One of my party members doesn't feel like he's contributing. How do I help?


Advice


Pathfinder Adventure, Maps, Pawns Subscriber

One of my players is playing a caster cleric focusing on support and damage in a group that already has some insane damage potential. He does a good job of getting the necessary buffs, debuffs, heals, and control spells out when they're needed. He also does a good job of getting in his share of damage. As a party, we all think he's doing a great job. However, he seems to disagree.

There are 3 main problems as far as I can tell:
1. The party's damage output is on a level that it can wipe out waves of minions within a round or 2, and mini bosses within 3-5 rounds. Granted, some dice rolls need to be a little better than the norm, but its not terrible odds that it happens. So by the time Cleric gets done with his 1st round, theres not really much left to do. The NPC's AI's are also getting smarter as well. They are beginning to be more tactical and making it harder for us to engage them while they try to fight us.

2. On the other hand, we're getting into the levels where enemies are going to have good saves and are going to be harder to hit. Most recently we've fought against a few enemies with evasion, some spellcasters with good will saves, and all of them have been giants with good fort saves. When he does finally get a chance to throw out an offensive spell our enemies have been making a lot of their saves.

3. This brings me to the 3rd problem: Dice. Our GM's dice have been rolling hot fire since almost day 1. He's even been rolling them in front of us so that we can see them. Our dice on the other hand have been fickle. Our Archer and blaster mage can confirm 5 total crits in 1 round to kill a dragon, but our tank can't roll above a 10. I know theres not really much we can do here, but it really hurts morale when the bad guys make most of their saves and only a few players are really getting the glory.

What can we do so that Cleric doesn't feel like he's been sidelined?

P.s I'm a player as well. Not the GM


If the cleric picks up the persistent spell feat (or a metamagic rod of the same) it helps a lot with landing save-based spells. Possibly your party members could contribute to buying a rod for him if you're in a position to buy or commission magic items?

Still, if your party is winning fights quickly and easily anyway this may not be the fix. It might be better to try to push them forward in non-combat situations - roleplaying or casting utility spells (there are a bunch on the cleric list if not as many as the sorc/wizard list) would be the best fir a cleric, they're not likely to be skill masters.


Pathfinder Adventure, Maps, Pawns Subscriber
avr wrote:

If the cleric picks up the persistent spell feat (or a metamagic rod of the same) it helps a lot with landing save-based spells. Possibly your party members could contribute to buying a rod for him if you're in a position to buy or commission magic items?

Still, if your party is winning fights quickly and easily anyway this may not be the fix. It might be better to try to push them forward in non-combat situations - roleplaying or casting utility spells (there are a bunch on the cleric list if not as many as the sorc/wizard list) would be the best fir a cleric, they're not likely to be skill masters.

Thanks. I should probably add that he is a boss at utility. I'm about 90% sure Communal Protection from Evil saved us from a TPK in our last fight, and we do go out of our way to thank him for it. I get the sense that he's of the mentality that "if you're not doing damage, your not contributing."


I don't mean to sound condemning in this, but if he has the 'damage or bust' mentality, why did they build a utility cleric? (Support/Damage is not a blaster [pure damage], which seems to be what they want to do.)

Back to the topic though; what else besides utility are they good at? Are they Charismatic and you can throw in more talking based encounters, are they Wise and skeptic, and can roll them Sense Motives? Intelligent and a walking encyclopedia?

There is one thing that I've seen in my games that doesn't necessarily work, even when suggested; don't write a plot hole/side story that only they can fix/participate in, it's not the best way to solve anything and if they fail it's not going to go over well, and whilst they're doing it, other players may feel left out.


Pathfinder Adventure, Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Alphavoltario wrote:

I don't mean to sound condemning in this, but if he has the 'damage or bust' mentality, why did they build a utility cleric? (Support/Damage is not a blaster [pure damage], which seems to be what they want to do.)

Back to the topic though; what else besides utility are they good at? Are they Charismatic and you can throw in more talking based encounters, are they Wise and skeptic, and can roll them Sense Motives? Intelligent and a walking encyclopedia?

There is one thing that I've seen in my games that doesn't necessarily work, even when suggested; don't write a plot hole/side story that only they can fix/participate in, it's not the best way to solve anything and if they fail it's not going to go over well, and whilst they're doing it, other players may feel left out.

He joined the campaign late and didn't want to step on toes.

He's very charismatic, but we've been dungeon crawling for what feels like forever at this point.


TheCalicoKid wrote:
He's very charismatic, but we've been dungeon crawling for what feels like forever at this point.

Okay and now I must ask: Are they fighting animals? Abberations? Intelligents?

If the enemies can understand, and he's as utility as you say, Intimidate, Handle Animal, Diplomacy, Bluff are all Cha based skills. It's almost entirely possible to 'fight' an encounter with words, otherwise skill based bards would be almost completely useless.

I hate to say it but the mindset that I listed above that you seem to refer to of 'damage or bust' is sooooo wrong on so many levels. There's usually more than one way to things, it just requires a little thinking (dungeon crawling or otherwise).

If he continue's to go on about being useless for damage, a blasting based staff might be what he needs (ik staves are seen as bad for the most part (from my experiences anyways), but it will allow him to keep his versatility and be able to blast a little more). Even if he were to take Quicken Spell so he can fire off multiple spells per turn might improve his thoughts on damage output.

<As a side thing if the party is taking things down that quick I assume they have archer as dps and a decent tank?>


I've had players I've DMed for and played with that have gotten depressed at their usefulness as the kill counts start racking up and they have 0 to their name. Being in the support role doesn't always mean glory in battle, sometimes it just means being a band-aid station. What is important in a support role is remembering that you offer something that the DPS'ers and tanks don't have, a versatile role in the party that can fill in the cracks of the parties weaknesses.

This is likely the most lackluster advice I can give atm, but just tell him to keep at it, find different ways to approach scenarios, find ways to deal damage without sacrificing his utility; all in all, challenge him to explore his role better, and reward him for when he finally does.


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Point him to Treanmonks guide to wizards. While he may not be playing a wizard he seems to be doing what the guide suggests.


TheCalicoKid wrote:
... I get the sense that he's of the mentality that "if you're not doing damage, your not contributing."

I would say this is the core of the issue. Some players just hate being utility/support characters. Nothing wrong with that. I personally like it, but not everyone does.

Sometimes if the whole rest of the group is DPR builds, you just don't feel like you belong in the group. They don't really need your buffs and they aren't concerned with trying anything but battering their way through every encounter. (Not saying it is true, but it can feel like that.)

Ask if the GM will let him modify or even completely rebuild his PC. When I am GM, I give everyone a single free retcon-rebuild. Sometimes you just try something and it just isn't right for you or doesn't work out the way you thought it would.
If the GM doesn't like that, there is the retraining system in UC.

It is certainly possible to build very deadly cleric casters. With the right stats, feats, archtypes, domains, metamagics, and/or magic items - you can get your spell penetration rolls and spell DC's through the roof with SoS spells that can completely shut down or kill the competition before the DPR types even get going.

If he wants that, start a new thread asking for advice on building a killer caster cleric.
Maybe he wants a more martial cleric. That is a very reasonable build. I personally think if that is your aim, it is probably better to go warpriest. But it is certainly doable.
Maybe he doesn't even want to be a divine caster.

Really I suppose the way to start, is ask him what he wants the PC to do. Then we can suggest lots of ways to build a PC that does that.


suggest he sets aside his cleric PC for a single session and play something else. Either he likes it, everyone likes it, and he has a new PC, or he hates it, or the whole party suffers terribly without his support cleric and he sees just how much he actually was contributing.


Agreed with all the suggestions above, but I hadn't seen anyone address your third point yet.

Firstly, anyone consistently getting high or low results over time may have poorly balanced dice. Have you checked this, or even tried just mixing it up with new dice periodically?

Unfortunately this isn't one you can resolve yourself, but the DM can absolutely change their style to improve the game if their run of good luck is making it overly difficult. Rather than showing their rolls so that you can see how well they're rolling, they could consider hiding their results so that they can fudge them if needed. A good DM might pretend a crit didn't confirm to avoid dropping a player -- not every time, but on occasion -- or that a save failed so that a player can break a run of bad luck and be useful. They might pretend a low attack roll was higher to get off an attack and increase the drama and tension for players.


Who does he worship?


As you are a player, you may need to talk to your GM. I second the suggestion to make a new character. I'd probably just kill his character to give him the chance to make what he thinks is the solution to his problem but there are some problems with this option. The party is probably at the point where there is no reason to not resurrect dead players and another problem is that he rolls his character's twin brother and is back to square one.

As for the dice problem, trading dice may be an interesting step in determining the source of the problem. No one really to buy new dice if they like how set looks and rolls but maybe the problem is the table or his impeccable rolling technique. The easy and boring solution is to use a computer dice roller. A better solution would be having the GM do all of the rolling and preferably behind a screen.


Pathfinder Adventure, Maps, Pawns Subscriber
jbadams wrote:

Agreed with all the suggestions above, but I hadn't seen anyone address your third point yet.

Firstly, anyone consistently getting high or low results over time may have poorly balanced dice. Have you checked this, or even tried just mixing it up with new dice periodically?

Unfortunately this isn't one you can resolve yourself, but the DM can absolutely change their style to improve the game if their run of good luck is making it overly difficult. Rather than showing their rolls so that you can see how well they're rolling, they could consider hiding their results so that they can fudge them if needed. A good DM might pretend a crit didn't confirm to avoid dropping a player -- not every time, but on occasion -- or that a save failed so that a player can break a run of bad luck and be useful. They might pretend a low attack roll was higher to get off an attack and increase the drama and tension for players.

We're playing on Roll20, so it's kinda hard for the players to cheat with dice, but I can talk to him about the rest.


Pathfinder Adventure, Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Nil'murr'shass- House Everhate wrote:
Who does he worship?

Sarenrae


Have you spoken to your GM?

I play a witch with a focus on debuffing so my situation isn't the same but there were times I I felt I wasn't having much of an impact in combat situations so I'm sympathetic to his situation. Damage dealt and kill counts has an advantage of providing a visible metric of your character's impact whereas for those of us that buff/debuff things can be less clear; add to that a party of player's with a high damage output and we can't help but wonder if would have been able to deal with the threat almost as easily without us. I resigned myself to the fact that I would at times feel useless but my GM actually stumbled upon a solution without being aware there was a problem.

We were fighting the BBEG and the fighter was rolling to hit, with each roll he would declare the total and the GM would say if it was a hit or miss. On one of the roll the fighter didn't bother reading out his total, instead brushing it of with "that's a miss". The GM stopped him and asked what he rolled...it was a 2 for a total of 11. Ordinarily this would have missed but to the fighter's surprise it was a hit. The fighter was confused so the GM explained that because of the hexes and curses of my witch the BEEG ac was now so low that even an 11 hits it; That's what I needed, explicit affirmation of my characters impact. After the session I spoke to the GM and explained that having been explicitly told that an attack hit because of my debuffs made the combat a far more positive experience for me; as such anytime a buff or debuff alters the outcome of a roll it's mage clear when describing the results.

So if the archer hits their target because of the cleric's blessing then the GM might say to the archer something like "to your seasoned eye you were sure that shot would have missed, but you felt the the divine blessing of Sarenrae helping to guide you arrow to it's mark". It doesn't have to be so florid, the GM could simply say "your attack would have missed but because of the bonus from the cleric, you hit".In a sense, in the above scenario the damage done by the archer was in fact damage done by the cleric. If your GM doesn't do anything like this you might want to make the suggestion.


I agree with Decimus, it can be hard to see exactly how much of a difference a support character makes but it can be staggering in importance. I am playing a half-orc skald that started out as our party's main tank. At low levels I was up there with anyone in terms of damage. Mid levels started seeing that I wasn't really dealing the damage myself so much as I was enabling our hunter's dinosaur to take centre stage. That was when I transitioned to more of a healer/support role.

When I look at the dinosaur doing massive amounts of damage, I don't just see it as that player's pet doing all that damage. In a way, that lovable beast is MY pet as well and I know that a good portion of it's dps is my dps. I do think that if my character were to leave the party, that group would struggle a whole lot more.

So maybe suggest to your friend that, short of switching to a new character, take a look at how much he does in damage with his buffs. Yes, this is going to involve a lot of math work but when he adds this damage to the damage he does directly, methinks he might be surprised.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Along with the other stuff (and particularly I think this player might just need a different character and if the need for the cleric is so great maybe another player can step up and take over the cleric.) I do think the all support characters need to build in a plan for after the first or second round.

Generally speaking, a support character it going to get all their buffs off in a round or two. After that, even if there are several more rounds to the combat things hopefully are well in hand. If things go south you of course have a job (emergency healing likely) but if things are going well, but it will be another few rounds until all the enemy is down you need something to do, and knowing this should be part of your build plan.

3/4 BAB, like a cleric, is well suited to enter combat directly, providing the physical stats haven't been dumped. Archer cleric is one option (although long bow proficiency is missing from the proficiency list) and has the advantage of being easy to switch back if you need to run save someone (not entangled in melee.) Reach cleric is really strong and requires minimal investment.

The point though is, whatever the plan all support characters really need a plan. Combat takes up so much game time that you really need to be able to have fun and contribute during it, and not just in the first couple of rounds (however significant those contributions are to the party success) to really have fun.

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