3 Players With Gestalt

Jade Regent

Scarab Sages

I've had a very good experience with Jade Regent DMing it for my son and a couple of his friends. That game is on hold now for a while as their interests have shifted to other things.

In the meantime I'm thinking of running the AP for some adult friends. There would be only three players, and I'm looking at some ways I could give the party a boost to make up for the small number of characters.

Has anyone played Jade Regent with Gestalt classes and if so how did it work out?

Anyone have any suggestions on how best to balance the small party?

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There is no reason to go with Gestalt with three players.

There are four NPCs in the group that can help out and fill any holes - and in fact, by having Ameiko being an adventuring partner in the game, it might help the party bond with her more.

You don't even need a fourth. Three players will level up more rapidly, and that higher level will compensate for the lack of a fourth player.

Lastly, what do you do if later on you get a fourth player? Everyone is already using Gestalt, so it would be unfair not to let that fourth player use it... which means now you have an overpowered group in the game.

If you are worried about the group being underpowered, then each game session give each player one bonus Hero Point. The Hero Points can be used to get an extra action or the like, and two Hero Points can help stave off death (though I kind of recommend having that with just one Hero Point).

Grand Lodge

I am currently playing in a Jade game as a party of 5. We decided to run it mythic which has made it crazy hard with the double monster initiative at tier 3-4. That being said, you could introduce it for tier 1 only to give them a little boost without breaking the game (like when they find the seal they are exposed to an extremely powerful artifact or something of the like). It doesn't get game breaking until tier 3 where you have to make the standard monsters mythic too.

Scarab Sages

I have no experience with the Jade Regent adventure path in particular, but the following advice should help in the general sense.

Having both played and run games with 3 players using gestalt rules, I can say that the gestalt rule really helps to make more robust characters. On the whole, you'll have more survivable characters, and each character will have the ability to participate in many different ways. Losing an entire character's worth of actions really helps to balance against the increased power of each individual.

For best results, request that each player design their character to be able to cover as many roles as possible. This will usually mean mixing some form of martial role with some kind of casting class. Having overlap between characters is beneficial, since if one character is knocked out, or incapacitated by a spell, the remaining 2 (or even 1) need to be able to recover and save the day.

Useful tips for what has worked for me in the past:

1. A high point buy (20-25 points) coupled with restrictions on the maximum and minimum ability scores (we play with no stats above 18 or below 8 after racial modifiers) really helps to diversify stats and enable completely disparate classes to function together without overpowering.

2. Low level characters are squishy. With only 3 characters, the opportunity for sudden character death is very real. To counter this, something I'm considering using in my next game is giving temporary bonus hit points as follows:
- At level 1, all characters get 15 bonus hit points.
- When they level up, characters receive their normal extra hit points for leveling, and they lose 5 of the bonus hit points.
By doing this, characters have an extra buffer of hit points for the first 3 levels, and by the time they get to level 4, they should be much more survivable on their own.

3. Treat the party of 3 as if they are a party of 4. For APs, you'll generally run it as written, though depending on your players, you may need to adjust encounters as the AP progresses.

4. One thing that works well for my games, gestalt or not, is to be generous with nonmonetary boons. Things like a unique magic item to bring someone back to life has no monetary value if the item can't be sold, but it helps run a smooth game, especially at levels where people can't afford raise dead spells.

Gestalt is no longer needed with the Hybrid Classes from the Advanced Class Book. For instance, you have the Warpriest as a Fighter/Cleric, or the Hunter as a Druid/Ranger.

Scarab Sages

Thank you all for the advice!

Yes, I've been leaning away from gestalt. One of the reasons is that I have relatively little experience playing past around 10th level. Gestalt would mean the players are really hitting high levels of power and flexibility at about the same time when it will be harder for me to correctly match opponents to them and use them to best effect. They'll be at the best plus some when I'm at my worst mechanically.

The characters will be getting a 25 point buy, already decided. The idea of the bonus HP is tempting, but two of the players are quite experienced and might think it's too much of a safety net, killing the suspense of the first couple of levels. I might provide them with a wand of CLW with a few charges or a few potions somewhere in the swamp.

Otherwise I'll just use the NPCs as a pool the talent they can draw on more easily than usual. I'm planning on rebuilding Ameiko and Sandru at least to make them more viable given the new options that have come out since the AP was released. My worry there was the NPCs carrying the party too much, especially at the lower levels. Maybe Shalelu only going with them into the swamp.

Since the party is an arcanist, cavalier, and rogue, I could also run a warpriest that I have laying around as a DMNPC. Another option that would keep the party all at 1st level without an NPC to outshine them early on.

Scarab Sages

Okay, a follow up question. I did find a 4th player but the party composition is shaping up to be as follows: Divine Hunter Paladin, Ecclesiatheurge Cleric, Halfling mounted Cavalier, and Eldritch Scoundrel.

The Eldritch Scoundrel will have arcane casting using the sorcerer/wizard spell list, but with the magus spell progression. That means spells only to 5th level and with fairly low DCs. Will that be sufficient arcane casting for late in the campaign? The major NPCs and written up can't really help out in that area much either.


Any player who wants to play a Gestalt will have to live with the limitations of that Gestalt.

The player has a wider range of spells to choose from which overcomes one of the weaknesses of the Magus. The fact they don't get high level spells? They'll have to live with it. (BTW, don't let them take the Leadership feat.)

To be honest, any game could be run without arcane casters or even divine casters. You could have a four-fighter group. And while they will have some disadvantages, they will compensate for that in other ways. So don't worry about the spellcasting.

Tangent101 wrote:

To be honest, any game could be run without arcane casters or even divine casters. You could have a four-fighter group. And while they will have some disadvantages, they will compensate for that in other ways. So don't worry about the spellcasting.

You can but without divine casting at the very least, it can become a very different game far outside the parameters most module material is built around. An all fighter team is going to be plagued by recovery downtime, retreats to a provider of advanced healing, and a high amount of resources going towards hiring healing services and recovery purchases.

That being said, I've never seen the lack of full arcane casting to be a hindrance to a campaign. Except when it comes to unexpected swarms. But I've never seen a party excited about fighting swarms :)

Scarab Sages

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Gestalt builds are off the table, especially now that a fourth player is onboard. I was looking at it as a way to run an undersized party, but now I don't have to worry about that.

The Eldritch Scoundrel is a new Rogue archetype that trades/delays armor proficiencies and some rogue abilities for arcane casting using the Sorcerer/Wizard spell list, and the Magus progression for spells per day. It's kind of interesting, maybe a little like the Arcane Trickster without having to take a prestige class.

They will have a full divine caster plus a little bit due to the Ecclesiatheurge archetype the player is using.

Specifically the issue of sufficient arcane casting in the party came up from the Rogue player, who is worried that they should instead choose a full arcane casting class instead. I told them to play what they wanted, and it would all work out, but I also figured I should check here to make sure there isn't something I'm missing. Like I mentioned, once we're into double digit levels it will be fairly new terrain for me.

And no, there won't be any crazy feats like Leadership available. :)


Well, let's put it this way.

An Arcane Trickster that goes with Wizard levels can become a 10th level Arcane Trickster (which has some rather nice abilities like sneak attacks with spells against flatfooted individuals). This will happen at 16th level, or 17th if they wait 'til they're a 4th level Rogue.

They will have 13 caster levels and the ability to cast level 7 spells. They will also have 7d6 sneak attack damage if memory serves. And seeing the group has two fighter-types, they won't be needing a flanker. And the ability to disarm traps from 30 feet away is always useful in case traps go off. ;)

So if your rogue is worried about arcane casting? Arcane Trickster is the path to go.

Oh, and there is one use for Leadership: NPC crafters. They recruit a wizard or cleric who has various magic item crafting Feats and the NPC stays home. The way Leadership works, they still get XPs (in this case it's probably from studying and making magic items) and the players don't need to spend valuable time creating magic items.

You just make sure that if asked, the Cohort points out they would be no good in a fight and is primarily there to keep the group supplied with up-to-date magic items. ;)

Scarab Sages

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It looks like things are settled now. The Rogue had looked at Arcane Trickster already and decided against it. She will be sticking with Eldritch Scoundrel.

You know, I was thinking the same thing about crafters for this. Seems there will be plenty of crafting time during travel. I'm thinking it's a very good role for Koya to play though. Ameiko, Shalelu, and Sandru could sometimes accompany the party away from the caravan, but less likely Koya, especially since the party already has a noncombat cleric PC. It will give Koya's place in the campaign a little more heft if she's crafting.

I'm still not going to allow leadership. Koya wouldn't be making everything, mostly expendables. That seems alright though, there are quite a few weapons to be had, and if individuals are coming up short I can always add to loot. There will be plenty of opportunities since I'm running the expanded version that inserts Road to Destiny / The Baleful Coven (maybe) / Under Frozen Stars into the campaign.

I wish you good fortune with this.

And don't forget: the best laid plans of mice and GMs never survives contact with the Players. ;)

Scarab Sages

Thank you, I'll probably need it. This will be the biggest thing I've tried so far. And my players are clever.

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