The Ultimate Character for the Ultimate Dungeon Delve

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 6, 2009

Next week I’ll be participating in the Ultimate Dungeon Delve at GenCon. I’ve done my homework and I think I’ve come up with the best possible character for the delve. I’ve only got a few days remaining in which to make tweaks and changes to this PC, so I’m asking you – the readers – to give me your input.

Before I settled on any character concept I did my homework. I got a lot of great tips following my Call for Heroes. I also read as many reports from around the blogs and on the forums as I could about other people’s experiences with the first Ultimate Dungeon Delve. The thing that kept jumping out at me was the need for more healing. Most parties didn’t make it past the first few encounters. They took so much damage and expended so many healing surges early on that they couldn’t make it through the final encounters. So I started thinking about character builds that could remedy this problem. I came up with two solutions to the healing problem.

Solution 1: Temporary Hit Points

Powers that provided temporary hit points give PCs a cushion against real damage. Any class that can grant temporary hit points through an at-will power is a good option. The more temporary hit points granted the fewer healing surges required when combat is over. If there is a Battlerager Fighter in the party then providing him with temporary hit points is just icing on the cake.

Solution 2: Healing Without Using Healing Surges

Powers that restore hit points without the need to burn healing surges, or powers that provide additional hit points on top of the normal surge value are must haves. These powers are even better than those granting temporary hit points. Temporary hit points don’t stack, but you can heal a wounded ally multiple times in the same round. If at-will powers are healing wounded PCs without burning healing surges, then PCs can save those surges for when they’re really needed. And powers that grant additional hit points on top of healing surges make healing surges more valuable when they are actually used.

So with these two solutions in mind I started looking at classes. The early front-runner was the Shaman, but after the release of Divine Power last month I’ve decided to go with the Cleric.

The Cleric I’ve created is practically useless on offense, but he’s absolutely unparalleled in the healing department. His high Wisdom and Charisma provide substantial bonuses to most of his healing powers. Here’s how his two at-will powers and his Healing Word break down.

Astral Seal (At-will)

On a successful hit, the next ally to hit the same target regains 2 + Charisma (+4) hit points. Also add my Wisdom (+4) from Hearer’s Lore and the enhancement bonus (+2) from my Healer’s Implement feat and without expending any healing surges the next ally to hit regains 12 hit points.

Sacred Flame (At-will)

On a successful hit an ally gains Charisma (+4) plus half my level (+3) temporary hit points. So if my allies are already at full hit points I can buff them with 7 temporary hit points. Here you go Battlerager Fighter.

Healing Word (Twice per Encounter)

My ally regains his healing surge value +1d6 plus my Wisdom (+4) from Healer’s Lore plus my Holy Symbol’s enhancement (+2) from Healer’s Implement feat plus Holy Healer’s Mace enhancement (+1). So that’s a healing surge + 1d6 + 7. A level 6 character with 52 hit points has a healing surge value of 13, so if I roll a 6 they’d get twice their surge value back (6+7=13) by expending only one surge.

Of his 10 class powers, seven of them have the healing keyword. This PC was created to keep his allies conscious and in the fight. Here’s his character sheet (PDF) from character builder for those interested in seeing the specific details.

Now that you know why I’ve built this PC in this way I’m asking for your help. Keeping in mind that I’m trying to make the best healer possible, what would you suggest I do differently? Are there any items that you think I should change or purchase? My goal is to complete all six encounters in the Ultimate Dungeon Delve, so if you have suggestions on how I can make this character better I want to hear it.

If you want to “borrow” this build for your own use, I have no problem with that either. Just let me know how you make out at GenCon.

If you’re going to GenCon and have Fall of the Tower at Windrock scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 13 (event RPGA0905740) I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or email me.

1 newbiedm August 6, 2009 at 10:00 am

I will be there too! I am doing it on friday. Since I have no experience playing, only DM’ing, I need help!! I am going with my friends, so it’ll be okay, but I need a class that is relatively easy to play.

I was thinking of going with an invoker. Any tips?
.-= newbiedm´s last blog ..Running your large D&D party =-.

2 Dave T. Game August 6, 2009 at 11:18 am

I think you’re going to find that a healing, little-offense cleric is a bad idea unless the rest of your party is filled with stupendous damage dealers. Maybe our group was different than others, but your biggest enemy in the UDD is time, and you need everybody contributing to damage to beat the encounters before time is up. We had a character who ran out of healing surges by the end, so it is an issue, but moving one character to purely healing strikes me as not a good idea.
.-= Dave T. Game´s last blog ..Monster Manual 2 – In Depth #4 =-.

3 Ameron August 6, 2009 at 11:32 am

I personally don’t care for the control roles, but Wimwick played an Invoker in a dungeon delve not too long ago and loved it. The most important tip is to have fun. (Wow, how lame does that sound?)

@Dave T. Game
This is exactly the kind of feedback I’m looking for. I’m trying to put together a party that has a really high damage output. If I can get a defender – striker – striker – striker – leader party then my Cleric’s lack of offense should be off-set by the incredibly high damage output of the three strikers and the defender. But I’ll take another look at my Cleric and see if I can give him a little bit more offense without sacrificing too much healing. Thanks, Dave.

4 Jon August 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Hi Ameron,

Replying here in case you can check it during the day. I’ll bookmark the thread. I looked at your build and have a few suggestions. In general though, I kind of agree with Dave T. in that a pure healer might not be the best route. I kind of like the Dragonborn Warlord since, in addition to healing, he can pair up with a Striker and give bonuses to hit and damage as well as heal. Also, the breath weapon is nice. I’ll try to post my Warlord build tonight in case you want to look at it.

If you still want to run the Cleric, here are some early thoughts – I only had time to look it over quickly.

1. Background

I think the Delve allows anything on Character Builder, including campaign-specific backgrounds. If that’s the case, there’s a Forgotten Realms background that lets you use WIS instead of CON for starting hit points. I think it is called Impiltur or something. That would give you 4 hp right away, and you could dump off your 14 CON either to get 20 WIS or to give yourself a better Reflex save. Personally, I’d dump some STR also for 20 WIS and try to keep 12 CON for the extra surge, if the math works. We won’t be passing levels or making a lot of skill checks, so I think maxing out the score you’re going to use every turn is probably a good idea.

2. Light Shield Proficiency

I would dump the STR and dump this. You already can’t hold all your weapons, symbols, etc, and there are feats that are better than +1 AC. I would look at Restful Healing for example. It would basically ensure we could all heal to near full with a single surge between combats. Mark of Healing might also be good (or Mark of Hospitality…can’t remember which – the one that gives a save whenever you heal).

3. Distance Javelin +1

Good thought to have a ranged weapon, but I think there are better items. If you have the items, I kind of like the Demonskin Tattoo (if you use an Action Point, you get resist 5 to any of acid, lightning, thunder, fire, cold for the encounter). Let’s you ignore a lot of typed ongoing damage.

4. If my brother is playing a Warforged Fighter, I could make a Warforged Striker of some sort. That might make Reparation Apparatus (+2d6 when healing warforged) an excellent buy. It is a Level 6 item, so the cost is significant. Not sure.

* * *

Don’t have the character sheet handy, but here are some key points:

– dragonborn bonus to either # of surges or surge value (i forget)
– breath weapon
– at will: wolf pack tactics enabling easy flanking with a striker
– at will: furious smash: fort attack for fixed damage giving someone bonus to hit and damage (good for high ac foes especially, or for high-damage strikers that had to sacrifice some pluses to hit)
– hammer and anvil: encounter power vs reflex, gives ally free attack
– war of attrition: encounter: 2[w]+str and all allies get +5/+5 on at-wills/basics for 1 turn
– quite a few powers giving free temp hp and triggering mass heals
– inspiring word 2x/encounter: surge value + 2d6 + 5
– free hp for ally who uses AP

The main sacrifice is that I don’t have as many non-daily powers that give free (non-surge) healing. I’m hoping that with a battlerager, the inspiring words can be used on strikers, and the huge benefit from maximized healing between encounters should minimize surge use. If we actually have time to work with all the players, a party of 4 Warforged and the Warlord could be insane with the Reparation Apparatus and if we all take the Tribe of the Enduring Mountain feat. We could probably get through encounters with just Inspiring Words, Second Winds, and my Inspiring Presence, then heal up to full using only 1 surge between combats.

* * *

another advantage of the warlord is that my maxed out stats are STR and CHA, which give me naturally good Fort and Will defense. Reflex is the only weak spot.

The cleric has WIS and CHA, giving him two weak spots…

5 skallawag August 10, 2009 at 3:07 pm

A good controller could mitigate a lot of the damage done by mobs as well as deal some decent damage. Controllers are extremely underrated and often overlooked for strikers — this leads to failure in my opinion.

My wizard’s powers are built to assist the striker in my party. Powers that daze creatures to give people combat advantage. Other powers to push/pull/slide mobs out of the way so the team can concentrate efforts. Tactics are key. I’ve played a cleric and a wizard and the wizard is a lot more “fun” in my opinion.

6 Ameron August 11, 2009 at 10:08 am

The controller definitely has its advantages, but from what I’ve been reading about other people’s experiences with these delves, time seems to be your biggest enemy. The best strategy seems to be hit ’em hard, hit ’em fast and hit ’em often. If this mantra is the best route to victory then my feeling is that an additional striker will be more beneficial than a controller. Of course, controllers tend not to get into melee which should mean that they take fewer hit and require less healing. Having all those strikers run in and take some beats brings us back to my original point of the article above regarding healing.

I’m going to try and get feedback from a lot of gamers this weekend and I’m interested in hearing what party make-up survives most often. I have a sneaking suspicion that the parties with all four roles might do better overall then those that are striker heavy. I’ll keep you posted on my findings.

7 James August 15, 2009 at 11:16 pm

How did you end up doing? I went through half of the Delve before failing due to time. Stupid invisible, unavoidable creature…

8 Ameron August 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm

We only made it to the third encounter. I wimpped out and didn’t even play this build. I traded up for a striker. Read all about my experience at GenCon: Ultimate Dungeon Delve.

9 Jim Goings September 7, 2009 at 2:58 pm

We beat the Ultimate Dungeon Delve at PAX. Boy was it hard!
.-= Jim Goings´s last blog ..We Won the PAX 2009 Ultimate Dungeon Delve =-.

10 Ameron September 9, 2009 at 9:48 am

@Jim Goings
Congratulations on your victory. Thanks for the link.

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