Thought Experiment: What to Be When You Can Be Anything

39 posts / 0 new
Last post

My DM has an interesting set of houserules:



  • Inherent bonuses

  • No matter what, you have a fixed attack roll (4+Level+[Weapon Prof where appropriate]) and damage modifier (3+1/2 level; where the 3 represents a stat and increases over time)

  • No item or feat bonuses to attack or damage

  • No magic items.


So, when your stats only matter for feats and defenses, what do you build? Your first thought might be some kind of bizarre hybrid, and we ended up agreeing; I made a goofy Swarm Druid|Cavalier Paladin, aiming more for the challenge of making a defender druid than pure optimization. But how do you best exploit the system?


Freed from the constraints of thematic or even sensible builds, but severely constrained on damage, what would you make?

Something with Morninglord and Radiant One.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Freed from the constraints of thematic or even sensible builds, but severely constrained on damage, what would you make?



A robot DM, who would be programmed to be less facist.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Something with a maxed out important secondary stat in a class where damage isn't normally your main concern.  Like a dwarf warden with a starting 20 wisdom or a bard or a warpriest with a starting 20 con. 

Or something like a polearm gamble/momemtum paladin becomes a lot easier to build.

Avenger probably becomes better because of the no other way to increase accuracy part.
The restrictions on attack and damage rolls mostly seem to discourage certain kinds of strikers. But multi-attackers will still dominate. A good Ranger should still do well. It's not clear if the "no matter what" rule preveents multiple attack rolls from being used, but if it does it means that Avengers are utterly screwed. But if it doesn't prevent multiple attack rolls, Avengers are looking reasonably solid (as GelOct also pointed out). If it likewise prevents power bonuses from kicking in, avoid attack- and damage-roll enabling leaders.

Nothing seems to horribly screw over good controllers, defenders or heal & save focused leaders. And, as zelink551 points out, you can apparently still optimize around vulnerabilities if you want to increase damage output.

 @Fardiz: Yours is perhaps one of my favorite comments ever.
Freed from the constraints of thematic or even sensible builds, but severely constrained on damage, what would you make?



A robot DM, who would be programmed to be less facist.



Ahhhh, the evil facists!
It also lets in normally nonviable power swap options.  An iron soul monk with a 13 wisdom might consider going mc invoker and swapping out for silent malediction.  Who cares what the damage is as long you hit with it.

A warpriest might swap out for hail of steel even with completely normal stats since it only takes a 13 wisdom to qualify as a warlord anyways.
It also lets in normally nonviable power swap options.  An iron soul monk with a 13 wisdom might consider going mc invoker and swapping out for silent malediction.  Who cares what the damage is as long you hit with it.

A warpriest might swap out for hail of steel even with completely normal stats since it only takes a 13 wisdom to qualify as a warlord anyways.



An Iron Soul monk doing that should instead just be an Invoker
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Actually with nothing more then 3+1/2 level to damage, multi-attackers might not be all that fantastic. Even assuming it increases to +8 (which it would if you started at +3) at Epic, that is +23 damage. +23 damage is something most strikers are pushing in low Paragon, much less Epic. [W] and extra dice may actually be the most relevant increase to damage.

So a Twin Striking Ranger is say 2d10+46 at Epic. Average is 57. A Barbarian who is doing 4d6bw+3d6+23 (Howling Strike) is doing 51.5. That is a much narrower gap than normal.

Now say at level 12. 2d10+5+6 is 22. Versus 2d6b2+2d6+5+6 is 27. The Barbarian is solidly ahead of the Ranger at-will. And that is at-will, the Rangers multi-attacks might actually solidly lose to the high-[W] powers of the Barbarian.

There are a lot of nice options given those restrictions, though. Not caring about stat synergy is a huge plus for hybrids. Genasi Blaster Wizard (just add keywords via either of the two standard PPs) who maxes Str. Runepriest|Swarm Druid and you don't have to dump half your powers. "Lazy lord" going Cha/Int, except you're not! You can still use Str powers (also hands out power bonuses to attack and damage while granting extra attacks. Um, yes please). Warlock should be in there somewhere. Making everyone a Tiefling for Imperious Majesty. Paladins with maxed out Wis for extra LoH+damage reduction+thp. BRV Fighter who maxes Con. Avenger (as noted, for the increase in accuracy). A perma-stealther who indulges in OA shenanigans would be brutal just because of the constant sneak attacking, which as noted is probably the best way of increasing your damage.

Also you've just freed up like four feats (no expertise, no focus, no other accuracy increasers) on average. Feat are usually the thing I hurt for the most in an optimized build, suddenly getting more opens up so much.
No Boons to go with the No Magic Items, no ??
Boo.  Sad panda.

So basically a No Gear build with a quirk.


Freed from the constraints of thematic or even sensible builds, but severely constrained on damage, what would you make?



A robot DM, who would be programmed to be less facist.



Ahhhh, the evil facists!



... or maybe Lawful Neutral with-a-Flaw facists.

Innocent

Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 

Everybody play half-elves with Twin Strike?
Dang. After reading Alcestis' post, I am actually pretty keen on this idea! Though I think I would make it 4+1/2 level + proficiency as that is more standard after racial bonuses.

The amount of builds players could bring to the table and still manage reasonably optimized combat is enormous!  
Except it's a horrible grind, because strikers can't function.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Except it's a horrible grind, because strikers can't function.

Actually there are several reasonable ways of making baseline under those restrictions, but highly optimized is almost out the window. You'll be at 20/40/60 but probably not at 30/60/90.
Something with Morninglord and Radiant One.



Good point on vulnerabilities in general! We're level 3 now, but we might be able to tailor our builds around radiant or frostcheese. One of us is a sorcerer, so that could be nice.

There are a lot of nice options given those restrictions, though. Not caring about stat synergy is a huge plus for hybrids. Genasi Blaster Wizard (just add keywords via either of the two standard PPs) who maxes Str. Runepriest|Swarm Druid and you don't have to dump half your powers. "Lazy lord" going Cha/Int, except you're not! You can still use Str powers (also hands out power bonuses to attack and damage while granting extra attacks. Um, yes please). Warlock should be in there somewhere. Making everyone a Tiefling for Imperious Majesty. Paladins with maxed out Wis for extra LoH+damage reduction+thp. BRV Fighter who maxes Con. Avenger (as noted, for the increase in accuracy). A perma-stealther who indulges in OA shenanigans would be brutal just because of the constant sneak attacking, which as noted is probably the best way of increasing your damage.

Also you've just freed up like four feats (no expertise, no focus, no other accuracy increasers) on average. Feat are usually the thing I hurt for the most in an optimized build, suddenly getting more opens up so much.


Yeah, the lack of feat/item taxes was the reason for the houserule to begin with. I agree with the intent, at least.

It seems like dice are the real way to ultimate power here, so rogues are definitely a good bet. Our Shaman took Spirit Infusion, so we might get some good bonus damage from that. Sadly, things like Genasi Str-Wizards are capped at 3 for their stat bonus as well.

Great comments so far!
Except it's a horrible grind, because strikers can't function.



This is my biggest concern too. We have two of them (Ranger|Warlock and Cosmic Sorc) and an evoker mage, but I am worried combat will grind. I've mentioned to the DM that he'll probably have to knock down monster HP; we'll see how it goes!
You guys are forgetting that things such as Elemental Empowerment don't work. Remember, you have fixed damage, period. Your statics will never, ever rise higher than, at most, +23 damage. At capped out epic.

...Soooooo...yeah. Do what Fardiz said and get a DM who isn't a fascist. Strikers need, at minimum, 1.5 times that damage as a base per attack. More is better, ideally pushing twice that amount. These rules are pretty much trash tbqh.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
Actually with nothing more then 3+1/2 level to damage, multi-attackers might not be all that fantastic. Even assuming it increases to +8 (which it would if you started at +3) at Epic, that is +23 damage. +23 damage is something most strikers are pushing in low Paragon, much less Epic. [W] and extra dice may actually be the most relevant increase to damage.

So a Twin Striking Ranger is say 2d10+46 at Epic. Average is 57. A Barbarian who is doing 4d6bw+3d6+23 (Howling Strike) is doing 51.5. That is a much narrower gap than normal.

Now say at level 12. 2d10+5+6 is 22. Versus 2d6b2+2d6+5+6 is 27. The Barbarian is solidly ahead of the Ranger at-will. And that is at-will, the Rangers multi-attacks might actually solidly lose to the high-[W] powers of the Barbarian.

This is an interesting breakdown, but as you point out, that's just at-will. Even at level 1, the Ranger is going to have Off-Hand Strike, and will have Ruffling Sting by level 3. Will the Barb really keep up, even with Ranger minor-action attacks in the mix?

Genuine question. My level of system mastery is mid-range at best, and I've never sat down and taken a hard look at Barbarian powers.
You guys are forgetting that things such as Elemental Empowerment don't work. Remember, you have fixed damage, period. Your statics will never, ever rise higher than, at most, +23 damage. At capped out epic.

...Soooooo...yeah. Do what Fardiz said and get a DM who isn't a fascist. Strikers need, at minimum, 1.5 times that damage as a base per attack. More is better, ideally pushing twice that amount. These rules are pretty much trash tbqh.



From a damage op standpoint, sure. But from the perspective of 'characters can play whatever they want and not be completely worthless' it opens some interesting doors.

I might ask how you would suggest the OPs DM adjust things to help out striker damage. Maybe instead of 1/2 level to damage, Strikers get +level?
You guys are forgetting that things such as Elemental Empowerment don't work. Remember, you have fixed damage, period. Your statics will never, ever rise higher than, at most, +23 damage. At capped out epic.

...Soooooo...yeah. Do what Fardiz said and get a DM who isn't a fascist. Strikers need, at minimum, 1.5 times that damage as a base per attack. More is better, ideally pushing twice that amount. These rules are pretty much trash tbqh.


They do, sort of. Adding stats like Elemental Empowerment and Sorcerers do add the fixed "stat" bonus, from 3-8. So they could get up to 31, though I'll agree it's low. EDIT: Most feat bonuses to damage don't work, but I convinced him EEmp was a special exception for blaster Genasi.

I wouldn't call him a facist, but he definitely is going to have his own way on this. He's not dumb, though, so if he sees combat grind he ought to take appropriate action.

I wonder what the proper numbers would have to be to work against monsters RAW? Probably a 50% boost for Strikers, though that encourages every character to at least hybrid striker...
You guys are forgetting that things such as Elemental Empowerment don't work. Remember, you have fixed damage, period. Your statics will never, ever rise higher than, at most, +23 damage. At capped out epic.

...Soooooo...yeah. Do what Fardiz said and get a DM who isn't a fascist. Strikers need, at minimum, 1.5 times that damage as a base per attack. More is better, ideally pushing twice that amount. These rules are pretty much trash tbqh.

Well, now we know that they don't work. Before it was no item or feat bonuses. EE is untyped. Though actually getting to take a feat, ignore str, and get 3-8 damage extra per attack is still pretty good, especially since you are already 3-4 feats up on a normal build anyway. That in fact might be the only way of getting decent statics, is abusing class features/feats that add +stat, because if he allows the +stat but at the same fixed rate of +3-8.

@EasyT: At level 1 Off-hand Strike is adding 5.5+3, 8.5 extra over the base of Twin Strike, which presumably still isn't getting stat and is doing 11. So almost 20 damage. Add in Quarry and and it is 22.5 average, if all attacks hit, and you used an encounter power. Barbarian encounter power will do 4d6b2, or 18 damage from [W] alone, then you add in the +3 twice (Desperate Fury gives you +Con, which in this houserule is +3, and and you already got +3 once) for 24 damage. You're ahead of the Ranger.

Really. Without statics [W] is huge. My earlier analyis didn't even include Surprising Charge, which puts the Barb comfortabbly ahead of the Ranger. Though honestly Thieves probably win out in the end. Backstab+Sneak Attack will really add those dice.
You guys are forgetting that things such as Elemental Empowerment don't work. Remember, you have fixed damage, period. Your statics will never, ever rise higher than, at most, +23 damage. At capped out epic.

...Soooooo...yeah. Do what Fardiz said and get a DM who isn't a fascist. Strikers need, at minimum, 1.5 times that damage as a base per attack. More is better, ideally pushing twice that amount. These rules are pretty much trash tbqh.



From a damage op standpoint, sure. But from the perspective of 'characters can play whatever they want and not be completely worthless' it opens some interesting doors.

I might ask how you would suggest the OPs DM adjust things to help out striker damage. Maybe instead of 1/2 level to damage, Strikers get +level?



Now let's hear it from a 'sensible, not moronic' standpoint: name a concept that can't be approximated very closely with the normal rules that can be done with these ones. Honestly, the only concepts I can think of fall under the same line of thought as 'BUTBUTBUT MY FIGHTER CANNOT INTO RANGE, FIGHTERS SHOULD BE GOOD AT EVERY WEAPON WAHHHHHHHHHH' grog arguments we heard at the start of 4e's life, and are thus not worth wasting time on.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
I wonder what the proper numbers would have to be to work against monsters RAW? Probably a 50% boost for Strikers, though that encourages every character to at least hybrid striker...

Easy to work out. A good striker will kill two monsters every five rounds (including encounter resources, not at-will). A party is assumed to have every role covered+a fifth man, who for the sake of argument we will say is a striker (since normally that really is the best option, either pure or hybrid). Strikers do 1.5x more damage than an average PC (though it should be noted that in an AE situation, certain non-strikers will do more overall damage, but the damage is less valuable since it isn't focused). You even sidestep the accuracy issue, since at most the difference should be +-1 (+2 vs +3 Prof).

Monster health is 8*level+24. So a striker is doing at level 1 64 DPR in five rounds (note DPR, not average damage). A normal party member should be doing ~42-43 in the same time-frame. And you can just work it out like that all the way up.
You guys are forgetting that things such as Elemental Empowerment don't work. Remember, you have fixed damage, period. Your statics will never, ever rise higher than, at most, +23 damage. At capped out epic.

...Soooooo...yeah. Do what Fardiz said and get a DM who isn't a fascist. Strikers need, at minimum, 1.5 times that damage as a base per attack. More is better, ideally pushing twice that amount. These rules are pretty much trash tbqh.



From a damage op standpoint, sure. But from the perspective of 'characters can play whatever they want and not be completely worthless' it opens some interesting doors.

I might ask how you would suggest the OPs DM adjust things to help out striker damage. Maybe instead of 1/2 level to damage, Strikers get +level?



Now let's hear it from a 'sensible, not moronic' standpoint: name a concept that can't be approximated very closely with the normal rules that can be done with these ones. Honestly, the only concepts I can think of fall under the same line of thought as 'BUTBUTBUT MY FIGHTER CANNOT INTO RANGE, FIGHTERS SHOULD BE GOOD AT EVERY WEAPON WAHHHHHHHHHH' grog arguments we heard at the start of 4e's life, and are thus not worth wasting time on.



I like how you have to poison the well because otherwise you'd get demolished. Death to ability scores, all day every day. Now the DM just has to go farther by removing all dependence on them, average CON, average defenses, resolve secondaries somehow... Suddenly, game is much improved.

I'm less fond of the banning of item and feat bonuses as a general rule. Resolving taxes is fine, but no need to take it too far. But the only real problem here is that the DM got the numbers a bit off. Easily fixed.
I'd like to see ability scores removed too, but homogenizing all characters is not the way I'd do it. It's hackwork. There's a difference between wanting to keep a terrible design element and thinking an even worse design choice will be worth it just because it lets you chuck it.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
Now the DM just has to go farther by removing all dependence on them, average CON, average defenses, resolve secondaries somehow... Suddenly, game is much improved.

Why stop there? Lets just have everyone roll a d20 and whoever gets highest is the Winnar! Simplicity at it's finest!
Self-Editing.
You guys are forgetting that things such as Elemental Empowerment don't work. Remember, you have fixed damage, period. Your statics will never, ever rise higher than, at most, +23 damage. At capped out epic.

...Soooooo...yeah. Do what Fardiz said and get a DM who isn't a fascist. Strikers need, at minimum, 1.5 times that damage as a base per attack. More is better, ideally pushing twice that amount. These rules are pretty much trash tbqh.

Well, now we know that they don't work. Before it was no item or feat bonuses. EE is untyped. Though actually getting to take a feat, ignore str, and get 3-8 damage extra per attack is still pretty good, especially since you are already 3-4 feats up on a normal build anyway. That in fact might be the only way of getting decent statics, is abusing class features/feats that add +stat, because if he allows the +stat but at the same fixed rate of +3-8.

@EasyT: At level 1 Off-hand Strike is adding 5.5+3, 8.5 extra over the base of Twin Strike, which presumably still isn't getting stat and is doing 11. So almost 20 damage. Add in Quarry and and it is 22.5 average, if all attacks hit, and you used an encounter power. Barbarian encounter power will do 4d6b2, or 18 damage from [W] alone, then you add in the +3 twice (Desperate Fury gives you +Con, which in this houserule is +3, and and you already got +3 once) for 24 damage. You're ahead of the Ranger.

Really. Without statics [W] is huge. My earlier analyis didn't even include Surprising Charge, which puts the Barb comfortabbly ahead of the Ranger. Though honestly Thieves probably win out in the end. Backstab+Sneak Attack will really add those dice.



Well he did say no feat bonuses to damage.  I think everyone is taking that to mean static damage bonuses Allah Weapon Focus.  But that might also include things that increase your damage die (like Backstabber) and Suprising Charge.  Have to ask the OP /  Facist DM about that.

Really the way that seems to win out is to go hybrid with something that double-dips on class feature damage rolls.  Executioner|Lock or the like. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Rerolling attacks with elf avenger(|executioner) could work.  Or double dipping vulnerabilities (at 20 Luckbringer of Tymora could be awesome for a multi-element-focused party).

Int-based Sorcerer/Storm Scourge/Radiant One with Crown of the Brilliant Sun could make a fun combo, too, focused on lightning--> radiant attacks...paired up with a Morninglord.


And don't forget 'the DRAGONS'... Dragonborn Con-Str Polearm Momentum/Draconic Arrogance Iron Vanguards... without having to worry about base class attack stat.
I think that (modulo the math not quite lining up) this is all a perfectly reasonable endeavor.  Maybe these people just don't want to play the "optimize your static bonuses" game.  They know the kind of mathematical target they are trying to hit so they just assume that they've hit it and move on to other things.
Well he did say no feat bonuses to damage.  I think everyone is taking that to mean static damage bonuses Allah Weapon Focus.  But that might also include things that increase your damage die (like Backstabber) and Suprising Charge.  Have to ask the OP /  Facist DM about that.

Really the way that seems to win out is to go hybrid with something that double-dips on class feature damage rolls.  Executioner|Lock or the like. 


The rules are pretty unclear, only mentioning "feat bonuses". Theoretically the ones that you mention work, as would stuff like Hellfire Blood. He's been pretty pliable for helping make builds work (including letting me take a nerfed version of the original Hide Armor Expertise), but he really doesn't like anything he sees as "mandatory feats".

I'm kinda torn, myself. I mean, what Rogue doesn't take Backstabber? I can agree with trying to remove feat taxes, but once you take away the gold, it leaves the sky-blues as the new gold...
I'm kinda torn, myself. I mean, what Rogue doesn't take Backstabber? I can agree with trying to remove feat taxes, but once you take away the gold, it leaves the sky-blues as the new gold...

Speaking of rogue, Cha-Str Brutal Scoundrel rogue with Footpad's Friend could also work.  I created a dragonfear dragonborn rogue at lvl 10 about 2+ years ago relying on theme support (Escaped Slave) and melee training for Cha-based attacks.  Went Daring Blade to avoid Dex requirement for base attacks... Dex rogues have better feat support, but this was a fun alternative, and your PP would be 'open'..

Allah Weapon Focus.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.
Allah Weapon Focus.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.



Feat Prerequisite: Training in Religion.
Bugbear Battlemind that uses a Gouge. When your DM is done being ravaged, send um over here so we can try to fix their major malfuncion.
Allah Weapon Focus.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.



Feat Prerequisite: Training in Religion.

+1/tier feat bonus to damage with divine weapon powers?

Allah Weapon Focus.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.



Feat Prerequisite: Training in Religion.

+1/tier feat bonus to damage with divine weapon powers?




Also +1/tier feat bonus to damage and hit with close burst and blast fire powers...
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Allah Weapon Focus.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.



Feat Prerequisite: Training in Religion.

+1/tier feat bonus to damage with divine weapon powers?




Also +1/tier feat bonus to damage and hit with close burst and blast fire powers...



and +2 to Jihad checks?
Allah Weapon Focus.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.



Feat Prerequisite: Training in Religion.

+1/tier feat bonus to damage with divine weapon powers?




Also +1/tier feat bonus to damage and hit with close burst and blast fire powers...



and +2 to Jihad checks?



Don't forget the -2 to History Checks you are trying to remember incorrectly.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Sign In to post comments