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Author Topic: Beginner Questions - non-fighters, armor balancing, alignments and munchkinism  (Read 971 times)
Quasi
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« on: August 20, 2012, 10:43:27 AM »

Hi,

I am a long-time player and GM of many systems, including pretty much all editions of D&D up to 4th. I'm fascinated by FC and want to try running it to some of my friends, but I find some points confusing. I'll start with four questions:

1. I understand from some comments in this forum's threads that non-fighters, non-spellcasters can still have something to do during fights. My question is: what? What options do you use to build these PCs to be effective and fun? Are these specific feat chains, tricks or something else that I'm missing? I'd love to get some examples as to what kind of identity - which is both powerful and intereting! - can classes like Sages/Courtiers/Keepers build for combat encounters.

2. Armor in pretty much all D&D editions is pretty boring. Each class has their optimal armor type and unless you're wearing this armor, you're simply hurting yourself. Even classes that are supopsed to be "in between", like rogues or rangers, have the one specific kind of armor that was obviously written with them in mind, some games going so far as to specifically mention them in the classes abilities. Is it like this with this system as well? Are there other paths to take? Can a reasonable munchkin build a Soldier or a Lancer wearing anything other than the heaviest armor they can find? How about other classes?

3. What good is alignment damage? It appears as a benefit in many places in the book, but I couldn't find the actual mechanical effects for it. What am I missing?

4. Be honest now - how modular and full of options is this game, really? How much fun can you have building characters here, while still retaining that warm munchkiny satisfaction from knowing that your adventurer can get the job done? It's a bit of a reiteration of points 1 and 2, but in a more general sense. Did you ever build an off-the-beaten-path PC that still felt powerful? What options did you utilize?

Thanks in advance!
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Coyote0273
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 10:57:52 AM »

1) In one of my games, the pure Mage was one of our best ranged fighters. She had a decent dex, a longbow and stole kills left and right without using spells. No levels in anything but mage. While the warrior classes (Lancer, Soldier, Scout, etc) are going to really shine, even the non fighter classes can be helpful in combat. It's not anything specific, just the way the game is designed.

2) Armor works very very very differently in FC than it does in d20. It actually makes you easier to hit, but it gives you DR (and other bonuses) that make you hard to hurt. So that guy is banging his dagger against you all day and not doing a whit of damage to you. And anyone can wear any armor. You can have your mage in articulated plate for instance without any minuses.

3) I don't have my book handy, and my group didn't use alignment damage much so I can't answer this at the moment.

4) Modular as hell. I had 2 Human Soldiers and they were nothing, and I mean *nothing* alike. One was a Sword/Shield master chef who liked to whip up dinners for the party. The other was a whiny artistic two blade wielder who painted. And that combo is just from origin choices, not counting special abils, skills and feat selections yet. The modulation of the characters is how I sell this game to my d20 friends. I just describe character generation.. and they're sold.
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Quasi
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 11:07:36 AM »

1. So the mage was a decent bow weilder without using any equipment/feat/other options besides having a high dexterity? In other games that, along with the mage's low BAB would completely invalidate this option. How come it's still valid in FC?

2. Is there a Soldier build that prefers not using armor at all? I can think of two stereotypical examples - the barbarian and the sword dancer (the dexterous scimitar-using thing). Can I actually build them in a way that would make it the optimal choice to forego armor?

4. Thanks! This kind of example is exactly what I'm looking for.

Thanks for the answers in general.
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Sletchman
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 11:11:19 AM »

Hi,

Welcome to the forums.

Quote
1. I understand from some comments in this forum's threads that non-fighters, non-spellcasters can still have something to do during fights. My question is: what? What options do you use to build these PCs to be effective and fun? Are these specific feat chains, tricks or something else that I'm missing? I'd love to get some examples as to what kind of identity - which is both powerful and intereting! - can classes like Sages/Courtiers/Keepers build for combat encounters.

Feint, Grapple, Taunt, Threaten and Tire are all skill based - which means that BAB is totally irrelevant (and as such they are equally useful to a Soldier and a Keeper).  They are also available to anyone - no feats required.  Further, there's less of a Defence ramp up for enemies, so 3/4 BAB progression is actually the standard for hitting folks, rather then full - this makes the Sage, Assassin, Burglar, Scout and so on perfectly fine in combat.  For the non-attack bonus based options there are options to make it better (Menacing Threat / Glint of Madness for Threaten, as well as Beguiling / Aggro for Taunt).  While a Courtier will never match a Soldier in combat (their class abilities are aren't designed for combat, compared to a class full of combat abilities) they can certainly contribute - and if built to maximise combat options (Menacing Threat + Glint of Madness + Enlightened Intimidate) they can do extremely well.

Quote
2. Armor in pretty much all D&D editions is pretty boring. Each class has their optimal armor type and unless you're wearing this armor, you're simply hurting yourself. Even classes that are supopsed to be "in between", like rogues or rangers, have the one specific kind of armor that was obviously written with them in mind, some games going so far as to specifically mention them in the classes abilities. Is it like this with this system as well? Are there other paths to take? Can a reasonable munchkin build a Soldier or a Lancer wearing anything other than the heaviest armor they can find? How about other classes?

Since armour is DR and higher DR often has higher Defence Penalty and Armour Check Penalty you do have to find a balance, and at my table I've seen both extremes as well as the far more common middle.  The guy in Padded (no penalties), with a Guard weapon and a high defence class vs the guy in super heavy armour with around Defence 10, but huge DR.  The most common things are Boiled Leather and Chain - both have a nice balance between DR and penalties.  I've played both extremes too, and neither is categorically "better".

Quote
3. What good is alignment damage? It appears as a benefit in many places in the book, but I couldn't find the actual mechanical effects for it. What am I missing?

It's not really spelled out well, I'll admit.  The Outsider type suffers (and inflicts) +2 damage from attacks with an opposing alignment.  That's the default level - I'm pretty confident it exists for GMs who have specific needs for their worlds to use for additional effects.

Quote
4. Be honest now - how modular and full of options is this game, really? How much fun can you have building characters here, while still retaining that warm munchkiny satisfaction from knowing that your adventurer can get the job done? It's a bit of a reiteration of points 1 and 2, but in a more general sense. Did you ever build an off-the-beaten-path PC that still felt powerful? What options did you utilize?

I've been gaming for a long time now, so I all but exclusively try out different combinations (though not for any sort of "munchkiny satisfaction" - since I'm not entirely certain what that is).  I've played the above Courtier + Threaten machine and it was a powerhouse until my GM (at the time) got annoyed and we exclusively fought things immune to Stress damage.  I've played a Scout Sniper (a role most people would assume would fall to Soldier), a Martial Artist that never used his fists.  All did well and were fun to play (but I GM more then 10x as often as I play, so I don't have many examples).

On the GM side, I've run: Classic Fantasy (think D&D), Industrial Fantasy (Steampunk), Warhammer 40k, Mass Effect, and I'm currently running Stargate.  So yeah, there's a fair bit of modularity (though I will happily admit I made up a heap of rules for the last 3 settings - not exactly "out of the box").

Like Coyote0273, I've had 2 players at the same time as a Soldier who were totally different - one was a tanky style Greatsword guy with huge DR and strength and the other was a nimble fencer with high defence and dexterity, but was far squishier - both "Human Soldiers".
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 11:13:08 AM by Sletchman » Logged
Coyote0273
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 11:40:13 AM »

1. So the mage was a decent bow weilder without using any equipment/feat/other options besides having a high dexterity? In other games that, along with the mage's low BAB would completely invalidate this option. How come it's still valid in FC?

2. Is there a Soldier build that prefers not using armor at all? I can think of two stereotypical examples - the barbarian and the sword dancer (the dexterous scimitar-using thing). Can I actually build them in a way that would make it the optimal choice to forego armor?

4. Thanks! This kind of example is exactly what I'm looking for.

Thanks for the answers in general.

As Sletch pointed out, the defense values don't change or rise as fast as they do in d20. Which makes even average BABs capable of hitting most enemies about half the time. And I was running a combat heavy game at the time. The Mage wasn't changing the course of the battle, or blasting bad guys left and right, but she was doing her fair share of damage.

The dual-blade soldier I had, plus a fencing Sage, and in a later game a Martial Artist in that same game didn't wear any armor. At first, it was because they couldn't afford it, then they realized it wasn't slowing them down at all. And they were both front line warriors. It's really, as Sletch said, finding the balance that you like for your character.

To add to characters Sletch mentioned, I had a Pech Burglar who tanked the main big bad in one game. Spent the action die to boost defense, then kept taunting the villain until the damage PC's could kill her. Don't think you can do that in d20. Smiley
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Krensky
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 12:07:32 PM »

1. Yes. The math is different here. A medium or low BAB doesn't hurt as much when the 'average' enemies defense rises at or slightly behind the medium progression. As for other things, read the actions chapter. Threaten is a particular favorite for a lot of both combat and non-combat oriented classes in my game. Application of feats and tricks help as well.

2. This isn't D&D. Every class gets a bonus to Defense (AC). Heavier armor lowers your defense, but it give you DR, Resistances, and other benefits. Whether or not armor is a benefit depends a lot on your build and the game. For instance any PC with the Thick Skin ability won't benefit from armor providing less DR then it. A Soldier gets DR (that does stack with worn or natural armor) just because he's a soldier. The dexterous sword-dancer or fencer often will choose lighter armor (or upgraded and more expensive heavier armors) to avoid movement and skill penalties. The same with a grappler. Same for the Barbarian. There's also no 'best' armor without layering tons and tons of upgrades on since each type has a different mix of bonuses, penalties, and resistances.

3. I (meaning search) can't find alignment damage anywhere in my PDF. Are you referring to Divine Damage? Opposing Alignments? Something else? Aligned Damage doesn't do much unless some Campaign Qualities or other effects are in play. Primarily it lets you overcome DR/[Appropriate Alignment] and hurt Outsiders of an opposing alignment more.

4. Any character is useful. Partly because of how the system is designed. Partly because it's standard for balance is a spotlight sharing one (No one holds a candle to the Soldier in combat, but no one beats the Courtier in a social encounter to provide a very simplistic example.) Mostly because it's the GM's job to ensure that everyone is having fun and feeling useful.

Some examples from one of my current games, although some of the Specialties are custom ones:

(click to show/hide)
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2012, 07:07:58 PM »

3) Aligned damage is tucked in other places. See the Outsider type in the foes chapter, and the spells protection from alignment. Other classes, feats, and spells may also impact it.
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Quasi
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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2012, 03:30:55 AM »

Thank you all very, very much. This is extremely helpful. I will get back to the drawing board to write the one-shot.

Currently, I am writing the PCs to hand to my group. What I have in mind is a group of misfits in service of a fey court - a human changeling, a goblin tracker, an elf mystic, a troll brute and the elf diplomat that has been tasked with keeping them all in tow. I think they'll be sent to the edge of the enchanted forest to deal with some pesky humans, only to find that what looked like an accident is in fact the beginning of an invasion.
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glimmerrat
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2012, 02:44:52 AM »

I played an unhinged Courtier that used to Threaten all the time against standard NPCs. He'd yell at them until they ran off... or fainted.

See, standard NPCs take all damage the same way, regardless of type. Stress or subdual with knock them on their collective asses just as quick as lethal.
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2012, 03:51:49 AM »

Currently, I am writing the PCs to hand to my group. What I have in mind is a group of misfits in service of a fey court - a human changeling, a goblin tracker, an elf mystic, a troll brute and the elf diplomat that has been tasked with keeping them all in tow. I think they'll be sent to the edge of the enchanted forest to deal with some pesky humans, only to find that what looked like an accident is in fact the beginning of an invasion.

Sounds like fun, and very doable (although I'm not sure what you're using for the changeling - Fey Heritage?).  Let us know if you'd like us to look at your builds.
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