A term used in game to denote a character who has low(ish) hit points and low survivability. Such characters get hurt and die easily in game.
Avoiding being squishy falls under a few different areas.
- Damage capacity
- Damage reduction
- Hit avoidance
Damage capacity falls primarily under two forms, hit points (HP) and attribute damage, both which can be targeted directly.
- Toughness feat gives you extra HP based on your character level. It can be taken multiple times, but is often not worth it if other feats increase your survivability in more effective ways.
- False Life items grant hit points in different tiers.
- Draconic Vitality a favor reward for the Agents of Argonnessen
- Increasing your constitution through tomes or items
- Vitality items grant additional HP to False Life
- Certain enhancements additionally grant additional, stacking HP.
Additionally, having the ability to self heal can offset the amount of damage taken. Many classes can be constructed to self-heal or use equipment to provide healing or repairing (for Warforged or Artificers with Construct Essence).
Attribute damage is often a consequence of spells or particular types of weapons. This damage directly affects the attribute score temporarily and may not directly affect your hit points (other than Constitution damage). However, when any attribute is reduced to zero, you are made helpless which removes your ability to attack and increases all damage suffered by 50%, quickly killing most characters, especially those who self heal through attacks (like light monks).
Other than increasing the attribute and avoiding hits, having a way to use the Restoration spell or Heal spell is a good idea, as well as other, attribute specific potions and spells like Rage to reduce helplessness from Strength damage.
Additionally, while not explicitly damage capacity, Healing Amplification can affect the amount of damage you can take when a healer, including yourself, is providing healing. It is a multiplier to the number of hit points you heal based on incoming positive energy effects. A similar effect (Repair Amplification) is available for Warforged and Artificer]]s with Construct Essence who are affected by repair spells and Pale Masters in undead form (Negative Amplification). Maximizing your healing amplification helps you keep a larger reservoir of hit points during a battle while you are taking damage and being healed.
Damage reduction can take several forms depending on the damage type. Some classes, like Barbarians, or Enhancement trees, like the Cleric Warpriest, have Damage Reduction that reduces one or more types of incoming damage by a specific amount. Other types of damage, like elemental damage, can be reduced a set amount by spells or equipment as well as by a percentage for certain spells, like Fire Shield versus fire or cold, equipment, or Enhancements. Consider investing in these abilities.
Physical Resistance Rating (PRR) is another form of damage reduction based on a percentage determined by your armor, class, and enhancements. Generally, the heavier the armor, the greater the PRR, the greater the reduction with heavy armored and enhanced Stalwart Defender fighters and Paladins generally doing the best. For classes who require lighter armor, some equipment can increase your PRR, specifically Blue Augments, but usually you're better off by applying hit avoidance or tactics.
Excellent saves can also be a form of damage reduction against certain spells or traps. For many spells, you have the opportunity to make a save and if you succeed only take half damage. While some classes have access to a feat called Evasion (more in the next section), for non-evaders with additional forms of damage reduction, cutting damage in half is always a good idea.
Some ways to increase saves are:
- Resistance items. Not specific elemental resistance, like Fire Resistance, but general resistance items increase your saves directly.
- A higher Dexterity (for reflex saves), Wisdom (for Will saves), and Constitution (for Fortitude saves) as well as gear for those attributes can increase your saves.
- Be a halfling. Halflings get both a base +1 to all saves and have enhancements to raise saves.
- Good Luck items add a bonus to both your saves and your skill rolls.
- Heroism or Greater Heroism spells or effects increase your saves, skill rolls, and even attack rolls directly as well. There are a few named items with these effects on them as well as others with clickies for the spell and potions. A bard's Good Hope spell provides the same effect but doesn't stack.
- Some classes (Paladin) and enhancement trees offer direct, stackable increases to saves as well.
- If you have an extreme attribute, like on a caster character, consider taking one of the feats replacing the attribute checked for a particular save. For example, Insightful Reflexes uses your INT modifier in lieu of your Dexterity for Reflex saves. Force of Personality replaces WIS with CHA for Will saves. For particular builds, these can replace some weak saves with strong ones.
Fortification is another form of damage reduction. Fortification is a chance to reduce any critical hits to normal hits, avoiding the critical hit multiplied damage, and reduce sneak attack damage. For some weapon types, the critical multiplier can mean up to 4 times the base hit damage on a critical which, for lower HP characters, can instantly kill or incapacitate them. It's usually a good idea to carry as high of a fortification item as you can at your level with heavy fortification (100% fortification, proof against any critical hits unless the enemy has fortification reducing equipment or feats) by level 8 or 9.
A good item to consider for 100% fortification is:
- Nightforge Gorget: 100% fortification and a yellow augment slot, minimum level 9, from A Relic of a Sovereign Past. Collect and turn in 10 Adamantine Ore. A good combination is to acquire a Deathblock augment (ML12) or other defensive, yellow augment for the slot.
What didn't hit you, can't hurt you.
The most basic way to avoid getting hit is Armor Class (AC). Generally, this only applies to enemy attacks. The basic ways to increase AC are:
- Heavier armor with higher enhancement levels. This works for classes that do not have a requirement for light armor and/or characters that are built with an extremely high Dexterity. Heavier armor caps the Dex bonus to AC, so if you have an extremely high Dexterity, compare the AC before "upgrading" to a heavier armor.
- A higher Dexterity, at least to the armor's Dex-bonus cap.
- For monks only: A higher Wisdom. Monks have the ability to add their Wisdom bonus as well as their Dexterity bonus to AC. This offsets the lousy AC bonus of outfits and robes monks are required to wear. Never, under any circumstances, dump WIS or DEX on a monk!.
- Protection items.
- Natural Armor items or enhancements.
- Be a halfling. Like saves, halflings get a default +1 bonus to AC from their size.
Another class-based way to avoid some spell and trap damage is Evasion. Characters with 2 levels of monk, 2 levels of rogue, the new Swashbuckler bard capstone, or the Shadowdancer epic destiny trained for evasion can avoid any damage on a successful reflex save for spells or traps that require a reflex save. For many of the damage-producing spells and elemental attacks, a high-dexterity evader (or high INT with Insightful Reflexes) can completely avoid damage. At higher levels, rogues and monks may gain Improved Evasion where, on a failed reflex save, damage is reduced by half as well. Generally, if you have evasion, stay in light or cloth armor and increase your reflex saves.
Dodge, Concealment, and Incorporeality are all separate, percentage based miss chances. While they don't stack directly (i.e. 20% dodge + 20% Blur concealment doesn't produce a 40% miss chance), they are multiplicative with each attack having a chance to miss for each. (So, 20% dodge and 20% blur means a total of 36% chance to miss. 0.8 x 0.8 = 0.64, 1.00 - 0.64 = 0.36 or 36%)
Monks, Rogues, and Barbarians gain passive dodge bonuses as they level. This passive (on all the time) dodge can be increased through equipment, class enhancements, the Dodge feat (and follow-on feats in the chain) as well as racial enhancements in the halfling tree. Other classes can take the Dodge feat, but generally don't have a default increase in percentage.
Barbarians and Rogues are granted feats that increase their dodge (and dodge cap) for a short period of time, up to 50%. These abilities have a long cool down, but regenerate over time.
Concealment can be granted through the use of spells (Many fog spells offer concealment as well as Blur and Displacement.) and through equipment having the Dusk and Blurry effects. Unlike dodge, concealment can be reduced by the use of the True Seeing spell or effect.
Primarily found on higher level equipment with the Ghostly effect, wizard Pale Master enhancements, and the monk Ninja Spy Shadow Veil core ability, this is a third, stacking miss chance. For the monk, it's a ki-driven special ability that can usually be maintained almost continuously.
The final means of avoiding being squishy is tactics or how you play.
While all players should consider the other methods above for avoiding dying unnecessarily, matching your character build to a survivable play stile can be the most important.
For example, many traditional caster-type wizards have pretty low HP and saves, yet survive well in high-level content. One way to do so is to practice effective crowd control (what can't move, can't hit you) as well as targeted use of instant-kill spells or summons (and charmed minions) to draw enemy aggro away from them.
Another example may be the rogue mechanic using a repeater. By playing ranged and thus avoiding the damage from melees a rogue mechanic can prioritize killing enemy casters. With a high dexterity, improved evasion, and occasional use of uncanny dodge, a mechanic can avoid harm from most enemy spells while keeping the casters' aggro off the melees and kill the casters.
Likewise, a properly built rogue assassin may have low HP, low AC, a horrible will save, and still lead the kill count and stay alive by practicing stealth, gearing to reduce enemy aggro, assassinating susceptible enemies before they detect the rogue, and using the bluff or diplomacy skill to reduce direct enemy threat.
Most classes have one or several tactics that can be used to effectively stay alive and contribute to the party or solo the quest. So explore, consider your gear, and learn from other people. The best defense against being squishy come from having a good mixture of the above together and knowledge of the area/quest.