Inquisitor With +38 AB At Level 12?


Advice

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Themetricsystem wrote:
Fact is, it sounds like your Inq and GM are at war with each other like this is some kind of wargame for them

As Kamea mentioned, I am the GM.

Also, the Inquisitor is hitting an equal CR opponent 95% of the time on his best attack (misses on a natural 1). He also hits a CR+2 opponent 75% of the time on his best attack.

If I'm at war with the Inquisitor I'm apparently very bad at it.


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To be honest it just sounds like a back and fourth that’s been going on since level 6

Where-in blakoth decided the game was broken and started making tweaks, heightening opponents, as a result some players will tweak back, trying to not drown in changes.

The dm tweaks again and then the players tweak again.

Vicious cycle, this gets worse because some players are better at it than others and some won’t escalate the same way. If the DM doesn’t further escalate then one player will end up far above the res. Which can be a problem, depending on if it bothers the other players.

What’s worse is if the DM continues to escalate and only the players who can keep up, do keep up. Then you end up with half the table unable to contribute aside from buffing players who has kept up.

-Not being as strong as another player is one thing.

-Being too weak to contribute in combat aside from dedicating yourself to helping stronger allies as both them and the enemies dwarf you. That’s quite another.


Sounds like the better solution would be to simply downplay the combat portion of the game. Switch to doing more puzzles and adventure stuff and when there is combat, treat it as a minor inconvenience, instead of a major event.

Silver Crusade

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Unpopular opinion: the players who can't catch up with the updated difficulty should step up their game rather than blaming those who can.

In other words, if the Inquisitor can get to those levels without particular efforts, why can't the other characters too?

Grand Lodge

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Because some classes are stronger out of the box than others thus require fewer books and less expertise to optimize. A fighter without Ultimate Equipment and weapon masters handbook is at a staggering disadvantage. Where an investigator can have 1/2 level to attack and damage and be an invisible four armed gargoyle with basics class features. Similar things can be said with other companions.


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Gray Warden wrote:

Unpopular opinion: the players who can't catch up with the updated difficulty should step up their game rather than blaming those who can.

In other words, if the Inquisitor can get to those levels without particular efforts, why can't the other characters too?

I can't speak to this specific situation, but this is an attitude that I occasionally see in many contexts, and I want to take a moment to lay out why I think it's generally harmful.

Pathfinder is a game in which not all character concepts are equally viable. Not all concepts are suitable to high-op play. If you declare from chargen that this is a high-op game, that's fine; experienced players will know not to bring their devilish and lovable rogue to a hardball full-caster party.

But if you start an arms race after the campaign has begun, and you expect PCs to catch up, you might be implicitly demanding that they change or abandon their concepts. How is the sword-and-board fighter going to keep up with the RAGELANCEPOUNCE barbarian? He likes his shield. His grandpa gave it to him. It's in his backstory.

That's why I think it's much more tenable to rein in the strongest members of the party than to demand the weaker ones optimize more, in general. It demands less concept-distortion for a shaman to pull her punches than for a monk to bootstrap himself into Tier 2.

Silver Crusade

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Grandlounge wrote:
Because some classes are stronger out of the box than others thus require fewer books and less expertise to optimize. A fighter without Ultimate Equipment and weapon masters handbook is at a staggering disadvantage. Where an investigator can have 1/2 level to attack and damage and be an invisible four armed gargoyle with basics class features. Similar things can be said with other companions.

And yet Pathfinder is a huge game, with enough options to optimize quite literally every character. True, it might take more or less efforts depending on the character, but it's possible. If the players who can't keep up do so because of a lack of game mastery, they can always ask the more expert ones, and come up with an upgrade all together. This is what cooperative game means.

InvisiblePink wrote:

Pathfinder is a game in which not all character concepts are equally viable. Not all concepts are suitable to high-op play. If you declare from chargen that this is a high-op game, that's fine; experienced players will know not to bring their devilish and lovable rogue to a hardball full-caster party.

But if you start an arms race after the campaign has begun, and you expect PCs to catch up, you might be implicitly demanding that they change or abandon their concepts. How is the sword-and-board fighter going to keep up with the RAGELANCEPOUNCE barbarian? He likes his shield. His grandpa gave it to him. It's in his backstory.

This is quite a common opinion, and yet I have never seen it applicable to a real game. I understand and agree on the fact that, when theorycrafting, some options are inherently better than others in terms of damage or skill bonuses. When put in the context of actual APs, however, these differences become much smaller, as every character will find their own niche of expertise.

Using your own example, a sword&board Fighter will never be as efficient as a pouncing Barbarian in terms of damage, and yet the Fighter's player has no right to complain and demand the Barbarian to get nerfed: they decided to sacrifice some damage potential in exchange of defense, they can't get both. Still, this doesn't mean the Fighter is useless because, as said before, Pathfinder is big enough to accommodate that build too, see any reach-build with Combat Reflexes and Shield Brace for example.


Gray Warden wrote:
This is quite a common opinion, and yet I have never seen it applicable to a real game. I understand and agree on the fact that, when theorycrafting, some options are inherently better than others in terms of damage or skill bonuses. When put in the context of actual APs, however, these differences become much smaller, as every character will find their own niche of expertise.

I disagree from experience, but we're moving into subjective territory on this path, so I'll change tacks.

The dichotomy we're assuming for the sake of this argument is: either ask the players who have demonstrated less system mastery to change their builds, or ask the players who have demonstrated more system mastery to change their builds.

What do you find compelling enough about a game where everyone has higher numbers to think that the former is a brighter idea than the latter?

Silver Crusade

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InvisiblePink wrote:
What do you find compelling enough about a game where everyone has higher numbers to think that the former is a brighter idea than the latter?

It's not about the game, it's about the attitude. The dichotomy here is rather:

- either ask the players who have demonstrated less system mastery to learn and grow as players, getting better at something they are supposed to enjoy, with the help of the GM and the more game-savvy players,

- or ask the players who have demonstrated more system mastery to willingly be worse at something they have spent time to be good at, just because the others are not willing to make constructive changes to their characters.

So yeah, since "forward" is always the preferred direction to me, the former is indeed a brighter option than the latter.

And, on this regard, I'm sure that it wouldn't be difficult to come up with just a few tweaks to improve the other players' characters without altering their concept. So I invite the OP and the GM to share them so that we can fix those, rather than nerfing the Inquisitor.


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I don't think there's any mandate for everyone who plays Pathfinder to enjoy charop or its repercussions for their characters. You're failing to draw a distinction between building a character and playing a character there.

You also seem to be presuming that a higher power level is better by calling optimization "constructive changes". Character optimization requires the utilization of resources that non-optimizers likely want to spend on things that match their vision of their character better. Maybe Shield Brace and Combat Reflexes would help our hypothetical fighter, but that means he can't take Wildling and Pass for Human, which would be so cool for his half-orc who was raised by wolves and...

Note that I'm not saying system mastery is bad or high-op games aren't fun. I'm saying that, as someone who usually has the most optimized PC at the table, I find it more palatable to tone my characters down than to expect everybody else to step it up. After a certain level of optimization, you're less representing living characters and more wrestling with math. Not everybody likes that, and I can't force them to.

Silver Crusade

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So on one hand we have an hypothetical 5th level martial character built with standard feats and traits to make it good at fighting (Power Attack, Weapon Focus, Combat Reflexes, reach weapon and so on), on the other a hypothetical 5th level martial character with Wildling, Pass for Human and Skill Focus[Survival], using a club to fight because it's, obviously, so cool.

Turns out, the latter is pretty much useless in combat (despite being so cool) because this is how the game works, and complains with the GM about the former, which in turn is "OP". Why should the first player "tone down" their character, filling it with feats they do not like, just to accommodate the second player's complaints?

People may not like it, but this is how the game works: it uses maths to overcome challenges, you cannot (usually) roleplay yourself out of a fight. So if you choose "flavour" options over efficiency because muh background, you can't complain then if your character is not efficient at fighting.

Shadow Lodge

Gray Warden wrote:

Unpopular opinion: the players who can't catch up with the updated difficulty should step up their game rather than blaming those who can.

In other words, if the Inquisitor can get to those levels without particular efforts, why can't the other characters too?

This comment seems out of place in this discussion. The players are already successfully optimizing to keep up with the GM's moving goalposts. They are unhappy that they have to do so, and the GM is unhappy that they continue to find optimizations that beat him.

This isn't a player vs player problem.


If you like taking Power Attack as a feat, I bet your favorite drink is water.

You're making an extreme example here, but "useless in combat" is always relative to the rest of the party because the DM designs the opposition against the party (if they're not running a from-the-book AP, but I do usually assume that the 'unoptimized PCs' here are capable of dealing with CR-appropriate enemies without dying, and can therefore handle raw vanilla APs).

In that context, yeah, I as a DM would definitely ask Power Attack Guy to lighten up and take some fun stuff like Third Eye or Equipment Trick instead, and then tone back the enemies' numbers to compensate.

Silver Crusade

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Serum wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:

Unpopular opinion: the players who can't catch up with the updated difficulty should step up their game rather than blaming those who can.

In other words, if the Inquisitor can get to those levels without particular efforts, why can't the other characters too?

This comment seems out of place in this discussion. The players are already successfully optimizing to keep up with the GM's moving goalposts. They are unhappy that they have to do so, and the GM is unhappy that they continue to find optimizations that beats him.

This isn't a player vs player problem.

The OP said that the problem is the disparity between the characters, with the Inquisitor being able to keep up with the increased game difficulty, while the others are left behind.

I have been in this situation many times, last of which I was playing a standard Warpriest archer, and two other characters being a Dwarf Bard and a Half-elf Fighter. The Bard was built with 18 Cha in creation, which went down to 16 due to the racial penalty (effectively having PB 13 stats), and went around smacking people with its warhammer for a puny 1d8+2 damage. The Fighter was going board&sword, had feats that literally never used just because they sounded cool (Step Up, Antagonize), a couple "background" feats to cover the role of the "tank-protector" (Bodyguard) that were occasionally used, and no Power Attack.

It didn't take long before they started complaining with the GM about my character being "OP". The GM increased the game difficulty, which however made things even worse for them.

Long story short, we rebuilt their characters together while keeping the core concepts intact: the Bard's player redistributed the stats a bit and retrained to Skald, which apparently was what they wanted in the first place, but they didn't know the Skald existed; the Fighter instead specialized in reach-fighting, once they realised we were constantly facing Giants, and switched out those unused feats for something else to build on the "tank-protector" concept(we kept Bodyguard and added Shield Brace).

We are now at 11th level, and since then they haven't complained anymore. But silly me, probably I should have done fun things such as picking Skill Focus [Appraise] and tossing rocks rather than arrows, instead of helping my friends at being better players.

Shadow Lodge

Gray Warden wrote:
Serum wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:

Unpopular opinion: the players who can't catch up with the updated difficulty should step up their game rather than blaming those who can.

In other words, if the Inquisitor can get to those levels without particular efforts, why can't the other characters too?

This comment seems out of place in this discussion. The players are already successfully optimizing to keep up with the GM's moving goalposts. They are unhappy that they have to do so, and the GM is unhappy that they continue to find optimizations that beats him.

This isn't a player vs player problem.

The OP said that the problem is the disparity between the characters, with the Inquisitor being able to keep up with the increased game difficulty, while the others are left behind.

The players aren't blaming each other. They're unhappy that the GM is updating the game mechanics so that the only way any character can hit is by novaing buffs on two-three characters, one of whom is the inquisitor (because of the class' large amount of limited self buffs).

They're way past the point of "maybe Skill Focus: Appraise isn't suited to a war-game."


While the exchange between InvisiblePink and Gray Warden is an interesting philosophical discussion about how to approach differing levels of system mastery within the same group of players, and it might be a small part of the OP's problem, it isn't the group's real problem.

If you read this thread and the reddit InvisiblePink linked to above, you can clearly see what the real problem is. The OP played whack-a-mole with rules he couldn't adjust to in order to respond to player optimization and now he's in a corner - he can't nerf or eliminate to-hit and AC (or he's basically thrown the whole game out the window) so one of the pc classes combined with the associated player's system mastery has created an unbalanced group. Indeed some of what the OP has done makes Gray Warden's approach harder - the other players may not be able to step up their game because the OP has changed the rules they might use having already prohibited flight, metamagic, crafting, and at least some combat maneuvers (among other things I might have missed.) Further the other players may have tried to step up their game but the OP responded by nerfing the associated rules and now they're frustrated.


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When an acquaintance of mine, who is a semi-pro hockey player, plays in his beer league, he doesn’t play as hard as he can. He could easily hog the puck, skate circles around everyone and score goal after goal without much, if any involvement from his lesser skilled teammates but he doesn’t. Instead, he plays only hard enough to challenge the other team and uses his superior skills to get everyone’s stick on the puck. He goes out of his way to ensure a good time is had by all even though he could wipe the floor with them if he wanted to.

I feel this is analogous to Pathfinder. It’s much easier for the skilled players to tone down their characters than it is for the unskilled players to “just get better at the game”. It’s also important to play to the skill level of the group. No need to build a character who does all the stuff markedly better than the rest of the characters just because you can. Pathfinder is generally more about cooperation than competition.


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If it helps, four players (Me and the Inq included) have dropped out of Balkoth's game. The problem has been solved since there is no longer a problem. There is some interesting conversation going on here in this thread which you can keep having but I thought I should update the thread with what is happening now.

Thank you, everyone, for your input on the matter. Sometimes the best choice is to split because people want different things.


InvisiblePink wrote:

Left hand, meet right.

There we go. Now I am satisfied. If only there were more of these that I could see and compare in some of these types of posts.


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Gray Warden wrote:
Serum wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:

Unpopular opinion: the players who can't catch up with the updated difficulty should step up their game rather than blaming those who can.

In other words, if the Inquisitor can get to those levels without particular efforts, why can't the other characters too?

This comment seems out of place in this discussion. The players are already successfully optimizing to keep up with the GM's moving goalposts. They are unhappy that they have to do so, and the GM is unhappy that they continue to find optimizations that beats him.

This isn't a player vs player problem.

The OP said that the problem is the disparity between the characters, with the Inquisitor being able to keep up with the increased game difficulty, while the others are left behind.

I have been in this situation many times, last of which I was playing a standard Warpriest archer, and two other characters being a Dwarf Bard and a Half-elf Fighter. The Bard was built with 18 Cha in creation, which went down to 16 due to the racial penalty (effectively having PB 13 stats), and went around smacking people with its warhammer for a puny 1d8+2 damage. The Fighter was going board&sword, had feats that literally never used just because they sounded cool (Step Up, Antagonize), a couple "background" feats to cover the role of the "tank-protector" (Bodyguard) that were occasionally used, and no Power Attack.

It didn't take long before they started complaining with the GM about my character being "OP". The GM increased the game difficulty, which however made things even worse for them.

Long story short, we rebuilt their characters together while keeping the core concepts intact: the Bard's player redistributed the stats a bit and retrained to Skald, which apparently was what they wanted in the first place, but they didn't know the Skald existed; the Fighter instead specialized in reach-fighting, once they realised we were constantly facing Giants, and switched out those unused feats for...

Part of the difficulty in this context though is the DM has literally limited and altered access to source material.

Meaning certain concepts can’t work as well as we might expect them to be able to.


I'll get to more later, but for now...

Serum wrote:
The players aren't blaming each other.

They are absolutely blaming each other. I'd rather not go into too much public detail about it, but across several games there have absolutely been multiple players very unhappy with this sort of thing (including one where I was a player).

Serum wrote:
They're unhappy that the GM is updating the game mechanics so that the only way any character can hit is by novaing buffs on two-three characters, one of whom is the inquisitor (because of the class' large amount of limited self buffs).

As I stated before (literally a few posts ago), when novaing the Inquisitor had 40 AB and a CR12 enemy (same CR) had 41 AC. So even without Bane and Divine Power the Inquisitor is hitting 65% of the time (so non-nova).

Latrecis wrote:
The OP played whack-a-mole with rules he couldn't adjust to in order to respond to player optimization

This is incorrect. For starters, there's a huge difference between "Thinking something is poorly designed" and "Can't adjust to it." Let's break it down:

Latrecis wrote:
the OP has changed the rules they might use having already prohibited flight, metamagic, crafting, and at least some combat maneuvers (among other things I might have missed.)

  • Flight: I think flight is incredibly poorly implemented in Pathfinder -- I have a whole list of seven reasons why I think it's a bad idea. And these reasons have been validated by my experience as a PLAYER, including as a player in Paizo designed adventure paths. So this had nothing to do with players using it in my campaign and me being unable to adjust.

  • Metamagic: as a PLAYER, I remember seeing a sorcerer toss around 55 damage Fireballs at level 7 and one-shotting most encounters. It was not an enjoyable experience for me. Nor was reading things like this caster using Persistent Dazing spells to completely break the default game. Nor was reading guides like this which say "Level 5 and Beyond

    No. At this point, your higher level blasts are better spent on low level spells with metamagic. Sure, you could prepare a 7th level Delayed Blast Fireball for 56 (14d6+7) damage. But in the same slot, you could prepare an Intensified Maximized Fireball for 97. You could prepare Cold Ice Strike for 1d6/level as a short line effect with a swift action… or just throw a Quicken on a low level blast to get the same level of power. The same is true even with the 5th level spells – Cone of Cold, Acidic Spray, and Lightning Arc just don’t compare with metamagic’ed up Fireballs."

    Not to mention issues like an Empowered Fireball doing 15d6 at level 10 while a Cone of Cold does 10d6 -- it severely skews the scaling. We can go further into this if you'd like, but it had nothing to do with not being able to adjust to it -- it had to do with thinking it's bad for the game.

  • Crafting: players have not had the downtime to craft. But they've been able to get the gear they want and are reasonably ahead of WBL, so this isn't some sort of punishment.

  • Combat maneuvers: despite what Kamea said, Sunder was not nerfed. I just pointed out that they'd be destroying loot and that enemies could start doing the same thing back to them. And we all know destroying character gear is worse than death (literally, actually), so it's been more of a gentlemen's agreement not to go around sundering on either side. Kamea joined later in the campaign and I guess never picked up on that.


The fireball with metamagic has a higher chance of being saved against. But a lot of the time, the area of a fireball just isn’t practical, unless you want to nearly kill your teammates as well. And while there is metamagic to get around that, that would also be metamagic you’re not using to boost the damage.


Dazing spells if used correctly can break the game. You can use them to target the weakest save and neutralise an entire group of enemies before any teammates close in and finish them off while they're helpless. I understand trying to counter that, even if banning all metamagic is a bit extreme.

However, I think increasing AC to counter a PC's attack bonus is a mistake. If they're using improved flanking and Inquisitor judgements specifically to improve their attack bonus, they're wasting resources that could be spent elsewhere, because you can't increase your chance of hitting above 95%.

There is no intrinsic problem if a PC hits 95% of the time. There are lots of counters to that. You can add more meat-shield enemies, you can boost the hit points of the enemies, you can make enemies who have non-AC defences (invisibility, mirror image, staying out of reach, disarming the PC). If you increase the AC of enemies, then you're not punishing the player who optimized for attack bonus (because their high attack bonus is suddenly extremely useful), you're punishing everyone else.


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Balkoth wrote:

As I stated before (literally a few posts ago), when novaing the Inquisitor had 40 AB and a CR12 enemy (same CR) had 41 AC. So even without Bane and Divine Power the Inquisitor is hitting 65% of the time (so non-nova).

What do you seriously expect when you push a CR12 creature to 41AC.

Yes the optimised Inquisitor is going to hit , but the Inquisitor is one of the most powerful classes in the game in terms of to hit bonuses

Plenty of other classes can’t compete with that without significantly higher levels of optimisation on the players part or at all.

This kind of alteration is going to inevitably force an arms race or stacking buffs when some players find they simply won’t keep up.

It also limits the viable character concepts people are gonna want to use in your game. I can already see characters in my catalogue I’d be crossing off my list to even consider playing with you.

And regarding your metamagic rant

You seem to think that it’s a failure in design that lower level metamagiced spells do more damage than higher level blasts.

That isn’t the design failure.

For one thing, your players are spending feats and full round actions to cast those spells like that. It would be a design failure if they weren’t better.

And second, more importantly. Unboosted blast spells are badly designed, they’re the problem, they don’t do enough damage to be worthwhile without players artificially boosting.

Take your cone of cold example, a level 10 Sorc using there highest level slot to cast that and doing 35 damage is s@~!. It is a crap tier waste of resources and turn. That is the design failure not metamagic.

Now yes metamagic can be pushed to the point of rolling over the game but to do so you need pretty specific Class, Spell, trait and feat selection. With that level of specification of build almost all classic play styles will roll over the game, and several will do so significantly more easily.

And from what I can tell your design philosophy encourages that level of build specificity.


Kianti wrote:
I will start with saying that I do not think anything you find strong from UC and UM are that bad but I doubt my opinion matters to you on that.

For the record, your opinion matters, even if I wind up disagreeing with it.

Things like Tetori Monk, Quick Dirty Trick, Clustered Shots, and more seem to be significantly above the power level of other options. Do you disagree?

doomman47 wrote:
Budget is 47k per person at 7th level, always make sure at least some one in the party can craft, if not some one else can you make sure your own character can craft. So these are the numbers a fighter of that level should have at that level.

That's literally exactly the opposite of how Paizo says it should work.

"However, game balance for the default campaign experience expects you and all other PCs to be close to the listed wealth values, so the GM shouldn’t just let you craft double the normal amount of gear. As a guideline, allowing a crafting PC to exceed the Character Wealth by Level guidelines by about 25% is fair, or even up to 50% if the PC has multiple crafting feats.

If you are creating items for other characters in the party, the increased wealth for the other characters should come out of your increased allotment. Not only does this prevent you from skewing the wealth by level for everyone in the party, but it encourages other characters to learn item creation feats."

Dragonborn3 wrote:
Even if it is a different game, THAT many enemies means it is not low powered unless you aren't even trying to hide the fact you want the Player Characters to lose and get wiped out, and are now upset that isn't happening.

Or I'm letting the Sorcerer have a grand time with his new Chain Lightning spell. Could go either way.

Lyoto Machida wrote:
How long do you say passes each time they search a room?

Well, you can search a 10x10 square in 1 minute of taking 20. So even a 20x20 room can be searched in four minutes by just one character.

Lyoto Machida wrote:
If you allow all his 12 minute long buffs to last half the dungeon crawl, it's going to be tough for you to challenge him.

That has been a significant issue, yes. Even got into an argument with one of the players who was basically mad I wasn't letting him have an 8 minute buff last for four separate battles.

Grandlounge wrote:
A fighter without Ultimate Equipment and weapon masters handbook is at a staggering disadvantage.

Fighters have access to Gloves of Dueling. Also get more feats, free feats, and armor training gives bonus saves. What else is really missing from Weapon Master's handbook (serious question)?

Gray Warden wrote:
So on one hand we have an hypothetical 5th level martial character built with standard feats and traits to make it good at fighting (Power Attack, Weapon Focus, Combat Reflexes, reach weapon and so on), on the other a hypothetical 5th level martial character with Wildling, Pass for Human and Skill Focus[Survival], using a club to fight because it's, obviously, so cool.

Unfortunately that's not the situation.

The situation is that Player A picks those standard feats/traits to be good at fighting. Something that is quite reasonable/sensible.

Then Player B brings in a character that makes Player A feel completely irrelevant.

Melkiador wrote:
The fireball with metamagic has a higher chance of being saved against. But a lot of the time, the area of a fireball just isn’t practical, unless you want to nearly kill your teammates as well.

Let's look at the actual difference.

Say you have a 15% chance of succeeding for a level 3 spell and a 5% chance of succeeding for a level 5 spell.

That's 0.85 + 0.15 * 0.5 = 92.5% of the spell's damage vs 0.95 + 0.05 * 0.5 = 97.5%. So 5.4% more damage (compared to the +50% damage from metamagic), that's not remotely close.

Now say you have an 95% chance of succeeding for level 5 and 85% for a level 3 (take it to the other extreme).

0.05 + 0.95 * 0.5 = 52.5% damage vs 0.15 + 0.85 * 0.5 = 57.5% damage. Now we're up to a 9.5% damage difference best case scenario...but still a vast difference from +50% damage. The reflex save doesn't matter that much.

Melkiador wrote:
And while there is metamagic to get around that, that would also be metamagic you’re not using to boost the damage.

Unless you just haul out your selective metamagic rod when you need it.

Matthew Downie wrote:
I understand trying to counter that, even if banning all metamagic is a bit extreme.

I've learned that players hate stuff being taken away that they already had, so I pre-emptively banned metamagic and figured I could add it back in on a case by case basis as desired. Much better feeling than having Dazing Spell and then having it taken away.

Stuff like Extend Spell, Widen spell, etc are realistically all fine but I haven't seen any real interest in them. Even Silent Spell only concerns me if the PCs try to make it the cornerstone of their strategy or something.

Matthew Downie wrote:
There is no intrinsic problem if a PC hits 95% of the time.

In practice I ran into three major problems with that philosophy:

1, not everyone has the same number of attacks. The Inquisitor was attacking at +40/+35/+40 for 50ish damage. The Vivisectionist was attacking at +32/+32/+32/+32/+30/+30/+30/+30/+30/+30 for 40ish damage. If both are hitting 95% of the time then the Inquisitor is doing 150ish damage while the Vivisectionist is doing 400ish damage -- the fact that the Vivisectionist has less AB is irrelevant.

2, things like Crippling Strike apply per hit (with no save). Even if I give the Giant Warlord 5000 HP, after a full attack from the Vivisectionist the giant has -20 strength (so -10 AB and -15 damage).

3, enemies HP had to scale massively up per level because their other defenses didn't matter (remember, an enemy at +2 CR is supposed to be twice as strong as a player). Which then also caused problems with scaling for spells and things like Alchemist Bombs.


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It’s surprising that a high-to-hit PC thread hasn’t mentioned what I’d expect to be a more standard response: lower monster AC.

Let the PC hit at 100%.

That’s been the strategy I’ve seen employed for decades. That’s the strategy PCs employ when monster to-hit outstrips their AC. Go first and murder anything you can’t tank, then tank as needed.

Standard competent defenses skip AC: mirror image and concealment. With NPCs, you can go far further by simply flooding the field with high to-hit low-hp scrubs, encouraging either AoE or thinning tactics. Any NPC that gets initiative and has any kind of disabling effect — grappling, disarm, or spells — is a pretty overwhelming hard-counter, so much so that I find this entire conversation really weird. I mean, if the DM had ruled that Team Badguy was onto the party and always hit the most dangerous PC with heavy crowd control on turn one, would this thread be called “Save-or-Sucks Balanced at Level 12?” If I think about this long enough, it actually seems confusing. If the PC’s dpr is a threat, the NPCs will use strategies to take him out first, so. . . yeah?

Duelist-style characters are straightforward enough to counter. If the “miss” part of the d20 combat minigame is eliminated, there are still plenty of other parts. Ramping up monster AC doesn’t counter the high-to-hit PC; it justifies him.

Bizarrely enough, what counters him is actually a bigger problem since most of what counters him is answered with casters: swarms, mirror image, and concealment (though equipment allows for some of this to be matched) accentuate the value casters bring to the table.

I’m aware that the issue is effectively resolved for the players herein, but I wanted to make it clear to other new players reading the thread that in many combat roleplaying games, including D&D/d20, if someone just hits a lot, you can just let them do that.


Balkoth wrote:

1, not everyone has the same number of attacks. The Inquisitor was attacking at +40/+35/+40 for 50ish damage. The Vivisectionist was attacking at +32/+32/+32/+32/+30/+30/+30/+30/+30/+30 for 40ish damage. If both are hitting 95% of the time then the Inquisitor is doing 150ish damage while the Vivisectionist is doing 400ish damage -- the fact that the Vivisectionist has less AB is irrelevant.

2, things like Crippling Strike apply per hit (with no save). Even if I give the Giant Warlord 5000 HP, after a full attack from the Vivisectionist the giant has -20 strength (so -10 AB and -15 damage).

You had a Vivisectionist who could do 400 damage and 20 strength damage per round to anything with a CR-appropriate AC, and the problem you wanted to fix was "the Inquisitor can hit enemies reliably"?

There are counters to that kind of character, but in that situation I'd either politely ask players not to optimize any more, or switch to a different game system.


Quiddity wrote:
With NPCs, you can go far further by simply flooding the field with high to-hit low-hp scrubs

Flooding implies a lot -- what CR are we talking about and how high to hit?

Because the monk, for example, was at 44+ AC as an offensive build, which would require a high attack CR16 monster to hit on anything less than a natural 20.

Even the Inquisitor/Vivisectionist were at 38ish AC, so CR11 high attack enemy to hit on less than a natural 20.

If we're trying to play by the rules I imagine we're not flooding the field with CR11+ creatures.

Matthew Downie wrote:
You had a Vivisectionist who could do 400 damage and 20 strength damage per round to anything with a CR-appropriate AC, and the problem you wanted to fix was "the Inquisitor can hit enemies reliably"?

I actually made the thread about the Vivisectionist before I made this thread, for the record.

"Besides," until the Vivisectionist said he had Crippling Strike it seemed less worrisome than the prior Unchained Monk who was attacking for 75+ damage 7-9 times a round.

Matthew Downie wrote:
or switch to a different game system.

Can you elaborate on why you would say this?


Balkoth wrote:


Matthew Downie wrote:
or switch to a different game system.
Can you elaborate on why you would say this?

Surely to god why he is saying this, is obvious

You and your group can’t seem to find a happy balance with pathfinder that satisfies you all for whatever reason and your frankaensteins monster of a house rule document has also failed to find said balance.

The game system isn’t doing what you want it to and your attempts to fix that have failed/arguably worsened things. Hence new game system.


There are very few systems that allow for such extreme optimized characters. D&D 5e doesn't have any way of making mid-level PCs who do 400 damage per round. The Pathfinder 2 playtest didn't, and presumably the final version won't either.

On the other hand, no game system is perfectly balanced (and the ones that come close tend to be pretty bland), and if the players are determined to try to break the system, the GM's choices may come down to (a) ask them nicely to stop trying to break the system, (b) let the players win every battle easily and hope they have fun, or (c) look for new players.


Matthew Downie wrote:

There are very few systems that allow for such extreme optimized characters. D&D 5e doesn't have any way of making mid-level PCs who do 400 damage per round. The Pathfinder 2 playtest didn't, and presumably the final version won't either.

On the other hand, no game system is perfectly balanced (and the ones that come close tend to be pretty bland), and if the players are determined to try to break the system, the GM's choices may come down to (a) ask them nicely to stop trying to break the system, (b) let the players win every battle easily and hope they have fun, or (c) look for new players.

Or (d) Crush them anyway. At the end of the day no level of optimization, rule exploitation, and gumption beats the guy with infinite resources at his disposal.


Matthew Downie wrote:
There are very few systems that allow for such extreme optimized characters.

I guess from my perspective it doesn't even seem that optimized. Or maybe optimized is the wrong word, that munchkin? I remember back in NWN making a Sorcerer 38/Paladin 1/Monk 1 -- got Improved Evasion in Full Plate armor and shield (auto-still spell), tumble/discipline dump, and +20ish saves from Divine Grace. In addition to still casting as a level 38 sorcerer.

This is just using RAI.

Matthew Downie wrote:
(a) ask them nicely to stop trying to break the system

How exactly do you say "Don't break the system but make powerful characters because the combat is going to be hard?" Where do you draw the line?

How much AB is acceptable for the Inquisitor? How many natural attacks for the Vivisectionist? How much damage per hit for the monk?

This is an entirely serious question, I don't know the answer.


How much the players think they need, to deal with what you throw at them.

They are the best judge of this. They are the ones playing.


Balkoth wrote:

How much AB is acceptable for the Inquisitor? How many natural attacks for the Vivisectionist? How much damage per hit for the monk?

This is an entirely serious question, I don't know the answer.

What ever the players feel is necessary for their builds.


Balkoth wrote:
How exactly do you say "Don't break the system but make powerful characters because the combat is going to be hard?"

Why does the combat need to be so hard? It seems like you're scaling it up to balance the characters. You could equally scale it down to balance the characters.

Balkoth wrote:
Where do you draw the line?

My baseline for damage is a Fighter starting out with Strength 18 and a greatsword. That's enough to take on CR-appropriate challenges (as part of a balanced party). If your damage output is significantly higher than that, you're probably going to end up in an arms race with the GM and the other players.

Balkoth wrote:
How much AB is acceptable for the Inquisitor?

Infinite. Once they can hit the AC of a typical enemy, further bonuses are meaningless.

Balkoth wrote:
How many natural attacks for the Vivisectionist?

Three or four?

Balkoth wrote:
How much damage per hit for the monk?

Dunno. I'd have to calculate the average DPR. Paizo seems to think they should do about 2d6+3 at level 12.


Balkoth wrote:
Quiddity wrote:
With NPCs, you can go far further by simply flooding the field with high to-hit low-hp scrubs
Because the monk, for example, was at 44+ AC as an offensive build, which would require a high attack CR16 monster to hit on anything less than a natural 20.

. . . or bardic music, a Skald, or both, and/or other buff effects dedicated to increasing to-hit, including aid another optimization with low-level scrubs.


Balkoth wrote:
Quiddity wrote:
With NPCs, you can go far further by simply flooding the field with high to-hit low-hp scrubs
Because the monk, for example, was at 44+ AC as an offensive build, which would require a high attack CR16 monster to hit on anything less than a natural 20.

. . . or bardic music, a Skald, or both, and/or other buff effects dedicated to increasing to-hit, including aid another optimization with low-level scrubs.

Matthew Downie wrote:
Balkoth wrote:
How exactly do you say "Don't break the system but make powerful characters because the combat is going to be hard?"
Why does the combat need to be so hard? It seems like you're scaling it up to balance the characters. You could equally scale it down to balance the characters.

Agreed. Again, I’d mine splatbooks for NPCs with save-or-sucks, save-or-dies (if the players are alright with this), and good to-hit, but ignore AC. If something melee gets class levels, give it Barbarian and have it rage away its useless AC and get bonuses to-hit.


It's true that at a certain point, a lot of defenses revolve more around stuff like miss chances and saving throws than pure AC. XD And it's particularly true that there's a point of diminishing returns where higher numbers look impressive but have no real impact. If you're only missing on a 1, it doesn't matter if your attack bonus is 25 or 250 - there's rarely a bonus for exceeding their AC other than perhaps applying more effects that force you to lower your accuracy. (Matters more for Gunslingers than most classes, I think.)

Grand Lodge

Balkoth wrote:
Serum wrote:
They're unhappy that the GM is updating the game mechanics so that the only way any character can hit is by novaing buffs on two-three characters, one of whom is the inquisitor (because of the class' large amount of limited self buffs).
As I stated before (literally a few posts ago), when novaing the Inquisitor had 40 AB and a CR12 enemy (same CR) had 41 AC. So even without Bane and Divine Power the Inquisitor is hitting 65% of the time (so non-nova).

Out of everything that has been said since I last posted on this thread, this line stuck out to me the most.

A 12th level inquisitor SHOULD be able to hit 65% of the time or even more without nova'ing. They SHOULD be able to hit 95% of the time when they do nova. It's what inquisitors DO. They and warpriests have some of the highest attack bonus capabilities in the game.
Even if that weren't the case, hitting 65% of the time at level 12 without going nova is kind of the baseline for the entire combat system of Pathfinder. Probably lower, actually. A CR=APL encounter should not force players to nova every time. They should be able to, for the most part, mop the floor with them, especially if they optimize for combat. Your three main martials are what, three melee characters? A Monk, Inquisitor, and a Vivisectionist? Maybe the Inquisitor is ranged, that's fairly common for them. but yeah, you have some powerful martials in the party. But it's what they do. Let them enjoy that, and relax about the whole rocket tag that started this whole mess.

Start over with the base Pathfinder rules. Give enemies advanced templates and utilize delay tactics for fights you want to have drawn out a little more. Black Tentacles and Stinking Cloud is a great combo and yeah its an annoying tactic but it's healthy for a table to need to deal with annoying tactics every once in a while. Give them a taste of their own medicine. More importantly, discuss with your players to find solutions that works for everyone, because your home rules are not working. At this point i would suggest to the players to start a new campaign or rebuild characters before continuing on the current one, encountering them to tone down their optimization slightly in the effort to make the game more fun for all. But you also have to tone it down too.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Why does the combat need to be so hard? It seems like you're scaling it up to balance the characters. You could equally scale it down to balance the characters.

At a minimum, it's because that's what I enjoy. I was a high end raider in WoW for years and like difficult and tactical combat. And the campaign was pitched as mostly focused on challenging combat.

Would I be willing to run a campaign less focused on combat? Probably, but I wouldn't use Pathfinder to do it.

I'm not sure what you mean by the last statement about scaling it down. It originally was easier when I was going by the bestiary/bench pressing rather than what characters could actually do.

Matthew Downie wrote:
Infinite. Once they can hit the AC of a typical enemy, further bonuses are meaningless.

Part of the default assumption of the game (looking at monster creation rules and the like) is that players will hit enemies that are higher level less often (and conversely hit enemies that are lower level more often).

Also, a level 20 Fighter or Monk out of the CRB can hit 50ish AC passively. Should a level 12 character be able to hit that consistently?

Quiddity wrote:
. . . or bardic music, a Skald, or both, and/or other buff effects dedicated to increasing to-hit, including aid another optimization with low-level scrubs.

A party of four level 12s is APL 12. So a CR16 enemy is already APL+4, past the "epic" fight (and in theory an even fight for the whole party). Six level 12s is APL 13, still APL+3 encounter.

In reality the fight isn't even because of action economy issues, but the enemy is individually supposed to be very dangerous.

And you're saying that that no, not only can that enemy not win (due to action economy), but he can't even present a threat to the party without giving him a bunch of people to buff him up in some manner.

Syries wrote:

Out of everything that has been said since I last posted on this thread, this line stuck out to me the most.

A 12th level inquisitor SHOULD be able to hit 65% of the time or even more without nova'ing. They SHOULD be able to hit 95% of the time when they do nova. It's what inquisitors DO. They and warpriests have some of the highest attack bonus capabilities in the game.

Okay? The way you say that makes it sound like you're disagreeing with me on something.

Just to recap:

Me: People are saying enemy AC is way too high. But given that the Inquisitor is still hitting 65% of the time on an equal CR enemy non-nova, that seems like a reasonable result.

You: He SHOULD hit 65% of the time non-nova.

Me: Um, yeah? I just said that? The person I was quoting said "the only way any character can hit is by novaing buffs" which clearly isn't the case.

Syries wrote:
Start over with the base Pathfinder rules. Give enemies advanced templates and utilize delay tactics for fights you want to have drawn out a little more.

I mean, that's how the campaign started. What's going to go differently this time?


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Balkoth wrote:

I was a high end raider in WoW for years and like difficult and tactical combat. And the campaign was pitched as mostly focused on challenging combat.

Would I be willing to run a campaign less focused on combat? Probably, but I wouldn't use Pathfinder to do it.

It's funny, I was rereading this thread this morning (before you posted) and I thought, "this feels like my experience with WoW." I played it for three straight days (with a bit of sleep) in 2006 and then uninstalled. It was addictive, but it was also a slog. I felt like all combats had the same pattern for my character, and my thought was "I know I'm going to get more abilities if I level up, but the enemies are going to scale at essentially the same rate and it's going to be as much of a slog at that point as it is now."

Now I'm sure high level raids are impressive, but I wasn't going to invest the time and effort to find out. Just wasn't my cup of tea in the end. Was the same deal with Dragon Age: Inquisition. The terrain didn't really matter to fights, so effectively all fights are just flat shin-kicking.

Anyway, clearly the players stopped buying-in to what you were serving up as DM. To me, it sounds like you were making things SOOOO epic that long fights against super enemies became normal and a bit boring rather than exciting and novel and fresh. Hopefully in the future everyone can use this experience to get games and tables that work for them even better!


The problem Balkoth is lots of other classes can’t do what an Inquisitor can, especially not as easily.

Your Inquisitor is going to hit, your mistake would be trying to adjust the game to make it so he isn’t. Because it will make it so his allies don’t stand a chance.

An Inquisitor easily hitting higher CR monsters is not a problem. It’s the Inquisitor being good at what they’re good at.


Rite lad am sick of u and ur m8s comin round to ma shed n throwin eggs, if ar see ur lot round ere again am gunna show u how a +38 AB will b plenty n you’ll be runnin off an droppin yur eggs everywhere you silly sausage now lets have off with yer

Wonderstell wrote:
Balkoth wrote:
Wonderstell wrote:
It's not normal that a PC should ever need +38 AB at level 12, since the average AC of a CR-equivalent opponent is supposed to be 27. But you aren't holding a normal game for your players, so I'm gonna guess our opinions on what is normal aren't that important for your table.

Check the attitude, please. Here's the roster for the main combat last night (first fight of level 12, mainly meant to let them play around with new abilities and feel awesome...especially the sorcerer who just got Chain Lightning):

10 CR6 creatures (AC 23 each)
20 CR6 creatures (AC 23 each)
1 CR10 creature (AC 31)
1 CR10 creature (AC 31)
1 CR10 creature (AC 36)

Sorry if you interpreted it as snark, I've just gotten the impression that you hold a very high-powered game where +38 AB might not be enough to guarantee a hit at level 12.

While your examples do show that your creature AC values are a bit inflated, +38 AB is still just overkill.
So it is "normal" for an Inquisitor to be able to reach that AB at level 12, but usually there just isn't any reason for them to buff their AB to that number.

I'm guessing the rest of the party is about 10-15 points below that, and you worry about being able to challenge the Inquisitor while not shutting down the rest of them?


When four people drop out of your game this is a sign that you have GM'd badly. There may be edge-case exceptions but there is no reason here to believe that this is one of them. Live with it, learn from it.


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Balkoth wrote:
Quiddity wrote:
. . . or bardic music, a Skald, or both, and/or other buff effects dedicated to increasing to-hit, including aid another optimization with low-level scrubs.

A party of four level 12s is APL 12. So a CR16 enemy is already APL+4, past the "epic" fight (and in theory an even fight for the whole party). Six level 12s is APL 13, still APL+3 encounter.

In reality the fight isn't even because of action economy issues, but the enemy is individually supposed to be very dangerous.

And you're saying that that no, not only can that enemy not win (due to action economy), but he can't even present a threat to the party without giving him a bunch of people to buff him up in some manner.

I don’t know if I’ll be keeping up with the thread because of stuff and junk, but I wanted to point out that I have no idea what this person is talking about now. Like, I didn’t bring up action economy at all or suggest a specific CR range. I’ve only spoken about tactics and composition and every time save-or-dies are mentioned the OP rolls right past that. Don’t need a response, just saying that maybe there’s some talking past others goin’ on here.

And I’m not sure why anyone would, or in this thread has, defended the one-dude-versus-the-party setup. That encounter style has been problematic for decades.


So every time I see CR cited as if it was gospel I cringe. CR is a helpful guide. Used as a rule it's terrible.

For instance, did you know that a completely naked Fighter is only one lower CR than if they had gear? Not "if they focused on improvised/unarmed", just "-1 CR for no gear". So a level 20 Fighter with absolutely no gear is supposed to be just as tough a fight as several varieties of Ancient dragon. Dragons are overtuned? Sure, let's go with the Kraken. Fighting the Kraken at sea or a high level naked Fighter, which do you pick?

Similarly, adding class levels to monsters is a mess. The higher level the monster the worse it gets. The problem is that "non-key" classes count for half but might add far more. A Cave Giant who wants to be stronger can either take three levels of Fighter (for +3 CR) or 6 levels of Cleric (also +3 CR) and get more BAB and higher saves. The Cleric is better even without the spellcasting and that should never be true.

Then there's the in-game stuff. I had a character who could Entangle. The GM made themselves a big beefy (not fast) zombie. It was kited to death literally unable to fight back.

CR can point you in the right direction but that's all. Blindly following it can easily lead to steamrolls (in either direction) if either side has some special ability the other side can't deal with. A party of Strix can fight a hundred T-Rexs.


Yeah CR is one of the broadest guidelines and should be the least hard and fast rules in the game.


JiaYou wrote:
It's funny, I was rereading this thread this morning (before you posted) and I thought, "this feels like my experience with WoW." I played it for three straight days (with a bit of sleep) in 2006 and then uninstalled. It was addictive, but it was also a slog. I felt like all combats had the same pattern for my character, and my thought was "I know I'm going to get more abilities if I level up, but the enemies are going to scale at essentially the same rate and it's going to be as much of a slog at that point as it is now."

Man, that would have been back in Classic, right? Brings back memories.

What were you playing, if you happen to recall? Back then certain classes had much rougher times leveling than they do in more recent times. If you played since probably Cataclysm I suspect you might have felt differently.

My first character was a Mage, but got tired around level 30 of being so squishy.

So then I made a Paladin and gave up on him around level 35 when I literally couldn't kill an enemy because I couldn't outdamage his healing (but he couldn't kill me).

And then I made a Rogue and actually got to 60.

Those were different times for sure.

JiaYou wrote:
To me, it sounds like you were making things SOOOO epic that long fights against super enemies became normal and a bit boring rather than exciting and novel and fresh. Hopefully in the future everyone can use this experience to get games and tables that work for them even better!

I got specific feedback that the players would prefer fewer harder fights over a lot of easier fights. But it's certainly possible I went too far in the other direction.

avr wrote:
When four people drop out of your game this is a sign that you have GM'd badly.

Quite possibly.

But I was on the verge of just cancelling the whole campaign several times in the preceding months due to frustration so something had to change.

Quiddity wrote:
I’ve only spoken about tactics and composition and every time save-or-dies are mentioned the OP rolls right past that.

Phantasmal Killer requires two back to back saves to be failed.

Stuff like Plane Shift/Stone to Flesh/etc can be resaved against via the house rules linked earlier.

What other save-or-dies did you have in mind?

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
So every time I see CR cited as if it was gospel I cringe. CR is a helpful guide. Used as a rule it's terrible.

Just pointing out that you used three specific edge cases there and I'm not sure how any of the cases I've presented are edge cases.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
CR can point you in the right direction but that's all. Blindly following it can easily lead to steamrolls (in either direction) if either side has some special ability the other side can't deal with. A party of Strix can fight a hundred T-Rexs.

Right, but I'm not talking about special abilities right now. I'm just talking about raw numbers for melee combatants.


Balkoth wrote:
Just pointing out that you used three specific edge cases there and I'm not sure how any of the cases I've presented are edge cases.

So you're not using that term correctly. Edge cases are where the problem only exists at specific spots (usually the extremes). The level 20 naked Fighter is an extreme case but lower levels aren't better. We can use a naked level 6 Fighter versus a Tiger or Hydra for the same "are these really the same difficulty fight" comparison. Honestly, I'm probably always going to choose "naked guy who needs gear to fight" over "fully kitted and ready to murder monster".

The monster I'm adding levels to is only CR 6 and the problem just gets worse at higher CRs. A Balor Fighter 10 versus a Balor Cleric 20 is a more extreme example but still not an edge case (as everything inbetween has the same "a bunch of Cleric levels gives better BAB, saves, and spellcasting"). I even said "The higher level the monster the worse it gets.", which is almost literally the opposite of an edge case.

As for the last example, what? Like, seriously, what? Zombies (or something staggered) don't come up in games? The ability to cause the entangled condition never comes up in games? What exactly is the rare situation that only occured in my game that you're saying is happening here?

As for the cases you've presented, this thread has a lot of information about your player's capabilities. Your contribution to your game, however, consists of:

Balkoth wrote:

10 CR6 creatures (AC 23 each)

20 CR6 creatures (AC 23 each)
1 CR10 creature (AC 31)
1 CR10 creature (AC 31)
1 CR10 creature (AC 36)

That's... well, not very helpful. Did any of them have other defenses? Miss chances? Damage reduction? Flying? Burrowing? Even if I'm not including the special abilities (and you definitely should be) there are other defensive things that need to be included (and they affect different builds different ways).

This is why I posted what I did. You list your combats as "CR 10". That tells me almost nothing useful about the combat. The AC is a little more information but I could still find or make a dozen enemies that match those criteria, all of whom vary wildly in power from each other. Even the ones who might come in at the same overall power level might fare wildly differently against different builds (bad saves, no ranged weapons, etc.).


I'm trying to figure out what the OP wants out of this thread. It's ostensibly an advice thread about a character with a really high attack bonus causing problems, but almost all of his replies just seem to be dismissive or mocking toward pretty much everything anyone else in the thread has suggested or thought. What was the goal here?

Hell, maybe the root problem here isn't the OP's houserules or the player's attempts to optimize or core failings of the systems, but this general attitude as a whole.

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