So me and my friends are playing with a newbie GM running an older AP: serpent skull. The first couple of books were relatively difficult for us as we specifically did not optimize. We even had a tpk in book 2. Then we made new characters, again we tried not to optimize. The GM was really enjoying himself in the first 2 books when the game was challenging, however the last 2 levels or so not so much (our new characters are 5 levels old at this point).
We have a 20 point buy level 10
My character is an oracle of life focused on healing in battle, though I am capable of doing other stuff, mostly my resources went into making it very difficult to kill a character. I intentionally invested in int for skill points, and I gave away my headband of charisma when I got my phylactery of positive channeling.
Then there is the bloodrager who went dragon disciple and made sure that he had a good will save and has no dex for defense.
Then there is the blockbuster wizard who uses no enhancing metamagics, (he has intensify spell but has only used for burning hands) and did not dip sorcerer for damage, he has been experimenting with stuff.
And then there is the knife master rogue who generally attacks half the time with alchemist fire (still gets a reduced version of sneak for rule reason x) and pretty much only once per round.
I've stopped buffing the party aside from ant haul and magic vestiment. In fact I'm considering stopping acting much unless needed. The wizard casts usually one spell then hangs back, the bloodrager has stopped raging, doesn't have power attack, and the rogue, well is a rogue (does very good damage though considering he only one attack generally).
However despite this we are still steamrolling encounters, and the GM is unhappy, and is not adjusting difficulty to our level.
Part of the problem is that we are facing enemies with around 20 AC, when you are level 10 20 AC isn't an issue. Enemies will not usually have more than 24 AC which still isn't significant.
What should I do at this point? The thing is I know how to optimise, we all do and we are not optimised, or at very least we have optimised sub optimal strategies, and even then not really.
I want the GM to have fun, and I think the whole thing is upsetting him greatly, I'm open to any sort of solution, on his end or ours, I just want to have a good argument for what should be done going forward when we meet next.
It sounds like not being level 10 is the quickest solution to the problem.
Maybe you could bring the PCs down a few levels and put some brakes on the experience progression if needed after that?
Loosing a few levels might lead to a mutiny. Your GM should should follow the second half of this and limit how fast you go up in level. He should choose exactly when you level up, instead of feeling like a slave to the XP system. In the meantime, he can beef up the encounters a bit, like Rynjin said.
Well it would depend on what makes the DM happy I suppose. If he doesn't like how fast encounters go, just maxing enemy hp might be enough. Maybe the enemies are boring to run, he could switch out a few enemies or add a template like you suggested. I doubt the enemoes are optimized, fiddling with their feats could be interesting. Id ask why the DM is unhappy!
Step 1) Apply the advanced simple template to literally everything
Step 2) Double the advanced simple template on "boss" creatures. Also give max hp.
Step 3) If this isn't enough, add max hp to everything else
Step 4) Add 50% more of non-"unique" enemies in every combat
I can understand for the GM why non-challenging combats make the game unfun. As a GM I wan to challenge the players, but not kill them (though it can happen due to poor tactics or a series of bad rolls). When there is no challenge, it feels like a waste of my time.
If this still not sufficient, the AP will require reworking every encounter, which is a significant time investment. If the GM is unwilling or unable to do so, it may be better for him to step down as the GM. I am currently facing that scenario as my job has recently required a lot more of my time and left me less energetic and motivated to do the required work. After my group completes the current book we are on, I plan to step down and let someone else continue the AP.
Many APs are pegged to a 15-point buy. With you 20-point buy, you are more powerful than the AP expects. Hence your rolling over encounters.
I suggest the GM not give you your next level, and leave you at expected level less one for the remainder of the AP. Either that, or beef up his encounters as others have suggested.