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Author Topic: Optimizing a Character Concept: The Tank  (Read 5301 times)
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Endarire
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« on: September 13, 2011, 07:03:22 PM »

(Maybe this is better suited for Deliberations or Homebrew since it's part speculation and desire for change.)


Tanks.

So... tanks.

Traditionally, the "meat" of the party.  The Big Stupid Fighters (or Warblades or Crusaders or...).

Stuck with the job of protecting partymates while trying not to be outclassed by them.

Practically, what does a tank in 3.5 need to be relevant while the foes are on the battlefield?  I don't mean trying to plane hop into a genesis demiplane and confront a caster on his own turf and terms.

I realize 3.5 is a game where flying and teleporting foes become common.

What does a tank need to be relevant when the game is mostly 2D?  (That is, flying and teleporting foes are rare.)

What does a tank need to be relevant when flight but not teleportation becomes common, besides being able to fly personally?

What does a tank need to be relevant when flight and teleportation are common?

How does a tank handle casters on the field while not gimping himself?

When, if ever, does an optimized tank just get outclassed by a summonling?  (Malconvokers can put out some pretty spiffy ones.)
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 07:11:54 PM »

A tank needs a few things: Durability, Control, and Mobility

Durability is obvious: he needs to be able to survive whatever is attacking him, but also to not be moved out of the way or otherwise disrupted (like being bull rushed, grappled, tripped, or simply thrown in the air)

Control is likewise obvious: he needs a way to force his opponents to not attack his allies (whether they attack him or not isn't the factor here)  This can be keeping the opponents from getting into range of his party members or actively stopping their attacks.

Mobility is the one often forgotten.  Battles shift constantly whether an individual does or not.  A tank needs to always be in the right place to prevent his allies from getting hurt, and it's wise to prevent enemies from flanking him.
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 09:17:42 PM »

The best tanks are druids, clerics, favored souls, archivists, and arcane and psionic gishes. Basically you need to be a tier 1 or tier 2 to hang with the wizards, beguilers, other divine casters, etc.
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2011, 09:28:28 PM »

The best tanks are druids, clerics, favored souls, archivists, and arcane and psionic gishes. Basically you need to be a tier 1 or tier 2 to hang with the wizards, beguilers, other divine casters, etc.
Meh, I disagree. A well-built crusader, warblade, or even other "lockdown" build can hang in there just fine with even a modicum of party support, especially below level 15 or so. D&D isn't about 1 on 1 duels.
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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2011, 09:39:54 PM »

A Crusader can definitely tank.  My D&D Smiteadin build could tank very effectively, as could the Bulldozer (which was mostly a War Hulk).  But it did hit those three mentioned concepts... both were based around shield charging, which trips and dazes enemies and thus takes them out of the fight while still maintaining mobility.

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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2011, 09:50:20 PM »

I think Snakeman pretty much nailed it. 

Just to augment, the things that Snakeman points out (and that other posters mention as well) are what separates the idea of the tank combat role from "guy w/ tons of hit points and a high AC."  Summons can usually do the latter, but will have more trouble w/ the former since few monsters come ready made w/ Stand Still and Thicket of Blades, though I'm sure you can find a few (and then you're essentially just summoning a tank). 
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Endarire
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« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2011, 07:37:32 PM »

How important is the feat Stand Still in a lockdown build?  I've seen it as potentially handy, but if I can do enough damage to prevent a guy from moving, I can probably help more by hurting him.
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Speaking of which:
Don't even need TO for this.  Any decent Hood build, especially one with Celerity, one-rounds [Azathoth, the most powerful greater deity from d20 Cthulu].
Does it bug anyone else that we've reached the point where characters who can obliterate a greater deity in one round are considered "decent?"
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« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2011, 08:04:29 PM »

How important is the feat Stand Still in a lockdown build?  I've seen it as potentially handy, but if I can do enough damage to prevent a guy from moving, I can probably help more by hurting him.
Which is why, IMO, Knock-down and Knock-back are typically better feats, since they fulfill the same purpose (stopping movement), but you still deal your damage.
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2011, 12:02:26 AM »

Well Tanks arent just Feats and such.  I made a Dwarf Fighter 2/Barb 2, Ranger 1, Fist of the Forest 1, Deep warden 2, who took Mineral warrior and Feral.  With buffs I got a +12 Con mod, and I get my con added to my AC 2x Monks Belt to get my considering +8 Mod wis to AC as well, (Mind you this is buffed up).  Normally my AC is around 56 but total defensive puts me at 60 AC and nothing in my Groups enemies could hit me and I have the highest AC.  I built a DPSer/Tank and ended up just sitting there getting hit by 1 attack and there were like 12 attacks.  Problem was that I kept getting critted LOL.  YAY! DR Smile and Fast healing but I still ended up dieing 10x Sad.
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« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2011, 12:59:25 AM »

Something that helps tanks is getting immune to crits.  Let's face it, the way D&D works means if you do get hit, it'll be HARD.  Pumping AC is nice, but SR and miss chance helps on the defensive side too.
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« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2011, 02:03:11 AM »

Yay to the Warshaper..
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« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2011, 08:39:13 AM »

  Hmm... There have been several times in the last couple of months that I jokingly and semi-seriously talked about writing the "Tanking" handbook.
 What I've found in even pondering such a thing is this. Practically speaking, in 3.5 tanking is the art of turning oneself into a living battlefield control spell.
  There are a few feats in D&D that allow you do do something similar to video game tank, specifically "goad", but even at that its a move action taunt which only affects 1 target and allows a save in a stat you may or may not have. Fear is another effect that I've seen melee's use for battlefield control making people too frigtened to fight and being sticky enough that they can't run or simply executing the ones which remain.
As an above poster said, durability, mobility (space and reach work some to add to this, and control.
Sigh as I've become know to do, I couldn't help but think about the "Knight" mechanic from the F&K Tome which has something called designate opponent in place of "knight's challenge":
 
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Designate Opponent (Ex): As a Swift Action, a Knight may mark an opponent as their primary foe. This foe must be within medium range and be able to hear the Knight's challenge. If the target creature inflicts any damage on the Knight before the Knight's next turn, the attempt fails. Otherwise, any attacks the Knight uses against the opponent during her next turn inflict an extra d6 of damage for each Knight level. This effect ends at the end of her next turn, or when she has struck her opponent a number of times equal to the number of attacks normally allotted her by her Base Attack Bonus.

Example: Vayn is a 6th level Knight presently benefiting from a haste spell, granting her an extra attack during a Full Attack action. On her turn she designates an Ettin as her primary opponent, and the Ettin declines to attack her during the ensuing turn. When her next turn comes up, she uses a Full Attack and attacks 3 times. The first two hits inflict an extra 6d6 of damage, and then she designates the Ettin as her opponent again. It won't soon ignore her!    
I noted that this was pretty much wholesale lifted (or coincedentally repeated, doesn't matter which) for use in 4.0, with the "marking" that melees did.
  If find that its really been done correctly and illustrates WHY any opponent in thier right mind would even attack the slow killer in full plate as opposed the reality rapists in cloth gear if they had a chance.

Also, I'd like to address your specific questions as well but I'm gonna take some time to give them some thought. Hopefully can let you know today.

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Yay to the Warshaper
You know that class does have some of the needed mechanics of being a tank. A crusader/warshaper, in even the basic martial healing stance can attack once with each type of natural attack iirc, at 2 healed per attack and maybe stone power at low levels thats a really game swinging thing.
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« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2011, 12:53:50 AM »

A tank could be alot of things.. Really with the right preparation you could turn any class into a Tank.  With my Druid I frequently end up tanking things without even trying.
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« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2011, 01:08:36 AM »

A tank could be alot of things.. Really with the right preparation you could turn any class into a Tank.  With my Druid I frequently end up tanking things without even trying.

Imo the best tank is someone who makes everybody else a worse target than himself. My favorite tank is a bufficer with some sort of contingent protection. SUICIDE TANK!
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« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2011, 12:47:05 PM »

Wow guys thanks.  I have been in the process of making a homebrew class that is ment to fit into this mold.  I contimplated what made a solid tank as it is easy for spell casters or other high tier classes to get around the guy/girl there in full plate.  I see it as there needs to be flexability in a class to do the job well.  Plus being able to keep the baddie on them so that the other party members can take down said baddie. 
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« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2011, 01:18:06 PM »

I agree with all of the above. A tank is a viable option in 3.5e, but it's even better a full-caster.

The best tank I'd faced was a Psionic Gish PC with hilarious reach (30" or more), Stand Still, the Mage Slayer line of feats, and a REALLY powerful defence and offence. The guy could shut down an equal level PARTY all alone - and we were all optimized, heavily.

Tanking is about being a Battlefield Control spell, but doing it in a way that's better than any spell could - that is, being able to react to the situation, and alter your tactics.
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« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2011, 01:26:02 PM »

I agree with all of the above. A tank is a viable option in 3.5e, but it's even better a full-caster.

The best tank I'd faced was a Psionic Gish PC with hilarious reach (30" or more), Stand Still, the Mage Slayer line of feats, and a REALLY powerful defence and offence. The guy could shut down an equal level PARTY all alone - and we were all optimized, heavily.

Tanking is about being a Battlefield Control spell, but doing it in a way that's better than any spell could - that is, being able to react to the situation, and alter your tactics.

Mind sharing the stats on that monster, Cantrip?
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CantripN
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« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2011, 01:41:36 PM »

I agree with all of the above. A tank is a viable option in 3.5e, but it's even better a full-caster.

The best tank I'd faced was a Psionic Gish PC with hilarious reach (30" or more), Stand Still, the Mage Slayer line of feats, and a REALLY powerful defence and offence. The guy could shut down an equal level PARTY all alone - and we were all optimized, heavily.

Tanking is about being a Battlefield Control spell, but doing it in a way that's better than any spell could - that is, being able to react to the situation, and alter your tactics.

Mind sharing the stats on that monster, Cantrip?

I'd love to. Except I don't have them. I'll try to get the guy to send me the sheet.

He played it three times - once as a PC in my game (powerful), once as a PC in my game (gestalt, crazy powerful), once as an NPC in his game (gestalt, CRAZY SUPER POWERFUL - 4 levels above us, though).

What I do know he had:
Race - Elan.
Weapon - Spiked Chain.
Feats - Deformity (Tall) + Abberant Reach, Mage Slayer line, Improved Elan Resilience.
Powers - Precognitive..., Expansion, Share Pain, Vigor.

He also had a feat that let him make an AoO on Swift Action spells, but I'm not sure if it's the one from ToM or it's from Dragon.

Sadly, I don't know enough about Psionics to recreate it. I know the little above, but not much more.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2011, 01:52:59 PM by CantripN » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2011, 01:58:59 PM »

I think too much time is spent thinking about the thick slabs of steel covering the tank, and not enough about the massive cannon and treads.

The treads represent mobility as others have pointed out.  Because your cannon tends to have a melee range, even with absurd amounts of reach, you're still a short range threat.  That means you need to be able to get anywhere on the battlefield and quickly.  That means being able to move through Grease/Tentacles/Rough Terrain etc and still being able to reach your target.  Sudden Leap/Travel Devotion/Teleportation+Shadowpouncing are all means to do this at *all* levels of play, and I feel that some or all of these methods are essential.

The cannon is your main tool to provide "threat"; I'm talking about the threat of instant ignominious death.  Who cares about Daze/Standstill when you 1 shot people?  The neat thing - Power Attack, Leap Attack, Shock Trooper, Valorous Weapon, Battlejump, Multipouncing - pick 3 and you still do PLENTY of damage.  You don't NEED to kill things by an extra 9001 damage.

Basically, I think Uberchargers are the best tanks because they have very large cannons and, in general, get some kind of added mobility to enable their charging.  The funny thing about Uberchargers is that they lack the thick steel plates that other people envision on their tanks.  In fact, I look at not getting a huge AC, or rather, completely and entirely dumping AC via Rage+Shocktrooper as a bonus; now the massed group of mooks WANTS to attack you, because you ARE the easiest guy to hit.  Besides, MASSIVE Fort save, possible MASSIVE Will save via Steadfast Determination, and MASSIVE HP are all you need to survive a lot of different attacks. 

Think about it - do you want to hit the guy who just charged while raging+shock troopering with -7 AC (yeah negative 7 - and this ain't THAC0 we're talking about) - or do you want to try and hit the Wizard with 18+ AC...with mirrorimages and displacement/blur who is flying and you can't get to anyways? 

All I have to say is 2 out of 3 ain't bad!
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Shiki
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« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2011, 02:04:19 PM »

^So... Hood? etc..
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