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It depends on a lot of variables including but not limited to:
1. Your playstyle (classes do things differently).
Generally speaking, a better balanced/well-rounded/not-underpowered class helps as well since you are more inclined to participate in more portions of the game rather than going to play Smash Bros. while the party is dealing with *insert combat/non-combat/social/downtime/other gameplay subtheme*.
No, but people also don't go around wearing signs that say "biochemist", "farmer", or "school teacher"; though there are some professions that do advertise, such as "doctor", "police officer", and "cable guy".
Everything mentioned here is just a skill set. A Ranger can literally be all of these things. An expert can be all of these things. These aren't things that one would need to make an entire class for. If a player told me they wanted to have a character who was originally a farmer and as a result wished for us to homebrew a "farmer" class, I'd facepalm.
Which brings me to my point; I still view the character classes as professions. Which is exactly how they were portrayed way back in 1st edition AD&D.
Your average McSlave is actually a 7th level dual-dual-dual-dual-dual classed human, with levels in Kindergarden Student, Highschool Student, Bagboy, Burger Flopper, College Student, Best Buy assistant, and later on levels it Guidance Councilor. :D
Beware gorblins, we'z got hit dice to spare. >:D
Artemis Moonstar wrote:
This reminds me of how my new d20 core is intended to function. Core classes as a design rule will be modular with certain fundamental mechanics that lay the framework for playstyle, and then lots of different selectable class features that allow you to customize to theme and preferred playstyle.
As a direct result, there will likely be fewer classes overall (some will be redundant) but there will be many, many more possible characters that can be made with them. I also intend to improve the way multiclassing will work (and the modularity enhances this nicely).
I'll wait and see I guess. It still bothers me though. This is the reason that I don't touch the flagging button most of the time. Short of someone being all like "**** you and **** your mother, brother, and dog too, you lousy **** ****** piece of **** **** *** ~!31 ** 43*!!@!#D:<" (and then probably if it's directed towards someone else and not me :P), I'm very hesitant to flag stuff because I may not have understood it. Even when someone is being insulting to me personally, I generally let it slide (I'm quicker to flag something insulting someone else, but generally I think the right thing to do is call people on their misbehavior because that's how social development works).
All too often I feel like the flagging system just gets abused to stifle conversations, to censor things that aren't innately terrible but the flagger doesn't agree with, like, or makes them personally uncomfortable (and let's face it, we can be made uncomfortable by virtually anything if we allow ourselves to be).
In this case I saw someone who was actively trying to better understand and explain where their position was. Some commented they weren't sure if it was trolling or not (because some of the questions were potentially hot topics), and I even said "No it's not trolling, let's give it a chance" and that was all for naught. Maybe I should have been like "This post is legit, I've got PMs asking about things from a similar vein, and can even see where some of the feedback I provided ended up in the post addressing everyone," but hindsight is 20/20 as they say.
It's one of the reasons I generally steer clear from stuff like this. I'm not fond of the "us" and "they" mentality and I might have been slipping into it here. I don't know. I just feel maybe it would be best for me to return to the "neutral observer who points out what s/he feels is logical problems in heavy discussions". It might just be easier to have a real conversation with people if I don't identify as anything. It often gets me painted as a bigot but at least I know I'm not representing people other than myself.
Anyway, good thread overall KSF. Best of wishes now and forever.
I am extremely disappointed. I have no better words to convey the level of disappointment I feel for this kneejerk reaction. I know for one I felt a little better after being heard, and now I feel dirty about it. If "we" won't try to hear and understand others, what right do "we" have to the same?
I'm out to for a while. I've little left that I can think of contributing to this thread right now. Good luck everyone.
Artemis/Tarinia, feel free to continue PMing me to talk about this stuff if you want to.
The more you post, the harder it gets for me to consider you an emotionally stable human being.
For all the instability that is I, emotionally isn't the definitive that I'd have expected. Surprise for me! :D
Let me explain this in a manner that is more blunt and less polite, in contrast to my previous attempts to have a normal conversation. I apologise if your next few days of life will be spent being angry and posting in a score of different threads how various archetypes and character concepts should not have the right to exist because they do not make use of perfectly optimized tactics.
Angry? Hm, it might be my innate emotional instability but I'm not really seein' the angry you mention. I do think that archetypes shouldn't gimp a character and should be able to stand on their own merit but that's a side conversation for another time. What I did say is that the Paladin laid out here is very bad at the goals that it was built to do (protect its party, be good at surviving, etc).
What I'm seeing is a Paladin that's easier to kill, less mobile, functions poorly in a variety of environments (dat check penalty D:), has no meaningful contribution to the party unless it's humping their collective legs, and can't do anything against creatures outside of its melee range (which can be a truly staggering amount of foes and it grows more and more obvious as you begin running into creatures with spells, breath weapons, ranged touch attacks, etc). In essence the only thing that it does do is hold a tower shield while failing at all other projected goals.
Call me concerned for your both your time and your party. :\
I asked for help building a Tower Shield using Paladin. I didn't ask for your opinion on its efficiency.
Then why are you even asking for advice if you are so utterly uncaring as to the pros and cons of the object you desire advice for?
Want a Paladin that uses a Tower shield and you don't care how efficient it is? Easy. Have a Paladin pick up a tower shield. Done. The end. However, you laid out some goals, and your fascination with tower shields is actively hindering those goals (practically dragging them out back and shooting them in the head like Old Yeller).
When I see a character build that would be laughed at by generic kobolds even into mid levels I'm a little concerned about its validity. Seeing a completely inept character makes me concerned for the other players who are going to have to pull the extra weight and lose out on experience points and loot while babysitting a PC that doesn't actually do anything.
Well, the holy shield supposedly makes you a better target, but it only works vs 1 enemy, and only on attacks... so it's kinda useless past a certain point.
Past level 0 I'd say. My kobolds would wreck that. Plus once you've hit the evasion cap, excess AC doesn't matter. Also "useless at range" translates to "suicidal".
Crystal Frasier wrote:
It would be a lie if I said that the encouragement doesn't sound temptingly wonderful (albeit a nervous and scary prospect to be honest). :|
I'm not even sure where I would begin. >_>;
On a side note I really like your hair, and I you look a little like Eliza Dushku (a compliment, promise). :)
Quickrunner's shirt only works 1/day, and you're presumably going to be slower than your allies (capped in Dex as you are, wearing lighter armor is probably a no-go). Again your usefulness only extends to standing around an ally to provide a substantial bonus to a single defense out of a multitude of attack options.
There are more strategies in this game than Zerg Rush. Everyone here assumes the party works 1. Charge 2. End of battle. Do ask first how the party works before you fall into the error of assumption.
I don't think anyone's thought that. If combat was simply a zerg rush then making a little stand around your AC-pylon might be a good idea, but D&D/PF combat is more robust than that and you are more vulnerable to getting attacked in a lot of unique and wonderful ways.
Oh no, it's definitely considered. Most of said people here that are advising against this course of action are the same sorts of people who advocate the exact same things for the purposes of the Superstitution rage power. It's not about charging in or movement, it's about gimping yourself and making you less useful to your team.
A standard garden variety Paladin can already go a great length to defend their teammates, even so far as to absorbing half their incoming damage. But a standard garden variety Paladin also has the ability to heal themselves and remove bad status ailments (like staggered and nauseated) without having to play musical chairs with their weaponry. If they need to, they can call on their smite to remove a high-profile target to keep the target either A) focused on taking the Paladin out, or B) kill the target so it cannot harm the party further.
This build revolves around being a one-trick pony that gets worse and worse as you gain levels.
Because this isn't a single player game.
Tell me would the rogue suck if it had SUPERSTITIOUS TRICK, GREATER BEAST TRICK, and COME AND GET ME TRICK. If no then it's just the tricks sucking compared to rage powers.
Sadly they might not be so helpful and may actually hinder the rogue.
Pounce would be useful in the first round of combat so you could get your sneak-attack off as a full-attack, but a rogue's accuracy sucks and they have no meaningful methods of improving their to-hit like Barbarians do, so full-attacking doesn't do a lot for them in most cases.
Come and Get me would be suicidal for your normal rogue. They are fragile like glass and when you're not sneak-attacking strike with the raging force of a wet noodle. Meanwhile you're going to willingly give your foe a +4 to hit your already meh AC and another +4 to damage vs your meh HP, in exchange for hitting them for dinky damage? Never!
Superstition would be good for the rogue though in most cases. Rogue saves suck so this would be welcome.
For some classes their name, such as the paladin is who the class is to a large extent,
I'd dare say that even Paladins aren't exempt from name/fluff/crunch disconnection. I mean, I don't think the D&D/PF Paladin has much to do with being a Christian Knight fighting Muslims. At least...I didn't see a smite Muslim in their class features and I'd really like to think smite evil isn't intended to represent the same.
One of the things that can be the most difficult to understand, is that other people are not us.
Depending on your spiritual beliefs, the next most difficult thing may be understanding that they are. :P
(Note: This is not a disagreement, rather a reference to certain unity-based concepts of consciousness)
Heck, you'd actually be better off being a sacred servant paladin (my new favorite kind of Paladin actually) and using your class-feature-buddy to help you run interference. Then Paladins have shield other which when they are using a light shield means they can eat 1/2 of their wards' damage and still be able to swift + standard-action Lay on Hands if they need to.
A demon-spawn tiefling (+2 Str, +2 Cha, +2 disable device & perception, shatter SLA) with the paladin favored class bonus (+level to Lay on Hands for self healing) with Fey Foundling is a defensive prodigy that can carry a light shield to be able to use Lay on Hands and cast spells without having to waste actions. Not only can you actually protect people but you don't require your party members to huddle on you like moss on a tree, and you can shrug massive punishment even when using shield other (At 4th level you're healing for 2d6+8 or 10-20 per LoH use). If you opt for a sacred servant Paladin, you get a few less smites but you can LoH more often and you can get a sweet ally to help you out.
Given that combat becomes progressively mobile as the game progresses, one might wonder as to the usefulness of being utterly useless unless you're within arm's length of an ally. It's kind of like being limited to full-attacking except you're also requiring your allies to not move or else you provide no meaningful benefit to the party at all.
Whereas a real martial will be out there running interference, getting in the way of enemies, forcing foes onto the defensive (rather than standing around and being a beacon that says "Please aim AoE nastiness here").
In short, the entire concept falls apart if anyone you are protecting is actually moving or isn't being attacked by a physical attack. :(
As someone who would identify as Lawful Good IRL, I must be the first to admit that order can come at a price, and I hate bad laws (literally laws that do more to harm than help society and/or people). But rebellion comes when people become discontent with their lack of freedom but if you keep them "happy" where they feel safer, secure, and like they have good lives then rebellion is unlikely. In truth, sometimes you are doing just that. Not every form of conformity to rule is a tyrannical oppression but it is conformity to the will of another (which isn't innately a bad thing, really it isn't, because it means you are capable of putting others before yourself or at least willing to play by the same rules).
For example, if I have authority and instate a law that says you shall not kill other people, those that abide by the will of that law are conforming to it and thus giving up their freedom to act out lethal violence against one-another, but most people are fine with this because it makes them feel safer and they're fine with set punishments for breaking this law. It's a denial of freedom, an act of enslavement, but it's one that most will accept willingly and that's okay because it serves its purpose for the good of everyone. It's a brighter side of a beast that can be very monstrous if pointed in a different direction.
In D&D, Lawful Good people are very much capable of rebellion. However it usually is going to require more to stir them than it would for a Chaotic Good character since the process of law is usually going to become unacceptable more rapidly for a chaotic character who might be willing to tolerate or even love the law as long as it doesn't remove too many freedoms or infringe upon the rights of individuals. They might disagree on the needed course of action when dealing with Lawful Good allies and vehemently oppose those pushing a more Lawful Evil agenda (where order is being used for hurting, oppressing, or killing others, especially for personal gain or amusement).
Since people don't rebel when they are happy and are willing to give up their individual freedoms when things are going well in their lives in spite of or because of the order imposed on them, their happiness equates to compliance with the enslavement and they may even come to love the laws that govern what they may and may not do and how much say they have in their own lives or the lives of others.
And when people are happy being enslaved there is no push for freedom. The funny thing is, I could probably present several forms of slavery from a D&D perspective than people in this very thread would be willing to live with or even enjoy. They would only be opposed to such things either by principal alone or because it eventually leads to them being unhappy with their situation and thus leading them towards rebellion.
Tarinia Faynrik wrote:
*reasonable questions and commentary*
For some people that would be considered transgendered, there's in fact not a major need for external adjustments though you're generally less likely to hear about those individuals because they aren't as obvious in their specific needs.
I for example don't intend to transition. I don't think all the testosterone blockers and all the estrogen supplements in the world would be able to go the distance in my case (I'm about 6'2, large frame, and upstaged only by wookies in terms of hair :P). Due to my beliefs on mind/soul vs physical bodies I've come to terms with such things and it doesn't really bother me (though if by magic I could make a physical change, even permanently, there would be no question, and it's easy to admire and be in some ways be envious of those who it works well for).
It don't really talk about this sort of thing much. I sit on the sidelines in most gender discussions and just listen, observe, and sometimes toss out some commentary or point out something I think is filled with bad logic or is unjust (which has perhaps resulted in some ironic estimates of myself by others since I'm not vocal about my situation, but that's fine because I don't believe my sex or gender should have any bearing on the value of my thoughts).
Just last night I spoke with a close friend about this very same thing (which has led me to make this post this morning). I laughed a bit as when I mentioned it must have been awkward for my mother when I asked her if I prayed hard enough would God turn me into a girl. An innocuous question at the age I suppose but it'd be a hard question to answer to a child at bedtime. Commented that looking back, I remember lying in bed at night thinking about being a beautiful woman when I grew up (gotta love being a little kid, huh? :P). Sometime later as I got older I think I realized it wasn't going to happen, though it only mean wishing all the more fervently. I remember hating getting facial hair (which is funny 'cause I'm told I look best with it, especially by another friend of mine who's undergoing hormonal therapy for much the same thing).
Suffice to say that this is the first time I've mentioned this on these boards (even when sitting and reading a number of the LGBT threads) and I do so only to note that some exist where you might least expect, though for various reasons we haven't really even been trying to pass or transition. Crystal's commentary was nice to hear because it can be weird being transgendered but not being transgendered in the sense of social and community aspects and even I must admit it felt good to feel a little less distant at that moment. Anyway, I'm just rambling now. ^~^"
However, for other people it's naturally very strange. When everything about who you are feels disconnected with what you appear to be it can be troubling. It many cases it can feel like you're locked out of your house. You can see where you need to be but it just feels barred off from you. So close yet so distant. Some may feel like they're living a lie which is never something you want to feel. Some may feel like it can make expressing their needs and interests more difficult or even impossible. For many it is all of the above and more.
And you're 100% right. It's not so much that it prevents you from being a whole person because the quality of your soul is not measured by the protein based shell you're wearing. However, if your grandfather could have his arm back, wouldn't he want a fully functioning arm? I think that most people would. However, our medical advancement hasn't reached that point but we might be able to rig up a prosthetic that looks and feels real and gives him some of his function back. I think that's how it is for some. Something feels like it's missing and it would be nice to have a means of putting it back where it belongs. :)
Hopefully that might help. I hope it wasn't too vague and I hope I did a decent job in the conversation. I really don't talk about these things often so I can't say I've had a lot of practice. ^~^"
Races aren't really any different. It's not like countless versions of fantasy games or settings don't have their own versions of orcs, elves, dwarfs, etc; but they might look different and/or have subtle cultural differences, but the "stocky tough", "agile graceful", "small and sneaky" are pretty universal. I mean even in Star Wars, Gammoreans are basically space-orcs. :P
You can present an entirely new world with new and exotic races without ever even changing the mechanics of the core races if you want.
Also, something you said I'd like to comment on...
" fluff that describes what a class is"
Fluff describes what the class is expected to be able to emulate. It's more like it describes what the class does, rather than is. As you yourself point out, a class is nothing but numbers and mechanical bits and how it actually plays out in a story is irrelevant to that. Which is why a lot of us refluffers are extremely put off by things like forced-fluff or meta-gaming names.
Because metagaming and immersion breaking is bad to us. Sorting people in the world based on what their class is called leads to a goofy sort of play environment like that of Order of the Stick, except while OoTS is all very tongue-in-cheek, a lot of people seem very serious in trying to define everyone in the world based on their classes, which is just ludicrous.
"Hi, I'm a multiclassed wizard/ranger/eldritch knight" is dumb.
Thank you, and actually no she wasn't but she definitely had a lot of similarities with Morrigan what with the shapeshifting thing. I was thinking "hedge witch" when I was thinking her up.
I had considered druid initially. Witch just didn't seem to have anything suitable for the flavor and druids have very powerful shapeshifting and some cool options for a hedgewitch or something, but I didn't want to wait until 5th level to actually start doing shapeshifting things (lesser metamorphosis is a 1st level power, and while no where near as strong a druidic shapeshifting, it let her turn into interesting things right out of the gate), and astral construct was very ideal for phantom-spirits and stuff. :)
Both of these are factually false. Fluff adds nothing to roleplaying beyond a sample for which to get a deeper idea of a character from. If you require a specific class to have a specific fluff then you are are actively making the game MORE about the crunch and a math exercise because you are anchoring a specific set of imagination to mechanics and barring all imagination and innovation that isn't baked in.
As a result you are actively murdering many, many character concepts, especially if there is no pre-established fluff for the concept whether there are mechanics that would allow it to begin with, or you are forcing everyone to look like everyone else in the world.
In a good friend of mine's Reign of Winter game a while back, I had a character named Agatha. She was a "witch" but she was closer to a druid in my concept of her as a major theme of hers was shapeshifting and using spooky spirit magics and such. My concept for her did not include a familiar, animal companion, or oracle curse (I ****ing hate the forced flavor of oracle curses btw, just as an aside, its rare I have a character concept that calls for one), but I did want her to have a fetish with her mentor's spirit in it that was like a piece of bone jewelry.
The class I ultimately ended up going with was a PSION (dual disciple version, specializing in Egoist and Shaper) which allowed her to do things like take the shape of animals and/or people and call strange spirit-wolves and phantoms. She dressed in robes and furs, carried an athame (ritual dagger), was semi-religious, wore lots of little trinket fetishes that included things like feathers and animal bones and teeth. Her psicrystal was the polished bone eyesocket of her mentor (whom she ate in a ritual to bind their souls together) with an opal for the eye, and it spoke to her and would become possessed and animated frequently as her mentor acted through it.
She was a favorite character of the campaign (I got a lot of compliments on her from the other PCs and the GM).
Just going to toss in that rules and mechanics are supposed to help resolve things.
Look how well that is working. :D
I <3 that video so much. ^_^
Artemis Moonstar wrote:
Thank you dear friend. *om noms* ^_^
Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
I've heard it said before that it is so useful that it encourages the use of the Human race, which has a lot of flexibility with no drawbacks, and it does sometimes seem like demihumans aren't that common compared to Humans as PCs.
I used to think the bonus feat from human was the haxxors but I grew out of it. I've come to realize that in Pathfinder, the other racial abilities like darkvision, low-light vision, bonuses to saves, and so forth are usually better overall. A large part of this being that you're limited to feats you can take at 1st level. Everyone gets more feats than they used to in 3.x as well.
It's really most attractive for grossly long feat trees but most of those are bad anyway. Meanwhile the strongest classes tend to require few feats that aren't baked in, have little if any prerequisites, or have requirements that put them well outside the realm of what the human bonus feat is going to grant.
It's good but a number of the other core races (especially dwarfs) are far more stacked.
The catch is, there's no way to be more "flexible" just with martials without being really meta about it. Throw tons more martial-oriented shwag into the game and it'll get sold, broken down, or traded as needed, or worse you'll develop a reputation for obvious favoritism.
Then again, most martials can craft their own junk so it's kind of a non-issue unless you're a barbarian.
On a side note, anyone who suggests evil > good in this game seriously needs to read the statblocks of celestial beings like angels and archons. Those suckers are stacked man. Holy crap. Heck, Solars are the strongest creature in the core game. You literally cannot summon an evil monster that's even on the same level as a generic solar.
Thank you, Rynjin. :o
Ipsalore the Red wrote:
It's so good to see people with good reading comprehension. Too bad it doesn't happen that often. >:(
That's okay. The associates bit doesn't actually cause a Paladin to fall.
Also keep in mind that they'd need to be able to stagger around with the weight relatively indefinitely. Can those fellows lift those items and walk across the stage without their bodies giving out? Without special braces for lifting and/or avoiding injury after all. Because a 24 Str character doesn't need special equipment to lift 700 lbs. off the ground and walk around with it slowly without risking injury.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
1, It is in ultimate equipment Ashiel. Already out there. No, it is not an error. If you think it is, prove it. Go ask Jacobs, we will wait with baited breath. Please don't be obnoxious to another person when they show you it is in ultimate combat and already in the system. You can say it can't be done! Yet it is in UC.
Which is most likely an error because someone forgot that you can't make wooden items out of mithral, or more likely they forgot that the tower shield is specifically a wooden object. Thus I did prove it. I quoted the rules that say it's not legal at last twice. Also, why would I ask JJ? I'd be better off asking JB. JJ writes pretty decent APs but he's never been a rules guy and has said as much IIRC.
7, Next Ashiel, do you have experience in making metal shields? What is your knowledge of steel and the different types and grades? I say this because straight swords, real actual weapons, are rather thin and certainly not fragile, tin-foil, flimsy or lacking in durability when the right high-grade steel is used (such as 9260 spring steel) to make an effective weapon.
I do have experience making blades. Nothing as large as a sword but blacksmithing is something I have dabbled in (but I need to fix my forge because the cord to my mounted fan broke and I don't have an apprentice with nothing better to do than work bellows). The flat of the blade is generally the weakest part of a sword. Likewise when making blades you generally want the edge to be the hardest part of the sword (for holding an edge mostly) while keeping the back and/or center of the blade softer to reduce the chance that it will break (because the softer steel will help absorb impact and prevent it from breaking apart while hacking something with it). A good technique to use for that is clay or similar coating on certain portions of the metal as an insulator while you're heating the metal.
Given that it retains the hardness of the material it's probably the same quality that a blade made of X metal would be, but it would have very few hit points. There's a reason why if you want to break a blade you go for the flat, preferably the center of the blade, etc.
But if you really want to get into metal composition, durability, and usefulness of an extremely thin shield, I didn't even remark about the little details like how terrible it would be for absorbing shock from incoming attacks.
What does this mean? Well a metal shield doesn't have to be as thick as wood. Bucklers are thin (as are most swords), and they do the job. If you don't have expertise on metal shields, please don't bother pretending you have a clue and acting authoritative.
This isn't rocket science.
1. Shield says it is primarily wood.
The only reason it's even gotten this far was because some dudes were like "but why no mithral shields!?", and then it was explained with the old weight vs mass thing and now people are acting butt hurt. I didn't speak authoritatively beyond quoting what the rules actually allow/forbid, everything else was an explanation for why I think that is.
For the record wood is very strong too and can be worked to make it harder and lighter, which I would assume that most wooden weapons are. I've worked with oak to make staffs before and one of the more important processes towards the end of them is introducing fire to it in controlled amounts which dries and hardens the wood. You don't set it on fire but you do run it through the fire, turn it as necessary, etc. Give it a little sanding and the result is quite nice, the whole thing feels lighter, and it becomes extremely hard.
So how long have you been working with metals and woods, Mr. Bridge?
Durngrun Stonebreaker wrote:
This is why we needed an FAQ that says you actually have to wear a magic item to benefit from it.
How was that in question? The rules clearly say:
Magic Items wrote:
Many magic items need to be donned by a character who wants to employ them or benefit from their abilities. It's possible for a creature with a humanoid-shaped body to wear as many as 15 magic items at the same time. However, each of those items must be worn on (or over) a particular part of the body, known as a “slot.”
If a magic item says what slot it goes in, you must wear it to benefit from it. It's right there in the rules.
Indeed. Here was the train of discussion.
1. A:Tower shields are wood, not metal. Can't make 'em out of mithral.
I'm not sure how that dispels or contradicts what the magic armor rules say. It just explains how enhancement bonuses work. As noted the enhancement bonuses on the same object do not stack. For example, a masterwork weapon provides a +1 enhancement bonus to attacks with that weapon, as does a +1 weapon, but they do not stack.
It also notes that enhancement bonuses to armor or natural armor effectively increase the armor or natural armor's bonus to AC, which is explicitly what the magic armor rules say they do. The thing is it doesn't limit it to the enhanced armor, it improves armor bonuses. It says so right in the text. It's not even ambiguous about it.
Your quoted text actually reinforces the other quoted text I posted so...why are we arguing?
To my knowledge, an enhancement bonus actually improves bonuses of the associated type, so any additional properties of the bonus are likewise improved.
For example, when you have a +1 enhancement bonus to "armor", it is actually raising "armor" bonuses. The bonus from mage armor is an "armor" bonus that specifically works against incorporeal foes, thus when that bonus is raised it does not lose this additional quality, merely the value of the number is raised.
Also, concerning the "it's magic" thing with the UE shield, yes it is magic. A specific magic item that seems to have an error. If its being magic is changing the weight/material composition of the base item, what happens if I cast dispel magic on it or you enter an antimagic field with it? Does it turn back into wood? Does it suddenly weigh 369 lbs? What happens to "its magic", hm?
If you can't answer that reasonably, I think it's safe to say that the magic item was just badly written / has errors. It's okay. It happens sometimes. Whomever wrote the continual flame ioun stone also didn't understand how magic, magic items, spells, or items work either.