Character builds: Do you tend to experiment or stick to your preferred ones?

Whenever I have to create a new character in NWN, I think of the great opportunity to try something different this time but then always end up building more or less the same characters as always again. It’s either a cleric, wizard or sorcerer, sometimes druid. In any case someone who can casts spells and is accompanied by animal companions or summons. I always go for the same skills (e.g. Concentration, Persuade - not fair that the latter is dependent on class, btw, it should be universal), feats (e.g. Combat Casting, Spell Penetration), spells (Massic Missile obviously, Summon Creature etc.), and or domains (Heal, Sun, Animal or Magic).

I often read about how cool other class builds are, but when I try them, they don’t feel as much fun to me. Pure fighters seem boring to me with their limited options, just click on opponent and wait, rogues seem fragile in single player combat as soon as they’re discovered, I always miss the versatility and power of the natural casters (even if I tend to use the same spells, it’s still a bit more variety and tactical managing in combat than the other classes, gives me more to do and think about).

What do you think? Is that just how the game is, is there an imbalance between the classes, skills, feats, spells, domains etc. that objectively makes some more powerful, useful or fun to play than others? Is it a matter of preference, all good but everyone should just stick to what they enjoy most? Or am I missing out on a lot due to my reluctance to deviate from my usual ways?

Do you tend to experiment or do you always come back to your favorite builds as well?

(As a sidenote, I’m mostly playing single player story modules, but maybe it doesn’t matter that much, I guess in multiplayer I’d still have the same tendencies. EDIT: That is, I did play a bard/rdd on a PW once and it was pretty fun at higher levels, buffed up superhero style, but it was a long way to get there and the PW had an autocast item to ease the tedium of buffing. So I’m also talking about the whole way, not just the end result. To me casters in NWN are already quite fun at low levels - contrary e.g. to Baldur’s Gate or other D&D videogames.)


I do certain amount of experimentation… I’ve tried to go on with female and evil (Shadow Thief of Amn), but have never been able to carry out these paths.
Spell swords and clerics, tried a lot of them… now I’m back to Fighter path (Neverwinter Nine prestige), and I feel like I can relate to him :slight_smile:

Oh, roleplaying is a whole different matter of course, but in the end I guess I don’t really experiment in that regard either.

I try to picture my characters as best as I can in accordance with their class and stats and the story, but I’m not too strict about it. I mostly end up playing neutral good female characters that go along with the nicest (often most sensible and rewarding) choices the modules have to offer, while at the same time trying to gather as much xp and loot as possible within those limits. If noone is looking and the module doesn’t care, that “neutral good” character will still rob a poor man’s home, and in my mind I’ll pretend it didn’t happen (no witness, no crime). :innocent: I don’t think much about the spirituality of my clerics either, I’m actually more of a mage guy, but clerics are such conveniently overpowered jack of all trades … :wink: But I can’t play evil characters either, for example, at least not when things are so clear cut in the module and it’s such an unsubtle and openly disgusting kind of evil as it most often is, that’s just no fun to me.


That’s a nice topic indeed.
I tend to experiment a lot in terms of creating new characters. Tried the monk druid in armour which tries to get advantage of the flurry of blows while shifted, the dwarven druid waiting to get dwarven defender levels bypassing the fighter class, the paladin sorcerer to take full use of the mutual charisma bonuses or the wizard that at a certain point takes a few levels as monk in order to get a little bit of self defense.
I tend to use Leto sometimes to take away feats/proficiencies instead of adding new ones: why retain my heavy armour prof. when I have DEX of 14 or more? And what if I want a Heavy Flail Specialised fighter? Do I need shield prof.? This is even more evident while using rangers. This led me to experiment all of these combinations in a repetitive environment (the OC i.e.).
One sure thing is that almost my characters tend to take Toughness as soon as possible, if I got your meaning; some sort of signature for my chars; moreover they usually have DEX, STR, WIS etc. values in even numbers.
The spellcasters (I play wiz much more than sorc. and often gnome ones) come with a more restricted spellbook. If I happened to create an evoker I would never take a spell whose domain is another school’s. A diviner would be a pain to play given the circumstances… I know…
Gnomes more often than elves since their natural specialisation in the Illusion school widens their range of “attuned spells”.
Moreover many spells come neglected (I don’t remember using “amplify” i.e.).
Every fighter I ever played came with a different weapon specialisation and once I finished all of the martial and exotic weapons, I began stripping those proficiencies in order to create “savage fighters” specialised in simple weapons (who did ever try to take club weapon specialisation as a fighter?).
Basically I tried every race in each and every class possible (yes, even trying to improve that lousy Xanos combo…) venturing in multiclassing variables too.
Ain’t got a preferred combo but there are some I used very little (fighter/ rogue i.e.).
Usually I tend to play druids which are phisically very weak (often wizard druid gnomes with different schools which try to follow that choice even for divine spells) that wait to rely on their shapeshifting capabilities when their spells alle all over (almost never before that).
Just to get things more complicated I found out that there were modules that allowed me to create duergars, svirfs that just added more and more variables.
I guess I will end playing when all of those combinations finally end :slight_smile:
You really ought to try the enchanter wizard bard elf which can crumble at every shot received and so has got to rely on “crowd control” to use human shields against her enemies.
Well… excuse me for being so long in the answer… have a nice play!

i love to experiment w/different types of characters. :slight_smile:
although not a larper, i love roleplay, so i usually start out w/a question, like ‘hm… what would be an interesting type of character to play ?’ – and that sort of dictates the class[es] the character might have. i then go out and look for a module that might support that type of character. [needless to say, i never play modules that require you to use a provided pre-rolled character…].

although i often like to plan my characters’ development, i’m not the sort to try to maximise a build or get the ‘most über’ character, per se. depending on the story line, if the context strongly suggests it, i may even decide to take on a class i hadn’t thought of taking, provided it’s valid to that context. obviously, it would need to fit my character, both mechanistically [no paladin/assassins, for example] and be coherent w/his/her character traits.

i admire players who seem to have a certain knack w/specific classes, or who’ve really sussed out a character type’s strengths and weaknesses. i have to disagree w/you about thieves ; a good thief player can solo just as well as a fighter, but the approach is completely different. similarly, a good caster player is really interesting to watch – even w/the pretty severe limitations bioware have placed on spells within the game.

although i can’t say i’m especially gifted at playing any particular type of character, i like to play my way because i love the breadth of experience the approach gives me.

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Every character I’ve made has always been Human, simply because look the best and the most versatile, given their free starting feat, skills and non-fixed favored class.

As for builds, I find myself tend to stick with ones that have Rogue, Bard or Cleric as the major class, since they give more options in combat, apart from spamming Knockdowns, Called Shots or Disarms. Rogues can nuke down enemies quick with their Sneak Attack. Rogues and Bards have extra AC from Tumble and use restricted tools thanks to UMD. Bards can sing Bard Songs, Curse Songs and Taunt enemies for free AC reduction. Bards and Clerics have additional saving throws thanks to Spellcraft. Clerics have free Heavy Armor proficiency, superb spellbook and free domain feats.

I ain’t much of a Roleplayer, in the sense that instead of making choices from my character’s perspective, I decide what to do based on what I myself deems the best, unless those certain actions cause alignment shifts that would ruin the build.


So how do you play rogues solo in combat? Sneak close, attack, run behind the next corner to turn invisible again, repeat? At least at low levels playing a rogue in single player seemed difficult and not much fun to me. Yes, you can initiate combat with an awesome sneak attack, but once the surprise is over, you’re just a weaker fighter, and if there are more opponents than one, you’re in for it. At least that’s how I experienced it. You can lay out traps, but you first need to get some, they’re probably not easily available and not that cheap, and in the end, I don’t think they do that much damage? Maybe I’m wrong, IIRC the trap descriptions do not explicitly tell you what damage you can expect from them? Are they still useful for higher level opponents like spells and summons can be? What’s the best way to play rogues, if you don’t have a party to back you up and the module requires you to solve problems through violence?

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For lower levels, I admit it is quite tough unless someone is distracting for you, pure Rogue just won’t cut it. That’s why I’ll pair Rogue with Fighter (combat feats and AB) or Bard (taunt and buffs) usually. Knockdown is essential to trigger sneak attacks, time it right so it is executed during your first attack so you have a higher chance of success, pairs very well with Taunt to offset -4 AB.

When against groups tough opponents, make sure to utilize any possible magic item for offensive and defensive spells. Fireball or Ghostly Visage can win you the battle even when outnumbered. Another technique is kiting, slowly lure each or few of them away, killing them without alerting the rest.

Every Rogue benefits from a level of Shadowdancer if Rogue is your major focus. Hiding in Plain Sight any time you want will save you from death and let’s you do constant sneak attacks. Alternatively, if Rogue is the same level or lower than your other class, go with Divine Champion (Champion of Torm) for saving throws to bolster Rogue’s weak Fortitude and Will saves.

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Same here. Whatever I try I end up 90% of time as Rogue, sometimes with a bit of Ranger mixed in (for Martial weapons, Ambidex, bonus vs Undead) or Wizard (for some basic spells, up to 14 INT). The second branch allows Arcane Archer, but most modules end before that (being an Elf means you also have access to some better weaponry and continuous search mode).

I treat Rogues as a “classless” builds and I find this work really well for me. I don’t roleplay my characters much (like @BowShatter) but see them as vessels for my enjoyment of the game. I hate being held back when playing and try to experience as much of the module as possible in a single run. Being a Rogue means you swim in skill points, so dialogue, traps, locks and items are no longer an issue (read: you’re going to fit in most modules). Only combat and Will saves are. Combat can be often avoided or made easier by sneaking, but if you have to fight…

As usual, by cursing at the garbage rolls the game serves me :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:, but jokes aside, the key is to go with high STR rather than high DEX. Ranged combat is not a substitute for melee and it is more important to hit them than not to get hit. AC loss can also be easily offset with Tumble and you get a higher carry weight as a bonus.

I don’t use the special attacks (Knockdown, Called Shot, etc) as I find them to be too unreliable and they usually work on critters that can be defeated the usual way. Here’s my advice: take Blind Fight.

I also find that PCs don’t benefit much from Sneak Attacks, either because you play solo, you have higher agro than your followers, or that half of the monsters in the module are undead.

What about “Weapon Finesse” which uses DEX instead of STR for melee if you wield short swords and daggers and the like? Not worth it?

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I’d say it may be too limiting as it works with small weapons only. Maybe if you dual-wield, but STR also gives you +damage (1d8+3 sword is better than 1d4+1 dagger). Case in point: In HOTU, the best weapon is a scythe - I used it well with a Rogue. It is true that Rogues have starting proficiency in small weapons, but one level in almost any non-spellcaster and that limit is gone.

Ah, I see. I never thought about Weapon Finesse only affecting attack modifiers, not damage. In that case, yeah, that’s pretty limiting.

point well taken. yes, low-level rogues are difficult. i increase survival of my low-level stealth builds by not hurrying. [i often think, if there were ever an nwn tournament where the fastest one to finish a dungeon is the winner, i would never enter – because i would inevitably lose]. i take time to examine the area and see how i can adapt my items to the situation. yes, i carry lots of traps, but also tanglefoot bags, poison, and anything else the particular gameworld has that might be useful. [one pw i played on had an on-drop event catcher that created a placeable when the item is dropped on the ground – very nice for slowing down pursuers… :wink: ]

definitely ! :slight_smile: but as a rogue, i would never even think lof taking on a room full of higher-level opponents on my own. rather, i would think, ‘what is my goal ?’ if i’m trying to recover an item and bring it to the old lady who can’t walk because she has the gout, my strength as a rogue is to slink past the group, rather than engaging them. of course, there are dm’s and builders who don’t give xp for this sort of thing, when realistically they should, but as a slinky character, you can make up for it in other ways [breaking and entering ? ;p ]

there was one time i took a stealthy guy into a room that was famous not only for its rich treasure, but also for insta-kill, the reason being that the creatures in it all had IGMS and there were usually dozens of the things in there, and they all had high ranks in ‘spot’. well, it so happens there was a helmet with DR 5/magic that he’d got ahold of, the prevailing thought probably being ‘oh, DR 5 isn’t that big a deal’. doing the maths, each missile from IGMS is on average 7hp, so he donned the helmet, buffed with potions, and got to work. of course they noticed him pretty quickly, so he didn’t escape unscathed [where would the excitement be if it were a sure thing?], but he did end up clearing the room and went home with a pretty nice haul as a result. so for rogue types, it’s got to be planning and strategy over brute force.

traps aren’t for killing your opponents, they’re for changing the odds of the battle in your favour, by slowing them down or weakening them or modifying the environment. yes, some of the stronger traps can kill [it’s really wonderful to watch a pack of lower-level pursuers explode into dust with a well-placed deadly electrical trap :wink: ], but for the most part, they’re ‘environment enhancers’. tangle traps, acid blobs, and frost traps can all slow or stop opponents ; when placed in a more open area, they can create de facto bottlenecks using your own opponents as the impediments, as well as leaving them open to your sneak attacks. tangle traps, fire traps and electrical traps have areas of effect, so they can weaken multiple enemies at once. slowing down the first wave with a tangle trap will cause pursuers behind them to become blocked, or make them go around them – which can be to your benefit if you’ve planned the encounter appropriately. gas traps can weaken tougher opponents so their hp fall into range for a character that does less damage per shot. so once again, it’s all about strategy and working with the environment, rather than trying to dust the enemy as quickly as possible. but i admit, you have to enjoy that sort of thing.

as for trap availability, no self-respecting rogue buys traps – he steals them. but you’re right, there are some pw’s and modules where the builders haven’t really thought much about traps. in this case, if there aren’t any raw materials to create your own traps with, your rogue character is at a distinct disadvantage.

this is a fallacy. take weapon finesse, then at later levels take power attack. yes, you do need the minimum 13 str, but w/dex as your primary and str as your secondary, you still end up getting decent damage as a finesse build. i admit, this is nothing compared to the damage a str build would get w/the various ‘xxx critical’ feats, but if you’re playing a rogue, you’re typically not trying to go all-out in a full frontal assault either.

one of my most successful dexers was a rogue/shadowdancer/weaponmaster [rapier], topping out at 10/18/7 when i stopped playing him. not only did he have HIPS, he could summon [both as a sd feat and using scrolls – umd] and bedazzle using shadow daze – all of which render the opponent prone to sneak-attacks, plus there was the damage from wm bonus feats. he also took skill mastery, so he often successfully set epic traps in the middle of a battle. he turned out to be surprisingly deadly.

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Rogues are excellent non-magical utility classes. I’ve taken the Ro/F/WM everywhere. At high levels, they’re nearly impossible to kill with anything that gives a dex save. And they can use almost anybody else’s gear.

Take a look at this one, it’s a gem:

High Str builds do much more damage, but they can’t cover some of the utility a high dex rogue gets. Self Conceal (50% concealment all the time, Epic Dodge (first attack always misses, even a 20), high AC. All those stack to make him pretty resilient. And the way the Concealed Kukri master is leveled, he’s pretty resilient as well.

Sure it’s possible, but Power Attack then offsets the to hit bonus from DEX, so it’s back at square one. And it means you need to spend 2 feats for the same result. But it’s really a matter of preference, however going with STR usually simply means less things to worry about… and you can readily act as a tank when the module forces you to do so.

If you play as an Elf, you can start with 15 STR, 16 DEX and 12 CON, which is a good mix of power and protection, and it allows you to take Ambidexterity.

Not to mention bigger muscles for carrying all that stuff you swipe … :wink:

Swiper no swiping!

I think of traps as artillery - not to be used in dribs and drabs. Hoard traps until you scout a truly challenging foe, lure them into a dozen or so. Recover Trap is your friend in most decent modules.

STR based rogue seems… well… not quite in the spirit of things… but then I guess I’m a 1st Edition guy at heart. My rogue seems to get by with Weapon Finesse, dual-wielding rapiers for the crit, and every DEX bonus and “dodgy” feat that comes to hand…

…though I will admit that sometimes leads to some very tedious ranged hit-and-run (but what else are large circular caves for?)

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Whenever I try some more or less unorthodox builds, I use demo module from here - It allows easy level gain (though not loss) and temporary adding / removing almost all feats from the game.

Among other resources available to Rogues (many already brought up) it might be worth noting that after taking just one level of Fighter, a Rogue can equip Heavy Armor and a Shield, and thereafter can expect to have AC that is actually superior to a pure Fighter (due to having Tumble as a class skill). Rogue builds, counter-intuitively, have the potential to be among the best tanks in the game, and are certainly better for that purpose than pure warrior builds.

Both STR and DEX Rogues have their advantages. High DEX rogues get better AC in the long run and ultimately access to Epic Dodge, better Reflex saves, better skill bonuses and a single stat boosting AB for both ranged and melee weapons (with Finesse) for more flexibility. They might struggle to inflict damage on Sneak Attack-immune foes, but if they cannot effectively be hit back (often the case) they can afford to take their time. STR Rogues however do get noticeably higher DPS and can more easily equip heavier armor (carrying stuff might be another advantage but Bags of Holding make this a non-issue more often than not, unless one is dealing with a very low-level or low magic environment).

One note about the availability of traps (which indeed are often a valuable resource) is that the prices for traps can vary greatly and often rather illogically depending on type. Just because you could not afford, say, a Fire Trap (one of the most expensive types) does not necessarily mean that you could not purchase, for example, a very cheap Sonic Trap - and in many contexts the latter would actually be better since fewer enemies are immune or resistant to that damage type and it can potentially stun them as well as inflicting damage.

Rogues (as a base, there is really no reason not to multi-class them) are actually my favorite class, but (returning to the opening question) I enjoy playing all classes. When I find a really good module, one of my favorite things to do is try replaying it with a character who is the complete opposite of the first one I took through in as many ways as possible (class, race, alignment, core ability etc.).

NWN actually has better class balance than many RPGs. As has been illustrated by the discussion on Rogues, most classes in the game can be very effective if one knows how to play them. That said, balance is not perfect and the caster classes (Clerics and mages in particular) are definitely more powerful unless the environment is heavily biased against them in some way (and most modules actually bias the environment in their favor, by, for example, including no meaningful rest restrictions of the sort the Vancian magic system assumed would be present).

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