R.I.P. Daggermaster: How the Errata Killed My Character

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on May 7, 2010

I’m the first to admit that some character builds are stupidly powerful. These are usually the result of creative players scouring through character builder and looking for loopholes to exploit. I fall squarely into this camp. My feeling is that if I do my homework and find a really cool and atypical build that gives me an unexpected advantage then I deserve it. But every now and then a build or power gets used in a way that it clearly wasn’t designed for, and after much abuse Wizards steps in and updates the rules. The latest causality to befall this fate is the Daggermaster paragon path.

Earlier this week Wizards of the Coast released a sizable Rules Update (errata) and although it makes a bunch of powers and items clearer, it also closes the exploited loopholes in some build and powers. I know that I have three different LFR characters that need some significant rework following this update.

The changes that are likely to have the most significant impact to the most people are the changes to the Daggermaster paragon path and the changes to the Cleric’s Healer’s Lore class power.

Daggermaster Update

For those not “in the know” about the Daggermaster here’s how it’s been exploited. Characters that can use daggers as implements multiclass into Rogue and choose the Daggermaster paragon path. The greatest benefit to doing so it that dagger attacks crit on 18-20. So if you’re playing a Sorcerer you have the potential to do crazy damage multiple times every round.

The clarification to the Daggermaster paragon path nixed the benefit of scoring a critical on 18-20 when using a dagger with any power other than a Rogue power. So implement casters (like me) who exploited this loophole are once again scoring crits only when we roll 20. So my choice of feats and items, many of which were made to boost damage on a critical, are a lot less likely to be as useful as often – which was clearly the point.

Up until now, I’ve been playing a Drow Storm Sorcerer, who at level 12 is capable of delivering over 100 points of damage on a crit. And with attacks that affect multiple targets, like the level 1 at-will Blazing Starfall, I can attack more than one target. Using this at-will attack I’ve hit multiple opponents, critted as many as three in a single round and delivered a combined 250 damage. I usually crit at least three or four times each encounter and the damage usually averages out to 65 per target. Add to that my Bloodiron Dagger’s secondary damage and the total damage gets even higher.

As a side note, the Bloodiron Dagger is another item that was updated this week. Fortunately it was just a clarification and it won’t affect the way I use the item (I was doing it right all along).

For those interested in the math, here’s how my critical damage gets so high. Lets look at my other level 1 at-will power, Acid Orb (since it does more damage).

  • 1d10+19 normal damage
  • 3d6 Sneak Dice
  • +3d10 Bloodiron Dagger +3 (this damage is applied again the next round)
  • +1d10 Devistating Critical feat
  • +2d6 Exicutioner’s Bracers
  • +6 Ring of Giants

So the maximum damage, including the sneak dice is 105 (29+18+30+10+12+6). However, the average damage without the sneak dice is closer to 65, and then the Bloodiron Dagger delivers another 15 points (average) the following round.

After reading these updates I realized that I’ll have to overhaul the entire character. I’m going to retrain his multiclass feat and choose a different paragon path. This may not be entirely legal, but Wizards nerfed the power that made me choose that paragon path in the first place so I feel I’m entitled. I’m also going to look at getting a Jagged Dagger, so at least I’ll crit on a 19-20. I’m sure there are other adjustments that I’ll make along the way, but these should keep the feel of the character despite the errata.

Healer’s Lore Update

The other update that deserves some mention is the Cleric’s Healer’s Lore class feature. The power lets Cleric’s add their Wisdom modifier to the hit points a recipient regains when that Cleric uses a power with the healing keyword. The update now specifies that Healer’s Lore only applies to healing powers that require a healing surge be expended. So powers that heal without expending surges, like the level 1 at-will Astral Seal, no longer benefit from this class feature. A Cleric with an incredibly high Wisdom no longer provides more healing with an Astral Seal than your surge value (which was often the case).

I don’t think this update is really that bad, even though it will impact a lot of characters. By providing such powerful and plentiful surgeless healing, I find that PCs never tend to run out of healing surges. As a result the other combatants give little forethought to the consequences of taking lots of damage. They assume that a strong Cleric will provide healing and they won’t have to expend many surges. It makes players reckless and gives a huge advantage to parties with optimized Clerics among their ranks.

What are some of the loopholes you’ve found and exploited? Are there any good builds left that haven’t been “fixed” yet? In a case like mine, the PC was built around this loophole and by closing it off I need to rebuild the character. How have you handled big changes to your class or paragon path?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 césar/kimble May 7, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I´m gming a Dragonlance 4e campaign now and one of the characters is a Kender sorcerer with the ‘daggermaster combo’. I told him ‘We´ll not update the daggermaster’.
He loves that character and would loose a lot with the update. Why would I want that?
Next campaign we´ll use the updated daggermaster, but for now, keeping that player happy is more important.

2 Jason May 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm

If your characters that require reworking are LFR you can immediately change the affected pieces when a rules update significantly changes how they work.

At least I seem to remember that being the case.

3 Brian Engard May 7, 2010 at 9:04 pm

While I feel your pain, I can see where Wizards is coming from with this update, too. The whole point of the daggermaster is that you accept the trade-off of using the least-damaging weapon in the game for the benefit of crazy critical range, amongst other benefits. If you’re using a dagger as an implement, you’re getting the benefit without the trade-off. The daggermaster is a rogue paragon path, but without this update, it’s clearly a much better paragon path for a sorcerer because the sorcerer gets all the benefits but none of the drawbacks. The update, I think, has brought it back to its original intent.

That said, I’m also an advocate of fun at the table, and my opinion is that updates are largely optional and you should feel free to ignore them if they get in the way of fun you were already having. If you were having fun with your sorcerer/daggermaster (and, of course, the DM and the other players were having fun, too), then you should keep playing him as-is. It’s not like the rules police are going to knock down your door or anything.
.-= Brian Engard´s last blog ..Thoughts on Paragon Paths =-.

4 Less_than_vince May 7, 2010 at 10:23 pm

onhhhhh. No pity for min/max.

5 Milly May 8, 2010 at 8:11 am

The healer’s lore errata affects my party a fair bit. My party are all very squishy – the paladin and myself are the only characters with decent defenses, though I barely count. As a result, getting whatever healing I can in is very important as we get hit nearly every turn. This is going to send a few characters to the grave, I think. But maybe we need the extra challenge :P

6 Andrew May 9, 2010 at 8:56 am

I don’t know about exploiting loopholes, but I’ve got a 21st level eladrin wizard/ranger with an AC of 39 (second only to the party’s warforged fighter who has AC 42).

I got this with the following combos:
10 + 1/2 level = 20
INT 28 (+9)
Staff of Defense class feature (+1)
+5 Anathema Leather (+3 armor, +5 enhancement)
+5 Defensive Staff (+1)

I also took the Ranger multiclass and Lethal Hunter feats. So in combat I do this:
Move Action: Rush toward the biggest baddest enemy
Minor Action: Make him my Hunter’s Quarry
Move Action: Run away

7 Monty May 9, 2010 at 10:41 am

@Less_than_vince

While errata are often targeted at min/max builds, it’s more often than not those who *don’t* optimize that suffer the most. Min/maxers will always find a way to create a potent character and no amount of errata will ever change that as long as D&D is a system with so many options for character creation.

The healer’s lore nerf, for example, is going to affect non-optimizers MORE than optimizers because it is a CORE FEATURE of the cleric class and thus affects every single power you could possibly take. Optimizers will be able to figure out ways to work with this by their very nature, but players who aren’t min-maxing or playing for power might find their cleric less capable than they deserve to be.

8 Ameron May 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm

@césar/kimble
You make an excellent point. In the end the Wizards’ updates are designed to level the playing field, but it’s up to DMs and players to decide which rules or updates they want to include in their home campaign. The reason these are impacting me so much is that I play a lot of RPGA events, mostly LFR. In these campaigns you have to abide by all the rules and all the updates.

@Jason
I seem to remember the same thing, but this is the first item I’ve considered changing a paragon path, not something you can normally retrain.

@Brian Engard
I’m not denying that the build was broken (as originally written) and that the update ensures that the Daggermaster paragon path is used as intended (for Rogues, not spellcasters). And I’ve got to tell you that exploiting this loophole for 12 levels was soooo much fun. But if I opt to keep playing this PC in RPGA events then he’ll likely be a lot less fun. Until I find a new loophole to exploit. :)

@Less_than_vince
But I like my min/max PC. I don’t like being on the same playing field as all the other PCs, I want an extra edge. :(

@Milly
Although my focus in this article is on the Daggermaster, you’re right that the Healer’s Lore change will have a much larger effect on a lot more PCs than the Daggermaster paragon path will be.

@Andrew
I’ve played a few epic level dungeon delves and in those one-off games a really high AC is almost a pre-requisite. I’m not sure how exploitive or min/max your build is, but if character builder lets you get it that high then good for you.

@Monty
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks for jumping in.

9 Dungeon Newbie May 10, 2010 at 3:03 am

If the Daggermaster is already so powerful in Paragon, then what about Epic? Wouldn’t the damage be much higher? Also, I don’t understand the purpose of this article. Is it to highlight and encourage exploitation of the Paragon Daggermaster? Is it to simply tell us about it? Or is it about how the update has changed the Daggermaster and how D&D players use it?

10 Ameron May 17, 2010 at 9:04 am

@Dungeon Newbie
My purpose for the article is two-fold.

1) I wanted to make sure players and DMs were aware of the updates (errata) recently released by Wizards and I wanted to do it in an interesting way. An article that just says “An update was released, here’s the link” is kind of boring.

2) I wanted to highlight how players (like me) who intentionally look for stupidly powerful builds, often so powerful that they are unbalancing, should realize that these builds will get noticed and that Wizards will eventually correct the problem. I just like to complain about it since I was having so much fun playing a clearly broken character. I’ve been scouring character builder all week trying to come up with my next “broken” build.

11 Darth June 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm

The Pit Fighter errata is annoying too, it completely screws the Prime Punisher Shifter 2x Bastard Sword Ranger from its beautiful DPR, though its still solid. Sigh.

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