How the Mighty Have Fallen (Party Synergy Example: Fear Factory)

Hollow One Final Path

When creating characters for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, we often see examples of isolated “vacuum builds,” that is a character work-up that is created without regard to the rest of the party and sometimes even the campaign or setting. Yesterday we took a look at the first part of an example of party synergy based around fear effects, today we start to build on those benefits…

Party Synergy Benefits

We talked a bit about metabalance and the ability to bend the game with a well unified party, and while these metagame concerns are certainly impacted they are far from all a synergized  party gains. Lets look at some more of them:

  • Deconstructing the Alpha: Part of the biggest issues with “power gamers” is that they so often leave the rest of the players behind. The game becomes about them and what THEY can do. The synergized party helps combat this in that the entire player character “system” begins to benefit each other in new and exciting ways. The dominance of a single character becomes minimized if they are expressing the benefit of the whole.
  • Player Engagement: In our simple engagement exercises we have indicated that one of the best ways to get into games is to engage the other people at the table about their characters. Enlightened self-interest will certainly take over here in the case of a good synergy. This means players will be MORE interested in the mechanics, abilities and stories of one another because there will be persistent game consequences and benefits for how much they understand each other.
  • GM Engagement: Parties with strong party synergies don’t just benefit each other, they often push the system of the game in ways the GM doesn’t expect and has to engage the rules and challenge rating systems in a new way. New is exciting and stories nearly always benefit from it. It also results in more GM and player collaboration and synergies are discussed and verified.
  • Mechanical Explorations: We are often surprised by how often gamers we encounter haven’t even read a teamwork feat. Of the many innovations of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game made over its ancestral system, the introduction of such a clear body of mutually advantageous abilities is under-sung in the extreme. And honestly when looking at party synergies they are just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Shared Accomplishment: Nothing feels more like the party winning than the PARTY winning. Teamwork and cooperation are a massive component of the table top RPG experience and engaging effectiveness on the party level means wins are more truly universal.

This is not to say that a party that “falls in together” is a bad party. The nature of the game will lead to a baseline of party synergy  (flanking anyone?) but the immersion and cohesiveness of the a group that has it can be mind-blowingly effective and enjoyable. No to mention making nearly unplayable concepts far more realistic.


Fear Factory Synergy: The Fallen

  • Fallen – Melee Damage (Moderate, Sustained)/Mitigation (High, Erratic)/Debuff (High Sustained)

One of the things we see right away following up dread with Kyoudai Games‘s stigma-wielding fallen class, is the warping the core metabalance of the party. Some damage potential is being reduced and (eventually) we are putting other needs like Healing on the line. But we are gaining Mitigation (Shaken people miss more and fail saves, Frightened people don’t attack much) and a huge Debuff “fifth wheel” increase.

So the overall “system” that begins to express our synergy has a clear reliance on reducing resistance for our Mitigation. The dread got us off to great start with its aura of fear making things immune to fear effect “un-immune” and an untyped penalty of -4 versus fear effects. A lot of our party mechanics are going to want to exploit this.

  • Synergy: Torment, the core ability of the fallen is a swift action fear effect that inflicts the Tormented condition (class specific) and Shaken condition. This is key to the fallen’s other abilities particularly its damaging ones. The dread’s aura gives us a -4 to enemies saving against this core class mechanic. Poetic levels of interaction, assuming the party makes it to 3rd level. And the Shaken mechanic from the fallen preps the targets for the dread’s terror abilities.
  • Fifth Wheelhouse: By selecting the Horror stigma, our fallen gains even more fear powers including becoming immune to fear (as long as the dread isn’t too close and increased DCs for their own fear powers. Shared pain discourages enemies from attacking you as long as they are tormented. Area of Effect fear spell-like abilities and fun abilities like confusion and riot (Foes gain bonuses when attacking each other).
  • Escalation: Scourge, Stigma and Suffering: Relatively early, the fallen gains Charisma to melee damage in addition to Strength ensuring damage maintains a minimum punch from 2nd-level on. The suffering feature makes the torment ability become able to Frightened and Panic. And the Stigma power “Nowhere to Run” makes squares around you “the safest place” a Panicked creature can think of. Cue evil laughter.

Our second Fear Factory member inflicts swift action fear debuffs, deals persistent damage and eventually corrals feared creatures back to the party. Tomorrow we look at member three, the direlock from Forest Guardian Press.

Like the idea of character synergies? Check out our mechanics like Spells of Synergy or Heartbound Heroes on these fine sites:, drivethruRPG, paizo and RPGNow.

This entry was posted in 3rd Party Options, Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Player Advice, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How the Mighty Have Fallen (Party Synergy Example: Fear Factory)

  1. Pingback: Quick Generator – Goblin Names & RPG Round Up

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