Beating Smite Evil


Advice

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Sovereign Court

Sigurd wrote:

Aside from some nice left handed compliments, thanks lastnightleft - enjoy your posts as well.

I will say, I'm happy to have a note about their intentions because as I said:

I WISH IT WERE CLEARER.

For those that say they wouldn't have changed the rule to leave it the same, I say people change wording all the time - they should have stated the rule.

Detailing the first attack does not tell you anything about subsequent attacks. They stated what was already the case:

"the first successful attack increases to 2 points of damage per level the paladin possesses." <Subsequent attacks gain 1 point of damage per level against the same foe.>

I'm fine with the rule change but it requires outside confirmation to make the intent clear.

I'm sure that writing rules has special challenges and isn't easy. At the same time, this is not a very clear way to change a rule.

If the target of smite evil is an outsider with the evil subtype, an evil-aligned dragon, or an undead creature, the bonus to damage on the first successful attack increases to 2 points of damage per level the paladin possesses.

Without the forums, I could not tell a player that this was anything more than a clarification. Nothing is said about subsequent attacks. Before the errata the first successful attack did 2 points of damage per level as well.

Sigurd.

No prob, like I said, you just got me in a rant mode, I ranted, then realized then once that was out of my system I came back defending you (somewhat, what can I say, I'm a bit of an ass :D). I do think it's hilarious that if that it was a clarification, it in fact makes it more confusing than before if the intent wasn't to change how it works.


hunterc311 wrote:

So I'm running a group with not one, but two paladins who can Smite Evil. I'm finding it to be a bit overpowered, but unwilling to alter anything in the ability because I'm a purist gamer and I don't nerf just because my players are succeeding more often than not.

My question now becomes... as a DM, how do I beat Smite Evil?

I am mainly concerned with the ability to bypass *all* DR, as it defeats even such previously excellent methods of prolonging a challenging fight as Stoneskin and various DR/- situations. I don't want to resort to AC tampering just to avoid prematurely stunted combat encounters. Again, purist.

The party has earned the enmity of a BBEG who has the ability to monitor and study their actions, so I feel justified in coming up with a way to counter this particularly potent ability that they're exhibiting, but I'm at a loss as to how.

Any ideas or relevant experiences? Thanks!

Post-Paizocon, I can offer this advice: Pick up the Advanced Player's Guide when it is released and roll up an anti-paladin to unleash on the two paladins. They will curse your name for years.


Throw in a melee heavy creature, evil as hell (or from hell) with Antimagic field, that should do the trick quite well.

Sovereign Court

No before the errata ALL the attacks of a smite vs Evil Outsiders w/ evil subtype, evil dragons, or undead did double.

The errata is pretty clearly showing that smite had been found to be too powerful vs. some pretty iconic bad guys at levels where it really marginalizes encounters so we'll drop it to double for only the very first attack of the smite, then the rest of the way its normal smite damage.

--Vrock and Awe!


Lots of nasty low level Blackguard Archers? Sure the Paladins can smite them but the Blackguards can smite the Paladins.

Lots of little Infernal creatures who get THEIR smites on the Paladins? That way your Paladins get to wade into their classic enemies but are also being waded into as their enemies classic enemy.

If that makes sense.

While it is hard to get around smite, there is nothing to say you cannot escalate with the same tactics from an evil source to challenge the Paladins as well.

Some summoners who bring out summoned infernals with ranged abilities so they can get a few smites off before the Paladins can close to melee.

And as indicated, Neutral mercs and Constructs are definately a good source of bodyguards for your 'BBEG'. In any world who's history goes back thousands of years and who's tech level is relatively stagnant (and lets face it most fantasy game worlds are about as stagnant, technologically, as it can get) over that time, tactics such as this would most definately come to play as the NORM for opposing your enemies.


King of Vrock wrote:

The errata is pretty clearly showing that smite had been found to be too powerful vs. some pretty iconic bad guys at levels where it really marginalizes encounters so we'll drop it to double for only the very first attack of the smite, then the rest of the way its normal smite damage.

Could you quote where it says that. Which iconic bad guys? because I missed them.

You're reading it through the understanding of the forum (not a bad thing). I'm wishing for clarity and confining myself to the text, as I'd have to do with a player.


Quiz: What do Dragons, Fiends and Undead (worth mentioning) have in common?

1: They are all powerful spellcasters that can make use of miss-chance, insane AC bonuses, battlefield control spells etc etc

2: They can fly and stay out of melee range

3: They all have ridiculously high mental stats, demanding that you make elaborate contingency plans for every situation to do them justice

4: All of the above


Sigurd wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:

The errata is pretty clearly showing that smite had been found to be too powerful vs. some pretty iconic bad guys at levels where it really marginalizes encounters so we'll drop it to double for only the very first attack of the smite, then the rest of the way its normal smite damage.

Could you quote where it says that. Which iconic bad guys? because I missed them.

You're reading it through the understanding of the forum (not a bad thing). I'm wishing for clarity and confining myself to the text, as I'd have to do with a player.

Are you just trolling now?

You posted repeatedly that you don't think the rule is clear. So far, everyone else who has responded has posted that they disagree; that it's perfectly clear to them. We've even tried to spell it out with official cites from the errata.

You're still not buying it. OK, I get it. You have a problem with what you perceive to be a lack of clarity in this rule, and you've stated that very thorougly. And you've repeatedly called for an official Paizo response.

Well and good.

But now what do you gain by challenging everyone else who wants to have a discussion about a rule that we all perceive to be quite clear? And FWIW, I don't think anyone else had a problem understanding that King of Vrok was referring to the Evil Outsider, Evil Dragon, and Undead iconic bad guys that suffer extra humiliation from Smite Evil, but speaking only for myself, that was quie clear to me.

Maybe I'm sensing a theme here; you seem to have issues with clarity. In which case, I'm sorry for you that everything must be spelled out in crystal clear legalese to make sense to you; this must be a very discombobulating game to say the least.

So I will try to be clear now:

At this point, you're simply derailing this thread. This thread isn't even about interpreting the Smite Evil ability - everyone else here agrees on how it works; all we want to do is discuss ways of making combats more interesting against paladin PCs.

If you must continue, go start a new thread about unclear paladin errata. Heck, if you want an official response, then give it a subject title that will get their attention; that's a win-win because you're more likely to get what you want that way.

But please stop trolling this thread and derailling an otherwise useful discussion.


Kamelguru wrote:

Quiz: What do Dragons, Fiends and Undead (worth mentioning) have in common?

1: They are all powerful spellcasters that can make use of miss-chance, insane AC bonuses, battlefield control spells etc etc

2: They can fly and stay out of melee range

3: They all have ridiculously high mental stats, demanding that you make elaborate contingency plans for every situation to do them justice

4: All of the above

Quoted For Truth.

How many DM's regularly buff their dragons with shield, mage armour and blur before they start a fight? How many debuff their foes with dispel magic before they reveal themselves?

Dragons are ancient, and they didn't get that way by being stupid.


Two words: Custom Traps!

If your BBEG really is so big and bad, logically he must have at least a halfway decent intelligence network or some scrying spells in place. Oh look, some adventurers are hunting me, and they brought paladins.. ugh. Paladins are typically armored so they are slow.. lets slow them down more with simple grease traps so they cannot charge or maneuver easily. Now that that's covered, these two seem to enjoy fighting up close. Lets ambush them in a room with several balconies and some archers. Holy Smite could be a problem for me.. get a few wolves from the nearby woods and starve them a few days head lackey.. Now all that leaves is the rest of them.. what would a trap be without an earth shattering kaboom(yo Marvin Martian).. a fireball rune with detect good as a trigger should do nicely.

Insert evil smirk here.


DM_Blake, read over your posts after some sleep. You've said I wasn't ready to interpret the game rules, you've said other people who recognize the confusion are _wrong_, and you talk about me like I can't read. I don't think you can see beyond your opinion right now.

Anyway, On the Topic of Paladins and the challenges of their smite ability.

I think one of the reasons that smite evil is so powerful is that the opponent is too simple and the Paladin gets a walk in standard cities.

A hurried DM is tempted to make up as few bad guys as possible and set up the encounter. With fewer targets smite gets more powerful. Split up evil so there are multiple targets. A leader who helps the evil bad guys cause but doesn't see the evil himself might be Neutral or Neutral with evil tendencies. Its expedient to pay a neutral agent. If all you care about is results they might be good forces hired for evil ends.

Let the Paladin rush in and save the library that is being burned down, ostensibly for an orphanage. The paladin that breaks into a castle might be confronted with dozens of neutral guards just doing their duty.

The other area where I think Paladins get a walk is the logical ramifications of this rule. The temptation is to have the Paladin be a hero everywhere he goes. After all he's good right?

Well if Smite is a real threat, people around the Paladin are going to die as he draws attacks. Attacks will come by surprise - his inn might burn down, the food at his table might be poisoned. He has a holy cause but that doesn't mean people want to be collateral damage.

If the Paladin is even more of a threat, average people might be uneasy or mistrusting because of the little bit of evil they fear within themselves. Neutral NPCs, happy enough with the status quo, might be more distrusting of Paladins who might rock the boat.

Perhaps, nobody tells the truth around a paladin because they might be caught in some evil. Useful but disreputable sources might dry up because the paladin is asking. Official sources might confine themselves to official answers - keeping their hands clean.

I know these are pretty general but hopefully they trigger some thought.

Sigurd

Sovereign Court

Quite honestly I don't there is a way to buffer an Evil BBEG any more than a normal encounter with powerful good foes. I think the tactics needed are taking out the Paladin first any way possible.

Keep that Smite away from you any way possible. Swarms of Mooks, battlefield control, high mobility, innocent hostages, the WORKS!

--Vrocket Launcher


Sigurd wrote:

The Paladin is even more of a threat. Average people might be uneasy or mistrusting because of the little bit of evil they fear within themselves. Neutral NPCs, happy enough with the status quo, might be more distrusting of Paladins who might rock the boat.

Nobody tells the truth around a paladin because they might be caught in some evil... Unless there's already a battle going on maybe the shining knight has to wait outside.

This only really makes sense in a world where Evil is dominant. In most worlds either Good is dominant in most areas or neither has an advantage. Things like this might happen once or twice, but I can't see it as something that goes on for a long time.


King of Vrock wrote:

Quite honestly I don't there is a way to buffer an Evil BBEG any more than a normal encounter with powerful good foes. I think the tactics needed are taking out the Paladin first any way possible.

Keep that Smite away from you any way possible. Swarms of Mooks, battlefield control, high mobility, innocent hostages, the WORKS!

--Vrocket Launcher

Absolutely, the paladin should expect to be targeted before the spellcasters. After all the guy in the robes might not be a spellcaster but the paladin running around with neon holy symbols is a sure bet.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'm making a note to have my fighter decked out in holy symbols next game. :) Misdirection works both ways.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
I'm making a note to have my fighter decked out in holy symbols next game. :) Misdirection works both ways.

Hah, but your fighter has nowhere near the saves the Paladin has - it could be a death sentence for you to bring the rain down on your own head.


DM_Blake wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I'm making a note to have my fighter decked out in holy symbols next game. :) Misdirection works both ways.
Hah, but your fighter has nowhere near the saves the Paladin has - it could be a death sentence for you to bring the rain down on your own head.

Yes, but he will not have died in vain!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Dabbler wrote:
Yes, but he will not have died in vain!

Exactly, and so long as the wizard casts the spells that make the people fall down, the cleric can get some diamonds for my encore performance. :)


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
Yes, but he will not have died in vain!
Exactly, and so long as the wizard casts the spells that make the people fall down, the cleric can get some diamonds for my encore performance. :)

I have thought about doing this as a DM, having all the bad guys wear holy symbols that is.


hunterc311 wrote:


The party has earned the enmity of a BBEG who has the ability to monitor and study their actions, so I feel justified in coming up with a way to counter this particularly potent ability that they're exhibiting, but I'm at a loss as to how.

Any ideas or relevant experiences? Thanks!

My two cents: disguise the BBEG as a minion, and the minion as the BBEG. Then they probably won't waste a smite on a minion. Remember, they're a quite limited resource.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
I'm making a note to have my fighter decked out in holy symbols next game. :) Misdirection works both ways.

And I counter your counter with a counter. :)

Load up on temporary hp and gain some miss chances. Or, disarm the paladin of his weapon, thus forcing him to soak attacks of opportunity with his fist.


Hexcaliber wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I'm making a note to have my fighter decked out in holy symbols next game. :) Misdirection works both ways.

And I counter your counter with a counter. :)

Load up on temporary hp and gain some miss chances. Or, disarm the paladin of his weapon, thus forcing him to soak attacks of opportunity with his fist.

Most players would try to pick the weapon back up, or pull out a second weapon. If the player does not have a backup weapon he deserves what he gets.

Liberty's Edge

Hexcaliber wrote:
Or, disarm the paladin of his weapon, thus forcing him to soak attacks of opportunity with his fist.

If he's 8th level or higher and fighting the Evil BBEG, the Paladin will likely have a Divine Bond "Holy" aura on the blade. Accordingly, it's unlikely any of the boss' minions will be picking up the weapon to play a game of keep away. :)

It's also unlikely the Paladin will be disarmed, for that matter. They tend to have a good CMD. But certainly, those methods of combating a Paladin PC are preferable to "Construct/Elemental" City.


Steel_Wind wrote:

For starters? A little less GM vs. the Players mindset.

How about you NOT try to "beat it" and instead let the character shine? That's why he or she is playing a paladin, after all. Not to "mess up your game" but to have fun.

Sorry, I thought I presented the reason why I'm researching this:

"The party has earned the enmity of a BBEG who has the ability to monitor and study their actions, so I feel justified in coming up with a way to counter this particularly potent ability that they're exhibiting, but I'm at a loss as to how."

My apologies if you missed that in my original post... but there is a good reason why I am looking for ways to "beat" this ability. This is for a specific situation that warrants the party's strengths being compensated for.

***

Moving on, thanks to so many who offered suggestions! My paladin players tend to hold their smites for the bigger threats though, so many small enemies won't really phase them. The "BBEG" in question will be accompanied by several significant threats that are also evil, so I'm thinking that this will provide enough challenge along the lines of having more significant evil enemies than Smites.

I'll definitely incorporate a lot of miss chance circumstances, as it seems to be one of the best ways to counter a Smite attack. I tried to use Stoneskin, but it was blown through unceremoniously, my mistake for not thoroughly researching the new Smite Evil abilities.

If all else fails, this will all be happening after the APG comes out, so anti-paladins, here I come! ;)


So does this new Smite Evil deal the Paladin's level x 2 damage on the first SUCCESSFUL attack or the first attack regardless of outcome?


Convict #24601 wrote:
So does this new Smite Evil deal the Paladin's level x 2 damage on the first SUCCESSFUL attack or the first attack regardless of outcome?

What do you mean regardless of outcome?


Convict means that if you use smite evil, then miss with your first attack, does the second attack (the first successful attack) get the double damage. The errata specifically says first successful attack, IE the first attack that hits. So, if you miss with the first attack or second or third attack, the first one that hits deals the extra damage.

If the paladins save smites for bigger baddies, then try an escalating series of fights that may or may not be the big bad. Have the end fight be ambiguous, make it obvious there's another fight coming up, even the one the BBeG fights in. Have the PCs think one of the supplementary bad guys is the end boss of the encounter, make them think the BBeG has left, then have the BBeG show up. (Or, as was suggested before, have the BBeG disguise himself as a minion of one of the other evil threats.) This way, the paladins won't use their smites until the middle of the last battle, so you'll get a few rounds without smite damage.

I think someone already mentioned teleporting, but one particularly annoying tactic that can be used is to have the BBeG show up, fight until the paladin uses his smite evil ability, then teleport away. At the worst, it will let spell casters save the day with Dimensional Anchor. Don't overuse this though, as I said, it's really annoying, especially when combined with the above tactic.


Wonder what would happen if the BBEG Blackguard waited until the Paladin tried to Smite him, then used his own Smite attack to counter.

Would be an interesting moment as two completely opposite and hostile forces met in the clash of near-artifact-level weapons, both weapons rebounding in a clash of sparks and hostile energies and seeing both combatants hurled across the room by the explosive mingling of the energies.

BBEG staggers to his feet and grins, revealing bloodied teeth. "Well, it seems you'll be a challenge after all!"

In terms of a Paladin Smite, counter-smiting the Paladin's blade with a Sunder Attack, and the Paladin's weapon probably counts as Good-aligned, would be completely devastating as the attack also ignores all DR, and might even ignore the Hardness of the metal if the DM allows Smite to do this in their games.


Convict #24601 wrote:
So does this new Smite Evil deal the Paladin's level x 2 damage on the first SUCCESSFUL attack or the first attack regardless of outcome?

It clearly says the first successful attack.


hunterc311 wrote:
Steel_Wind wrote:

For starters? A little less GM vs. the Players mindset.

How about you NOT try to "beat it" and instead let the character shine? That's why he or she is playing a paladin, after all. Not to "mess up your game" but to have fun.

Sorry, I thought I presented the reason why I'm researching this:

"The party has earned the enmity of a BBEG who has the ability to monitor and study their actions, so I feel justified in coming up with a way to counter this particularly potent ability that they're exhibiting, but I'm at a loss as to how."

My apologies if you missed that in my original post... but there is a good reason why I am looking for ways to "beat" this ability. This is for a specific situation that warrants the party's strengths being compensated for.

***

Moving on, thanks to so many who offered suggestions! My paladin players tend to hold their smites for the bigger threats though, so many small enemies won't really phase them. The "BBEG" in question will be accompanied by several significant threats that are also evil, so I'm thinking that this will provide enough challenge along the lines of having more significant evil enemies than Smites.

I'll definitely incorporate a lot of miss chance circumstances, as it seems to be one of the best ways to counter a Smite attack. I tried to use Stoneskin, but it was blown through unceremoniously, my mistake for not thoroughly researching the new Smite Evil abilities.

If all else fails, this will all be happening after the APG comes out, so anti-paladins, here I come! ;)

Another suggestion I might offer: Don't counter the weapon, counter the person wielding it ...


Lazarus Yeithgox wrote:
Have the end fight be ambiguous, make it obvious there's another fight coming up, even the one the BBeG fights in.

This is a good suggestion and one I have thought about. It could honestly be as simple as having the BBEG place a large elaborate yet fake door behind him in the throne room where you meet him or something. He could even say something like "You dont know the evil that awaits you!"

Funny for the DM when they open the doors and reveal a stone wall.


Having the evil boss disguised as a minion probably won't work. Paladins detect evil, and that spell will tell you who is the most powerful source of evil that you're up against.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

There's a counterspell for that.


hunterc311 wrote:

So I'm running a group with not one, but two paladins who can Smite Evil. I'm finding it to be a bit overpowered, but unwilling to alter anything in the ability because I'm a purist gamer and I don't nerf just because my players are succeeding more often than not.

My question now becomes... as a DM, how do I beat Smite Evil?

I am mainly concerned with the ability to bypass *all* DR, as it defeats even such previously excellent methods of prolonging a challenging fight as Stoneskin and various DR/- situations. I don't want to resort to AC tampering just to avoid prematurely stunted combat encounters. Again, purist.

The party has earned the enmity of a BBEG who has the ability to monitor and study their actions, so I feel justified in coming up with a way to counter this particularly potent ability that they're exhibiting, but I'm at a loss as to how.

Any ideas or relevant experiences? Thanks!

Oh snap.. Paladins everywhere hate me now. Smite Evil (Su)

Once per day, a paladin can call out to the powers ... Antimagic field. Combined with this Regeneration (Ex) and DR (ex) Pit fiends just got a whole lot scarier vs Paladin. AMF should be no problem with a +28 UMD. Now that IS evil...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

How about taking a different tactic and making it rewarding for the PC NOT to smite the Big Bad? Maybe give him a particularly more despicable/dangerous Right Hand Man by his side, so that the Paladin will likely want to go after the Right Hand Man first? That way you might still be able to keep your Big Bad intact for a little bit longer and the player gets some sense of fulfillment for taking down a major villain at the same time.

Grand Lodge

I have to agree with Steel_Wind, GM vs Player is the wrong mindset, you are running a game, not playing against other players. Now a way I haven't seen posted, though I didn't read EVERY POST, is to handle the paladins is by giving them multiple objectives in a single encounter, they don't just have to kill the BBEG they also have to save a princess or some townsfolk, make it a priest of their order or whatever, but make their other objective something that would make them want to not engage in combat at all and instead they should go running off to save/do whatever it is you have set up for them.


To Dreaming Psion and Kais86:

The OP has already stated (twice) that there is a specific BBEG that has been specifically watching and following the party with the exact purpose (in game) of figuring out their tactics and being ready for them.

He's not looking for, "Hey I want to screw my players by making their paladin's suck all the time."

He's saying, "Hey I got this one situation where I need to make smite evil not as awesome against one specific enemy that knows two big paladins are coming his way and has time to prepare specifically for them... I as a DM am not sure how to go about preparing for them -- can someone give me suggestions?"

Completely different intent and purpose.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Whoops, missed that clarification post, my bad. Not knowing much about the paladin in question, does his weapons have any energy damage boosts (shocking, etc)? If so, a Resist Energy spell might take off some of that damage (the smite mentions going past DR but doesn't mention energy resistance).

If some of the forces accompanying him are clerics, they could cast Shield Other on him and absorb some of the damage he takes.

Assuming the paladin attacks in melee, a fire shield (or similar spell that has an aura that damages melee attackers) spell prolly won't deter him but might push him to need to be healed a little bit sooner- or push him over the edge into a dying status earlier.


Find something more evil for them to smite.

Seriously though, perhaps the secret is to get the party on team and turn them against a mutual foe, something much more evil than the BBEG.

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