Teamwork: Covering Each Other

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A sampling of cities from Nerdarchy's Open Legend live game
Top Ten: Things I Want to See In Fifth Edition D&D

So, I happen to be blessed and burdened with glorious purpose, and a great team of writers that work alongside me here at Nerdarchy. The fun part is, sometimes we need to live our lives. That is what inspires this article here. See, I am filling in for the intractable Joshua Brickley, and this fits the theme of how teams need to be able to cover each other in times of need. Like the USMC and SEAL teams who train each other in the basics of other necessary jobs, a gaming group needs to be able to do more then fill a single role. Let me go over a few things that may help in such an endeavors.


Healers

groupWell, healers are an essential role, one that every game seems to have in one way or another. Dungeons & Dragons has always had the cleric to cover this role, and the druid runs a close second. Though the latest, Fifth edition, has become the staple to which my article will use as its core example. A group gets beaten up and patching them up becomes an essential. After all, we cannot all be Wolverine. But, if you don’t have a cleric (or druid, or bard), what do you do?

Rangers and paladins are a perfect example of an alternative. If you, in whatever game system you are in, can find partial healers such as the paladin or ranger, then you can do your patchwork as necessary. Healer is truly one of those roles that should not be replaced by one person alone. Cover each other, watch each other’s back. A heavy yoke is less a burden when placed on many backs. Don’t look for some secret path to healing (though you could argue there are some, like the Favored Soul), but the key is to find little ways to cover the gap bit by bit. Smaller things like healing potions or kits can even help out. This should be the whole party’s burden, and no matter what the composition, the party will be better off if you each take a bit of the burden.


 Tanks

Dungeons and DragonsThe guy who not only does not run away from danger, he let’s danger hit him on purpose. This is the role many balk at, and frankly it takes a special kind of nutter to fill the tank’s greaves. The fun part is, other than certain situations, you can get away with not having a tank if you simply use amazing tactics. But as we all know, a plan rarely lasts past the first round of combat. To this end, you need to find a way to mitigate the damage that all kinds of nasty monsters want to inflict. Someone has to take the whoopings coming. A fighter, paladin, or barbarian are the classic tanks of Dungeons & Dragons fame.

Well, here we have two different routes for two different issues. See, we can look at many attacks that fall like rain and that is very different than the other viewpoint of one big attack that pops you like a grape. How do you deal with these if you don’t have a tank? I suggest the monk or cleric take the beating, as they both can achieve amazing defenses. The key to defending against lots of little hits is high defenses or damage reduction, as every miss is a chunk of damage down and every point of damage reduction (such as the Heavy Armor Mastery feat) is multiplied across each hit that lands. The other problem, the big hit, is mitigated by two things above all else: High hit points and resistance to the attack, each allow you to be able to take that inevitable crit that will land. By bouncing attention between other players, you can mitigate the damage further through team work. That is something no one can take away from you.

The final way to cover for a tank that is not present is to debuff and buff. That squishy wizard may not take the shot to the face, but he can make it more tolerable to all. You have so many options; granting disadvantage, slowing and otherwise lowering the number of attacks, weakening the damage directly. Remember the cleric I mentioned? Yeah, the cleric is amazing at buffing the party to make them all a lot more resilient. Grant resistance, heal, raise defenses, and even raise the dead (the enemy hates that). These are all ways to tank up the tankless party.


Damage

fan2sea +7 max winningOkay, I won’t waste a lot of time on this, because if you can’t figure out how to insert tab A of your sword into slot B of a monster, then you don’t belong adventuring. I know, I know, that’s not the nicest thing to say, but really, damage is the easiest thing to cover for. Have the team concentrate on the big guys and spread out for the minions. The important part is to prioritize, as every character is capable of some damage. You want to keep the pain going where it does the most good. Take their healers and casters out, then their other dps, and finally the big boys.

Furthermore, remember to debuff as granting vulnerabilities can literally double your damage output. A defenseless target is an easy target, so use those web/hold/paralyze spells. Also, there are some save or die spells out there. So, why not turn your foe to stone or some other instant win? Finally, I want to point out you can use things to augment your damage, such as bull rushing/pushing into spikes or similar hazards and vials of acid or alchemist fire. The world is your kill-able oyster!


Control

I have sorta been talking about control this entire time. That being said, I hate to admit it, but this is the role I took the longest to understand the necessity of. This is also the role you will notice the quickest when it is gone. Properly controlled, a battlefield is a cakewalk. Enemies are weaker, slower, and even occasionally attack each other. A controller is a wonderful thing, and you will miss that role when it is gone.

That being said, you can fill in for the role through various situations. Making it dangerous to move along the battlefield through a properly placed tank is a great start. Threaten as much space as you can, make it punishing to approach your allies. Traps can provide effective control of the battlefield as well. Choose your battlefield, make the enemy come to you, preferably through a field of fire, as a weakened opponent is an easier opponent. Using poisons can be risky but beneficial. The best control of the battlefield, though, is classic tactics, picking your battles, team work, and making the battlefield work for you. Staying in control of the battlefield means staying in control of yourself. Work together, as each party member contributes to the overall goal.


Well, I had some thoughts, I put them to digital paper, and you read them. We make an amazing team, don’t you think? Well, I need to run along and spend time with my family now. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe came out and I have some blue shells to fling at my loved ones. I will be back Monday with my usual article goodness. I hope you all have an amazing weekend.

Play on PS4 or PS3? Did you know that Nerdarchy has a community that plays together often? Go ahead and search in the community section for Nerdarchy and for the player Nubz_The_Zombie!

Did I miss something? Have any Questions or Comments? Feel free to message me at www.facebook.com/NubzTheZombie or at nubz.the.zombie@gmail.com

Stay Nerdy,

Nubz

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Follow Nigel “Nubz” Sanford:
Nubz hails from the American Pacific Northwest where he has spent the last 24 years living the gamer life and running campaigns of all kinds. Through this he has managed to sate his acting bug and entertain many. Now a father, he wishes to pursue writing to leave a legacy in Nerd culture for his offspring to enjoy.

  1. David Hansen
    | Reply

    Two points here, one about Healers and one about Control.

    First, the Healer one. Seriously, have more than one source of healing in the party. Whoever’s playing the primary healer will love you. In my primary gaming group, that’s usually me, and for one memorable three-session adventuring day, I was the only source of healing in a party of eight – all of us at only level 2. I believe I demonstrated the theoretical limits of healing that can be extracted from a level 2 Life cleric without the Healing feat, and I (the player) payed for it with adrenaline rushes that kept me up six hours later (3-4 a.m.) and left me with stomachaches for 24 hours afterward. If you don’t want to take levels in Cleric, Druid, Bard, or the like, just pick up the Healer feat. You may be surprised how much healing you can get from it.

    Second, about Control. I know the Nerdarchy community tends to hear a lot about Warlocks, but I really think that this is where they can really shine – especially the Archfey warlock. My Tiefling doesn’t have a single damage spell except those granted by his race (the Hellish Rebuke) – just control spells. Charm Person for out-of-combat moments, and Suggestion, Crown of Madness, and patron abilities for in battle. After with enemies you can manipulate, who needs friends?

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