Random Thoughts on Tanking
AC and discipline are king, get it high as you can. If you got a retirement package always get +2 AC boots. Get expertise at the very least if you're not a caster, IMP XP is nice. Divine shield is very nice too if you got the charisma for it. Tumble for dodge helps too. When this is high enough, full concentration isn't mandatory. As for discipline, having it in the mid to high 30's will help mitigate being disarmed or knocked down most of the time.
Next most important thing is damage mitigation. At least one, 5/- Bludgeoning and Slashing are almost mandatory. You can have both as belts for example, and switch them based on the enemies you face, OR if you got room both at the same time. If you're front-lining piercing is optional. Also, if its IC, cross classing into rogue or monk will give you dodge.
Third most important is proper is saves. Luck of Heroes is nice if you're a fighter that can afford an extra feat or two. Finding a way to deal with will saves always helps too. Circini sells clarity potions so if you're a warrior class (ftr, barb, ranger). Clerics and druid tanks do well in this regard since their saves progression increases fort and will. Also, its a bit OP, but if you start your character as a monk and its IC for you to do so, with 4 levels you get +4 to ALL saves and +2 vs mind affecting.
Damage output. Tanking doesn't have to be about low offense high defense. Just find a good weapon and use cheap strength potions. Good weapons include +2 enhancement, RNG weapons that have 1d6 to 1d8 extra damage that's a different type of damage than the weapon (for example, Longsword with 1d8 Bludgeoning), or even enchanting a mithral weapon (+1 AB, +2 Elemental, +1 Bludgeoning damage which is 8 points since the 1 AB damage is free). The latter two especially, if someone offers you a greater magic weapon.
For example, a longsword on a 15 STR warrior that has a 1d8 spear with 1d6 bludgeoning damage. If someone casts greater magic weapon +3 and bulls strength (you go up to 20 str), your damage will be 1d8+1d6, +3 (enhancement), +5 (strength). You'll be doing 10-22 damage a hit which isn't shabby for a 1 hander. If you got Weapon Specialization (fighter), it goes up to 22-24.
- Skills. As a Fighter, Discipline is your most important skill. Get this as high as possible, aim for mid 30's with equipment. 10-25 won't cut it. If an enemy has +10 AB, and you got 25 discipline, they still have an average 25% chance to knock you down.
Concentration. Concentration is important if you don't want to be taunted. For example. If you're a tank with 33 AC, and you go up to a fire giant who has 23 AB, under normal circumstances, if you go improved expertise and go up against it, it should only hit you on 20's, or 5% chance. If you have very low or no concentration though, if it Taunts you, you will lose 6 AC, increasing the chance of the fire giant hitting you with their first attack from 5% to 35%. While not absolutely necessary, I'd still value concentration as your second most important skill as one. MANY harrowing enemies in Narfell taunt.
Tumble. More AC is always better. If you don't take any classes that offer Tumble, When you hit level 7, you can get +1 AC at the cost of 10 skill points. Its worth it, it really is. If you're long term planning you can add +1 more AC at level 17 for another 10 skill points. HOWEVER, if you cross class or are a monk, ranger, bard, or rogue, you get +1 AC at levels 2 to 6, 7 to 11, 12 to 16, and 17+ for 5, 10, 15, and 20 skill points allocated to it. NOTE about tumble. You have to put points into it to get the AC bonus when you level. Tumble skill points from items don't count towards your AC bonus.
Spellcraft. Spellcraft is good, really good. For each 5 skill points (including items) into spellcraft, you get +1 to all your saves. If you're a class that offers either lots of skill points, or a caster class, I'd say try to put this as high as you can that makes sense. For example, if you're a fighter, and have 13 intelligence, putting 8 points into spellcraft will grant you 4 ranks. + the 1 intelligence, now you have +1 to all much needed saves against spells.
Ride. To reap the benefits of ride, you need Mounted Combat first. Mounted combat will 1. Lets you use shield on the horse, 2. Lower the DC of casting spells or using abilities like turn undead or bardsong from 15 to 5. And 3. Give you +1 AC per 5 ranks in ride. This stacks with Tumble, so your AC on a horse will be significantly higher. There are downsides to a horse though, including you'll body block people with your size a lot more, you'll create an annoying tempo issue when adventuring, either having to walk slower, or having your allies run after you which can really frustrate people. Keep these in mind.
Hitpoints. The higher your AC is, the less need there is for a massive amount of hit points. ESPECIALLY if you're a class that's also coupled with evasion. Someone once used the metaphor 'a big block of butter in a blast furnace' when it came to tanks with high health and no AC/damage reduction. Once you get your AC comfortably to 28 with imp expertise, or 33 with a shield + expertise, 9 HP per level should be an acceptable. The more the better as usual, but just keep in mind you don't have to worry about having crazy amounts of health to be a solid tank.
Spells and consumables. Anything that helps you mitigate damage, dodge attacks, or protect your mind against certain enemies. Improved invisibility literally cuts your chance of being hit by 50%. Ghostly visage mitigates damage from creatures that don't have a +1 AB like animals, hill giants, thrown rocks at you, etc. Clarity potions will save you from being rocked by Illithids, Phaerlocks, or initially engaging enemies with auras including ghosts, queen orb spider, etc. Healing potions are obvious, and you'll be using a lot. INVISIBILITY POTIONS ARE YOUR FRIEND. Use them if you think you're about to die.
HELPING YOUR LOCAL TANK. If you're friends with a tank whose risking their lives to help you, doing the following things to make their lives easier will be beneficial. If you're a spell caster, give them wards. Greater magic weapon, divine shield, mage armor, mindblank, clarity, remove paralysis, remove fear. Having these for your front line can mean the difference between life or death. If you know your enemies can't see invisible, have invisibility potions available if enemies they're trying to block get past them.
Equipment and Cost. Proper tanking is EXPENSIVE. While items now are more accessible as ever, they still cost quite a bit. A full set of tanking gear may cost you a lot of gold and/or xp depending if you enchant your own or not. As a front line blocker, you want to aim for the following, some which are touched upon earlier on:
+2 AC boots are a must.
+2 AC armor OR steel armor or better (+3 ac vs slash and pierce) go a long way, OR +2 AC on a Bracer (counts as armor too) and your armor can have whatever mods you want on it.
+2 AC amulet is great unless you have access to bark skin or plan on drinking a lot of bark skin potions.
+2 AC deflection is important. If you got access to shield or shield of faith, its not completely necessary, but keep in mind the potential of being dispelled.
If you choose to use a shield
+2 AC to Shield if you use a shield. Not using a shield is fine but on characters like that, improved expertise is seriously recommended.
SPECIAL NOTE: If you're enchanting +2 AC items, they take 8 points to enchant. If you decide to spend a bit of extra gold and XP to enchant 9 point AC items, Consider also putting one of the following: +1 vs mind affecting save (or any other save that's important to you) OR a 2 points that are useful to your class like +2 discipline, concentration, or spellcraft on it.
5/- Bludgeon Resist and 5/- Slash resist. Having these help a lot. In narfell there's a couple of merchants that sell 5/- slash resist bracer and a 5/- bludgeon resist helm. If you really don't like enchanting get these.
+2 Universal saves item (8 points to enchant) in an available slot will do you good.
Stat boost: Extra strength, dexterity, or constitution can help a lot. If you got slots to afford it, you can actually enchant 9 point items that have +1 to a stat of choice, and +1 to universal
Weapons were covered earlier, but more damage the better.
- Leadership and communication
As the front line, you should dictate the pace of an adventure. The following check list will help ensure your adventure will hopefully go well
-Do I have enough potions and healing
-Do my allies have spells or wards that can help me? If they do, ask them for wards or remind them what wards would help you before they rest.
-Explain tactics and intentions BEFORE engaging enemies and hope people listen
-Make it clear to people in the party that potions of invisibility are your friend unless you engage enemies that could possibly see through it.
-Remind your allies that potions of invisibility resist, and that if you say retreat, make sure that they'll listen before the adventure
-If you THINK you're going to be overwhelmed, communicate to your party in advance that you may have to retreat. Try to give them 6-10 seconds to let it sink in. If you retreat or go invisible and they die after giving them proper warning, don't feel too guilty. You did your best and you are NOT TO BLAME if they die.
This writeup is just a guideline, but I find it really helps to do the best job you can
Thank you, I just wanted to voice whats in my head, maybe I'll post it on the forums one day if I can polish it up
@crazymojo Will format at some point... maybe.