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Hacking AD&D

After playing a bit more Neverwinter Nights 2, I've decided that perhaps spellcasters in AD&D 3rd edition are not such invalids, after all. True, spell resistance, combined with needing to pass saving throws and damage rolls, make most offensive spells very unreliable. However, what I've learned is that melee characters have their own problems. For example, damage reduction works not unlike spell resistance in that it requires a lucky roll (such as a confirmed critical hit) to inflict meaningful damage at all.

My original impression that the D20 system is one of great randomness was even more all-inclusive than I earlier realized. Regardless of if you're throwing spells with epic spell penetration or attacking with the highest base attack bonus, you can't count on getting anything done in AD&D unless the dice are on your side.

I think what I've been looking for all this time is just something along the lines of reliability in the D20 system. I'm a gamer, in a very deep and self-identifying way. When one takes games as seriously as I do, I prefer to play them, not have them play me. Neverwinter Nights 2's great randomness makes it feel like I'm the one being played, and that frustrates me.

My latest foray as a scythe-using Fighter felt pretty good because, in the Neverwinter Nights 2 campaign, I was given very little in the way of reliable high-armor class meat shields. (Khelgar, despite his dwarven armor class bonus, has a strangely hard time getting very high armor class.) However (minor spoiler) as the campaign progresses, more meat shields become available so bringing my own seems unnecessary. Further, the foes' base to hit values increase with level even faster than equipment becomes available. Suddenly, my Fighter just wasn't providing the smooth experience I was hoping for anymore.

Despite my frustration with the D20 system, I think I want to beat this campaign. The story is relatively good, and the gameplay is satisfyingly deep. The new solution becomes two fold: First, skew the odds in my favor as much as possible. Second, maximize the power of the four-character party.

To skew the odds, I'm going to see about making my character some kind of super buffing/debuffing character. One that doles out increased armor class, saving throws, spell resistance, and damage reduction to allies while robbing the enemy of their protection. Most likely Bards, other arcane casters, or divine casters.

The maximize the power of the party, I turn my attention on eliminating the tiefling rogue, Neeshka. She might be an endearing character in terms of story and voice work, but poor Neeshka is generally ineffectual. I've tried her at close range, and she dies quickly due to poor Rogue armor class. She lasts longer at long range, but does not contribute much due to sneak attack conflicts. It does not help that Neeshka's a level lower than the rest of the party due to the tiefling level adjustment.

A combination of a trap disarmer and a powerful buffer-debuffer is a relatively tall order, since Rogue levels directly take from whatever class will be providing the buffs/debuffs. However, I'll see what I can do. I'll probably end up with a character that takes just enough Rogue levels to periodically maximize search, open lock, and disable devices.

So, long story short, rather than cut and run from my obvious dislike of the randomness of the D20 system, I've decided to power game Neverwinter Nights 2 like it's going out of style.

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