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DnD3.5e: Question concerning character balance

   
Question concerning character balance

I'm DMing a campaign here in MW with some friends and I wanted to ask about some balancing concerns I have regarding one of the characters. He is playing a FR minotaur fighter with ECL of 9 (Monstrous Humanoid 6, Fighter 1, Lvl Adjustment 2).

This is the specific item/feat combination that concerns me slightly:
Strongarm Bracers (MIC, use weapons 1 size larger), power attack, improved bull rush, knockback, combat reflexes (from spell heroism), spiked chain.

All this gives him a 20' reach with +14/+9 atk, 3d6+10 dmg and 3 AoO per round. If he uses power attack -2 atk / +4 dmg, that gives him +12/+7 atk, 3d6+14 dmg, +19 bull rush modifier (+7 STR, +4 size, +4 improved bull rush, +4 power attack).

With this combination chances are that any melee enemy that tries to approach him will not only get hit and suffer considerable dmg, but also get pushed back and have to make the approach again if they want to fight in melee. Even other large sized creatures have extreme difficulty countering that bull rush modifier.

Now to clarify, I'm not asking on tips on how to deal with this character. I have plenty of good ideas on that subject. Grease on the weapon, will save requiring debuffs on the minotaur, ranged combatants, wide open areas with room for the monsters to manoeuvre, high tumble or high AC monsters, etc, etc, etc...

What I am asking is this: According to the opinion of other experienced 3.5e players and DMs here, does the above character feel balanced for his level? I'm a bit torn on the subject myself. So far he doesn't feel overpowered and I'm more concerned with how he dominates tight spaces making it difficult for other PCs to shine (it's a 6 PC party). That is easily fixable however by providing more open spaces and tactical situations in future adventures. I'm just trying to err on the side of caution here by asking what others feel about this as well.


edit: Character Sheet

Having played enough 3.5 that I've more or less exhausted my enjoyment of it, I can say that I mostly stopped worrying about balance the minute I realized you were describing a fighter and not a magic-user. To state that more plainly, no, he is not overpowered for his ECL.

However, your space concerns are probably valid. Big parties need big dungeons with big rooms.

He's not wrong. Unless it's a spellcaster, it can't be overpowered.

I second what KoO said. He's a melee combatant with 8 levels of essentially nothing. Any spellcaster can outdo him at just about anything, so, no, while he might shine in tight spaces (which are his one singular niche), he's 4 feats behind a pure Fighter, 5 feats behind a Human Fighter of his level, with no magic, no psionics, no maneuvers? He is not, in general, overpowered for his level.

Why such hatred for mages in 3.5e? :d

Seriously though I get what you guys are saying and I mostly agree. The minotaur may look impressive and get all the kills, but most of the strength in the party lies with the spellcasters I think. There is a certain INT 27 pixie in particular that likes glitterdusting everything in sight (pardon the pun ) that has won more fights that the minotaur will. And that's one of the three casters.

And my $.02...

I agree with the priors...

Except...

I despise the spiked chain and in games where individuals use it I add mechanics limitations to it that bring it more in line with the other weapons. Yes it is DM fiat but when it boils down to it... so is everything else. I believe the issue is more the particular combination of the spiked chain mechanics along with the knockback feat and dungeoncrasher variant. I've played one of them before and it really is a mook army killer. The particular combination your player selected is simply highly efficient at what it does. The weak point is that at literally anything other than melee the character likely sucks even worse for all the focus it has.

DM Fiat Stuff1. I only allow reach with a spiked chain if there's half the reach in area around the wielder. So, without a 5' radius clear a typical spiked chain user and with your player's 20' reach with at least 10' radius around the characters location including vertical clearance. You're swinging a chain around... you'd better have the physical room to do it. You're not simply throwing a chain at them after all, heh.

2. No more than a single AoO can be made with a spiked chain. So, you saw an opportunity, you took advantage of it, and you swung the chain out to smack your opponent... now you need to recover the chain. The thing is not a rubber band that snaps back into your hands after all; its 10 pounds of chains with spikes all linked together that you swung out to up to 10'. It takes effort to use this thing! Compound the fact that this is a larger version of that same thing and it weighs 20 pounds that's spread over up to 20' instead. *shrug*

3. Multiple opponents can stack their disarm rolls to disarm a spiked chain user. They effectively all grab, spike, whatever, to the chain while the wielder is using it.

4. Leave everything as it is... and what a surprise... the character runs into a lot of opponents that are really similar... because it works so well its not uncommon for other melee combatants to do almost the exact same thing. Drop one of them in the mix against the casters drawing those AoOs and voila!


I tend to use at least rule 1 regardless of anything else but I apply it to all circumstances. PCs and NPCs alike. Since you're already in game I'd just go with #4. Throw in a few opponents that use the same weapon and tactics. After all, what's good for the goose is good for the gander and all that. *shrug*

Edit: You will of course want to make a tribe or two of ogres that employ these tactics with a couple of them being trained as war hulks as well.

In the twilight of my DnD days, my group actually took the opposite approach - exotic weapons like spiked chains and minotaur greathammers became the baseline, and other exotic weapons were boosted to match in utility or raw power.

And if he has an INT 27 pixie as a spellcaster, it really does not matter at all what the minotaur does. Let him have his fun wherever he finds it.

I think if you feel overwhelmed by him, the best thing to do is what Ryfte said in point #4 - make him have to counter his own tactics. At the very least that will get your player thinking more laterally.

I'm not a fan of changing the rules, especially changing the rules after a campaign is begun, just because you don't like how one player built his character within the rules you established at the beginning, especially not when that character is well within the rules-as-written and using nothing hazy to do it. Players need to be able to trust that the game they're playing works as it is written to. If the DM is able to rewrite the basic rules of the game to suit himself as the game goes along... why have rules at all?

Once again, KoO has the right of it. That pixie is going to be the only one on the battlefield
once his spellcasting catches up with the non-level-adjusted characters who have had a five level head-start and who will always be at least two spell levels ahead of him
before too long, and your encounters are going to be countering him (her?), not the minotaur with his pointy whip. Let him chew through the cannon fodder while the grownups
and by talk I mean global thermonuclear war
talk.

Just throwing in my opinion that the character is not unbalanced or overpowered. If anything he is likely on the weak side, when stacked up against full casters and whatnot.

Though I have to question the sanity of any caster eating the +4 LA of a pixie. Pixies can be great, but so many lost caster levels makes my head hurt.

Thanks for the input guys. It's all been very helpful!





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