Ranged party, only melee character. What to pick??

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Hi there!  My group is starting a campaign soon, and the other night we rolled for stats.  Fortunately, I rolled quite decently.
Before racial modifiers,
17, 16, 15, 15, 13, 13
So I have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to qualifying for feats and such.

The group consists of two archery rangers, a crossbow artificer, and a laser cleric.  My first thought is that everyone is ranged and doesn't do so great in melee.  Two strikers and two leaders, all ranged.  We need a defender and someone to hold the line.

What would you suggest to help make this party sucessful?  My initial thought would be a polearm fighter.  What defender (or something else to keep enemies away from the group?) would you pick?  I'm going to be the only one out there, and while we have decent healing, it would have to be survivable and be able to keep enemies from engaging the artillery.

The campaign setting is dark, post apocalyptic, and only a handful of races are available.  Mostly humans, elves, half elves, and dwarves, with a small smattering of other races.  Very undead heavy setting. 
Paladin.

hard to hit, can multi mark


...and those are some unlikely rolled stats. 
I haven't kept up to date on Paladin in 4e for a few years.  Would paladin be able to provide a good front line and prevent enemies from engaging the ranged characters by himself?  Last time I saw someone play one in a group, enemies could simply run by them and the only punishment was charisma modifier holy damage.  (that was before Divine Power, so maybe things have changed)
The dice roll was 5d6, keep the best 3 (and any rolls under 10 were rerolled because "lol heroes").  And if we brought beer, we were allowed to reroll a few times if we weren't happy with our set.  So I got lucky on my second set.
Try for a Charisma based one.

community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...


If there isn't at least one target under your divine sanction each round, you're doing something wrong. 
With a 17/16/15/15 stat layout, a balanced paladin with a strong WIS mod is an unusual possibility.
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.
17 CHA, 16 STR, 15 WIS, 15 CON, 13 DEX, 13 INT

That's before racial bonuses.  Go human and put your bonus into CHA + the bonus feat and heroic effort or pick a STR / CHA race.  Makes for a very powerful Paladin either way.
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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Those stats would make for a pretty powerful pretty much anything.  You could try for some interesting MAD hybrid build.
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.
Thats what I'm pretty interested in.  Paladin usually seems pretty MAD, but this I'm really going to look into.  My biggest concern is to be able to prevent enemies from engaging our totally ranged party-- no one else in the group is melee, so I want to keep them disengaged and firing as long as possible.  

So if I went Paladin, look at Charisma builds?  What sort of weapon should I go for; sword and shield, or try to go for a polearm shenanigans?  My original thought was to go for a spear fighter and focus on knocking enemies back and prone to keep the hordes back-- but with the entire group (besides me) ranged only, prone might not be good.  Paladin might be really good too, since the campaign is very undead heavy.

Anyone know of any really fun MAD ideas? 
You should pick a Timeless Locket to use Battle Standard of the Hungry Blade (Note that this comes online by lvl 14). Your Artificer wants an Artificer's Belt. This way you could use Timeless Locket 3 encounters a day (4 if he's a Tinker Gnome).
Go Half-Elf and poach Eldritch Strike. Add Flail package. Profit. 
There aren't too many items i'd rather recharge than Timeless Locket, but if your group happens to have some of them (e.g. Helm of Heroes, Ring of Fury, etc.) there would be contenders.
Other way would be to go Paladin|Warlock, of course, your punishment will suffer from that, tho.

The problem with crazy hybrids, MAD or not, is that it likely diminishes your battlefield control.

Starting at level 1 makes |battlemind a long wait till level 7 (nevermind pinkisthenewreds item proposal) .

|Fighter would increase your punishment, but reduce your divine sanction abilities. And please note, while damage is nice, you will likely have some decent strikers, let them worry about damage.


The most interesting would probably be |wizard, but you'd need a feat to use a weapon as an implement, and you'd need another feat to get some armor. Starting at level 1 I would not recommend anything but pure paladin.


You should pick a Timeless Locket to use Battle Standard of the Hungry Blade (Note that this comes online by lvl 14). Your Artificer wants an Artificer's Belt. This way you could use Timeless Locket 3 encounters a day (4 if he's a Tinker Gnome).



Impart Energy
You recharge the daily power of a magic item. An item can be recharged only once per day in this way.

Emphasis mine. Unless you carry arround several TImeless Lockets, this wont work. Also, remember that you can only use 3 Magic Item Dailies per day.
How is this relevant to a level 1 starting PC ?
I see your party also lacks a controller. If you want to protect your buddies you can also consider playing a wizard or invoker. Those classes exert better control over large number of enemies than a regular defender, thereby contributing more to keeping your partymembers alive. 

The obvious downside to that idea of course is that your party will have no melee capabilities whatsoever. But I don't think that a low-level paladin (or any low-level defender for that matter) is great at deterring large groups of enemies from attacking ranged partymembers. 

Unless your DM always obeys your mark, of course. In that case there are few classes better at protecting allies than paladins.
-2 to attack + threat for nice damage as a No Action to nearly everyone 3 times per Encounter at Level 2 seems an acceptable protection level to me. You must be a Dragonborn or Tiefling, but that's acceptable. A human will do that only for two turns per Encounter, but has multiclassed into Fighter via Battle Awareness at that point, making shifts harder.
-2 to attack + threat for nice damage as a No Action to nearly everyone 3 times per Encounter at Level 2 seems an acceptable protection level to me. You must be a Dragonborn or Tiefling, but that's acceptable. A human will do that only for two turns per Encounter, but has multiclassed into Fighter via Battle Awareness at that point, making shifts harder.


I'm not saying it's not an excellent deterrent. What I'm saying is that hard control offers better protection to a large number of partymembers than a -2 to hit and punishment in the form of radiant damage. 
I actually really like controllers, and if the group has a leader and defender, I usually like playing one.  Really like tactically rewarding characters.

My only focus is that I can keep enemys from engaging the four ranged only characters as long as possible.  So stickiness and the area I can block and not let enemies run past is key.  

Mark enforcement is important, but not as much so-- since most of the time I will be the only one near enemies if I can help it.  The rangers should be able to disengage at will for the most part.  I just want to create a wall of "can't run by me" as large as possible, and then try to be moderately durable.  The group has two leaders, one of them being a cleric, so healing isn't in short supply.  Damage isn't really a huge concern either, except for punishing enemies that try to forgo my mark or run past me.

So stickiness and area denial are big for me.  Is there anything you might recommend for keeping the enemy back, like pushing, proning, or any other sort of focus I could do?  My original thought was to do a polearm fighter and find some way to do push/slide + prone on attacks or OA's.  But something like that could work really well as a Paladin or Battlemind maybe?

One other idea I just spoke to the DM about is race.  He's stated the campaign is in some sort of undead post apocalyptic setting, where our only choices for races are the most common ones-- Humans, Dwarves, Elves, and Half Elves; that anything else would have to have a good reason for being there (he stated Dragonborn and any fey races were right out).  

He did mention, however, Revenant would be okay.  So I was thinking some sort of Constitution or Charisma build with a Revenant would be really cool, and very survivable, allowing me to be nearly suicidal at times when it comes to defending.  So a Charisma Paladin, or maybe a Battlemind.  I stopped playing for a few years, back when PHB3, Divine Power, Psionic Power, and all the essentials books came out, so I'm really not that familiar with Battleminds, what Paladins can actually do now, and any of the essentials classes like Knight or Cavalier.
Do you think a Controller is an option to keep the group disengaged, with a group with no melee at all?
I'm shocked nobody has said this ... there is no way for a single PC to completely defend a group of three ranged characters; this applies double in heroic.  There will be fights wherein you can pull this off, but your line is more than weak; it is just you!  You should have this conversation with your group.  If the DM is willing to adapt to the odd makeup of the party, and the other PC's know the handicap you are taking, it could be a good campaign.  On the other hand, the DM could just daze you on round one and get in everybody else's face while they complaign that you are ineffective.   The most important thing here is to make sure that everybody (including you) is having fun.

Options:
1.  Be a paladin.  They make awesome defenders, especially in a campaign with a lot of undead.  The strong parts of paladin is they have tons of ways to hand out being marked, their punishment damage is radiant, and it doesn't take an action to punish.
2.  If you really, really want to absorb all punishment, be a warden.  The problem is that you pretty much get to be the DM's punching bag, and won't be able to do much else (aka be a paladin)
3.  You should take Superior Will early, really early. 
Its actually four completely ranged characters.  Two archery rangers, a crossbow artificer, and a wisdom only cleric who says he only wants to be a healer and nothing else, who spent the first session (we made temporary characters just so we could get started, and we'll firm things up in the second session) running away from the group, avoided, all combat, and then the entire rest of the group went straight and he was in the rear, he instead asked the DM "do I know they went that way?  Oh, well I go THIS way".  (So maybe you were right originally, with three ranged characters)

It would make sense for the Cleric to have some melee powers, even wisdom based ones, but I don't expect that to happen.  Earlier he was asking if he could only wear cloth and no armor.

I was thinking, if I'm going to be a huge punching bag, I might want to try Revenant, and be as unkillable as possible.  Try to survive bloodied or even negative HP, then healing up from there, and have a really good death saving throw.  If I went that way, I could go for a Constitution build, like Battlemind, or a Charisma build, like Paladin.  Necromancy is central to the campaign, so choosing the race wouldn't be a stretch.

I am going to see if someone else might want to play a melee character though.
Your leader spent the session running away from the group?  Undecided

It might be time for a sitdown chat with everyone about more than just the melee/ranged split.
Everyone else is great.  He's just a special snowflake.
Your party doesn't stand much of a chance to make it past low heroic, 2 leaders or not. Hard control can fix this better than a defender. Hence the suggestion for a controller. Wizards, invokers and psions all get good at hard control past early heroic. Check the handbooks to see which ones also offer the necessary control at low heroic, but my money is on wizard.

Battlemind isn't very good at being a frontliner by himself.
I think thats what I'm going to do.  I'll make a controller, focus on hard control options.  I know that stuff pretty well, so it should be no problem.  And that should "encourage" the rest of the group to reconsider their class when they realize no one can stand up front.
You could even go with something like a Deva Swordmage|Invoker to offer both control and some defending. With those stats you'll even have a good CON score so you won't have a hole in your NADs.
Warden, either kind will do. Make sure to pick plenty of powers that let you great difficult or hindering terrain around you, and thus you will control the enemies. Take hits, dish out hits, and offer some soft control on the side. 
If you could somehow wrangle resistance into the mix while still retaining your controlling that might be good - I know a few at-will powers give resist (usually [con] mod) from level 1.
Battlemind: Iron Fist (effect, wis mod)
Fighter: Resolute Shield (must hit, con mod)
Cleric: Blessing of Battle (effect, con mod)

I'd agree with what someone said about Warden - they can generate a super amount of marks, but I found them unable to cope with the monster love in early heroic tier. Also depends on how much your DM honours marks I guess - I've played in games where it almost an on/off button where the monster always honours the mark, and in others where the DM seems reliably reluctant to hit the well defended defender when he could bloody the wizard with ease instead.
The knight is probably the stickiest defender through paragon-ish, in terms of not letting anyone get past him, because he punishes with opportunity actions rather than immediates and has good synergy with his stances (Defend the Line + World Serpent's Grasp).  If you could somehow get a slide onto your MBA (e.g., mark of storm + lightning damage or half-elf dilettante for eldritch strike) and then a way to convert slides to prone (e.g., flail expertise or polearm momentum), you don't even need the stances to be sticky.
Lashing Flail (with Dragging Flail and Flail Expertise) is the way to play Knights in Paragon these days.  At Epic you use a hammer and Overwhelming Impact to daze thanks to Defend the Line.

Knights are good, but they're pretty stymied when things DO manage to get away, because they can;t benefit from any of the marked-enemies goodies designed for O-Defenders to punish thosewho get away.
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.