LFR: Successful Character Types

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I've played LFR a few times now, and it's helping me learn the 4th edition rules. I haven't played D&D for about 25 years, so I didn't have any strong notions of how this edition should play. It's also got my wife playing, so that's a plus. My groups (random players from week to week) and experiences have been positive and fun overall.

I'm curious what character types you think do well in this setting. With 3 combat encounters per adventure, it seems combat heavy. This is not a bad thing IMO. If this combat focus is true, then it seems that certain character types would be successful in this play setting.

In this setting, the ideal combat team would consist of a few high-AC defenders and high-damage melee strikers, a ranged striker, a warlord, and a dedicated healer. I haven't seen any rogues or wizards. I don't know if this is a problem with those character types within 4th edition generally, but I imagine that a deeper and more diverse range of skills would be successful in a long-term campaign.

So, please feel free to comment on party-building strategies for LFR, and what characters you bring every week to contribute to the team's success.
It is wise to have a party that is balanced amongst the 4 roles.  While many players avoided controllers at first, I think as they advance into paragon tier adventures, they will find that controllers are very useful.

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep

I concur with Keith; it's very helpful to have a balance across the four primary roles.

I like having 2 leaders in a party...not only do you usually not run out of healing that way, but the buffs that many leaders can provide are great.  OTOH, I've seen that once you get above 2 leaders, combats tend to get to be grinds (I once played at a 5-PC table with four leaders and a striker)...you're never in danger of getting killed, but your damage output isn't that great (because you've got leaders instead of strikers or high-output defenders).

I think it's important to keep a balance between melee and ranged combatants, as well.  If you have more than 2 or 3 ranged combatants, the ranged characters find that they're always having to shift away from enemies who've gotten into their faces.


And, I totally agree with Keith and controllers...my second LFR PC was a wizard, and I set her aside for about 6 months, not being terribly impressed with her.  Then, I learned more about how to play a controller, and started playing her again.  I retrained a few powers and feats as she leveled, and now she's 6th level, and a very strong contributor.

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If your group has two strikers, try to have one be primarily for melee and one for ranged, to make the group more flexible.

If you want two leaders, I suggest only one actual cleric (or strong healing class).  Something like Warlord or a class that enables movement or other attacks by the team will be a great asset to play.

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
I find that more often than not, I'm playing in a 6-man party. The ideal balance, from my experience is:

1 defender who can multi-mark well (multiple defenders tend to step on one anothers' toes)
1 ranged striker (not a warlock, unless he's a very effective build)
1 melee striker
1 tactical leader
1 healing leader
1 controller

If multiple prty members have healing on-hand, you can swap out the second leader for another controller or striker. I'm a big fan of 3 strikers - modules usually don't run lon with 3 strikers.
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
The most successful characters in my neighbourhood are ones that:

a) Pick a thing to be good at (but not necessarily optimized for, see b)

b) Pick a different thing to be at least competent at


So we see successful characters like

-High defenses fighter (primary thing:  attract attacks and shrug them off) who also can lock down a battlefield and prevent enemy movement (secondary thing:  control)

-Strength cleric who focuses on healing (primary thing:  leader), who also throws out big [W] attacks in bursts and blasts (secondary thing: damage)

-High skills bard (primary thing:  skill challenges) who also can heal and buff his allies (secondary thing: leader)

-Big damage barbarian (primary thing: single target damage) who also throws out prone and dazed conditions all the time (secondary thing: action denial)

and many more.


What seems to be less successful, or more precisely, successful less often (but occasionally very successful), are the hyper-optimized-for-one-thing specialists.  The king of this is the Pacifist Cleric, a build I'm seeing more and more of and liking less and less.  They are decked out for the super-heals, but can really do very little else.  And what's worse is that they end up never healing anyone anyway, because their heals are so over-powered that even if a target is below 1/4 health a single Healing Word will waste a dozen HP of overhealing.
What seems to be less successful, or more precisely, successful less often (but occasionally very successful), are the hyper-optimized-for-one-thing specialists.  The king of this is the Pacifist Cleric, a build I'm seeing more and more of and liking less and less.  They are decked out for the super-heals, but can really do very little else.  And what's worse is that they end up never healing anyone anyway, because their heals are so over-powered that even if a target is below 1/4 health a single Healing Word will waste a dozen HP of overhealing.



I guess it is all in the build. I run a Pacifist Cleric, but I don't think I am "hyper-"optimized, just optimized.

I mainly use Astral Seal with him for the lowered defenses, the free healing is just a bonus to making the enemy easier to hit. At third level, other than Healing Word, healer's Mercy and Astral Seal, he has little else in the way of healing powers. Bane and Command for encounters, and Moment of Glory for his daily. Sacred Flame and Divine Aid for granting saving throws. And the feat that grants allies within 5 squares a bonus to their death saving throws...

Yes, he can put out a lot of healing, but he is more than a one-trick pony.

The characters that I, as both a player and GM, dislike, are the hyper-generalists, who may have one stat at 16 or 17, but, in general, suck at most everything. They frequently contribute less than my Pacifist Cleric in combat, and don't have any skills that they are really good at, just a bunch that they are mediocre with. Sure, they can help, a little, in a skill challenge, but thei rmain use, even there, is to fill in because the party doesn't have anyone else who has more than a +2 in the skill involved.

On the originial topic, however, one thing to keep in mind, especially when you have a regular play group, is looking for synergy between characters.

This past Saturday I was playing with a group, and running my relatively new Elf Watcher Shaman, and there was a lot of synergy provided between my Claws of the Eagle, the Cleric's Astral Seal, and the Paladin's melee basic attack. -2 to all defenses, combat advantage all the way around the board, and a melee basic that had a good chance of hitting made for a happy Rogue, and an unhappy solo/elite.

The most successful characters in my neighbourhood are ones that:

a) Pick a thing to be good at (but not necessarily optimized for, see b)

b) Pick a different thing to be at least competent at

I more-or-less agree with this, but I think that the primary role should be a combat role, one of the following:

- Defender (controller-type): One who defends allies by restricting enemy options
- Defender (striker-type): One who defends allies by punishing enemies with damage
- Leader (healing-type): Focused on multiple, effective healing options
- Leader (buff-type): Focused on increasing party effectiveness
- Striker (ranged)
- Striker (melee)
- Controller (AoE): Uses mass damage and/or terrain effects to restrict enemy options
- Controller (Debuff): Uses typically single-target powers to make enemies ineffective

A secondary role can be any of the above plus skill-monkeys:
- Generalist (good at many useful skills)
- Perception (maximized for the most critical skill in LFR)
- Social (Strong at two of the following: diplomacy, bluff, intimidate, insight)
- Physical (Acrobatics, Endurance, Athletics)
- Knowledge (Nature, Arcana, History, Religion, Dungeoneering)

I personally think that having both a primary and secondary role of the same "type" can be just fine, e.g. a controller with both types of power, or a leader with a strong set of both healing and buffing powers and feats to enhance them.  But too many players try to do too much, trying to cover three or more roles and being only mediocre at all of them.

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I'm really liking the following basic group of 5:
Pick one role that 3 of the characters will not cover as their primary role.
Last 2-3 characters are hybrids of that role and some other role.

Example:
Fighter
Wizard
Barbarian
Str|Wis Cleric|Warden - provides off-defender to pull off an opponent off the Fighter without stopping the build from using Righteous Brand.
Dex/Cha Archer Ranger|Bard - really straightforward Ranger who provides something extra
I'm seeing a lot of people talking about being balanced for combat.  While this is good and can make those combat encounters simple, it can lead to trouble in the skill challenges.

Since you play with random people a good amount, my suggestions on this is -

*Try and take at least one social and one physical skill during character creation.

*It's better to train a skill up that you have no modifiers then a skill you have lots of modifiers in.
This gives you a broader range of skills that you have a greater chance of success on.  Instead of just a few skills you're super good at.

*Utility powers that grant skill ability changes can some times be more usefull then the powers that can help deal damage..
As always, neither a jack-of-all-trades nor a real specialized are particular useful in D&D. The first is  always going to be overshadowed, and the 2nd runs a serious risk of getting into a scenario where his trick does not work. When the disabling situation is rare enough* the specialist can be viable, but at least expect to feel really useless on occassion. The problem arises when the whole group specializes in the same trick ;) MindWanderer and Matt's advice are very good in this regard.

* Conditions like daze and blind are not particular common at heroic level, but they become increasingly common the higher level the character becomes. Always invest in items and utility powers that help against conditions.
*It's better to train a skill up that you have no modifiers then a skill you have lots of modifiers in.
This gives you a broader range of skills that you have a greater chance of success on.  Instead of just a few skills you're super good at.



I think that's strongly dependent on what everyone around you plays. In order for that to be useful, the following has to be true:
There are numerous stats that no one starts off with at least a 16 in. So an area where people really like starting values of 20s makes this more likely - someone who has an 18 in a secondary stat who levels it to 20 at level 8 is going to be just as good as someone who starts with a 10 and gains training. In a place where someone starts off with a 20, a 15, and a 13, there'll be a lot more chances that this works.

There are classes that are popular that don't have the usual skills for the roles and no replacement classes pop up. As an example, combine Str/Int Tactical Warlord + Str/Con Fighter + Int/Con Wizard + Str/Dex Rogue + Str/Con Barbarian. That party has both Wis and Cha as problem skill areas. Reasonably balanced in combat, but likely to miserably fail skill challenges - both the Str/Con Fighter and Barbarian should strongly consider taking things outside their areas of expertise...

People keep boosting the same skills rather than have a range of choices. In other words, an area where all non-Wisdom characters try to take Perception over say Nature and there are few characters with decent Wisdom for whatever reasons.

I'm curious what character types you think do well in this setting. With 3 combat encounters per adventure, it seems combat heavy. This is not a bad thing IMO. If this combat focus is true, then it seems that certain character types would be successful in this play setting.



Well, most players seem to find the challenge level to be fine or easy, so you don't necessarily need to be super-effective for LFR. There will be some difficult adventures, but most of them are obvious (Specials, Interactives, anything concluding a major quest). Parties that are not optimal can still do well in difficult adventures, or at least complete them (since you can do things like run away - seldom is an adventure going to force you into a TPK).

Three combat encounters isn't necessarily better than two. The adventure will still use the same XP budget, but will spread it over three OR it will have more or fewer skill challenges. An adventure with two combats could have two really hard combats or it might have two normal combats and some difficult skill challenges. Focusing a PC for one scenario over the other is not something I would recommend. In general, the biggest effect you can plan for is that you will have at least two combats and only seldom four or more. Thus, you can pace Action Point usage and dailies that way. But, be wary of not using dailies. The first fight can often be very difficult when players hold back on dailies... but that might be the highest XP fight, right up front, or just plain the harder fight!

In this setting, the ideal combat team would consist of a few high-AC defenders and high-damage melee strikers, a ranged striker, a warlord, and a dedicated healer. I haven't seen any rogues or wizards. I don't know if this is a problem with those character types within 4th edition generally, but I imagine that a deeper and more diverse range of skills would be successful in a long-term campaign.



There are few universal truths, but there are some. It is easier to do well in LFR if you have at least one good defender (sticky, high defenses). It is easier to do well if you have at least one ranged combatant (preferably a strong ranged striker, such as an archer ranger or sorcerer, and having half the party be ranged is often better than having fewer be ranged as you get to ignore terrain somewhat). It is increasingly useful to have skills that are common to traps or trap-like situations (Thievery, Dungeoneering, Arcana, Nature). It is important to be able to have movement options, such as forced movement for multiple allies or shifts/teleportation for getting vulnerable allies out of the way. Control becomes very effective around paragon. Healing is important for some adventures. In those adventures you want one strong healer but you generally want their healing to also come with something else (tactical, preventative, movement, etc.) so that it isn't just about HPs. The negative comments about Pacifist Healers generally come because the build is often really focused on HPs but provides little damage or damage-enhancing or tactical output as compared to other leaders. (Thought it can be great, truly.)

So, please feel free to comment on party-building strategies for LFR, and what characters you bring every week to contribute to the team's success.


If building a single PC that will insert themselves into random groups, I generally try to have a primary and secondary area, as was mentioned, with the primary one that is applicable to my role. If I'm a leader, other than a Tactical Warlord or similar iconic buffer, I want to make sure I cover healing. If I'm a striker (outside of some warlocks) I need to address damage. I then try to boost my good skills so I will be a strong contributor when those situations come up. I try to be effective, but with the reality that I have plenty of breathing room for RP choices because LFR is not that hard.

If building a team from scratch, you can really be effective. You can plan for all sorts of synergies. Take a look at the ranged-focused shaman in Primal Power or the new ranged Warlord in MP2 for ideas of what could be done to enhance two ranged strikers (or another role with a strong ranged basic, such as a controler). I recently ran a great table of dwarves that all had Rings of Sympathy, so they were constantly chain-saving by making a save, activating the property to grant someone else a save. The daily on the ring just made it all the stronger. But, aside from such high thinking, just making a table of all the skills and making sure each one is covered will be really effective for skill challenges. You can also work on covering roles.

One issue worth noting is that some classes do not duplicate well. Two warlocks can be an issue (low damage, curse issues unless they both take a feat). Two bards can be an issue (certainly three would be rough). These tables can still triumph, but it is not ideal.

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My advice is you try to synergize with your wife's character.  Since your wife is playing and if I may add a very good thing, you both could come up with gimmicks that play well for duos.  I advise this because it sounds like you dont play in a regular group and thus you will encounter players with varying skills.  So by synergizing with your wife, it takes away some of the that varying skill risk by for instance building a defender and leader both with some striking capability.

I will also advise to build a character that mimicks the way you play the game.  For instance, if you are very aggressive, then a charging barbarian might fit well with you.  Many times I have seen a player play a character that does not fit them personality wise because another player rocked with that kind of character but their performance is below standard.

As stated earlier, LFR is not designed to be hard, in fact it is rather easy so basically anything you come up with will be ok.  However, you do have the responsibility to know your powers of the character and able to apply those powers and features in various situations.
Great discussion. Thanks all.
I agree with -Aribeth-.  I would suggest one of you play a very effective striker and the other a defender or leader.  If nothing else at least you know you'll have impactful characters no matter who else is at the table.

For example damage oriented rogues work really well with super sticky fighters that can prone the baddies.

My particular favorite for LFR is the Ranger which just does a broken amount of damage.  I happen to prefer a Melee Ranger, but Ranged Rangers do well also.  If you pair a Melee Ranger up with a Leader that can give out surge-less healing that's an excellent combo.  If you prefer Ranged, then you may even pair them with a controller that prevents anything from getting near you.

Definitely work on synergizing the pair of characters together, and I think everything else will fall into place.
Yes, working together as a pair in that way makes perfect sense, and is something I hadn't exactly thought about. We can be our own combat duo. Great suggestion.
Yes, working together as a pair in that way makes perfect sense, and is something I hadn't exactly thought about. We can be our own combat duo. Great suggestion.



Something to consider doing is to do 2 hybrids who both share one role and then do separate other roles. As an example, if you both play Leaders and then one of you picks a Striker and the other person a Defender, you'll make almost any table function - yet at the same time, you're not like the hybrid leader all by yourself who doesn't actually provide a full-blown Leader function.

So as an example:
Drow Archer Ranger|Bard
Longtooth Shifter Warden|Warlord who takes Warden's Armored Might as the Hybrid Talent feat - with 18 Str/Wis, you should have a 19 AC at 1st level with Hide/Heavy Shield.

i.e. any party you go to, you'll have 1 solid leader, you'll be able to provide striker damage, and your Warlord can mark a target, has defender level AC...And Intuitive Strike works really really amazing well with a Drow Archer...
For a duo I like a striker with a good melee basic (such as barbarian) with a buffing leader (such as a warlord).  You can get a really good AC and some stickiness with the warlord, and despite the stereotypes, I've found that if you make a couple of minor sacrifices a barbarian can be really survivable.

The best part is that no matter the group, the barbarian keeps doing its thing, but the warlord can buff up a good party in addition to just the barbarian.
It is wise to have a party that is balanced amongst the 4 roles.  While many players avoided controllers at first, I think as they advance into paragon tier adventures, they will find that controllers are very useful.

Keith




I'd have to disagree with you, Keith, based on my experience playing recent LFR adventures.  Some recent adventures (I'm looking at you, Battle Interactive) have emphasized DPR (or DPS) over anything else.  Being able to lock down the battlefield is secondary to putting the monsters down.  (I played the BI as a 14th-level wizard and very nearly walked away from the table.)

The teams that I've seen do better in recent adventures have been very striker-heavy.  (As in one defender, maybe one leader, and the rest strikers in a mix of melee and ranged.)  The more synergy, the better.

I'd have to disagree with you, Keith, based on my experience playing recent LFR adventures.  Some recent adventures (I'm looking at you, Battle Interactive) have emphasized DPR (or DPS) over anything else.  Being able to lock down the battlefield is secondary to putting the monsters down.  (I played the BI as a 14th-level wizard and very nearly walked away from the table.)


I've seen people say this, but it confuses me. The first encounter is all about mobility -- being able to daze, slow, or immobilize the monsters is a huge deal. The second encounter becomes significantly easier if you can evade the ground troops. Not to mention the advantage gained if you can move the archers off the wall.



I'd say the last encounter rewards control as well. One path to success is killing all the monsters quickly, but there's also value in restricting their ability to get to a certain target.

A lot of that may be how well people cope with time limits. Some people really go for the 'The enemies have no way to kill us' style of play with lockdown effects, immense healing, etc. Some people also agonize over every single tactical decision to make it perfect. In my experience, these often go hand in hand, though that may be anecdotal.

Either way, in a closely timed fight, if you can't resolve your turns quickly, and win the fight quickly, then you may feel left out in the cold. Personally, I find damage is very important, but I'm always happy to have a variety of control effects around too.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
I'd have to disagree with you, Keith, based on my experience playing recent LFR adventures.  Some recent adventures (I'm looking at you, Battle Interactive) have emphasized DPR (or DPS) over anything else.  Being able to lock down the battlefield is secondary to putting the monsters down.  (I played the BI as a 14th-level wizard and very nearly walked away from the table.)



And yet, the Paragon table of the BI I ran, in which there were controllers with some very nasty area affects were also successful.

I suspect that if the party isn't balanced, ie has damage output, mob control as well as healing, it will not do well. However, as with many things, a good defense is equivalent to a good offense, so parties that focus on offense (damage) will also do well. I've said it before, damage output by PCs in 4E can wreck the game. That's not the only way that you can wreck the game, but it is the most common because it is frakkin' -easy- to do (WotC, I'm looking at/blaming -you-).

And in a timed environment, with the goal being "kill stuff", yeah, DPR is going to win. Does it make the mods bad? Probably not. But then at your BI you should have been warned "This mod is all about combat, all the time. If you're not interested, go play something else." Perhaps the next BI will feature goals such as "hold/capture the flag", or "capture prisoners" or "prevent X" (incidentally, the BI did include at least one such encounter). Such goals might see strikers and DPR'ers less useful and controllers and defenders that can make things "stick" more so. *shrug*

I have no problem with the BI being mostly combat.  The problem I have (at least, the one that's relevant...there were others) is that after the real-time limit (and I realize those are necessary to keep it in the alloted time slot), the coordinators and GMs met.  The only question seemed to be, "How many did they kill?".  And because we hadn't killed everything by that time--even though it was clear in every encounter that the monster were going to lose--my table was consistently hosed.

This was not a problem with players taking too long to deliberate their actions.  The problem was that DPS was the benchmark for success, so every non-striker potentially detracts from the success level of the team.  Had I known *that* going in, I might have done something else.

I'm trying to think of which encounter you're talking about, tirianmal.  I recall only two encounters which differed significantly from the standard DPS-meter.

Without throwing out too many spoilers, one was the last encounter in which, in retrospect, I should have stood up and interrupted the coordinator's flavor text, since half the premise of the encounter requires forcing the characters to be surprised into inaction, and my character took the Divine Oracle PP.

The other was the "ritual casting" encounter, which brings out another host of problems I had with the mod--regardless of what they say, it's another DPS-meter.  Even though I was good at the minion-kill portion (with my at-will AoEs), I found it insulting to be relegated--as a Paragon-level arcane caster--to playing bodyguard to the "competent" ritual caster.
The other was the "ritual casting" encounter, which brings out another host of problems I had with the mod--regardless of what they say, it's another DPS-meter.  Even though I was good at the minion-kill portion (with my at-will AoEs), I found it insulting to be relegated--as a Paragon-level arcane caster--to playing bodyguard to the "competent" ritual caster.



Wow. I just don't get this. Even the most competent folks in the world are just sometimes the wrong person to be doing X. Either because they aren't the experts or even most knowledgeable at something. Even a Nobel Prize winning Biologist isn't going to be the right person to perform open heart surgery.

Just because you're a Paragon PC, doesn't make you THE go to girl/guy for everything. Just, no.

If you feel insulted by that, if you feel like the spot light can and should only be on your PC (and I'm not saying it wasn't in this challenge) then ... *shrug* sorry, you're not playing the same game I am.
The other was the "ritual casting" encounter, which brings out another host of problems I had with the mod--regardless of what they say, it's another DPS-meter.  Even though I was good at the minion-kill portion (with my at-will AoEs), I found it insulting to be relegated--as a Paragon-level arcane caster--to playing bodyguard to the "competent" ritual caster.


I absolutely disagree with this on a couple levels. First, no fight against only minions can be described as a "DPS-meter" - your ability to succeed at eliminating foes depends purely on your ability to damage multiple targets, something that shows a relatively strong preference for controllers.
Also, I didn't get the impression that the PCs were "playing bodyguard to the 'competent' ritual caster". I viewed it as an optimization of resources. The PCs were capable of defending the other casters, where the other casters were only able to cast the ritual. As a result, the PCs needed to do the defending, even if their ability to cast the ritual was superior to that of the NPC (not to mention that in order to succeed at the encounter, the PCs are required to assist the ritual caster).
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The other was the "ritual casting" encounter, which brings out another host of problems I had with the mod--regardless of what they say, it's another DPS-meter.  Even though I was good at the minion-kill portion (with my at-will AoEs), I found it insulting to be relegated--as a Paragon-level arcane caster--to playing bodyguard to the "competent" ritual caster.



Wow. I just don't get this. Even the most competent folks in the world are just sometimes the wrong person to be doing X. Either because they aren't the experts or even most knowledgeable at something. Even a Nobel Prize winning Biologist isn't going to be the right person to perform open heart surgery.

Just because you're a Paragon PC, doesn't make you THE go to girl/guy for everything. Just, no.

If you feel insulted by that, if you feel like the spot light can and should only be on your PC (and I'm not saying it wasn't in this challenge) then ... *shrug* sorry, you're not playing the same game I am.



I can agree with the first point, and it's true that I'm not the go-to guy for everything.  However, when we help the caster complete the ritual in three rounds and then have to stand around defending him for another seven rounds for no other reason, I have a problem with that.  And that's exactly what happened at my table.
"Control" is a big thing, with a lot of variance. If control is really just, say, immobilized, or just penalties to attack, it might not be worthwhile. But, often, control does a lot of different things and does so when the player wants them and the table needs them.

We could provide endless examples, but the net effect is to keep the PCs out of unwanted danger, to ruin the tactics of the monsters, and to enable the defeat of the monsters. In my tables of P2, this worked really well. When you do control well, it frees PCs up to set the tone rather than having to react. Conditions can really make it favorable on PCs... combat advantage (whether by daze or prone or stronger) can let blows hit. Attack penalties on a monster attack that would stun, daze, or immobilize can be huge.  Forced movement can turn a combat around.

I would not classify the BI as favoring striker damage more than regular play (which, itself, does favor striker damage - the best control is death). The BI seemed, to me, to have plenty for all the roles. If anything, the encounter variety meant more for every role.

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I have no problem with the BI being mostly combat.  The problem I have (at least, the one that's relevant...there were others) is that after the real-time limit (and I realize those are necessary to keep it in the allotted time slot), the coordinators and GMs met.  The only question seemed to be, "How many did they kill?".  And because we hadn't killed everything by that time--even though it was clear in every encounter that the monster were going to lose--my table was consistently hosed.


I agree that more victory conditions would have been great. However, there was more being tracked than just kills. Kills were one of several things being tracked for encounters. It is a good indicator of success, but in most encounters it was topped by a different objective (wall view, NPC survival, etc.).

This was not a problem with players taking too long to deliberate their actions.  The problem was that DPS was the benchmark for success, so every non-striker potentially detracts from the success level of the team.  Had I known *that* going in, I might have done something else.


Again, I disagree. I do so on two grounds. First, the encounters as written and as scored at D&DXP are predominantly about something other than destroying foes, but then include destroying foes as a secondary measure. The caster example is perfect - you could let the waves hit and still keep the caster alive and win. The second combat is another - you could reach the wall and accomplish the main objective. In general, it makes sense for killing foes to matter - this is a big battle... seeing what is going on across the wall is of paramount importance, but you won't have succeeded if you left tons of monsters on top of it!

Second, while killing foes quickly is always fantastic, there were a lot of situations where all roles could shine. My tables would have done very poorly without a leader. They would have done poorly without flexible PCs that had great movement capabilities, clever utilities to change the tide of battle, and great defensive and tanking capabilities. I would look forward to playing ADCP2-1 with any of my PCs (I have all roles except a defender). While I did well with my striker, it was in no way due to my ability to inflict traditional measures of DPS. In fact, my controller side is what was really helpful... and even my defensive abilities.

Without throwing out too many spoilers, one was the last encounter in which, in retrospect, I should have stood up and interrupted the coordinator's flavor text, since half the premise of the encounter requires forcing the characters to be surprised into inaction, and my character took the Divine Oracle PP.


Didn't happen at my tables at D&DXP.

The other was the "ritual casting" encounter, which brings out another host of problems I had with the mod--regardless of what they say, it's another DPS-meter.  Even though I was good at the minion-kill portion (with my at-will AoEs), I found it insulting to be relegated--as a Paragon-level arcane caster--to playing bodyguard to the "competent" ritual caster.


This is the perfect example of where DPS did not matter in any way at all. A PC with an optimized single-target at-will was no better off than a PC making an acrobatics check! It is also a perfect example of one of the definitions of control (AoE) making a huge difference!

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The other was the "ritual casting" encounter, which brings out another host of problems I had with the mod--regardless of what they say, it's another DPS-meter.  Even though I was good at the minion-kill portion (with my at-will AoEs), I found it insulting to be relegated--as a Paragon-level arcane caster--to playing bodyguard to the "competent" ritual caster.



Wow. I just don't get this. Even the most competent folks in the world are just sometimes the wrong person to be doing X. Either because they aren't the experts or even most knowledgeable at something. Even a Nobel Prize winning Biologist isn't going to be the right person to perform open heart surgery.

Just because you're a Paragon PC, doesn't make you THE go to girl/guy for everything. Just, no.

If you feel insulted by that, if you feel like the spot light can and should only be on your PC (and I'm not saying it wasn't in this challenge) then ... *shrug* sorry, you're not playing the same game I am.



I can agree with the first point, and it's true that I'm not the go-to guy for everything.  However, when we help the caster complete the ritual in three rounds and then have to stand around defending him for another seven rounds for no other reason, I have a problem with that.  And that's exactly what happened at my table.



On the other hand, part of the point of this is that the PCs are the heroes, even if there are 250 of them assembled.  As in a lot of dramatic fiction, the main characters--those are the PCs, not the NPCs--are the go-to people for a lot of stuff.  We (or at least I) play these games in part to develop a heroic character.

My BI experience was an 8-hour reminder that I was not playing the right character for the job, which invoked a feeling of being dead weight and decidedly unheroic.

Fortunately for the whole experience, apparently my table was the only table where this feeling manifest.  If that's truly the case, my apologies for raining on the parade.

But the lesson I learned from the BI is that I would not play it again with anything other than a striker.
I have no problem with the BI being mostly combat.  The problem I have (at least, the one that's relevant...there were others) is that after the real-time limit (and I realize those are necessary to keep it in the allotted time slot), the coordinators and GMs met.  The only question seemed to be, "How many did they kill?".  And because we hadn't killed everything by that time--even though it was clear in every encounter that the monster were going to lose--my table was consistently hosed.


I agree that more victory conditions would have been great. However, there was more being tracked than just kills. Kills were one of several things being tracked for encounters. It is a good indicator of success, but in most encounters it was topped by a different objective (wall view, NPC survival, etc.).


It would have been nice to know that at the time, but it was in no way clear.  Every indication we got from our DM was that he was only asked about kills.


Without throwing out too many spoilers, one was the last encounter in which, in retrospect, I should have stood up and interrupted the coordinator's flavor text, since half the premise of the encounter requires forcing the characters to be surprised into inaction, and my character took the Divine Oracle PP.


Didn't happen at my tables at D&DXP.


It happened at every table at DDXP.  What happened in the flavor text before you even got to roll initiative?  Sounded to me like, at the very least, a surprise round sneak attack.  That doesn't even count the pre-initiative corral-and-burn some tables complained about--thank God our DM at least didn't hose us that way.

But I'll take responsibility for not playing my character correctly in that one very public instance.


Without throwing out too many spoilers, one was the last encounter in which, in retrospect, I should have stood up and interrupted the coordinator's flavor text, since half the premise of the encounter requires forcing the characters to be surprised into inaction, and my character took the Divine Oracle PP.


Didn't happen at my tables at D&DXP.


It happened at every table at DDXP.  What happened in the flavor text before you even got to roll initiative?  Sounded to me like, at the very least, a surprise round sneak attack.  That doesn't even count the pre-initiative corral-and-burn some tables complained about--thank God our DM at least didn't hose us that way.


I don't see anything in the adventure text that suggests foes get a surprise round, nor do I recall playing through one or running one. I do recall things happening to NPCs and foes appearing (gaining position), but that's all. I don't find it surprising that foes get to be on the map. I also don't find it at all strange to have PCs in the center given what was happening (the dinner). But, maybe I'm just not recalling or I'm missing something?

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Surprise rounds are rather uncommon in 4E. R&D has asked LFR authors to remove ambush situations from the adventure if it happened more than once in an adventure. In most fights neither side is supposed to be surprised. High perception is mostly useful to spot the traps and during a fight the lurkers.

In case of the BI there is only one fight were "surprise" even matters, and that is about harming/wounding a NPC to tell a story than anything else. The PCs themselves are not the target of the "surprise" action. The fact that we were dealing with 28 tables also make it incredible hard to adapt the scene on the fly based on one PC's abilities (especially considering the huge time pressure we were on on Friday). Besides the story aspect to that scene, I really wonder how a character would react before that event. Attacking the powerful important NPC before he can trigger the fight is not going make your character happy and that is assuming the character somehow even knows exactly what is about to happen.


Surprise rounds are rather uncommon in 4E. R&D has asked LFR authors to remove ambush situations from the adventure if it happened more than once in an adventure. In most fights neither side is supposed to be surprised. High perception is mostly useful to spot the traps and during a fight the lurkers.

In case of the BI there is only one fight were "surprise" even matters, and that is about harming/wounding a NPC to tell a story than anything else. The PCs themselves are not the target of the "surprise" action. The fact that we were dealing with 28 tables also make it incredible hard to adapt the scene on the fly based on one PC's abilities (especially considering the huge time pressure we were on on Friday). Besides the story aspect to that scene, I really wonder how a character would react before that event. Attacking the powerful important NPC before he can trigger the fight is not going make your character happy and that is assuming the character somehow even knows exactly what is about to happen.




This is the part I'm talking about.  And that we were dealing with many tables was the main reason I didn't interrupt the flavor text during the game, even though I otherwise might have.  But being able to save the guy from being backstabbed might have helped me feel like I were actually contributing, even if the villains later killed him.

And the assumption that the character at least has an idea of what's going to happen is exactly the point of the Foresight feature of the Divine Oracle PP.
And the assumption that the character at least has an idea of what's going to happen is exactly the point of the Foresight feature of the Divine Oracle PP.


He knows something bad is about to happen, not necessarily what. It can also be argued that since in this case the bad thing does not effect the DO his foresight ability is not triggered. There is a line somewhere (cannot remember whether it was in an actual book, Dragon or somewhere else though) about the number of targets that PCs can choose to be allies, something along the lines of there being no hard number, but that common sense should be applied with in mind that D&D is about small groups and not armies. Regardless, this is not the place to discuss what can and cannot be done in regards of the DO.
And the assumption that the character at least has an idea of what's going to happen is exactly the point of the Foresight feature of the Divine Oracle PP.


He knows something bad is about to happen, not necessarily what. It can also be argued that since in this case the bad thing does not effect the DO his foresight ability is not triggered. There is a line somewhere (cannot remember whether it was in an actual book, Dragon or somewhere else though) about the number of targets that PCs can choose to be allies, something along the lines of there being no hard number, but that common sense should be applied with in mind that D&D is about small groups and not armies. Regardless, this is not the place to discuss what can and cannot be done in regards of the DO.



Certainly, though, I can make the case that the main guy is an "ally", and he was certainly within range, given where we started on the map.

Anyway, lesson learned...
Anchovy_Pizza--

I hope you're still reading....I'm going to answer your originating post a bit differently.  I've played more than my fair share of LFR (and even with some of the very repliers on this list) and I may disagree with much of what they have said.

1) In LFR, for the most part, you don't need a balanced party to succeed.    There is no data or proof that exists that suggests a balanced party (all roles covered) will be any more successful and an unbalanced one (missing a defender, leader, or striker).    In LFR, balance is optional.   People recommend it because it seems safer, but that isn't necessarily true.

All of the following parties will have a wonderful time playing in most LFR mods:

4 strikers, 2 controllers
3 defenders, 3 strikers
2 defenders, 2 leaders, 2 controllers
6 strikers
5 defenders, 1 controller
3 leaders, 2 strikers, 1 controller

In fact, those combinations above are parties that I've played with in just last year.  No TPKs (total party kills, no deaths).   The only deaths I've seen in the last 18 months have been at "balanced" parties.

In short, all sorts of crazy combinations work just fine.  Don't worry about 'balance'.   It's a myth.

The key, and perhaps some of the true joy, will be figuring how to win based on party composition...maximize your strengths to win.  You might find a lot of fun in that.

2)  I, personally, am a roleplayer first, combat-munchkin second and my first wish for you and your wife is to play the exact character that you want to play, rather than what others think you should play.   Find a concept in your head and play that...don't confine yourself to what others think is an ideal.

3)  For the love of whatever god I pray to, toss out the concepts that tie a particular class to a particular role (defender, striker, leader, controller).   Instead, play your character as your character and not as however you think others think your character should be played.  Play a front line controller or battle alchemist or archer-bard or healer-invoker.  If you dream it, you can do it.

3a)  Whatever you decide to be and however you decide to play it, try to be good at it.   Want to be a front line character, be it and play it whatever class you choose.   Don't let anyone else place limitations on how you play...just do it well and have fun with it.

4)  In LFR, you'll rarely have control of your party composition...you'll be playing at game stores or conventions or wherever.   To be a good player at this game, one thing you'll need to master and accept is how to adjust your party to be effective when you don't have a leader/defender/whatever.

When you get your fighting feet beneath you, you'll be able to competently win most battles in most modules with little difficulty. As it stands now, the mods aren't very challenging...and they times that they are, you can just play a lower level.

If you're at a table with 5 strikers, maybe you take turns standing out in front while the rest of the party reduces enemy numbers quickly. With 4 controllers, maybe you isolate the monster groups the other 2 party members can gnaw on enemies on at a time.

There are millions of fun ways to 'win' this game...you don't need balance to enjoy them.   In fact, I would argue that it's much more fun without 'balance'.

-Pain
I don't find myself in full agreement with Painlord, but I have noticed that parties without a leader tend to never end up needing one, while parties with a leader frequently do...only a personal observation, but it seems to play out at the tables in my area.

We still consider it far safer to have a leader and a defender at a table, but we don't worry too much if they aren't there.
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
If you dream it, you can do it.



True, but experience is a factor here.  I can make a concept like "melee Warlock" work now, but it sure would have been difficult in September 2008 for me to make it work (even if all of the options had been available).
I don't find myself in full agreement with Painlord, but I have noticed that parties without a leader tend to never end up needing one, while parties with a leader frequently do...only a personal observation, but it seems to play out at the tables in my area.

We still consider it far safer to have a leader and a defender at a table, but we don't worry too much if they aren't there.


This depends on the adventure. I think half of the recent adventures I have run (across several tiers) are extremely difficult without a leader.

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Thanks for your perspective, Pain. I see your point. I'd be open to bringing other characters myself, but I'd sure hope that the rest of the party can (a) deal damage and (b) keep us all healed up.

The characters of my wife and I are both now Level 3. We're both strikers (her ranged, as a warlock; me, melee, as a barbarian). So, that pairing has worked well, and probably has helped out our groups a lot.

I'd agree that bringing a healer makes things really easy. So, leaders have helped. I think there's a solid base of 4 characters that I see as necessary: 1 melee striker, 1 ranged striker, 1 leader, and 1 defender. Anyway, that's what I'm seeing, based on our adventures to date.

I'm not sure every character would succeed in LFR. I had developed an elf ranger as my first character. I'm not sure I'd bring him to LFR; he seems squishy now. I'd want some tanks in front of me, that's for sure.
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