Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When it sucks to be a fighter

My Pathfinder game has unfortunately run into the problem of distinct power level differences between classes. This is a long running issue with DnD where you come upon a complex problem and the fighter comes up with a tricky, risky plan using the party's skills, fighting prowess and moxie and proposes it to the group... and the wizard says "Sure, yeah, or I could just use Rock to Mud to demolish the castle walls, Fireball all the guards to death and Teleport the princess to safety."  The fighter says "Sure, yeah... that sounds good.  How can I help?"  Inevitably the wizard replies "Well, um, I guess you can guard the rear in case we get ambushed?  Thanks for being on the team!"  This does not so much create party unity or make anyone but the wizard feel good.

In our last session our characters were fighting a shambling horde of zombies.  They were not difficult at all to fight except that when they died they exploded, delivering a massive amount of damage to all enemies adjacent to them.  This meant of course that our melee characters got butchered and eventually we had to run.  That is, the other characters had to run.  As is traditional in DnD my cleric has absurd undead killing powers but since I have the travel domain I am also able to cast Fly.  I held off the horde of zombies and yelled at the rest of the party to flee and when they finally did I simply flew up in the air over the zombies and annihilated them while they sat there staring helplessly at the flying cleric.

This was tremendous fun for me but not much fun at all for the rest of the characters.  The trouble with this whole situation is that everybody else wonders why they don't just have the flying cleric demolish all the encounters with undead while the rest of the group hangs out in town.  The problem is always the spells that don't have direct combat applications.  If I couldn't fly I would still be strong against undead but at least we would all be playing the same game.  As I level up I am going to be able to Teleport to anywhere in the world as well as having tremendous healing and great combat options.  If this is a problem now, how are the rest of the characters going to feel when I get really powerful and get access to all my high level spells?  If we compare attack routines and "who can do the most damage to the fire giant" contests I won't be anything special but when it comes to using spells to completely ignore campaign challenges I will be exceedingly overpowered.

Castle walls?  Knock em down.  Long distances to travel?  Just Teleport there.  Terrible curses on the party?  Cure them.  At higher levels it becomes harder and harder to deal with these things when you have one of the top tier characters around.  I found a good link talking about this subject, though the class lists there are Pathfinder specific.  I can avoid this by just not using my abilities but I honestly don't like playing the game when I have a list of things I can creatively use to solve problems and I am arbitrarily not using half of them for some reason.  If I were playing a fighter I would use all my cunning and resources to solve problems like a fighter can - scale the wall, ride a horse fast, find a powerful NPC to cure my curse.  It is unfortunate that classes are so badly balanced when it comes to out of combat capabilities but there is no easy way around that in Pathfinder or any DnD version before 4.0 aside from simply not playing the powerful classes.  Maybe I should do just that... I have a great idea for a paladin and there is nobody accusing them of being too good!

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