Life with a 16...in LFR?

73 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hey I wanted to know what peoples' thoughts were on playing a character with only 16's in their primary characteristics.

I've seen a great deal of the 'must have 18' philosophy.

I've also been in several mods where that +1 made a huge difference.

So has anyone been running a main with 16's and found it to be okay? Any particular role (striker, controller, etc.) Any particular role where a 16 is NOT recommended?

Cheers.
My main is a Dragonborn Swordmage with a 16 int. I've done just fine, and generally had the feeling of being the most powerful person at the table, though I'm not sure if it's accurate. (I think AoEs + HP/AC makes you -feel- powerful, even if the numbers don't add up.)
I haven't had a problem with it, not even after taking the crazy step of switching to a non-proficient weapon (I'll get that feat at the end of my next adventure, XP willing).

My personal belief is 16 = minimum for an effective primary stat, 18 = good and solid, 20 = awesome (but how's the rest of you shaping up?!). You can do quite will with a 16 primary, but you need to make the rest of your stats work for you.
For me: 16 str = basic attack on par (for now) with my other powers, so I could pick up the two implement based at-wills and still have a solid melee attack. Also boosts certain powers (Flame Cyclone for the win!). 14 Con pays back all kinds of ways, as a dragonborn and a shielding swordmage. Added Hide armor and Toughness for an exceedingly durable character (which the taunting effect of AoEs makes quite necessary). 13 Dex/Cha are kinda weak for me, but needed for feat reqs. 8 wis is where I skimped.

I don't think anyone needs an 18, but you can certiainly get some good mileage out of them. I personally have more of a taste for the triple 16 (pick a race/class where two of your three key stats have +2s, and assign accordingly), but that's just me. (Couldn't do it with the Swordmage/Dragonborn but that was what my pre-existing concept demanded.)
I've got two characters, both with 18 primary. My half elf feels more effective as a character because when I combine Eye Bite with an action point (and the action surge feat) I get a +5 to my daily.
Hitting the big bad with your daily makes all the difference.
My paladin (defender role) has a 16 in both Strength and Wisdom, and generally good stats otherwise. He has been fine.

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
My paladin (defender role) has a 16 in both Strength and Wisdom, and generally good stats otherwise. He has been fine.

Likewise, my warlord has 16s in both Str and Cha, and seems to be working out just fine.
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"
I think the people with the "highest primary stat possible" are focusing solely on attacks and not on defenses and skills. Hitting things more often is great, but if you have the proverbial glass jaw you're just going to suck up more resources while the rest of the team keeps you up.

But a lot of it comes down to personal preference. I like balanced characters that can contribute in many ways - including non-combat skills.

Allen.
I don't think there should be a real problem with a 16 if you've gotten that before racial benefits and/or the race is clearly geared towards a particular role - Dwarf or Dragonborn melee experts as some examples. You just want to make sure you don't amplify the problems or skip over obvious ways to improve it.

Dwarves and axe/hammers are often a trap as an example, because they're getting dinged on str and on proficiency.
My Dwarven Fighter (multiclassed Cleric) has been excellent in his roll as a Defender, and my stats are 16/15/14/10/16/8, so nothing higher than a 16. Have not had any problems at all really. Sure, a 18 or 20 stated PC may hit more than me, but I'm a defender, my job is to take the hits, I don't have to hit as hard/often (tho I hit often enough and do decent damage)

I use an Axe and Shield, and I don't feel slighted because I'm 'down' on ToHit bonus. It's not always about how often/hard you hit your target.
I haven't played with a 16 primary yet (and might not).

I don't think you need an 18 BUT if you don't have an 18 you do need to be getting something very nice to make up for it. Defenders probably have the least need for an 18 and Dwarves certainly get a decent compensation.

I do think a Striker without an 18+ would be rather odd.


NB: I'm talking about post-racial bonus numbers.
It would seem the secondary effects you get would be a bit higher so you shouldn't be too far off par. More misses but, better effect when you do hit.

I started my Eladrin fighter with a 17 and didn't feel like I was doing too bad but, he is a shield fighter and not a pseudo-striker. Admittedly, 4th level seemed like a coming out party but, I think that had as much to do with improving to plate, buying quality armor, picking a +2 amulet and attaining an even level and it's bonuses than did increasing my strength to an 18.

The way scaling is, I imagine you can take the 16 and manage to get your primary job done and very likely move other aspects, like skill bonuses, up in to a more effective level.
Simple answer. 4e is designed under the philosophy that the average character has a 16 in their primary stat. Thus, the balance, across the board, assumes that 16 is the most likely number. For the game to be balanced on that assumption, not only must it be possible to play with a 16, but it should provide for the most accessible game play experience for the average player.

The side note here is that for this balance to be possible, the game must also be playable (though likely with some additional difficulties) with numbers near a 16. Thus a 15 or 14 should, in general be playable. On the other side, having a 17 or 18 should be playable, too. Despite the "common logic", I think the consequences of a (pre-racial) 17 or 18 are big enough (in lost points in other stats) that, in the long run, 17/18 characters will be more of a hindrance to party dynamics than helpful.

-SYB
Well, it's not difficult to get an 18 in your primary if your race and class match. I've been contemplating doing a mismatch (race does not support first or second ability score), but it really hurts.
My Orc Cleric has a 16 in his primary (Wisdom) stat, but makes up for it with an 18 in strength, which makes the character fairly interesting. Quite nice to give a +4 with Righteous Brand.
My Orc Cleric has a 16 in his primary (Wisdom) stat, but makes up for it with an 18 in strength, which makes the character fairly interesting. Quite nice to give a +4 with Righteous Brand.

With an 18 Str, your primary stat is your Strength...Melee Clerics can do quite well focusing on Strength.
All of my character, that can, have a 20 in their attack stat.

This includes:

A melee cleric (+5 Righteous Brands are awesome)
A great weapon fighter
A two-blade ranger
An infernal pact warlock

This is largely because a) I don't like missing and b) I always play up and when you play up everything hits you regardless of your defenses so you had might as well improve your +hit.

I don't mind tanking my other stats because everything in 4e has been so devalued. Int no longer determines how many skills you get, con barely has any effect on your hitpoints, and dex doesn't add to your AC unless you are wearing light armor.

I agree that you can do just fine with a 16. I have see lots of effective 16 stat characters. I would just never play one.
All of my character, that can, have a 20 in their attack stat.

This includes:

A melee cleric (+5 Righteous Brands are awesome)
A great weapon fighter
A two-blade ranger
An infernal pact warlock

This is largely because a) I don't like missing and b) I always play up and when you play up everything hits you regardless of your defenses so you had might as well improve your +hit.

I don't mind tanking my other stats because everything in 4e has been so devalued. Int no longer determines how many skills you get, con barely has any effect on your hitpoints, and dex doesn't add to your AC unless you are wearing light armor.

I agree that you can do just fine with a 16. I have see lots of effective 16 stat characters. I would just never play one.

It also makes you a poor team player. Combat is only one piece of D&D. When the group fails a skill challenge because you don't have the stats to support your skills, you have failed the group. Similarly, when your melee oriented cleric provides 2-3 points fewer healing with each healing word, you are failing your allies who rely on you for that healing. And, despite what you claim, everything does not automatically hit when you play up. Attack bonuses tend to be close to +8/+9 when you play up, but that still leaves a 20-25% miss chance if you don't ignore your defenses. When you ignore your defenses, that miss chance can easily drop by 10-15%. Those additional hits just so you can hit 5% more often can easily be the difference between survival and a TPK.

The Infernal pact warlord may actually be the exception. It is a striker that stays out of melee combat, so the 20 may not be devastating to your allies. Still, with Constitution maxed, you are basically failing to participate at all in skill challenges. For the other 3 builds you listed, your choice to max out your attack skill is severely hurting the rest of the party as they are forced to cover your weakness in fulfilling your role. You have a defender (fighter) with a weak AC and striker level hit points. You have leader (cleric) that heals weakly and takes a lot of damage (forcing you to often heal yourself). You have a ranger with a low AC and that fails to have support stats for a skill set that is often critical on many skill challenges.

Honestly, those are selfish characters that are not designed to add to a party. They are simply designed to steal the show in combat. I certainly wouldn't want to have one of those characters at my table if I were a player. I would expect them to be more of a hindrance than a help.

-SYB
It also makes you a poor team player. Combat is only one piece of D&D. When the group fails a skill challenge because you don't have the stats to support your skills, you have failed the group. Similarly, when your melee oriented cleric provides 2-3 points fewer healing with each healing word, you are failing your allies who rely on you for that healing. And, despite what you claim, everything does not automatically hit when you play up. Attack bonuses tend to be close to +8/+9 when you play up, but that still leaves a 20-25% miss chance if you don't ignore your defenses. When you ignore your defenses, that miss chance can easily drop by 10-15%. Those additional hits just so you can hit 5% more often can easily be the difference between survival and a TPK.

The Infernal pact warlord may actually be the exception. It is a striker that stays out of melee combat, so the 20 may not be devastating to your allies. Still, with Constitution maxed, you are basically failing to participate at all in skill challenges. For the other 3 builds you listed, your choice to max out your attack skill is severely hurting the rest of the party as they are forced to cover your weakness in fulfilling your role. You have a defender (fighter) with a weak AC and striker level hit points. You have leader (cleric) that heals weakly and takes a lot of damage (forcing you to often heal yourself). You have a ranger with a low AC and that fails to have support stats for a skill set that is often critical on many skill challenges.

Honestly, those are selfish characters that are not designed to add to a party. They are simply designed to steal the show in combat. I certainly wouldn't want to have one of those characters at my table if I were a player. I would expect them to be more of a hindrance than a help.

-SYB

Wow, harsh. I have no idea what I said to offend you.

I have never even been close to a TPK and in fact one of my biggest gripes with LFR has been that the mods are too easy.

My fighter has the following stats:

Str 20
Con 15
Dex 10
Int 8
Wis 13
Cha 10

What fighter skills are suffering so greatly that I can't contribute in skill challenges with this stat array?

"weak AC"
He has plate proficiency. How is his AC any lower than any other great weapon fighters?

"striker level hitpoints"
Huh?
Wow, harsh. I have no idea what I said to offend you.

I have never even been close to a TPK and in fact one of my biggest gripes with LFR has been that the mods are too easy.

My fighter has the following stats:

Str 20
Con 15
Dex 10
Int 8
Wis 13
Cha 10

What fighter skills are suffering so greatly that I can't contribute in skill challenges with this stat array?

"weak AC"
He has plate proficiency. How is his AC any lower than any other great weapon fighters?

"striker level hitpoints"
Huh?

I should have realized that the fighter was an Orc. That changes the equation a little. Still doesn't change the skill contribution part. A fighter has access to three skills that are often relevant in skill challenges and/or party beneficial: Heal, Intimidate, and Streetwise. And, you have allowed all three of these to crash.

My assumption on low AC/hit points was based on an assumption that your Constitution was more limited (due to not being an Orc). Still, you could easily have an 18 Constitution (if you didn't have a 20 Strength), which would be much more beneficial to doing your primary role. Similarly, you could easily have a Reflex defense that was reasonable (heck, sword and boarders have an almost superb Reflex defense).

You didn't offend me. I didn't mean to suggest such. But, I think your characters (and characters of that nature) are not team players and that is a bad thing for LFR. If you want to feel the weight of your decisions, I recommend Inheritance. There is a combat where your decision to dump Reflex defense entirely will bite you hard in the butt (and consequently, bite your party hard, too).

-SYB
I don't like missing ... you had might as well improve your +hit ...

My fighter has the following stats:

Str 20
Con 15
Dex 10
Int 8
Wis 13
Cha 10

Sure, that gives you an advantage at first level. However, when you get to 11th level, you won't have enough DEX to qualify for the heavy blade feats. You'll be stuck using weapons with a lousy +2 proficiency bonus, and your to-hit advantage will disappear.
I have played Inheritance, 4 times even.

It was never really been a problem. 3 hit points has never mattered and the lowest I have ever been on healing surges was 1.

I fulfill my "role" just fine and no one has ever complained about a lack of defendering at a table this character has been at.

I don't have Heal but I do have Streetwise and Intimidate. I consider the extra +1 hit more valuable than +1 to those skills.

Also, I realize that this character (and all my characters) has weaknesses. I make up for them in other ways (taking Comeback Strike over Brute Strike and Student of Battle over Warrior of the Wild).
Sure, that gives you an advantage at first level. However, when you get to 11th level, you won't have enough DEX to qualify for the heavy blade feats. You'll be stuck using weapons with a lousy +2 proficiency bonus, and your to-hit advantage will disappear.

I never planned to use Heavy Blades which is part of why I needed the 20 str.

My fighter is going Hammer Rhythm.
Saying the 20 str cleric is 'selfish' is kind of like saying someone is selfish if they chose Tactical warlord instead of Inspiring Warlord. His heals may not be as good, but he's dropping +5 to hit in his ally's lap round after round, meaning all his melee allies can land their dailies and encounter powers all that much more reliably.

But to summarize the thread:
16s work. And they give you a broad base of points to get everything else up for feat prereqs and secondary bonuses.
20s also work, but give you a more narrow focus, limiting what else you can do.
18s don't work.
(Just kidding)
I know I'm probably going to get a lot of remarks of how wimpy my character will be over time, but I have a striker (dwarf ranger) with a 16 in the primary stat. And from a comment from another poster, I also use battle axes. I have not felt in the least bit useless. In fact with twin strike, I usually hit once every round. (of course there was the round I "snake eyed" my attack rolls, but no amount of bonuses can help that.) If I had any gripes about my character it would be I wish I had quickdraw. Also I wish I didn't make the character inept at social skills (8 charisma) we almost failed a social skill challenge and I really could do nothing.
Insight is a Social Skill.
Knowledges can often be applied to Social Skill Challenges.

That 20 Strength fighter is what I call a "Brute" -I'd think of him more as a Striker than a Defender because he will do that much damage when he's in melee and my Tac-Lord would love to travel with him ..though not quite as much as if he used a Falchion or axe.
With Hamemr Rhythm I'd have been tempted to take 15 Str and 20 Con myself ..just because.

The Cleric is distinctly sub-optimal to my mind but certainly not unplayable.

Generally Strikers can handle 20s much better and Defenders can get away with 16s more easily ..while Leaders just want everything (hence my 18/18 taclord ;))

I'm also a big fan of having weaknesses on your character sheet.
With the scaling thus far and, I hope, thoughout "suboptimal" is likely a very good character and "optimal" is probably overbuilt with too narrow of a focus.

Once you do drop below a 16 (possibly even 15) as a primary starting stat, if you don't have a very good reason for a broadly spread out set of stats you have probably badly-constructed your character. With the points given, a 16 is pretty affordable especially if, you can live with one 8 or 10.
You're suggesting that his 20 Strength Cleric doesn't have a narrow focus? Really Matte?

I think you need a good reason to drop to 16 (including racials). At 15 you should be asking yourself if you're pulling your weight. I would never build a character with less than 16 pre-racials.
Loss of a skill challenge at worst equals loss of a healing surge, loss of a combat is much worse.

I have seen PCs with +5 attribute bonuses in combat and they really do end up dominating combats and taking a lot of the danger out of combat.
Loss of a skill challenge at worst equals loss of a healing surge, loss of a combat is much worse.

I have seen PCs with +5 attribute bonuses in combat and they really do end up dominating combats and taking a lot of the danger out of combat.

Actually, having played multiple LFR adventures, I can say, for a fact, that loss of a skill challenge can have much worse consequences than just the loss of a healing surge. There is at least one current adventure that loss of a skill challenge results in the loss of multiple healing surges (just before a significant combat). There is at least one current adventure that loss of a skill challenge results in significant reduction of rewards (XP, gold, and magic items). And, there is at least one adventure where loss of a skill challenge results in failing the adventure altogether.

As for the second part of your statement, it reminds me of a DM I used to play with. He had this strange belief that one character in the party was unhittable due to an ultra-high AC and everyone else was easily hittable. The difference in AC between the "unhittable" character and the next highest AC was 2 points. Yet, no matter what the dice rolled, he just assumed he missed the "unhittable" character and hit everyone else.

The same fallacy of thought seems to exist in 4e for a lot of people. A +5 in the attack stat does not mean that every attack hits and a +4/+3 does not mean that every attack misses. The difference is a lot less significant, ESPECIALLY when a party is working together. In fact, the benefit of a high attack stat is actually reduced when you have a cohesive party. If the party works well to constantly give each other combat advantage and other attack bonuses, the +5 bonus guy is getting less benefit than the +3/+4 bonus guy (mathematically speaking). In fact, in many situations, the +5 will have a mathematically insignificant advantage, making the points spent on it a waste.

It is possible that some +5 PCs have dominated combat. But, if you really believe they would have been worthless with a +4 or even a +3, you have no real understanding of probability.

-SYB
Dwarves and axe/hammers are often a trap as an example, because they're getting dinged on str and on proficiency.

Yeah, that is pretty unfortunate. I'm going to try a Dwarf Great-Weapon fighter that specialized in the Halberd, starting with 16s in Str, Con, and Wis, and boosting Str and Wis. I'm hoping that my loss in standard attacks will be compensated for in opportunity attacks, especially when Polearm Gamble kicks in at Paragon tier. (may need to go Warpriest to gain other chances to make OAs)

I wonder if the next "stuff book" will have a superior poleaxe; that would certainly be nice.
If the party works well to constantly give each other combat advantage and other attack bonuses, the +5 bonus guy is getting less benefit than the +3/+4 bonus guy (mathematically speaking). In fact, in many situations, the +5 will have a mathematically insignificant advantage, making the points spent on it a waste.
-SYB

Thats true, there is one important skill challenge.

How do you give combat advantage to wizards, warlocks, rangers/artillery damage dealers? I assume your talking power bonuses from encounter/daily powers as the party working constantly to give bonuses.

I would be interested in seeing your math on how a +5 is mathematically insignificant. Just quick estimation tells me playing high-creatures average AC 18, with some 22s here and there. A +5 bonus char usually has a +9 or +10 to hit. So with a +9 you hit on 9s or better, with a combat advantage on 7s or better. Still mathematically significant.

Why would the party not work together with good tactics anyway? Parties do not work poor tactics because the main warrior has a +5 str.
You're suggesting that his 20 Strength Cleric doesn't have a narrow focus? Really Matte?

I am suggesting that 20 stat characters in general are more likely to be overly focused. Alot of folks are still coming around to the fact that one-trick ponies that force every fight into their one-stat-optimized strategy doesn't pull the load like it used to.

I think you need a good reason to drop to 16 (including racials). At 15 you should be asking yourself if you're pulling your weight. I would never build a character with less than 16 pre-racials.

15 is quite low but, I leave room room for inventive builds and realize that the mods are more scaled for characters with numerous useful functions than they are for a few overpowering functions so, mediocre stats can often get by in the light of strong composition and strategy.
No amount of inventiveness is going to make a 15 primary better than 16 for anyone. You just can't make up for it with a mere 2 bp.
There is a reasion why people want 18's +

not all powers are reliable, you blow a daily power... and miss.. sucks to be you...

There has been quite a few times that I wish I started my SwordMage with a 20 Int insted of 18.

But I'm still having fun :o)

can't wait for the FR players guide
I've got a genasi swordmage that I built for my non-LFR campaign and as long as my dice behave, she's a HOUSE to deal with, especially since I picked up Bastard Sword proficiency at first level and Heavy Blade weapon focus at 2nd. Here were her stats at 3rd level (I've leveled to 4th but haven't played her with my updated stats yet):
STR 18
CON 12
DEX 10
INT 18
WIS 10
CHA 10

Both 18s are thanks to the racial bonuses.

Let me tell you, it's a beautiful feeling to be rolling with a +8 at 3rd level, not to mention dealing 25 damage with a daily power crit.

Granted, I'm not going to be able to pick up any of the heavy blade feats... It's kind of a pain in the neck when you realize that you need high STR and DEX for all those feats but you need high INT for your powers.
I consider the extra +1 hit more valuable than +1 to those skills.

Except that dropping from 20 (18+2) Str to 18 (16+2) Str is not just +1 in another skill, but 7 additional points, so more like +2/+3, depending on how it is spent. (Of course on the Str side you are actually losing both +1 attack and +1 damage).

Still, either way the character would simply be different and I don't think either could be considered strictly better than the other as it is too situational.
My next LFR character will be a Shielding Swordmage with the following stats (post racial):

STR 13
CON 13
DEX 10
INT 20
WIS 8
CHA 12

Level 1 feat: Hide Proficiency
Planned level 2 feat: Hellfire blood
Skills: Arcana +10, Athletics +5, Endurance +5, Diplomacy/Intimidate +6

AC 21
Fort 11
Ref 15
Will 13

28 HP

Attack bonus with longsword at level 1: +8 (9 if enemy bloodied).

I have solid AC and Ref defenses, even if HP are average to start, and cover physical, social and knowledge skills. Even if I am not the mean contributor to a skill challenge, I should be able to assist on a or secondary skill.

Granted, I won't qualify for HBO at parangon tier, but I can live with that...
My two characters (so far) have primary/secondary attributes of 20/16 and 18/14. The first is a ranger-archer, which is probably the character type best able to operate with only two stats, contributing a lot to both combat and skill challenges. The second is a Charisma paladin, and while in one module I kept missing by 1, I don't think I could afford a 20 Charisma.

My conclusion about 4e so far is that bad dice rolling has a much greater impact, especially compared to high level LG. The mere fact that you roll to hit more than once in 3.5 means your luck is more likely to balance out.
Loss of a skill challenge at worst equals loss of a healing surge, loss of a combat is much worse.

Nope; a very common effect is EVERYONE losing a healing surge, or 6 surges. Worse than surges lost in an average fight with a decent cleric on your team.

I can see taking high stats, but they're not needed. Basically you're trading flexibility and defenses for optimal attacks.

I played 6 mods at Gen Con with family and friends, and we had only one 18 stat at our table. Uniformly our GMs told us we had less trouble than other groups. And since my kids (9 and 12) were playing, I don't think (with all respect to them) it was due to superior play.

Our combats ran longer, because we didn't it as often, but things missed us more often and generally threatened less.
One comment I'd like to add:

Trying to make a fighter fit the role of contributor to skill challenges is like trying to make a fighter fit the striker role.

While having an 16/18 strength instead of an 18/20 frees seven build points, it's not going to make you appreciably better at skill challenges. You have four skills, with the social skills being based off Charisma. If you put those points in Charisma, to help in skill challenges, you're still far behind the people who use trained skills in one of their top two attributes, and perhaps have racial bonuses as well.
One comment I'd like to add:

Trying to make a fighter fit the role of contributor to skill challenges is like trying to make a fighter fit the striker role.

That hasn't been my experience. My dwarven fighter has been quite helpful in skill challenges - he's from east rift so his dungeoneering is usually the highest at the table. His intimidate has come in handy many times as well.

There may be someone, somewhere that has higher than my +6 (before level bumps) to intimidate but they weren't at my table(s).

Allen.
Nope; a very common effect is EVERYONE losing a healing surge, or 6 surges. Worse than surges lost in an average fight with a decent cleric on your team.

Loss of a fight is a total party kill. There are 3 fights in 12 mods where the bad guys knock you out, and take your stuff. There is one mod without any skill challenges. In 12 mods, there are roughly 42 fights and 19 skill challenges.

The average regional has 1.2 skill challenges, the average core mod has 3 skill challenges (counting the core special as 2 modules). The average regional mod has 3 combats, the average core mod has 3 combats.