Saturday, 16 August 2008

D&D 3e/3.5 (Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale 2, Temple of Elemental Evil) tips, part 1

So, you're getting your player characters killed on and on? Don't have the general idea how to create a character/party which can get past that bad dragon or a gang of orcs?
Read on...

Maybe nobody has the social environment like me, but here I'm still surrounded by AD&D fans who found it very difficult to adapt to the rules of Dungeons & Dragons 3e and 3.5e and found it more "unbalanced" "hack-and-slashy" and so on. The truth is, you can't compare those two. AD&D Second Edition is, in technical terms, more roleplaying-based and less number-burdened than 3e. Moreover, there is a different race/class/multiclass system (some race/class/multiclass combinations are not allowed by the main rules), and many classes have their rules changed.

Even nowdays I still have a lot of friends who ask me even for a Baldur's Gate 2 party with greatest potential, and look at me strangely when I say "three fighters, two priests, two mages and at least one thief", and saying "but that's nine characters and I'm only allowed six at most!" So, what gives?
Nothing, actually. One simply has to have in mind that in Baldur's Gate the half-elf Jaheirra counts as both a priest and a fighter (since she's a fighter/druid), and a paladin does as well (since a paladin is a mixture of a warrior and a priest) - they both have healing spells, proficiency with a wide variety of weapons, good attack rolls, and a lot of hit points. Also, in BG2 a mage/thief counts as both, regardless of whether (s)he's multiclass or dual-class.
Now in D&D 3e, things are changed. A level 10 multiclass fighter/druid does not have all the hitpoints, saves, spells, skills and feats of a level 10 fighter and a level 10 druid. These 10 levels are divided, ex. 5 levels of a fighter class and 5 levels of a druid class. The level ratio needn't be 5/5, it may be 6/4, 7/3, or even 8/2 or 9/1.

Having this in mind, you should probably forget about your typical Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale party winnig in Icewind Dale 2. A Priest, Druid or a Sorcerer with Intelligence or Charisma 3 just won't do, the same way as a fighter/mage won't have all the levels of a fighter and all the levels of a mage.

So, what to do, apart from reading the rulebooks?

First of all, let me introduce you to a few simple rules in your character creation.

Rule no. 1 is that you should designate your primary and secondary stat (ability), and put the highest rolls in those. Not only that, but every class has at least one unimportant (or, better to say, least important) stat in which you should set the lowest score. This should never be insanely low, such as 3, for example, since most of abilities affect your saving throws, skill points, skill bonuses, bonus spells, hit points, armor class and so on. So, let's see the numbers.
In this list I will list the class name first, than the primary ability second, secondary ability third, and the least important ability in the end. Try to get an 18 in the primary ability, and at least 15-16 in the secondary. If you're in a standard point-buy system like in Neverwinter Nights, 16/14 is also ok. On the other hand, if you're playing Temple of Elemental Evil, keep rerolling until you get something decent. Especially in ToEE, because once you start playing, the game - for some reason - gives you a set of loaded dice which will give you a catastrophe of d20 rolls. It took me more than eight (yes, 8) hours of playing before I got my first critical hit. And there was a decent number of critical failures behind me already.

Barbarian - Str (most important), Con, Cha (least important)
Bard - Cha, Dex, Wis
Cleric - Wis, Cha, Dex
Druid - Wis, Cha, Dex
Fighter - Str, Con, Cha
Monk - Wis, Dex, Cha
Paladin - Str, Cha, Dex
Ranger - Dex, Wis, Cha
Rogue - Dex, Int, Str
Sorcerer - Cha, Dex, Str
Wizard - Int, Dex, Str

Rule no. 2 - don't overdo with the arcane spellcasters. One wizard or Sorcerer, and at most both a Wizard and a Sorcerer (but never two of the same). Rounding your each turn up with one or two flashy-glittery-eyecandish arcane spell at party levels 5 and above should be more than enough. And apart from spellcasting, those guys are practically useless. That's good, since the arcane spellcasting does count for a lot.

Rule no. 3 - at least two combat-based classes, each one focusing to different weapons. Ex. a paladin focusing to longswords and a fighter focusing to axes. A third warrior, such a monk or a warpriest, may come handy.

Rule no. 4 - one rogue (a thief from AD&D). No more, no less. Scouting, trap disarming and lockpicking - that's all covered by one character. Two are redundant, none means surprise encounters and spending a lot of healing spells after a trap. And don't even get me started about locked chests or (even worse) doors.

Rule no. 5 - you can never have too many priests. By a priest I mean a cleric or a druid mostly, but one (and only one) paladin will also do well. Their supportive and healing spells, proficiency with simple weapons and number of hit points are priceless. They're not as tough or good with weapons as fighters, but an average encounter should be passed by using the minimum (or none) of their spellcasting ability and most of their combat abilities. And if you have a cleric, the difficulity of your encounters with undead is technically halved.

So, where does that leave you? 2x Arcane spellcaster, 2x Warrior, 1x rogue, which leaves 1 character slot for a priest.
Not much choice, huh? Well, that's a start. This kind of a party should get you going. Try it and see how far you get.

(to be continued)

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