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I am currently playing DnD 3.5 with three friends of mine. I am Game Master and I let my players create 4th level characters in the beginning of the campaign.

One of them chose Forsaker as his prestige class (warrior 1/forsaker 3). I've found this class over powered, but I was thinking "Oh, he can't use magic items, that could be funny".

That was a mistake. That one player has 27 AC, something like 13 SR, self-heal per round etc. The problem is two other players are much weaker, so when the whole team fight with monsters they are either too weak for Forsaker or too powerful for other PCs.

I don't think it's fair to order this OP player to make a new character because it isn't his fault that the Forsaker prestige class is overpowered. But I have really no idea how could I balance this team.

For reference, the players had 75 ability points to distribute when they were creating their characters. Maximum limit was set up to 20 and minimum to 8. Additionally, they used flaws from "Unearthed Arcana" (1 flaws = 1 extra feat, max 2 flaws).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jul 27 '17 at 4:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Answers should be based on Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and describe something you've done/seen done/read about being done in this case and explain how it worked out. "Try this random idea" is a poor answer. Also, consider answering with options and a more holistic approach than tossing out one specific idea. This is very close to being closed as a list question. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jul 27 '17 at 18:01

10 Answers 10

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Go with touch attacks, they disregards armor ;)


They will ignore armor, natural armor, and shields. Other bonuses still apply.

So have a pro wrestler attack the OP PC (grapple).

You could also throw acid flasks or alchemist fire (again touch attack, ranged this time). There is also a net that can be thrown.

Or simply be generous with the finding of magic items, and scale the villains up a bit. This class is clearly OP in a world with few magic items, but what the PCs find is your call.

A large monk with high STR can be very effective against him. When my player minmax, I tend to do the same. Don't worry about finding reasons for why a monk should be hunting him, he will give you plenty by destroying relics ;)

Also, don't forget that to be resurrected, the target must be willing :) I doubt a forsaken would accept magical help, so don't be too hard on him (unless he has only taken this class for the bonuses, and not the RP).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Reminds me of how Vow of Poverty can become 'OP' when you have a DM that's very scarce when it comes to loot \$\endgroup\$ – Snappie Jul 24 '17 at 13:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good call pointing out that in a low magic setting, the forsaker is too powerful. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jul 24 '17 at 13:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's possible that he'd choose to accept a resurrection. Up to him, really... but if he does, he loses all of his forsaker powers for a year and a day. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jul 26 '17 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden Actually, not really, he would have to wait for that much only if he would use magic himself (willingly), and if unwillingly -- one week. Against a beneficial spell he only has to roll a saving throw if it allows one, Raise Dead doesn't, but his soul would probably think twice before accepting magical resurrection. \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Jul 27 '17 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm currently having a trouble with Vow of Poverty too. I need to equip them up, damn. \$\endgroup\$ – Elindor Dec 5 '17 at 12:50
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A few things stand out to me right off the bat.

  • First, the Forsaker prestige class has three feat requirements, which is intended to make the PC wait a few levels as they gather up those feats before being able to jump into this prestige class.
  • Second, you mentioned that your PC has 24 constitution. Even with all their ability score bonus from their Forsaker levels going into CON this seems like it would be difficult to achieve.
  • Finally, this prestige class has a way to balance it built right in. Even if the above all checks out, this prestige class makes their character unable to benefit from any kind of magic. Give your other players magic items, wands, potions, etc to help even playing field.
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The other posters have mostly covered the answer (give the party magic items to balance things out) but there are a few other details to bear in mind. First, that DR is run by magic item destruction. If he goes a day without destroying a magic item (100 gp per point of DR), the DR goes away, until he starts destroying again. Hold him to that. The fast healing is nice, and there's a lot of it, but has a limited number of points per day. Eventually it will run out. Most importantly, a forsaker (particularly con-specced) is a defensive powerhouse but loses out offensively. That's going to become even more the case as you go up in levels, and the other characters start playing with magical weapons and other items that up their mobility, damage output, and overall effectiveness.

So you have trouble coming up with enemies who can scratch the forsaker, but not flatten the others? Don't try. Start cultivating two kinds of enemy. The first is relatively weak but cunning. They recognize that the forsaker is an iron pillar of impossible defenses and leave him alone - they'll go after everyone else, and do their best to ignore the forsaker's relatively weak attempts to attack them. The second is dumb but powerful. They'd be a real threat to any of the other party members, but the forsaker should be able to corral them relatively easily. Things like natural chokepoints and the like can also serve here. That thrusts the forsaker into a defender role, and makes his job a tactical challenge of seeing how much of the enemy hate he can monopolize (adjust the level of tactical challenge to the tactical skills of the player in question).

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    \$\begingroup\$ ... the third is relatively weak but cunning, and has a big dumb friend ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop Jul 24 '17 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes! Why have them fight a single enemy (or type of enemy) at a time? Throw them against a glass cannon wizard and his ogre bodyguards! Or an heavily armored anti-paladin and his six goblin minions! \$\endgroup\$ – Shawn V. Wilson Jul 26 '17 at 5:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, you can have both kinds of enemy in the same fight. It's even a good idea. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jul 26 '17 at 12:43
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Target the characters weaknesses.

He focused on constitution, require charisma or intelligence, or strength rolls. By taking 8 charisma (or whatever dump stat) he said: "I want to fail lots of charisma rolls." and it is your job to provide him with many opportunities to fail them.

He took some flaws, we don't know what they are, but they should have about the same level of impact as the feat they paid for.

He can't use magic items? That phat loot goes to someone else. (Do not replace magic items with other stuff so that the forsaker can use them; he specifically said that he doesn't want them, so he can get the stuff of the prestige class.)

This approach can balance anything. You could allow a crippling fear of one-eyed owls to pay for +10 strength and an allergy to wool to give five extra feats; as long as you are prepared to make the campaign focus on the Strigiforme pirates and their tendency to issue knitting challenges.

The point is he took some weaknesses to pay for the power and you should ensure they are relevant.

Don't focus on the the forsaker character though, target everyone, be evenhanded. Maybe make a list of all the weaknesses in the group and make a rotation.

You don't have to think about their strengths much; expect the sniper to try to make combat happen from afar, expect the thief to hide, the wizard to fireball et cetera.

Ideally it should work out that the rest of the party balances out the weaknesses of of each other. The forsaker is confronted with a weakness, someone else will get a chance to shine. The others get the forsakers share of magic items, everyone is happy.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is exactly how I handled it when I had powerful PCs. Two high level monks that can punch their way through any boss I come up with? Now you have to fight a town's worth of innocent, mind controlled villagers out for blood. Killing them isn't an option so all of those amazing punchy stats are now ignored and tension is restored to the game \$\endgroup\$ – D.Spetz Jul 24 '17 at 19:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @D.Spetz (…But …but high-level monks sound like a perfect counter for a fight against a town of mind-controlled innocents—monks can opt to deal nonlethal damage with their unarmed strikes yet suffer no penalty on attack rolls. A one-hit charge fighter, however, would struggle.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 25 '17 at 9:51
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Part of the problem is that you're being too permissive about the sources you allow.

  • D&D isn't designed to run with point buy the way you are doing it. You should use a point buy calculator -- there are many online that you can use.
  • Flaws are an experimental rule and they have a lot of problems.
  • If a prestige class from 3.0 wasn't ported into 3.5, there might be balance reasons for that.

It might be too late for you to ask players to rebuild characters using the official rules. But just know for the future that allowing all this extra stuff will cause the sorts of problems you're experiencing.


There are ways to make the combats work -- for example if this character gets swarmed by ten goblins all trying to grapple him, eventually he'll go down and get grappled to death. I don't recommend this, though. It's too easily to accidentally kill the party when using this type of tactic.

Your best solution now is probably to have a talk with your player. Tell him his character isn't working with the group and ask him to help you fix it. One good way to fix it might be to retire that character and have your player bring in a new one.

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I had a similar experience in the past and from that, I can tell you this problem will probably solve itself as the PCs level up. Magic items are getting more and more relevant with level, especially for a martial class. If you think about magic healing, weapon bonuses to overcome DR and ways of movement – especially flying – to mention only a few things. Spell casters will also get spells that are more powerful and they generally outpace all the martial classes in offense.

But, if you really want to do something right now maybe the best thing you can do is to buff the other PCs. You can do this by giving them the things this class lacks – magic items. This will increase the overall power of the others while not affecting this PC. Still it would be a good idea to focus on potions, scrolls and other limited use items when you hand these out and you can also incentives their use a bit more – potions with an expire date, crumbling old scrolls (magic could fleet them at any moment) or a bane weapon that was lent to the PC to help them in their mission (should be returned afterwards). This can equal the ground without making the other PCs the overpowered ones at later levels.

Also this class will probably still remain a bit weird in the high levels because at that point his offensive capabilities will start to dwindle (Natural Weapons give a bit of a boost but it doesn’t seem to get better with level), but he will continue to be a defensive monster (all the other class features are defensive).

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You probably won't like this solution, but I'll put it out there for consideration.

Overpowered PCs can be a flaw core to D&D 3.5E. If you are playing with a group where everyone wants to power-game and is ready to take on any insane encounter that you can dream up this is fine. If you heavily moderate their builds to keep everything on an even keel or if no one in the group is interested in pushing their character's stats to the limit it can also be fine.

The situation you find yourself in frequently occurs in groups with mixed play styles in 3.5E and it really doesn't happen in 5E. Thanks to systems like advantage and the lack of rule books that are filled cover to cover with character options that inevitably interact in unforeseen ways, characters tend to not break games.

If this situation turns out to be a one time deal you're better off following the other solutions, but if this becomes a recurring problem consider switching editions.

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First

By allowing your players to get more feats at level 1, you allowed access to a prestige class earlier than you should have, as normally he would only be able to get the first level of Forsaker at level 4 and that is only if he is human and at this point he would only have Ability bonus +1, fast healing 1 (10 max), forsake magic and SR 11, which are not that big deal for a level 4.

If he is from any other race that doesn't grant a free feat at level 1, he would need 3 more levels, qualifying at lvl 6 and getting the first level at level 7, getting the same features the human would get, but later.

These class features were intended to make a Forsaker as powerful as someone that gets the right amount of magical items for each level, but its main flaw is that the Forsaker doesn't have to deal with items not being what he needs.

So I urge you to rethink about allowing him to have this PrC at this point, my other points assume you're sticking with your first decision of allowing him to have the PrC at this point.

Second

I don't recommend giving more magic loot to other players to compensate them for the Forsaker being OP as this could create the idea that the "game master is out to get me" or that you can't handle the Forsaker as a GM and what you actually want is for him to realize that playing a magic item addict that doesn't get the benefits of magic items is annoying even if the player believes otherwise.

Third

Game world economy doesn't work in his favor. Magic items are not always available (specially in the wilds or outside of places where they are usually accessible) and if i were the GM i wouldn't let him store magic items to break when he needs it as it's against the whole philosophy of this prestige class.

Fourth

He has to go to the 'magic item mall' every day while not adventuring and sometimes while adventuring (which in itself is quite weird/contradictory a person that hates magic shopping for magic items), spending his gold there, this may slow down the game because he has to go to town to buy his 'juice'. He also can refuse to use magic mounts, fly by magic means or be teleported and even go to magical places which can slow down games even more (be sure to punish him if he accepts to use magic indirectly).

Making things a bit difficult

Now that i got my 4 main points we can go through weaknesses that can be exploited without you changing the prestige class, but be reminded that you can change the class, i.e. change his DR to only work versus magical effects, also, like other people mentioned before me, you can always create challenges that are outside his powers, but I presume this is not the problem, you actually want HIM to be challenged in combat.

  • If by any chance there isn't enough magic items for him to destroy (remember, every point of DR requires 100 gp, so at level 3 he needs to spend 300gp every day), he will have no DR... suddenly he is way less tankier than usual, also, if that goes on for a bunch of days, he may be tempted to destroy the magic items in possession of his companions, after all he is a against anything magic and you can play this as plot material if you are comfortable playing the players against themselves. Also, if he doesn't destroy magic items right after he acquires them, you can have his enemies steal his 'fuel' to make him vulnerable.

  • If you want to challenge him during combat and using spells you can use damage spells that have the entry Spell Resistance: No, like: Melf's Acid Arrow (which has the extra benefit of being a ranged touch attack, so it makes his armor useless) or the various Orb of spells from Complete Arcane, or use Effect spells as most of them can't be resisted with Spell Resistance, like: Grease, Web, Fog Cloud and Darkness.

  • He is not immune to traps. He can still fail a check and fall on a moat or a tar pit or anything else and if he is alone, his anti-magic resources do nothing to help him, so if he is a gung-ho type of character that doesn't prepare himself (like buying ropes, rations, etc.) he can get screwed easily because magic is also used to cover for these things (Ex: he probably should refuse to eat food generated by magic, so he would be forced to carry his food or eat whatever he finds).

  • You can also make him busy in combat through Summon spells, as they obviously don't target him and create more enemies to deal with, specially if you have a summoner with Augmented Summoning feat (boosts Str and Con of summoned creatures by +4).

  • Also, feel free to let the enemies use buff spells (True Strike, Invisibility, Magic Weapon, etc.) to allow them to bypass his defenses or make his life difficult (Miss chance, enemies hitting his high AC on a roll of a 7 or simply ignoring his DR due to having +1 weapons is annoying to someone used to roflstomping enemies without consequence). And he can't give any excuse for them using magic against him as he actually needs to have magic-using people as enemies.

  • Use the combat maneuver feats (Improved Trip, Grapple, Feint, Disarm, Sunder, etc.) to waste his actions. Some enemies don't need to deal damage to wreak havoc. Disarming or Sundering is pretty good if he is not using his fist as a weapon, because his bonus derived from DR only counts for hitting/bypassing DR (so they don't increase his damage) and his punches will provoke Attacks of Opportunity and roll low dice for damage unless he goes the route of unarmed attacks which isn't better than being a Monk.

  • Damage reduction does not negate touch attacks, energy damage dealt along with an attack, or energy drains. Nor does it affect poisons or diseases delivered by inhalation, ingestion, or contact.. (This is actually similar to traps as they are mundane things that can hurt him and even kill him).

  • His extra attribute points focused on Constitution make him a damage sponge, but his constitution can be lowered through weapons with keyword Wounding ( I only recommend to do that if he gets famous/infamous and more clever enemies).

  • Forsaker was not designed to be achieved easily or in all kinds of campaigns, i.e. low-magic games can't sustain a Forsaker because of magic scarcity. And it can be argued that he is not forsaking anything as he is actually using magic items as fuel and his powers are very magic-like.

  • In any game world where magic and magic items are relatively abundant, if this guy becomes a bandit or if there is a criminal faction that is related to magic or magic items, they would surely use their power to eliminate him before he gets powerful enough to become a threat to them.

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I've been playing D&D since the boxed sets. In every edition I use the same fix for this.

If you over power you're PC, congrats. Have a level handy cap. This is what levels are for.

I have a 5th level wizard who holds his own in 9th level parties. I'd much rather play him with that group then to see the game play target him or the rules nerf him. I'm totally upfront with how overpowered he is. Rather then see him watered down I engage the DM with ways to balance him. I give up levels and the hit points that go with them to maintain his flavor.

Of course he has weakness that I think are fun to see exploited but I don't want every encounter to be designed around that. That forces my PC to be the center of attention. Let's be considerate of the fact that other players want to have fun too.

I've also been on the other side. DMing with a mix of people. Some who are so new to the game they don't even know which dice to roll when attacking. Other who squeeze every ounce of power out of the rules. They all want to have fun together. How do you balance that?

By simply not trusting their level to tell you their power. Not everyone in the party needs to be at the same level. A few encounters should make that clear. Heck I've designed encounters specifically to see how much damage each player can really dish out. With enough die rolls it doesn't matter how they roll. Keeping track of performance data on the PC's will quickly tell you who's overpowered, by how much, and you can start tuning the balance.

Done this way the work they put in to find an edge doesn't feel wasted. It feels like they skipped a few grades in school.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems hard as a GM to just tell one player that he won't get his level because he is too overpowered. How do you know who is overpowered and how much levels the other need to compensate for that? Your approach seems to raise more problems than it solves if it is not spontaneously applied by the player. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Jul 26 '17 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme You don't do this spontaneously. You tell people it's part of how you run the game from the start. I don't announce I'm running a 9th level game. I announce i'm running a game where you have to effectively be at 9th level. If you're actually a presige class half orc half displacer beast bastard grandson of Tiamat then fine whatever welcome to the fighting pit. Let's see how you do at 3rd level. A little play testing sorts a lot of nonsense out. \$\endgroup\$ – candied_orange Jul 26 '17 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ This would be improved by explaining how to broach that topic and convey that expectation, then, and how to handle it in the querent's situation. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 28 '17 at 8:28
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Use curses. Curses that take a point of constitution, or a level, or something else to bring him down. They will help make him less OP. Have something he wants, and put a curse on it. He will go for it immediately, and than be cursed. That's what I would do. It will help bring him down, and especially if you haven't done it before, it will really get him.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If you were dming a game I was playing in, this would pretty much frustrate me and let me feel my actions have no impact. Additionally cursing an item will make the forcaster simply try to get rif of it and even destroy it, since a curse is nothing but magic. If you make the curse staying active even after the fading of the item, you might render the forcaster useless dependend on the kind of curse, as its magic he is in contact with / passively using. What might qualify as deactivating the forecasters features for 1 week. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Jul 27 '17 at 7:27

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