Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Helping Clerics Survive Felltower

Given that Felltower is a grave of clerics, how do you improve their ability to survive?

With the caveat that this is conjecture, given that I don't personally play any clerics and all the ones I've GMed for have died (or played but once), here are some ideas:

For the Good God's Sake, Buy Luck. It's on the template. Buy it. Use it when you need it.

Avoid Combat. It's hard to avoid combat entirely as a group. But as a cleric, stay as far away from combat as possible. Yes, yes, I know. You need to stay close. You're guarding a flank. You really need to get just a bit closer to cast that buff.

In my experience, that's where clerics get killed. It's better to fail at the spell or not be there to fill in the gap then to be dead. You just aren't survivable against threats that can kill knights, barbarians, etc. of equal point value to you.

Extra HP - to be fair, Extra HP are not listed in DF or the DFRPG on the Cleric template. But generally characters can purchase up to 30% of their ST in extra HP. Clerics start with ST 12, which means 12 x .3 = 3.6 = 3 extra HP. That's 6 points, and leaves you with 15 HP. If you go for ST 13 (see below), this means 16 total HP. 3-4 extra HP might not seem like much but it means 18-24 extra HP needed to automatically kill your PC.

Resistances - A DF cleric can spend 5 on Resistance to Evil Supernatural Powers (+3) or 7 or (+5). Give that a hard think. Up your Will. Up your HT. Be able to resist non-combat supernatural effects. Your goal is to stay up and use your spells and holy might.

Get a shield - Use a shield and a weapon that will let you parry. Get the biggest shield you can carry. DB is your friend, and no amount of DR you can reasonably expect to purchase and wear is enough so maximize not getting hit.

Buff Yourself - If you do expect to get into a fight, or close to one, buff yourself. Shield is critical - learn it and use it. But still, your best bet is to be further than an All-Out-Attack away from the nearest foe.

Those are my suggestions - what are your additions based on what you're read (or played, for my players) of Felltower?

11 comments:

  1. Hire a speedbump. A guard (a Skirmisher or a Squire, I prefer Squires for this role, you want the guy with a shield, but a Brute with a decent shield skill will do in a pinch). If you can swing a 125 pointer (roughly $60 per day, $400 per week), do it! He'll be the difference between your life and seeing the light at least once per delve. If you find a good one, pay him time and a half after the mission! That Loyalty bump will save your life!

    If you can't hire a 'tough' guard (the 125 point guy), get a pair of 62 pointers! One that's a dedicated Shield Bearer, one that can attack and carries a shield. If these guys work out well (they survive and don't constantly fall down on the job), pay them well! Word will get around, the Hirelings will line up to picked out by you!

    If you've got the dosh for a spare "Just one more incase" Paut, think about an Initiate sidekick! They can toss down Awakens and Minor Heals, and if they have Lend Energy by the Gods pay them well! However... you might want to hire them their own personal guard... since they are even squishier than you.

    If it's a day trip you just plunked down the cost of 2 paut for a whole lot of piece of mind. If it's a week long trip... eh... that cost has really gone up... but if you can swing it, it's probably the difference between "Man, I wish the Cleric were still alive to heal us for the trip home" and "Sorry about that guardsman, remember to pay his widow".

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    1. Or buy one or more as an Ally. But yes, thanks for going into the value of hirelings so thoroughly.

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  2. Fit is 5 points.

    For the love of whatever god get a missile weapon. Sling is on the template and has decent basic damage. Consider an off-template one like Bow or Crossbow. It keeps you out of melee combat but still lets you help out a bit.

    Another off-template skill to learn is Alchemy. Remember that you take a penalty to heal yourself, so having an extra potion on hand can keep yourself alive.

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    1. I didn't bring this up because Sunbolt is the standard missile attack for clerics in my game. Non-magical alternatives didn't occur to me.

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  3. If you're playing by the book, "avoid combat" is the most important part. The DF template tries to emulate old school DnD secondary combatant clerics but the way GURPS CP break that is all a trap. A ODnD cleric was maybe 2/3 of a fighter in toughness, a DF cleric is maybe 1/3 of a DF knight. In a forgiving game you'll feel relatively weak, in a deadly one you'll die like a punk to a guy the knight wouldn't sweat fighting. Focus on the healer and bad juju dispeller parts of the template, consider defensive boosts but ignore offense, and accept that outside of your narrow role you will usually suck.

    If you want to play a DnD combat cleric play a Holy Warrior with healing abilities instead.

    Just as my favored solution to "thieves suck" is replacing them with swashbuckers that took a thief lens ("Thiefbuckers"/Rogues), my favored solution to those who want to play a fighty cleric is holy warriors with a cleric lens ("holier warriors?") Both of these solutions mean that you will not be as good at your lens job as a professional, but they allow you to have fun in the fight. It is up to the GM if this solution works. (Must allow lenses on new PCs, has to re-scale some challenges so this is plausible instead of laughable.)

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    1. I don't allow that lens approach but I do think it's valid. A lot of my advice boils down to "buy better rolls, you'll need them, but also don't confuse your role."

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  4. Maybe clerics just aren't very good. These suggestions mostly boil down to spending points getting better defense while insisting that you avoid combat. It sounds like it wouldn't be any fun to play one.

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    1. I have had two or three people try cleric in DOA and in the end they always switch to hiring healers. I'm not convinced the DFRPG/DF cleric is enough fun to play.

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    2. A Cleric can be fun to play... a Healing Cleric is a slog through neck deep mud with goblins throwing poo down on you from above...

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    3. My group has players who play clerics and enjoy them. So I am sufficiently convinced they are fun, but that they're less defensively and survivably sound than they need to be in my demonstrably lethal game.

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  5. In my group the Clerics who /made a choice/ and stuck with it, had the most fun. The ones who went 'heavy' combat had fun as second string combatant and emergency healer, the ones who went all "Holy Wizard" had fun as casters. The one that probably had the best time as a Cleric was the one who went Cleric/Druid, he really felt like he had solid contributions outside of combat as a utility caster and as a solid 'GURPS Cleric' caster.

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