The devout one

•March 26, 2011 • 3 Comments

A scream echoes through the hills, “He is fallen, a hero haves fallen”.  With a lightning pace a man in lightly coloured robes runs across the field, falling to his knees just before a bloody dwarf.  The man in robes chants as he waves his hands, almost in a trance and within moments the dwarfs eyes open and he smiles.”

Painting of man in robes holding a cane

The Good

The Cleric is such a powerful class some actually believe it is cheating to take the class and use its full potential.  The class can use any armour in the game except the tower shield, and gains a respectable d8 hit points.  Add to this a few spells to increase ones combat skills the cleric become one of the most powerful non-warrior’s in hand to hand combat.  Then the cleric gains bonuses based on their two domains and, of course, the famed healing of the cleric.  Both inside and outside of combat the cleric haves spells and domain special abilities that make the cleric, all-around great character to play.  Both as a fun character and a very powerful character.  There is never a shortage of what a cleric can do, even in groups with multiple clerics.

The Bad

Even though I do believe the cleric to be the most powerful all-round character out of the core classes I would not go as far as to say it is too powerful.  the cleric may be a decent warrior, but is still not as good as any of the warrior classes.  They only get middle of the ground base attack and are limited to only simple weapons, the second worse weapon selection in the game.  Also, even though they can gain some great bonuses from their domains, the selection of domains are limited by both alignment and deity.

It is out of combat with skills where clerics really see their biggest weakness.  They have a limited selection of skills and only gain 2 skills per level.  This is worsened by the fact most clerics are not able to take a very high intelligence.  This is probably why the cleric seems more powerful than it really is.  Most players will determine the power of class solely based on combat and will rarely looks at skills and even more rarely looks at number of skills gained.

Personal Thoughts

The cleric haves always been one of my favorite and most played classes.  This is true  both within Dungeons & Dragons and in other similar games, both tabletop pencil and paper games and video games.  I really enjoy role-playing the image of a cleric, which is very diverse.  Unlike the Barbarian, monk, or bard, the cleric is a very loose character image.  You could create a cleric to look and act like a fighter in full armour or you could make a scholar who is devoted to the pursuit to knowledge without any trouble.  Also, it is really nice tobe able to easily create a cleric that can survive the game well; even within the toughest campaigns.

Playing/Creating Tips

With the diversity of the class the cleric is one of the easiest classes to play without multi-classing.  It takes only a single feat to allow the cleric to wield a bastard sword in one hand or a great sword in two hands giving him/her one of the most powerful melee-weapons in the game.  I suggest focusing on improving the clerics weak points when creating a true cleric.  Make sure you pick the cleric’s skills wisely and do not shy away from cross-class skills.  If you are able to, add a little more to the clerics intelligence so they can gain a few extra skills and choosing human helps gain extra skills as well.  Of course, choosing an elf cleric will save on needing a feat to be able to wield a sword or a bow as they get those feats for free.

I am a huge fan of multi-classing and even though I find the cleric one of the easier classes to take alone I still always mix the cleric with another class, but with how diverse the class is I always only add 1 level of another class.  I find adding one level of a warrior class in particular adds an amazing amount to the cleric.  Far much more than what is lost from a single cleric level.  My favourite two to add is fighter or ranger.  Both give the full warrior range of weapons and a nice +1 base attack bonus.  The fighter also gives a very nice free feat, better access to six additional skills, +2 to fort save, and a little more hit points as well. Even better is the ranger which I like to take at first level then move up the rest in Cleric.  This gives considerable more skills as well as access, via wands, to Ranger specific spells, gives a favoured enemy, track, wild empathy, and if you take a 2nd level of ranger a free combat style.  the paladin is another great and obvious class to mix with the cleric, but personally I had few chances to take the paladin with the people I played with.  As a note, to add only a single level or two of a warrior and add cleric without penalty you need a human or half-elf or a Dwarf with a fighter.

When selecting spells try to select a good balance between spells that help outside of combat (like purify food/water), combat offensive spells (i.e. magic stone), and combat defensive spells (i.e. shield other).  There is no need to focus on healing spells as long as you have a good cleric with spontaneous casting.


The Herald

•March 23, 2011 • 1 Comment

With a tune in her heart and a song on her lips Eliza rallies her friends in the heat of battle. Swinging his sword, taking down a foe, the fighter looks towards Eliza, “What would we do without you my friend?”. Eliza chuckles, “You would all die a sombre depressing death.”

A painting called the Bard

The Bard

The old group I use to play with decided to have a reunion game so I decided to write some more on this blog.  I have played the version 3.5 rules and have no plans at this time playing version 4, so everything I write here is based on 3.5

The Good

The Bard is defiantly a strong jack of all trades.  The bard is a decent warrior being able to use a formidable selection of weapons and gains a middle of the field base attack progression.  The bard also is able to cast spells both from the cleric’s list and the wizards list as well and even able to cast these in light armour without negative.  Lastly, the bard gains the second most skills in the game and haves a decent selection of skills including some of the ones used by rogues.  The bard covers a little bit from all the major classes making it, arguably, the closest thing in the core rules to a jack of all trades, but personally, I would consider the bard the second best behind the rogue.  Including the benefit of being a decent jack of all trades the bard gains the ability to help and boost their group using Bardic Music and Bardic knowledge.  the music can give a fairly large assortment of bonuses including benefits similar to a prayer spell.  The ability to fight, cast spells, and the ability to boost the group makes the bard useful and wanted addition to any group.

The Bad

Even though the bard can cast spells, you will quickly find that their selection of spells is the worse in the game.  They may gain the benefit of being able to cast cure spells as well as sleep spells, but they do not have any attack spells on their list.  Only spells that hinder the enemy, but none able to down an enemy.  This makes the bard a nice bonus to have around, but not a necessity in a close encounter.  the bard will always depend on other classes to finish the job.  To add to this the Bard gains higher level spells much slower than the caster classes and their number of known spells are so limited that their spellcasting seems almost worthless.  Add to this their small number of spells per day and you quickly find out that it is always necessary to create bards that never depend on their casting.

Even though the Bard does have a decent selection of weapons and an impressive ability to cast in light armour they are not a very good warrior when compared to the other classes.  All the warrior classes have better weapon selection, more hit points, better armour feats, and better base attack bonuses.  Even the other middle of the ground fighting classes like the rogue, monk, and priest classes have benefits over the bard.  Most have more hp than the bard and all the others have some special ability to increase their combat ability that is better than the bard’s.  A rogue haves sneak attack, the monk haves fury of blows, and the cleric/druid have many spells to increase their ability to attack that the bard can not cast.  Even the Sorcerer/Wizard have spells that improve their hand-to-hand fighting ability that the bard con not cast.

Personal Thoughts

2nd Edition was the first D&D version I played extensively.  I first really liked the Bard class when the class books came out for 2nd edition D&D .  I loved the Herold kit from the 2nd edition Bards book and that became my favorite class to play.  The herald was similar to my favorite image of the bard which comes from one of my all time favorite fictional characters.  The character Geoffrey Chaucer from the movie A Knight’s Tale.

When 3rd edition came out I really did not like the bard as much.  I did love their ability to cast healing spells, but their lost of casting most other spells really cause my attention to falter.  The only reason I would create a bard would be to create that image of a charismatic character I truly enjoy, but I would much rather create a rogue for that image.  If I wanted a lightly armoured jack of all trades caster I would just create a rogue with one level of wizard.  A single level of wizard or sorcerer would give the rogue the casting ability of a 4th level bard with much better selection of spells and would allow the rogue the ability to cast any spell from a wand up to 4th level.  On top of this the rogue could always take use magic divices to cast from scrolls and wands from any spell from any class.

Playing/Creating Tips

If you want to jump right in and create a true bard with no multiclassing you should select the bard’s spells very closely.  The best choice is make sure to select cure and sleep spells, probably the two most useful spells on the bard’s list.  When selecting abilities strength and agility will become very important along with charisma for the bard’s special abilities.  A good agility and strength will allow the bard to be a useful warrior and allow them to take full advantage of their weapon selection.  Also, make sure to select feats that will improve the bard’s ability to fight which will further make them useful as a fighter which is very important as they can not depend on their spellcasting for very long and the bard needs to be useful while not using their bardic music.

Even better would be to not use the bard as a true class and to mutliclass instead.  As long as the character is not an elf or halfling the character could take a single level in fighter, paladin, ranger, or barbarian (class depends on race) which would add the full warrior spectrum of weapons as well as possibly add additional armour.  This greatly increases the bards ability to fight on the field when he is not using his bardic music or spells.  Even if you need to go with half levels of bard and half in another class adding a warrior, especially a fighter, would create a formidable character.

Another route to go with would be for spells.  You could add a single level of a caster class to the bard to add aditional spell casting.  Adding a 1st level of a caster class would not only give the bard considerbly more spells to cast it would also allow the bard to use a wand to cast up to 4th level spells from the list of spells of the chosen second class; even if the second class is only 1st level.  An elf would allow the addition of a wizard to be only 1st level while a gnome, human, or half elf would allow any spell caster class(Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, or Wizard) to be 1st level without any experience penalty.

The best way to play the bard is to take full advantage of the bards skills and bardic special abilities inside and outside of combat.  Use all the decent list of skills outside of combat as well as use the bard’s bardic knowledge as much as possible.  In combat always start off using the bards music (choose only the tougher battles if the bard is lower level) to aid the group members in melee combat.  Then fight along with the warriors, trying to be defensive (remember the bard is only lightly armoured) waiting to cast the bard’s limited spells for the perfect time.

The Brash Barbarian

•December 10, 2007 • 1 Comment

“The brash warrior screams as he charges up to the small green humanoids.  The screaming warrior chaotically swings in all directions, killing a little green man with each stroke.  With all his foes laying on the ground the warrior cries, “I am Barbarian!”.

Barbarian with Spear This article is the first in a two week series looking at the classes in Dungeons and Dragons.  The articles will be released in alphabetical order starting with the Barbarian, this article.  The articles about the classes will be followed by a last article looking at all the classes and how they relate to each other.

The Good

The most noticeable benefit of the Barbarian is the amount of damage they can withstand.  First, they gain the most hit points in the game (1d12) which is 20% more than the fighter/Paladin (1d10) and 50% more than the Ranger (1D8).  Second, at higher levels they begin to gain damage reduction which allows the Barbarian to ignore some of the damage dealt to them.  Also, when in rage the Barbarian also gains a Constitution bonus which, in turn, grants additional hit points.  Rage would be the other most noticeable benefit of the Barbarian.  The Rage allows the Barbarian to gain both a Strength and Constitution Bonus while fighting which can allow them to deal more damage per round.  Another noticeable benefit of the Barbarian is their fast movement.  This can be both an advantage inside and outside combat.  Inside combat this allows the Barbarian to move around more quickly and be able to reach his opponents while outside combat this will increase the Barbarians overland speed, allowing him to reach places sooner.  Another benefit I don’t see mentioned much that the Barbarian haves is their Trap Sense.  This is most likely not mentioned much due to the fact it is only useful in specific situations, traps, but it is still a noteworthy benefit.

The Bad

First, when you take a Barbarian you are really subscribing to a fairly strong character outline.  Your character must be from a tribal background and he/she must be unsophisticated and, at least, fairly crude.  Your character even starts off without the ability to read and must spend 2 valuable skill points just to be able to something as simple as reading and writing.  When compared to the fighter, the class that haves set the standard, the Barbarian haves a fairly weak selection of armour.  Barbarians do not gain the ability to wear heavy armour or the ability to use the Tower Shield.  Next, the rage that is one of the Barbarians greatest benefits is a negative almost as much as it is an advantage.  The first problem with rage is that the character receives -2 to their AC when they fly into rage making them easier to hit and negating any increased hit points.  Second, fling into rage is very dangerous because any extra hit points gained from the bonus to Constitution are lost when the Barbarian ends the rage.  This could possibly bring the barbarian below 0 hit points, causing him to start dieing, or even worse, kill him if it brings his hit points to -10 or lower.  Third, while in rage the Barbarian can not use many skills, or abilities, and some feats including combat expertise are not usable.  Lastly, yes there are many problems with rage, unless your character is very high level, 17th level, your character will take negatives after leaving rage.  These negatives may even happen during combat if your rage does not last as long as the combat or if the Dungeon Master decides to be evil and start a fight directly after another fight.

Personal Thoughts

I have never liked the image of the crude Barbarian and for that reason I have only created NPC Barbarians as a Dungeon Master.  If I wanted a character close to nature I would much rather create a Druid or Ranger.  In addition to having a problem with the image of the Barbarian I also find it to be a very weak class.  The Barbarian simply seems to be average or below-average in most areas with only a couple special powers that can be used only in specific situations.  The Barbarian looks especially weak when compared to the fighter who gains almost the same amount of skills and hit points and gains a better armour selection.  A fighter can even deal out more damage per round than a Barbarian in rage with the fighters specialization and improved weapon focus and the fighter does not loose anything like the Barbarian does.

Playing/Creating Tips

The best tip I could give for the Barbarian is to use their special abilities when and where they are best suited.  Be the one who is willing to scout ahead where there may be traps, and place the Barbarian in front of any weaker characters who may not be able to take a shot from the enemy.  With rage, don’t use it all the time as a standard tactic.  Don’t use rage against multiple small creatures where you may be able to kill them in a single shot and don’t use rage where the -2 AC could put the Barbarian in a dangerous situation.  Also, don’t use rage in close battles as you may be stuck with a character near or under zero hit points before leaving rage.  Another tip I like to give for any warrior like character, including the Barbarian, is to try and make sure the Barbarian is useful outside of combat.  You don’t want to be the king of combat then fall asleep while the others run the rest of the game.  Take survival, it is one of the most useful skills in the game.  This will allow you to find food and water for the group while helping keep them out of danger.  You can also take a craft or, possibly, handle animal.  This will give your character something to do outside of adventuring during those breaks and adds to his usefulness outside of the battle.

The Canadian Dragon

The True Class

•December 7, 2007 • 3 Comments

As the the adventurer, Ren, opens the door a great ball of fire leaps from the wall and the singed fighter collapses to the ground. Forne quickly races over to Ren and chants words of wisdom, healing his friend.Ren awakes and looks at Forne, “Since when are you a cleric? I thought you where a wizard.” Forne smiles, “Friend, I practice both the arts of the arcane and the Divine.”

Elvish Adventurer

As explained in the Players Hand Book (page 59) a player may choose to multiclass when they start increasing in levels or, they may simply increase their current class another level. As the player handbook explains,

“As your character advances in level, he or she may add new classes. Adding a new class gives the character a broader range of abilities, but all advancement in the new class is at the expense of advancement in the character’s other class or classes. (Page 21, PHB 3.5)”

To multi-class or to take a single class is always on my mind when I create a new character. I myself, favour a multiclass character over a character with a single class; a character I refer to as a True Class (i.e. True Wizard).

I find that the gains of multi-classing outweigh the negatives of a lost level. One of the most common things I like to do with multi-classing is mix a warrior class (fighter, ranger, etc.) with a non-combat class like the Cleric or Wizard. By doing this you gain all the weapons and armour feats of the warrior class; which can be many feats. Another large bonus is the mix of skills you gain. When you add a new class you may purchase any skills in that new class as normal, then, as you go up in levels you still gain the maximum skill rank of all your classes, not just the one you currently increased. Lastly, you gain the rules loop for spells and wands where you can cast any spell from a wand, even if you don’t have the required class level, as long as the spell is on your character’s class spell list. This allows you to take only a single level in a spell casting class and still be able to cast any of their spells, up to 4th level, with a wand. The bonuses of adding even a single level of another class is great, too great to even list here.

More recently I have been seeing the benefits of building a true character, a single class character. I am currently creating a new character and have decided on a Druid. I was originally thinking about mixing the Druid with a level of fighter or ranger, but I may, instead build a True Druid. The largest benefit of creating a true single-class character is that you will gain all their special benefits and higher level spells sooner. Every level of another class you add will cause you to wait another level for that benefit or spells. With all the great Druid special abilities and spells, this is something I have been thinking about in the creation of the Druid. Another benefit that I have noticed more recently is the improved selection of the character’s Race. With the Druid I was thinking about selecting an Elf as a race. With Elf having Wizard as their favoured class I would be forced to select wizard, a class I don’t want, if I only want one level in my second class. For this reason I have been leaning toward a True Elf Druid.

Please, post your thoughts and comments about multiclassing. Also, please post the class combinations you have tried and your experience with those characters.

Canadian Dragon

The Beginning

•December 6, 2007 • 3 Comments

River This is the first post of the Canadian Dragon blog. In this blog I will be writing all about Dungeons and Dragons, the original tabletop game, not the video games that are based on the original game. I will include information about the game, ideas to improve the game, adventure ideas for dungeon masters, role-playing tips for players, my personal experiences, and more. The information will be useful for both players and dungeon masters.

This blog is for people of all experience, from the absolute newbie to the hardened role-player. The blogs will be colour coded to help people read the parts that suit them the most. Text in the standard white will be for everyone, the text in green will be for the newbies or people wanting to learn the game, while the text in red will be for more advanced players only. In the future I may expand on this, but these three colours should be suitable for now.

As this is a blog please feel free to leave your comments, and more importantly, add your personal experiences. It is you that will either make this blog a failure or a complete success. I will explain myself when I make a comment, and will try my best to respond to other comments, but please, refrain from posting any kind of hateful messages and please do not flame anybody including myself. Yelling and screaming will not get your point across, intelligent debate will.

If you have any suggestions or want any questions answered about Dungeons & Dragons please feel free to post them here. I will then make them a topic for a post and write what I can.

This blog will be a daily blog during the week with 5 blogs per week. I may also add additional blogs during the week and during the weekend as I can.

The Canadian Dragon