Tactics vs fliers


Advice


In the homebrew game I'm playing, we have a persistent enemy who likes to fly around and hit the party with a magic missile massacre. I've read the usual tactics about giving someone flight and having them grapple the caster, or just shoot the damn thing, but I was wondering if anyone had some tactics more out of left field that could throw the GM off his game a bit.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Against an opponent using fly-by attack (not your case, unfortunately) I've found a monk with a readied action and a net works, unless the flying critter is so strong as to shred the net easily. I prefer the net over tanglefoot bags because it's reusable.

EDIT: In your specific case, consider amulets of shielding and oils of shield, possibly combined with your caster preparing magic missile of his own and readying to counter-spell.


Tanglefoot bags. Though the DC to avoid being unable to fly is pretty low.

Shadow Lodge

If it's magical flight, Dispel Magic.

Summon Monster (X) to create flying harassers and flankers.


Hard to recommend specific tactics not knowing the makeup of the party and what their abilities are.

Some thoughts:

1. Go inside. Do you have to be outdoors?
2. If you have to be outdoors, when the flyer pops up, cast obscuring mist.
3. Potions of invisibility. Or have your party mage cast it.
4. I'll second the "shield" or "brooch of shielding" recommendation.
5. Travel at night.
6. Truestrike and a net or bolas.


Just shot with a bow can be a good solution. Just remeber to use magic bow/crossbows/slings or to have magic arrow/bolts in case the wizard cast protection from arrows.

Another posibility is to use an harpoon.


Nicos wrote:
Another posibility is to use an harpoon.

Ooh, I like the image of harpooning the 8!7©# and dragging her to the ground.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
pocsaclypse wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Another posibility is to use an harpoon.
Ooh, I like the image of harpooning the 8!7©# and dragging her to the ground.

... while I, on the other hand, greatly prefer the image of a character harpooning the beast and being yanked, Ahab-like, into the air cursing and spitting as he vanishes into the distance...


pocsaclypse wrote:
In the homebrew game I'm playing, we have a persistent enemy who likes to fly around and hit the party with a magic missile massacre.

Any flier can be brought down with ranged attacks, both magical and mundane.

The only danger this enemy has is its spells which can be thwarted by any means to break its concentration and to dispel its spells.

Any flying swarm, small or large, can or hinder spellcasting.
Most spells are line of sight, hinder the enemy's sight and he cannot direct spells.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
pocsaclypse wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Another posibility is to use an harpoon.
Ooh, I like the image of harpooning the 8!7©# and dragging her to the ground.
... while I, on the other hand, greatly prefer the image of a character harpooning the beast and being yanked, Ahab-like, into the air cursing and spitting as he vanishes into the distance...

An even more hilarious prospect.


Obscuring mist, fog cloud, and perhaps even darkness will prevent you from being targeted. The spell can't target you if you have "total cover or total concealment".

Also, readied action vs casting often works very well in such situations.


If the persistent enemy is predictable (is known to show up at a given place and time), have the party hire a squad/platoon/battalion of min-maxed Archers or even Gunslingers. One volley should do the trick no matter what the BBEG's CR is.

A less conventional approach is abuse of the Leadership feat to create an army of 1st level Wizards who each create a scroll of Magic Missile. Then at some later time, they all use their scrolls against the enemy. While I wish this was my original idea, it is not. I saw it in another thread here. However, it is some seriously stinky cheese.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Tactics your GM may not see coming (I have no idea what level you are, so I'm throwing out anything and everything that comes to mind as I wrap up here at work):

Invisible Gargantuan Nets

Stackable Siege Tower with the pieces reduced by Empowered Shrink Item spells all triggered off of the same command word.

Ditto the above with a giant wall, extra points if you can have spiky bits to impale the flyer on.

Ring Gate used as a net

Telekinesis used with the wall or siege tower trick above and a bull horn for the command word (or optionally an instant fortress to drop on them)

Hallucinatory Terrain or similar effect to make the ground seem lower than it is... ex a tall hill seem like a pit ... smack!

A ballista with gravity bow cast on it.

Diplomacy Skill use - set up a competition or friendly wager and bet Xgp that the stone giants (or whatever giants you can find) can't knock the flyer out of the air in less than 10 hits! Extra points if you can get it to be a test of strength and no rocks smaller than 200 lbs can be used...

Spread rumors that the infamous "Dragon Slayer <NPC Name>" has been seen in the area flying around practicing their aeriel recon skills to find the lairs of dragons... or for extra points replace "Dragon Slayer" with "Thief of Dragon's Lairs".

Hire NPCs to have sendings sent to horrifically infamous and gawdawfully powerful other NPCs in the annoying NPC's name saying "my name is <Annoying NPC> and I'm coming for you <Geb or other bad NPC to annoy>". Reversed Scry & Fry. Buy popcorn. Extra points if you hire someone you'd probably eventually have to take out yourself at some point.

-TimD


Silent Image a bunch of Giant Mushrooms. Oh wow! We're all in total concealment! care to come down or shall we snipe you with impunity from under here?

Sovereign Court

Summon Monster -> flying creatures:
- Lantern Archon, always a solid choice
- Giant Wasp, decent damage, Dex poison and immune to mind-affecting effects. Fast enough to keep up with a Fly spell.
- Bralazin Azata, this is just nasty

Summon a giant spider to throw webs at the wizard. If it hits with a +5 touch attach the wizard is entangled and has to spend actions to try to free himself.


What size is your enemy caster? Is he flying via fly spell or wings?

Collision While Flying: wrote:


If you are using wings to fly and you collide with an object equal to your size or larger, you must immediately make a DC 25 Fly check to avoid plummeting to the ground, taking the appropriate falling damage.

Summon Monster I: Eagle, small sized

Summon Monster II: Small Air Elemental: vortex
Summon Monster III: Dire Bat, Large sized

Even if enemy caster can fly, air elemental's vortex can create concealing cloud at ground level, then fly up to attempt to entrap caster (save DC is pretty low)


I know the OP is dealing with something a little bit different, but it seemed as good a place as any to pose the question. What would you guys recommend for tactics vs a Huge Dragon? What reliable ways are there for grounding him and keeping him grounded during the fight?


If you can give me a bit more information I can give you some specific tactics tailored to your group.

What is your party composition? (Level/Race/Class combination of all members)

Specifically what type of caster is causing you problems? What information do you have about this NPC? Is it a Wizard? A Sorcerer? Clearly it's arcane if it's using Magic Missile, but knowing your enemy is half the battle.

A few options I can think off the top of my head are:

-If you have a Bard or Magus, get him a scroll of Bladed Dash and have him add it to his spellbook. The nice thing about this spell is that it does not specify what type of movement is allowed, nor that you need a fly speed to use it to go vertical. If the Bard/Magus has a reach weapon (A whip, for example) it can extend their threat range. Also, a Magus can fly once they get 3rd level spells.
-Spells that directly affect a casters stats, like Ray of Enfeeblement, can be used to knock them unconscious. This of course is useful anyway, but is especially useful in this case since it can be used at range.
-Limp Lash is an extremely effective (and VERY mean) spell for controlling enemy movement while also causing stat damage, and eventually paralysis. If you can get within 20 feet of the caster in question, hitting them with this should end the fight.

Others have mentioned a few other ways to deal with them, like harpoons and the like. In a recent game in the Skull and Shackles AP, one of my players knocked out a flying spellcaster with a well placed shot from a Bombard (big cannon). You just have to get creative, and use all of the tools available to you. Remember that his spells have a max range, and he will only have a limited number of them. Find a way around them, and force him to use closer range spells, and you can more easily deal with him.


Dr Grecko wrote:
I know the OP is dealing with something a little bit different, but it seemed as good a place as any to pose the question. What would you guys recommend for tactics vs a Huge Dragon? What reliable ways are there for grounding him and keeping him grounded during the fight?

Well again I would need to know what level the party is, what resources they have available to them, and what classes the players chose.

Aside from that, if your party is high enough level to fight a huge dragon, then they are high enough level to have access to the Fly spell, or enough money to buy Boots of Fly, Potions of Fly, or other means of magical flight. Also, assuming there is some form of spellcaster in the party, they should have some access to buffs that can protect them against a dragons energy damage or grant damage reduction against his melee attacks. If you have a full progression arcane caster in the party, or a decent ranged combatant like an Archery Fighter or a Ranger, Gunslinger or Divine Hunter (Paladin), you might just be able to blast it out of the sky.

Polar ray is an extremely effective spell against any dragon that is not immune to cold, but it requires a 15th level Wizard or 16th level Sorcerer to have access to it. It does Dex drain though, and most creatures of exceptional size have very low Dexterity, making it a very good stat to target. A Mature Adult Red Dragon has a Dexterity of 10, and a 15th level Wizard casting Polar Ray will have a good chance of bypassing Spell Resistance assuming he took the feats to do so, and Polar Ray targets touch AC and doesn't allow a save. Makes for an excellent dragon killer, especially against really big ones.

Assuming your party is lower level, you could always try Feeblemind to lower the dragons Int and Charisma. If you can get it to fail the Will save, it would remove almost all ability for the dragon to use its higher reasoning, and it might just fly at the party in an all out attack, or run away in terror. Regardless, it would likely not posses the wherewithal to continue an areal bombardment with spells/breath weapon.

Waves of exhaustion is another good spell against anything not immune to fatigue. It doesn't allow a save and instantly exhausts the target, giving it heinous stat penalties (-6 str/dex) and causing it to move much more slowly and take fewer actions. It would put most dragons at a 4 Dexterity, and just about anything else that targeted Dex would knock it unconscious.


Dr. Grecko:

As with most combat situations the answers to your question are:

1. Exploit the enemy's weaknesses.
2. Exploit the battlefield for tactical advantage.
3. Counter the enemy's strengths.
4. Hit the enemy first.
5. Do the unexpected.

So each of those will require knowledge of what KIND of dragon. Most dragons have very low touch AC, so exploit that with rays, ranged touch attacks, or other techniques which work well against low touch AC.

Most dragons are more dangerous when they are flying. Bring him to the ground. If possible, choose your battle location and make him come to you. The more confined and restrictive it is, the better. If you can't bring him inside, then tie him to the ground.

Energy resistance is almost a must-have for dragon fights. Also anything that will boost a reflex save. Do not let the dragon full attack.

Ambush him.

Use illusions, invisible nets, summoned creatures, anything that will force the dragon to alter his own plan.


MC Templar wrote:
What size is your enemy caster? Is he flying via fly spell or wings?

Size medium (an elf) who flies with magic.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
pocsaclypse wrote:
In the homebrew game I'm playing, we have a persistent enemy who likes to fly around and hit the party with a magic missile massacre. I've read the usual tactics about giving someone flight and having them grapple the caster, or just shoot the damn thing, but I was wondering if anyone had some tactics more out of left field that could throw the GM off his game a bit.

What you have to do is block line of effect. If you're outdoors go for cover which will force a miss chance from concealment.

Another thing that throws a red flag on your play is the antagonistic attitude your last sentence has. You're not contesting against the GM, you're contesting against his NPCs. IF either you or your GM is not fully in synch with this, then there is a problem.


LazarX wrote:
pocsaclypse wrote:
In the homebrew game I'm playing, we have a persistent enemy who likes to fly around and hit the party with a magic missile massacre. I've read the usual tactics about giving someone flight and having them grapple the caster, or just shoot the damn thing, but I was wondering if anyone had some tactics more out of left field that could throw the GM off his game a bit.

What you have to do is block line of effect. If you're outdoors go for cover which will force a miss chance from concealment.

Another thing that throws a red flag on your play is the antagonistic attitude your last sentence has. You're not contesting against the GM, you're contesting against his NPCs. IF either you or your GM is not fully in synch with this, then there is a problem.

Well, more specifically you need to have total cover OR total concealment, both of which in many cases block Line of Sight, but do not block Line of Effect. If you block Line of Sight with total cover/concealment, the Wizard wouldn't actually be able to target you with the spell. That said, having total cover does not mean a spell can never have Line of Effect to you. For example, if a Fireball is cast on the opposite side of a wall from a character, but the character is within 20 feet of the center counting around the wall, there is still line of effect and the character still needs a reflex save.

As for the other thing, you are right. If there is a personal vendetta between player and DM because of something occurring in the game, you need to discuss that outside the game and come to an accord. You should not be upset at your DM for challenging you, especially if there are numerous ways to overcome those challenges but you are just not finding them. Similarly, the DM should not be trying to kill the player at every turn. That's not fun, and it's counterproductive to moving the game along.


Bows are definitely the way to go.
Have some of the party simply ready actions to interrupt spellcasting attempts.
A caster who simply attempts to dispel the fly spell.
The rest shoot to kill.
For added fun, keep a bunch of poisoned arrows on hand for the endeavor. (elven wizards are not known for their fort saves, and enough arrows hit, the DC will be even harder).

Flying wizard won't last long if he doesn't flee immediately.


I'd appreciate it if people stop psychoanalyzing the relationship between my GM and me. We're good friends who have been playing together for years. I'm just looking for some unorthodox tactics for a particular enemy.


Well to be fair, the phrasing in your post suggested a more adversarial relationship between you two. One does not usually try to confound ones DM, as it usually just bogs down the game for everyone if you do. I'm guessing what you meant is that you want some unusual tactics that will force him to think outside the box instead of having his spellcaster pet rain Magic Missiles down on the party with impunity?

If that's the case, there are a number of good suggestions here. I recommend trying them, with the caviat that standard ranged attacks (Bows/arrows/guns) can be foiled completely by a single 2nd level spell. Wind Wall, or Fickle Winds at higher level, can make a spellcaster completely immune to mundane ranged attacks, leaving you in the same predicament that you were in previously.


Aldarionn wrote:

Well to be fair, the phrasing in your post suggested a more adversarial relationship between you two. One does not usually try to confound ones DM, as it usually just bogs down the game for everyone if you do. I'm guessing what you meant is that you want some unusual tactics that will force him to think outside the box instead of having his spellcaster pet rain Magic Missiles down on the party with impunity?

If that's the case, there are a number of good suggestions here. I recommend trying them, with the caviat that standard ranged attacks (Bows/arrows/guns) can be foiled completely by a single 2nd level spell. Wind Wall, or Fickle Winds at higher level, can make a spellcaster completely immune to mundane ranged attacks, leaving you in the same predicament that you were in previously.

What the? Finding a way besides "I shoot it with my bow." is the bread and butter of a good PC. Most gm's can appriciate it when a player looks for new ways to solve a recurring problem.

@Op
Since he's flying with magic, he doesn't have to roll DC or fall upon taking damage like a winged creature. A Suggestion spell could work, "There might be dragons in the sky, I suggest you fight on the ground."

Ring of Telekinesis used with the Bullrush Maneuver downwards might work as well, it's basically a ranged telekinetic yank, though Dispel seems to be the best solution. Once you get the npc to the ground, have a caster cast Mad Monkeys for the luls.


@OP

Flying caster has weak fort save. 2nd level spell cleric. Blindness/deafness.

Let the games begin.


Aldarionn wrote:
I'm guessing what you meant is that you want some unusual tactics that will force him to think outside the box instead of having his spellcaster pet rain Magic Missiles down on the party with impunity?

That's the one.

Sovereign Court

In a thick forest, he'll be hampered a lot by trees obstructing his line-of-effect. So you might be able to lure him to a spot where he gets a clean shot... except then the grappling expert hidden in a tree can jump him.

Variation: use Silent Image spells to lure him. Or just to draw fire; he's got finite spells, any spells thrown at the Image aren't hitting you.

Variation2: pretend to use one tactic (aided by illusions), but actually implement a different tactic. Because as a wizard he probably has a way to deal with the first surprise (using some all-purpose spell), but while he's doing that, you catch him with the second one.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Fighting a flying magic missile caster:
Tiny Hut. Hide inside (100%) concealment, no LOS spells (magic missile) Note you can see out just fine.
Pepper the flyer from range.
Shield spells or Amulet of Shielding.
Globe of Invulnerability.
Do you have an alchemist? Throw a bottle of gray ooze to grapple the caster.

Fighting a Huge Flyer
Assumption: Dragon, plus SR.

Suggestions:
Buff yourself and debuff the target. (Targeted Dispel Magic to strip enemy buffs is almost always worth it.) as others said, you need energy resistance and don't allow your foe full-round actions.
Use ability damage:
Cloudkill. Even on a save, the target(if alive) takes Con damage. NO SR.
Throw others at it as blockers (summon creatures). Light bulb squadrons (a.k.a. Lantern Archons -read up) are among my favorite buddies (perfect flight, laser beams touch attacks that bypass all DR). If you can summon a large air elemental, the caster will have a very rough time, especially if you dispel his flight. Whirlwind= major pain.

Oh and your party does make monster lore checks right? My first three questions: what is it (automatic), what doesn't work( a.k.a. resists/immunities) and what does work better (vulnerabilities, if any)?

Just a few ideas, if you give more intel I can throw more.


Hmmm ... something that might be off-the-wall:

1) Qual's Feather Token (Tree) or the Instant Fortress. Ready the invocation as "just before he moves into the square above me." There's kind of a Looney Tunes aspect to this tactic, but it might work

2) Lasso him, then tie the other end of the lasso to something heavy on the ground.

3) Use Summon Swarm to send a flock of bats at him.

4) Use Pilfering Hand to yoink his wand, spell component pouch, and other magical gear.

5) Is he using something that's voice activated or casting Magic Missile with verbal components? Hit him with Sculpt Sound. For added value, sculpt his voice into Swedish yodeling.

6) As an arcane spellcaster, he probably has a high Will save. But you can probably still have some fun with Heightened versions of the various Enchantment spells. The spell "Unnatural Lust" and the victim "sheep" will produce maximum value here. For a more mature approach, I suggest Terrible Remorse.

The Exchange

Aristin76 wrote:

@OP

Flying caster has weak fort save. 2nd level spell cleric. Blindness/deafness.

Let the games begin.

Aw, dang, somebody already mentioned my favorite way to say 'stop shooting at me'. Pyrotechnics and glitterdust are alternatives.

Sovereign Court

Darkness & Darkvision (for your team) - Unless he has his own version memed, its lights out and no line of sight for MM.

The Exchange

Aw, geez. I almost forgot. If you know he's coming and you know which spell he's going to be shooting, the situation practically cries out for spell immunity.


Summon the biggest air elemental you can and have it grapple the elf. If the elf is flying via magic he or she should not be able to fly as fast as the elemental. If this is a really important enemy you might consider buying or crafting Elemental Gems so that you can bust out multiple elementals with the quickness. Make sure that somebody can speak Auran so you can tell the elementals to grapple, and consider using the Lockjaw spell.

Regarding the Huge dragon, Communal Resist Energy and Communal Protection from Energy are two of the most effective defensive spells in the game. If you don't take damage from the dragon's breath weapon you negate most of his ranged threat. If a memorized caster is applying the spell be sure to memorize it multiple times. This covers you in case of Dispel Magic as well as if the dragon switches to blasting you with spells.

Ranged damage spells can be nice if you're able to consistently beat the dragon's SR. If not then depending on the dragon's color you might want to consider the lowly Acid Arrow. It is a lackluster spell in the typical 1-2 round fight, but if the dragon is playing keepaway the fight is likely to drag on a bit, letting multiple castings really go to work. It also creates a nuisance level Concentration check for the dragon to be able to cast spells and might encourage the dragon to come down and pay the caster a visit in Melee Land.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Tactics vs fliers All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.