Pop that Lock (Party Synergy Example: Fear Factory)

Godhunter-Tease-WordlessWhen 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 deeper look at an example of party synergy based around fear effects, today we start to build out our awareness…

Party Synergy Awareness

We have looked the benefits of developing a party synergy. Even in parties espousing a basic metabalance we see this in core ideas of healers, front line fighters, and long range damage dealt by mages. Even non-metabalance parties of all “vacuum builds” will develop on these ideas over time in game.

A key part of developing party synergy is being aware of core mechanics at play with other party members. A lack of awareness may result in assumptions that cause players to make poor tactical selections or leveling choices. If fighting styles in the rest of your party are melee focused, the archer character probably NEEDS the Precise Shot feat. Keep in mind:

  • Core Mechanics of Classes: If someone acknowledges a basic role or class selection consider the core elements of that class. If you hear that your rogue is playing with a fighter, a bloodrager and a ranger you know you probably are going to get flanks (yay!) and need to watch your own hit points more carefully. Build synergies where it makes sense.
  • Awareness of Stat Deviations: Sometimes for roleplaying or design reasons a core class is NOT paired with an optimal stat selection. This might be the case for Dexterity based fighters or or gish-style mages. Know where these basic contours lie or you may find yourself relying on the fencer to break in a door they can’t hope to shatter.
  • Awareness of Menu Selections: Classes like cleric have a bevy menu and leveling based choices as they develop. Parties assuming a cleric to be the healer when they have chosen negative energy channeling and the Death and Destruction domains might find themselves suddenly underwhelmed by healing options.
  • Awareness of Archetypes: Make sure you understand what if any archetypes your party has taken whenever possible. Core classs abilities like a rogues trapfinding or spontaneous healing are often offered up or a divine archer paladin isn’t going to want

Fear Factory Synergy: The Direlock

You might notice right away that as with dread and Kyoudai Games‘s fallen class, we are seeing repeated metabalance elements. In this example of party synergy we are deliberately warping the core metabalance of the party. We are tripling-down on Mitigation (Shaken people miss more and fail saves, Frightened people don’t attack much) and our Debuff “fifth wheel” abilities are crazy out of control. Some damage potential may be reduced but we are going to have a lot more time to exploit it, and while our Healing is almost non-existent we may not need that much.

Reducing resistance for our Mitigation and Debuffs is key. The dread and its aura of fear making removes immunity to fear effects in a tight zone, one our fallen is sure to watch for. And our fallen in turn applies swift action fear effects to aid our dread terror powers. Add the direlock to the mix and:

  • Synergy: Dire Zone. Guess what we have? A second fear immunity negation zone. And a second untyped fear save penalty. For variety this aura expands as levels accumulate, and its penalty increases from -1 to -5 over the lifetime of the character. Add to this a ramping class bonus to the intimidate skill and with the right abilities and feats we are generating a second source of Shaken mechanic for the dread’s terror abilities.
  • Fifth Wheelhouse: Inimica. How does damage to creatures trying to leave your zone sound? Seed of Doubt, a second  untyped debuff to Will saves! Add in a ton of Mitigations to hit penalties, friendly fire redirects and condition transferences.
  • Escalation: Incunabula. A host of damage modifiers and the ability to temporality increase fear zones. Ravening strike allows the consumption of enemy spellcasters remaining spell energies which in turn can be used to fuel inimica.

Our third Fear Factory member necessitates a sense of party awareness. By adding a second, stacking fear immunity removal aura party members need to be aware of the current projection radius of each ability and the existance of any potential overlaps between the dread‘s aura and the direlock’s dire zone. At tenth level our fallen can expect to get her torments off at penalties of as -9 to enemy Will saves. Our enemies may take damage if and when they flee an immunity removal aura (and possibly into a second). Hope the bad guys have a fresh set of undergarments.

Like the idea of character synergies? Check out our mechanics like Spells of Synergy or Heartbound Heroes on these fine sites: 20pfsrd.com, drivethruRPG, paizo and RPGNow.

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