Saturday, 16 August 2008

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

In this post I tried to explain some stuff you should know if you're trying to play a D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) based game, especially the PC games such as Neverwinter Nights, Neverwinter Nights 2, Icewind Dale 2 or Temple of Elemental Evil.

Here I will try to explain some stuff further.

First of all I said you should have two warriors, one rogue, one or two arcane spellcasters and at least one priest (preferrably cleric if it's only one, because of his healing and undead turning abilities). But, this fills up your party maximum of 6 characters, which has several bad (some would even say nasty) side-effects.

The most important bad side-effects are the following.
First, you'll get the least experience points and you will progress in levels very, very slowly. This is bad. My personal experience has shown me that a party of four level 5 characters is way stronger than a party of six level 4 characters. Especially if there are spellcasters involved.
Secondly, you won't have any space left for mercenaries. I don't find this to be a very big problem, but some of my friends like to occasionally hire a mercenary that's a few levels above their party, in order to get past some nasty encounter more easily. The choice is yours.

The solution is balancing some stuff in your party.

Let's look, for example at the rogue. Don't feel like investing in one? It depends on the way you play. Rogues can do only one thing nobody else can - sneak attack. You can use your rogue to scout ahead, and when he finds some nasty enemies he can considerably lower the life force of one of them (say, that wizard who always casts a fireball or horror on your party) and then run for help. This gives your party a considerable advantage - first, you know what to expect, and second, your rogue has caused a lot of damage (and sometimes even killed) someone problematic.
Now, if that's not your cup of tea, you may sacrifice that one in favour of a free character slot. If you do that, you'll have one character less in your party, and will thus get more experience points.
If you do that, be sure to have someone to detect traps for you. You can have your tank (a dwarf fighter, for example) go forward and spring all the possible traps. And lose a lot of health. This may cost you a lot of extra healing, and sometimes maybe even the fighter himself. A better solution could be the "detect traps" spell from your priest. And your ranger can go scout ahead, if you give him the "hide" and "move silently" skills. Or you can just wait and let the monsters surprise you. Your call.
Another choice could be the rogue/wizard multiclass character. This is a very efficient multiclass, since both rogues and wizards have the same primary abilities, DEX and INT. Some of my friends have driven this combination to the point of imbalance. However, know that your rogue/wizard will never have the best spells or the best rogue abilities. This is a tradeoff.
And another idea - try a monk. Monks also have the stealth skills, and their unarmed attacks are all but a thing to overlook. In Icewind Dale 2, there is a monk subclass which can be multiclassed with a rogue, and that may be interesting for players who like the ninja-like classes. And the above mentioned sneak attack in combination with the monk's Ki strike or a stunning attack is very, very convenient in getting rid of a single, pesky enemy.
Tip: when sneak attacking, aim for the arcane spellcasters first. They have the least hitpoints and are most likely to die. Moreover, the enemy party's arcane spellcasting abilities will be severely crippled, which should make your party very, very happy.

The second class type to look at are the warrior classes.
I've mentioned the ranger earlier as a stealth unit, and he's equally valuable as an archer. And as a close-combat warrior as well, with his dual wield. You may try and multiclass it with rogue, for an extra sneak attack, or with barbarian, for some raging abilities.
And when we're talking barbarians, you may try multiclassing those with priest classes. A barbarian/cleric is a deadly combination. You'll sacrifice a few rages per day and a few hit points and a very, very little attack bonus, but you'll get a set of supportive and healing spells, perhaps an offensive spell or two. Send a character like this in front, let him take the first damage, heal himself afterwards, cast a few boost spells on himself, and then start raging. By the time the rest of your party will arrive, at least one opponent will be either dead or overextended. Or running.
Another interesting combination is a fighter/wizard, or a paladin/sorcerer (even better, but know that once you take a level of sorcerer you won't be able to progress as a paladin anymore). Proficiency with martial weapons, some arcane spells, and the worst thing that will happen will be the loss of your trusty armor. No matter though, you can always cast "mage armor" or "shield" on yourself.
Tip: when multiclassing a warrior with a spellcasting class, stay away from offensive spells as much as possible. The first reason is redundancy - you don't need a magic missile or a fireball, when your trusty sword/hammer/mace/axe does the same thing. The second reason is your caster level and your spell saving throws - you just won't make a high enough spell save DC for your opponents, and they will all save. You'll spend a fireball, everyone will save and take just half the damage, while your power attack + cleave + great cleave could have killed them all by that time. Your better bets could be Bull's Strength, True Strike, Invisibility, Barkskin, Aid, Magic Weapon and so on.

Finally, I'll cover priests and mages together. This is because I firstly want to tell you about the priest/mage multiclass. As with above, if you do that, stick to supportive spells which will make your party stronger. And keep in mind that this will be all your character can do. He will suck in close combat because of his low hit points, and will suck in ranged combat because of low attack bonuses and proficiency with not-so-good ranged weapons. So, you should probably reconsider this one.
Secondly, and I cannot emphasize this enough, and I see not many people take this advice - you can never have too many priests. I've once played ToEE with a 4-character party which had only priests - one cleric/barbarian, one cleric (with a War domain, which made him excel in close combat), one druid and one cleric/rogue. No mages. And guess what. There was no single encounter in the entire game (provided I always took the path of monsters that were roughly my level) that my party didn't literally wade like a steamroller. My four priests had hit points like buffalos, their fortitude and will saves made them technically immune to almost any magical attack, and the heavy armours they wore (except for the cleric/rogue, which was in most cases unseen, anyway) absorbed about 2/3 of the attacks. And they were four, so the experience I got was about 33% higher than it would be with 6 characters.
On the other hand, a 4-mage party will have a very hard time surviving until you reach level 5. After that, a similar, but quite a bit more subtle, devastation occured.

To conclude this part - try multiclassing, experiment, don't put in your party something that you won't use, and have a lot of priests.

Hope I help someone with this. Cheerz =]

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