain zap abilities have a range of 30'.

mdt wrote:
So they should be able to take him down in two rounds. 10x2. If they luck out, in one round.

Big luck, yes, sure, one round. Luck as in "everyone hits"? No. 3d6+5 from fighter and rogue +3 wizard = 18.5 average.

Also.. pretty sure you can channel while prone.

I agree though, tactics help, including "run the heck away, circle back around". A powerful cleric isn't someone you just hack at hoping to drop him in time.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Majuba wrote:

While I think good tactics are important to consider when dealing with this (or similar) situations, the 3rd level cleric/1st-2nd level party is a rough dynamic. Here's some of why:

mdt wrote:
I disagree, first thing they should do is pull back and use ranged attacks while their own cleric channels positive energy to heal them.

If they pull back 20'-30' into a cluster around their cleric (assuming they have one), the enemy cleric can easily move up and hit everyone again. If they spread out, party cleric can't hit everyone.

Wizard moves 30 feet south first round, casts MM.

Fighter runs 30 feet nw first round, fires bow.
Rogue runs 30 feet ne first round, fires bow.
Cleric runs 30 feet n first round, channels, heals himself and fighter and rogue. Only way evil cleric can get 3 people is to run up to the cleric. Unless they started out face to face, that requires a double move. Wizard is by himself, but if the enemy cleric wants two people, he has to go for rogue/cleric or fighter/cleric.

Majuba wrote:


mdt wrote:

Fighter : 50% * 1d6+3= 3hps per round, average

Wizard : Magic Missile : 3hps per round, average
Rogue : 40% * 2d6+2 : 4hps per round, average
Cleric : Healing

Party cleric definitely cannot channel to heal the fighter and rogue while they are flanking without healing the enemy cleric (barring selective channeling of course). And *everyone* will be in range of the enemy channeling - yes, including...

I did say, if he had selective channel, did I not? rereads original post Ah, I said he should have it. So yes, I did.

Majuba wrote:


mdt wrote:
The mage should be outside the area of effect, his thing is get away and magic-missle/acid-splash the cleric.

Acid splash has a range of 25' at 1st level. All the school/domain zap abilities have a range of 30'.

Actually, it's 25ft + 5ft/2 levels. I always round in favor of pc's. So, that would be 30ft at 1st. Still tricky, of course. Which is why you'll notice I used Magic Missile in the above for the wizard, longer range and auto hit.

Majuba wrote:


mdt wrote:
So they should be able to take him down in two rounds. 10x2. If they luck out, in one round.

Big luck, yes, sure, one round. Luck as in "everyone hits"? No. 3d6+5 from fighter and rogue +3 wizard = 18.5 average.

Also.. pretty sure you can channel while prone.

Luck as in everyone hits, yes. If they get the guy down to 2 hitpoints, he's got to flee or heal or the GM is playing him suicidally stupid. If you're going to play every bad guy as being suicidally stupid, why bother with a pen and paper RPG? Just go play diablo or something as a group.

And yes, you can channel while prone. You also take a -4 to your ac. Which means easy kill. So a smart guy stands up, even though doing so provokes an attack of opportunity. Unless of course he takes a full-action to do it defensively, but then he doesn't channel. More ways than one to lead a horse to water.

Majuba wrote:
I agree though, tactics help, including "run the heck away, circle back around". A powerful cleric isn't someone you just hack at hoping to drop him in time.

We agree on this.

I think what everyone is missing is that this is a CR 2 encounter. It should be freaking hard and it should be dangerous as all get out. This isn't just one CR above their level, it's twice the appropriate CR. Let that sink in. Would we be surprised at the possibility of a TPK if we gave a CR 6 encounter to a level 3 party? No you (collective you, not Majuba) wouldn't. Why would a CR 2 be appropriate to a level 1 party? That's twice their level. Someone should be dead doing a CR twice your level. Might as well say the pit fiend is likely to TPK a level 10 party.

A more appropriate encounter would have been a level 2 cleric, not a level 3. At level 2 he's channeling for 1d6, not 2. He's also only got about 15 hitpoints or so.

Dark Archive

Just to take your last point first, according to table 12-1 p.397 the 3rd level cleric encounter on 4x1st level chars is "challenging", whereas as CR6 encounter to a level 3 party would be "epic". The relative difficulties are based on adding rather than multiplying.

Secondly, having the magic-user have magic-missile rather than, say, ray of enfeeblement, mage armor and so on, is a bit on luck on behalf of the party, as is the cleric with selective challenging. I have yet to see an argument which says you'd be an idiot not to go for that feat and spell.

Thirdly, the point I'm trying to make is that it's not the average effect that's so much the problem, it's the standard deviation. If everything goes average then the encounter is pretty hard. One tiny little bit of bad luck, though, and you're in TPK territory.

And finally, if I personally was that cleric standing there on 2 hp, it would be far from clear to me what my best course of action for survival would be. A channel negative energy might just wipe out enough of the opposition to give me odds-on chance of surviving the next round, whereas moving away and healing gets me 12 hp or so at the cost of maybe 4 attacks/charges/spells and so on. Offense is frequently the best form of defense.

Richard

Shadow Lodge

We had a 11th level party that was umm well munched on, but survived the encounter with an evil priestess equipped with a nasty Phylactery of Negative channeling, selective channeling, and improved channeling.

Take 8d6 negative energy while not hurting her own bodyguards...

Something tells me deathward will become our friend.


Forge of Fury: A roper (CR10) and a young black dragon (a ridiculously underestimated CR4), all using intelligent tactics, all for a 3rd-level party.

Sweet Zombie Jesus.

Zo


Draeke Raefel wrote:
Also keep in mind that other things are just as likely to kill a party. Have them cross a lake and make their boat capsize( stormy weather, or nessy ). Have them start making swim checks and watch your pcs die.

I'm not sure about the current rules on holding your breath, but in 3.5 it was a number of rounds equal to your CON "score", then you start making progressively difficult saving throws.

Most fighter-types wearing armor could just sink to the bottom and walk back to land before they were even making saves... depending on distance of course. And your casters? Well, I guess you'll have to go find his twin brother and see if he wants to join your group, lol. Dwarves... Full plate... who would've thought living underground would make you 'world's greatest scuba diver'.


richard develyn wrote:

After I found myself having to "adjust" a combat yesterday because of this I wondered whether anyone has had any similar problems and how they tackled them.

The basic issue is that a 3rd level cleric is *devastating* to a 1st level party - 2d6 damage 30' radius save for 1/2, especially on the 2nd or 3rd blast

Curse of the Crimson Throne has an encounter in it that got ramped up a ton due to 4-6 evil (5th level-ish) clerics scattered throughout a room on catwalks. The mod was created under 3.5, so in Pathfinder the room is death on a biscuit for someone who charges in... 3d6x6.

Dark Archive

All level one players wear red shirts while on away team missions.
That is all.

At level one, the entire party is expendable.
If they all die, the next group knows what to prepare for, and you can even send them against the same guy, for delicious delicious revenge.


1st level under the normal rules is extremely dangerous. One option is to up starting HP.

I just started a new Pathfinder game and I used a suggestion from a player to adjust starting HP (I think he got the idea from Monte Cook). Each PC added his Constitution score instead of his Con bonus to HP at 1st level.

This boost helped the 1st level game run better. I had a vicious axe beak in the game that champed two of them negative and under the normal rules they would have died.

With the adjusted HP the fight was dangerous, could have been deadly, but they could win with careful fighting.

I don't know how Channel Energy plays out at high levels yet, so I'll have to see if it seems balanced or not after 1st level. But adjusted HP might have made the combat more surviable but still dangerous.


Recently tried out Keep on the Borderlands using PF. When the PCs entered the cave with the clerics and undead, we quickly realized the nastiness of channel energy. Three 1st-level clerics behind a mob of skeletons and zomies is a deadly encounter for low-level PCs, and a royal pain in the rump for keeping track of the undeads' hp. Only the fact that there are 3 clerics in the party (a very unusual scenario, I would assume) saved party from TPK.


Hmmm...where have I seen a thread like this before...
Yep, channeling is a pain to be on the receiving end as my party found out. Old school mods could throw multiple Clerics at the party as they had no real area of effect spells, except Hold Person. It is a learning curve for both GMs and Players alike. Tip: Tone it down with adepts


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Does no one believe in restraint as a dm? Just because an enemy can do something doesnt mean he should. Why exactly are dms having evil clerics spam channel energy over and over? The clear result of that especially from multiple evil clerics is a dead party. Theres a pretty simple solution, dont do it. Clerics also have spells, cast some. The cleric does not have to use channel energy every round untill they run out. Your objective should not be a tpk, and your monsters/npc's tactics should reflect that.


Kolokotroni wrote:
Does no one believe in restraint as a dm? Just because an enemy can do something doesnt mean he should. Why exactly are dms having evil clerics spam channel energy over and over? The clear result of that especially from multiple evil clerics is a dead party. Theres a pretty simple solution, dont do it. Clerics also have spells, cast some. The cleric does not have to use channel energy every round untill they run out. Your objective should not be a tpk, and your monsters/npc's tactics should reflect that.

Why not?

Do the PCs use only daggers when attacking orcs or do they go "all guns blazing"? I don't see adventuring parties showing any such restraint. Replace the Cleric with an adept yes but I can't agree with dumbing down NPCs tactics just to go easy on the players.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Spacelard wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Does no one believe in restraint as a dm? Just because an enemy can do something doesnt mean he should. Why exactly are dms having evil clerics spam channel energy over and over? The clear result of that especially from multiple evil clerics is a dead party. Theres a pretty simple solution, dont do it. Clerics also have spells, cast some. The cleric does not have to use channel energy every round untill they run out. Your objective should not be a tpk, and your monsters/npc's tactics should reflect that.

Why not?

Do the PCs use only daggers when attacking orcs or do they go "all guns blazing"? I don't see adventuring parties showing any such restraint. Replace the Cleric with an adept yes but I can't agree with dumbing down NPCs tactics just to go easy on the players.

The pc's are the heroes of the story, they are not supposed to die. Just like the villian never just shoots james bond in the head when he's caught, you shouldn't be trying to kill your pc's. After all the game is about having fun and telling a story, not about the DM competing against the players. The players are supposed to kill the orcs, the enemy wizard on the other hand should not open up with a circle of death that wipes out the party. There is nothing fun about that for anyone. If the Ringwraith just killed frodo on Weathertop, the story wouldnt be particulary interesting, neither will your campain.


Kolokotroni wrote:
Spacelard wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Does no one believe in restraint as a dm? Just because an enemy can do something doesnt mean he should. Why exactly are dms having evil clerics spam channel energy over and over? The clear result of that especially from multiple evil clerics is a dead party. Theres a pretty simple solution, dont do it. Clerics also have spells, cast some. The cleric does not have to use channel energy every round untill they run out. Your objective should not be a tpk, and your monsters/npc's tactics should reflect that.

Why not?

Do the PCs use only daggers when attacking orcs or do they go "all guns blazing"? I don't see adventuring parties showing any such restraint. Replace the Cleric with an adept yes but I can't agree with dumbing down NPCs tactics just to go easy on the players.

The pc's are the heroes of the story, they are not supposed to die. Just like the villian never just shoots james bond in the head when he's caught, you shouldn't be trying to kill your pc's. After all the game is about having fun and telling a story, not about the DM competing against the players. The players are supposed to kill the orcs, the enemy wizard on the other hand should not open up with a circle of death that wipes out the party. There is nothing fun about that for anyone. If the Ringwraith just killed frodo on Weathertop, the story wouldnt be particulary interesting, neither will your campain.

This is an ages-old playstyle debate Kolokotroni, and there are players (and DM's) of all types out there. What "shouldn't" be done is telling everyone what "should" or "shouldn't" constitute a fun game. Different Strokes for different folks.


Kolokotroni wrote:
Spacelard wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Does no one believe in restraint as a dm? Just because an enemy can do something doesnt mean he should. Why exactly are dms having evil clerics spam channel energy over and over? The clear result of that especially from multiple evil clerics is a dead party. Theres a pretty simple solution, dont do it. Clerics also have spells, cast some. The cleric does not have to use channel energy every round untill they run out. Your objective should not be a tpk, and your monsters/npc's tactics should reflect that.

Why not?

Do the PCs use only daggers when attacking orcs or do they go "all guns blazing"? I don't see adventuring parties showing any such restraint. Replace the Cleric with an adept yes but I can't agree with dumbing down NPCs tactics just to go easy on the players.

The pc's are the heroes of the story, they are not supposed to die. Just like the villian never just shoots james bond in the head when he's caught, you shouldn't be trying to kill your pc's. After all the game is about having fun and telling a story, not about the DM competing against the players. The players are supposed to kill the orcs, the enemy wizard on the other hand should not open up with a circle of death that wipes out the party. There is nothing fun about that for anyone. If the Ringwraith just killed frodo on Weathertop, the story wouldnt be particulary interesting, neither will your campain.

Okay, you like having your Big Bad play dumb. Me I don't and my players don't expect me to pull punches when running an NPC. If your game has 5th Lvl Wizards memorising Tiny Hut instead of Lightning Bolt then you play a very different game to me. As a point I never try and kill off the PCs. However the NPCs I run will do the best they can to kill the PCs. This is kind of threadjacking but if you deliberatly dumb down the Bad Guys whats the point?

I would never set the players up against anything with a CR massivly above the parties, that is unfair. However I play the NPC to the best of their abilities and if that results in character deaths, fine.
You wouldn't play your character in an ineffective way would you so why would you expect an NPC to be any different?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Spacelard wrote:

Okay, you like having your Big Bad play dumb. Me I don't and my players don't expect me to pull punches when running an NPC. If your game has 5th Lvl Wizards memorising Tiny Hut instead of Lightning Bolt then you play a very different game to me. As a point I never try and kill off the PCs. However the NPCs I run will do the best they can to kill the PCs. This is kind of threadjacking but if you deliberatly dumb down the Bad Guys whats the point?

I would never set the players up against anything with a CR massivly above the parties, that is unfair. However I play the NPC to the best of their abilities and if that results in character deaths, fine.
You wouldn't play your character in an ineffective way would you so why would you expect an NPC to be any different?

I dont know that it is thread jacking since its related to channel energy, and how the problem could be mitigated by style as well as rules.

Ok so, I dont dumb down my big bad, in fact I tend to design all key npc's from an optimizers point of view. My wizards always have a host of offensive spells (though occassionally they have some useless ones for fluff reasons). But I will not always go the most lethal route with a character, certainly I will not do nothing, or cast light in a fully lit room, but perhaps hold person instead of spamming channel over and over again. Maybe the wizard throws a maximized fireball instead of a circle of death.

Why? Because no game system is perfect, its never going to be perfectly FAIR, CR's will never be an exact judge of how tough an enemy is, its up to the dm to use discretion to keep the encounter challenging without wiping out the party.

And as for how i would or wouldnt play my character I have more then a few times played low powered characters because I enjoyed them. I am of the view that its foolish and destructive to have an me vs them mentality on either side of the screen. After all, if I wanted my players dead they would be, and I dont need a cleric to do it. They know it, I know it. I have nothing to prove there.

And again to me its about people having fun. If i kill or disable a player in the first round of combat, and he/she cannot recover, he/she sits there for an hour or so while the rest of us continue having fun. At best they are working on a new character. There is nothing fun about that and it should be avoided. If i wipe the party, we ALL stop having fun for a couple hours while people write up new characters. If the PC's slaughter the BBEG in a round or two, we move on as a group, everyone continues playing. Can it be frustrating as a dm? Yes, but I still get to continue dming the next bit of the story. I have a world full of monsters, the player has only one pc. I dont believe a dm should ever make a player 'sit out' if he can avoid it.


Two things I thought worth noting.

Firstly, a little creative thinking goes a long way. Sundering a relatively fragile holy symbol isn't that hard for a strapping young fighter, particularly if he's toting a greatsword. ;) If it's looking dire, I'm usually more likely to point out an option like that that the party hasn't thought of rather than have the NPC act oddly merciful. Alternately, I usually get a kick out of throwing in some suitably cinematic monkey wrench in the works if things are looking really bad. The other day we had a group that was half-dead at the claws of a chuul deep in a king-kong-esque jungle river basin. As the chuul was about to finish off the party cleric, it was suddenly attacked by a dire crocodile that had been attracted by the ruckuss and the smell of all the blood. Think the T-rex coming to the 'rescue' at the end of Jurassic Park. The party still had to get their junk together to survive, but they managed to gather up their wounded and escape in the round it took the croc to swallow the chuul. It was fun, exciting, and didn't feel like deus ex machina (even though it was). It felt like something you'd see in a movie.

Secondly, I'd say pretty much any third-level character is going to be messy against your average group of 1st-levels. A 3rd-level wizard tossing *color spray* or nailing the party healer with a *scorching ray* is going to turn things bad fast. A 3rd-level greatsword fighter or barbarian with Cleave has a very real chance of wiping out two party members in one shot if she catches them in a bad spot. A 3rd-level rogue archer with Rapid Shot likewise has a solid chance of dropping two party members before they even know what's happening if he gets the drop on them and picks histargets. PC-classed bad guys are just naturally offensively more powerful than most monsters, and balancing their CR is always tricky, particularly against notoriously flimsy greenhorns.

It might be a flaw in the system, but its fairly easy to cover for; I usually take it easy on 1st-level groups. Swarms of goblins and the occasional tussle with a street gang are plenty fun to get the kinks worked out. Soon as they hit level 2, take the kid gloves off and start hurling the wrath of hell at 'em. :P

Also, for what it's worth my group uses the racial bonus hit points suggested in the Beta as a core rule now, and that's worked out really well for us. (8 hp for dwarves and half-orcs, 4 for elves, gnomes, and halflings, and 6 for humans and half-elves)

Hope I didn't ramble too much. :P


Kolokotroni wrote:


I am of the view that its foolish and destructive to have an me vs them mentality on either side of the screen. After all, if I wanted my players dead they would be, and I dont need a cleric to do...

Agreed. Again I think the written word is failing to convey what I'm trying to get at. I think the OP is refering to a prePF module were Clerics didn't have channeling as an option. I have seen plenty of old school mods where there are multiple Clerics which when converting to PF the channeling tips the odds of success in the Clerics favour dramatically. I suggested changing some of the under Clerics out for Adepts as this removes the channeling issue without it looking odd from the players perspective who after all would expect to be hit by the negative channeling.

What I wouldn't do as a GM is *forget* a core class ability and give the players an easy time. It would be like putting high level fighters in leather armor and have them attack with clubs, it just wouldn't happen. I believe that a GM should play the NPCs to their maximum effect, I don't see it as us V them but roleplaying the NPC. Old school Drow fall into the us v them bracket with all that neat stuff which suddenly becomes useless in players hands.


The movies and books that I prefer have the characters I would consider PCs die regularly when they're doing something dangerous. The effect on roleplay when they realize adventuring's not all fun and games, when that thing over there is eating their buddy's heart, when they watch daddy get beheaded, makes for the kind of characters that we enjoy playing.

And the CR of an encounter is indeed written as to be compared by addition, not multiplication, but by my experience the multiplier makes a difference. +2 CR is tougher at levels 1 & 2 then at levels 11 & 12.

Of course, as I'm sure y'all are very familiar with, there are usually non-lethal options for the big bad even if they are a bastard. Half or more of the party at negatives due to no good luck on their rolls and the rest barely standing? Offer the chance to surrender, lock up for nefarious purposes like hostages or ritual sacrifice on the next holy day, and you've set up some fun prison break challenges. Also, if the standing members get the rest of the party killed before they go negative, meeting fellow prisoners is an easy way to bring in a new PC.


Kolokotroni wrote:
If the PC's slaughter the BBEG in a round or two, we move on as a group, everyone continues playing. Can it be frustrating as a dm? Yes, but I still get to continue dming the next bit of the story. I have a world full of monsters, the player has only one pc. I dont believe a dm should ever make a player 'sit out' if he can avoid it.

Off-Topic:

While I agree with you on the whole that it *is* a DM's job to help the PCs out (discreetly), it's also been my experience that a lot of players tend to get just as frustrated when the BBEG is reduced to a pile of meat in a round or two. I know when I'm on the more populous side of the screen, I feel kinda cheated when a baddie I've come to respect/fear gets his butt handed to him.

Also.....smurf?


Kolokotroni wrote:


Ok so, I dont dumb down my big bad....
Quote:


But I will not always go the most lethal route with a character,

Those two statements are contradicting. If you throw a fireball when you can do an area of affect death spell you are dumbing down the NPC. I understand some groups are more of what I call the narrative type, and everyone in that group knows that nobody will die unless the circumstance is really bad, but to not play an NPC to the fullest is dumbing him down, especially when you refuse to disable or kill a player.

Quote:


I am of the view that its foolish and destructive to have an me vs them mentality on either side of the screen. After all, if I wanted my players dead they would be, and I dont need a cleric to do...

Just because you kill/disable a player that does not mean you are against them. They risked their lives for the good of others and they may pay the ultimate price.

As to why some of us can kill a player:
Many of us are of the idea that the players are being given the opportunities to become heroes; they are not heroes by right, and success is not a given.
If you, as a player, know you are going to succeed it takes away the danger element. That does not mean I never fudge dice, but I have never played or been in a campaign where someone did not die. Sometimes the dice don't roll your way. Maybe you made a bad decision. Maybe I could not save a player without it being obvious that I fudged the dice. Everyone hates character death, but some of us hate Deus Ex Machina even more.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is also a problem of resources. In any given encounter the PCs resources continually become more and more taxed (the PC cleric uses up his channels to heal the PCs from previous combats). Leaving the PC Cleric with maybe 3-4 channels left (if your cleric decided on a decent charisma score).

Meanwhile the Eeeevil CR 2 Cleric has not yet used a single channel (giving him 5-6 at a conservative estimate). That's pretty scary. Also it's not a problem limited to evil clerics. Evil wizards often have ALL their spells available for a fight. Evil fighters have ALL their hitpoints. Evil Druids still have ALL their spells and ALL their wild-shape.
(Mostly because they seem to sit around in a room waiting for someone to try and kick their head in).

Now if you rule that perhaps the Eeevil Cleric has used his negative energy channels a few times that day (to heal his zombie minions, murder some pious prisoners he was keeping, or attempting to use a McGuffin that requires Channel Negative Energy to operate) suddenly he only has 2 or 3 left. Once the party gets whacked by one, they are sure to fall back and deal with him at range. Also if one prepares a "disarm" action when the Cleric goes for his next channel then you can knock the holy symbol out of his hands. No Holy Symbol, No Channel.


mdt wrote:
Majuba wrote:

If they pull back 20'-30' into a cluster around their cleric (assuming they have one), the enemy cleric can easily move up and hit everyone again. If they spread out, party cleric can't hit everyone.

Wizard moves 30 feet south first round, casts MM.

Fighter runs 30 feet nw first round, fires bow.
Rogue runs 30 feet ne first round, fires bow.
Cleric runs 30 feet n first round, channels, heals himself and fighter and rogue. Only way evil cleric can get 3 people is to run up to the cleric. Unless they started out face to face, that requires a double move. Wizard is by himself, but if the enemy cleric wants two people, he has to go for rogue/cleric or fighter/cleric.

Well... one effective thing to do would be move after the Wizard and channel him to death.

However, your math is a bit wrong here. The Fighter and Rogue will only be 40' apart - unlikely to be out of range of the cleric to move and channel again. Depends on the original setup and the terrain of course, for either side. One of the best things to do is get total cover to the cleric (and thus block the burst), but not the party cleric.


Channel Energy's burst effect is very powerful -- perhaps too much in the lower levels. I really wish they would have made this a cone effect originating from the holy symbol. Oh well.

Dark Archive

I'm just a lot bitter that channel negative energy rocks so hard for NPCs (who can surround themselves with undead minions or play suicide bomber in a crowded melee, killing off scores of people) and sucks so bad for PCs (who have a minimum of three living companions, and perhaps as many as five, at least one of which will have a familiar or animal companion, requiring them to waste a feat on Selective Channeling and put about 17 pts worth of their point-buy into Charisma...).

Grr. It both sucks *and* blows!

I haven't found it yet, but there has to be some happy medium where it's useful for a PC Cleric (at least a *tenth* as useful as channel positive energy!) but not overpowering and TPK-inducing for an NPC Cleric.

Sovereign Court

Kolokotroni wrote:
Does no one believe in restraint as a dm? Just because an enemy can do something doesnt mean he should. Why exactly are dms having evil clerics spam channel energy over and over? The clear result of that especially from multiple evil clerics is a dead party. Theres a pretty simple solution, dont do it. Clerics also have spells, cast some. The cleric does not have to use channel energy every round untill they run out. Your objective should not be a tpk, and your monsters/npc's tactics should reflect that.

Agreed.

I think its sad that a game about imagination and story was hijacked for nearly a decade and taught to the new generation as a "battle" game between playes and the GM. Folks, its a big lie that was designed to get you to buy a bunch of books. WOTC didn't want to sell 6 books to the DM and 1 book to players, so they promoted this kind of "tactial" think. Stop a moment and listen to what Kolokotroni is saying....

Show restraint! You aren't a better player because you can point out how a publishing company has created a channel negative energy effect that "nerfs" your PCs. Just for once, just ONCE, I'd like to see a community threat that talks about how this might affect the story of the game world, where evil clerics hold punishment over the heads (or in a 30' radius) of the non-believers. Just imagine the story arcs and threads you could create in your campaign!

>Note: I played PFRPG alpha, beta and now the final version, and yes, this effect is quite devastating - and its about time. A first level party should think twice, contextually, and in-story, and thoughtfully about confronting the evil 3rd level Priest! I'm so tired of this chess match cock-fighting already. DM's should show restraint, and players, for crissake-play your characters and quit meta-gaming based on buffs/nerfs/and ruleset compaints.

*apologies to anyone who feels offended-this is not directed to anyone specifically in this discussion, but just a general observation/plea.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:

Kolokotroni wrote:

Ok so, I dont dumb down my big bad....

Quote:

But I will not always go the most lethal route with a character,

Those two statements are contradicting. If you throw a fireball when you can do an area of affect death spell you are dumbing down the NPC. I understand some groups are more of what I call the narrative type, and everyone in that group knows that nobody will die unless the circumstance is really bad, but to not play an NPC to the fullest is dumbing him down, especially when you refuse to disable or kill a player.

Just because you kill/disable a player that does not mean you are against them. They risked their lives for the good of others and they may pay the ultimate price.

As to why some of us can kill a player:
Many of us are of the idea that the players are being given the opportunities to become heroes; they are not heroes by right, and success is not a given.
If you, as a player, know you are going to succeed it takes away the danger element. That does not mean I never fudge dice, but I have never played or been in a campaign where someone did not die. Sometimes the dice don't roll your way. Maybe you made a bad decision. Maybe I could not save a player without it being obvious that I fudged the dice. Everyone hates character death, but some of us hate Deus Ex Machina even more.

The statements are not contradictory, they are a matter of opinion, I dont think its dumbing down to not go all out at every oportunity. I am not saying I have never killed a player, I have, for a number of reasons, my point is that it should not be what I am trying to do as a dm. My ideal situation is for the players to think they are all going to die in that hard fight, and then find a way to succeed. Sometimes I miss the mark one way or another. But that is my target. And if that means pulling a punch or two, I will, just means I have to mask it from the players. (They dont know how many turns the evil cleric has left that day, or what spells the wizard prepared, that is a totally non-transparent adjustment I can make) Maybe the evil cleric tries to heal himself or his minion, maybe he casts a summon spell for support. He will be doing something useful, he will just back off the trump card for a moment.

I also hate the deus ex, and I almost never do it. I have even allowed major plot points to be interrupted because of unexpected character behavior. But there is a difference between a deus ex and not power word killing the players when they open the door. There are a multitude of reasons for the Big Bad to not use his trump card at every oportunity. Overconfidence is one, lack of insight, or just the desire to do something else/save it for later.

Yes people will die in a hard fight, but it should not be the DM's objective. If you have an encounter with 3 clerics and you unload all their channel energies for the day, you are TRYING to kill the players.

The reason I feel so strongly about this is that in a complex game like this, as long as you have potent, interesting and diverse abilities, exact balance will never be achieved. There will always be specific situations where ability X is 'too powerful' compared to abilities 'Y' and 'Z'. If dms do not take it upon themselves to control their games and always ask that things be further 'balanced' you will end up with a game full of luke warm abilities like we did with 4th edition.

Dark Archive

Ok, my original post seems to have forked in two directions here.

As far as the first point made, I still see no reason why we don't make channel energy a 1 round action with AoOs. As far as I can see, it's more of a summoning activity than a point and blast one. It should take some time and concentration to invoke the power of your deity (IMVHO).

On the issue of DM's not killing players, by whatever means - the problem is that you may be taking away the player's sense of achievement. Depends on your players, I guess. We, as players, insist the DM rolls all his dice in front of us, for example, because we don't want to be let off. I want to think that my character is progressing levels because I, personally, have succeeded in an unfriendly world.

I want to be presented with a fair challenge, and I feel that if I really was alive in that fantasy world I would be able to recognise a fair challenge when I saw one and run away otherwise. Once I decided to accept the challenge, however, I would want it to be run properly. If I die, ok, I knew the odds and I didn't have to do it.

What I hate is being killed when I either didn't have a choice or didn't know the odds (not being scientific here - I just expect to have a gut feel when I know I'm over my head).

Richard

Sovereign Court

richard develyn wrote:
We, as players, insist the DM rolls all his dice in front of us, for example, because we don't want to be let off.

Okay, I need to drop out of this thread. I hadn't realized the damage done to the game by wotc and video games was so culturally systemic.

IMO I don't think you have any kind of gamemaster at your table. Just a sucker whos been asked to be the banker in a monopoly game.


Set wrote:
and sucks so bad for PCs (who have a minimum of three living companions, and perhaps as many as five, at least one of which will have a familiar or animal companion, requiring them to waste a feat on Selective Channeling and put about 17 pts worth of their point-buy into Charisma...).

You do realize that Selective Channel excludes a number of targets based on Charisma, right? You don't have to have 20 Charisma for a party of 4+pet.

Scarab Sages

Per the earlier comments about 'PCs are not automatically heroes' when they start their adventuring career...

I generally don't hold back against low-level PCs, meaning those of about 4th level and less. If a PC dies at an early level because they did something stupid, well ... so be it. It will (hopefully) teach the player that death is a Bad Thing(tm) in the game world.

(Oh, and I don't subscribe to the negative levels from raise dead going away with just another spell being cast. IMC they go away only when the PC gains enough XP to put them at the same point of progression towards the following level. For example, if the PC is at the 70% position between levels 6 and 7, they keep the negative level until they are 70% between levels 7 and 8 and then the negative level just disappears. This means negative levels are temporary, but they last until one level's worth of XP has been earned -- this makes it "hurt", but just for a short time.)

Dark Archive

Zurai wrote:
You do realize that Selective Channel excludes a number of targets based on Charisma, right? You don't have to have 20 Charisma for a party of 4+pet.

Exclusion is based on Charisma *modifier,* not Charisma *score.*

So yeah, party of 4+pet is 5, which is exactly what you could do with a Charisma of 20 (which gives a +5 modifier).

A positive energy channeling doesn't even need Selective Channeling to get full use of his ability outside of combat. (Not much out of combat use for negative energy channeling, unless you are using it to clear undergrowth...) And with a Charisma of 13, the lowest he can have and take Selective Channeling, he can use it at will during big boss mob fights with a single target (like a dragon or the mage-at-the-end-of-the-adventure), by excluding that single target. The only time a negative energy channeler can get away with only excluding a single ally is *if the majority of his party is already Dead!* Wow, sign me up for a class ability I can't use until the Wizard, Rogue and Fighter are already dead, and I'm alone...

Dark Archive

Pax Veritas wrote:
richard develyn wrote:
We, as players, insist the DM rolls all his dice in front of us, for example, because we don't want to be let off.

Okay, I need to drop out of this thread. I hadn't realized the damage done to the game by wotc and video games was so culturally systemic.

IMO I don't think you have any kind of gamemaster at your table. Just a sucker whos been asked to be the banker in a monopoly game.

I think that's a bit rude, actually. We just have a different approach, that's all. I no more believe that a DM should decide who lives or dies than I believe that there is a God up there deciding which one of us lives or dies. In RPGs as in life, you make your decisions and you take your chances. Our DM (which includes me when I'm DMing) runs the world just like any other DM, however when the time comes to see how PCs should fare as a result of a risk that they both understood and chose to take then the die rolls stand. The only time I intervene is if I believe the risk wasn't properly understood (like with this Channel Energy thing).

Richard


Set wrote:
Zurai wrote:
You do realize that Selective Channel excludes a number of targets based on Charisma, right? You don't have to have 20 Charisma for a party of 4+pet.

Exclusion is based on Charisma *modifier,* not Charisma *score.*

So yeah, party of 4+pet is 5, which is exactly what you could do with a Charisma of 20 (which gives a +5 modifier).

Shouldn't have min/maxed your Cleric then :)

And tell the rest to stay waaaaaay over there for a minute.

Dark Archive

Spacelard wrote:
Shouldn't have min/maxed your Cleric then :)

Or, in this case, you *have* to min/max to be able to use your class ability in the standard 4 man adventuring party.

It's just annoying that the power is 'too good' for an NPC, who can surround himself with undead and doesn't travel with a party of living allies, and total crap for a PC.


Set wrote:
Spacelard wrote:
Shouldn't have min/maxed your Cleric then :)

Or, in this case, you *have* to min/max to be able to use your class ability in the standard 4 man adventuring party.

It's just annoying that the power is 'too good' for an NPC, who can surround himself with undead and doesn't travel with a party of living allies, and total crap for a PC.

I disagree with the total crap for a PC bit but you are sooooo right with the first part. I had this problem too in my campaign and it bit me in the ar$e before I realised what was happening so despite what I said earlier I toned down another encounter with two Clerics and their pet ogre zombie. Hold Person is no longer the fear spell for low-mid level Clerics but the fact that they can channel is.

I think the problem is that as players and GMs it is a fairly new ability which is dangerous and experience isn't there yet to deal/cope with it, at least it is with me.
Death Ward stops it dead but that is a 4th level spell which low levels aren't going to fling about all the time. Perhaps a Cleric spell similar to the Resist Energy group could be used?
2nd Level Cleric spell ignore first 10 hps of damage, at 7th ignore 20 and 11th ignore 30hps?

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