Pierce Haligarth, acquirer of fine treasures

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NukeHavoc
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Pierce Haligarth, acquirer of fine treasures

Post by NukeHavoc »

Pierce Haligarth

Pierce is part confidence man, part burglar. His modus operandi is to charm/fast talk his way into a residence using one of his man disguises, case the establishment, then return a few days later to steal whatever he had his eye on.

He has good Bluff, Diplomacy, Search, Open Lock and Disable Device skills, but would rather avoid combat. His Armor Class is merely 15 (as he relies on various magical devices for protection, rather than armor which might impede his roguish abilities) but he does have and use knowledge of Combat Expertise to increase his armor class in a fight and Improved Feint to put his opponent off-guard and (hopefully) allow him to sneak attack.

Rules question: In the d20 SRD it says that successful feints cause "the next melee attack you make against the target does not allow him to use his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any)."

So that means his opponent is denied his Dex, right, so I can sneak attack him?

From a role-playing perspective, I see Pierce as having used this technique many times when someone found him someplace he shouldn't have been, setting up the old "hey, what's that?" and then sapping his opponent silly.

Statblock
Pierce Haligarth: Male Human Rog6; CR 6; Medium Humanoid (Human); HD 6d6; hp 26;
Init +2; Spd 30 ft/x4; AC 15 (+1 armor, +2 dex, +1 natural, +1 deflection), touch 13, flat-footed 15; Base Atk/Grapple +4/+4; Full Atk +7 One-handed (1d6+1;18-20/x2, +1 Rapier), +6 One-handed
(1d4;19-20/x2, Dagger), +6 Two-handed (1d8;19-20/x2, Light Crossbow); SA&SQ Uncanny Dodge(Ex), Trap Sense(Ex), Evasion(Ex), Sneak Attack,
Trapfinding(Ex); AL CG; SV Fort +3, Ref +8, Will +3; Str 11(+0), Dex 15(+2), Con 11(+0), Int 16(+3), Wis 11(+0), Cha 13(+1); Skills: Appraise¹ +6, Bluff¹ +10, Diplomacy¹ +10, Disable Device +16, Disguise¹
+5, Forgery¹ +7, Gather Information¹ +7, Intimidate¹ +7, Knowledge
(local) +7, Move Silently¹ +7, Open Lock +15, Perform (flute) +4,
Search¹ +11, Sense Motive¹ +5, Sleight of Hand +9, Spot¹ +5, Tumble +9,
Use Magic Device +8. Feats: Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Nimble Fingers, Weapon Finesse."

Class Abilities
* Uncanny Dodge(Ex): You retain you Dexterity bonus to AC even if flatfooted or struck by an invisible attacker.
* Trap Sense(Ex): +2 to Reflex saves and AC against traps.
* Evasion(Ex): On a successful Reflex save against a magical attack, you take no damage.
* Sneak Attack: Any time someone you attack is denied their Dexterity bonus to AC, or you are flanking them, you inflict an extra 3d6 damage. Ranged attacks must be within 30 feet to gain this, and this extra damage is not increased on a critical hit. Creatures that are immune to critical hits ignore this damage, as do creatures with concealment
* Trapfinding(Ex): You can use the Search skill to locate traps when the task has a DC higher than 20. You can use the Disable Device skill to disarm magic traps.

Magic Items
Oil of Silvershine
Hand of the Mage
Bracers of Armor +1
Goggles of Minute Seeing (+5 search)
Ring of Protection +1
Rapier +1
Hat of Disguise (+10 disguise via disguise self, which lasts 10 min)
Amulet of Natural Armor +1
Cloak of Resistance +1

Mundane Items
Thieves' Tools, masterwork
Disguise Kit
Flute, masterwork
Mirror, small steel
Rope, silk (50 ft.)
Signal Whistle
Daggers (4)
Light crossbow

Alchemical Substances
Sunrod (6)
Smokestone (2)
Thunderstone (2)
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Forgive me. I'll try and be a tad more quiet as I desperately struggle to break free -- and save all creation!" -- Doctor Strange

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erilar
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Re: Pierce Haligarth, acquirer of fine treasures

Post by erilar »

NukeHavoc wrote: Rules question: In the d20 SRD it says that successful feints cause "the next melee attack you make against the target does not allow him to use his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any)."

So that means his opponent is denied his Dex, right, so I can sneak attack him?
Also per the SRD, "The rogue’s attack deals extra damage any time her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target.

So, yes. The only downside of Imp Feint is that it requires you to spend a Move action, so it slows you down a little. "Look - it's Elvis!" [Stab!] It also allows you to more easily hit an opponent with a very high Dex-based AC vs. simply Sneak-Attacking via Flanking.

Cool character!
"This enemy you cannot kill. You can only drive it back damaged into the depths, and teach your children to watch the waves for its return." - Quellcrist Falconer

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Post by NukeHavoc »

erilar wrote:Cool character!
Thanks. I think he'll be fun to play; we'll see how long he lives with his rather anemic armor class. He can get his AC up to 19 with Combat Expertise, which may be enough to keep him alive. He's definitely not a frontline, combat-intensive kind of rouge. I envision him as operating around the corners of combat, looking for opportunities, fending off particularly rude assailants, and generally trying to avoid getting killed.
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Forgive me. I'll try and be a tad more quiet as I desperately struggle to break free -- and save all creation!" -- Doctor Strange

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Post by erilar »

Combat isn't everything - sometimes our group tends to overlook that fact. This campaign definitely has a more 1st Edition-y feel to it, but versatility amongst the party also helps you solve problems and gather info, etc.

You'll be as fine as any other character in this campaign. The front line fighters and clerics have as much to worry about as you, depending on the encounter. Some of the monsters in particular hanker for a bit of holy fare, or perhaps a critter with a bit more meat on its bones... :)
"This enemy you cannot kill. You can only drive it back damaged into the depths, and teach your children to watch the waves for its return." - Quellcrist Falconer

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Post by EvilGenius »

Neat character. It'll be useful to have a true rogue in the party again.

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Post by NukeHavoc »

So ... based on Friday's game what (if anything) should I do about Pierce? He's definitely a fun character ... but in a fight with undead he's pretty much useless. And I suspect we may see one or two more of those in the future. :)

I can see a few possible paths. For one, ditch some of his existing magic items in favor of cheap wands, and then use his "use magic device" skill to trick them into working for him. It fits with his opportunist personality, though I'm not sure how many wands he'd really be able to buy.

Another option is losing a level of rogue and picking up something else, probably either bard or wizard. Bard fits the character concept very well (he even has ranks of perform already), gives him a smattering of magical abilities, and allows him to fall back on inspirational tales if needed.

Wizard would allow him to further round out his abilities -- I'm thinking a single level would be enough to get him scribe scroll and a familiar, both of which would be very useful (scrolls for those times when he has nothing else going for him, the familiars for casing prospective houses).

Thoughts?
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Forgive me. I'll try and be a tad more quiet as I desperately struggle to break free -- and save all creation!" -- Doctor Strange

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Post by T1Mirage »

I think you're headed in a good direction with the Bard.

Another option which may be over the top would be Cleric of Olidammara. It sounds like a close fit. Domains: Luck and Trickery would give some benefits as well as removing your need for the Hat as the spell is a domain. It could give some flexibility on spells - magic stone, hide from undead, sanctuary. As far as Turn Undead, that probably won't work - but nice to have as an option. A wand of healing would help the party as well.

Again, nothing you probably couldn't do with the bard - but it may give different options.

As far as story, you could have worshipped but found it too confining compared to thrill of collecting.

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Post by NukeHavoc »

Cleric is cool ... but he doesn't really have the stats for it, and getting bumping up his wisdom enough to make that workable would gut his roguish abilities.

Bard would probably work best; I'd probably tweak his Int to bump up his Cha a bit for those ever-useful bonus spells. Or, falling back on Wizard, I could leave him as is and rely on that nice 16 Int.

Even if he went the wizard route (which I'm inclined to do, since I've been on a bardic run for a while with Torthen and Thom) he'd keep the Use Magic Device ranks as it would allow him to muck about with divine magic items as well (which did come in useful during Friday's game).
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Forgive me. I'll try and be a tad more quiet as I desperately struggle to break free -- and save all creation!" -- Doctor Strange

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Post by Jonkga »

i don't know, Ken. After re-reading your description of Pierce above, I think he is definitely a very cool rogue character, and I think he even played out much like you would have wanted him to. Sure, he didn't get to use sneak attack any yet, but it was only one session. I would be hesitant to water him down much at this point. Give him a few sessions to shine as is first, and maybe let in game circumstances presage the need for any shift in his perspective. Just my thoughts, but I wouldn't change anything.

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Post by NukeHavoc »

I'll defer to Lance. If he thinks that Pierce in his current configuration will work with the upcoming adventures, then I'll leave him as is.

I realize that Friday's session was somewhat unique -- how often will he be dropped in a round by rampaging, crit-rolling zombies? -- but at the same time he's combat averse by design. He'll never be in the thick of things, and against zombies, skeletons and other undead, well, the thought running through his head as his daggers bounce harmlessly off of the latest skeletal horror would have to be "why the hell am I here?"

I'd rather take that level of bard, and be able to contribute a bit more to combat than hide behind the nearest plate-mailed warrior. :)
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Forgive me. I'll try and be a tad more quiet as I desperately struggle to break free -- and save all creation!" -- Doctor Strange

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Post by EvilGenius »

I'm a huge proponent of multiclassing, in general. And my opinions on meta-gaming are a bit different than others in the group, so please view my following comments in that context. :)

I think Pierce is a cool character. I also think that he's severely handicapped in fights vs undead, constructs, oozes, other opponents not subject to critical hits, or creatures with damage reduction vs piercing weapons. That's a fair amount of combat hadicapping.

And as you've built him, he has almost no armor class to speak of and pretty low hp. So you can reliably predict that if Pierce is in combat, he's going to get hit, he's often going to drop to negatives, and he's often going to have trouble damaging his opponent.

And this is where the metagaming comes in. We know there will be more fights with undead, probably many more fights. Keeping a roleplaying character around for roleplaying benefits, or non-combat benefits is perfectly acceptable but be prepared to either stay out of a lot of the combats or be perpetually at deaths door. Call it the Prug style of combat. :)

While that can certainly be fun in and of itself, before consigning yourself to that fate consider my frustration playing Prug and Lance's frustration playing Wesley.

I don't think you should ditch Pierce altogether, but I heartily recommend tweaking him a bit. The choice of making it retroactive, or something you do when you take your next level is up to you and Lance. Here are my recommendations.

IMO, your strongest option is to take 1 level as wizard, with the intention of maybe taking one more level in that class at some point (you can of course come up with perfectly appropriate backstory as to why you had a level of wizard previously or why you're taking one at next level).

Some of the benefits are obvious, some less so. First and foremost, you get to cast 1st level spells. That's a huge boost to your effectiveness vs things immune to sneak attack with the ability to use Magic Missle, Burning Hands or Shocking Grasp and also vs things that you are sneak attacking via Truestrike. You can also be ready to boost your AC with such favorites as Mage Armor, Shield, or Protection from Evil. You can even be prepared to boost your rogue conman skills via Obscuring Mist, Detect Secret Doors, Charm Person, Sleep, Disguise Self, Ventrioloquism, Silent Image, Animate Rope, Erase (for magical traps you cannot disarm), Expeditious Retreat, Feather Fall or Reduce Person.

In addition to the spells you can memorize, you get Scribe Scroll for free, and can have a nice cache of scrolls to give you magical abilities when you need them but may not have the right spell memorized.

And of course, you get to use arcane items as a class skill. A wand of Knock seems right up Pierce's ally, but a wand of Magic Missile, Burning Hands or Mage Armor will keep some spell slots free for other uses.

Those are a lot of good options, but wait, there's more! You also get a familiar which can boost several key abilities. With any familiar you're going to get Alertness, which very much fits in with Pierce's overall design. If you take a kitty as a familiar, you get a +3 on Move Silently, a Bat, +3 on Listen. An Owl, +3 on Spot. A snake, +3 on bluff. A weasel, +2 Reflex save. All of the above totally appropriate with your character concept and background. And apart from the game mechanic benefits, you have a scout/lookout on your breaking and entering jobs.

And lest you think that the abilities of a 1st level mage are going to be anemic at higher levels, you can always take the "Practiced Spellcaster" feat from Complete Arcane (with Lance's permission, of course) which will allow you a +4 caster level for spell effects. You don't get any more spells, but instead of 1 magic missile, you get 3. Instead of Mage Armor lasting 1 hour, it lasts 5 hrs, etc.

Lastly, I think this option stacks very well with your current character build. You've already got a 16 Int and 15 Dex. You haven't built the character to wear any armor, instead relying on dex and magical items. The character is already intended to be a stand off combatant. Adding a level of wizard vastly expands your abilites without requiring you to retool almost at all.

I think you could also add some extra abilities with a level of Sorcerer or Bard, but I think they give you less benefit overall than a level of Wizard.

Bard would be the second best fit, allowing you quite a bit of overlap with class skills. But the extra bardic abilities aren't going to help as much as the wizard, IMO. You'll only get 0 level spells for starters, and very few spells known. Your spell list will be pretty good, but you won't have those defensive spells like Mage Armor or Shield, which can really help Pierce. You won't get a familiar. You'll get a weak Bardic Knowledge Score (+4 with your Int). You'll get Countersong, Fascinate and Inspire Courage. So far, the extra ability that you'll use most is Inspire Courage.

But you would get to use spell completion items from your greater spell list. So you could use a Wand of Cure Light.

A level of Sorcerer would also help somewhat, but with only 2 spells known at 1st level, if you're looking to add more options in combat vs things you can't skewer, this is a less effective option than wizard.

But you do already have a good Charisma, you'd get to use magical items from the general Arcane list and you'd get a familiar. IMO, wizard gives you more of what you're looking for but I think it comes down to personal style. Hmm. Maybe I'd rank Sorcerer above Bard. Well, either way. :)

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Post by NukeHavoc »

I'm inclined to agree. While I don't want to meta game the heck out this, I do think that giving Pierce a level of wizard would go a long way toward making him an all around effective character. If we were in OB, I probably wouldn't care as much, but clearly relying on Combat Expertise to save his bacon (by upping his AC to 20 when fighting full defensive) isn't going to work.

Role-playing wise, I expect he'd be pretty much the same, and would never be the overt mage with the flowing robes and pointy hat. Hell, he'd probably go out of his way to conceal his magical abilities, passing most of them off as tricks of the trade picked up over the years. ("Ferret? What ferret? Oh THAT ferret ... yeah, he's just part of the act. Never mind him...")
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Forgive me. I'll try and be a tad more quiet as I desperately struggle to break free -- and save all creation!" -- Doctor Strange

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Post by Jonkga »

Yeah, i guess that's where some of us just differ philosophically. Sure, i see the usefulness of adding a level of wizard from a meta-gaming standpoint, but I think that dramatically lessens the uniqueness of the character. For that matter, why have any levels of rogue at all? Will you be rolling to open a lock ever if you've got a wand of knock handy? Why roll to hide/move silently when you can just sleep the target first? The whole point of this character seemed to be his different skillset. So now, instead of enhancing that skillset in any way, you want to change it completely, so you can say he's a bluffing rogue for flavor, but really he's a potent combat wizard when the undead show up. I thought he was a very interesting character, and just what a real adventuring party would need. They need the 2nd story con-man type guy. So he can't sneak undead. so he was ineffective last session. Yes, the turning cleric and the beefy fighter did most of the work. But, will they be any help when we need to diplomatically convince the local peasants to rise up against their undead overlords? Will they be able to open the secret compartment, after disabling the poison arrow trap, to retrieve the family hierloom we are in search of? Hell, will they be able to sweet talk the location of said hierloom, and the recipie for the perfect anti-undead concoction, from the halfling gypsies that show up when we head to the countryside? Not even close. Will our party's new part-rogue/mostly-wizard be successful in the same manner... pardon me if I remain doubtful.

Rogues aren't built for combat, really. even against humans, their specialty is the well-placed sneak attack. So, maybe Pierce should stock up on things like tanglefoot bags, holy water, or some such that he can hurl effectively from behind combat lines for the few shambling undead we encounter, and focus on his roguing skills.

Again, just my perspective. But, in retrospect, could it be the reason alot of people were saying Scrappy had "canadian levels" was that they were assuming he'd be as effective in combat as a figther or wizard - as the rules stand, a rogue is supposed to be less effective in straight combats as those classes.

I have no problem with you changing your character in any way, ken. By all means, the goal is for all of us to have as much fun as we can around the table. It just seems to me that you might be hastily watering down an imprtant part of our party's make-up prematurely.

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Post by NukeHavoc »

Ultimately, that's why I'd like to hear from Lance on the issue. If Pierce is going to have a fair amount of time to do roguish-things (defined here as sweet-talking his way into places, and perhaps sneaking back out) then ok, cool. If not, well, while it'll be amusing to watch all of you die horrible deaths from the sidelines, having on or two extra tricks would be nice.

I don't think a level of wizard negates his roguishness; as none of the first level spells are going to be effective enough to get him past the guards *that* easily or effectively.

From an RPing standpoint, it may be better to play him as a rogue until he levels, and then have him pick up a level of wizard. Going with the Jonathan model from The Mummy, he'd have just figured out how to read the damn book. Mostly.
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Forgive me. I'll try and be a tad more quiet as I desperately struggle to break free -- and save all creation!" -- Doctor Strange

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Post by erilar »

Sorry - not disinterested, but simply AFK for most of the weekend and forgot to check the Crier when I was online.

Pierce is a great character concept. So personally, if you want to make a character change, IMO you'd do him better justice by keeping him intact for another campaign and rolling an all-new character. Either way, I want you to enjoy the campaign, so I'm not against you making adjustments.

Remember that this campaign is more first-editiony than many we play. As such, expect about 75% combat/exploration/delving and 25% roleplaying - maybe even a bit more skewed than that.

D&D is typically designed to require a well-rounded party, and this campaign content doesn't seem much different in that fashion. So, I wouldn't recommend eliminating a rogue from the party entirely, unless you specifically create a caster who can emulate the necessary roguish abilities.

Rogues aren't very effective against undead - I'd recognized this when creating Hogarth. As an Indiana Jones-inspired "tomb raider", I knew he was supposed to be prepared to fight undead, so I'd ended up giving him a heavy Undead Bane, Ghost Touch weapon. He's also 1/2 fighter. Not necessarily the best choices for the "spy on the orcs" campaign that he was created for, but it worked thematically (and practically at times in the Dwarven campaign and Maure).

Anyway, the rogue will have a tough time in the undead combats. Feel free to give him a tweak now that you've gotten a chance to test drive him. Your Ravenloft combats will frequently involve fighting undead. Maybe 50% of the time or more, so keep that in mind when making adjustments.

Re. the character tuning stuff, you guys may already know my stance on multiclassed casters - mainly that I think they are really gimpy. Unless you're only worried about having utility spells, a multi-classed caster (especially arcane) is not great in combat - and that's your specific concern with Pierce. Enemies make their saves way too frequently, and no-save spells like Magic Missile aren't effective enough when the caster level is significantly lower than your opponent.

Multi-classed clerics aren't quite as gimpy, as they also get decent combat abilities, and the buff and healing spells are always effective - even if a bit less so. So, George's Olidamara idea is pretty neat - even kinda fits well with the Jonathan/Bennie amalgamation character concept.

That said, I do not feel the same way about multi-classed warriors. Throwing in a few levels of fighter, barbarian, or ranger would help a rogue fight more effectively against undead, and lessen your heavy reliance on sneak attacks in combat. Partial warrior-type levels augment your already-existing combat capabilities, and as such (IMO) are much more well spent than multi-classed caster levels, which must basically stand on their own.

So, babbling aside:
1) I think the party will want some roguish talent.
2) I'm OK with you tweaking Pierce to make him less frustrating to play, as long as you don't get too meta-gamey. (No Bazooka +2, +4 vs. vampires).

As Bob pointed out, we all knew we'd be fighting undead going into this and made some choices based on that knowledge.

(The only reason I was being so anal about Bob keeping his Daern cleric is because he was such a great concept, and that I was pretty sure that he'd be plenty effective. I was glad to see that he did great last week (you guys would have fought 2x as many zombies without him). I didn't want to shoot you guys in the foot with my stubborn insistence.
"This enemy you cannot kill. You can only drive it back damaged into the depths, and teach your children to watch the waves for its return." - Quellcrist Falconer

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