Very Strict Campaign Rules, How should I prepare?

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So here's the campaign I'm about to start. We're starting at level 4, setting is LFR. The DM has imposed the following restrictios:



  •     Only allowed material (powers, races, classes, etc) from the PHBs 1-3, Power books, 2 racial books, heroes of feywield/Elemental and Dungeon Survival, AVs, Mordenkainen's.

  •     Definitvely nothing from Dragon Magazines, Essentials stuff or settings books.

  •     Despite this, we are to use the online compendium errata'd versions of what we find in the allowed sources.

  •     Also, monsters will almost all be from the newer thougher variety from MM3, Vault and Demonomicon.

  •     Minions take two hits to kill unless one does 6/8/10+Lvl damage to them by tier.

  •     No rare items and no themes.

  •     The only enchanted items one can buy are vanilla magical items (+1 and so on) of his own level and below

  •     However one can instantly upgrade whatever magical items he has in his possession if he has the gold (no need to be in a store even)

  •     One can hand in a wishlist to be subject to DM fiat

  •     Level up occurs ever 4-6 sessions instead of being experience based.




Sounds like I'm heading towards a massacre! Any tips?

Sounds like I'm heading towards a massacre! Any tips?


Find a different game. Any DM who can't see that Dragon magazine included many necessary fixes and nothing overpowered will not have the experience to make it worth playing. Just my 2 cents.

Sounds like a drag with an inexperienced DM
I think it is doable. Dragon/Campaign specific content is definitely helpful, but a lot of the good options are in the various books that you have access to. You're just taking Versatile Expertise or a couple of other choices from Heroes of the Feywild for hitting purposes and don't play the poorly supported classes such as Seeker or Avenger.

One thing to suggest is the allowing of specifically Improved Defenses as being a math fix feat.
The main thing this list suggests is the DM doesn't really understand the source books, and that the emphasis isn't on having fun.  

You can make effective characters with those restrictions, but it's an odd list (ex, Heroes of Feywild/EC are Essentials ... you can use them to get Totem/Ki Focus/2 Handed/Tome expertise, but the other expertise feats are in the other Essentials book.  Inconsistent restrictions.)  Some classes are much weaker (ex - clerics & cleric hybrids with no Battle Cleric's Lore) some classes are unusable (Artificers and Swordmage if no Eberron and Forgotten Realm PG ... the latter especially odd as you're in LFR).

Some of the other stuff suggests the DM doesn't really understand the game (ex, Enchant Magic Item ritual lets you upgrade a item (+1 -> +2, etc) by paying the cost difference, so a house rule to remove the 1 hour casting time is an odd thing to tweak.)   Some of the other modifications can work, but if the DM isn't aware of the ramifications and is focused on these rules ... I'd be looking for a different campaign.

Consider posting this question to the "What's a player to do" forum.

Is it actually Living Forgotten Realms, or is it just a home campaign set in Forgotten Realms? Because if it's really LFR, then the DM is not allowed to add those restrictions.
Jay: does that change anything to the fact the DM apparently does not know how the source material interacts, as well as the fact that he plans to do either extremely short sessions, or non-challenging encounters all the time?

Short version for me is still that the OP is much better off finding a different table to sit down on. 
I'm not going to suggest that you get a new set of friends to game with

If you want to work within those rules, which are sort of interesting, here are some observations:

- Minions need two hits to kill unless you do serious damage: this really reduces the power level of anything that just does a few points damage.  So, don't take any power that hands out some minor punishment.  You can correct for this by really stacking up on minor action attacks, or by doing striker damage.  Are there minor action area attacks?  In any event, this makes minions a lot more dangerous.  I would ask the DM if he means 'two hits' kill a minion, or two damage instances kill a minion; those aren't the same thing.
- Being able to automatically raise a magic item's level without money when you level can be pretty powerful.  Give your wish list a lot of thought, pick things your GM thinks are cool, and this can really help out. 
- Source book limits:  you have to do your homework on your build to make sure everything is allowed.  I would even go so far as to say you should do several optional builds based on acquisition of specific items from your wish list and make sure those builds are okay.  Some classes go a lot of their support from Dragon, and should be avoided.  Overall, it shouldn't be that limiting.
- The rest of your optmizing should be based on the rest of the party and the DM's style.  If the DM likes beefy monsters, don't take things that attack fortitude, etc. 
You can correct for this by really stacking up on minor action attacks, or by doing striker damage.  Are there minor action area attacks? 



Ooze Master and any arcane AoE at-will via Quickened Spellcasting. The former is from Dragon Mag, tho, iirc.

Edit: ..and themes aren't allowed for the OP anyway..


@OP: Challenging group internal rulesets can be fun. What your DM does, tho, is plain ignorant. Refusing to use the recent rules is pointless. It's way harder to reconstruct every single broken rule, than just using the mostly (!) balanced recent ones.
He's using the online Compendium version of the material he's allowed to use.  So arguably the worst of both worlds in some respects.

I'm kinda curious as to why the DM is using these restrictions.  It could be interesting if he's trying for an exercise in optimization under restricted circumstances, but if it's because he just doesn't like those sources....
I've noted that a lot of GM's who have a lot of experience in 3E tend to limit access to fringe material in 4E ('fringe' material is defined a bit differently by each person; we've seen a lot of people post here with access to the PHB's only).  I can only assume that this is a sort of PTSD that is developed after having the game made less fun by some broken feat chain and/or combination of prestige classes.  My own group prevented this by limiting material (there was some horrible crap printed; you could easily get DM approval on anything reasonable outside the core), and the same strategy is being inappropriately utilized by GM's in 4E.  Yes, there are some nonfun things you can do in 4E (cycling between four impliments, I'm looking at you), but for the most part the GM can relax and focus on the story.
Small sidetrack, but I'm curious as to know how CharOp views the 2-hit/one-shot only by dealing x damage to a minion houserule in play. I typically play with that rule in my home games.
RenZhe,

How does it really play out?  Does a minion die to two damage instances, or do you have to actually hit them twice?  Are they considered bloodied when hit once?  Does anybody use low damage powers like Magic Missile, Hand of Radiance or Beguiling Strands?  Do strikers end up on minion killing duty?

Really, you are the expert here since you've actually played it
Small sidetrack, but I'm curious as to know how CharOp views the 2-hit/one-shot only by dealing x damage to a minion houserule in play. I typically play with that rule in my home games.

If count the minions as bloodied, it amps a lot of "when you bloody" options. Like Bloodied Boon.

It makes controllers weaker. Minion popping is something they do, not being able to do it anymore is kind of lame.

Just changes the game, makes some things weaker, some things stronger. Also tactically it depends on how you use minions and how many you typically use. I've had minion-only encounters and the party would have lost badly with that houserule.
Small sidetrack, but I'm curious as to know how CharOp views the 2-hit/one-shot only by dealing x damage to a minion houserule in play. I typically play with that rule in my home games.

I've been using minion thresholds of various kinds in my games for a while. It works out fine. Lessens the need to throw waves of minions, or having minions hidden, arrive later, etc. I see it as just another tool in the DM's arsenal to buff up minions. I've used other such methods from displaced minions where you need an even roll to hit (this doesn't prevent auto damage), to minions that roll a save to see if they die or not (this can negate auto damage), to regenerating minions where they only get knocked down unless you do a specific damage type or exceed a very high threshold, to minions that spawn a different kind of minion when they die (these can be killed more efficiently with damage zones). It never gets boring, finding new ways to kill minions. I don't make all minions the same, as a matter of fact I still use one hit minions too, if I want a whole mess of them. Traditionally a big part of D&D has been discovering how best to kill monsters, and I like keeping players on their toes, and rewarding them for having versatile tools.
As Mengu posted, minion threshholds are tweaked all of the time. The 2-hit-minion rule is quite common.
Normally, the minion needs to take two instances of damage. The rule protecting minions from taking damage on a miss is still followed (so missing with a Daily does no damage, not even half). But you can still kill a minion on a single turn without even rolling a hit if you have effects (such as Rain of Steel or Armor of Athygis).

 
With your DM's rule against Themes and rare items and also the relatively weak loot rules, your characters should really be able to use Inherent Bonuses (you can click on it in the CB).

btw, the online compendium "fixes" problems with the core rules by implementing adendums from WotC and Dragon Magazine. You will likely run into a variety of cheese exploits and broken rules without the benefits of the fixes. Sounds like a setting for some arguments.

Good luck though! 
The four houserules from my campaign:

1) Second Wind standard actions become Second Wind minor actions. Second Wind minor actions become Second Wind free actions (Dwarven feat for example). Before we implemented this, Second Winds were rarely used. It does not make for a fun gaming experience when you have to "skip" your turn.

2) Each player prints out 4 magic item cards (their level, -1, +1, +2) which are shuffled together with all other players' cards. This is the loot deck and treasure will be exclusively drawn from that deck a couple of times each session.

3) Characters level after their fourth 4-hour sessions (how frustrating is it to be 12 XP from paragon leveling  at the end of a session and we don't meet again for two weeks?!)

4) A character's attack roll is also his damage roll. This is complicated but it speeds up battle significantly! We can get 4 good encounters in in a night instead of just two. Especially when Paragon battles are such a slog. If you roll and hit, then:
2-10= minimum damage
11-15= mean damage (average of minimum and max spread for that power)
16-20*= max damage (* furthermore crits daze the target)


 
Sound like great house rules... especially the one designed to enhance fun (#2) and speed (#4).  House rule #1 is a real game changer, though (I suspect your campaign doesn't see a lot of dwarf PCs, but it sounds appealing nonetheless).

RenZhe,

How does it really play out?  Does a minion die to two damage instances, or do you have to actually hit them twice?  Are they considered bloodied when hit once?  Does anybody use low damage powers like Magic Missile, Hand of Radiance or Beguiling Strands?  Do strikers end up on minion killing duty?



I like running minions with 5+level hit points. That's low enough that any real power use on a minion involving a die roll and a stat should kill them, maybe with an occasional survivor. But a power without a stat or a die roll could mean they live to see another hit.
I've used a few different ways to bump minions, from giving them health, resistance (undead minions might have resist all but radiant), displacement (odd on attack die = dead.)  I haven't liked the 2-hit version or x health versions, as it becomes something more to keep track of.  
Some of these ideas about making minions more survivable are already in the rules.  For example, the Ghost Talon Thug can become insubstantial, meaning that you have to succeed on a saving throw to deal damage to it.  The Lingering Monster Spirit has resist 20 all except radiant.
RenZhe,

How does it really play out?  Does a minion die to two damage instances, or do you have to actually hit them twice?  Are they considered bloodied when hit once?  Does anybody use low damage powers like Magic Missile, Hand of Radiance or Beguiling Strands?  Do strikers end up on minion killing duty?

Really, you are the expert here since you've actually played it



So the version I've played with is, if you do over level+x damage or a critical hit to a heroic tier minion, you pop it in one shot, otherwise, it takes 2 separate damage instances of any variety to kill one, the first of which can be miss damage. I didn't really work out if it counts as bloodied after one wound, but sure, probably. That X value was sort of variable. X=10 is a bit harsh since that basically expects striker-level damage (and screws over the twin strike ranger), and I'm considering instead 6/8/10 by tier.

I played City of Aboleths (CL 17) with this rule, it was pretty much a nonpresence due to having a Morninglord Invoker. Tried it again in Pyramid of Shadows (CL 7-10) and it was pretty brutal, but the party didn't have a controller in the first place, so maybe that was their problem to begin with. I'm fully aware that it messes with a lot of mechanics (violating a mark suddenly isn't such a bleak proposition, Rain of Steel no longer auto-wins minion encounters as hard, etc), but I tend to play with people who enjoy HARD MODE, so its actually kind of refreshing when a squad of minions is no longer viewed as a total joke.

I agree with Mengu though, there's a lot of space for varying the minion types, particularly the revive-on-death as a different monster type, which basically operates on the same principle.
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