If you miss, little else matters

I’ve played 2 more game sessions since I last failed at rolling dice. I’m starting to get the hang of playing Dungeons and Dragons. In case you’re not a D&D person, I’ll keep most of the deep references out.

Here’s my general observation: It’s actually very easy to miss. Generally speaking, in a neutral setting, where there are no bonuses to hit, the percentage to hit range from 20% to 40%. Let me give you an example.

Suppose our hero fighter is engaged in battle with a kobold minion. He swings his sword at the kobold as a melee attack. In DnD terms, this means to roll 15 or higher on a d20, 15 being the kobold’s armour class (or AC). In mathematical terms, that’s a 6 out of 20 chance of hitting, or 30% chance.

And most of the hit rolls are like this. The most one could hope for, was to need to roll only an 11 or higher on a d20. That’s a slightly less than 50% chance to hit. And that’s the best case scenario.

My experience with video game role playing games was that, you issue an attack and it hits. Usually. Most of the time. I’ve never found the use of support skills or spells significant. I would cast a protection spell to reduce the amount of damage, and that would be the extent.

So I was in a bit of a quandary when playing Dungeons and Dragons. I like magical stuff. The characters wielding magic are controller types, meaning they can deal damage to multiple enemies but do less damage. They are supposed to slow the enemies, daze them, teleport them, immobilise them, lower their defenses, increase their vulnerability and so on. Basically supportive skills.

Now for my previous game, I was offered help in creating a character. So I took it, and let the helper create whatever he deemed fit. And I got a character geared towards those supportive skills. I thought, “Interesting. I thought boosting damage might be better. Oh well.”

And I truly saw the error of my ways for that game. The enemies had super high defenses. The miss rate was like 70% or 80%. Until the bonuses started to stack.

We had 6 players (which was large), and we buffed the 1 or 2 players with high damage. Because if we didn’t, we would never get any of the enemies killed, because we would never hit them. A +1 to your next attack roll, a -2 to the enemy’s defense, a +2 because of that power, a +2 because I used mine.

As for me, I shone at one particular part, where a few enemies bunched up together, and my spell disintegrated them in one shot. Ok, maybe not all of them, but it cleared most of them. Because it allowed the other players to concentrate on that demon with tons of hit points.

And for the last battle, the buffing really helped. There was this ranger, who could hit using two weapons with one of his skills. After we buffed him, he was able to hit with anything better than 1 (because a 1 was an automatic miss). He hit, and started rolling dice for damage. I believe he needed to roll 6 d10’s (and an additional d6 or d8 because he had a critical hit). After stacking all his damage bonuses, he dealt 73 points of damage. He simply needed to hit.

So from the few games I played, I finally realised the power of team work in DnD. As the characters I favoured, I was to harass the enemies, and disrupt them from harassing my team members. My job was to make it harder for the enemy, and make it easier for us to destroy them. My supportive skills are crucial to this.

Because if my team members miss the enemy, little else matters.