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Thread: Re: For all you NEW people....and OLD ones too!

  1. #1
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    Now for those beginners, or those that might not be aware of the break down worded QUITE like this.


    Pros and cons of the different classes- FIGHTER

    Fighter Assets

    The fighter class provides plenty of tools for effective adventuring. Below are several assets you have going for you when you choose a fighter.
    * High Hit Points: The fighter's 10-sided Hit Dice let him absorb lots of damage and keep right on going.
    * Good Armor Class: The fighter's class features don't include much in the way of special defenses, but his ability to wear any kind of armor and use any kind of shield usually gives him an impressive Armor Class. This factor combined with his high hit points makes for a great defensive package.
    * Good Attack Bonus: A fighter's base attack bonus is +1 per level, which is the best in the game. Thus, fighters can dish out damage as well as they can take it.
    * Good Fortitude Saves: A fighter uses the best save progression in the game for Fortitude saves (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). This natural resilience helps him resist most effects that attack his body, such as poison, polymorphing, and energy draining.
    * Good Weapon Selection: Because a fighter can use any simple or martial weapon, he's a deadly opponent no matter what weapon he wields.
    * Many Bonus Feats: Fighters gain a generous selection of bonus feats. Though they're mostly combat-oriented, these feats allow you great flexibility in tailoring a character to your taste.

    Fighter Weaknesses

    As with any class in the D&D game, the fighter's advantages come at a price. Here are a few of the disadvantages you should keep in mind if you're considering a fighter character.

    * Low Skill Points: At a mere two skill points per level, most fighters don't accumulate many skill ranks, even with quadruple skill points at 1st level.

    * Poor Reflex and Will Saves: Fighters have the worst progression for Reflex and Will saves in the game (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). Thus, they aren't good at avoiding most kinds of magical attacks.

    * Low Mobility: A fighter's reliance on heavy armor tends to make him a slow mover on the battlefield.

    Playing a Classy Fighter

    People who play great fighters usually use the following techniques.

    Be Prepared to Lead

    A fighter's natural place in an adventuring party is the front rank, because he has to be able to place himself between his more vulnerable compatriots and the enemy. In like manner, many successful encounters begin when the party fighter kicks in a door and charges into battle. Simply because of this front-line placement, a fighter often bears the onus of party leadership.

    But that leadership should have a cerebral element as well. Because of his place in the front rank, the fighter is in a good position to decide where the party should go, so it pays for him to think about the group's next move. It also pays for him to consider the party's marching order while everyone else is preparing for a play session. Besides its general utility, such planning gives his player something to do while the spellcaster players are choosing spells.

    Friends in Need

    Your fighter's combat ability provides a foundation for the party's overall fighting power. If you waste or misuse that ability, the whole party suffers. Likewise, the fighter needs the support of the rest of the party just to survive. So it pays for him to know how to scratch the backs of his fellow PCs.

    The Party's Stealth Factor: If your group has a rogue, ranger, bard, or monk, that character can serve as a scout for the rest of the party. But a rogue playing that role will get into trouble sooner or later -- perhaps by falling into a pit, or by meeting a hidden monster, or by just plain offending someone. At such junctures, your timely intervention can save the scout's skin. In addition, a rogue or other character with the sneak attack ability needs combat support in the form of an ally who can help her flank enemies. So get used to fighting in partnership with such characters and make sure you incorporate the advantage it provides into your tactics.

    The Party's Arcane Spellcaster: Wizards, sorcerers, and bards can pack a real punch with their spells, and they often serve as the party's heavy artillery. But since such characters usually have poor Armor Classes and very few hit points, they must rely on you to keep the opposition at a distance.

    The Party's Divine Spellcaster: Get friendly and stay friendly with your party's cleric, druid, or paladin. This character's healing spells can keep you on your feet longer while you're hacking your way through foes.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  2. #2
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    As well, for the purposes of roles as well, for those people not used to party formation.

    It's possible for a single character to fill more than one of these roles, especially when you begin exploring the options that multiclassing makes available, but it's difficult to excel at two roles and nigh impossible to excel at three or four. So, here's our first lesson in character creation -- Pick a single role to fill in a party, at least to start. The best characters do one thing and concentrate on doing that one thing well.

    Here's a look at what you're committing yourself to when you choose a role.

    Sturdy Brawler

    TordekPhysical combat is what these characters do best. When a party is on the move, these characters are the vanguard, boldly leading the way. Thanks to their position at the party's front, they're usually the first characters to witness an encounter unfolding. Their position at the front of a group on the march also leaves them in the best position to decide exactly where the party goes next when the group is exploring an unknown area.

    In a fight, the party's sturdy brawlers generally are the first to attack the foe, usually by moving in and pinning down key foes with melee attacks. Once a battle is in progress, these characters form a fighting line that shields more vulnerable party members from attack. Their heavy armor and high hit points allow them to bear the brunt of the enemy's attacks.

    Physical tasks, from smashing down doors to hauling around treasure (and the occasional helpless ally), generally fall to a group's sturdy brawlers.

    As a sturdy brawler, traps are among the worst hazards you'll face. Sturdy brawlers have an unfortunate habit of blundering into traps when marching out front. Ambushes or fights with unexpectedly numerous foes can leave you flanked or completely surrounded. Enemies with special melee or short-range attacks (such as energy drain, improved grab, or gaze attacks) can wreak havoc with you. Because few sturdy brawlers boast great Will saves, enchantment spells and effects can quickly neutralize you or, worse, turn you against your allies.

    One of your most important functions in a group is keeping dangerous foes away from the party's vulnerable arcane spellslingers. In return, arcane spellslingers can use their spells to cut down massed foes that threaten to overwhelm you. Stealthy characters can help locate traps and other hazards before you fall into them, and in battle stealthy characters can use their generally superior mobility to set up flanking attacks with you, to both characters' benefit. You'll depend on the party's divine guardians for cures and protective spells. A steady supply of cure light wounds spells can keep you going through thick and thin.

    Character classes that are well suited to the sturdy brawler role include the barbarian, fighter, and paladin from the Player's Handbook, the knight and the dragon shaman from Player's Handbook II, and the hexblade, swashbuckler, and samurai from Complete Warrior.

    Stealthy Rascal

    LiddaThese characters can take the fight to the enemy fairly well, but they often do better with a more subtle approach to adventuring. They generally have skills that allow them to serve as a party's eyes and ears. These characters also often have interaction skills that make them the most able negotiators in a party, which can prove handy when combat doesn't seem the best option.

    Stealthy rascals often find themselves in the thick of that action during combat, especially if they've moved away from a group to scout the way ahead. Even if they take a more prudent approach, they do best when working in concert with the group's sturdy brawlers. Stealthy rascals can pair up with the group's more martial foes to set up flanking attacks or at least protect their allies' flanks. They're also mobile enough to bypass or penetrate the enemy line and attack leaders or spellcasters skulking in the rear.

    As a stealthy rascal, you'll often find yourself plunging into situations you cannot handle on your own. When that happens, you must either stick it out until help from the main party arrives or quickly retreat to a place of safety. You would do well to avoid combat against superior numbers or more physically capable foes. Like a sturdy brawler, you can fall prey to melee-based or short-range special attacks. Your lighter armor and lower hit points make you even more vulnerable to critical hits and special attacks that deal large amounts of damage, such as rending or constriction attacks. Most stealthy rascals have excellent Dexterity scores, which means you can do very well with ranged weaponry.

    As we've already noted, you can do well when working in tandem with sturdy brawlers in combat. You also usually have the speed to move to any location on the battlefield where you're needed. You might be the only character who can get into position for a quick attack when a foe performs an unexpected maneuver or ambushes the group. Timely intervention from you can literally save an arcane spellslinger's life. Given your penchant for getting into trouble, you'll often depend on medicinal effects from the group's divine guardian.

    Character classes that are well suited to the stealthy rascal role include the bard, ranger, rogue, and monk from the Player's Handbook, and the ninja, scout, and spellthief from Complete Adventurer.

    Arcane Spellslinger

    MialeeThese characters often serve as a party's heavy artillery, using spells that literally blast away massed foes. An arcane spellslinger's spells also can clear away or help circumvent obstacles that defy mundane assaults, reveal hidden information, and provide many other effects that expand a group's options for dealing with an encounter.

    Arcane spellslingers do best when they stay well away from combat. Even if an arcane spellslinger can manage to complete a few spells while a foe attacks, the character's low Armor Class and even lower hit points generally mean that the arcane spellslinger won't survive long in a physical contest. Still, arcane spellslingers need to stay close enough to a battle so that they can aim their spells for best affect.

    As an arcane spellslinger, enemy melee attacks pose a grave danger to you. So do enemy ranged attacks, but melee attacks generally deal much more damage than ranged attacks and have a greater chance to disrupt your spellcasting or kill you outright. Spells or effects that fill whole areas also can cut you down before you can get out of harm's way.

    You must rely on all your other allies to keep foes at a safe distance. To get the most from your spells, coordinate your efforts with the group's sturdy brawlers and stealthy rascals. You need to aim your spells so that your fighting allies aren't caught in the effects, and fighting allies should take care to leave you a clear field of fire somewhere on the battlefield. You also should compare your spell selections with the divine guardian's spells to avoid duplication and to cover as many gaps in each other's capabilities.

    Character classes that are well suited to the arcane spellslinger role include the sorcerer and the wizard from the Player's Handbook, the beguiler and the duskblade from Player's Handbook II, and the warlock, warmage, and wu jen from Complete Arcane.

    Divine Guardian

    JozanWhile divine guardians can hold their own in combat, their true power lies in the spells and granted supernatural powers they wield. Most divine guardian spells serve to protect, reinforce, or revivify allies, but they also have spells that can defeat foes or achieve other useful results.

    In a fight, a divine guardian can serve on the front line fairly well. Depending on the spells the character has available, a divine guardian also can do fairly well by hanging back with the group's arcane spellslinger and launching spells at foes. This approach keeps the character close to the vulnerable arcane spellslinger in case that character needs quick healing or a bodyguard. It's also possible for a divine guardian to switch between these tactics from fight to fight or even from round to round within a single encounter. A divine guardian with ranks in the Concentration skill can use that rule for casting spells defensively and casting spells right from the front line.

    When you're a divine guardian, everyone in a party looks to you for lifesaving healing, especially the group's sturdy brawlers, who tend to absorb considerable physical punishment. All the group's fighting characters can benefit from your presence in the front line in a battle. If nothing else, you'll offer foes an additional target and so dilute their efforts at least a bit. You also can fight in partnership with an ally, working to flank enemies while protecting the ally's flanks. If you travel in a group's rear or center, you'll usually be in the best position to rescue an ally who has fallen prey to an ambush or trap, either with a spell or literally by dragging the hapless character out of danger. As noted earlier, you'll do well to compare your spell selection with whatever the group's arcane spellslinger carries to maximize your group's magical potential.

    Character classes that are well suited to the divine guardian role include the cleric and the druid from the Player's Handbook and the favored soul, shugenja, and spirit shaman from Complete Divine.
    In Conclusion

    It's helpful to keep in mind that the four categories presented here are useful guidelines for planning and playing characters, not inflexible rules. You can have a successful and memorable character by playing against the suggestions made here. For example, a cleric with the right mix of spells can prove as devastating in close combat as a fighter or paladin. With a different mix of spells, a cleric can serve up magic as deadly to the foe as any wizard's.

    Likewise, some characters defy easy classification into a single category. For example, the favored soul and the ranger are both very martial characters. A ranger can be a real melee machine, especially if you choose the two-weapon combat style and you're fortunate enough to meet a favored enemy. Likewise, a favored soul can prove as stalwart in combat as a fighter or paladin with the right spells. Always consider what your character's class offers when playing a character.

    In a similar vein, you must always consider what your allies bring to an adventure. This is especially true when your group contains several characters that all fill the same role. For example, if your group has three arcane spellslingers and you're playing a sturdy brawler, you'll need to adjust your tactics. You should consider emphasizing ranged combat over melee (so you're not caught in the volley of destructive spells your allies will launch at your foes), and you'll need to conserve your hit points or load up on healing potions (or both), because you won't have a divine guardian on hand to piece your character back together when a foe or a trap beats you up.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: For all you NEW people....and OLD ones too!

    You should find a bunch of posts here for the purposes of educating you on why and how things are done. This is where things will be posted for those people that might not understand what a specific role or post might be. The goal of this exercise it to educate and to teach. Which are VERY different things.


    Now then! BRING on the questions!
    Last edited by ShadowWalker; 11-03-2008 at 03:22 PM.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  4. #4
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    CLERICS!


    At first glance, the cleric may seem a bit lackluster -- a mere healing machine whose medicinal spells provide vital party support, but not much excitement. First impressions often prove false, however, and dismissing the cleric as the character "someone" has to play is a big mistake. A well-constructed cleric, played with fervor and understanding is not only an asset to the party, but an immensely satisfying character as well.

    The Pros and Cons of a Cleric

    The cleric has a bit of everything -- decent combat skills, a wide range of spells, the ability to wear armor, and a few special powers. As such, clerics can play many roles in an adventuring group.

    Cleric Assets

    When you chose a cleric, you gain access to the all-important healing spells, but the class offers other potent spells and some useful powers as well. Below are several assets you have going for you when you play a cleric.

    * Power over the Undead: A good cleric can drive off or destroy undead creatures, and an evil cleric can make them stop in their tracks, or even obey his orders. A neutral cleric gets to choose between these effects -- but once that choice is made, he can't change his mind.

    * Good Fortitude and Will Saves: A cleric uses the best save progression in the game for Fortitude and Will saves (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). This natural mental and physical strength helps him resist most effects that fool his mind, assault his spirit, or attack his body -- including charms, compulsions, illusions, fear,polymorphing, poisons, and even disintegration. Furthermore, the high Wisdom score that a cleric needs for his spellcasting also gives his Will save a hefty boost. Few other classes can match a cleric's saving throw bonuses.

    * Good Spell Selection: The cleric spell list is packed with lifesaving spells such as slow poison, neutralize poison, remove disease, and the ever-popular cure spells. He also has access to potent attack spells such as spiritual weapon, searing light, and flame strike, as well as excellent defensive and utilitarian spells. Better yet, he has access to the whole clerical spell list, not just those that he can place in a spellbook or master for a personal spell list.

    * Spontaneous Spells: A cleric with a good alignment can spontaneously convert any spell he has prepared into a cure spell. This ability allows him to load up on flashier spells and then convert them to healing as his party needs it. Likewise, a cleric with an evil alignment can spontaneously convert any spell he has prepared into an inflict spell, so he always has a nasty surprise in store for his foes.

    * Domains: Your cleric can make two choices from a wide variety of clerical domains, each of which gives him a special ability and access to extra spells. Domains are a great tool for customizing your cleric.

    * Good Armor Class: A cleric has access to defensive spells that improve his Armor Class (such as shield of faith), as well as spells that can cause foes to miss him (such as entropic shield). Such spells combined with the fact that he can wear any kind of armor and use any kind of shield (except a tower shield) mean a cleric usually has quite an impressive Armor Class.

    * Good Hit Points: The cleric's 8-sided Hit Dice give him a fairly impressive hit point total.

    * Good Attack Bonus: A cleric's base attack bonus -- +3 per four levels -- is second only to that of the more martial classes, such as the fighter. So if your cleric decides to enter combat, he can make a pretty good showing.

    Cleric Weaknesses

    The cleric's many advantages come at a price. Here are a few of the disadvantages you should keep in mind if you're considering a cleric character.

    * Low Skill Points: At a mere two skill points per level, most clerics don't accumulate many skill ranks, even with quadruple skill points at 1st level.

    * Mediocre Weapon Selection: The cleric is proficient only with simple weapons. Most of the weapons in this category are fairly decent, but they're not the most deadly ones available.

    * Low Mobility: A cleric's reliance on heavy armor makes him a slow mover on the battlefield.

    * Poor Reflex Saving Throws: Clerics have the worst progression for Reflex saves in the game (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). Thus, they aren't so great at getting out of the way when things get rough.

    Playing a Classy Cleric

    Great clerics usually use the following techniques. So if you're playing a cleric, try to build your strategy around these concepts.

    Thinking Ahead

    As a cleric, you have to make many of your most important decisions before an adventure begins. Your daily spell preparation has a big effect on how you play your character and what your party can expect to accomplish on any given day. Thanks to the wide selection of spells available to you, you can function as a detective (by loading up on divination spells), a medic (by loading up on healing spells), a combatant (by loading up on spells that enhance your fighting abilities), a ranged attacker (by loading up on combat spells), or a force multiplier (by loading up on spells that make your allies stronger). At higher levels, you may have enough spells available to fill two or more of these roles simultaneously.

    When you choose spells, it pays to know what your party expects from you. You are among your party's most versatile members, and quite possibly the only one who can stand between a fellow party member and an untimely death. If your party expects you to play the role of combat medic and you're not prepared to do so, be sure to let the rest of the players know so that they can plan accordingly.

    In any case, plan to stay close to the action so that you can intervene with a spell or physical attack when necessary. You're fairly hardy compared with other characters, and your group can easily go down to defeat if you're timid when the going gets tough. On the other hand, your healing ability makes you invaluable to the others, so don't be the first one to rush into danger, or even into potential danger.

    Your Friends are Your Best Weapons

    You can have a big impact on the game by working through others, so be prepared to lend your support whenever you can.

    The Party's Main Fighter: Whoever has to stand in the front line and handle most of the fighting will look to you for healing and other kinds of cures from time to time. If you're stingy with your healing spells, the adventure could be over more quickly than you think. A single cure light wounds or cure moderate wounds spell can keep a fighting character going, ultimately dealing more damage to the enemy than any of your other spells can.

    The Party's Scout: Stealthy characters such as rogues, rangers, and monks often get in over their heads, so plan to be part of the rescue party that moves in to save them. You're also the one who must piece the scout back together after a mishap involving a trap or some other unseen danger.

    Other Spellcasters: You probably have more hit points and a better Armor Class than the other spellcasters in your group, so try to stay close to them so that you can protect them if a foe breaks through the front line.

    Whenever possible, try to coordinate your daily spell choices with the other spellcasters in your group. Your spell selection is almost certainly broader than theirs, so be ready to fill any gaps. Useful spells such as detect magic and water breathing are probably best provided by you, especially if you're a good cleric, since you can swap them out for healing spells if they're not needed.

    Be Your Own Best Friend

    Your support functions make you useful to any group, but the game can become a drag if you always put others first. So don't let the other players push you around -- always insist on making decisions for yourself. Like any other character, you do need to put the group's survival first, but don't let the others dictate how you should do it.

    Some Key Equipment

    A cleric's gear is nearly as important to him as his spells, so don't neglect it. Below are some essential pieces to pack.

    * Armor: Plan to buy the best armor you can afford, and carry a heavy shield as well -- you'll never regret having a formidable Armor Class. And don't overlook other defensive items you can wear, such as rings of protection and amulets of natural armor. Several lesser items whose benefits stack give you better protection, and at a cheaper price, than one big item.

    If you do a lot of wilderness adventuring, consider some backup armor, such as a suit of studded leather (or a mithral chain shirt if you can afford it) to wear at night. If you try to sleep in heavy armor, you'll have penalties the next day. But if you sleep in your skivvies, you'll be in trouble if you're attacked during the night.

    * Melee Weapon: You're pretty good in combat, so be prepared to fight. A heavy mace or morningstar packs the most punch. Alternatively, if you have the War domain and the right deity, you can get access to a martial weapon, which may be much better than any of the simple ones.

    * Ranged Weapon: A light crossbow can prove as effective as a low-level attack spell against some opponents. Use it when the opposition isn't threatening enough to merit the use of your spells. You might also consider a heavy crossbow -- a deadly weapon, even though reloading it is a slow process. That reload time might not bother you too much, though, because you might find that casting a spell or entering melee is more worthwhile than taking a second shot.

    * Backup Spells: You never know when you'll run out of spells. Furthermore, you never know when you'll need a particular spell -- and need it very badly. So it pays to keep some spellcasting power in reserve via a collection of scrolls, wands, or both. Scrolls are a great way to carry along useful spells (such as remove blindness/deafness, dispel magic, or remove disease) that you might not use in every adventure. Best of all, if you have the Scribe Scroll feat, you can make scrolls yourself, though doing so uses up time, money, and experience points. Wands are useful for bread-and-butter spells that you use often, especially healing spells such as cure light wounds.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  5. #5
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    RANGERS! ^_^ Always fun.


    Most players think of the ranger as an outdoorsy character who is more at home in the wilderness than in the dungeon or the city. If you want to create a rugged and self-sufficient individualist, a ranger is a fine choice. But the character can also excel in a variety of other roles, from swashbuckling ne'er-do-well to tenacious do-gooder.

    The Pros and Cons of a Ranger

    The ranger's wide range of abilities allows him to survive and even excel in almost any surroundings.

    Ranger Assets

    The ranger class provides an effective combination of fighting ability and an array of useful talents, including a few divine spells as the character advances in level. Below are several assets you have going for you when you play a ranger.

    * Favored Enemies: A ranger can choose a certain kind of creature whose nature and habits he knows inside and out as a favored enemy. Thereafter, he gains numerous bonuses when fighting or interacting with such creatures. As he attains higher levels, he can choose additional favored enemies and also get bigger bonuses against any some of those he already has.

    * Good Attack Bonus: A ranger's base attack bonus is +1 per level, which is the best in the game. Thus, rangers can usually expect to hit what they attack.

    * Good Fortitude and Reflex Saves: A ranger uses the best save progression in the game for Fortitude and Reflex saves (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). This natural resilience and grace helps him resist most effects that attack his body, such as poison, polymorphing, and energy drain. He can also avoid most effects that would entrap or deal damage to him, such as area spells, entanglement, and many traps.

    * Good Weapon Selection: Because a ranger can use any simple or martial weapon, he's a deadly opponent no matter what weapon he has in hand.

    * Good Skill Points: At six skill points per level, the ranger can gain ranks in a respectable number of skills -- in fact, only the rogue gets more skill points per level than the ranger. And if your ranger has a decent Intelligence score, he gains even more skill points.

    * Broad Skill Selection: The ranger has a substantial list of class skills. Most of these involve physical activities (for example, Climb, Jump, and Swim), but he also has access to stealth skills (such as Hide and Move Silently), perception skills (such as Listen and Spot), and practical skills (such as Craft, Use Rope, and Handle Animal).

    * Combat Style: At 2nd level, each ranger chooses a combat style that grants him bonus combat feats. The archery style grants the Rapid Shot feat and later the Manyshot feat. The two-weapon combat style grants the Two-Weapon Fighting feat and later the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat.

    * Other Bonus Feats: A ranger also gains Track (which allows him to track creatures) and Endurance (which improves his stamina) as bonus feats.

    * Animal Companion: At 4th level, a ranger gains an animal ally that trusts him implicitly and generally obeys his orders. As he advances in level, the animal becomes even more powerful.

    * Nature-Related Abilities: Even a beginning ranger can influence animals and get along in the wild. As he progresses in level, he gains additional abilities that improve his movement through natural terrain. Eventually, he can literally vanish from sight in natural surroundings.

    Ranger Weaknesses

    The ranger's many advantages come at a price. Here are a few of the disadvantages you should keep in mind if you're considering a ranger character.

    * Poor Will Saving Throws: Rangers have the worst progression for Will saves (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). Thus, they aren't so great at avoiding most kinds of magical attacks.

    * Mediocre Armor Class: The ranger is proficient with only light armor and shields (except tower shields). If he wears heavier armor, his combat-oriented bonus feats cease functioning. Despite these limitations, the typical ranger enjoys a decent personal defense, even though his Armor Class isn't the best. This shortcoming may leave him more vulnerable to damage in battle than other characters who do a great deal of fighting.

    * Mediocre Hit Points: The ranger's 8-sided Hit Dice give him a fairly impressive hit point total. Unlike the cleric and the druid, however, he seldom has hit points to spare -- especially given his lackluster Armor Class and combat orientation.

    Playing a Classy Ranger

    Great rangers usually use the following techniques. So if you're playing a one of these characters, try to build your strategy around these concepts.

    Stay Alert

    Your perception skills and your affinity for nature can protect you and your party from nasty surprises, so look for the best opportunities to use them. Your tracking capability works best if you can study a site before your allies cover it with their own footprints, so it often pays to march in the front rank, so that you can dart ahead to look for tracks. Your stealth skills (if you have them) are useful for reconnoitering areas before your whole group enters them, and a quick look ahead can help your party decide on a course of action when the options aren't terribly clear.

    Fight Smart

    Despite your lack of stout armor and your mediocre hit points, you're a fighting character, so be ready for combat at all times. The combat style you choose at 2nd level presents both opportunities and difficulties for you. The archery style allows you to attack at a distance -- perhaps even from cover or some other place of relative safety. But even if you choose archery, you can't always count on staying out of melee. Sometimes foes will pop up right in your face, and sometimes your more vulnerable allies will need protection.

    The two-weapon fighting style, on the other hand, can make you a veritable melee machine, especially when you're facing your favored enemies. The extra attacks you gain from two-weapon fighting reduce your attack bonuses, however, so don't wade into battle with two weapons unless you're sure you can make all your attacks count. When you face well-armored foes, you can always use just a single weapon to maximize your attack bonuses. Furthermore, you should be prepared to make ranged attacks when necessary, since you won't always be able to reach your foes for melee attacks.

    Friends in Need

    If you're the only fighting character in your party, you need to stand in the front line, even though doing so might not fit your combat style and could prove unhealthy for you in the long run. Even if you have a fighting ally, you must still keep the needs of all your comrades in mind.

    The Party's Stealth Person: If your group has a rogue, ranger, bard, or monk, or spellcaster whose spells provide concealment and mobility, that character can serve as a scout for the rest of the party. Be ready to accompany her on scouting trips, because your presence can ensure her safety. You and the scout might move ahead together, or you might want to hang back with your bow to provide some firepower if she gets into trouble. Even when you stay behind, be ready to go to the scout's rescue when she finds trouble, as characters who take point often do. Your light armor gives you decent speed, and your perception skills might allow you to avoid whatever fate befell her. Your timely intervention in such a case can save the scout's skin. In addition, a rogue or other character with the sneak attack ability needs combat support in the form of an ally who can help her flank enemies. So get used to fighting in partnership with such characters and make sure you incorporate the advantage it provides into your tactics.

    The Party's Arcane Spellcaster: Wizards, sorcerers, and bards can pack a real punch with their spells, and they often serve as the party's heavy artillery. But since such characters usually have poor Armor Classes and very few hit points, they must rely on you to keep the opposition at a distance. You might not have a great Armor Class and inexhaustible hit points, but you can probably do better in combat than most arcane spellcasters can.

    The Party's Divine Spellcaster: Get friendly and stay friendly with your party's cleric, druid, or paladin. This character's healing spells can keep you on your feet longer while you're hacking your way through foes.

    Some Key Equipment

    A ranger relies heavily on his gear, so it pays to collect the right equipment. Below are some essential pieces to pack.

    * Armor: Buy the best light armor you can afford. At the beginning of your career, you probably can't afford more than studded leather, but move up to a chain shirt or mithral armor as soon as you can. A shield is problematical, since rangers tend to use both hands in a fight. Those who choose the archery style use bows, which require two hands, and those who choose two-weapon fighting need their hands free to hold both of their weapons. Nevertheless, a shield can be a good investment. You can carry a heavy shield and just drop it when you're ready to fight, but a buckler may be a better bet. You can hold onto a buckler while shooting a bow, and even when fighting with two weapons, though you take an attack penalty for doing so. In either case, you don't get the buckler's Armor Class benefit while attacking, but you don't have to waste time dropping it, and you have it ready to use when you need it.

    You need all the Armor Class you can get, so add other defensive items, such as rings of protection and amulets of natural armor, whenever you can afford them. Keep in mind that several lesser items whose bonuses stack give you better protection at a cheaper price than one big item does.

    * Primary Melee Weapon: If you've chosen archery as your combat style, you still need a martial or exotic weapon with a good damage rating and the ability to deal critical hits. A longsword is a good choice, but a short sword or a rapier also works well, especially if you choose the Weapon Finesse feat.

    If you've chosen the two-weapon fighting style, your choice of melee weapon is critical. A double weapon offers good damage potential plus the ability to use one end as a two-handed weapon when you're limited to a single attack. It also works well with the Weapon Focus feat because you get the feat's attack bonus with each end. Most double weapons are exotic, however, so you need the Exotic Weapon proficiency feat to use them effectively. A quarterstaff is a simple double weapon that's less effective than its exotic counterparts, but using it effectively doesn't require a feat.

    On the other hand, a double weapon isn't the only way to go for a two-weapon fighter. You need to have a light weapon in your off hand to keep your two-weapon attack penalty to a minimum. You can use two light weapons (which works just as well as a double weapon for the purpose of the Weapon Focus feat) or a one-handed weapon in your primary hand and a light weapon in your off hand.

    * Backup Melee Weapon: Always have a light weapon or two handy. A light slashing weapon, such as a dagger or hand axe, can help get you out of a tight spot (for example, being swallowed whole by a big monster). It also pays to have a hefty weapon on hand in case you lose your primary one or find that it isn't effective. Make sure this weapon deals a different kind of damage than your primary weapon does. For example, if you normally use a longsword (a slashing weapon) consider a morningstar (which deals both bludgeoning and piercing damage) as a backup.

    * Ranged Weapon: Even if your combat style is two-weapon fighting, you need to choose a martial ranged weapon. A longbow has good range and deals good damage, but if you have a decent Strength score (and you probably do), get a composite longbow that lets you add your full Strength bonus to damage rolls. If your combat style is archery, get the best bow you can afford -- probably a masterwork longbow when you begin play and a magic composite longbow later on. A few magic arrows won't hurt either. But since the enhancement bonus from a magic ranged weapon doesn't stack with the one from magic ammunition, stick to arrows with useful special properties. Flaming or frost arrows deal extra damage, and keen arrows can prove very effective against your favored enemies -- provided you've chosen enemies that are subject to critical hits.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  6. #6
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    WARLOCKS! --These can get confusing, but they are a form of wizard for those people that don't know.

    This column aims to provide players with tips on creating effective and interesting characters of various types. So whether you're a beginning player creating your very first character or an experienced gamer looking to put some punch into an old standby, this column is for you!

    The Pros and Cons of a Warlock

    The warlock's dark heritage gives him a limited array of useful powers. Most warlocks carry at least a small taint of evil, but a few manage to rise above their ancestry to become great heroes. Sinister or valiant, a warlock offers plenty of challenges and rewards for any player.

    Warlock Assets

    The warlock has access to several powerful abilities that he can use over and over. Though he can't produce many magical effects, choosing the right ones creates a potent spellcaster who can hold his own in any adventuring party. Though he is a specialist in arcane combat, the warlock can also gain bonuses on a variety of skill checks and create numerous other useful magical effects. Below are several assets you have going for you when you choose a warlock.

    * Winning Ways: A warlock needs to have a high Charisma score because that ability governs his spellcasting. But high Charisma also gives him an edge in negotiations.

    * Good Will Saves: A warlock uses the best save progression in the game for Will saves (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). This natural mental strength helps him resist most effects that fool his mind or assault his spirit, including charms, compulsions, illusions, fear effects, and even inflict spells.

    * Eldritch Blast: Starting at first level, a warlock gains the spell-like ability to release a magical ray that can damage creatures or objects. This eldritch blast affects only one target at a time, and it has a fairly short range, but the warlock can use it as a standard action as often as he likes.

    * Invocations: Starting at first level, and once every even-numbered level thereafter, a warlock can choose an invocation. A warlock invocation is a spell-like ability that works at will. Some invocations merely alter the warlock's eldritch blast, but others provide new abilities that expand your capabilities beyond merely dealing damage.

    * Many Class Features: A warlock's supernatural heredity grants him many useful abilities, including damage reduction, fast healing, energy resistance, and the ability to make and use magic items of all kinds.

    * Fair Weapon Selection: The warlock is proficient only with simple weaponry. Though simple weapons aren't the most deadly ones available, the fact that the warlock has access to the whole category gives him more options than most other arcane spellcasters have. That versatility can be a lifesaver if his spells happen to fail him.

    * Fair Armor Selection: The warlock is proficient with light armor, but not with shields. Light armor doesn't provide great protection, but it's better than what many arcane spellcasters have available.

    * Good Attack Bonus: A warlock's base attack bonus -- +3 per four levels -- is second only to that of the more martial classes, such as the fighter. So if your warlock decides to enter combat, he can make a pretty good showing. He also has an excellent chance to hit most foes with his eldritch blasts, which are ranged touch attacks.

    Warlock Weaknesses

    Warlocks pay a heavy price for their powerful magic. Here are a few of the disadvantages you should keep in mind if you're considering a warlock character.

    * Fairly Low Hit Points: The warlock's 6-sided Hit Dice give him a few more hit points than most arcane spellcasters have. Nevertheless, he is still quite vulnerable to damage.

    * Low Skill Points: At a mere two skill points per level, most warlocks don't accumulate many skill ranks, even with quadruple skill points at 1st level.

    * Poor Reflex and Fortitude Saving Throws: Warlocks have the worst progression for Fortitude and Reflex saves in the game (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). Thus, they aren't so great at avoiding attacks on their bodies.

    * Limited Magical Choices: You begin play with your eldritch blast ability and a single invocation. During your entire career, you'll choose only 11 more invocations. You have a limited ability to change the invocations you know, but for the most part you're stuck with what you choose, so choose carefully.

    Playing a Classy Warlock

    Great warlocks usually use the following techniques. So if you're playing a character of this class, try to incorporate them into your strategy.

    Blast Early and Often

    Your eldritch blast is your most potent ability, and you can use it as often as you want. Though it requires a standard action and can be used only once per round, you should at least consider using a blast no matter what kind of situation you face.

    Think Before Blasting

    On the other hand, it's easy to get carried away with eldritch blasts. Though you should make as much use of this ability as possible, it isn't the right response to every situation. Your eldritch blast is a potent weapon, but it probably won't knock out your foe with one shot. So even when a blast seems like the correct option, make sure that you and your allies can stay in the fight long enough to finish off the foe before acting on that impulse.

    Diversify

    Your eldritch blast gives you decent combat ability, but it also pays to improve your mobility, defenses, and perception, so keep those attributes in mind when you choose your invocations. In addition, your deceive item ability can expand your options considerably, since it allows you to employ all sorts of magic items.

    Remember Your Friends

    Your eldritch blast makes you force to be reckoned with, but don't get cocky or pushy. Instead, learn to work with your allies.
    The Party's Front Line: Your party's more heavily armored individuals (particularly fighters and paladins) form a fighting line that keeps enemies away from you. So be ready to support them in case they get into trouble. And while your eldritch blast is probably just as potent as any melee attack available to those characters, you must use care when aiming it, so learn to maneuver for a clear shot when blasting into a melee. Consider taking the Precise Shot feat to help you use your eldritch blasts against foes in melee with your allies.

    Other Spellcasters: You probably aren't the only magic wielder in your party, but you may well have the smallest selection of effects available to you. Try to make your fellow spellcasters aware of what you can do, so that they can select spells to cover the gaps in your capabilities. And even though your powers are primarily offensive in nature, you can't expect other spellcasters to let you have all the fun blasting the opposition. But perhaps you and another spellcaster could work together to smother the opposition with magic. One effective tactic is to allow a spellcasting ally to use area spells while you take out the enemy leaders or pick off cripples with your eldritch blasts. So talk to your party's other spellcasters and work out some ways to coordinate your attacks with their spells.

    Some Key Equipment

    If you're a warlock, your magical abilities are more important to you than your gear. Nevertheless, a few pieces of the right equipment can make your career longer and happier.

    * Armor: Buy the best light armor you can afford. At the beginning of your career, your finances may limit you to studded leather, but move up to a chain shirt or mithral armor as soon as you can. You can take a feat to gain proficiency with medium or heavy armor, but either of these will slow you down and impose an arcane spell failure chance on your eldritch blast and invocation powers.

    No matter what kind of armor you choose, you'll never regret spending the money to beef up your Armor Class still more. So add other defensive items, such as rings of protection and amulets of natural armor when you can afford them. Remember that several lesser items whose benefits stack give you better protection, and at a cheaper price, than one big item.

    * Melee Weapon: Though your magic is better than your fighting ability, you're no slouch in battle, and you never know when you'll have to resort to hand-to-hand combat. A spear deals good damage and can also prove useful in probing surfaces for unseen dangers. A longspear has reach and can help keep foes a little farther away from you.

    * Ranged Weapon: Early in your career, a crossbow can prove as effective as an eldritch blast. And even after you've gained a few levels, a crossbow is still useful against opponents you cannot affect with your eldritch blasts. A heavy crossbow deals more damage than a light one but takes longer to reload, so make your choice based on the amount of help you expect from your friends.

    * Diversified Magic: You'll never run out of eldritch blasts and invocations, but the scope of those powers is strictly limited. You'll probably want to take advantage of your deceive item ability to add some variety to your bag of tricks. Scrolls are a cheap and handy way to carry a broad array of magic, but for effects that you use often, consider a wand. When choosing scrolls or other magic items, aim for effects that you can't duplicate with your class abilities, including utilitarian magic such as knock and haste, defenses such as shield and displacement, and mobility boosters such as expeditious retreat and gaseous form. And since your deceive item power allows you to use items of all kinds, you aren't limited to scrolls or wands that store arcane spells. You also can employ useful divine spells such as shield of faith, bless weapon, divine favor, and magic vestment. And when you gain the imbue item ability at 12th level, you can make items of all kinds yourself -- if you can spare the time and experience points.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  7. #7
    Thane of Mimics ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker's Avatar
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    BARDS! -- This is a VERY fun class, but it's just like the rest of the classes, and not for everyone.


    Bards are often depicted as ne'er-do-wells and charlatans who prefer not to meet challenges head on. A character who fits that stereotype can be fun, but a bard also can function as a person of deep knowledge and wide experience, a folk hero, a slumming aristocrat, or a general handyman.

    The Pros and Cons of a Bard

    A bard most often exercises his true strength through others. He also has abilities and spells that provide information, or that serve some other utilitarian function.

    Bard Assets

    When you chose a bard, you gain access to a substantial array of magical abilities, most of which influence other creatures. Below are several assets you have going for you when you play a bard.

    * Good Skill Points: With 6 skill points per level, a bard with a decent Intelligence score can buy plenty of skill ranks.

    * Good Skill Selection: The bard has a substantial list of class skills. Most of them (such as Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive) involve character interaction, but bards also have access to stealth skills (such as Hide and Move Silently), informational skills (such as Decipher Script and Gather Information), and movement skills (such as Balance, Climb, and Jump).

    * Good Reflex and Will Saves: A bard uses the best save progression in the game for Reflex and Will saves (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). His natural grace helps him avoid most effects that could deal damage or entrap him, such as area spells, entanglement, and many traps. The fact that the bard also uses the best progression for Will saves allows him to withstand assaults on his mind or spirit.

    * Bardic Music: A bard's music (or poetry) literally makes magic. With it, he can counter most sound-based effects, inspire his allies, and even bend others to his will. To get the most out of his bardic music abilities, however, he has to keep buying ranks of Perform throughout his career.

    * Bardic Knowledge: A bard has at least a slight chance to know something about almost anything.

    * Spells: A bard has access to spells that heal allies, stymie enemies, or provide other useful effects. Bard spells generally aren't flashy, but they can be quite effective when used with forethought and skill. And a bard doesn't have to carry spellbooks; he can choose a personal repertoire of spells that he can cast anytime. He does have a daily limit on the number of spells of each level he can cast, but he can freely cast any spell he knows until he reaches that limit. So he doesn't have to guess ahead of time which spells to prepare -- if he needs to cast a particular spell several times in the same day, he can do so.

    Bard Weaknesses

    As with characters of other classes, the bard's many advantages come at a price. Here are a few of the disadvantages you should keep in mind if you're considering a bard character.

    * Poor Fortitude Saving Throws: Bards have the worst progression for Fortitude saves in the game (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). Thus, they aren't so great at shrugging off effects that attack their bodies.

    * Fairly Low Hit Points: The bard's 6-sided Hit Dice give him only a moderate number of hit points. But even though he can't take much physical punishment, he does need to enter combat occasionally because his spells don't pack much offensive punch.

    * Fairly Low Armor Class: The fact that a bard has proficiency with only light armor and shields other than tower shields leaves him with only a mediocre Armor Class. The combination of modest hit points and middling Armor Class usually means that a bard can afford to fight a little, but he doesn't have much staying power in a pitched battle. To make matters worse, donning medium or heavy armor may cause his arcane spells to fail. A bard can improve his defenses in various ways, but all of them deplete his resources.

    * Limited Spell Choices: Once a bard chooses spells, his repertoire remains more or less fixed, except for new additions as he attains higher levels. He has a limited ability to change his repertoire, but for the most part, he is stuck with whatever spells he has chosen.

    Playing a Classy Bard

    Great bards usually use the following techniques, so if you're playing one, try to build your strategy around these concepts.

    Staying on Top of Things

    Your ability to win friends and influence people isn't worth much if your party tends to slay first and ask questions later. Thus, you should always be ready to talk about options with intelligent foes. Furthermore, you need to move quickly when an encounter begins, so that you have a chance to exchange a few words with opponents before swords and spells fly.

    On the other hand, your ability to call up obscure information can be a real lifesaver when a baffling situation arises. So be ready to ask some questions that can get to the heart of the matter when you see the game grinding to a halt.

    Your spell selection greatly influences the contributions that you can make during an encounter, so it pays to choose spells that keep your options open. A good mix includes a few offensive spells (though not many are available to you), some defensive spells, and some miscellaneous spells for healing damage, boosting ability scores, and expanding your personal capabilities.

    With your skills, spells, class features, and combat ability, you can respond to an encounter in any number of ways. A quick analysis of the situation should help you choose the best option, so always think before you act.

    Power Multiplier

    As a bard, you can make a big impact on the game by working through others, so be prepared to lend your support whenever you can. Your inspire courage ability can boost your whole party simultaneously, and you can use inspire competence to assist a friend with just about any task. In addition, spells such as good hope, haste, heroism, and rage can give your whole group a boost.

    You can also work well with specific members of your party, as noted below.

    The Party's Main Fighter: Whoever has to stand in the front line and handle most of the fighting can benefit from cure light wounds or other medicinal spells you might have in your repertoire. You also have enough fighting ability to step in and give your party's fighter a hand when the situation gets tough. For example, you might help him by flanking a foe or dealing with an enemy flanker.

    The Party's Scout: Your divination spells (if you have them) and your knack for uncovering obscure information can keep stealthy characters such as rogues, rangers, and monks from getting in over their heads. Furthermore, if misfortune befalls the party's scout, your fighting ability makes you a candidate for the rescue party, and your spells could come in handy -- both during the rescue and for healing the injured scout.

    Other Spellcasters: You probably have more hit points and a better Armor Class than the other spellcasters in your group -- except perhaps for the party's druid or cleric. So try to stay close enough to your fellow spellcasters so that you can protect them if a foe breaks through the front line.

    Some Key Equipment

    The right gear can help you quite a bit with a bardic career. Below are some essential pieces to pack.

    * Armor: Even though you won't spend all your time in the front lines, some kind of protective gear is essential. As noted earlier, you can use light armor and most shields, and items such as these provide decent protection at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, both shields and medium or heavy armor saddle you with an arcane spell failure chance. If you want to spend more money for less protection, you can load up on defensive magic items such as a ring of protection, an amulet of natural armor, and bracers of armor. You'll probably have a lower Armor Class, but no arcane spell failure chance.
    * Melee Weapon: You're proficient with simple weapons and a small selection of other weaponry, and you're not by any means helpless in combat, so choose an efficient melee weapon. A longsword or rapier is fairly effective, and a rapier works with the Weapon Finesse feat, which allows you to use your Dexterity bonus for melee attacks -- a handy benefit if you've chosen a high Dexterity score.
    * Backup Melee Weapon: Always have a light weapon or two handy. A light slashing weapon, such as a dagger or hand axe, can help get you out of a tight spot (for example, being swallowed whole by a big monster). It also pays to have a hefty weapon on hand in case you lose your primary one or find that it isn't effective. Make sure this weapon deals a different kind of damage than your primary weapon does. For example, if you normally use a rapier (a piercing weapon), consider a mace (which deals bludgeoning damage) as a backup. A sap can also prove handy for subduing foes you wish to question later.
    * Ranged Weapon: You can greatly increase your survival chances by keeping your foes at a distance during combat. A composite shortbow offers good range, and you can make multiple attacks with it if your base attack bonus allows it. Earlier in your career, though, the heavy crossbow may prove a better choice. It has a slow rate of fire, but it deals good damage. And to round out your weapon selection, consider carrying some of those handy daggers and hand axes, which can be thrown as well as used in melee.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  8. #8
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    DRUIDS!- Call 'em a treehugger, I have a druid that will take perverse pleasure in feeding you to her bear. =)


    Many players think the druid belongs out in the wilderness, where she can frolic with the animals and work magic suited for the outdoors. To such people, a druid in a city or a dungeon seems as out of place -- and about as useful -- as a speedboat in the desert. As is often the case, popular opinion about the druid isn't completely wrong, but it fails to grasp the character's true potential.

    The Pros and Cons of a Druid

    The druid's many abilities make for a versatile and powerful character who can excel in almost any surroundings.

    Druid Assets

    When you chose a druid, you gain access to many spells that affect plants and animals, but the class offers other potent spells and useful powers as well. Below are several assets you have going for you when you play a druid.

    * Animal Companion: At 1st level, a druid has an animal ally that trusts her implicitly and generally obeys her orders. As the druid advances in level, the animal becomes even more powerful.

    * Nature-Related Abilities: Even a beginning druid can influence animals and get along in the wild. As she progresses in level, she gains additional abilities that improve her movement through natural terrain, allow her to resist natural venom, and eventually even negate the ravages of time.

    * Wild Shape: Beginning at 5th level, the druid can assume some animal forms. Depending on the exact shape she chooses, she can improve her mobility, fighting power, stealth -- or even all three. Additional druid levels allow her to wild shape into smaller and larger animals, and eventually into potent elemental forms as well.

    * Good Fortitude and Will Saves: A druid uses the best save progression in the game for Fortitude and Will saves (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). This natural mental and physical strength helps her resist most effects that fool her mind, assault her spirit, or attack her body -- including charms, compulsions, illusions, fear,polymorphing, poisons, and even disintegration. Furthermore, the high Wisdom score that a druid needs for her spellcasting also gives her Will save a hefty boost. Few other classes can match a druid's saving throw bonuses.

    * Good Spell Selection: The druid spell list is packed with spells that manipulate energy or the natural world, such as entangle, warp wood, produce flame, chill metal, heat metal, call lighting, stone shape, and flame strike. Many of these spells are useful for attacking foes, and others provide handy abilities on a temporary basis. The druid also has access to lifesaving spells such as slow poison, neutralize poison, remove disease, and the ever-popular cure spells. In addition, she can cast defensive spells, spells that bolster her allies, and spells that summon aid. Best of all, she has access to the whole druid spell list, not just the spells that she can place in a spellbook or master for a personal spell list.

    * Spontaneous Spells: A druid can spontaneously convert any spell she has prepared into a summon nature's ally spell. This ability allows her to load up on attack or utilitarian spells and still conjure up help if she needs it.

    * Good Hit Points: The druid's 8-sided Hit Dice give her a fairly impressive hit point total.

    * Good Attack Bonus: A druid's base attack bonus -- +3 per four levels -- is second only to that of the more martial classes, such as the fighter. So if your druid decides to enter combat, she can make a pretty good showing.

    Druid Weaknesses

    The druid's many advantages come at a price. Here are a few of the disadvantages you should keep in mind if you're considering a druid character.

    * Mediocre Weapon Selection: The druid is proficient with only a limited array of simple and martial weapons that fit the druidical ethos. Her selection includes a few very serviceable weapons, but they're not the most deadly ones available.

    * Mediocre Armor Class: The druid has access to defensive spells such as barkskin that improve her Armor Class, and to spells such as stoneskin that can help her withstand damage. However, she is proficient with only light and medium armor, plus all shields (except tower shields). To make matters worse, her armor and shield cannot be made from metal. These limitations still allow her a decent personal defense, but her Armor Class definitely isn't the best, and she's likely to suffer for it during any prolonged battle.

    * Poor Reflex Saving Throws: Druids have the worst progression for Reflex saves in the game (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). Thus, they aren't so great at getting out of the way when things get rough.

    Playing a Classy Druid

    Great druids usually use the following techniques. So if you're playing a druid, try to build your strategy around these concepts.

    Thinking Ahead

    As a druid, you have to make many of your most important decisions before an adventure begins. Your daily spell preparation has a big effect on how you play your character and what your party can expect to accomplish on any given day. Many of your most effective spells work to best advantage only when you're outdoors in a natural setting. So if you're getting ready for an underground adventure or one in an urban setting, avoid spells such as entangle and call lightning. Keep in mind, however, that some of your spells can work well even when others don't. Most fantasy cities, for example, are well populated with animals that you can interrogate via the speak with animals spell, and most dungeons are made of stone, which offers numerous ways to use the stone shape spell.

    Your wild shape ability gives you considerable flexibility, and it pays to plan how best to use it before you actually need it. If your group needs extra fighting power, consider animal forms that are useful for combat, such as wolves or bears. Smaller forms, such as bats or birds, are good for stealth and scouting.

    In any case, plan to stay close to the action so that you can intervene with a spell or physical attack when necessary. You're fairly hardy compared with other characters, and your group can easily go down to defeat if you're timid when the going gets tough. But you don't always have to place yourself in the line of fire; your animal companion can often act as a stand-in for you when some physical action is required.

    Your Friends are Your Best Weapons

    You can have a big impact on the game by working through others, so be prepared to lend your support whenever you can.

    Natural Allies: Spells such as barkskin, magic fang, and animal growth are great ways to improve your animal companion or give a boost to a creature that you've summoned. But don't go overboard; your allies might become annoyed if you invest too many spells in your animal companion -- especially healing spells.

    The Party's Main Fighter: A single cure light wounds or cure moderate wounds spell can keep a fighting character going, ultimately dealing more damage to the enemy than any of your other spells can. If you have no healing spells prepared, consider using a summon nature's ally spell to help take the heat off your party's front line. Your animal companion can lend some aid as well.

    The Party's Scout: Stealthy characters such as rogues, rangers, and monks often get in over their heads. Your wild shape ability lets you stage a quick rescue or even unobtrusively tag along to lend a hand if needed.

    Other Spellcasters: You probably have more hit points and a better attack bonus than the other spellcasters in your group, and your Armor Class is likely better than that of any arcane spellcaster in the party, except possibly a bard. So try to stay close enough to your fellow spellcasters that you can protect them if a foe breaks through the front line.

    Whenever possible, try to coordinate your daily spell choices with the other spellcasters in your group. Your spell selection is almost certainly broader than theirs, so be ready to fill any gaps. Useful spells such as speak with animals and water breathing are probably best provided by you, since you can swap them for summon nature's ally spells if they're not needed.

    Wild Shape with Care

    Assuming a wild shape interferes with your ability to use weapons and tools and with your ability to speak to your fellow adventurers. It also keeps you from casting spells unless you have the Natural Spell feat. For all these reasons, wild shape is not an ability to use frivolously -- your best bet is to stay in your natural form until you need to assume another one.

    Some Key Equipment

    A druid's gear is nearly as important to her as her spells, so don't neglect it. Below are some essential pieces to pack.

    * Armor: Plan to buy the best armor you can afford (typically hide armor for a druid) and carry a heavy wooden shield as well -- you'll never regret having a formidable Armor Class. And don't overlook other defensive items you can wear, such as rings of protection. An amulet of natural armor can also prove useful, but it won't work with a barkskin spell. Several lesser items whose benefits stack give you better protection, and at a cheaper price, than one big item.

    * Melee Weapon: You're pretty good in combat, so be prepared to fight. A scimitar or spear packs the most punch.

    * Ranged Weapon: A sling or dart can prove as effective as a low-level attack spell against some opponents. Use them when you need to conserve your spells or when the opposition isn't threatening enough to merit spell use.

    * Backup Spells: You never know when you'll run out of spells. Furthermore, you never know when you'll need a particular spell -- and need it very badly. So it pays to keep some spellcasting power in reserve via a collection of scrolls, wands, or both. Scrolls are a great way to carry along useful spells (such as soften earth and stone, dispel magic, or remove disease) that you might not use in every adventure. Best of all, if you have the Scribe Scroll feat, you can make scrolls yourself, though doing so uses up time, money, and experience points. Wands are useful for bread-and-butter spells that you use often, especially healing spells such as cure light wounds.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  9. #9
    Thane of Mimics ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker has a reputation beyond repute ShadowWalker's Avatar
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    We will handle character sheets in due order! For the record, here is a list of available character classes.

    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/lists/class
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

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