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The community had dissatisfaction with the quality of the Advanced Class Guide's supplementary material. Many people felt shocked when the errata did more than simply fix it. Worse is that the errata gave some content even more poorly worded, ambiguous rules text. The technical writing and design decisions with supplementary content leaves much to be desired in recent products. Many customers felt like they bought a broken product, and when the company fixed the product a year later, they broke it in a different way.
Michael Hallet wrote:
I am quite serious that I would like this FAQd and did not intend for this to be a joke thread. I would prefer all the dex to damage feats be consistent or at least have an explained reasoning behind their differences. A system where people are expected to understand how carry vs. occupy and is TWF vs like TWF are supposed to affect very similar feats is a huge detriment to system mastery and not really good for the game as a whole.
People are reacting this way because:
1) FAQs are meant to petition the design team to clarify vaguely written rules or fix mistakes. You're not actually doing that here. You're just asking them to explain logic that led to their decision. That's not what FAQs are for.
2) The design team specifically said that the scope of Slashing Grace's ruling extends only as far as Slashing Grace. It doesn't change how spell combat works nor how Dervish Dance works.
3) The interaction between Dervish Dance and spell combat has no ambiguity and has been well established over 4 years of organized play. Dervish Dance says you can't carry a weapon in your off-hand. You aren't carrying a weapon in your off-hand when using spell combat, despite the spell being described as an off-hand weapon. Technically, you can still use a claw, a gauntlet, or armor spikes as an off-hand weapon with Dervish Dance. This is intentional.
4) You're suggesting the design team rule that a well written, well balanced 4-year feat should match that of a relatively new feat that was sloppily put together only to get broken with an ambiguously written errata? How could anyone not interpret that as some kind of joke or troll attempt to invalidate PFS characters?
I would love nothing more than to have consistency in Dexterity-to-damage. But bringing Dervish Dance down to Slashing Grace's level is a terrible way to do that. Slashing Grace is a horribly designed feat. Paizo didn't even intend it as a Dex-to-damage option -- they tacked that onto the feat at the last moment because they thought letting a swashbuckler use a slashing weapon wasn't good enough as a whole feat. It was poorly thought out. Even Slashing Grace's errata was poorly thought out. It was ambiguous enough to require an FAQ immediately and it disables the swashbuckler from using Slashing Grace while swinging on a rope, hanging from a chandelier, or other fun swashbucklery things.
Or maybe so many people did it because prior to Slashing Grace, there was no option to get Dexterity to Damage at 1st level. just because many people built it doesn't necessarily mean it's overpowered.
I do strongly believe Slashing Grace is a poorly designed feat. They should have made it like Path of War's Deadly Agility.
Ferious Thune wrote:
We can always hope for an Improved Slashing Grace, maybe with a BAB +6 requirement that effectively removes the restriction around TWF and/or being occupied.
I'm not holding my breath, actually. The design team seems to have conflicting opinions about Dexterity builds.
I honestly only really care for PFS. In my home games, I ban Slashing Grace and allow my players to take Deadly Agility from Dreamscarred Press's Path of War. That feat was actually playtested and well thought out. Slashing Grace was tossed in as an afterthought. And now it feels like the errata was not well thought out either.
Three levels of unchained rogue. You save three feats, and don't have to deal with any of this slashing grace nonsense.
You sound as though people would actually want that. That a martial character would want to take 3 levels in a 3/4 BAB class to get a combat ability that should be obtainable by any combat class. Or that a magus/warpriest/inquisitor/cleric/oracle would want to lose 3 spellcasting levels?
Perhaps the intent was also to disallow magus for spellcombat +slashing grace or something.
Why? The best magi weapons are scimitars and katanas. Yet, Dervish Dance is fine when it requires less feat tax.
Azara Emberkin wrote:
That's the errata for the table that lists the summary for each feat. Seriously, people, look up the actual pages the errata modifies.
Occult Adventures sounds up her alley. It should be out.
Another idea is have her play a bladebound magus and create a story with her blackblade. I did this with one of my players where the blade is an agent of an eldritch god-like spirit called the Yatagarasu that lost his memory and choose the magus to do the spirit's bidding. At first, the magus knew very little of the Yatagarasu and resented having her soul be entwined with the spirit. Sometimes, it possesses her and communicates by writing in a journal. And enemies discovered this and used it against her to frame her for murder. Over the course of a 2 year campaign, the magus embraced her destiny as the Yatagarasu's herald, even grafting a wings of flying to her back in the spirit's honor. As the Yatagarasu's plans start to come to fruition and reveal a major conspiracy, the party has allied with the spirit and crossed their fingers she won't betray the party and turn out to be evil.
Why was opportune parry and riposte removed from Amateur Swashbuckler and a number of archetypes that give panache? That's kind of the big flavor reason to ever get panache deeds.
Divine Protection lets a swashbuckler use the ability after a roll, but before the results are revealed. Why didn't it let you do that with charmed life, too? That was a massive weakness with that ability that made it really lackluster.
Well, blindness is a pretty huge impairment for an adventurer. I've seen people try to homebrew the blind warrior type before but all they ever do is give them blindsight, which is stupid because blindsight is better than normal sight. So the blindness ends up being irrelevant.
I'd give the race blindsense. Blindsense allows you to pinpoint the location of creatures and things around you. However, you still can't see them -- they still get total concealment and you're denied your Dex bonus to AC against their attacks. This effectively makes running a blind character not a chore at the table because then you don't have to make Perception checks every round.
You could also give them another sensory ability for flavor -- one that doesn't negate being blind. For example, maybe an at-will detect plants or animals. But that might not be necessary. Honestly, you could still make a very viable cleric or area-effect sorcerer with a blind character.
I gave it full hex access because they're an iconic part of the class for me. I don't think it's that broken since the witch receives them at level one, meaning anyone can dip witch and take Extra Hex to get as many hexes as they want (barring level restrictions, of course). I could separate hex and talent progression but that just seems awkward... Maybe they receive witch hexes at a reduced with level? Like with level -2 or -3 or something? I probably won't restrict it in that way when I play it.
That's not a good argument as the witch is deliberately a terrible dip class since all of their abilities (witch hexes and DCs included) rely on witch level. That's obviously not a problem for the athame. And many of my previous point still stand.
I still recommend you creating a curated list of hexes, even if they're just a small selection of witch hexes.
I think benchmarked on the magus would have been a more accurate thing for me to say. I used the magus to determine when the class gets what. Both are 3/4 bab, 6 level casting, 2 good saves, Int based..
No, it's not benchmarked with the magus. At least not properly. The magus has 2+Int skill points per level. The athame has 6+Int skill points per level. That alone means you're dealing with very different classes. The class features aren't comparable either. The magus's main class features involve spellcasting action economy and abilities that help the magus be a hybrid melee fighter and blasting mage. The athame has class features involving hexes and crippling an enemy's defenses so they can sneak attack them.
it's really not much different from the slayer's studied target ability
Giving someone a debuff that negates their defenses, triggers sneak attacks, and renders them unable to make attacks of opportunity against you is completely different than gaining a small bonus to attack and damage. Even if you sit down and look at the numerical benefits, anathemize is still way, WAY stronger.
And unlike the slayer, athame gets spells and hexes.
If you want to look for equivalent abilities, the class is really modeled after the magus. Spell filching replaces spell recall, & hex strike and cursed strike are based on spell strike.
The class is nothing like the magus. It doesn't follow the structure of the magus. It wasn't benchmarked compared to the magus. All you did was poach a few magus abilities. Classes are more than just a bag of powers. Context and structure are important to class design.
It doesn't have full sneak attack or full access to any other class' talents.
It gets access to all witch hexes, which are incredibly powerful. The witch makes many sacrifices to obtain that power compared to other 9-level spellcasters. Even the hexcrafter magus loses one of their most powerful class features to gain access to witch hexes, and they still have to use magus arcana to get hexes. It's also part of why I'm flabbergasted that the athame needs an ability as broken as anathemize when they can get the Slumber hex.
If you want to make some unique talents feel free, I would love to see them.
I have to admit that kind of rubs me the wrong way to say that.
I have a hex at first level because the witch hexes are (for me) iconic to the class, but athame talents can't come in at first level because no other class gets rogue talents at level 1.
Hexes are more powerful than rogue talents. If you want to give them hex-like abilities, then make up your own. A good rework of anathemize would be an altered Evil Eye hex that lets you do it as a move action, but you can only affect one target at a time.
I like that you tried to make the class description look polished. Though, there's a few typos. For example, it mentions cleric in the spells and anathemize mentions "studied target."
The class cherrypicks abilities from like 5 different classes. It literally lets you choose hexes, rogue talents, ninja tricks, magus arcana, and slayer talents. It also lets you get a pseudo-weapon training and rogue's finesse training, which I think is completley unfair. The rogue has that ability because they're a 3/4 BAB combat class with no spells.
Anathemize and spell filching are the only unique mechanics the class has. A 1st level ability to render an enemy flat-footed with no save is absolutely broken, especially on a class with spellcasting and sneak attack. The teleportation ability feels like an afterthought, despite you wanting to make a teleportation-based assassin.
Really poor design to break the class system. If you have to make a bunch of rules that limit whether or not people can take the class, that should be a sign that it's time to go back to the drawing board.
The abilities themselves are just numerical bonuses and fast healing, which makes the class broken and incredibly boring. Two very bad things to have in a class's design.
I'm not crazy about Rivani's lore. The most compelling characterization occurs by showing a character's actions, decisions, and reactions. We don't see much of that here aside from showing she likes books and her psychic power level is over nine thousand. She doesn't have any reaction from the most compelling part of her lore -- when her psychic powers let her see the sins and betrayals of the rishis. The lore doesn't even say how Rivani felt when passing the test. Was she happy? Was she sad to see the corruption in the men she trusted? How does she feel about her powers? Does looking into the mind and hearts of men make her uncomfortable? Excited? Does she enjoy it? I don't know anything about this character's personality other than being a book worm. Throwing all the names of planets, cities, and stuff doesn't add any depth to the character, either.
Compare to Amiri's lore, which shows the actions and reactions of the iconic barbarian. Everything she does demonstrates her personality and strength. The lore shows how she felt and why. It even provides surprising character depth. Even though Amiri felt murdering her kin for trying to kill her was justified, she still believed it was the wrong thing to do. I learned a lot about Amiri from her lore and feel sympathetic towards her.
I know very little about Rivani because her lore focuses on things happening to her rather than her decisions and actions. Action defines character.
In my campaign, most of the most cruel drow got wiped out. Most of the surviving drow's cruelty is aimed at elves and see them as traitors that abandoned the world in its most dire time of need.
In addition, beholders don't exist in my Golarion because their in-fighting eventually led to one individual, living in a dungeon full of dragons, to hire powerful wizards of the coast of his domain to cast a wish spell that eradicated the name of his race from the history of all lands but his own.
Echo Vining wrote:
Sadly, I don't have the figure for that outfit.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Touch attacks are a broken game mechanic. There is a difference between broken and overpowered/underpowered, though they can overlap. A broken mechanic either doesn't work as intended or screws with the game on a fundamental level. An overpowered/underpowered mechanic simply has too much power or too little power.
Touch attacks are a broken mechanic. As I explain in more detail in this article, the math behind them falls apart because the average touch AC decreases with CR instead of increase like normal AC. This makes them almost guaranteed hits. And firearms put iterative touch attacks on a class that already excels at hitting high armored targets.
Plus, touch attacks are a punch in the face for an armored fighter.
The thing abut fun is that fun is subjective. You cannot quantify fun.
So your argument is that, due to the subjectivity and inability to quantify fun, a designer should focus on balancing a class's power level rather than most other aspects? This argument makes me cringe for so many reasons.
1) You can quantify fun. Not numerically, not precisely, but you can do it. Just as you can quantify aesthetics. What viewers find aesthetically pleasing is subjective, but any visual designer can tell you the aesthetic merits of any given image or other visual medium. He can tell you why people will find some images more pleasing than others just as I can explain why a player will likely find game content more fun than others.
2) An experienced game designer understands principles, techniques, and values that can contribute to fun gameplay. They learn, through experience, what most people find fun or not fun. They know what designs will facilitate their player's fun. Making gameplay options equally attractive for players is only one way of achieving this.
You can, to a better extent, quantify balance. Not perfectly, but you can do it.
Yes, you can imprecisely measure the power of a class's incomparables (game content whose power cannot be measured numerically). That's very important to do. But a game designer should prioritize ensuring they're cool and interesting to use. Though not straight forward, there exists several ways to quantify that quality.
Ideally, we want to create content that's both fun and balanced. However, it's more practical to focus on making the content enjoyable. That means merely ensuring there isn't an egregious power disparity as opposed to agonizing over the precise power between things. Such precision isn't as important as it is in competitive games.
Fun will naturally follow from something that fits together well. Sure, you come up with an initial idea and abilities that sound cool...but any 5 year old can do that. That's not design.
I agree on the importance of good execution of ideas. However, your first sentence is not true. A well balanced, fine tuned game/content will not necessarily lead to a fun experience. This is why iteration is a cornerstone of the design process.
Making sure something is balanced is a BIG part of good design.
This illustrates my biggest problem with many of your (and some of Kirth Gersen's) arguments. You strike me as always thinking in black and white. Game design is more complicated than that. Ensuring the equality of power level among classes constitutes only ONE aspect of designing classes.
It's not even the only type of balance! Jesse Schell dedicated an entire chapter of his book explaining that. In fact, sometimes good game design involves making certain things not balanced. For example, Pathfinder favors offense over defense because the designers want combat to flow faster and not stagnate into turtling. Using spells/gameplay to prevent damage is more optimal than healing it because the game designers wanted to encourage winning fights through preparation and smart decisions rather than winning fights by outsustaining enemies. Balance constitutes more than making everything equal. It involves ensuring game elements exist harmoniously to create the experience you (as a designer) want to convey to the player. Adjusting the power level of classes is only one aspect of this.
I will reiterate: I am not making the argument that balancing the power level of classes isn't important. I'm arguing it's only one of the many important things to consider when designing classes and TTRPGs. In many circumstances, it's not even most important, despite how much the community fetishizes it.
If it's too weak, who gives a s+!+ how good the concept is?
The concept and interesting game mechanics make you care about the class in the first place. Yes, we want to make sure a class's power level isn't out of line. However, a great concept can keep a player engaged with a weaker class whereas a player will likely bore of a strong yet bland class quickly.
The swashbuckler and cleric are great examples of this. The swashbuckler is probably the weakest class in the Advanced Class Guide, and yet it's quite popular. I've seen significantly more swashbucklers in PFS than any other class from that book. On the contrary, many consider the cleric one of the strongest yet one of the most boring classes to play. Much of its power is allocated in places that make the class more viable, but not as fun.
Again, making sure the overall power level of a class equates to others does not alone constitute good game design or balance.
If you have a different opinion, share it, but give me something specific besides "fun". What do you think is the biggest part of actually designing a class?
Creating and implementing a concrete concept that translates into meaningful game mechanics that facilitate gameplay. In other words, make a class that gives the player interesting things to do. Even if they might not be as powerful as other classes.
There's many considerations to take when trying to accomplish your design goals with a class. How many offensive, defensive, or utility abilities should they have? Do the mechanics convey the experience or flavor I want in this class? Does the class give the player enough things to do during combat? How flexible do I want possible build paths? All of these are important considerations. Some of them more important than just whether or not the class is strong or weak as a whole.
I reworked firearms in my campaign because touch attacks are a broken game mechanic. I removed misfires and touch attacks from them, made Dex-to-damage an innate feature, and rewrote that overpowered Musket Master archetype. They still do a ton of damage, but now firearm attacks are no longer guaranteed hits.
I'm not saying that, but I've seen this sort of thing here very often and I wanted a good explanation of how people see it working out.
I don't think Linear Fighters Quadratic Wizards is necessarily a bad thing. Having classes with different power curves makes the game more interesting. As former Paizo designer Sean K Reynolds said in an article, precise class balance is neither possible nor totally necessary. D&D/PF is a cooperative team game for creating stories through gameplay. It's fine if some classes are more powerful than others as long as they're all fun to play.
It's the design of D&D prior to 4th edition where fighters start off strong and wizards start off weak. As they level up, the wizard starts to greatly outshine the fighter. This was intentional because previous editions usually assumed that every new character starts at level 1. Now, it's an unpopular concept, especially since the designer of 3rd Edition greatly buffed wizards and had a major double standard spells versus martial abilities.
I know a PFS GM who had a player with a min-maxed barbarian who tried to meta his way in combat against a mage.
Player: I sunder his spell component pouch.
GM: Nevermind the fact you don't know whether this guy is a wizard. How do you know what a spell component pouch is? You have an Intelligence of 5! Do you at least have a rank in Knowledge (arcana)?
Player: No, but everybody knows wizards carry spell component pouches. I sunder it!
GM: The guy is carrying like three pouches on his person. You'd have no idea which one is his spell component pouch, assuming he's carrying one at all. You do a ton of damage. You could just stab the guy...
Player: I sunder his spell component pouch! *Rolls it*
GM: Fine. *Rolls a 1d3.* You slice open one of his pouches and his lunch pops out.
Player: F*** you! *Grabs all of his stuff and leaves the table*
I completely agree with Alexander Augunas. I feel Dual Identity is being undervalued.
I can even see it working really well in PFS scenarios. Most PFS scenarios take place in one location or have you sent from Absalom to another town with plenty of downtime before talking to the next major NPC. You would have plenty of time to gain renown and make use of your social.
I'm not entirely sure how feats "constrain" player options. Are players at your table complaining? Sorry for the skepticism, but I always seem to find GMs who try to fix problems that don't really exist or only exist because they had an unusual vivid experience. My players absolutely hate the problems with the feat system, but they'd riot if I tried to run a game without feats.
If you want a featless game, try D&D 5th Edition. In that game, feats are an optional rule.
When casting a touch spell with "cure" in the title and a casting time of 1 standard action, a good divine spellcaster can manifest the spell's power into a shining arrow and fire it from this longbow. On a successful ranged touch attack, a creature struck by this arrow takes no damage but becomes subject to the spell's effects. If the spell can target multiple creatures, the wielder may instead cast the spell as a full-round action. When doing so, she performs a number of ranged touch attacks equal to the number of attacks she can perform during a full-attack or the number of targets allowed by the spell (whichever is lower). Each creature hit becomes subject to the spell. A creature does not benefit from multiple arrows unless the spell can target a creature multiple times.
I'm a game designer. Design goals are vital to creating quality work. Otherwise, you're creating solutions looking for a problem.
I honestly just want the core rulebook rewritten. Little to no actually changes necessary. We need an updated rulebook that doesn't use poorly written 12-year text modified by a poor chap who had to put an entire company on his shoulders.
If you want a whole new game that fixes the core problems with 3.5e, then follow Five Moons RPG designed by Sean K Reynolds.
Quite an interesting idea. Most of it seems quite appropriate. However, I think Toon Damage Resistance is way too powerful. While appropriate, it basically makes them invincible because nonlethal damage goes away if the character receives any healing. Magical weapons and acid damage don't occur frequently enough. I honestly think it would be better to have this be a once per day ability to convert all damage from an attack to nonlethal.
I honestly think domains are the most interesting class feature they have. I just wish they were more interesting and let you better customize your cleric based on your god. I once had an idea where they worked more like oracle mysteries where you can select domain powers from a combined pool from the two domains you choose at 1st level and the cleric can spontaneously cast domain spells.
I was going to suggest this. You could do some really creative things with flesh to stone. I have an NPC in my campaign that's a mobster always surrounded by a harem of medusa whose gaze has no effect on him. He deals in illegal artwork, but also acts as a loan shark that uses a person's petrified loved one as collateral. Each time they're late on a payment, his men chip a piece off. However, he will make sure they're restored to healthy condition if the debt gets paid off. For particularly faithful debtors, he might hire a sculptor to remove a blemish or make the collateral look younger.
The codes in ISG are rather well written. So well written that a friend of mine, who used to hate paladins, wanted to play a paladin after reading some of the paladin codes. Heck, they even inspired him to create his own goddess for his campaign. Even the paladin code of Imoedae, the most stereotypical paladin god, has several tenets that dispel the Lawful Stupid, including being loyal to your companions. If you act like a righteous jerk to your companions or threaten to leave the party because you disagree with them on a moral argument, then you're breaking Imoedae's paladin code.
The campaign ended when our pactbinder stabbed a highly explosive artifact made of solidified evil in order to stop the Big Bad from obtaining it in the next round of combat and becoming a demigoddess. The explosion completely obliterated everyone in the battle, collapsed the dungeon, and ushered a massive spire of light that you could see from space. Thanks to a scroll of clone I found prior in the campaign, I was the only survivor. I inherited a castle and spent the rest of my days searching for a way to bring back my comrades while telling people of their fate. All nations of the land declared us venerated heroes to live on in legends for centuries to come.
Single attack: with multiple attack AND damage rolls. That is kind of the point. If sneak attack does not apply to each roll, does power attack? You mention furious focus, but as an initial premise you have no problem with power attack adding to each roll? Even though its one attack? Maybe it should just be weapon damage rolled each time, so its a single scaling vital strike. After all, what is normal damage anyways.
Power Attack specifically says it modifies attack and damage rolls. It does not operate on a per-attack basis. As a result, Power Attack works with Pummeling Style.
As I mentioned earlier, it's good to think of Pummeling Style as a weird critical hit. If an effect gets multiplied on a critical hit, it likely gets added on each successful attack roll in a Pummeling Style attack.
Alrighty! Sorry if I sounded a bit rough there. No hard feelings against you.
I quit playing 4th Edition because I felt like I had little to no agency in how my character develops beyond 1st level. Skills are set in stone and level up automatically. The power system gave an illusion of choice -- while it allowed me to pick from three or four powers every other level, each power relied on a specific build you had to choose at character creation. Unless you got insanely good ability scores that let you have two secondary ability scores, there was little reason to pick a power that wasn't specifically designed for your build path.
I feared the same problem would appear in 5th Edition, and it seems like that appears to be the case. Your skills are set in stone. The most adjacency you have during level ups is the "path" your class allows at 3rd level. Yeah, there's feats if your DM allows them, but the feats don't scale or give you different options at different levels. A 20th level fighter draws from the same feat pool as does a 4th level fighter. The game seems deliberately built around low level play (even the developers said so).
For those who had the pleasure of playing a 5th Edition game, are my concerns actually present in the game? Having a character adapt in response to their adventure experiences has massive appeal to me. A character that follows a set path and doesn't change with respect to their experiences strikes me as really boring.