New DM Problems...


Advice


So I have recently started to DM my first campaign. I started the group out at lvl 3 and they recently hit lvl 4. I like it a lot and the players are having fun but i have a problem, one character is starting to get too strong and is just destroying everything that I throw at them. He is a 4th lvl unchained ratfolk rogue, and he is pumping out about 35 points of damage in a round. (He usually burrows and sneak attacks). Can anyone give a new DM some advice on how to handle this? Or maybe some examples of enemies that could be more of a challenge for them? As of now they really haven't struggled with anything I've thrown at them!


Can we get a bit more info on the party composition please and thank you


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

How exactly is he getting that much damage? That seems suspiciously high for a 4th level character, especially if he's invested his feats into burrowing. Actually, how is he burrowing at 4th level? He shouldn't have enough feats to do that yet.


I love throwing a lot of enemies at my party that die in 1-2 hits along with a few big baddies as their superiors that take any were from 4-10 hits depending on party size.

Puzzles are also good non combat encounters. If i have a physical prop on hand i give a real life timer for them to figure it out along with the skill check. if they make the skill check but they themselves cant figure the prop i say the solve it and give them there reward but if they solve it themselves i give a slight bonus reward to the 1 that solved it.


Okay so i have a half-orc barb, a dwarven druid with an alligator companion, a tiefling grenadier alchemist, and then the ratfolk unchained rogue.


I think that's my problem! I'm thinking size not quantity ! I need to throw more enemies, maybe try and surround him! Ozzmodious thanks broski


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Part of your problem might be unfamiliarity with the rules.

Ratfolk burrowing, as far as I know is only available from the Burrowing Teeth feat, which requires two other feats. It is possible to get that on a 4th level unchained rogue, but it requires using both their feats plus one of their rogue talents as a combat trick.

Ratfolk burrow is only going to through dirt and the like, not solid stone (or something like a wooden floor), I would expect it to unusable more often than not during a typical campaign. In addition, burrow doesn't automatically make you concealed, they still need to roll stealth. If they take more than a 5' step to get into combat position, they are only going to get a single attack with TWF or natural attacks. Lastly, even if they achieve sneak attack due to their stealth and are able to full attack, it is only applied to the first attack, not multiple attacks.

So I highly doubt that using the rules correctly he should be getting anywhere near 35 points of damage in a round, except possibly in cases where he is actually able to flank with a partner and full attack and even then he would be rolling above average.


I'm with Dasrak in shared confusion on how he has 3 feats at level 4. I assume the high damage is coming from the SA from popping out of the ground.

In concerns to the Ratfolk you can stop the burrowing with solid stone and similiar barriers for walls and floors.

Clustered groups of enemies will give the alchemist some time to shine along with the druid if it is using aoe spells. This too impedes the usefulness of the Ratfolk since it will have to burrow behind enemy lines or up his chance to hit with flanking depending on the enemy positions.


35 DPR is considerably higher than is even optimal at 4th level. (That's an appropriate max damage for 6th, though.) It's well into min-maxed range, and I'd probably ask him to adjust his build to cap it at 20. There's a good table here showing maximum, reasonable, and minimum viable levels for PC stats by level.

Other than that... I'd like to see the full build so I can provide more helpful commentary.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dave Justus wrote:


Ratfolk burrowing, as far as I know is only available from the Burrowing Teeth feat, which requires two other feats. It is possible to get that on a 4th level unchained rogue, but it requires using both their feats plus one of their rogue talents as a combat trick.

Burrowing Teeth isn't a combat feat, so it couldn't be taken with Combat Trick. However, I did notice that one of its prerequisites (Sharpclaw) is a combat feat and therefor he could use his 2nd level talent to grab it, qualifying for Burrowing Teeth at 3rd.

Still, I'm wondering how he's getting his damage up to 35 per round with all his feats tied up in this. Presuming he's full attacking with his claw attacks and has 22 dexterity and is sneak attacking, he'd have 1d4+6+2d6 damage each, for an average of 15.5 damage per hit. With two claw attacks that would put him at 31 average damage per round on a flanking full attack. That's still not quite the damage output Keaton is indicating, and thus presuming a completely min-maxed dexterity score.


Keaton Stizz wrote:

He usually burrows and sneak attacks.

Or maybe some examples of enemies that could be more of a challenge for them?

Stuff that can't take precision damage, like oozes.


Dasrak wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:


Ratfolk burrowing, as far as I know is only available from the Burrowing Teeth feat, which requires two other feats. It is possible to get that on a 4th level unchained rogue, but it requires using both their feats plus one of their rogue talents as a combat trick.

Burrowing Teeth isn't a combat feat, so it couldn't be taken with Combat Trick. However, I did notice that one of its prerequisites (Sharpclaw) is a combat feat and therefor he could use his 2nd level talent to grab it, qualifying for Burrowing Teeth at 3rd.

Still, I'm wondering how he's getting his damage up to 35 per round with all his feats tied up in this. Presuming he's full attacking with his claw attacks and has 22 dexterity and is sneak attacking, he'd have 1d4+6+2d6 damage each, for an average of 15.5 damage per hit. With two claw attacks that would put him at 31 average damage per round on a flanking full attack. That's still not quite the damage output Keaton is indicating, and thus presuming a completely min-maxed dexterity score.

Knife master archetype. Change 4d6 into 4d8 and you get the 35.

Also enchanted or buffed by group so each attack does +1 more..

Not hard to hit 35 if you're getting SA every hit.

Some math might be wrong and there may be some exaggerating, and maybe some rule-bending/house ruling allowing burrow without the investment..

Either way, keep your npcs from getting flanked and his damage will plummet.


Keaton Stizz wrote:
Okay so i have a half-orc barb, a dwarven druid with an alligator companion, a tiefling grenadier alchemist, and then the ratfolk unchained rogue.

Their team doesn't look to have a lot of range. A lower CR flying enemy or two that can hit them at range may make them have to think.

Swarms, or other types of creatures that have sneak attack/precision damage/flanking immunity. Your rogue will need to rely more heavily on the team to get through the encounter.

Quantity has already been mentioned. A bigger fight with 6-8 gunslinger bandits (without rapid reload). They're a threat that can only attack every other turn due to reloading, and their numbers require strategy. Maybe add a larger boss with them, a target for the rogue and a flanker to focus down.

Interesting casters. Spellcasting enemies are huge, and there are a lot of spells to pick from. I used a Skin-sending Necromancer as a boss once, that was a fun time. Give them a potentially dibilitating spell that if the players aren't careful they'll be out a party member. There's one that makes a weapon stick to the caster which could cripple your rogue's burst style. Team him with some minions that can take advantage of the situation.


Keaton Stizz wrote:
So I have recently started to DM my first campaign. I started the group out at lvl 3 and they recently hit lvl 4. I like it a lot and the players are having fun but i have a problem, one character is starting to get too strong and is just destroying everything that I throw at them. He is a 4th lvl unchained ratfolk rogue, and he is pumping out about 35 points of damage in a round. (He usually burrows and sneak attacks). Can anyone give a new DM some advice on how to handle this? Or maybe some examples of enemies that could be more of a challenge for them? As of now they really haven't struggled with anything I've thrown at them!

Okay, I'm gonna make some assumptions.

Did you let your players create their characters without getting an okay from you?
That's the biggest mistake I did, and every time I gave my players free reigns, it resulted in at least one player taking a broken (not to mention illegal) build from a forum, and disrupting the balance.

So this ratfolk character, is it:

Getting 4 attacks per round, all natural attacks?
2 Claws, 1 Tailblade, 1 Bite.

Adopted by Orcs?
If he has the 'Tusked' trait, ask him about the interesting backstory he has about how he, as a ratfolk, became adopted by orcs.

Getting another feat from something called an 'Anti-Hero bonus feat'?
This is an optional rule about Hero Points which allows a character to renounce the ability to gain/benefit from hero points and instead start with another feat. But this isn't the player's choice. The GM decides if that optional rule is allowed, and if you're playing with hero points at all, for that matter.

Also, how many traits is this character starting with? If I'm guessing correctly, then this ratfolk has three traits and one drawback. Again, drawbacks is an optional rule, and the GM decides if it is allowed.

****************

The biggest weakness this ratfolk character has is that it's totally dependent on Full-Attacks. If you force the character to use his move action more often, the average damage will fall considerably.

This can be accomplished by having difficult terrain, negating the ability to take 5-foot steps.
Or having ranged units, protected by melee ones. Forcing the Rogue to engage the enemies, and not the opposite.
And as mentioned earlier, having several weaker enemies will make it harder to get flank against everyone. Not to mention that 'the big bad' enemies often end up surrounded by the characters, allowing everyone to full-attack.


My knee-jerk response is the character isn't rules legal. Unless the player has been at this a lot longer than you, it seems really unlikely they rolled a build near/at max possible damage. Also possible the other PCs aren't rules legal in a way that under powers them and entitled to higher bonuses.


Barring the legality of the build, there are ways to avoid Sneak Attacks. Don't let your foes get flanked and keep Full Attack rounds to a minimum. To that end, look at including a good mix of ranged and melee attackers among your monsters.

Imagine a fight against your party: your XP budget is CR 5, giving you roughly 1600 XP to play with. Take an ooze, say a Tar Jelly/CR 2 - you've spent 600 XP on that. So with that as your melee creature, take say 2 Goblin Warrior 1/270 XP, and focus them on ranged attacks, say with shortbows. Now you've got about 730 XP. I know it's a bit of a fudge, but round that up to 800 and round out the enemy party with a CR 3 goblin spellcaster focused on buffing his allies and fire spells.

Now you picked Fire b/c the Tar Jelly is immune to the damage, so your Goblin Adept 5 or Bard 4 is tossing out Burning Hands or something and doesn't mind getting the slime in the way. The ooze in the meantime suffers no Precision Damage. The Ratfolk can burrow of course but that will take time for him to dig down around the ooze and pop up on the ranged attackers.

This brings up the next point: movement. If your fight starts at Melee and the rogue wants to burrow up to the ranged foes, he likely starts the round not in Stealth which means the ranged attackers can see him and react. You could easily have them fall back, and they might even be able to use readied actions to shoot when they see the ground start splitting open.

Last but not least, magic can go a long way towards leveling the playing field and it doesn't even have to be something specifically targeting the rogue. Obscuring Mist for example means that beyond 5' sight is iffy. Take monsters with Scent, put them in some fog, and they'll find the rogue before he finds them. There's many spells that can modify the battlefield to the enemy's advantage that carry the fringe benefits of shutting down Sneak Attacks.


My guess is that the rogue build isn't rules legal to accomplish whatever they're doing, or that they have crazy system mastery and took the most powerful options that only an experienced veteran would normally be aware of.

Step 1) Audit the character build and make sure it's legal
Step 2) If it is legal, ask the player to reduce their level of optimization to be more comparable to the rest to the table.


I'm missing something here. Even assuming he has all of the burrowing feats listed: He has Darkvision, but no Tremorsense or any way to sense what's going on above ground as far as we know. How does the rogue know where the enemies are when he's underground?


He's a rogue. Even if it's legal, it will pass. You should watch out for the synergy of Druid, companion, Barbarian, and Alchemist combo of buffs amplifying massive damage output.


Hearing that damage for a character that has for one that has used up both feats and a combat trick to burrow, I smell something is rotten in the country of Taldor.

To have a burrow speed he needs three feats. The only means of this is to have used both his normal feats and to have taken Sharpclaw as his combat trick. (Remember, he can only take combat trick once!)

Probably not a knife master. Without two-weapon fighting, to dual wield he'd be suffering from a -4/-8 each round. There is no way that he's hitting enough to average 35 with that.

A tail blade is possible, but that's at a -5 as a secondary and unchained rouges, even ratfolk rouges, are not proficient with them so that's an additional -4. So this should be rarely hitting.

Adopted trait to get an Half-Orc's bite is not possible. Adopted lets you get a racial trait like Half-Orc's Brute trait, not a racial ability like the Half-Orc's bite.

Also, how did you let them roll up their stat scores? Most methods can't result in more than an 18 at 1st level before racial modifiers.

For the burrowing, he should have a burrow speed of 10ft and only in "sand, dirt, clay, gravel, or similar materials, but not solid stone" and he cannot see anything outside the tunnel. He can try a perception to hear, however, that's going to be at a penalty.


Fortification effects, either on armor or as abilities, mitigate precision damage. Crits AND Sneak Attack.

Latrans, you're forgetting that one of those feats, specifically that Combat Trick you mentioned, is... a pair of claws. 1d4 + 2d6. Per claw.
Powerful Sneak makes it effectively 1d4+2d5+2 , or an average of 4 sneak attack per die, so 10.5 average per claw, that's 21.
Natural Attacks don't suffer the TWF penalties, so no penalty to your attack.

The important part is that , in a 2d4+4d6 attack, you're looking at max of 32 damage before you start factoring in strength bonuses. If he put his highest score into Strength... It's plausible. Unlikely, but plausible.


@Latrans

Latrans wrote:
Hearing that damage for a character that has for one that has used up both feats and a combat trick to burrow, I smell something is rotten in the country of Taldor.

Yeah, no doubt.

Latrans wrote:
A tail blade is possible, but that's at a -5 as a secondary and unchained rouges, even ratfolk rouges, are not proficient with them so that's an additional -4. So this should be rarely hitting.

Ratfolk are considered proficient in the Tailblade.

Latrans wrote:
Adopted trait to get an Half-Orc's bite is not possible. Adopted lets you get a racial trait like Half-Orc's Brute trait, not a racial ability like the Half-Orc's bite.

Have you heard of the Race trait Tusked? It's pretty common within powergamey builds to take Tusked with the Adopted trait. It's a secondary natural attack, but it only costs a trait.

*********

@Zarius

Zarius wrote:

Latrans, you're forgetting that one of those feats, specifically that Combat Trick you mentioned, is... a pair of claws. 1d4 + 2d6. Per claw.

Powerful Sneak makes it effectively 1d4+2d5+2 , or an average of 4 sneak attack per die, so 10.5 average per claw, that's 21.
Natural Attacks don't suffer the TWF penalties, so no penalty to your attack.

The important part is that , in a 2d4+4d6 attack, you're looking at max of 32 damage before you start factoring in strength bonuses. If he put his highest score into Strength... It's plausible. Unlikely, but plausible.

Let's say two claws, one tailblade and one (secondary) bite attack. With Finesse Training: Claw (or maybe even 'Natural Attacks' if the player made an illegal choice).

Str at 8, and Dex at 20.

+8/+8 (1d4+5), +3 (1d2-1), +3 (1d3-1)
SA: 2d6

Assuming all hits, we're talking about an average of 43.5 dmg.


But they shouldn’t all be hitting at the level we are talking about given some are only +3

At least not regularly

I think we would all like to see the build. If your player won’t give you the sheet they are almost certainly doing something wrong . Ask first . I will not recommend what to do in the case of a refusal until it actually comes up

We would like to see the build because the solution might not be a case of making things harder for one player, rather actually correcting the outlier.

As an aside are your stats rolled or point buy? And if rolled did you see them. I have seen several power character stories that involve incredibly obscene stats...


I'm wondering if the PC rolled up everything except his feats and THEN took his 3 that he should only have qualified for at third level, instead of one he would have qualified for at first, etc.


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There's also this to consider:

PRD. Combat, Standard Actions, Attack wrote:
Multiple Attacks: A character who can make more than one attack per round must use the full-attack action (see Full-Round Actions) in order to get more than one attack.
PRD, Combat, Full-Round Actions wrote:

Full Attack

If you get more than one attack per round because your base attack bonus is high enough (see Base Attack Bonus in Classes), because you fight with two weapons or a double weapon, or for some special reason, you must use a full-round action to get your additional attacks. You do not need to specify the targets of your attacks ahead of time. You can see how the earlier attacks turn out before assigning the later ones.

The only movement you can take during a full attack is a 5-foot step. You may take the step before, after, or between your attacks.

So.. if he's burrowing "up" and then taking multiple attacks in the same round, that seems fishy also.


dunelord3001 wrote:
I'm wondering if the PC rolled up everything except his feats and THEN took his 3 that he should only have qualified for at third level, instead of one he would have qualified for at first, etc.

You can retrain feats that you originally didn't qualify for. You can retrain your level 1 feat to grab Vital Strike if you have at the time BAB+6. It costs time and money, but it is possible.

That being said, this whole thing seems to be someone either not knowing the rules and abusing things by accident or someone flat out abusing the rules.

The #1 t hing I can recommend to the DM is do a player audit after a session. Tell ALL players to leave their entire character sheets with you. Do not single out anyone. If you have any trouble with anything, post it online asking about it before taking it up with your players. I've done this before, mainly because a player wasn't understanding TWF rules and main hand/off hand mechanics.


Isn’t retraining a completely optional rule . I am almost certain it is not in the main rule book or APG - at least blanket retraining


SorrySleeping wrote:
dunelord3001 wrote:
I'm wondering if the PC rolled up everything except his feats and THEN took his 3 that he should only have qualified for at third level, instead of one he would have qualified for at first, etc.

You can retrain feats that you originally didn't qualify for. You can retrain your level 1 feat to grab Vital Strike if you have at the time BAB+6. It costs time and money, but it is possible.

That being said, this whole thing seems to be someone either not knowing the rules and abusing things by accident or someone flat out abusing the rules.

The #1 t hing I can recommend to the DM is do a player audit after a session. Tell ALL players to leave their entire character sheets with you. Do not single out anyone. If you have any trouble with anything, post it online asking about it before taking it up with your players. I've done this before, mainly because a player wasn't understanding TWF rules and main hand/off hand mechanics.

Also, unless the rogue is full-attacking foes denied their Dex bonus for the full round, there should be some instances where only their first attack gains Sneak Attack damage.


Lanathar wrote:
Isn’t retraining a completely optional rule

it is.

Lanathar wrote:
I am almost certain it is not in the main rule book or APG - at least blanket retraining

It's in Ultimate Campaign. And I don't believe I've ever encountered a DM who liked it enough to allow it.


Mark Hoover 330 wrote:
SorrySleeping wrote:
dunelord3001 wrote:
I'm wondering if the PC rolled up everything except his feats and THEN took his 3 that he should only have qualified for at third level, instead of one he would have qualified for at first, etc.

You can retrain feats that you originally didn't qualify for. You can retrain your level 1 feat to grab Vital Strike if you have at the time BAB+6. It costs time and money, but it is possible.

That being said, this whole thing seems to be someone either not knowing the rules and abusing things by accident or someone flat out abusing the rules.

The #1 t hing I can recommend to the DM is do a player audit after a session. Tell ALL players to leave their entire character sheets with you. Do not single out anyone. If you have any trouble with anything, post it online asking about it before taking it up with your players. I've done this before, mainly because a player wasn't understanding TWF rules and main hand/off hand mechanics.

Also, unless the rogue is full-attacking foes denied their Dex bonus for the full round, there should be some instances where only their first attack gains Sneak Attack damage.

Being denied your dex due to stealth or surprise is an "until your next action" deal. So, popping up from under ground and going ballistic is correct.

Scarab Sages

Zarius wrote:

Being denied your dex due to stealth or surprise is an "until your next action" deal. So, popping up from under ground and going ballistic is correct.

If the enemy is flat-footed due to something like, say, not acting yet in combat then a character with sneak attack could apply it to every attack.

However stealth is definitely not an, "until your next action" thing and once you break your stealth by making an attack, you are no longer stealthed for any subsequent attacks you make that round.


Magicdealer wrote:
Zarius wrote:

Being denied your dex due to stealth or surprise is an "until your next action" deal. So, popping up from under ground and going ballistic is correct.

If the enemy is flat-footed due to something like, say, not acting yet in combat then a character with sneak attack could apply it to every attack.

However stealth is definitely not an, "until your next action" thing and once you break your stealth by making an attack, you are no longer stealthed for any subsequent attacks you make that round.

Right, and what I was saying was based around the above quoted clarification after "However...". So...

PC pops out of ground; if they are moving far enough this round that they've used a Move Action they cannot Full Attack unless Pounce which they do not have. This means one attack with potential Sneak Attack damage.

If however they were somehow able to 5' step out of Burrowing into position, the PC could taking a Full Attack action while exiting Stealth. In this instance, they make their first attack with the benefit of Sneak Attack, and the remainder of their attacks, by virtue of the Stealth rules, are considered out of Stealth and don't qualify for SA damage.

After that initial arrival, if the PC doesn't move and uses Standard or Move Actions to Feint successfully, has a Flanker, or the opponent is otherwise denied Dex for the whole round, then Full Attack with all attacks from the PC would potentially inflict Sneak Attack damage.

Finally, a note on the Surprise Round. If this PC is fully surprising the enemy and popping out of the ground to gain a Surprise Round they have 1 Action they can take, not 2. They can: Move/take a Move Action, use a Standard Action such as a melee attack, or in some instances take a Partial Charge, allowing them to move up to their Base Speed (20' for Ratfolk) and still make 1 melee attack with all of the benefits and penalties of a Charge.

Now a question from me. I have never had a PC with Burrowing in my games and never had a monster with this ability attempt Stealth while moving underground. I wonder: would enemy combatants still get a chance to notice the PC before they emerge from the ground?

Looking up Burrowing on the PFSRD I don't see that it actually states any benefit/penalty to Stealth, other than the obvious that while underground you are not physically visible. Since there's nothing in the ability re: Stealth, I suppose I would rule that the enemy could still notice shifting ground, hear rumbling, etc. I understand that Tremorsense allows you to automatically pinpoint something in contact with the ground, but there's nothing in Perception that says you can't be aware of someone moving using Burrowing.

If the PC has a super high Stealth bonus than all of this is likely moot, but I just thought I'd ask if Burrow automatically precludes a Perception check to not be surprised by the PC?

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