defender survivability question

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My question is: Is it normal for a groups defender to go down every fight at low level (level 1-5)? I am playing a paladin right now whose focus (as much focus as you can have at level 2) is on mass marking and radiant vulnerability stacking/punishment. He is working out very well. Deals pretty good mark punishment damage and can keep stuff away from the leader/ranged strikers without difficulty. However it always feels like I am always getting almost killed. Every fight I take at least 1.5-2x my total HP in damage, which would be about 50-70 damage (only have 35 HP). Is the leader just not doing their job or am I playing too recklessly? 

My AC is 22 right now, so it's pretty good. All my other defenses aren't great but about as good as one could expect at this low level without a necklace/cape. My feets are draconic challenge (ay dragonborn paladin) and heavy blade expertise. 

That seems plausible. If you're mass-marking and making your mark very painful with radiant vulnerability, you're giving the monsters an incentive to gang up on you. I expect it's possible for you to find ways to balance this out through feats and power choices, and not making your mark any more painful, but see what help the other characters can provide to help kill monsters quickly or keep them off you.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

That seems plausible. If you're mass-marking and making your mark very painful with radiant vulnerability, you're giving the monsters an incentive to gang up on you. I expect it's possible for you to find ways to balance this out through feats and power choices, and not making your mark any more painful, but see what help the other characters can provide to help kill monsters quickly or keep them off you.

So I guess one way to increase my survivability would be to stop marking stuff all the time (or at least when i start taking a beating) haha. Any other suggestions?
So I guess one way to increase my survivability would be to stop marking stuff all the time (or at least when i start taking a beating) haha.

Well, how many attackers do you generally have on you at once, in an effort to avoid your mark penalty?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

That seems plausible. If you're mass-marking and making your mark very painful with radiant vulnerability, you're giving the monsters an incentive to gang up on you. I expect it's possible for you to find ways to balance this out through feats and power choices, and not making your mark any more painful, but see what help the other characters can provide to help kill monsters quickly or keep them off you.

So I guess one way to increase my survivability would be to stop marking stuff all the time (or at least when i start taking a beating) haha. Any other suggestions?



This can be a good tactic, you dont always have to mark.  The others have HP and surges to spend as well so let them take some of the damage.  If you dont mark then the monsters are more likely to break ranks and go after the squishies.
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Talk to your DM. I've seen this in public play, and watched something similar happen with defender powers like "Dragon Fear" and "Come and Get It."

Defenders are not JUST bullet sponges. It's happened before that some DMs think that's how a defender works: "I defend! I get swarmed! I die!" That leads to a defender who, like you, can die very quickly, and leave the lest of the party un-defended.

Couldn't hurt to ask him if he thinks everything is actually going to respect your mark or not. Not everything will - or should. After all, part of what you do is punish. When you get mobbed, you're not punishing, you're just sponging, and not being allowed to do your job entirely like you could be able to.

58286228 wrote:
As a DM, I find it easier to just punish the players no matter what they pick, as I assume they will pick stuff that is broken. I mean, fight after fight they kill all the monsters without getting killed themselves! What sort of a game is this, anyway?

 

An insightful observation about the nature of 4e, and why it hasn't succeeded as well as other editions. (from the DDN General Discussions, 2014-05-07)

Rundell wrote:

   

Emerikol wrote:

       

Foxface wrote:

        4e was the "modern" D&D, right?  The one that had design notes that drew from more modern games, and generally appealed to those who preferred the design priorities of modern games.  I'm only speculating, but I'd hazard a guess that those same 4e players are the ones running the wide gamut of other games at Origins.

       
        D&D 4e players are pretty much by definition the players who didn't mind, and often embraced, D&D being "different".  That willingness to embrace the different might also mean they are less attached to 4e itself, and are willing to go elsewhere.

    This is a brilliant insight.  I was thinking along those lines myself.  

 

    There are so many tiny indie games that if you added them all together they would definitely rival Pathfinder.   If there were a dominant game for those people it would do better but there is no dominant game.  Until 4e, the indie people were ignored by the makers of D&D.

 

Yep. 4E was embraced by the 'system matters' crowd who love analyzing and innovating systems. That crowd had turned its back on D&D as a clunky anachronism. But with 4E, their design values were embraced and validated. 4E was D&D for system-wonks. And with support for 4E pulled, the system-wonks have moved on to other systems. The tropes and traditions of D&D never had much appeal for them anyway. Now there are other systems to learn and study. It's like boardgamegeeks - always a new system on the horizon. Why play an ancient games that's seven years old?

 

Of course, not all people who play and enjoy 4E fit that mould. I'm running a 4E campaign right now, and my long-time D&D players are enjoying it fine. But with the system-wonks decamping, the 4E players-base lost the wind in its sails.

Couldn't hurt to ask him if he thinks everything is actually going to respect your mark or not. Not everything will - or should.

True, but this is generally just based on monster intellect, and the assumption that only creatures of a certain intellect would violate a mark. That is highly subjective and might make a DM feel like he's throwing a fight. DMs should have plausible reasons for a creature violating a mark or not, but either is generally plausible. It's best that the DM feel like he or she is providing a challenge, rather than adhering to certain ideas about monster behavior.

If that's not what you meant, I apologise.

After all, part of what you do is punish. When you get mobbed, you're not punishing, you're just sponging, and not being allowed to do your job entirely like you could be able to.

That's also a non-starter. A defender defends whether sponging or punishing. A player can't expect to be able to dictate which they do.

All that said, I do recommend talking to the DM about this, especially if monsters are commonly targeting the paladin's weakest defense, or something.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Having good Con is also vital for a defender who wants to mass mark. Paladins are notoriously bad in that department. Do you have a background that bases your HP on your main stat instead of your Con? That would help tremendously here.
Having good Con is also vital for a defender who wants to mass mark. Paladins are notoriously bad in that department. Do you have a background that bases your HP on your main stat instead of your Con? That would help tremendously here.

I guess to answer all the questions.

I typically have 2 melee and maybe a ranged attacking me.
My DM considers tanks to be sponges who take hits, and thats how they help the group. He also has...everything honor my mark. 
My CON is 14 (dragonborn, went char/con).
I typically have 2 melee and maybe a ranged attacking me.

That seems like a lot. Are all of them marked?

My DM considers tanks to be sponges who take hits, and thats how they help the group. He also has...everything honor my mark.

That's not surprising. Some people see granting extra damage through opportunity attacks or mark violations as stupid behavior, a penalty for not paying attention. Any monster can plausibly see what the penalty is for violation and decide it doesn't want that. With your maxed Charisma and any imposed radiant vulnerability, it's hard to blame them. What kind of damage would they take? You've made the option of hitting you too good, and you have to deal with that.

Alternatively, talk to your allies about making larger nuisances of themselves. If they can make it work the enemies' while to attack them, then that's heat taken off of you. Right now, it sounds like the enemies are around for too long, during which time they focus on you.

My CON is 14 (dragonborn, went char/con).

Do you have Toughness and Durability? Do your items let you spend surges? Do you have a heavy shield?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

That seems like a lot. Are all of them marked?

 That's not surprising. Some people see granting extra damage through opportunity attacks or mark violations as stupid behavior, a penalty for not paying attention. Any monster can plausibly see what the penalty is for violation and decide it doesn't want that. With your maxed Charisma and any imposed radiant vulnerability, it's hard to blame them. What kind of damage would they take? You've made the option of hitting you too good, and you have to deal with that.

Alternatively, talk to your allies about making larger nuisances of themselves. If they can make it work the enemies' while to attack them, then that's heat taken off of you. Right now, it sounds like the enemies are around for too long, during which time they focus on you.

Do you have Toughness and Durability? Do your items let you spend surges? Do you have a heavy shield?


Typically only 1 is marked (maybe 2) unless I recently used an encounter power. 

Typical damage to a marked target I believe is 6 or 7, 9/10 with the vulnerability I give (only when I hit a target).

I am level 2, so only have 2 feets. I went with draconic challenge to give me a 100% mass mark attack and heavy blade expertise to hit more often. 

I am level 2, so only have 2 feets. I went with draconic challenge to give me a 100% mass mark attack and heavy blade expertise to hit more often.

I'd see about trading both of those out, if you can, for things that increases your staying power. But don't swing to far to the other side, or the DM will decide never to attack you. In that case, at least you'd have more surges for Lay on Hands, but I'm guessing your Wisdom is only +1 anyway.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I am level 2, so only have 2 feets. I went with draconic challenge to give me a 100% mass mark attack and heavy blade expertise to hit more often.

I'd see about trading both of those out, if you can, for things that increases your staying power. But don't swing to far to the other side, or the DM will decide never to attack you. In that case, at least you'd have more surges for Lay on Hands, but I'm guessing your Wisdom is only +1 anyway.


+2 actually. Both CON and WIS are 14s. Sadly I need to wait till I level up to retrain, but I can wait to do that.  
That's not surprising. Some people see granting extra damage through opportunity attacks or mark violations as stupid behavior, a penalty for not paying attention. Any monster can plausibly see what the penalty is for violation and decide it doesn't want that. 

...

Alternatively, talk to your allies about making larger nuisances of themselves. If they can make it work the enemies' while to attack them, then that's heat taken off of you. Right now, it sounds like the enemies are around for too long, during which time they focus on you.



I don't know about the OP's fellow players, but when I get the chance to play, I love drawing monster opportunity attacks to provoke defender payback. There's no special prize for ending the adventuring day with anything more than 1 hit point and 0 surges! Talk to your fellow players about tempting the DM to break his mark-honoring policy.

If you DM for the group as well, I'd suggest violating marks with your monsters as an example. I do it all the time when I run games. It puts some pressure on the other PCs, increasing uncertainty, and in theory speeds things up.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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Another question might be how long the combats are going?  Generally speaking if the combat drags on and your defender is doing a good job of making himself a target, the defender is going to go down.  If you are taking 2x your HP in damage and the combat is 2 rounds, well then thats probably a DM issue.  If you are taking 2x your HP in damage and the combats are 6 rounds, well then thats likely a player issue.

I came up with a similar problem playing my Champion of Order in a group recently.  The DM refused to ever violate my mark because it hurt (Radiant damage + radiant vuln, MBA+ Radiant vuln [OA], MBA+ Radiant Vuln [Immediate]) but nobody else in our party did any damage.  My defenses were very high (38-43AC at 16) so we basically stood and poked at eachother for 17 rounds while everyone else just sort of pecked away at the 2 big guys we were fighting.  Even with my high defenses I had to pop 3 surges during that fight to stay alive.
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Still though, a level 2 paladin should have AC about 20/21.

Level 3 monsters would still need to roll at least a 12 to come close, which would mean the paladin would get missed 60% of the time.


The questions regarding length of combat, activities of team mates are certainly viable, but most of all it seems your DM needs to drop his WoW account like a hot potato, read the actual DMG, and start spreading some of that attention.

D&D 4e does not have damage sponges, or at least not as outrageously so as some other RPGs.         
The questions regarding length of combat, activities of team mates are certainly viable, but most of all it seems your DM needs to drop his WoW account like a hot potato, read the actual DMG, and start spreading some of that attention.

When I DM, in the interest of keeping combat hopping, I will violate defender marks and provoke opportunity attacks with impunity. It's not that my monsters don't know or care about the risk, it's just that staying alive for as long as possible isn't always their priority.

But that's my personal preference and it's not necessarily going to gain traction with any given DM, since it's understandable to not want to "throw" combat, or make a given feature too powerful by playing into it in an non-tactical way. There are ways for a DM to make mark violations a good tactical choice, but again I've rarely seen those methods gain much traction.

The player should talk to the DM, but should also consider making changes from within. The DM might even allow someone to retrain mid-level, or early, if they're not having fun at present.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I don't know about the OP's fellow players, but when I get the chance to play, I lovedrawing monster opportunity attacks to provoke defender payback.

Absolutely!  If one player is mass marking the others should be moving into flanking positions, especially with a paladin.  Give the mobs a bad choice. Then when they go down quick for being flanked, the DM might start taking the mark damage just to get the opportunity to take a shot at a squishier character than the paladin.


Also, how is you party leader at doling out buffs to you in combat?  How about any party members about putting debuffs on the mobs?


Another tactic with a paladin is to mark enemies farther away, that would have to provoke an opportunity attack just to get to you.   You have to have some party member that aren't afraid to get in the mix, some good melee strikers or leaders for this to be viable.  But you can really put the bad guys between a rock and a hard place.  Try marking one at the beginning of your turn then move away and attack a different enemy.


TjD 

 My defenses were very high (38-43AC at 16)



I am curious how this is even possible.
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
As someone also currently playing a Pally, I spend a lot of time on the ground.

 A few thoughts:
Are you using Lay on Hands?
Have you pondered multiclassing? (A few in the Shaman line would get you an encounter heal)
What utility did you take at level 2? If you are trained in Healing, Iron Resurgence is phenomenal!
How effective is your current leader?
How well does your group focus-fire? 
As someone also currently playing a Pally, I spend a lot of time on the ground.

 A few thoughts:
Are you using Lay on Hands?
Have you pondered multiclassing? (A few in the Shaman line would get you an encounter heal)
What utility did you take at level 2? If you are trained in Healing, Iron Resurgence is phenomenal!
How effective is your current leader?
How well does your group focus-fire? 


On this note, do you have Deliverance of Faith and/or Virtue?  A reliable surge's worth of temps per fight goes a long way to keeping you on your feet.
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.
  Heavy Blade Expertise should be replaced with Devout Protector Expertise, in any case; the latter is made for the shield-using paladin (and similar sorts).

  One of the problems you may be running into here is an expectation among the group (the DM and perhaps the players) that a D&D defender is equivalent to an MMO tank. They're not. The defender isn't supposed to take everything on himself "just because". His job is to interfere with just enough enemies to prevent anyone from being ganged up on, and that includes himself. By the same token, the rest of the group needs to help make that happen - if a defender is in danger of getting mobbed then some of them should run interference. Again, in D&D (and unlike an MMO), everyone else isn't "squishy" and can also take some hits (and in some cases, may be able to take just as many).
Well said, N_D! I'm not ashamed to admit I get a little annoyed at how much people try to avoid taking a single hit. At least, that's what I see a lot. There's no point in ending the day with surges left - get up in there!

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

 My defenses were very high (38-43AC at 16)



I am curious how this is even possible.



Was a very specific situation.  We had 2 Solo-like elites that I could lock down (neither had a teleport and I immobilized them (no save) with ring of personal gravity).  One of them didn't have anything that could really get me in trouble that wasn't a ranged attack, so he provoked a lot of OAs from me, the other I just attacked every round.

34 Base AC + Harlequin style (39 AC) + Divine Aegis (41 AC) + Bloodiron (43, when I connected).  I'm at +26 to hit base with Brash Strike, plus they were dazed and weakened permanently so perma CA.  At +28 to hit their AC I hit on a 3 unless the leader was giving me bonuses.  My OAs only miss on 1s, cause they are 1s (+5 Hit/damage from theme).  And they don't get +2 to hit me from CA due to Ubiquitous shield.  So at +21 and +22 to hit AC it wasn't terribly uncommon for them to miss on a 19.

Again, the point of this was not to show "lol, my defenses are awesome" but rather that it might not be 100% DM problems.  It might have to do with group comp.  That same character in another group 1.5 rounded an entire room of guys. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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I don't know about the OP's fellow players, but when I get the chance to play, I love drawing monster opportunity attacks to provoke defender payback.

If you DM for the group as well, I'd suggest violating marks with your monsters as an example.


I have groups a party built around violating marks.

Here is a great Example:

Characters Warlord (Me), Knight, Enchanter, Rogue, Monk.

Assume Warlord, Knight, and Rogue are next to a monster.



  • Warlord uses Brash Strike and hits 1d8+4 damage

  • Monster decides to hit back.

  • Knight attacks Monster and hits 1d8+2, monster is slowed (Defend the Line)

  • Warlord selects Rogue to get in basic melee attack.

  • Rogue attacks and hits 1d4+2+2d8



This Monster has just taken an average of 26 damage on a single turn, with the Knight, and Rogue still getting to attack.

If the Knight hits it again he does another average of 9 damage and will knock the monster prone.
If the Rogue attacks it that will be average of 15 more damage with the learned dagger. Not including any other trick attacks she can choose to use.

So if you add it up the monster had taken 50 damage and is prone.

A living enemy can do damage.  A dead enemy can't.

I agree that you need to talk to the DM about letting the monsters take swings at others.  Just because your the Defender doesn't mean you're a pinatta in armor.

If the DM insists on attacking only you then ask him to modify your feats now for better survivability.





I don't know about the OP's fellow players, but when I get the chance to play, I love drawing monster opportunity attacks to provoke defender payback.

If you DM for the group as well, I'd suggest violating marks with your monsters as an example.


I have groups a party built around violating marks.

Here is a great Example:

Characters Warlord (Me), Knight, Enchanter, Rogue, Monk.

Assume Warlord, Knight, and Rogue are next to a monster.



  • Warlord uses Brash Strike and hits 1d8+4 damage

  • Monster decides to hit back.

  • Knight attacks Monster and hits 1d8+2, monster is slowed (Defend the Line)

  • Warlord selects Rogue to get in basic melee attack.

  • Rogue attacks and hits 1d4+2+2d8



This Monster has just taken an average of 26 damage on a single turn, with the Knight, and Rogue still getting to attack.

If the Knight hits it again he does another average of 9 damage and will knock the monster prone.
If the Rogue attacks it that will be average of 15 more damage with the learned dagger. Not including any other trick attacks she can choose to use.

So if you add it up the monster had taken 50 damage and is prone.

A living enemy can do damage.  A dead enemy can't.

I agree that you need to talk to the DM about letting the monsters take swings at others.  Just because your the Defender doesn't mean you're a pinatta in armor.

If the DM insists on attacking only you then ask him to modify your feats now for better survivability.




Thats a dumb monster that decides to attack back.

Do you also have Provoke Overextension as well?  Is your theme guardian for the forced mark violation catch-22?  Does anyone have Battle Awareness for the extra bit of catch-22 goodness? 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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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
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