55 Responses to 747 – White Smoke Mountain • 114

  1. Ah, poison spike pit traps, where would we be without them? Ever wonder who maintains these things? I mean you gotta swab fresh poison on every couple weeks, and that’s for the slow acting stuff.

  2. Ah, a mind-controlling song. One of the scarce few instances where it pays to have a bard in the group inside a dungeon. Provided the bard doesn’t succumb to it also before he can start his countersong. 🙄 Or cast Silence.

    [rant] Really, is there any bard class power except Countersong that is ever useful (outside of a city setting) or cannot better done by a cleric or marshall from, say, level 3 onwards? Inspire Courage is a joke once a cleric gets Prayer and similar spells. And I’ve played TWO 3.5 bards. I’m such a masochist. Pathfinder bards are slightly more competent… compared to the 3.5 core classes. Not compared to the other Pathfinder core classes of course. [end rant]

    This is why you use scouts, folks, and spells such as Protection from Evil.
    Admittedly, their only rogue is insane.

    • Well you can protect an entire group behind a wall of dead bards ?

      Yes I know I am overusing the Gamers’ references, I will stop now ; )

    • The bard is one of the most versatile classes in the game. Is there anything your cleric can do that a bard with use magic device can’t? I didnt think so either. Same with wizard spells too.

      From healing to boosting to arcane casting in medium armour, with a heavy dose of skills to support them, bard find a unique niche that everyone benefits from.

      I have personally played 8 or so bards and pathfinder (which I just bought) has me going to start another as a Bardcane Archer.

      Fact is, they are there for leadership and support, making others do better rather than steal the glory for themselves. This makes for better interparty relationships and that means fun for everyone.

      I once played in an all bard campaign with only 3 players. the adventure was made for 5, and he had to up the levels of all that we came across by a level or two still by his own admittance “we simply could all attempt to do anything” rather than sit back and let one person handle any one role.

      So yeah, I love bards. A lot.

      • “From healing to boosting to arcane casting in medium armour, with a heavy dose of skills to support them, bard find a unique niche that everyone benefits from.”

        Unfortunately, D&D, like Shadowrun, is geared to be a team game, in which every member is a specialist. Unless your adventuring party consists of three people or less, the bard can do a lot of things half-arsed. Half his magic is songs, the other half is a handful of spells with sucky DCS, some of which are redundant since he also gets them as songs (like Fascinate or Suggestion, only he get the spell earlier. What sort of design is that?). In fact, don’t talk about “fascinate” to me. There’s a bunch of spells (Fascinate, Enthrall etc.) as well as the bardic song power and feats to get a fascinating gaze power… and theey all suck, because if the enemy feels the slightest bit “theatened”, the fascinate is automatically a failure. Useful only in city campaigns, not in a dungeon, especially if the GM rules that any NPC automatically feels threatened by the bard’s presence even if he hasn’t drawn a weapon because he is an adventurer, or because he started to sing/play music/dance and everyone knows a guy who breaks into song in a dungeon must be using a spell, or, if the GM is feeling really anal-retentive, even the casting of a healing or detection spell in the vicinity will break the fascinate effect. Even if done behind the NPCs back. Silenced. And in the dark.

        Or the bard specializes and concentrates on only one category of things to do well, which defeats the concept of the bard as the “versatile class”. And unless this category is social skills, the rogue will still be better at skills, the cleric in healing and buffing, the fighter types at fighting, The only useful thing the bard has going for him is the ability to use a whip. Whips are great for disarming.

    • Replying to rant:

      Actually, unless that was an attempt for sarcasm, Inspire Courage is far more effective. Remember that Bless grants a morale bonus but doesn’t increase like Inspire Courage does. Prayer is a LUCK bonus, hence it stacks with Inspire Courage. Heroism is slightly better since it combines all saves and skill checks, but you can just ignore the attack and combo with IC for bonuses to attack, defense, saves and skill checks. By the time you can cast Good Hope, Inspire Courage provides the bonuses of both that spell and Heroism, so you can just spare casting a 3rd level spell and gain the same benefits with a 2nd level spell. You might argue that Good Hope replaces the power of Inspire Courage, but that only flies on core up until level 15th. The only better spell would be Greater Heroism which has a huge set of bonuses, while Inspire Courage only grants a +3 bonus.

      But then you consider the Inspirational Boost spell and you get nearly all the benefits of the aforementioned spells with a 1st level spell (of which you might have in spades). Add Song of the Heart and you get one half of the Greater Heroism bonus at 8th level.

      Inspire Competence, on the other hand, needs a bit of aid, since it only affects one ally. Inspire Greatness might seem a tad weak, but done correctly it is a key part of theoretical optimization. The songs that come much later, like Song of Freedom and Inspire Heroics, are actually very, very good but require complete devotion to being a Bard, something that some people seem to lack. And, you might actually be surprised as to the few actual wide-area buffs the Cleric has (at least until later levels), unless you count splats.

      Also…Pathfinder bard, with limited use of bardic music? Or…marshal, who’s widely considered a joke class only useful on a city because of insane Diplomacy bonuses with Skill Focus and the Charisma skills minor aura? Bard outclasses Marshal any day, and the songs are just part of how they outclass them. The spells and the access to UMD is what makes the Bard a great class, but don’t neglect the utility of the songs.

      But yeah…that’s what Protection from Evil is for. Too bad this is 4th Edition, no? Where Bards do entirely different things…

      • You could also add in song of the heart feat and badge of valour to that. All of which means a level 4 bard is giving +4 to attack and damage rolls. Group wide.

        There is NO cleric or marshal spell that will give +4 to attack and damage and saves vs fear. At that level you could cast bulls strength on ONE person, giving +2 to attack and damage with NO bonus to saves.

        Bard is friggan sick. Oscar gets a cookie for defending bards.

        • “You could also add in song of the heart feat and badge of valour to that. All of which means a level 4 bard is giving +4 to attack and damage rolls. Group wide.”

          Which means you have to spend feats first. Sure, if I have tons of feats to boost class powers, I can make every character kick-ass.

          Also keep in mind, the number of spell a bard knows and can cast are in the single digits.

          “There is NO cleric or marshal spell that will give +4 to attack and damage and saves vs fear. At that level you could cast bulls strength on ONE person, giving +2 to attack and damage with NO bonus to saves. “

          I’m pretty sure if I spent 15 minutes with the Spell Compendium, I could find some.

          As for boost spells, I just scrolled through my old archivist’s prayerbook for some spells he commonly used during that campaign:
          Mass Conviction (Spell Compendium p.52, Clr3, +2 morale bonus on saving throws for all allies in 20 foot radius, +3 at CL6, +4 at CL12, +5 at CL18)
          Draconic Might (Spell Compendium p.72, Pal4, Wiz5, Living creature touched, gain +5 STR, CON, CHA enhancem bonus, +4 nat armor, +5 FORT, immune to sleep & paralysis

          Not to mention clerics get access to spells like Restoration, Panacea, Deathward, Freedom of Movement, Heroes Feast, full spellcasting, better hp, better fighting abilities… all things the bard doesn’t.

          Again, I think bards are great for cities where not every problem is solved by an axe to the head.

          • I would have to agree. I played a bard and found him wanting…so I respecced him as a Favored soul/Chorister from a Dragonlance supplement….Cleric+Bard spells is sick for buffing. ^_^

          • Yeah, gee, ONE feat that makes party-wide attack and damage bonuses go up EVERY TIME you apply a VERY FREQUENTLY AND EASILY USED class ability? With NO DRAWBACK? That’s better than, say, maximize spell. “Oh but metamagic’s different!” (And yes I know empower > maximize).

            Badge of Valour is a (very, for what you get) cheap magic item.

            Bards in core are a little weak. Bards out of core? Terrifying. Do a little prestige class dipping and you’re wailing on people with bard HD, BAB, saves, other class features, and sorcerer spell casting. Yeah, that’s right, 9th level spells. On a bard. And, of course, they can dip into other things before they get to that, as it’s a prestige class designed to go from 11-20. Grab one of those 6-10 PrCs and you can be a ‘bard’ with only 5 levels of ‘bard’ that out-wizards the wizard, out buffs the priest, out-fights sub-optimal melee builds, and can diplomify their way out of a wet paper bag outfitted with cement shoes before being dumped into an active volcano with an adamantium shell.

            And it’s obvious you’re not playing core (see: SC) so no, actually, bards are awesome.

            (Doesn’t mean I want to play one, though. Too much of a glory hound.)

          • I pointed out with a level 3 feat and being level 4 you could do all of what I said. You pointed out spells that far exceed level 4. Like I said, at THAT LEVEL you could cast bulls strength. He can give a party wide buff thats 2 times more than bulls strength and will saves to boot.

            In fact, all your spells were higher than 2nd level spells. If you’d like to point out end game bards, I am sure I could come up with something too.

            But saying “oh you took a feat” like its a bad thing? A single feat, not “a ton of feats.” At level 3. Yes, a feat that boosts your ability to be a party wide buffer. Thats kind of the point to your role, as a leader and buffer.

            You state “well rogues have more skills, and clerics more spells.” Yes, and thats 2 different classes. If you are saying that 2 people can do more than one, you would be correct. But the fact a bard can fill in both those roles as needed is what Im getting at. He isnt there to replace a class, he is there to buff the others playing.

            You really didnt give the class a fair shake, and Im sure that if you did you would be surprised. Your thoughts that only a fighter can fight a cleric can heal and a theif can steal are incorrect when this class is introduced. There is no “specialists that make a team.” when you have a bard. Theres group effort.

            • To be fair, a party of 5 clerics could LIKELY trump a party of 4 clerics + 1 bard.

              But only in straight-up combat.

      • “Also…Pathfinder bard, with limited use of bardic music?”

        The 3.5 edition bard only gets x uses of bardic music per day, with X= bard level, and it usually only lasts x rounds. Call that better?

        “The songs that come much later, like Song of Freedom and Inspire Heroics, are actually very, very good”

        By the time the bard finally gets to the level where he gets access to Song of Freedom and Inspire Heroics, the party cleric and party wizard have been able to cast the equivalent spells like Break Enchantment and Heroism for years.

        • I think that bards, like clerics, are better suited to people who are not interested in center stage, and only want to help others do, not do themselves. Played this way, a bard (or cleric) can become a force multiplier for his group, rather than just another attack character, where they’ll be (at best) 70% as effective as anyone else in the party.

          • This is what we found in our all bard game Kevin. But when you have 3 force multipliers working together, we accomplished vast amounts more as a trio than I usually have with 4 or 5 people. The synergy was amazing.

  3. Bunker keeps losing his helmet. 😆 Maybe his head shrunk. Or the helmet is trying to escape.
    “FREEDOM!” *bounce*

  4. “- Hum … Bunker takes 35 points of damage
    – Oh no ! I’ve only got 85 points left ! Oh ! Ooh ! Oooohh !”

    No ? ; )

    • Anything with a voice chat has potential for D&D, and Minecraft’s build it yourself worlds could create a fun atmosphere for a group. Are there any mechanics for handling dice rolls and such?

        • I haven’t done anything that went all the way back to gates (and/or/nor/xor) for more than 20 years…There’s a hardcore gamer with some serious TIME on his hands…give me high level programming languages any day (Yeah, I know, he’s using the internal game mechanics to SIMULATE logic gates, but it’s a cool project…)

          • hah! speak of the devil! theres a new game coming out soon called Dungeons, build your own dungeon and try and ensnare the hero

          • elfguy do you think its possible to simulate a ingame computer with a whole lotta switches?

            thats time well spent too, the guy sold over a million copies of the game, thats well over $10million and no publisher either

            • Well he’s simulating a hardwired “roll 2 dice” machine there…a fully programmable ingame “computer” using nothing but simulated gates? I don’t see how without massive time expenditure…you would need to build an interpreter, memory, and the equivalent of a keyboard to type in and save your ingame programs.

              Heck, even a sequence of workable flip-flops to store 1 byte of data would be a bit of effort
              Rots o Ruck!

        • Watched that for maybe 15 seconds and tried reading one of the comments. Those, and the conversation going on here, are like something out of a Lovecraft story. There are just some things humans were never meant to hear and see lest they go insane.

          • Ach! He has discovered the secret…ALL computer programmers are insane! (To get my degree, I had to take courses in logic gates to fulfil the hardware design prerequisites for programming, since I learned it when there were still PUNCHCARDS out there, and C didn’t even exist yet…)

            • Ah, get away from me, you eldritch abomination!*

              *I’ll spare myself the trouble of linking to appropriate TV-Tropes page filled with the rest of your incomprehensible kind.

                  • If you’re interested in seeing just HOW insane programming can be, try The Wiz Biz – a novel that answers the unasked question “What if a computer programmer were transported to a world where magic works, and constructs a “Magic Operating System” using computer programming concepts?

                    One of his spells goes somthing like : “For X equals one to one hundred do Begin Bibbity Bobbity Boo End – Execute!”

                    • My ex is a programmer(still working on in diploma but has already worked as such). I never even once asked him anything about his studies that didn’t strictly relate to how long he was studying, how much time he had left or what his schedule was. We’ve been in touch for over 5 years now and I’m just not getting into it.
                      I don’t understand it, I know I can’t understand it, so I don’t try.

  5. Off-topic, but yesterday I saw a short report about the US army actually being in advanced stages of developing a working exoskeleton for soldiers, mainly for carrying heavier loads(up to 100kg in the minimal version shown), but who knows, maybe they’ll figure out how to make the first real power armor in a decade or two. I’m not sure how much the guy was carrying in the demonstration and so how much of his(quite agile) jogging and walking around the broken terrain was his part and how much was the exo’ doing what they claimed it was doing, but it looked pretty nifty and not really bulky either- more like bracers you might wear after breaking a leg.
    Once they start producing power armor you know there would be a huge turn up to join the army. 8) I’d join too, but only if they made a Chaos Core. 😛

    • The Japanese have presented the first working commercial exoskeleton years ago. Can’t remember when I saw that on TV, it may have been during the 1990s or early 2000s. One target group was of course the army, but but another the hospital and private care sector, for nurses having to lift patients all day. Also, potential uses included helping people with muscle dystrophy or general frailty walk. Problem was, the thing cost so much, I doubt anyone could afford it. But hey, these days senior citizens in Japan have robots helping them shop for groceries, so what do I know.

      I remember reading an article about a high tech combat suit the US army R&D came up with. Yeah, but even the article mentioned that it would cost so much to produce one there was no chance in hell the army would buy these in bulk for the foot soldiers it was aimed at.

    • Does no one else also recognize this as EXACTLY the plot of Return of the Living Dead III?!

      Granted, the US military will probably have more success building battle exoskeletons for trained living soldiers, rather than brain-hungry zombies.

  6. I think I’m going to start using this comic as a textbook for people who want me to teach them how to play, just to show what I consider terrible dm’ing…