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Messages - Radu the Wanderer

Pages: [1] 2
1
Given that I'd almost always play a 9th level anything over a new ogre mage any day of the week hands down I'd say keep it at +3.  I'd absolutely play a 10th level character, no questions asked and no second thoughts.  +4 seems too steep.

I'd only seriously consider playing one of the new ogre mages if the game was going to start at level 12+.  (as a rule of thumb, I don't consider LA's to be playable if they are greater than 1/3 your ECL.  Thus, tieflings and aasimar are only useful in games that start at level 3 or higher, drow in level 6 or higher, and svirfneblin in level 9 or higher.  Ogre Magi are damn cool in concept--- one of my favorite monsters, actually--- but the application of 6 giant HD and a +3 LA bumps it out of the "playable" range for me.)

I like the deconstruction/reconstruction, and may give it a bit of tweaking myself, but I like the newfound niche the ogre magi has after redevelopment... just dangerous enough to be an early threat, interesting enough to beef up for late game threats.  DEFINATELY a keeper.

2
Thanks, Maddman, I may have to look into this... Buffy... game.  Though I must confess I'm not the world's largest Joss Wheadon fan, I won't hold my taste against the game.  You can probably play a pretty bitchin' game with that system, much like WoD can be used to play out, how do you say... INTERESTING storylines instead of emotional masturbation and self aggrandizing "pity the poor doomed supremely powerful being" games.  GRRRRR!!!!!

(Ok, so I only have a hate on for old school WoD.  The new stuff is rather cool.)

(Oh, and I did enjoy Serenity.)

(Goddamn it!  Am I losing all of my inflexible boorish opinions?  Fuck!  Someone give me an opinion I can disagree with, stat!)

3
I have had it in mind for a long, long time to turn the d20 class based system into a far more skill oriented one.  I have had a fair bit of experience with the West End Games d6 model, with the WoD d10 model, and the 7th Sea R+K model, and will most likely be borrowing concepts from them liberally.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:

I propose the beginnings of a new system, oriented towards enabling more free-form character advancement and less of a tiered system of plateaus that the current 20 level system encourages.  I propose a system that rewards magic but makes it difficult to attain, that enables any and all to become "casters" who dabble in magic, that lets non-magical folks shine in whichever arenas they wish, and that easilly accomodates all manner of character archetypes and ideas.  I propose a system that uses the allmighty d20 in conjunction with skills and stats to resolve almost all conflicts, with perhaps a bit of the feats mechanic kept in for variety.

With that said, let's fire away!

STEP 1: REVERSE ENGINEER D20

D20 is based around a few simple concepts: a d20 is used for almost every roll, high is universally good, low is universally bad.  This is a great starting point.  I'll keep it.

D20 is based around several independent but quasi-interlinking mechanical areas: combat (initiative, bab, and AC), passive defenses (saving throws, hp, and AC again), and non-combat know-how (skills) and miscellaneous abilities (feats, racial and class features) which can fall into any of the other categories.  I like some of this, so I'll keep that which appeals to me most: distinctive racial charicteristics and the concept of feats.  Class features will either disappear into skills or become quasi-feats.

D20 favors offense over defense in combat, almost unconditionally.  Given the choice between a defensive action (healing, fighting defensively, casting a defensive spell) or offensive action (attacking, casting offensive spells, disrupting enemy actions), the offensive action is the better choice 90% of the time.  I dislike this aspect of the game, but understand the reasons why this decision was made.  Offense, as an active form of play, is more rewarding than defense, a reactive form of play.  I will have to consider this.

D20 overwhelmingly favors spellcasting over all other things.  Each spell is a unique rule unto itself, and the ever-expanding number of spells means spellcasters become increasingly more powerful as their options, and thus gameplay power, become increasingly larger.  I dislike this aspect of D20, and if possible will attempt to diminish it.

I feel these are the bare bones of the system.  There may be other aspects I'm ignoring or have glossed over, but I think those are small potatoes compared to the bigger picture of die rolling and mechanics.  You can build whatever game you want out of the superstructure of the D20 superhero-esque mechanical base.

STEP 2: LISTS!

Here is a list of all the skills in the D20 SRD, including the XPH:

Appraise
Autohypnosis
Balance
Bluff
Climb
Concentration
Craft
Decipher Script
Diplomacy
Disable Device
Disguise
Escape Artist
Forgery
Gather Information
Handle Animal
Heal
Hide
Intimidate
Jump
Knowledge
Listen
Move Silently
Open Lock
Perform
Profession
Psicraft
Ride
Search
Sense Motive
Sleight Of Hand
Speak Language
Spellcraft
Spot
Survival
Swim
Tumble
Use Magic Device
Use Psionic Device
Use Rope

Of those skills, there are many that can be compressed into one skill.  For example, Autohypnosis can be compressed into Concentration.  Here is a revised skill list with the compressions I think should be made:

Acrobatics (includes Balance, Escape Artist, Jump, and Tumble)
Athletics (includes Climb, Ride, and Swim)
Alertness (includes Listen, Spot, and Search)
Concentration (includes Autohypnosis)
Craft
Disable Device (includes Open Locks)
Charm (includes Bluff, Disguise, Handle Animal, and Perform)
Knowledge (includes Heal and Survival)
Linguistics (includes Speak Language and Decipher Script)
Manipulation (includes Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive)
Sleight Of Hand (includes Use Rope and Forgery)
Sneak (includes Hide and Move Silently)
Spellcraft (includes Psicraft)
Streetwise (includes Appraise, Gather Information and Knowledge: Local)
Use Magic Device (includes Use Psionic Device)

The second list may be going overboard, but already the 39 (more, if you include all the varieties of Craft, Profession, Perform, and Knowledge) skills have been narrowed down to 15.  This may be going a bit too far but it's easy to expand skills.

Now let's add in the "skills" in D20 that aren't dependent on skill ranks:

Melee Attack rolls
Ranged Attack rolls
AC
Initiative
Endurance (mainly a function of Con)
Weight Lifting (mainly a function of Str)
Movement (mainly a function of race)
Passive Defenses (saving throws)
HP (mainly a function of Con and class)

Some of these make sense to add.  So let's add, at the very base, a few varieties of combat skills:

Melee (hand to hand fighting with a weapon)
Ranged (ranged fighting with a projectile weapon)
Brawl (hand to hand fighting without a weapon)
Dodge (getting the fuck out of the way!)
Parry (blocking with a weapon)
Toughness (takin' a lickin' and keepin' tickin')

Some of these may stay, some may go, but I like the basic idea of 3 combat skills, 3 defensive skills.  Maybe Parry can't be used against range, and Dodge against melee.  We can think this out more later.

Stealing a page from the various d6 or d10 books I've amassed, let's group these skills under stats.  Maybe your ranks in a skill plus your stat mod add together to be the number you add to a d20.  Let's try to extrapolate the list I made earlier and match some of those skills up to stats.  I'll list STAT, Skill (specialty), in that order

STRENGTH SKILLS:
Brawl (specific manuever)
Melee (specific weapon)
Climb (face climbed? maybe none.)
Jump (can't really think of any...)
Parry

DEXTERITY SKILLS:
Acrobatics (balance, tumbling, swinging)
Dodge (none)
Ranged (specific weapon)
Ride (specific animal)
Stealth (move silently, hiding)
Sleight of Hand

CONSTITUTION SKILLS:
Endurance (type of activity)
Movement
Lifting
Concentration (circumstances)
Fortitude
Swim

INTELLIGENCE SKILLS:
Craft (type of craft)
Knowledge (type)
Healing
Linguistics (language)
Disable Device

WISDOM SKILLS:
Alertness
Gambling
Manipulation
Streetwise

CHARISMA SKILLS:
Charm
Perform
Artistry
Use Magic Device
Willpower

This is a basic list... now some more things are starting to take shape.  I'm seeing a basic framework of Skill Mod + Skill + D20 for resolution.  Initiative can be an awareness check. Fort/ref/will saves can be fortitude, acrobatics/dodge, and willpower skill checks.  AC can be dodge or parry.  Movement and lifting can be determined by the relevent skills.  This is a base framework, I'll probably flesh it out more soon.

4
I can see your point, Svartalf, but I have to disagree.

Games are defined by their rules.  In fact, the rules ARE the game.  Everything else is just fluff.  Consider: you can have an RPG where you play stereotyped western movie archetypes.  You're in a saloon, playing a game of Texas Hold Em.  How do you do this?  Simple.  Play a game of Texas Hold Em and ham it up with a funny drawl or an exaggerated scowl.  Maybe wear a cowboy hat.  Fuck, go for broke and have tacky, out of tune piano music playing in the background and slam down tequila while you're at it.  But at the core, you know what's going on?

Not Roleplaying.  Not "Speghetti Western: The RPG."  Texas Hold Em.  That's right, you're playing poker.  Poker with theatrics, but poker nonetheless.  The mechanics of poker will create power imbalances between the players depending on who is more lucky and skillful than others and who knows the rules better.  If your character is supposed to be a poker wiz kid, you damn well better be one, because the ACTUAL game (poker) and CONCEPTUAL GAME (spheghetti western: the RPG) are totally different animals.

It's similar in DND: the ACTUAL game you're playing is rather boring-- roll the dice and track the numbers.  The CONCEPTUAL game is what keeps people coming back-- the thrill of the critical hit, the joys of completing a story arc, and the glee that comes from properly portraying your character.  The conceptual game is the soul of the game, but the actual game is the no bullshit meat and potatoes that allows the conceptual game to thrive.  Otherwise it's just improvised theatrics, and a whole different animal.

Character Optimization and Role Play are NOT mutually exclusive by any means.  They are in fact two facets of the same thing--- playing the goddamn game.  Character Optimizers play the ACTUAL game.  Role Players play the CONCEPTUAL game.  These are two aspects of the TOTAL GAME: mechanics and storyline immersion combined.

If the terms actual and conceptual game are offensive, then change them up-- they're my terms and my definitions, but the fact still remains that as I see it everything outside of bare bones mechanical nitty gritty shit is just window dressing.  It's what makes a Sci Fi RPG different from a Gothic Horror RPG.  You might strike someone in the 342nd neural cluster with a critical hit due to your ingrained anatomical charts in your digital-optic eye replacements or you might lash out in utter terror and the pure rush of your fear fills your body with a might and strength that you never thought possible, crushing your enemy's skull with a tire iron.  You know what happened "behind the scenes?"  You rolled a 20 and confirmed the hit.

You see how RP and CO aren't mutually exclusive?  They're different skill sets, that's all, and they relate to different facets of the game.  What frustrates me so much is when people will sabotage one in favor of the other-- IN EITHER DIRECTION.  A paper filled with stats is no fun to play, but neither is a paper tiger that's impressive as hell in concept but a pushover in actual play.  You need a balance of both for an enjoyable game.

This isn't an attack on roleplayers, it's a refutation of Power Gamers and Drama Queens.  Power Gamers need to add some life to their stat blocks, and Drama Queens need to give their avatars some backbone.  I'm sick of players who refuse to do one or the other.

5
This has happened to me more than a few times.... I'll start up a campaign and put a lot of work into it, only to have it fall apart because the other players were unreliable.  It's actually somewhat short-circuiting my current game, where I have four devoted players and I'm the fuck up who screws them over.  I'm not used to being able to develop actual depth and preparation for games anymore after college.

In high school we had a regular, almost religiously weekly game.  PERIOD.  We were a fairly large group of devoted players who loved to play and loved the game, so we showed up ready to rock.

Unfortunately, part of this goes into the "my time is more valuable than your time" problem.  If one person shows up late, they may think nothing of it because THEY can stay up or blow off responsibilities, but with the other players this may not hold true.

I remember for a while I had a group of 3 players, one of whom was routinely late and unprepared.  It was a shitty time wasting all that prep just to sit around and wait (on average) an hour to two hours for him to show.  Eventually we ended up rescheduling to when they would actually show and didn't tell him, and the tables reversed--- when HE had to wait, all hell broke loose and the game disintegrated.  I still don't talk to him because of the shit that came out during that wait time.  Part of the article is great, but doesn't address the basic question BEHIND the basic question of "do you want to game?"

That is--- Do you want to game WITH THESE PEOPLE?  If you can't get along with someone socially or casually, you probably won't be happy in a gaming situation.  It seems obvious but there's always that guy nobody likes but nobody wants to let on that nobody likes them.  I call him Gamer Bob.  There's a Gamer Bob in every group--- the guy who's on the outside of the clique, who's joined late, or who people can't really get along with generally but do alright in a gaming situation.  Hell, I think I have a Gamer Bob in my current group, too, but we're just getting into the swing of it so momentum is still building.  I'll have to see.

6
DISCLAIMER: This is not intended to advance a particular agenda; it is merely my own curiousity about the subject.  No political axe is implied or should be inferred.

Question: How do you feel gender, sex, and identity roles should or should not be included in RPG's?  Why?

Do games encourage male gamers more than female gamers?  How do you feel about the stereotypes of the chainmail bikini clad damsel in distress or the hulking meatwad barbarian?

Consider the filmic depictions of Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja when responding, as they are more or less film translations of the "iconic" barbarian and/or maiden stereotypes, and inspire many of our ideas about gaming today.

Is there a place for sexism in games?  For sex?  For any sort of "nontraditional" rpg topic, for that matter?

Consider the possibility of homosexuality, transgendered heroes and heroines, hermaphrodites, bigots, and the like.  Should they be included in a game or not?  Obviously, this is going to depend heavily on your gaming group and the themes you wish to play with, but should these issues be relegated to the back burner if they're "not in your play style?"  Can't the PC's have an ally who is homosexual even if it is not the focus of the game?  Typically, many fantasy games will make an attempt to include these "dangerous" topics by presenting them in a slightly ambiguous to dergatory way.  In all of the adventures I have read which include sexual preference and all the games I have been in which involved homosexual or other "nontraditional" sexuality it was presented, at best, in a neutral to slightly discouraging way.  The one adventure I read (sorry, can't recall the name now, I will search for it.) had a homosexual villain partially motivated by thwarted sexual advances.

What are your thoughts on the state of the industry in regards to gender presentation?  Am I the only one who wants to see femeninity presented as something other than weakness, "softness," or lack?  I'm not advocating an overthrow of masculinity--- that would only reverse the problem, and as a man I think it would have a negative impact on my perception of gaming.  What I'm thinking about now is how much (or if) progress has been made in regards to gender equality in gaming.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Snipes?  Suggestions?

7
It's not really a problem, just an observation I had that I can't NOT optimize anymore.

It's not so much that it's a problem, but more that I can't really relate to people who don't optimize anymore.  I really pissed off one of my players when I tried to help them with their character, a Ninja/Warlock hybrid.  I suggested a few tweaks here and there and they flew back with, "Well, now that you're creating my character, you want to play it for me, too?"

It was a little surprising, and inspired the first post.  I have since found the responses to be quite amusing, especially the story about the sorcerer who just wouldn't listen.  It reminds me of some of my early play experiences with 3rd ed, which I'm glad to have put behind me.  It is interesting to see this turn into a small scale sarcasm off between COers and Drama Queens--- Drama Queen being used instead of Roleplayer, as the idea that you can't optimize and rp at the same time is a complete and utter fallacy.  Hence, the term Drama Queen to refer to those who obstinately refuse to learn the rules or take mechanical advice, because "it's not in character."

I'm pretty goddamn sure if someone gave me a gun in a knife fight, I'd take it, but then again, that's "In Character" for me.

8
I'd also like to see mundane skills get a rework... not much but a bit.

Iron Heroes skill groups are awesome!  That's a great idea, and one I'd like to see incorporated elsewhere, except with magic in the mix it becomes WAY too powerful.

::Prepare for blasphemy::

I would like to see Heal in particular become more useful, and spells in general less so.  It would be nice if a party could survive without magic, and equally nice if magicians could survive without it.  They wouldn't neccessarily have to be very powerful without it, but it would be a step in the right direction.  I think the Warlock from Complete Arcane and the Ninja from Complete Adventurer are both steps in the right direction for this--- powerful stuff, but nobody's gonna write home about how they broke the game with either.

9
Come now, Blakkie.   You can do it!

Let's draw up a charter for our 3 members, shall we?  (Yes, I am making all optimizers de-facto members).

This is an open and supportive group of people who wish other people would give a shit about the fucking rules and goddamn learn them already instead of writing that novel of a character background.  Is it too much to ask for people to come to games PREPARED TO PLAY?  To all of these people, I say:

LEARN YOUR GODDAMN SPELLS IF YOU WANT TO PLAY A CASTER YOU LAZY FUCK!


 And you, Mr. "How do I trip again," would it kill you to read the combat chapter of the PHB every once in a while?  Oh, oops!  I mean you are safe here... no one will mock you unless you suggest that clerics or druids aren't ludicrously powerful or that the ranger is a character class 20 levels long or that multiclassing is cheesy and abberrant or that fighters are worth a damn past level 4 or that psionics are broken and needlessly complicated or...

:heh:  I am such a dick.  :  :ponder:  Maybe that can be our motto!

10
I'd like to see Turn Undead dropped altogether, or replaced with a simpler mechanic.  It's a little bit clunky, and unless you really skew your character towards becoming a turn undead master, it quickly becomes a useless ability.  Since undead have high HD and turn resistance as you go up in levels, your ability to turn undead quickly diminishes until you can only turn undead you have no problem dispatching without turns in the first place.

Same thing for Iterave attacks.  Nothing quite bogs down the game like a ferocious flurry of misses from a two weapon fighter, high level monk--- hell, just fighters in general.  I'd like to see something done about this.

I'd like to see more attack and defense options, and not in feat form.  Ideally, you'd be able to make a highly defensive fighter focused on evasion and deflecting blows, a balanced attack and defense, or an all out attack fighter and have them all be relatively equal in terms of combat playability.  I'd like to see attacks of opportunity go away or become much simpler.  The 5 foot step is just wierd.  ENTERING the reach of a spear wielder should provoke an attack, not leaving it.  Things like that.

I'd like to see more variation in the armor and weapons beyond number tweaks.  As is, there are only 4 armors in the game: leather, chain shirts, breastplates, and full plate.  I have never, EVER seen half plate used.  Or banded mail.  Likewise, I'd like to get rid of all the different types of weapons and have a much simpler way to handle them.

Perhaps something like this:  3 damage types (slash, pierce, bludgeon), 3 "size categories" (light, 1 hand, 2 hand), and the actual weapon size.  Maybe all two handed medium weapons deal 1d8 damage base, modified by your skill.  I'd like to see strange combinations made viable, as well as the classic archetype of the swashbuckler with only 1 sword in their hand.  I'd like to see spear fighters who are worth a damn.  I'd like to see swords fucking die already--- I'm starting to believe there are only greatswords and daggers in the game, with the occasional longsword to shake things up a bit.  I've never seen anyone use a greatclub, or a greataxe, or halberd, guisarme, battleaxe, warhammer, flail, or other weapons except as "oh, but I want to be DIFFERENT this time" weapons.

Maybe instead of a build your own weapons system, we could still have umpteen thousand varieties of killing tools, but with a sense of timeline attached.  Perhaps some weapons only become available in certain periods.  I know many DM's do this already.

I'd like to see the spells redone a bit... perhaps instead of only 9 spell levels, there could be 20.  That would allow more variety.  Say, 20 spell levels, you get access to new levels every time your casting class goes up.

Magic missile might be a super powerful 1st level spell, but as a 2nd it might fit.  Likewise Invisibility is the king of existing 2nd level spells, but in a new version it might fit nicely as a 3rd or 4th.  Rope trick would be a level 4 spell.

Perhaps we can even do away with vancian magic altogether and switch over to a more spell point based system like psionics.  I think psionics works much better from a balance standpoint anyway, and I love the scaling effects.  Charm Person and Charm Monster are really redundant, and could be collapsed into on spell, Charm.

I'd like to see fewer to no absolutes.  As the God of Sleep, I can't put an Elf to sleep?  As a paladin, I can walk right up to the God of Fear and Terror and have a nice chat?  Elves can't be charmed?  Effects like this shouldn't happen, but as written, they do.  Charm and similar effects should give you a hefty bonus to social checks, not automatically make friends.  Save or Die spells should either plain not exist or be severely revamped.

Dragons should be scary again.

Demons should be scary again.

Angels should be scary again.

Shapechanging!  SHAPECHANGING NEEDS TO BE FIXED, STAT!  It's bad enough I just flat out ban it in my games, even though with the players I have it wouldn't end up being abused.  The problem isn't with the idea, it's with the execution of the mechanics.  Some monsters are just better to change into (I'm looking at you, Solar.  And you, Mr. War Troll.)

I'd like to see more balance between magical classes and non magical classes.  I'd like to see magicians playable at early levels and non magicians playable at later levels.

I'd like to see less reliance upon magic items.


Some of these changes are fundamentally not DND, I know.  Magic items are so DND.  Wonky spells are so DND.  Dragons are so... well, you get the idea.  Most of these are things that appeal to me about other games, and some of the ideas there could be useful if we're doing a ground floor rebuild.

11
Hi Steve, and thanks for coming to the meeting.  Admission of the problem is the first step towards solving it.

What I meant in the first post was that I'm fantastic at making mechanically powerful characters, a skill which has been very useful in helping those less rules inclined hang with everyone at the table, and at making character concept and character playability match up.  What's become the issue, however, is that I find it hard for me to not optimize, and more disturbing to me is that I find the alternatives increasingly unfathomable.

To put it another way:

I'm the DM in a game that has only two real optimizers in it, and one of them is me.  I helped one of the other players make her character, and so I know for a fact that there are two very well optimized characters and two run by players in it for the storyline/dramatic progression who could give a shit about the mechanics.  My problem is that I find it difficult to give advice to these players without being ham-handed.  I want to give appropriate treasure awards, items the players will appreciate and actually use, but without forcing them down what I percieve to be the "best" path to mechanical power.

Not everyone wants those boots of striding and springing.  Some people want boots of the winterlands or a ring of sustenance instead.  That sort of stuff.  I wouldn't ever think of getting a ring of animal friendship over a ring of counterspelling, but that's exactly the sort of thing some of my players love and want.

It frustrates me that I can't think like a roleplayer very well anymore without simultaneously thinking like a number cruncher, because it means I can only really empathize with one of my players instead of all four, and I'm afraid it may result in me unfairly skewing the game towards his character by virtue of not really being in synch with what the other 3 want.

12
It has been pointed out to me that I tend to optimize characters too much.  I did not realize this until I looked back at things, but it is true:

I am a compulsive character optimizer.

There.  I said it.

Any other hardcore CO'ers on this board who want to step forward?  Maybe we can begin a support group or something.  I know it's not that hard to do, but it is beginning to interfere with my ability to give other players character creation advice, something I was formerly good at.  I'm a good character concept guy, and good at bringing that concept to fruition through mechanics, but I fear now the mechanics are starting to overshadow the concept.

Any advice or snipes from the peanut gallery?

13
You might also want to take a look at Mountain Witch.  It has an interesting Trust mechanic in it--- you can only accomplish things by giving other players Trust, but they can take that Trust and totally backstab you with it.  The more Trust you give, the greater deeds you can accomplish but the potential betrayal becomes much more deadly.

14
Dogs in the Vineyard.  Know it.  Play it.  Live it.

It handles motivation in a very satisfying mechanical way, and a very enjoyable roleplaying way as well.  You don't do very well in that game unless you really play up the motivation aspect and try to drive things that way.

15
I'm going to be DM in a one shot for my old high school game crew.  We're getting back together for shits and grins and a little bit 'o dnd for the first time in over 5 years... should be good times.

I picked out a nice little adventure, The Crumbling Hall of the Frost Giant Jarl, available as a free adventure from CoDzilla's of the Coast (link http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/oa/20020329a ) and I was tweaking it a bit to bring it into line with 3.5.  Not too many changes just a few preference tweaks.

For example: I reworked the feats on The Nameless Thing to make it a better warrior, changed the half dragon template to a half fiend template (Don't dragons EVER fuck dragons?  Besides, I like fiends...), chaned Jarl Gungir to Warchief Gungir and made him a Frost Giant Disciple of Thrym 5 instead of Cleric 5.  Harashk is now an Ogre Fighter 2/Ravager 4.  Before the party gets there, they will be encountering some Urskan Barbarian 4's, a Frost Worm, a trio of Remorhaz, and a Hound Archon Hero ally if the going gets rough.

I'm currently making a group of pre-gen characters for everyone to play, and here's what I'd like feedback on the most-- what do you think of a 4 person party comprised of any combination of:

The "5th wheel":
Human Paladin 2/Sorceror 4/Spellsword 4 -- the classic fighter/mage

The Tank:
Dwarf Barbarian 2/Dwarf Paragon 3/Deepwarden 5 -- a tank with a twist

The Arcanist:
Whisper Gnome Illusionist 5/Shadowcrafter 2/Shadowcraft Mage 3 -- paragon of versatility

The Mystic:
Elven Cleric 10 -- archer/healer

The Skillmonkey:
Human Barbarian 1/Rogue 3/Ranger 3/Horizon Walker 1/Shadowdancer 2 -- sneaky death!

As you can see, these are all pretty optimized builds, and they can fill a combat role and their primary role fairly well.  Do you have any suggestions for other roles?

I think I should probably prepare a couple of other builds in case, but these are being worked on now.

Changes to the adventure: The Nameless Thing is a half fiend, not a half dragon.  Its feats have been changed to make it a more effective combatant.  The adventure background has changed.  The characters will recieve a character briefing detailing the following:

In the northern lands, a longstanding truce between a small enclave of elves a nomadic tribe of humans has been broken.  The elves give supplies with the humans, who stay out of the deeps of the forest in return.  Lately, however, a freakishly early winter has forced the nomads to take shelter in the forest, disrupting the harmony of the ancient elven sanctum.  Tensions run high among both camps.  After some savage preliminary skirmishes, an accord was reached when the forest was attacked by Frost Giants under the leadership of Jarl Fjorn, a foe long thought dead.  The humans and elves united against their common enemy and the elves sent an emissary to their longstanding allies, the dwarves of the Blackstone clan.  The dwarves made all haste they could, but with each passing day the unnatural winter deepened.  Fighting a defensive war, the forest defenders discovered that a magical relic, the Wintershard, was the source of the weather.  Enter the PCs: as the most experienced warriors the defenders can spare, they will infiltrate past enemy lines to the stronghold of Warchief Gungir, who has the Wintershard in his possession.  They are to eliminate Gungir and capture the Wintershard, inflicting as much damage as possible to the Jarl's forces as possible in the process.

feedback, comments, and suggestions are welcome and encouraged.

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