Sunday, March 11, 2012
Balancing the Party
For a very long time I have run/hosted table top roleplaying on a Monday night. This tradition goes back some 18 years(jebus!) to when Iw as 14 and my friends and I got some bits and pieces for Dungeons and Dragons, Hero Quest and Space Crusade. Once roleplaying became a regular thing and we had started playing Warhammer Fantasy with the High Elf and Goblin box and Rogue Trader 40k with all its grim dark wonder and confusing rules we got Warhammer Fantasy Role Play which we played on a Monday or Tuesday quite consistently for a couple years.
Following from this we played Vampire the Masquerade, Werewolf and Mage where we ignored all the toss pot bullshit about the depressing world and just had a great time with a high action supernatural setting. By now I was running most games as I was the regular host and accumulated the books and seemed to be organised enough to have a game ready. The World of Darkness games became my own setting with Corporate villains and history spanning 800 years into the past. It was great and one player in particular (Stu) kept and developed the same character for probably 6-8 years!? However I simply burnt out on the setting as I had expended an awful lot of ideas on regular weekly play.
With some changes in players and residences we played many many more games using Modern D20, WHFRP, Star Wars and a hell of a lot of D&D 3 then 3.5. Now for the last year at least we have been playing the Shackled City D&D campaign using the wonderful Pathfinder rules. If anyone out there liked 3.5 and like us was not happy about Wizards of the Coast going to 4th ed just get Pathfinder from Paizo its 3.75 and better.
Now I have run this campaign happily with the players having a couple of fatalities but overall being very successful... until now. They have hit level 10 and the story challenges just got a little harder... and then some. I initially put it down to the party not having a balance of classes - Paladin(tank), Wizard(damage focused), Ranger/rogue(ranged damage and skills) and a Monk(average melee damage). See whats missing? A healer! The paladin did well throwing out Channeled Energy bursts to keep the party going and post combat, healing wands were chewed through quickly but with the increase in monster damage and spell effects the party was sliding.
In an assualt on Cauldron's(the campaign city) cathedral of Wee Jas, the parties Monk martial artist expert fell fowl of some angry Stone Giants and got smashed into a red paste upon the flagstones of the main worship hall. Now the player was not too upset and had been making noises about a character change anyway when I asked 'do you want to run the game?' to which he said 'yeah, can do'.
Now not to the detriment of the other players but this particular one Aaron is the only other one who will actually run a game. He has a bad reputation in that in all the games he has run over the years giving me a break from GM duties he has pretty much ruthlessly TPK'd us numerous times(Total Party Kill). However I had not actually played a game as a player for over a year so bugger it. I will leave my DM knowledge out of the game as best I can and give the party what they've been lacking - some real melee damage. So I made an awesome Elven swordsmen, using a Swordmaster of Hoeth as inspiration I made the most kick arse character I could and awaited the following game.
Well I got to use the Swordsmen and the build worked a charm cracking out 45+ damage a hit but after we had the 'boss' encounter in which the whole party got AoE'd about 3 times before the real fighting started and we barely survived the encounter at all with Aaron getting shit for living up to reputation I decided a Healer would be a lot more useful. So Rogal Dawn ;) cleric of Pelor was born.
We have had two games since then where after a lot of roleplaying mainly around the other party members wanting to use me as an errand boy WTF we are into out next 'dungeon' an ice filled network of chambers with the forms of six armed spell weavers incased in suspended animation filling most rooms. We have so far barely made it past Aaron's supremely devious Ice Devil who firmly put his infernal boot up our collective arse only for us to do a runner prepare and come back for an equally hard fight which we managed to prevail in. Then to have some infernalist Sorcerer with a fetish for Lightning bolts blast seven shades of shite out of us and teleport away before the killing blow got put in him(and taking all his loot with him too!).
However it is nice to be able to rush about in ones turn and keep the party going so they can perform their own roles properly. The Paladin can now barrel into combat and get wailed upon while smiting for all hes worth without having to stop and heal other people. The Ranger can sneak about and shoot like a semi automatic with his flaming longbow without fear of looking to closely at his remaining hit points and our wizard well... hes an elf... suppose I have to heal him too while he rains down fireballs and enhanced magic missiles. Certainly don't have a lack of things to do. However in the odd turns when the health of the party is ok I need to be able to chuck out a bit of magic damage surely. I'll have to scour the book collection for some nasty spells but these level 10 plus monsters just seem to pass their saves and shrug off the effects of anything I throw at them so I'll just focus and keeping the others upright... and next feat I get is going into Leadership so I can take the Swordsmen I made as a companion, healing and uber damage FTW.
Does anyone else who isnt a regular at my place play RPG's? If so what ones or what have you played and enjoyed?