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Pathfinder 1E When you forget to coordinate party composition.

Fauchard1520

Explorer
Not so long ago, I failed in my GMly duties. It was book 1 of Strange Aeons, and I made no mention of party composition during Session Zero. It was a classic case of "why didn't anybody play a healer?" as they began to make saving throws to stabilize vs. giant rats.

Question for the board: Have you ever failed to coordinate your party composition? Did you find a workaround for the oversight, or did it come back to bite you before you got the chance?

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)
 

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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
My current party is like that. We have a barbarian, a slayer, a gunslinger, and a warpriest. The warpriest is capable of using healing magic (and having a wand of cure light wounds helps), and since we're still only 3rd level it's not a huge deal, but we're all very aware that as we level up we're going to feel the lack of magical "oomph" in our party.

We're still trying to figure out what to do about that.
 

BigZebra

Explorer
I was actually just thinking about this. We are some 5e'rs starting a PF1 campaign soon (Rise), so I'm quite curious to know what constitutes a good party composition in this game. Gonna follow this thread :cool:

So a healer is important I gather. How important is the magical "oomph" as mentioned. By group rarely gravitates toward arcane classes. But perhaps this is a game were it would be a good idea?
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
So a healer is important I gather. How important is the magical "oomph" as mentioned. By group rarely gravitates toward arcane classes. But perhaps this is a game were it would be a good idea?
The major benefits to having a spellcaster in the party, in my experience, really start to kick in once you get past the lower levels (e.g. level five or so). By "spellcaster," I mean someone on a full-progression spellcasting trajectory (i.e. they'll end up being able to cast 9th-level spells).

Part of the reason for this is that spellcasters, especially preparatory spellcasters (i.e. wizards and clerics, rather than, say, sorcerers) are at the top of the tier system, meaning that they have the broadest range of potential options to deal with various situations. A fighter will be reliably able to hit things, and a rogue will be able to use more skills than anyone, but a well-prepared wizard will be able to charm enemies, fly past them (while invisible), paralyze them with hold person, summon something to harry them, and that's just with the low-level spells.

Now, a lot of this depends on player preparation. A wizard is going to want to take full advantage of their free Scribe Scroll feat in order to have a lot of "once in a blue moon" spells prepared (e.g. water breathing), and should take every possible opportunity to expand their spellbook (paying careful attention to the rules and costs for scribing more spells) - including buying access to more spells whenever the party is in a town, city, or other settlement - which is a lot of work on the player's part. Clerics have it a little easier, as they have access to their entire spell list, but unless they take an item creation feat, they need to be highly judicious with regard to what spells they pick at the beginning of each day.

Item creation feats bear special mention. While non-spellcasters can take Master Craftsman in order to make magic items on their own, spellcasters are still the go-to insofar as making magic items goes. The value of this can't be overstated (mostly for Craft Magic Arms and Armor as well as Craft Wondrous Item), because it lets the party customize their gear even beyond what the ubiquitous magic item shops will allow for (and you can make items for half the cost of purchasing them, hence the section on magic item creation in Ultimate Campaign). Given the importance of what magic items each character has, the value of this cannot be overstated.

And, of course, divine spellcasters have the ability to remove various afflictions beyond hit point damage. That's not too common, of course, but there are things that a wand of cure light wounds can't handle. You'll want to be able to ditch ability damage (or worse, ability drain) and negative levels as soon as possible, for example.

Overall, because Pathfinder is a high-magic game system (being patterned so closely off of D&D 3.5), it's really a matter of taking advantage of what the system allows for, especially since the higher level you are, the more the game assumes that you're already doing this, adjusting its challenges accordingly.
 
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Yora

Legend
I deliberately not coordinate class selection for players. I always encourage them to pick thematically linked classes rather than covering all the basics.
 


Voadam

Legend
I tend to like people playing what they like and not worrying about party composition. As a player I am more interested in simply not stepping on other people's toes in duplicating other PC classes unless it is old school D&D where there are few options so duplication is expected.

Having a healer though can be a big deal. Old School D&D without one is a huge pace changer if you have to wait weeks between fights to heal up. In 3e and pathfinder 1e about half the classes can use a cure light wounds wand, which is enough for a party to heal up completely between fights cheaply or to stabilize in a fight (bard, cleric, druid, paladin, ranger, plus a rogue or sorcerer with enough use magic device skill).

In 3e and Pathfinder I still wanted an option for an all non-magical party, and to not be dependent on magic sticks for normal between combat pacings, so I quickly adopted reserve points from Unearthed Arcana 3.5 and later healing surges from 4e to make non magical groups a viable possibility.

In 4e healing surges help a lot and while a leader/healer role is nice, it is much less needed than in earlier editions. In 5e hit dice and long rest plus the low amount of healing from spells means that healing magic is nice for bringing someone back from zero but like in 4e it is not necessary for a lot of healing and a party can generally get by fine without it (plus lots of options for most spellcasters to get healing spells).
 
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amethal

Adventurer
Question for the board: Have you ever failed to coordinate your party composition? Did you find a workaround for the oversight, or did it come back to bite you before you got the chance?
As the GM, party composition is not my responsibility so there can be no failure or oversight on my part. The players decide what they want to play; how they arrive at that decision (individually or collectively) is up to them.

(I will, of course, offer suggestions to new players, and give advice to more experienced players if they ask for it.)

If they later find their party is not suited to exploring the "Dungeon of Undead and Traps" (say) then they are free to adventure somewhere else - or come up with their own workarounds.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
As the GM, party composition is not my responsibility so there can be no failure or oversight on my part. The players decide what they want to play; how they arrive at that decision (individually or collectively) is up to them.

(I will, of course, offer suggestions to new players, and give advice to more experienced players if they ask for it.)

If they later find their party is not suited to exploring the "Dungeon of Undead and Traps" (say) then they are free to adventure somewhere else - or come up with their own workarounds.

Couldn't agree more. Genuinely don't understand the idea of a "correct party composition." What in the fresh MMO hell does that even mean, when we're playing collaborative make-believe games? Only way this makes sense is if people are running modules straight, without modifying them to suit their campaign's players, themes, etc., in which case...sure, tell everyone which slots to fill and make sure if someone dies their new character refills that slot...ugh.
 

ccs

41st lv DM
As the GM, party composition is not my responsibility so there can be no failure or oversight on my part. The players decide what they want to play; how they arrive at that decision (individually or collectively) is up to them.

Agree. As the DM it's not my job to determine the party composition.

As a player? Sometimes we coordinate things. Sometimes not.
 

payn

Hero
PF1 affords a lot of out of the box ways to do the expected roles. As GM, I'll ask during session zero how they plan to cover any glaring weaknesses. I know this practice developed from watching parties wipe from bad compositions, but Its been so long I don't remember the particulars.
 

I've GM'd for parties, and been in groups, were there was no coordination and the group was lacking some role.

As GM, I adjusted loot to help compensate. No healer? More potions in the loot pile. No rogue? Pull back on traps and locked doors.

As a player and GM I firmly believe that this is what the Leadership feat is intended to fix. If the party lacks some role, the feat lets the group compensate for it while not forcing someone to drastically alter their character.
 

It's been my experience that the GM needs to fix such a situation.

Way back in 2e days, our group was uncoordinated. Our last 2e campaign only had one "healer" at campaign start, a paladin who could heal 2 hit points per day. The GM gave us more healing potions than you would find in a video game, and it still wasn't enough. We only lasted one session.

My first campaign of d20 Modern (I was a player) didn't have a healer. The game was new to all of us and none of us knew about surgery. We literally ran into the problem where we couldn't do plot (such as rescuing someone) because we were half-dead, and adventuring while half-dead is a really bad idea. I learned my lesson and insisted on a surgeon every d20 Modern campaign.

A healer stopped being necessary around the time people latched on to the 3e/Pathfinder 1e Wand of Cure Light Wounds, or 4e healing surges, or 5e Hit Dice. The OP's scenario would still have a problem though, as Strange Aeons is a very low-level adventure (I think it starts at 1st-level) so you're not seeing a lot of treasure and you're not crafting any wands. (I played in that adventure, as a cleric in fact.)
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I encourage my players to coordinate. They rarely do and then are surprised when 3/4 of them are trying to play the party face with overlapping skill sets. I also leave it up to them to fix it, though I do make henchmen/cohorts and multiclassing available should they choose to use them.
 

Fauchard1520

Explorer
(I will, of course, offer suggestions to new players, and give advice to more experienced players if they ask for it.)
I agree with many of the "not my job" GM posts. But this is an important caveat. About half of that party were first-timers, and the more experienced members of the party didn't think to bring up party balance.

At that point, I think it's worth stepping in and suggesting that "someone might want to prepare cure light wounds until you can find that all-important first wand."
 

aco175

Legend
My players tend to fill out the roles when making a party. There may be a warprirest instead of a full healer, but there is something. I found that PF is different than 5e in that multiclassing is easier. The players tend to look for this if they keep getting beat up. It may make one player feel cheated if they wanted to play a thief and now is a thief/cleric. This can be somewhat fixed with DM giving items and such of a feat that allows you to use a wand or such.

In my game, I may offer the multiclass route, but also give more healing items out if needed and I can also modify the encounters if needed. This is similar to the threads of a 1-class party with all mages or all fighters and monster make-up.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Once, we did it on purpose. We ended up with 2 fighters (one archer, one dex build meleeist), a paladin, a monk of the long death and a ranger (the planeswalker one). It worked out ok!

I'm currently in a SKT campaign and we have a psi warrior (me! sage background), a hunter ranger, a paladin of glory, a shadow monk and an enchanter wizard. Is it balanced? Not really... but it works!
 

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