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Author Topic: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat  (Read 767 times)

AgentGibbs

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Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« on: April 08, 2021, 12:12:22 AM »
While I understand this will be a low priority, but I think the DC on the AA death arrow could use some love. A DC 20 for a feat you can't take until level 17 at the earliest, and often times later than that makes it very underwhelming as a final AA feat. In comparison to other instant death effects, I don't know about the DC for slay living, but finger of death is DC 27, and can be prepared multiple times while the AA death arrow has a much lower DC and can only be used once per rest. In the time it takes to obtain (at best 4 levels later), the effectiveness/usefulness, and just all around underwhelming feeling of something that is supposed to be the culmination of the strongest archer's skills falls well short of many of the other spells/feats of similar effect. I don't think adding 5-7 points to the DC, or making the DC 20+Dex bonus or something of that sort would break the balance of the class in any manner either.

And while I know some people will want to bring up the other feats gained by being an AA, I am not arguing the overall usefulness of the class's utility, just the feeling of how underwhelming it is to master this skillset compared to a spell that is almost trivial in the 7th circle of other arcanists.

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2021, 02:35:05 AM »
The server balance between saves and DCs relies a lot on the bonus to saves vs. spells that some investment in spellcraft and items can supply.

I can't with confidence say whether Death Arrow is affected by a save vs. spells, but my gut tells me no and in that light a DC 20 that instantly kills is competitive with the tools that most casters have to the same effect.

That said, the server appears to be generally balanced to make instant death a cheap but unreliable method in PvP where damage is the king, and I agree that this is the best way to make the NWN combat engine more interesting. Since Arcane Archers get a natural +5 to their arrows, piercing even premonition, and crafted arrows have a lot of very powerful damage dice, I don't think the class is in a weak position.

I must admit that it has few mechanical toys compared to other semi-casters. Perhaps something can be done for them that is more dynamic? That would be cooler imo.
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zDark Shadowz

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2021, 02:43:16 AM »
If death arrow was 10 + AA level + int or dex modifier maybe it'd be good. 20 fort is where my druid sits after full buffs before spell saves and 25 fortish is where my multiclassed warrior sits at without any buffs, lvl 19/17 respectively.

I feel like since they are caster like abilities being affected by a casting attribute would make sense but following the .pdfs to the letter make sense too.

If there was a way to make the death arrow at least always have a 5% chance to work regardless of DC for like an auto failure then the death can at least cause death.

Alternatively maybe the death arrow can be treated as a curse, and the voice of wrath, curse focus & curse domain could apply to death arrows so its the static 20+ those feats.

Then a hexblade cleric AA could get a DC 30 death arrow. Then again, Hexblade AA is already lowering saves to the point death arrow could become relevant for use. Especially when paired with AA arrows & con/AC reduction for followup shots..
« Last Edit: April 08, 2021, 02:49:18 AM by zDark Shadowz »
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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2021, 03:38:23 AM »
Finger of Death is DC 10 + 7 [Spell level] + ? [Stats bonus] + 0/2/4/ [Foci] that means its Max DC is 27, but only if you take both focuses and opt for a 22, which means starting at 18 and dumping all but one point into it.

zDark Shadowz

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2021, 05:01:17 AM »
Well, not really its max.

10 + 7 + 4 GSF + modifier, 24 int from a sun elf by level 16, empower spell fox cunning to 30 int, DC 31 finger of death. Not factoring in spells that lower saves.
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JustMonika

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2021, 05:42:10 AM »
Well, not really its max.

10 + 7 + 4 GSF + modifier, 24 int from a sun elf by level 16, empower spell fox cunning to 30 int, DC 31 finger of death. Not factoring in spells that lower saves.

Excellent point.

MatticusCaesar

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2021, 09:14:01 AM »
I think, to some degree, we need to look at it from a % chance of it being effective.

I'd think a lvl 10 AA probably has a first attack AB in the ballpark of +30, and most of the foes that character is going to legitimately encounter are going to be high-to-uber range

Just keeping the numbers simple, but you can tinker with them however you like to make your own example:

If the foe has an AC of 40, then that's a 50% chance to hit

Then the Death Arrow then has to beat the Fortitude save, keeping in mind that anything with a Fort Save of +19 or higher is just going to be immune, since the 1 roll is not an automatic failure for saving throws.  I don't know what the average Fort save for a high-end mob is off the top of my head, but let's say it's +15
so that means it's got a 20% chance of success.

That means the Death Arrow attack has a 0.5 x 0.20 = 10% chance of successfully instantly slaying it's target.

Throw on concealment and that's another 50% haircut to the success chance, bringing it down to 5%.

You can manipulate these numbers however you like using whatever attributes/skills/feats/spells you like, but it seems to me the chance of the Death Attack succeeding when fighting a fair-game opponent is going to be generally below 15%.

We tested this in a friendly spar last night and it worked out the chance of success would have been a frustratingly low ~2%:
90% chance to hit x 50% from concealment x 5% chance to beat the Fort Save = 2.25%, or 4.5% without the concealment.

Admittedly, characters who are threatened by a lvl 10 AA are probably overall going to have a lower % chance of this successfully affecting them since they tend to be better equipped/prepared than your standard dungeon mob, but even as the potential spar/PvP victim, that struck me as very low-threat for an attack type from a highly-trained PrC that you can only use once between rests.  It relegates what is a Capstone PrC Ability to the realm of "Hail Mary, Last-Resort, Desperation Attacks."

I also don't get the sense there are legions of level 10 AAs around that pose a threat in this manner, either, so I tend to agree with some of the other posts above where there could be some variable factor that might help raise the DC vs Fort Save of this attack into at least the mid 20's.

Just my two cents.
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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2021, 10:43:55 AM »
AAs are good, save abilities tend not to be. To make DCs good generally requires making them overpowering. An int-maxed AA for Death Arrow DC is incredibly rare since you sacrifice a lot of your combat potential to become marginally less awful at instantly killing one enemy per rest... an enemy that you'd probably more efficiently kill with a balanced or physical-focused build, anyway.

There are a lot of PrCs that basically have one worthwhile feature (for the purposes of our server) and then a bunch of trash, like AA's enhancement bonus vs their hail/death arrow or Assassin's invisibility vs their death attack/poison use, so I'm not too optimistic on changing that. If I were, however, I'd be inclined towards something along the lines of a previous suggestion.
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tylernwn

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2021, 08:22:43 PM »
While I understand this will be a low priority, but I think the DC on the AA death arrow could use some love. A DC 20 for a feat you can't take until level 17 at the earliest, and often times later than that makes it very underwhelming as a final AA feat. In comparison to other instant death effects, I don't know about the DC for slay living, but finger of death is DC 27, and can be prepared multiple times while the AA death arrow has a much lower DC and can only be used once per rest. In the time it takes to obtain (at best 4 levels later), the effectiveness/usefulness, and just all around underwhelming feeling of something that is supposed to be the culmination of the strongest archer's skills falls well short of many of the other spells/feats of similar effect. I don't think adding 5-7 points to the DC, or making the DC 20+Dex bonus or something of that sort would break the balance of the class in any manner either.

And while I know some people will want to bring up the other feats gained by being an AA, I am not arguing the overall usefulness of the class's utility, just the feeling of how underwhelming it is to master this skillset compared to a spell that is almost trivial in the 7th circle of other arcanists.

Just for reference. For a caster that has not boosted their casting stat and not taken the necromancy focus feats, the DC of finger of death is much lower than DC 27.

Assuming 22 intelligence (lvl 16 wizard starting with 18 int) the DC calculation is: 10 (base) + 7 (finger of death) + 6 (stat modifier) = DC 23

So the finger of death DC you should be comparing to death Arrow is DC 23. You didn’t take any feats or stat boosts to deserve a boosted DC. Furthermore Considering death arrow has no save vs spell and finger of death does, I would say death arrow is probably better than finger of death.

If you really want to make a point about this, then ask that necromancy focus and greater necromancy focus boost the DC of the arrow (up to DC 24), but you have to take those feats. However to get a free DC 27 arrow that bypasses spellcraft and spell resistance, with no further investment of feats or anything, would be ridiculous.

For reference if I cast finger of death with max wards and my highly optimized build vs a pit fiend, I would have about a 5% chance of it working (10% kill chance after 50% miss from spell resistance). With your DC 27 arrow you would have a 20% chance to kill it (x4 more) even after factoring in miss chance from high AC (40% kill chance vs 50% miss chance from AC). So the DC of a spell and the DC of an ability are no where near equivalent. So they should not be compared the way your suggestion is comparing them.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2021, 08:48:52 PM by tylernwn »

AgentGibbs

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2021, 10:03:23 PM »
While I understand this will be a low priority, but I think the DC on the AA death arrow could use some love. A DC 20 for a feat you can't take until level 17 at the earliest, and often times later than that makes it very underwhelming as a final AA feat. In comparison to other instant death effects, I don't know about the DC for slay living, but finger of death is DC 27, and can be prepared multiple times while the AA death arrow has a much lower DC and can only be used once per rest. In the time it takes to obtain (at best 4 levels later), the effectiveness/usefulness, and just all around underwhelming feeling of something that is supposed to be the culmination of the strongest archer's skills falls well short of many of the other spells/feats of similar effect. I don't think adding 5-7 points to the DC, or making the DC 20+Dex bonus or something of that sort would break the balance of the class in any manner either.

And while I know some people will want to bring up the other feats gained by being an AA, I am not arguing the overall usefulness of the class's utility, just the feeling of how underwhelming it is to master this skillset compared to a spell that is almost trivial in the 7th circle of other arcanists.

Just for reference. For a caster that has not boosted their casting stat and not taken the necromancy focus feats, the DC of finger of death is much lower than DC 27.

Assuming 22 intelligence (lvl 16 wizard starting with 18 int) the DC calculation is: 10 (base) + 7 (finger of death) + 6 (stat modifier) = DC 23

So the finger of death DC you should be comparing to death Arrow is DC 23. You didnít take any feats or stat boosts to deserve a boosted DC. Furthermore Considering death arrow has no save vs spell and finger of death does, I would say death arrow is probably better than finger of death.

If you really want to make a point about this, then ask that necromancy focus and greater necromancy focus boost the DC of the arrow (up to DC 24), but you have to take those feats. However to get a free DC 27 arrow that bypasses spellcraft and spell resistance, with no further investment of feats or anything, would be ridiculous.

For reference if I cast finger of death with max wards and my highly optimized build vs a pit fiend, I would have about a 5% chance of it working (10% kill chance after 50% miss from spell resistance). With your DC 27 arrow you would have a 20% chance to kill it (x4 more) even after factoring in miss chance from high AC (40% kill chance vs 50% miss chance from AC). So the DC of a spell and the DC of an ability are no where near equivalent. So they should not be compared the way your suggestion is comparing them.


But you can still prepare multiple casts, and your death magic comes at the best case, 4 levels before the AA's. For a one time use to be at a 15-20% chance doesnt break the system, but currently the arrow sits at around a 2-5% chance no matter what you are shooting it at. As I said earlier, a level 10 AA has to be a minimum of level 17, assuming they took a +1ab class base, then their caster level, then 10 straight AA levels. This means that if anything, the death arrow as far as the time frame in which it is learned would equate to a 9th circle spell, yet it acts more like a 5th circle. This is supposed to be the culmination of the AA's skills as they achieve the mastery of their arts, yet it can barely kill a kobold.


As for the other comments:

AA's have no issues with raw damage output, the other attributes to the class, and the fun rp instances that can happen with seeker arrows all make those feats have their place. There just is no use for the 10th level feat for this PrC since the percentage chance it works isn't worth losing the 4-6 arrows you can fire that round. And it will almost never be more successful than just attacking, but as the feat stands now, there is just no reason to use it.

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2021, 05:08:08 PM »
Let's not forget that all the AA special arrows can miss. Sure it is a touch attack but you can still miss on those.

Having played an AA before on a different server I often agree and think Death Arrow is utterly pointless in the end and just more a flavor thing. The last time I ever seen an AA use death arrow on this server was to put a woman that was being hanged by the guards out of her misery. And she still lived since the DC is a static DC.

Would it be nice to see it get some love? Yes, like if the DC was your AA level +10+dex mod? I think such is reasonable, but that might be hard-coded.

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Hypatia

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2021, 05:32:54 PM »
At high levels saves outrun DCs significantly. Any death spell isnít likely to work on anything you need it too. My cleric can do a 26 dc implosion but most fort saves around these levels seem to be close to 20. Not great odds.

foxtale

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2021, 09:34:09 PM »
I think the big question is: Should instant kill abilities be a major threat in your opinion?

Independently of AA's I just don't personally believe they are good design in games that allow PvP, so I advocate strongly against a buff of death arrow.

I do think AA's should definitely have some more "flashy" toys.
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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2021, 10:17:21 PM »
I think the big question is: Should instant kill abilities be a major threat in your opinion?

Independently of AA's I just don't personally believe they are good design in games that allow PvP, so I advocate strongly against a buff of death arrow.

A good question. It's fine as it is in pen and paper, more or less, but there doesn't seem to be a sweet spot for balance in a persistent world such as this. Perhaps something else can be given as a worthwhile capstone for level 10 AAs? Unless that's hard coded into the game, in which case yes, it should see a buff in my opinon over it being virtually useless in any meaningful scenario.
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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2021, 11:16:25 PM »
I think abilities like Death Arrow shine most in DM events. It's the sort of thing a DM would probably incorporate into a scene or event if you asked.
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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2021, 12:13:52 AM »
I think abilities like Death Arrow shine most in DM events. It's the sort of thing a DM would probably incorporate into a scene or event if you asked.

True but this is a small situation and moment. when we are speaking more of death arrow as a whole.

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2021, 05:00:35 AM »
I think the big question is: Should instant kill abilities be a major threat in your opinion?

Independently of AA's I just don't personally believe they are good design in games that allow PvP, so I advocate strongly against a buff of death arrow.

I do think AA's should definitely have some more "flashy" toys.

Honestly, I think the root cause kind of ties back to how the number of NPC/monster combat encounters faced in a typical dungeon crawl in PotM is significantly inflated over regular tabletop D&D. That massively devalues any spell or ability that only affect a single creature compared to when it is used in a PvP context, so if they are balanced around PvP, they usually end up worthless in dungeons runs, and if balanced around dungeons runs, they'd be OP against other players.

You'd probably need some kind of arbitrary "Player characters are special"-rule to effectively make it worthwhile-but-not-OP in both scenarios.

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2021, 12:01:20 PM »
It wouldn't be that hard. Balancing things for PvP first and designing world encounters in the context of that existing balance is easy enough and plenty of games have succeeded at it. But it's impossible in the context of keeping things as close as possible to tabletop rules, where PvP is an afterthought, just like in NWN.

If they wanted to make AA more powerful they could give them something else, but the class may as well be called +5 ranged attack.
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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2021, 02:29:23 PM »
I think the big question is: Should instant kill abilities be a major threat in your opinion?

Independently of AA's I just don't personally believe they are good design in games that allow PvP, so I advocate strongly against a buff of death arrow.

I do think AA's should definitely have some more "flashy" toys.

I don't think they should be a major threat, but they need to be at least some threat. On the PvE side of things, I dont expect my death arrow to work often, or at all against pit fiends, but even as it stands, it is at best a 10% chance to kill an abberant werewolf (assuming the arrow hits which it should), that I can kill in one round with regular arrows anyway. So looking at it even from as a feat to use for flavor is irrelevant as earlier mentioned about putting the captive out of their misery...most likely the arrow just won't work. Then from the PvP side of things, a DC 20 save in PvP is only going to have a decent chance to hit if used on someone that is significantly lower leveled compared to the AA's which is fine. I just think that the percentages that we are currently looking at in an even level range (Per Matt's math, 2-5%) is astronomically low. I'm not saying it needs to be a 50/50 shot, but even bumping it up to 12-15% gives it a legitimate chance to work and if it doesn't, the player it got used on has one free round to work with before the onslaught of +5 arrows starts coming. As I said earlier, the death arrow is just a very pale comparison to other abilities gained at corresponding levels for other classes. You gain access to 9th circle spells with the same amount of time put into a wiz/sorc, and therefore you would have access to both banshee wail and power word kill.

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2021, 02:48:27 PM »
Having a scaling DC might make it too powerful since it's unaffected by the target's spell resistance nor spellcraft bonus, and is a Touch Attack rather than a regular attack. You end up with a DC 25-26 (at least) instant death ability that has no downsides.

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2021, 04:16:58 PM »
Use it on pesky sneaks. They have crap fort saves and everyone hates them.

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2021, 07:21:55 PM »
Hm, would changing it to do the equivalent of a confirmed critical be better or possible?

Ranged touch attacks are still subject to concealment, it wouldnt do more damage in one round than a volley of arrows could be able to do, but it would still kill a lot more than it does now.
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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2021, 09:54:01 PM »
Having a scaling DC might make it too powerful since it's unaffected by the target's spell resistance nor spellcraft bonus, and is a Touch Attack rather than a regular attack. You end up with a DC 25-26 (at least) instant death ability that has no downsides.

My only argument against this is that there is armor and feats that give you a + vs death spells and effects. Bodak skin items already give you a +3 vs death unenchanted, Troll gives you a increased to fort of +2? That alone is a +5 vs death effects involving fort which Death arrow is a Fort or die. when both are enchanted that's a total of 10 to the save,  There are ways to prevent such already by also just having Deathward up and the Attacker can roll a 1 on the touch and miss... i've done that and just cried heh.

I can see where it can be a threat in a PvP stand point and while I would like to think people wouldn't do that we know we aren't squeaky clean in those aspects of taking advantage when it comes to PvP, but in a PvE standpoint it is the most useless ability of a AA since by that level you're already in Desert, Hazlan and perfidius range. which all have either undead or a stupid high fort making the arrow useless.  I think if it could be increased either through feats. Or the natural 20+ lets say Int mod since you need to know where to put it. makes the DC far more manageable since i doubt any AA walking around is rocking a 20 int. most will have around a 14, making it a DC 22, and they can get Fox cunning which might increase it by maybe another 2 points giving a max about DC 24 on average, which is around any of the high end spell saves... Like a flipping DC 32 horrid wilting.. or implosion.

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2021, 10:06:38 PM »
Does it take a full round to use? I don't see a time when it would ever be worth using against things your level as an archer, considering how many arrows you missed out on firing.
Leaving aside the hours-long protection from death you can get with Death Ward potions and items, you still have a 10% chance to come out unscathed even if you have no AC or Fort save to speak of, just because they have a 5% chance to roll a 1 on the touch attack and you have a 5% chance to roll a 20 on the fort save.

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Re: Arcane Archer Death Arrow Feat
« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2021, 10:52:15 PM »
The abilities of your class are inevitably going to be balanced against each other, too, not just other class abilities. With a +5 to every ranged attack you make, there's no need to split hairs about an ability like this. I don't see why every ability has to be applicable and reliable at-level or in PvP. I think it's destructive to the server environment for capstones to get better when they are overwhelmingly powerful in their situational usage. High level characters need significant power jumps the least.
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