A GUIDE TO CREATING YOUR PARTY
In this section, I’m going to offer some comments and/or perspectives on the creation of the heroes (or villains) that will make up your adventuring band. A number of issues will be considered; the contrast between powergaming and roleplaying, the Non-Player Characters available to join your party, how to analyze multi-classing in the game, and then some final thoughts on planning out your team.
Powergaming vs. Roleplaying
A debate that often rages in the Sorcerer’s Place forums centers around the mutually exclusive concepts of powergaming and roleplaying. Roleplaying concerns itself with the literary merit of the course of the game taken by the player. Can the actions, and dialogues, of the characters be plausibly tied in with the game world that provides the backdrop, and with the game’s plot? Powergaming at its purest is the drive to maximize the power of your characters without questioning whether it makes literary sense for your characters. An example of this is slaughtering an entire village for the experience points and treasure and then moving on to the next level. That is, after you’ve just saved them through your quests. Indulging in one method of play will usually be at the expense of the other.
In some measure, my conduct of the game will reflect powergaming. Before you condemn this out of hand, the point behind a walkthrough is to help the reader succeed at the game. What better way to do that than to speak the language of powergaming? On the other hand, I’m only willing to take it so far. You may notice points where I stop myself short because an action that would increase my power or experience points just doesn’t make sense for a band of heroes out to save the land.
The NPCs of Temple of Elemental Evil
I admonish any player reading this to dispense with the idea of letting a NPC sign on board. The NPCs are high-maintenance, both figuratively and literally. They usually have rather mediocre ability scores. The biggest drawback is that most (if not all of them) take a certain portion of the loot for themselves. The effects this has on your progress far exceeds what they provide in return. A well thought out party of five created characters suffices. Forget about the NPCs.
Still, as some of you will undoubtedly want to examine the NPCs on your own, and because some of them are connected with certain quests, here is a detailed list of NPCs.
Multiclassing in Temple of Elemental Evil
Unlike when I wrote my Icewind Dale 2 walkthrough, I’m now assuming everybody is familiar with how 3rd Edition multi-classing works. I’ll now describe what I think are some important concepts to consider when deciding whether to multi-class your character or keep him or her single-classed.
1) Strain on ability scores
By this I mean whether you can emphasize spending your points on certain ability scores so that it benefits all the classes of the character. A good example of this is that Paladin, Fighter, and Barbarian classes go well together since they all depend on Strength and Constitution. Another viable option could be Bard and Sorcerer, since Charisma and Dexterity benefit both classes.
On the other hand, if one class depends on certain ability scores while another class relies upon other ability scores, it could lead to spreading your points out so that the resulting character doesn’t have a lot going for him or her. This is something that I learned the hard way. The first time I played Icewind Dale 2, I created a Druid with one level of Rogue. I figured that since both use leather armor, it works. The problem is, I had to put a premium on both Wisdom and Intelligence. This in turn meant that I had to neglect the physical development of the character. Suffice to say, that was quite a painful experience.
2) What equipment can the classes use?
Can both classes use the same equipment? If they can’t, does it affect the usefulness of that character?
The Ranger, Druid, and Rogue pose little if any conflict as far as equipment is concerned. They can all wear leather armor effectively. They can also all use by and large the same weaponry. Likewise, Fighter and Paladin together presents no encumbrance since both can use any weapon and wear plate armor.
On the other hand, trying to mix Paladin or Fighter levels with an arcane class (i.e. Wizard or Sorcerer) presents an obvious problem. Heavy Armors that would commend themselves such as plate mail will impose significant chances of arcane spellcasting failure, often as high as 30 to 40%. The typical scenario is that equipment suitable for such a class mix (i.e. specially enchanted Elven Chainmail) cannot be found until late in the game.
3) The ‘focus’ of a class
Does not advancing with singular dedication to one class impair your character’s performance in that class? How much so? Well, that depends.
A lot depends on what abilities your character would gain if he had advanced in one single class, and lost by multi-classing. The best example is probably the Monk. Suppose you do a 50/50 split between a Monk and another class. Come 20th level, the character cannot strike for 1d20 damage, cannot use Quivering Palm, and doesn’t have Spell Resistance. Some would say that these are some of the very reasons for playing a Monk in the first place.
On the other hand, the whole reason for multi-classing is to gain different abilities from another class. So you really have to ask yourself, ‘Are the abilities of a class I have sacrificed made up for by the abilities I have acquired in another class?’ It’s all cost/benefit analysis. There are additional factors that I think can help in the cost/benefit analysis.
One is that you don’t have to do 50/50 as per the 2nd edition rules. You can add as many or as few levels of another class as you like. For example, if you like Barbarians, you can add on a few Fighter levels to augment his prowess with bonus combat feats.
Another factor is that if the party already has a character who advances rapidly in a single class, having another character multi-class with that same class becomes more bearable. For example, if you already have a single class wizard, then a fighter/wizard or fighter/sorcerer who can defend himself with spells like Stoneskin and Mirror Image can still be a good idea.
4) Skill Development
What skills do you want a character to use? Do you want to develop skills from both classes? It must be borne in mind that if you advance a level in one class, spending one of your skill points on a cross-class skill will only improve your rank in that skill by ½. I’ll give an example. Suppose that you advance a level as a Fighter, and want to improve your Sleight of Hand because that character is also your party Rogue. It is deemed to be a ‘cross-class’ skill at the time you are advancing a level as a Fighter. Spending a skill point will only improve your rank in Sleight of Hand by ½. The chart on page 71 of the manual outlines what counts as ‘class skills’ and ‘cross class skills’ for each class. In conclusion, you must be alive to the possibility that multi-classing can impose substantial restraints on skills that you may want to have that character develop.
It can however be mitigated with a few measures. One is that certain classes just don’t depend on skills to be effective, or at least much less so than say a Rogue. Suppose you have a Human character combine Cleric and Fighter levels. Humans always get two skill points each level. You could also say to yourself that this character doesn’t really need anything besides the Concentration skill (or maybe Heal as well). So with each level, you always advance a rank in Concentration whilst not worrying about anything else.
Another consideration is that other characters in the party may use those same skills just as well, or even better, or more conveniently. If you have a Rogue for example, and want to multi-class it with something else, it may be just as well to have the party Monk or Ranger develop the Hide and Move Silently skills. This leaves the Rogue free to hone his other thieving skills.
Another possibility is that the skill may be a ‘class skill’ for both classes. For example, the Ranger and the Druid can both freely develop Survival and Listen.
Teamwork, and Planning Out Your Party
The most important concept behind a successful party is this: how well do they work together as a team? Try thinking of your party in terms of roles. What role is a given character going to play in your band? Some examples:
Tank - Somebody who’s going to stand toe to toe in physical confrontations with the opposition. Ideally, the tank will not only be able to cut the monsters down to size, but will also interject himself between the monsters and a more vulnerable party member and survive the blows that follow.
Healer - Somebody who not only heals the wounds of the party members, but also removes the various maledictions that can inflict her comrades.
Offensive Caster - Somebody who torches, or debilitates, the opposition with spells - preferably from afar.
Buffer - Somebody who bolsters the party’s defences, or combat abilities, with spells. In Dungeons and Dragons rules, classes that fill the Healer role also come with spells that fulfil the Buffer role.
Thief - Somebody to bypass the traps, locks, etc. that get in the way of treasure or making it to the next level.
Discoverer - Somebody who discovers useful information that allows the party to progress through the game world. This can involve a variety of methods. The role can be performed by a scout with the appropriate skills. It can also be performed by a spellcaster with divination spells.
Item Creator - With the implementation of feats like Craft Wondrous Items and Craft Wands, etc., this is a role specific to Temple of Elemental Evil. Who in your party will create the magic items you desire?
Don’t consider this list as exhaustive. It is simply meant to encourage you to think about what it is you want each of your characters to accomplish for the party.
When you create a party member, always contemplate how that character will mesh with his or her mates. Does that character have shortcomings or gaps that can be filled by another character, or vice versa? Will certain skills or feats be provided by another character? And so on. It is well worth it to take the time to plan out your party in advance before launching ToEE for the first time. What follows is just such a plan that I put into motion.
What now follows is a detailed description of each party member that I took through the adventure. The members of my party are as follows; Sir Tirion – the Paladin/Fighter, Ferofist – my Dwarven Cleric, Alliria – the Druid, Valarian – an Elven Rogue/Wizard, and Lanatir – the Sorcerer. You’ll notice that I took the time to roll some fairly high stats for them, the first hint of power-gaming. But hey, your party is supposed to be composed of individuals who stand above the rest and thus carry the burden of saving the world (e.g. Aragorn).
For each party member, the following will be provided:
1. A description of why that character is included. This will include discussions of what kind of role(s) the character is going to perform, and why a certain class is selected for the character. Where multi-class characters are concerned, I will discuss why I chose the particular arrangement for that character. Where appropriate, I’ll also discuss why I chose one class over another.
2. Every 4th level, a character is allowed to add +1 to one of his ability scores. I will explain the choices I made for a character, and the rationale behind that choice.
3. The skills that the character develops and why. As with any other section, explanations of why alternatives weren’t selected will be provided when appropriate.
4. The feats that are chosen by a character and why.
5. Where appropriate, I’ll also explain the spell selections for a certain character.