Tactics and Tips03/07/2005

Doing More

Roleplaying games are about doing things. Our characters are active avatars, taking actions to further our goals. The general rules enable a character to take one standard action and one move equivalent action or to take a single full-round action. Although those are the rules, you can pack a lot more action into a single round. Here are some tricks and tips that should enable you to do more than usual.

Haste (Player's Handbook, page 239): A good, standard 3rd-level bard or sorcerer/wizard spell, haste is usually cast to include all of the party. Its main action-increasing benefits are the increased movement, usually doubling the party's speed, and the ability to make an extra attack when making a full attack action. The fighter types of the party generally appreciate the extra attack the most, but everyone likes the increased movement.

Imbue with Spell Ability (Player's Handbook, page 243): The most customary use of this 4th-level cleric spell is to give another party member, often a fighter or rogue, greater versatility by lending him or her some of the party cleric's spells. The recipient of the spell now has more choices through being able to cast some of these borrowed spells.

Instead of casting it on another character, the cleric could cast it on a sorcerer or wizard's familiar. All of the familiars described in the Player's Handbook have sufficient Intelligence and Wisdom to have imbue with spell ability cast upon them. The familiar's Hit Dice is equal to that of its master.

Why the familiar? Most familiars are mere ornamentation for the arcane spellcaster. They provide a small benefit, but are often just kept in a pocket and ignored in combat. Sending a familiar off into melee to deliver touch attacks is very dangerous, and most sorcerers and wizards sensibly won't take the risk. However, with imbue with spell ability, the familiar need not be placed in danger. Potentially, the familiar can take an action in every round of a fight while remaining safe and protected with the arcane spellcaster. Now, there's another member of the party that can do something useful and active. Good choices for spells to imbue the familiar with include a bless spell to be cast at the first sign of danger and a cure spell or two to be cast on the master if he's injured or another party member if she takes damage.

Hustle (Expanded Psionics Handbook, page 111): Though more limited in scope, this psionic power provides the ability to take an additional move action in the current round. Its limits, though, make it useful only for the psion or psychic warrior with the power. When combined with other speed-increasers such as the haste spell, hustle can produce truly prodigious movement speeds. For example, a psychic warrior wearing light armor has a movement of 30 feet. A haste spell cast by the party's wizard increases her speed to 60 feet. If she uses the hustle power, she can move 120 feet in a single round. This mobility enables her to go virtually anywhere on a typical battle grid.

Snake's Swiftness (Miniatures Handbook, page 39): This 1st-level druid or 2nd-level sorcerer/wizard spell enables the recipient to take an extra melee or ranged attack immediately. Optimal situations to use the spell include casting it on a rogue who has positioned herself to get her extra sneak attack damage or upon a fighter when one more blow might defeat the enemy. Do note that this extra attack does not stack with that granted by the haste spell.

Swift Actions: A swift action does not count toward the normal actions in a round. You can take only one swift action in a round, and only on your turn, but you may still take a standard and a move action or a full-round action as normal. Most swift actions are spells or psionic powers. The swift action is a newer rules feature that doesn't appear in the Player's Handbook, but it has been used in many of the more recent sourcebooks. Examples of powers and spells that use a swift action include bless weapon, swift from the Miniatures Handbook (page 34), painful strike augmented with additional power points from the Expanded Psionics Handbook (page 123), and swift fly from the Complete Adventurer (page 149). These spells and powers make potent additions to a character's abilities and enable him or her to do much more than customary.

Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Complete Adventurer, Expanded Psionics Handbook, Miniatures Handbook, Player's Handbook.

About the Author

Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel works full-time as a game designer for Wizards of the Coast. Recent and upcoming books include d20 Past, Races of Eberron, and Planar Handbook. She simultaneously leads the lives of an avid gamer, Ph.D. student, trio of birds of prey, and a hedonistic cat.

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