"Yippie-ki-yay", a Dark Sun (Crossbow) Hunter CharOp Diary

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Introduction

Welcome!

I was recently invited to participate in a Dark Sun campaign in which the players are currently Level 2. I was told at the time the offer to join was extended that the party had a Defender, a Ranger, and a Bard, and would like a Controller.

Given my particular quirks, my preferences would be Invoker or Hunter, in no particular order. With this being a Dark Sun game, that meant that the decision was made for me. Yay!

Having playtested Hunters a bit already, and after discussing them here and in ##4eCO, I've been considering how they stand in the broad range of classes and builds available to players. While it is obvious that they aren't powerful, table time has shown me that you can run them in parties with fully optimized characters, and still be a strong contributor. This leads me to a statement that I really want to test over the course of this campaign...

"While Hunters aren't overtly powerful, they are so useful that they can justify a place in a party of any level of optimization."

My intention here is to log my experiences with the class in what promises to be a brutal campaign, and to see if more extensive play supports the above statement or not.

Along the way, I intend to throw in some entertaining bits, anecdotes, comments, etc.

I hope that this becomes a fun thread for any of us who open it with any regularity.

Enjoy!


The build on day 1

Micah
Human (Crossbow) Hunter -- using crossbow mechanics, but reskinned to a bow. Crossbow mechanics are my clear preference, as an accuracy nut, but bow is a better visual for Dark Sun, IMO.
Background: (Recent Life) Explorer of the Ancient, Thievery Class Skill benefit. When possible, I prefer to use the Background for Religion Class Skill so I can grab 'Deliverance of Faith'. Didn't fit here.
Theme: Noble Adept
Human Bonus Power: Heroic Effort
Wild Talent: as yet, undetermined-- DM is choosing

Strength: 10
Constitution: 13
Dexterity: 20
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 8

HP: 30
Bloodied: 15 or less HP
Surge Value: 7
Surges per day: 7

AC: 18
Fort: 14
Ref: 18
Will: 13

Initiative: 10+4 (Aspect of the Pouncing Lynx) = +14

Passive Perception: 17
Passive Insight: 12

Trained Skills: Athletics, Endurance, Nature, Perception, Stealth, Thievery

Feats:
Archery Style: Crossbow Expertise, Speed Loader (effectively)
Bonus, Human: Weapon Proficiency (Superior Crossbow)
Level 1: Weapon Focus (Crossbow)
Level 2: Improved Initiative

Wilderness Knacks:
Watchful Rest
Wilderness Tracker

Base (not Basic) Attack: +11 vs AC, 1d10+6

Aspects:
Aspect of the Pouncing Lynx
Aspect of the Dancing Serpent

At-Will attacks:
Aimed Shot
Clever Shot
Rapid Shot

Encounter Power:
Disruptive Shot

Utility and other useful powers:
Invigorating Stride, 1/enc
Adept's Insight, 1/enc
Heroic Effort, 1/enc
Insert Wild Talent Power here , At-Will

Items:
Superior Crossbow, Leather Armor, Adventurer's Kit, 3 Waterskins, Desert Clothing, Distillation Kit, 2 Survival Days, Giant-hair rope (50')


Character Background Notes

Timeline:
-- Micah is born into a family of minor Tyrian nobles. His family owns some productive agricultural land, and has some interest in fabric trade.

-- During his youth, Micah is enrolled in Tyr's school of the Way (psionics), as most noble children are, and is taken out to observe how his family conducts business with incoming and outgoing caravans.

-- As a teenager, Micah begins to identify with his family's slaves more and more, and comes to believe that nobles are as bound to their duties as slaves are to their owners. He grows to hate his status and the life he is expected to live, and becomes a vocal enemy of slavery, in general. These stances put him at odds with his family.

-- Around the time of his 18th birthday (coincidentally-- I doubt '18' means jack in Dark Sun), Micah and his father have an explosive argument about his views. Micah stalks out of their home into the street outside, and loudly and harshly declares his hatred and resentment toward his family. Micah's father follows, and declares Micah to be expelled from the family. Micah is legally removed from all record and claims of entitlement to holdings or interests of the family, and is cut off financially. He neither notices, nor cares.

-- Having modest knowledge of caravan operations, some skill with a bow, and a desire to get beyond the walls of Tyr and see the world, Micah catches on as a caravan guard, and begins travelling the roads between Tyr, Altaruk, and Silver Springs. During his first year, he befriends a more seasoned, and somewhat boisterous caravan scout/expedition guide named Kaman. Kaman takes Micah under his wing, and begins teaching him the secrets of tapping into primal magics (Aspects, Disruptive Shot, Clever Shot) to bolster his skills. Combining this with his modest psionic talents (Adept's Insight), Micah quickly develops into an extremely proficient archer, and a skilled tracker.

-- During his first 3 years on the road, Micah forms an operative personal philosophy based on what he observes in the wilds. He becomes driven by practicality to an extreme degree, and his social skills (and patience for the arts relevant to them) deteriorate. While he has enough sense to understand that there are times when politics and diplomacy are essential, he comes to view their over-use as an evil created by weak men. More and more, Micah judges people based on how much they contribute or take, and cares less and less about anything else.

-- Around their 4th year on the roads together, Kaman fails to return from a ride ahead of a caravan. Micah sets out to find him, easily tracking Kaman away from the road. Eventually, Micah finds Kaman's broken body at the site of an obvious fight. After surveying the area, Micah is able to piece together the events that transpired, and experiences a strong emotional reaction to what he sees. Rather than feel sad for the loss of his friend, Micah becomes angry. Based on evident movements, Micah sees that Kaman engaged a small group of Tareks at range, and attempted to ambush them by himself. To Micah, this was a sign of arrogance. The wise move, he believed, would have been to aim to cripple the Tareks, and to either bait them back to the caravan so that the combined might of the guards could bring them down, or to simply allow the desert to finish them off. Micah left Kaman's body for scavengers, returned to the caravan, and assumed Kaman's vacant role as guide.

-- For the next few years, Micah sells his services as a caravan and expedition lead-scout and guide. His philosophy in combat, and his extreme inclination toward practical thinking serve him well, and he becomes known on the roads as a guide who is extremely effective at minimizing cost to his clients. This makes him extremely popular with parties setting out to explore ruins, or caravans carrying high-cost goods. While the money still isn't anything spectacular, Micah is a free man, making a solid living, and is respected for his own contributions. Whenever possible, Micah prefers to take jobs with seasoned parties who are setting out for more remote locations in the wilds. On these runs, he feels more free than at any other time.

-- Leading up to his joining the party, Micah is accopanying a notably large caravan on a run to Kled, where they hope to trade some uncut gems for obsidian, for use in crafting agricultural tools. Toward the end of the run, the caravan master realizes that a thief has slipped away in the night with some of the gems. As they are so near to their destination at the time, Micah accepts payment to track down the thief. Following the tracks east, Micah discovers that his prey appears to have travelled straight into a near perpetual sandstorm. After checking his supplies, and preparing himself for the trial to come, Micah enters the storm. While in the storm, Micah becomes disoriented, and eventually stumbles out of the winds, and into the eye of the storm. Here, he discovers 2 shocking things... ruins, and a group of adventurers who had previously travelled with a caravan he had guided to Altaruk.


Meshing Fluff and Crunch

This is something I take great pains to do when I'm playing in ongoing campaigns. Where I greatly enjoy playing mechanically potent characters (with power level tailored to suit a given group, of course), I insist on actually playing the character in a way that supports the numbers and powers presented.

Charisma: 8... the -1 stat mod here tells us that this is slightly below average in 'normal people' terms. With Micah, this score represents his tendency to be seemingly apathetic toward most people, and to vocalize when he feels that people are taking more than they are giving, etc. It really comes down to his extreme emphasis on practicality, and his lack of patience with people who he feels are dragging a group down. While he's too sensible to be decidedly offensive (Wisdom: 13), he certainly isn't charming.

Adept's Insight, Heroic Effort-- these two powers are fluffed here to represent his ability to provide little psionic 'nudges' to help create success where failure may have otherwise been an outcome. Their impact on his world view is very simple... he feels as though he is quietly the greatest archer in the Tyr region, in part because of this 'huge advantage' provided by his days as a student of the Way. While he doesn't vocalize it, he feels as though he simply can't miss 'when he puts his mind to it'.

Controller Role... this is interpreted here to be a philosophy that has lead to emphasis on one fighting style (Hunter) instead of another (Ranger-Striker). Micah fights very conservatively, constantly seeking to give his allies advantages, and to protect himself and allies from harm. He understands the deadly nature of the world, and the fighting skills of his allies, so he doesn't try to personally kill everything. At the same time, his extreme precision allows him to break his targets down fairly quickly.

Improved Initiative, Aspect of the Pouncing Lynx, Dex: 20, Watchful Rest, Wis: 13... these represent his combination of blinding reflexes, attunement to primal magics, and his wariness and respect for the deadly nature of the world and the creatures in it. To my mind, combining these elements on a character sheet indicates a certain mentality that has to be expressed in play. In other words... he can't be a jackwagon who blindingly runs into danger. He has specialized in areas of training that indicate a clear emphasis on avoiding disadvantage, and being prepared at all times. This will govern a lot of his decision making in and out of combat.

Thievery training-- Micah is not a pickpocket, and hates people who make a living stealing from others. This skill training represents his understanding of traps/snares, his ability to solve locks of various sorts (for use during expeditions), etc. This isn't a pickpocket character, or a dashing rogue type. It's a hyper-practical guy who knows that these skills are necessary in order to survive some of the locations he visits.

Lack of Streetwise-- as trained skills indicate some things, so does the lack of Streetwise. While Micah isn't uncomfortable (for short periods) in city walls, he has spent so much time out of them that he isn't as adept at reading his surroundings and understanding social patterns as he is sorting out migratory patterns of crodlu, or tracking Tarek movements. Despite being OK pscyhologically and emotionally in cities, he's still a little out of his element there-- and Charisma: 8/-1 mod means that his lack of social graces put him at a slight disadvantage navigating social encounters... without a little nudge, of course.

Thievery trained, Dex: 20, Dungeoneering *not* trained (yet), Wis: 13... Micah's natural coordination has lent it self to learning to disarm traps and locks very quickly. While his sensibility is helping him navigate subterranean environs, he simply hasn't perfected these skills as quickly.

Noble Adept theme, with no further powers to be selected here this basically models how limited Micah's psionic abilities are. He has developed the ability to help ensure minor successes, but he has no interest in developing his psionic skills any more than he already has. While he appreciates the utility that his past schooling has provided, he is far more at home exploring his connection to the primal forces of the world.

Personal markings-- temporary 'sunburst' tattoo surrounding right eye, head shaved Micah understands that many of the desert's creatures are governed more by instinct than they are by the need for petty things like revenge. He regularly reapplies the tattoo surrounding his eye in order to increase his chance of being recognized by enemies who survive battles with him. This marking serves as a disincentive for these old enemies to engage him again.


So... that's the starting point. After I click 'submit', I'm rounding up my stuff, and heading off for the first session.

Feel free to visit, lurk, or ignore this entirely.
First thread I've subscribed to in years.
First thread I've subscribed to in years.



Wow, hey... thanks, WEC.

First night was a resounding success on all fronts. Had a blast. I'll type out notes tomorrow. The module that I joined in progress is 'Marauders of the Dune Sea'-- apparently with some significant DM alteration to add some extra fun. I haven't read the module, but I think we may have completed it tonight.

One unexpected element was the use of decks for critical hits and fumbles. That lead to some entertaining moments, as nat 1 wasn't rare for me tonight.

The Hunter was well beyond "OK" tonight. More on this in the notes.
I'll subscribe to it too.. I'm falling in love with the ranger class after yesterday's section and i'm going to play an hunter too.

Chauntea/Lathander/Torm Cleric since 1995 My husband married a DM - καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/14.jpg)

I'm currently debating between two characters for my next campaign, one of which is  hunter so this'll give me a good idea how they work in actual play and perhaps make the decision a little easier.
Currently Playing: lvl 6 Pixie Skald in Home Campaign lvl 2 Human Bard in Forgotten Realms ---
First thread I've subscribed to in years.



Wow, hey... thanks, WEC.

First night was a resounding success on all fronts. Had a blast. I'll type out notes tomorrow. The module that I joined in progress is 'Marauders of the Dune Sea'-- apparently with some significant DM alteration to add some extra fun. I haven't read the module, but I think we may have completed it tonight.

One unexpected element was the use of decks for critical hits and fumbles. That lead to some entertaining moments, as nat 1 wasn't rare for me tonight.

The Hunter was well beyond "OK" tonight. More on this in the notes.


I've heard mediocre things about Marauders from everyone except the two-thumbs-up-for-everything reviewers at Rpg.net. I opted to just skip the darn thing rather than try to salvage it. Do let me know anything you find neat or cool about the adventure? It's probably custom from your DM, and stealable! :D
Session 1!

After the customary fluff around how the new character comes to be with the party, and a pretty cleverly packaged and fluffed recap of the events I hadn't been present for, we kicked it off!

Encounter?...1!
Enc 1... sort of

We entered a room that was about 8x8, with 2, 2x2 braziers burning in the near corners, and on the far wall, there was a recessed 'shelf' of sorts with 2 urns on it. On the wall, there was some writing in Primordial. There was also a tile mosaic on the floor in front of the urns.

I'm going to keep this one really brief so as not to ruin it for anyone else who plays it-- we kicked around in the room for a bit, our Bard opened an urn, and we figured out what we had to do to get through this one.

No combat, and the Hunter's particular skills only came into play in the usual "make Perception check" sort of way.

The writing on the wall spawned a joke which I think we're going to wind up recycling into eternity.


Encounter 2
Enc 2

Viewers, keep in mind that our DM may have heavily modified these rooms and encounters. This post should be a non-spoiler.

We entered an 8x10 room with a gaping hole in the middle (about 4x4), and a bunch of supplies in advanced states of deterioration around the room.

After some poking around, a group of mushroom-men (myconids) came up through the hole, and began advancing on us. When the encounter formally started, I was standing in the 2x2 entryway, rather than all the way in the room. As such, my field of view didn't allow me to see the 2 closest bad guys.

What we saw:
1 large myconid in the far right corner. (M1)
1 type of man-sized myconid near the far left corner. (M2)
1 of a 2nd type of man-sized myconid emerging from the hole, very close to us/immediately in front of our Knight. (M3)
2 of a 3rd type of man-sized myconid on the right and left sides of the room (M4, M4)

When we rolled Initiative, I caught a 15 on the d20, for a total of 29. Needless to say, that blew away everything in the room.

Turn 1 (T1): Used Disruptive Shot to Immobilize M2 (save ends). nat 20 on the first roll with the new group-- dealt 16 damage (doubled with the crit deck), bloodying the target in 1 shot.

Round 1 (R1): the other Myconids pressed forward. We learned that the large one was a Leader of some sort, and appeared to be splitting the damage he took with other myconids around him. M2's turn was negated, but he saved against Immo at the end of his turn, and we saw him regenerate a little. During this turn, our Knight knocked M3 into the hole, failed an Acrobatics check, and fell in after it.

T2: I used Rapid Shot to hit M1 (thanks to Heroic Effort) and an M4 for 11 damage, each. In doing so, I did something I haven't willingly done in more than a year, allowing myself to provoke an OA from one of the M4s. I was rewarded by being hit for 1/3 of my total HP. Sweet.

R2: During this turn, I got pasted twice, and dropped. Our Knight bloodied his target, and M2 actually lost a 2nd by having to burn all of his movement getting closer to us.

T3: failed death save. Sad face.

R3: With me down, our damage output was notably light, and the bad guys turned the tide a bit. I was silently cursing my own choice to provoke that OA earlier. Between misses and positioning, we hadn't made progress burying a target-- we had 2 enemies bloodied, 1 totally untouched, and 2 damaged but not bloodied. Not ideal at all. Bard healed me during this round.

T4: I started this turn with M2, and both M4s adjacent to me. Stood, used my Standard to Invigorating Stride, and then used my Free action shift from Aspect of the Dancing Serpent to shift 1 more square away-- I now was removed from being surrounded, had +2 to all defenses, and was in a spot where I could shift + fire if they came to me again.

Now... this turn actually made me think a bit. One of my character creation choices came into play here. In previous playtests, I had used Bonus At-Will to grab Nimble Strike, specifically to keep me from giving away attacks when pressed in melee. If I had had it, I would have been able to stand, and then use Nimble Strike. Doing so would have had me end in a less advantageous square than I did, but I would have been able to make an attack. On the other hand, I would have missed the earlier Rapid Shot hit on M1. More on this later.

R4: During this round, our Knight killed M3, and our Bard used Staggering Note to push M2 into the hole with the Knight.

T5: Clever Shot hit an M4 for 14, and slid it into the pit with our Knight and M2.

Knight kills M3, cleaves M4 for some extra damage. The other M4 presses our pretty beat-up melee Ranger.

T6: Clever shot hits the other M4 for 13, slides it 2 into the hole-- fall damage kills it.


At the end of this one, I did some quick mental math, and figured that between the Knight's fall damage and us provoking OAs 4 times (being hit on 3 of those occasions), we generated half of the damage that we took as a party. Not a spectacular start.

On the bright side, we had time to take an extended rest here.


Encounter 3
Enc 3

I know for certain that this one was very heavily modified

We opened a door leading into a room with an 8x8 common area, and rolled Init immediately. Inside the room, we saw a Huge sized Solo serpent of some sort, and 10 whispy creatures scattered around the room.

When we rolled Init, I caught a '5' on the d20, which was good for a 19. This put me at the top of the Init order again, with our melee Ranger following me.

T1: With an AP in the tank, and this clearly being a Big Encounter, I stepped into the room, and 1 square to the east, which put me in the extreme SE corner of the room. Rapid Shot, AP, Rapid Shot. Thanks to Adept's Insight turning a would-be miss into a hit, 4/4 minions attacked went down. I made sure the 2 closest to our West, and the 2 closest to our North-- with the intention of clearing space for our Knight and Ranger to get in and angle for flanking against the Solo, without provoking from the whisps.

R1: Ranger and Knight attacked the Solo, Solo hit the Knight & missed the Ranger with a close blast attack, restraining the Knight (save ends). Whisps pressed the Ranger and Knight. Bard hit the Solo with a Daily power so that we'd get healed for 5 hp every time we hit it.

T2: To give the Bard and I safety from burst or blast attacks, and to create more sexy Rapid Shots in later turns, I hit the Solo for 14 with Clever Shot, and slid it 2 squares West, where it remained adjacent to the Knight. I also moved 2 squares North, remaining adjacent to the East wall, to avoid being in a potential 'kill box' with the Bard.

R2: The Knight and Ranger attack the Solo, Solo hits the Knight & Ranger with a close burst attack, pushing the Ranger away-- being restrained, the Knight wasn't moved away. Minions swarmed the Knight & Ranger (3 @ each). During this round, the Bard hits the Solo, and it goes into a second 'phase' of some sort, changing monster category from Controller to... I think Lurker.

T3: Rapid Shot @ the 3 minions attacking our Ranger-- miss on natural 1, hit, hit.

R3: Knight hits a minion, and kills another via cleave, tells me he'll clear the last 1 adjacent to him on his next turn. Ranger attacks Solo.

T4: Clever Shot @ Solo-- nat 3 on the d20, hit via Heroic Effort. At this point, thanks to base accuracy and my 2 1/enc tricks, I had hit on 8/9 attacks. I would have used Rapid Shot to hit the Solo + minion by the Ranger here, but position was such that I couldn't do this without attacking the Ranger.

R4: Knight hit Solo + cleaved the 9th minion, as promised. Ranger attacked Solo. Solo pasted Knight. Bard healed Knight, hit Solo w/ Staggering Note, Knight hit Solo with the granted attack. Solo gained insubstantial & went into 3rd phase, bloodied. In this phase, he transitioned into a Brute. When he did so, 6 minions spawned.

T5: Rapid Shot-- nat 3 (miss) vs Solo, popped a minion.

R5: Other than my '3', we had great dice on this turn-- Ranger dealt max damage, Bard dropped a crit, Knight hit for near max and cleaved a minion, Solo missed, minions whiffed all over... it was lovely.

T6: Disruptive Shot @ Solo... nat 1.

R6: Solo dies, minions 'dissolve'.

This was a really crazy Enc for me. Two natural 3s, two natural 1s. Because of the crit fumble deck, I suffered a -1 Dex penalty after the nat 1 I caught on my Rapid Shot in T3. Lame. The nat 1 at the end of the enc caused me to crit myself for 16 damage (no magical weapon at that point).

In all, I was very happy with how the Hunter performed in that encounter. I hit on 9/12 attacks in 6 turns, lit up minions, helped manage the Solo's ability to target by throwing it back into the Knight's aura, and helped mitigate total party damage by sliding the Solo away from the East wall, so that the Bard and I were out of reach the whole enc. While 2 of the hits required 'help' in the form of Heroic Effort and Adept's Insight, only one of those wouldn't be readily available to a Hunter in any other setting, and I had some notably bad rolls in this Enc.


Hunter's Grade for the Night:

A-

I landed every attack I made in the first Enc, but a poor player choice on my part caused me to lose 2 turns worth of attacks. Still, Rapid Shot allowed me to keep up a high average level of productivity for that one, and by the end of the night, I had hit on 14/18 attacks, over 12 turns.

Had I not opted to accept provoking the myconid in the first Enc, I would likely have avoided being bloodied at any point in the evening.

2/4 of my misses came on natural 1s, and 2 came on natural 3s. With a mundane Superior Crossbow, I was sitting at +12 vs AC for most of the night (in Aspect of the Dancing Serpent).

That's all for now. More anecdotes and such in later posts.
Great stuff. Love the hunter campaign diary thing you are doing.
I'll definitely be checking this thread regularly!  I appreciate the original post where you outlined all of your choices (both mechanical and personality), especially since you tied together the RP and mechanical elements so well.  It adds another level of depth to the thread, as we're following a character and not just reading about a playtest (which is very interesting as well). 

Personally, of all the Essentials classes the Hunter is the one I'm most on the fence about.  I'm sure that this playtest will provide some excellent insights.  I can't see the Hunter being a very good dedicated striker since it lacks the ability to apply status effects to multiple enemies, but it seems great at severely hobbling a single foe, and dealing fair damage in the process. 

I'll be interested in hearing how consistently you can deny enemy actions, as well as how your damage compares with, say, the other ranger your party.  My initial thoughts are that Hunters probably drag combat out by a round or two, but make them less deadly to the party.
Got Encounter 3 up in the Session 1 notes.

Sent out a Wish List to the DM. We got some items in the last Enc, but haven't yet sorted out the 'what' of them yet. I'm not especially picky when running a Hunter. Long term, all I'm worried about are basic enhancement bonuses being current, and getting that item bonus to damage (bracers) at some point. Specific properties and powers from items are just icing on the cake.
was that -1 dex temporary? That would hurt lots if permament(and thus not follow rules). Anyway Interesting so far, Keep it up! This is simular to a adventure I read through in Dungeon magazine...
CENTER]IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/9.jpg)[/CENTER]
Got Encounter 3 up in the Session 1 notes.

Sent out a Wish List to the DM. We got some items in the last Enc, but haven't yet sorted out the 'what' of them yet. I'm not especially picky when running a Hunter. Long term, all I'm worried about are basic enhancement bonuses being current, and getting that item bonus to damage (bracers) at some point. Specific properties and powers from items are just icing on the cake.


This just got me thinking...one advantage that Hunters have over other controllers (except Seekers, of course) is that they can use magical ammunition to really stack status effects.  Granted in a low magic setting like Dark Sun you might not be able to take advantage of that, but it's definitely a point in the Hunter's favor. 

Sounds like encounter 3 went pretty well, and IMO it really tested how the Hunter can fill the role of a traditional controller (since controllers like to screw over solos, and obviously are most efficient at popping minions).  Minion popping was pretty much baseline for a controller, at least in the at-will department.  A Wizard with Enlarge Spell or Beguiling Strands would have done better against the minions, as would an Invoker with Hand of Radiance, but overall the Hunter's at-will AoE is pretty standard fare for minion popping, even if it does suffer from Scorching Burst syndrome (seems like the inherent accuracy of the class makes Rapid Shot's -2 penalty to attack less painful).  Even though the Hunter is very much a single target controller/striker, it can at least tackle the fundamental enemy types that controllers are expected to handle:  minions and swarms.  In Heroic, Disruptive Shot works fine vs a solo, as dazing is probably the best you can hope for once it's engaged your melee allies. 

I'll admit that my curiosity is piqued, and I think I might want to playtest one myself. 
@ spreetcg,

Nope. That -1 Dex was until end of the encounter, thankfully. That was really annoying. Thanks for the supporting words!

@ alien270,

The ammunition thing is something that I had considered before. In particular, Freezing, Spider,  and Firestorm grabbed my attention.

It's interesting to me that you comment on Controllers enjoying "screwing over Solos". I don't say this because I disagree, but because I tend to approach Solo or obvious-Elite fights differently than that. My typical approach is to direct Defender --> Solo/Elite, and have the Strikers + Controllers work together to clear the Standards, with Controllers hammering Minions, as well. This has worked amazingly well for me. I'm not ready to say it's the be-all-end-all approach for Solo/Elite+ fights, but it seems to be the most efficient approach I've found so far. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, or generally discuss tactics with you.

re: Rapid Shot-- you're right in that it's basically Scorching Burst in terms of minion-popping. It does have some unique wrinkles, however. For starters, the raw damage per target gets pretty silly. By L11, I should be hitting for 1d10+20 per target, for example. That's a huge plus. The range is also spectacular. On the flip side... the way it's written, it is basically a series of seperate attacks, as opposed to an area burst. So... it suffers from Blind, doesn't gain value vs swarms, and suffers when targets are prone (barring Grounding Shot). It's a very interesting power to me, especially considering how bland it looks at first glance.

As a result of quirks of Clever Shot and Rapid Shot, Hunters seem to be more Control-friendly with more space to work with, and more damage-happy when space is limited.

Sorry for rambling. I'm sick, and on the verge of nodding off.
If you can get enemies clumped up enough, Firestorm Arrows with Rapid Shot sounds downright mean. If you can get just 4 of them adjacent to eachother that's an extra 4d6 damage to each one with a +1 arrow, increasing to up to 24d6 to each one at +6.

I think also that if you stack attack bonuses, you can even sacrifice a point of enhancement to always roll around with magical ammunition. Hunters are crazy accurate anyways and imo it gives Crimson Hunter some street cred for controllers just in that they are more readily able to sacrifice attack bonuses, and enhanced crit range is nice for the extra damage from elemental arrows too.

They need to eratta Lightning Arrows so that Freezing isn't better in every way. At the very least though it means you can abuse mark of storms without having to use a special weapon (and means I can stack it alongside Mindiron Crossbow). My plan, as I'm sure you have been doing, is to use clever shot to throw enemies into the Knight's Aura.

My Hunter runs with an uberhax Armor of Dark Deeds + Hidden Sniper feat. All I need for the perma concealment+CA to be set into effect is get an initial attack with CA. A Surprise Arrow loaded at the beginning of an encounter fulfills that quite nicely. (With Hidden Sniper all you need is to attack, not even hit.. so as long as you're making some attack it won't go away).
Currently Playing: lvl 6 Pixie Skald in Home Campaign lvl 2 Human Bard in Forgotten Realms ---

It's interesting to me that you comment on Controllers enjoying "screwing over Solos". I don't say this because I disagree, but because I tend to approach Solo or obvious-Elite fights differently than that. My typical approach is to direct Defender --> Solo/Elite, and have the Strikers + Controllers work together to clear the Standards, with Controllers hammering Minions, as well. This has worked amazingly well for me. I'm not ready to say it's the be-all-end-all approach for Solo/Elite+ fights, but it seems to be the most efficient approach I've found so far. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, or generally discuss tactics with you.


It depends very much on the specific details of a given encounter.  In general though, since solos are supposed to be worth 5 enemies, if you can deny their actions or debuff them you have a significantly greater impact.  They also have boatloads of HP, so it helps to hamper them and deal with everyone else first.

In the case of encounters with just a solo and a bunch of minions, it's a tough call.  If the controller can keep the solo from doing much harm for a couple of rounds that obviously puts the party at an advantage, but the controller is also the most efficient at popping minions.  You really just have to try and estimate whether having x minions (where x is however many you can attack on your turn) alive for another round would have a greater or less impact than any denial placed on the solo.  If the solo can make 4 attacks on its turn but you've immobilized it out of range, that's better than taking out even 4 minions (which is tough unless they're really clumped), whose attacks are far less damaging than each of the solo's.  Once you've run out of tricks to use against the solo you can still take care of the minions, which are also more likely to be clumped together after they swarm your allies.  So initial positioning is obviously really important as well. 

With Standards in the mix your approach can work very well; the defender occupies solos/elites, the controller keeps a few standards out of the fight, and the striker takes out the other standards.  It's really a matter of the controller analyzing what they can do (there are likely several different options), and then deciding what would be the most beneficial. 

re: Rapid Shot-- you're right in that it's basically Scorching Burst in terms of minion-popping. It does have some unique wrinkles, however. For starters, the raw damage per target gets pretty silly. By L11, I should be hitting for 1d10+20 per target, for example. That's a huge plus. The range is also spectacular. On the flip side... the way it's written, it is basically a series of seperate attacks, as opposed to an area burst. So... it suffers from Blind, doesn't gain value vs swarms, and suffers when targets are prone (barring Grounding Shot). It's a very interesting power to me, especially considering how bland it looks at first glance.


Hmm, it's disappointing that Rapid Shot doesn't have many of the advantages of a true area burst.  Ignoring debuffs from things like concealment is definitely a strength of AoE's, and even though they don't come up that often Swarms are extremely annoying without a true AoE. 

I'd agree that the damage is definitely more impressive than Scorching Burst, but I'm not sure how much of an advantage that really is.  After all, minions don't care how much damage a power does because any hit will kill them.  I would imagine that vs non-minions single target lockdown would be more efficient than merely doing damage to multiple opponents.  Obviously this may vary; if you can clump 3+ enemies into the burst then you'll deal so much total damage that you won't care if it's spread, and if multiple enemies are nearly dead then it's much better to kill an enemy and damage another (or kill multiple enemies) than to just kill one enemy.  In these situations Rapid Shot outperforms Scorching Burst for sure, but you give up a lot to gain this situational effectiveness.  Given that Rapid Shot is the Hunter's only "AoE," it sounds pretty disappointing to me.
Also... just having access to dual arrows is kinda mean. You can get away with arrows 1-2 enhancement bonuses less than what you should be running at and it would still be a net benefit, plus you don't have to worry about upgrading your weapon.

Dual Arrows make Crimson Hunter more attractive again... Gah!
Currently Playing: lvl 6 Pixie Skald in Home Campaign lvl 2 Human Bard in Forgotten Realms ---
Just returned home from session #2 with the new group. Not sure if I'll have time to type everything out tonight, but I wanted to take a moment to comment on something about Hunters.

In play today, and after revisiting the previous encounters, I have noticed that maximizing Hunter effectiveness pushes you toward playing the class similarly to how you'd play a Sorcerer. When your turn comes up, your turn-mapping progression becomes:

1) does Daze or Immobilize (save ends) cripple anything on the grid?
2) can I hit multiples with Rapid Shot?
3) slide 2, prone, or slow (save ends)?

The other thing I've noticed is the way the character interacts with the Defender. When I play other Controllers (ie, Invokers-- my other favorite Controller), I generally work around the Defender. I let him attend to adjacent enemies, and I do my best to hinder the other bad guys on the grid, or support my allies by hitting the targets they're beating up. With the Hunter, I find myself using Clever Shot to try to get bad guys near the Defender, and I tend to support him a lot.


More thoughts will accompany the session 2 write-up. Had a great time tonight, and fell a little more in love with the class than I already was.
At higher levels, it would be wise to carry around lower levels of magical ammunition (onslaught arrow is the cheapest) so that if you ever would want to use rapid shot but an ally might take friendly fire, you can reduce the chances of hitting them.

As my goal is similar to what you mentioned, sliding enemies to the tank, if he has 8 enemies adjacent to him... who am I to show restraint?
Currently Playing: lvl 6 Pixie Skald in Home Campaign lvl 2 Human Bard in Forgotten Realms ---
At higher levels, it would be wise to carry around lower levels of magical ammunition (onslaught arrow is the cheapest) so that if you ever would want to use rapid shot but an ally might take friendly fire, you can reduce the chances of hitting them.

As my goal is similar to what you mentioned, sliding enemies to the tank, if he has 8 enemies adjacent to him... who am I to show restraint?



I agree about the ammo, for any who have the option of going that route. It's just a very, very handy thing to do.

The other thing I've noticed is the way the character interacts with the Defender. When I play other Controllers (ie, Invokers-- my other favorite Controller), I generally work around the Defender. I let him attend to adjacent enemies, and I do my best to hinder the other bad guys on the grid, or support my allies by hitting the targets they're beating up. With the Hunter, I find myself using Clever Shot to try to get bad guys near the Defender, and I tend to support him a lot.



Hmm, I would actually be inclined to support an off-tank (or any PC who is less injured or has more surges, to make sure damage is adequately spread).  IME most defenders are pretty self-sufficient, so I usually let them do their thing.  An off-tank that's invested a lot of resources into defenses but isn't terribly sticky, on the other hand, usually gets next to an enemy and attacks it, then they just shift + charge whoever they want on their turn.  Knocking them prone with Clever Shot is a great way to force their attention onto the off-tank. 

Obviously if it's a melee enemy without reach or an attack with built in mobility, knocking them prone and then having the ally attack + shift will outright deny their action (assuming charge lines are blocked, which I'd try to make sure of by positioning myself 1 square away along with the ally).  I'd use this tactic to support the squishier/injured allies, who need the heat taken off of them. 

I haven't played a Hunter yet, but I can imagine myself using prone much more often than slide when I use Clever Shot.  This is especially true since Hunters don't get the big daily zones that other controllers tend to have (Stinking Cloud, Vine Serpents, etc).  With other controllers, I love using forced movement to clump a group of enemies together and then AP out a big Daily AoE.  Hunters can clump up to set-up...Rapid Shot.  Boo.  Now if there's an ally that you can set up an AoE for, things can get more interesting.

I may be rolling up a Hunter for a 1 shot soon.  I just can't decide between the Hunter or a League of Whispers Executioner (with Rogue M/C, for a truly brutal nova round). 
Session 2!:

Before the action...
We resumed where we had left off-- in the room where we had just fought the serpent and the whispy minions.

We poked around the room, and came accross a Master's Longsword +1 (very nice for Knights!), and a Raider's Superior Crossbow +1 (woot!), which of course we're refluffing to be a bow, since crossbows feel weird in Dark Sun.

When I sent my 'wish list' in to the DM, it was basically, "I'd eventually like either Bracers of Archery, or Bracers of the Perfect Shot. Beyond that, I don't have any particulars, so have fun surprising me with random stuff!" The Raider's Superior Crossbow +1 definitely fit that bill. It's basically a Magic Weapon, unless you're in a surprise round. Honestly... I like it. Whenever possible, I like to have 1-2 item wish lists for any of my characters in ongoing games, and to let everything else be what it may. Keeps things fresh.

Fluff...

Along with the items, we found a relic central to the story of the module. We had a fair bit of discussion around it, trying to figure it out a little, discussing what we should do in light of finding it, etc. During the discussion, the subject of the group's current employment situation came up, and we had an RP segment wherein they provided a little more depth to the story for my character. Good times.

Notes... the Knight player takes a similar approach to what I do, and translates the numbers on his sheet to RP. He's a 20 strength/14 Con Mul, with his 11 in Dex, 8 Wis, 10 Int, and 10 Cha. He basically nails it, rather than overdoing the 8 Wis as a detractor. He's a little brash and headstrong, doesn't do 'subtle' well, etc... but has enough sense to let the more 'brainy' characters consider things before he acts. I like this guy.

I haven't figured out the persona for the Ranger character yet. The player is the DMs wife, and as a person, she's a bright spot among an already fun group of people. Very sweet. So far, it seems that her approach is to be out of character basically all the time.

Bard character is 20 Cha, 14 Con female. Bard player is a guy, and definitely the most vocal person in the group. He not only was the best RL fit for the 'party face' role, he actually RPs as a real leader. Between segments, he looks to motivate the group, helps manage time, etc.


Encounter 1

Sooooo... we left the serpent & fountain room, and were heading back out of the ruin with the intention of heading back to Altaruk to regroup, and plan our next step. As we approached the entrance of the tunnel, we encountered a Templar (T) adorned with the insignia of Urik, 3 elves (E) of one type, and one elf (E2) of a different type.

This encounter took place in a relatively confined cavern space.

Initiative was rolled... I rolled an '8', which made for a score of 22-- T beat me by 1, marking the first time I haven't gone first.

T1: I had just seen the Templar use some kind of arcane/psychic damage+push attack on our Knight (who was the closest melee to him at the time of the attack), figured the Es were melee grunt types, and E2 was likely a Leader or Controller of some type. 2 Es, E2, and T were in a perfect square formation, so I centered a Rapid Shot in the middle of them, and was able to attack 4/5 of the bad guys in one turn. With my new Crossbow, my base attack is +12 vs AC, 1d10+7-- and being in Aspect of the Pouncing Lynx, I was at +2 to hit for this turn, which offset the -2 to hit from Rapid Shot.

result: hit E for 11, miss E, miss T, hit E2 for 14. My misses were on a '2' (T), and a '3' (E). I thought about using Heroic Effort to attempt a hit on T, but opted to be conservative.

R1: Our Knight moved into the square where I had just centered my Rapid Shot. He provoked from 2 Es in the process, getting hit once. He then went into Defend the Line stance, and went All Defensive (he was flanked by E+E2, and E+T). While that may seem like a screwy turn to some folks, I was pretty excited about it. T used another attack to try to disengage the Knight, and succeeded in hitting, but didn't get anything out of the push 1, because... the Knight is a Mul. During this round, E2 used an ability to grant a shift to one of the Es adjacent to the Knight. It ate the OA (our Knight's to-hit currently sits at +14 at L2), and was Slowed. This was the same E I had hit earlier for 11, so blood was in the water. The E that wasn't next to the Knight charged our Bard. The one that had been hit twice charged our Ranger, caught a crit, and did a bucket of damage. These guys had a pretty nasty charging double attack. Ranger was bloodied already, Bard was hit by 1 of the 2 attacks, for modest damage. When the Bard's turn came up, he slid back 1, used Majestic Word on the Knight/slid him 1 square East (putting him 2 squares away from the E who had just charged the Bard, and still adjacent to T, E, and E2). The Knight used his Master's Longsword power to adopt a 2nd active stance (Cleaving Assault), and hit E2, cleaving T for 4. This 'cleaving T for 4' would become a theme.

T2: Hit the E who had charged our Bard with Clever Shot on a nat 5. 15 damage, and slid him 2 squares so he was adjacent to our Knight. DM shook his head, Knight grinned, Bard smiled.

R2: Knight got hit by T and E2, Ranger got hit again. Ranger hit & bloodied the bad guy adjacent to her. Knight hit E2, cleaving T for 4. 2 Es were granted shifts to get away from the Knight. Both of them got hit + Slowed... and T got cleaved for 4 twice because of it. The Bard used Staggering Note on E2, the Knight hit & killed E2 with the granted attack, and... cleaved T for 4. At this point, T had eaten 20 points of damage from cleave. Knight and Ranger ended this turn in very bad shape.

T3: Clever Shot hit (thanks, Heroic Effort!) an E for 15 damage, and slid it 2 squares, right back to the Knight, and into being flanked by the Knight + Ranger.

R3: Knight gets healed and then gets hit again. Ranger kills an E. Knight kills an E, cleaving T for 4. Bard uses the Athasian Minstrel enc power @ T. T uses a close blast attack to drop Knight + Ranger, then falls prone. At this point, we had 1 E up, and T was alive/prone, and had eaten a bunch of cleave damage. Bard had been hit once, and I was untouched. We had 2 allies down, and were out of heals.

T4: Rapid Shot... miss E, hit T (thanks, Adept's Insight-- d20 roll was nat 2) for 12.

R4: T missed Bard, Knight failed death save, Ranger succeeded on death save, Bard moved + stabilized Knight, E hit Bard.

T5: Disruptive Shot... nat 1, missed Templar.

R5: T hit me for 10, E missed, Bard moved + hit T with Warsong Strike. Ranger succeeded on death save.

T6: invig stride to 2nd wind (put me to 27 of 30 hp), Clever Shot hit T for 10 and knocked him prone to give Bard CA. Free action shift put me behind partial cover, so I was basically +4 defenses against T and E (partial cover, 2nd wind bonuses).

R6: T stood + missed Bard, E hit bard, Bard hit T with Warsong Strike.

T7: clever shot hit T for 16, killing him.

R7: Bard missed E, E ran away.


Takeaways...

1) I REALLY like the interaction between Hunter and Knight. Clever Shot helps throw bad guys to the Knight, and his aura and Defend the Line help keep them local once they're in the vortex. If they opt to move away, damage + Slow is handy punishment.

2) More and more, I'm viewing the Hunter as a damage dealer with control utility, rather than as a controller who puts out solid damage. Simply put, I had no ability to deny relevant action in this fight at all, but the Hunter produced a very healthy 13.3 damage per turn this Enc, and got a lot of value out of Clever Shot.

Rapid Shot provides nothing for control, but helps provide a lot of offense.

I'm already looking forward to next week!


Skill Challenge

After that fight, we got our allies on their feet, and exited the cave. We saw a dust cloud on the horizon, and as we inspected it further, realized it was really (not going to say! don't want to ruin it for prospective players!), so we decided to bail.

This transitioned into a really big Skill Challenge, using Athletics, Acrobatics, Endurance, Stealth, and Nature to try to escape our pursuers.

I have 4 of those 5 things trained, and the 5th (Acrobatics) runs off my highest stat. This particular skill challenge was modified a bit, so we needed something like 10 successes vs 3 failures, and wound up 'losing' at 8 successes, 3 failures. The Hunter was money in this Challenge, and even used Adept's Insight to turn an ally's fail into a success at one point.

While 10:3 may sound like a bit much, it felt very fair-- like an actual challenge, and we had fun with it. People got into it, and we were really trying to think of what we could do to help push the group along and be creative with skills.

When we failed, it transitioned into another Encounter, which we'll be starting Session 3 with.

I enjoyed the heck out of the skill challenge, and the transition into the fight felt very organic. Loving the campaign.



The Hunter did very well again today, despite being zero percent Controller tonight.

This really is a Sorc with a bow.

The other thing I've noticed is the way the character interacts with the Defender. When I play other Controllers (ie, Invokers-- my other favorite Controller), I generally work around the Defender. I let him attend to adjacent enemies, and I do my best to hinder the other bad guys on the grid, or support my allies by hitting the targets they're beating up. With the Hunter, I find myself using Clever Shot to try to get bad guys near the Defender, and I tend to support him a lot.



Hmm, I would actually be inclined to support an off-tank (or any PC who is less injured or has more surges, to make sure damage is adequately spread).  IME most defenders are pretty self-sufficient, so I usually let them do their thing.  An off-tank that's invested a lot of resources into defenses but isn't terribly sticky, on the other hand, usually gets next to an enemy and attacks it, then they just shift + charge whoever they want on their turn.  Knocking them prone with Clever Shot is a great way to force their attention onto the off-tank. 

Obviously if it's a melee enemy without reach or an attack with built in mobility, knocking them prone and then having the ally attack + shift will outright deny their action (assuming charge lines are blocked, which I'd try to make sure of by positioning myself 1 square away along with the ally).  I'd use this tactic to support the squishier/injured allies, who need the heat taken off of them. 

I haven't played a Hunter yet, but I can imagine myself using prone much more often than slide when I use Clever Shot.  This is especially true since Hunters don't get the big daily zones that other controllers tend to have (Stinking Cloud, Vine Serpents, etc).  With other controllers, I love using forced movement to clump a group of enemies together and then AP out a big Daily AoE.  Hunters can clump up to set-up...Rapid Shot.  Boo.  Now if there's an ally that you can set up an AoE for, things can get more interesting.

I may be rolling up a Hunter for a 1 shot soon.  I just can't decide between the Hunter or a League of Whispers Executioner (with Rogue M/C, for a truly brutal nova round). 



I agree 100% about using Clever Shot to support melee Striker types. I actually did that a little with the Bard in Session 2, for the same reasons you point out.

The issue I have with that in this particular group is that our second melee char is the Ranger, who tends to take a serious beating. On the flip side, our Knight has 21 AC at L2, and is Con-secondary. What I've been trying to set up is getting our Knight surrounded, and having our Ranger move into flanking with the Knight to get CA, and to have the Ranger's target all but forced to attack the Knight.

If we had a more sturdy secondary melee*, I would absolutely use Clever Shot to prone more. Despite the Knight's high AC, I definitely get the law of averages, and I understand the risks in having 3-4 enemies all throwing attacks at the same guy. Sooner or later, unconc happens.

*this isn't a slam on melee Rangers. I know better. Ours just isn't properly put together for melee.

With this party-- especially with the Ranger switching to a bow-- we're going to wind up leaning on the Knight quite a bit.
Sounds like that was a pretty interesting encounter.  A lot of cleave damage going around!  Too bad about the melee Ranger, though.  Is he not "put together for melee" because he put all of his resources into offense, or is he just less optimized than the rest of the group? 

I also wanted to point out that I wouldn't go so far as to say you were "0% controller" tonight.  Sliding with Clever Shot is definitely a controller function, it's just not a particularly impressive amount of control (considering your role).  It also didn't help that you missed with Disruptive Shot.  Which brings up another point:  what is up with your dice?!?!?  It seems like you consistently roll very low, which I guess means that it's good you're such an accurate class
This is a very nice analysis, which is informing my Hunter's Handbook.  Thanks for the play reports =)
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
@ alien270,

Yeah, it really was a fun encounter, despite a very straightforward set-up. Knights have a way of turning into black holes in close quarters Encs, and making things a little more busy. The melee Ranger really isn't built for melee, or range. She has 17 Strength, 16 Dex, and 14 Wisdom. I think her Con is 10. She's wearing Hide right now, which is OK, but she just doesn't hit frequently, or take a punch well at this point. The rest of the chars are definitely built for success in their roles-- the Knight is 20 Str, 14 Con, and the Bard is 20 Cha, 14 Con Valorous Bard, and doing very well for us. Both of them also understand very well how to manage their powers, and who to be attacking. The Ranger player is evidently more into Warlocks, so I think the switch to using a bow may help a bit. She manages targeting and positions well already... it's really just the build she's using, I think.

Good point @ my "0% Controller" comment.

No flipping idea what's up with my dice. I caught a hot run about a month and a half ago, and had something absurd like 12 crits out of 16 turns with my Avenger over the course of 2 sessions (last enc of one day, then continued into the first enc of the next session), and I've been rolling ice ever since. I've rotated d20s, and have even been singed a bit with MapTools diceroller. The cold runs are exactly why I am so insistent on playing very, very high accuracy classes and builds. I hate missing. Heroic Effort + Adept's Insight have been saving my sanity lately.


@ invader,

You're quite welcome! Recording these things has helped me understand the class a bit, as well. I go back through and review notes and commentary here to revisit thoughts, and to look at patterns, and it has helped remove the emotional component, and give me a clear view of the truths of the class.

I'm glad other folks are getting some value out of it, as well!



@ everyone,

Thanks for your support, and for conversing here with me!
This really is a Sorc with a bow.


Do you feel hampered at all by not being able to select backup Close Blast/Burst powers like the Sorc does? At which moments are you glad that you're not a Sorc, or, conversely, jealous of Sorcs?
This really is a Sorc with a bow.


Do you feel hampered at all by not being able to select backup Close Blast/Burst powers like the Sorc does? At which moments are you glad that you're not a Sorc, or, conversely, jealous of Sorcs?



Much like the Unicorn of fable, Biscuit, you are a magical creature.

I prefer this to a Sorc, all day, every day.
The cold runs are exactly why I am so insistent on playing very, very high accuracy classes and builds. I hate missing. Heroic Effort + Adept's Insight have been saving my sanity lately.


Gondolin (my StarLock with the several-years-long string of misses) feels for ya, buddy.

Thanks for sharing your experiences - I'm taking tactical notes to discuss with my characters.

Best complements I have yet received:

Show

Making it up as I go along:

{BRJN} If I was writing the Tome of Lore, I would let Auppenser sleep. But I also would have him dream. In his dreaming he re-activates the innate powers of (some) mortal minds. Or his dreaming changes the nature of reality - currently very malleable thanks to Spellplague &c. Or whatever really cool flavor text and pseudo-science explanation people react positively to.

{Lord_Karsus} You know, I like that better than the explanations for the Spellplague.

 

Prepped ahead of time:

I started the thread "1001 Failed Interrogation Results" (which seems to have faded into that great electronic goodnight, alas)

{ADHadh} These are all good and make sense! I just can't come up with something that's not covered here and is not completely ridiculous.

 

My 4e characters:

Show

Active:

LFR Half-elf StarLock8 Gondolin Nightstar

AoA Dwarf Guardian Druid8 Narvik from House Wavir

Character Ready-to-go:

Neverwinter Dwarven Invoker / Heir of Delzoun, worships Silvanus (!) "Truenamer" - speaks Words of Creation

Concepts I'm kicking around:

"Buggy" Wizard - insect flavor on everything.  His DMPC version is going to become a Lamia.  Becauae lichdom is so cliche.

Halfling Tempest Fighter - just because nobody else is doing it

Shifter Beast-o-phile Druid - for Nentir Vale campaign

You're welcome, BRJN.

I tend to think that sharing like this benefits everyone. There are some bright minds on the boards, so I figure it makes sense to open up discussion with them, and maybe learn something.
Auspex7, I must say i really like Micah and hope he perform well encounter after encounter. Wink

I like your crunch vs fluff analysis and how he is built and why. I like how he is fleshd out solid, from Background to Theme, even discussing Stats allocations and how it is reflected in him. A solid backstory too. Nice work Auspex7
 
Staying tune !

Plague

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I wish this was a format that was used for most character types.  It would be interesting to see how other characters play out each encounter like in this format. 


I love this breake down a ton auspex, thanks for taking this on.

Thank you for the support, guys. I wasn't sure what the interest would be for a CharOp diary that started off at Level 2, but every supportive post that comes in keeps me motivated to take solid notes, and put thought into my write-ups.

I appreciate the kind words, gentlemen. Thank you again.
Thank you for the support, guys. I wasn't sure what the interest would be for a CharOp diary that started off at Level 2, but every supportive post that comes in keeps me motivated to take solid notes, and put thought into my write-ups.

I appreciate the kind words, gentlemen. Thank you again.


Well, IME most actual gameplay tends to occur at lower levels.  CharOp tends to focus on higher levels because there are more options and things to tweak, but those early levels are important in practice, if not necessarily for theoretical optimization.  I think the biggest advantage of this diary, however, is the fact that the class is a) new, and b) unique in the sense that it defies a lot of assumptions of the traditional role system.  It's nice to have a record of somebody saying "I'm playing this class now, this is how I built my character, this is the party I'm adventuring with, and this is what I decided to do on a round by round basis." 

Hopefully I'll have some in-game insight to add soon, as I'm going to be running a Hunter and Sentinel (there's only 2 players) in a one-shot.  This diary definitely motivated me to want to try the class out, despite an initial "meh" impression (just have to shake those traditional controller expectations, I guess).  A lot of Essentials classes have surprised me with the different approaches that they take.

I'd also like to add that when I first started playing D&D (in 3.0e), I was really interested in archer characters, but after a little in-game experience I realized that I found them extremely boring (I was happiest playing Wizards, Druids, and Sorcerers).  Then came 4e, which in general seemed to make the Martial classes more interesting, but while the Ranger was certainly more powerful than the 3.x version, it still ended up boring me in practice.  Twin Strike ad nauseaum, yeah, big numbers, woo-hoo, killing things is fun but can we say fish + barrel?  Pretty soon one of my favorite archetypes wasn't even a blip on my 4e radar, nearly forgotten until Essentials. 

The Scout won me over first.  4e melee Rangers were slightly more interesting to me than archers because you had to think about positioning, but it still boiled down to "stand next to a guy who can't kill you before you kill him, and tear him apart with Twin Strike."  But the Scout was a guy who first of all was Dex primary, so he could have high AC without sacrificing an intended secondary stat (and Will defense!) or getting heavy armor.  And he felt like an agile skirmisher thanks to Aspect of the Cunning Fox.  He had stances, plenty of movement options, could charge, and didn't have to fiddle around with Quarry for bonus damage (the second attack being the striker feature is brilliant, I can twin strike without spamming Twin Strike!).  And now it's time to redeem the archer, at long last.  An at-will that gives me an option for 3 different control effects?  This is already better than Twin Strike.  The less I try to think about the class as a controller, and the more I approach it from the perspective of an archer...who can actually affect enemy tactics and has meaningful choices to make in combat, the more appealing it becomes. 

Roles are a suggestion, but the Hunter requires you to think outside the box.  It's easy to get caught up in the notion that the Wizard is a much better controller than the Hunter.  Yeah, if your entire gaming experience is defined by adherence to the role descriptions, then the Hunter seems lacking.  The Warlock suffered flack for this right from the onset by not prescribing to the notion that striker=dpr, and the Sorcerer and Monk pushed the envelope even further by showing that "strikers" can deal AoE damage.  All of these classes have their own strengths that the role system doesn't necessarily encompass.  The Hunter fills a niche, and certainly doesn't seem to be a waste of space in a party.  He's not a "building block of the traditional party," but that doesn't mean he can't team up with other guys, run through dungeons, and kill things so he can take their stuff just as effectively.  This I learned by playing around with Sentinels (people can say they're not a "real" leader all they want; I never claimed to be a Shaman, and even though I'm not the most representative example of an archetypal "leader," I have some nifty tricks up my sleeve that no other class has.  They can help you win encounters just as well as any other class, it's just that they do it in their own way). 

Sheesh, late + being tired = rambly post, sorry guys.
Alien I would really like to see your post of the Sentinel druid it would be interesting to see how this character plays out.  I am playing a Druid in an ongoing campaign right now totally inspired by your handbook. 

The Hunter seems interesting but is not my bag I think, but I love to read this post a ton.  I think these formats can offer some real world insite as two how these characters play out in an adventure and because of Auspex writing style can be a real fun read too.
 
What I would love to see is a blog of his experience with his Killswitch build (one of my favorite leader builds on this forum) in this format.  I know that would be fun to read.
@ alien270,

I actually appreciated that post a lot. I think you're on the money when you talk about having to view the Hunter without holding tightly to the idea of traditional roles.

I also enjoyed hearing some of your thoughts about archers, Rangers, Scouts, etc.

Sentinel is interesting to me, and I agree with Halma2 that I would really be curious to see a Diary about that.


@ Halma2,

It's cool to me that you're actually enjoying this thread without being someone who is especially interested in Hunters. That surprised me!

As for a Diary about Killswitch... That would be a fun thing to do at some point. The encounter logs would be very entertaining. I find that playing that build puts me in a very tactical mode, so I would expect the log to include a lot of reasons why particular targets were attacked, why specific powers were used how and when they were, etc.


Anyways... it's 4:13am! off to work, I go!
@ alien270,

I actually appreciated that post a lot. I think you're on the money when you talk about having to view the Hunter without holding tightly to the idea of traditional roles.

I also enjoyed hearing some of your thoughts about archers, Rangers, Scouts, etc.

Sentinel is interesting to me, and I agree with Halma2 that I would really be curious to see a Diary about that.


@ Halma2,

It's cool to me that you're actually enjoying this thread without being someone who is especially interested in Hunters. That surprised me!

As for a Diary about Killswitch... That would be a fun thing to do at some point. The encounter logs would be very entertaining. I find that playing that build puts me in a very tactical mode, so I would expect the log to include a lot of reasons why particular targets were attacked, why specific powers were used how and when they were, etc.


Anyways... it's 4:13am! off to work, I go!



I too am enjoying your posts and I couldn't care less about the hunter.  I look forward to reading more in the future.
@Alien and Auspex,

I haven't played a Sentinel Druid myself (haven't looked at the book yet) but the one I went through and LFR mini-campaign with was effectively Striker#2 and Defender#2 all by himself.  His favorite tactic was to put himself, his animal companion, and his spirit companion (MC Shaman) in a line and hem somebody in.

As a Warlock3 I found myself shepherding the Rogue1 and Warlord1 a bit; I never had to worry about the Sentinel.  (The warlord is my son's character and this was his first LFR experience.)  The Sentinel did help when I couldn't - he had a Heal available when our Warlord became a pincushion and went down on Round 1.

I'll admit - at first glance, I don't like this Druid build for the same reason I don't like the Thrallherd Psion PP: we are now set up for one character to get two turns at a time, because he's got two pieces on the board.  But I can say I've seen the Sentinel played to enhance the team rather than overshadow it.  Hopefully I'm just reading my prejudices into my first impression.

Best complements I have yet received:

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Making it up as I go along:

{BRJN} If I was writing the Tome of Lore, I would let Auppenser sleep. But I also would have him dream. In his dreaming he re-activates the innate powers of (some) mortal minds. Or his dreaming changes the nature of reality - currently very malleable thanks to Spellplague &c. Or whatever really cool flavor text and pseudo-science explanation people react positively to.

{Lord_Karsus} You know, I like that better than the explanations for the Spellplague.

 

Prepped ahead of time:

I started the thread "1001 Failed Interrogation Results" (which seems to have faded into that great electronic goodnight, alas)

{ADHadh} These are all good and make sense! I just can't come up with something that's not covered here and is not completely ridiculous.

 

My 4e characters:

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Active:

LFR Half-elf StarLock8 Gondolin Nightstar

AoA Dwarf Guardian Druid8 Narvik from House Wavir

Character Ready-to-go:

Neverwinter Dwarven Invoker / Heir of Delzoun, worships Silvanus (!) "Truenamer" - speaks Words of Creation

Concepts I'm kicking around:

"Buggy" Wizard - insect flavor on everything.  His DMPC version is going to become a Lamia.  Becauae lichdom is so cliche.

Halfling Tempest Fighter - just because nobody else is doing it

Shifter Beast-o-phile Druid - for Nentir Vale campaign



I haven't played a Sentinel Druid myself (haven't looked at the book yet) but the one I went through and LFR mini-campaign with was effectively Striker#2 and Defender#2 all by himself.  His favorite tactic was to put himself, his animal companion, and his spirit companion (MC Shaman) in a line and hem somebody in.


Yeah, Shaman M/C is very powerful for a Sentinel.  Usually a character picks up Spirit Talker so that they can get 3 heals per encounter with Mending Spirit, but some playtesting has convinced me that Spirit Talker may be the more useful feat for Sentinels, simply because flanking the SC with the AC is a great way to ensure that monsters beat on your damage sponges (if the DM doesn't metagame, monsters shouldn't know that the SC's OA is only an encounter power, and if the DM avoids provoking in the first place the threat of that OA is going to be hanging over the monster's head even though it's 1/enc).  And yes, occupying 3 squares is great in and of itself. 

In terms of the Sentinel being a great off-defender and striker, I'd generally agree but with a caveat.  You don't have to be an off-striker, as I'd first surmised when examining the class.  Through playtesting I've found that it's often more useful to use Combined Attack to re-position the AC rather than focus fire, plus there's always the option of hitting 2 minions or 2 severely injured enemies.  This makes the Sentinel a great "kill stealer," which is advantageous for the party as a whole because it means that any time the striker didn't quite finish an opponent off, the Sentinel can make sure that it dies.  Dead enemies can't attack anymore. 

As for off-tanking, this fulfills a leader function just as much as a defender function because if the AC is taking the majority of hits, then you have access to more healing surges per encounter (since the AC can be revived as a minor as long as the Sentinel has surges).  Providing access to healing surges is a critical leader function; after all, that's exactly what most healing powers can be broken down into.

In the end though, it doesn't matter how you label what the Sentinel does.  It does it well.  I was very excited when I first heard about this class, then disappointed when I actually got the book.  Now that I've played it, I like it again. 

I'll admit - at first glance, I don't like this Druid build for the same reason I don't like the Thrallherd Psion PP: we are now set up for one character to get two turns at a time, because he's got two pieces on the board.  But I can say I've seen the Sentinel played to enhance the team rather than overshadow it.  Hopefully I'm just reading my prejudices into my first impression.


The thing is, the Sentinel gets the same set of actions on its turn as any other 4e character: standard, move, minor.  It just so happens that its move action can move 2 creatures (3 if you've M/C'd Shaman), the Standard can cause 2 creatures to act (with Combined Attack), and the minor is generally going to just concern the Sentinel itself.  Oh, then there's summoning Dailies, which might tack on an Instinctive Action, but these are so straightforward that it's not much of an issue.  Plus a Sentinel player isn't going to waste time trying to decide which encounter power to use, because it's always the same (though admittedly, as I alluded to before, it's a power that has many uses and is more tactically complex than it initially appears to be).  I guess you could argue that since the Sentinel, AC, and possibly SC could provoke OAs from different areas on the map that a Sentinel player threatens more out of turn actions than other characters, but this isn't going to bog down the game very much.

Overall, during playtesting I never found myself taking abnormally long turns trying to decide what the Sentinel was going to do.  Controllers have that honor, but that's because most of my playtesting lately is done as "solitaire;" while playing a controller in an actual game I spend a lot of my "off time" paying attention to the board and planning my next move  (and possibly a back-up plan in case a monster or ally screws up my plans before my turn comes up).  I think that feeling of always being engaged, even on other people's turns, is what I like most about playing controllers.

Sorry for the off-topic discussion Auspex.  I just really like talking about Sentinels, and they are somewhat similar to Hunters in that neither class conforms to its labeled role very well. 
Really not sure what makes me "mythical", but it's probably simply that I'm incredible.

You people are arousing my interest in sentinel druiding. A diary or even just a build relevant to the discussion at hand would be rock lobster.

I haven't played a sorc or a hunter, so excuse my ignorance, but sorcs have always looked fun to me and hunter... I dunno. Thus the question, especially after seeing that hunters feel like sorcs with a bow. Stances look cool, similar to movement techniques but less fiddly. The attacks are a bit cooler than sorc at-wills, but sorc dailies really stroke my cucumber and I'm not sure that anything about hunters can be as exciting.

You people are arousing my interest in sentinel druiding. A diary or even just a build relevant to the discussion at hand would be rock lobster.


Aside from an upcoming one-shot and my solitaire playtesting, I don't really have a campaign to write a Sentinel diary about.  I'd love to do something like that, but there's just not much opportunity there.  I usually just do the solitaire thing when I'm bored, and I feel like recording everything round by round would cause encounters to drag even more than they already do (having to control every single creature and referencing multiple character sheets and stat blocks is actually a little frustrating sometimes, but you take what you can get).  I occasionally post some insights in the discussion of my Druid guide, but perhaps if I get enough material I'll start a "diary" thread.  It'd be more of a playtest diary though, rather than following a specific character through an actual campaign. 

As for builds, there's one in my Druid guide, which is pretty easy to vary to suit your needs.  The one I've been playtesting is somewhat similar conceptually, though it's lower level.  I'm going to switch it up a little for the one-shot and use Grasping Tide instead of Tending Strike.  I've found that most rounds when I really need to hit something in melee, I have Combined Attack.  I'm thinking that having some ranged AoE capability will add a lot to the build, essentially giving it functionality in all 4 roles (though a lot of what the Sentinel does can be described using multiple roles, such as the damage soaking ability of the AC being a leader, controller, or defender thing, depending how you look at it).  Plus Grasping Tide could give the wolf companion a little bit of at-will stickiness, particularly against mobile skirmishers that could otherwise use shifting powers to ignore the AC's OA.  Largely though, I'd simply like to recapture the Druid's "caster" flavor with the Sentinel build, which usually just fights in melee.

Another thing I thought of when building my character for the one-shot was that at low levels when you don't have as many uses of Combined Attack, Animal Attack is actually a better melee attack to use than Tending Strike from a damage standpoint.  Assuming an optimized build with a racial bonus to Con and Wis, the wolf does 1d8+8 damage at first level!  It doesn't scale up until 8th level, but by then you have 3 uses of Combined Attack to suit your melee/damage needs.  Thus, by going with Grasping Tide over Tending Strike you don't really hurt your melee capability that much.

I haven't played a sorc or a hunter, so excuse my ignorance, but sorcs have always looked fun to me and hunter... I dunno. Thus the question, especially after seeing that hunters feel like sorcs with a bow. Stances look cool, similar to movement techniques but less fiddly. The attacks are a bit cooler than sorc at-wills, but sorc dailies really stroke my cucumber and I'm not sure that anything about hunters can be as exciting.


I don't know about Auspex's feelings on the matter, but part of it is a flavor thing, and everyone's tastes on that will be different.  Mechanically, I see Sorcs as being all about area damage with some control thrown in, but most of it's minor and/or situational (yes, I know that some Sorc powers have good control for a striker, but by and large most powers are all about blowing things up).  Hunters can certainly deal impressive "area" damage since they get to make RBAs in an area burst with Rapid Shot, and I could see spamming Rapid Shot as being reminiscent of a Sorc.  But the fact remains that Sorcs get a lot of powers that affect an area much bigger than a burst 1, and Hunters just can't compete with that.  Instead, they get single target attacks, including at-wills, that have very impressive control effects.  Sorcs don't really get anything like this.  In some encounters a Hunter can reasonably expect to ruin an enemy's turn every single round, while keeping at a safe distance and dealing respectable damage. 

The way I see it, there's some functional overlap between the classes but by and large Hunters will do single target control better, and Sorcs will do spread damage better.  Whether or not one looks more fun than the other really depends on what you want from a class.  Personally I like creating tactical advantages, and I think the Hunter can do that better than the Sorc.  Hunters are also very accurate and have superb targeting capacity, and those both appeal to many people.  On the other hand, if you want an arcane grenade launcher, then the Sorc's your guy.
Well seeing as how I'm playing both the Hunter and the Sentinel (they are my 2 favorite archetypes after all), I certainly don't mind the off-topic discussion. I'd make a diary for the Sentinel myself, but as I'm Half-Elf, my playing won't really be as indicative of the class as this one is of the Hunter. I'm of the twin striking, summon specializing, frost cheesing variety.
Currently Playing: lvl 6 Pixie Skald in Home Campaign lvl 2 Human Bard in Forgotten Realms ---