Mar 16 2012

Missing isn’t Fun. Never Missing is worse.

“So, what kind of character would you like to play?”

“Some kind of barbarian guy. I want to get in their face and do lots of damage. Definitely not a human either. I want an interesting race.”

Back when I helped my friend build a character, there was no barbarian race available for 4th edition D&D. We ended up settling on a Warforged Ranger. I had also just learned how much missing sucked by playing a wizard who failed to hit about 70% of the time. This was also before the wizard encounter powers had a lot of miss effects.

So, I went in with the approach that I wanted my friend to have fun, and not have to experience the lameness of my previous wizard. I started with giving him the high-proficiency bonus longsword. I gave him the expertise feat that gives +1 to attacks with a heavy blade. We upgraded to a Bastard Sword later on for more damage but still having that high proficiency. I gave him a warforged racial feat to give him a bonus to Attack whenever he had an ally next to his target. He always flanked. His strength was maxed at 20 and kept getting better. He started out with a base attack bonus of 5(str)+3(prof)+2(flank)+1(wfg tactics)+1(expertise)+1(half lvl) = +13 at level 2. Most Soldier type creatures at level 2 have an AC of 16-18. My friend had to roll a 3-5 in order to hit any of the most heavily armored creatures in the game at his level. Any thing that wasn’t the most heavily armored had no hope of surviving.

With twin strike, he regularly rolled twice, hit twice, did quarry damage, + 5 str damage each. His damage roll was 2d8+d6+10. That averages to 21. If he action points, he kills anything that isn’t a brute, or an elite/solo. When he upgraded to Bastard Swords, with that magical ability that does an extra d6 when he’s bloodied (and he was always bloodied), he went to 2d10+3d6+18 for an average of 39 on Twin Strike. Probably more there that I’m forgetting.

By the time we were done, this character was the living embodiment of destruction. He didn’t miss. He only rolled the dice to make sure he didn’t get a critical failure. It was an epicly amazingly awesomely fun character to play.

For about 2 levels.

After awhile though, it became a little monotonous. When his turn came around, I would end up asking him ‘Ok, who do you want to kill? Did you crit fail? No? Ok, it’s dead. Don’t bother rolling damage. It can’t possibly survive.’

Failing every time was boring. But there were ways around it. I could have fun during the role-playing scenes. I was useful during skill challenges because of my knowledge skills. And every so often, I could drop a daily power, or hit something unexpectedly, and get a little thrill in combat. My Rituals even came in useful on rare occassion.

Succeeding every time seemed like a fun for awhile, but it got boring too. And even worse, because the character was such a combat monster, his skills in the other areas of the game were weak. He didn’t do well in skill challenges, unless athletics was involved. Even then, he was just someone with good athletics. Other people, like the fighter, did just as well. The player wasn’t much of a role-player, so he faded to the background during those scenes. And when he did miss, he would usually just action point, or use some other resource to get a reroll and kill it anyways.

You need to have a niche to fill in each of these scenarios, in order for your character to give you the most enjoyment possible.


  1. DJ

    I’ve made a couple of characters like this, and it’s something I noticed which is easy to do with 3rd and 4th edition. Third you could stack feats like mad and make some crazy characters. Other editions could have this issue as well, but, it was trickier to achieve.

    I’m not sure what is the best remedy for it. Long ago in a third edition campaign the group began to encounter “enhanced” trolls due to themselves being so powerful. Demonic, 1/2 red dragon troll sorcerers. Who would run about dropping fireballs on themselves. The first time it happened they were like… WTF. (It was a moment that was awesome to see.. a bunch of peeps just like… it did WHAT?) They spent a while trying to find an effective way to kill something immune to fire and resistant to acid. Eventually they worked out a routine and after one was knocked done they’d more or less dowse it in an acid spell.

    I’ve had lower level ones where they kill folks like mad, and there should be ways around it. Minions come to mind, but that doesn’t really fix it (Which is odd, btw, I’ve seen peeps play a lot and they seem to enjoy slaughtering minions even though.. they’re just minions). I’m not quite sure what the fix is, I do know that as a DM when I encounter these type of characters it’s a challenge. If I design the challenge of the monsters to be able to resist overpowered characters it makes the normal characters weak and over challenging for them. If I ignore their challenge, then they make combat over too soon and kind of silly.

    The problem of the character only doing well in combat is another issue but it does make sense. It’s a combat killing machine… like a homicidal maniac. They exist to kill and not much more. (Sadly, I think 4th edition is geared too much to combat and not enough to social, and exploration elements.)

  2. Cynthia

    Here here! In the first campaign I played in, a 2ED/3.5 amalgamation, most of us were new to the game and a friend of mine helped us all make characters. I ended up with a dual wielding Half-Elf Ranger who was godly and always got crits at mid level. One guy became what I like to think of as our tactical nuke. He was a Half-Orc Barbarian/Frenzied Berserker and was a force of nature in battle. Often we had to hide once he frenzied and then the rogue had to knock him out or one of our two Wizard/Clerics had to put him to sleep after each fight. It became easy mode once the Wizard/Clerics got level 6 spells and a few decent metamagic feats. The DM didn’t know what to do and the game just ended all of a sudden after 8 months. Power gaming is fun in some instances but a balanced character will let you get the most out of the campaign you’re playing.

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