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From talking to a number of other GMs, I'm often struck by just how kinetic a pace they run their campaigns at. PCs usually level from 1 to whatever inside less than a game year. Downtime is really sparse. When I ask them why, and dismiss ADHD as a root cause, this is what I get:
If I allow them much downtime, they'll break my game with their crafting feats/spell abuses/economic schemes/etc. Wealth by level will be thrown all out of balance and I'll have to metagame their future treasure in a way that I feel uncomfortable with (even though the gms in question are less simulationist in bent than I am, albeit still more than the average gm today).

Now when I look at a problem, I ask myself two questions, brought to us by Morden and Comrade Lenin

What do you want? and

Which is to say, what is my objective and who is to be advantaged and disadvantaged relatively speaking over the status quo.

First, what are the objectives.
The first objective is to ensure that adventuring is the highest reward option available to PCs and NPCs of PC caliber. This is necessary to compensate for the very considerable risks involved.
The second objective is to maintain world consistency. The economic model has to be something that the PCs can interact with and employ to some degree. There needs to be an explanation, for instance, for why mid level NPC casters have so much less Wealth by level than PCs in the face of potentially very high spellcasting fees.
The third objective is to ensure that PCs have reasonable downtime options available to them that are unlikely to break the game even in cases like Pendragon where you have maybe one big adventure a year (like an old-school 32 page module), a few minor encounters outside that, and downtime most of the rest of the time, especially in the winter.
On the Who..Whom? question, I want to advantage martials relative to the existing system and somewhat reduce the downtime power of casters.

So this is what I did. It seems to work pretty well in a Core-only environment.

First, I assume that EVERY member of a PC class has an implicit professional/crafting type skill. The number of ranks is Level +3. The controlling attribute is your highest attribute, whatever that might be. That skill might be 'mighty warrior' or 'warrior poet' or 'fire wizard' or whatever. Should you be in downtime, your character can produce an amount of 'value added' equal to
(10+SKILL) * LEVEL /2 per week.
The difference between this and the existing system is the multiplication by level. This system can also be used to replace crafting rules (you finish an item when your value added total plus the materials cost equals the base item value)---at least when the item's DC is something you can take 10 on.
This also replaces magic item crafting rules. Discard all of the item creation feats (lets face it, if your game is using retrain rules, especially ones as liberal as the ultimate campaign ones, PCs can and will retrain rapidly from downtime configuration to fighting trim anyway, so feat investment is no longer a decent argument for effective WBL increase if it ever was in the first place). The leader of the item creation effort makes the roll for success, everyone else participating must have a skill of +10 or better (this is basic masterwork) to contribute value added. For instance:
Volicifar the wizard and his friend Barjin the fighter want to make a magical sword over the winter. Both are level 10 with 24 as their highest attribute. Both have a skill of +20 in their implicit professional skill. Thus each has a value added of 30/2 *10---or 150 gp per week. The sword they're forging and enchanting has a base value of 18000 gp. They start with the ore, magic crystals, etc with a value of 9000 gp (materials cost). So they need to add 9000 in value. This will take them 9000/300 or 30 weeks. If they get their friend Elijah the priest to aid them, they can cut this to 20 weeks---about a winter.

What are they actually doing during this time? Well, Volificar is condensing magical essences and the like and occasionally applying them to the weapon. Elijah is praying a lot...probably 4 hours a day or so. Barjin is instilling the sword with his valor and fame. He's probably using it in downtime while hunting or whacking the occasional marauding orc (all things too minor in CR to shift out of downtime mode).

Suppose the PCs want to make the item faster. Well, they could pay more to hire someone else to do some of the necessary enchanting/instilling work. Basically this is effectively the same as increasing the materials cost. They could cut the time in half by just starting with 13500 gp in materials rather than 9000. Or they could use capital.

What is capital? It is a device, special location, or whatever that allows you a force adder in adding value. In my games I use three categories of capital:
5% capital---this is capital which has neither high risk nor barriers to entry. A great example is a wheat farm in the Dakotas. Capital of this form produces 5% of its value per year in whatever form it is designed to. So if you have, say, a web of shadows that you place to capture essence of shadow each night in the moonlight, that is a good example of magical 5% capital.
10% capital---this is capital that has either high risk OR barriers to entry. BTW, barriers to entry are what Warren Buffet refers to as an 'economic moat'. Such things are the key to actually earning an economic, as opposed to an accounting profit. Say you're a 10th level wizard in a world where such wizards are REALLY rare, like a handful, or are organized into an oligopoly. In such case your essence of fire collector, which requires level 10 to use, would likely be 10% capital. Another example, Mount Doom, if you owned it, could produce as if it were 10% capital because of the risks involved and might have a base value assigned by the GM.
15% capital is capital that has both high risk AND barriers to entry. Example here might be a setup at the Crack of Doom. You need to be pretty high level to use it AND it is pretty risky AND there's only one place like it. Some adventure locations can have as part of their treasure the location itself, as magical capital.

When you do this, the pace of magic item creation slows a LOT.

Also, what do they buy?
Mine buy them extremely rarely, and when they do buy them, the tend to buy stuff like Restoration, Raise Dead, or the like.

Of late I've been trying to estimate what the actual demand curve looks like for spellcasting services so I'd be interested in your experiences in this regard.

Say you knew a really impoverished spellcaster (in this case, a simulacrum of a much higher level spellcaster who was sent on a long term 'fire and forget' mission by her creator). She's got a modest travelling spellbook, a few basic tools, but not much else---maybe the equivalent of 1000 gold, tops. She's not your ally as such, but she's reasonably favorably disposed towards you, and she's really keen to make some money. She is VERY risk averse, as any damage she sustains costs crazy amounts of money to repair and she knows that she's a simulacrum and has a strong will to continue to live (or exist for those of a philosophical bent). Mechanically, she's a homebrew mystic theurge-like class with equivalent casting at 7th level in both wizard and priest lists, caster level 10 in each. She is NOT built as an adventurer, she's mostly an administrator and magical researcher. Her communication bandwidth with her creator is really thin---like 25 words a day or thereabouts. Her goal is to build the logistical capacity to push large amounts of basic supplies through the gates she expects to start opening up periodically a year or two from now. Her secondary goal is to develop a network of operatives to support her primary goal.

You're a low level band of adventurers seeking your fortune. You're in the 1st-3rd level range. You've got a large number of targets available to you that you might pursue as your base of operations is very much 'keep on the borderlands' sans the keep (it's just barely a village, but it does have some defenses like ditches and palisades).
You can easily reach many of your objectives in an hour or two, so any sort of long duration magics would be of great benefit to you.

What would you be willing to pay or offer to her for say a greater magical weapon or magical vestment? Are there any other spells you'd pay for? Assume that she knows there's no way in hell you could afford list price. Would you try to negotiate a different deal with her?

Some years back, I took stock of the grumblings of the players that I game with and sorted out the legitimate beefs that they had that I could meaningfully address without creating too many additional problems.
Kirth's point about narrative power would have been the major one had I not imported a lot of material from earlier editions (1st/2nd/BECMI) as regarded dominions and human intelligence at the wholesale level. Essentially, martials own these two spheres and own them conclusively to about the same extent that casters own magical intelligence and magical utility (the martials can fake these to about the same degree that casters can fake rulership, generalship, administration, and human intelligence gathering).
Primarily because of the fact that I have three children under three, and I've not had the time to keep up on system mastery on all of the new stuff in APG, Ultimate X, etc, I generally permit core only. This actually solves a fair number of the balance problems with a couple of glaring exceptions that I've houseruled in nearly every game I've run.
The big one is full attacks. You see, in a lot of games, full attacks are really easy to achieve. If the monsters don't go out of their way to avoid full attacks or only accept them when it is to their advantage, your fighters won't notice this little problem. The same is true of fighter 'stickiness'. If your GM is really skittish about accepting AoOs from your fighters, you can actually hold a line pretty well. But what happens when the level of strategy and tactics on both sides of the table gets pretty high? Yes, that's what my fighter players got annoyed with, to the point that they presented me with a group like wizard, wizard, cleric, druid, druid in the next game.
So, house rule #1, at BAB6, all classes can single move followed by a full attack as their complete round's action. They can't full attack followed by a single move, I have no interest in assisting kiting, which is fine as it is. At BAB11, fighters and barbarians can do a charge followed by a full attack, basically pounce. Barbarians are allowed to reverse the order that they get these benefits if they like.
Note that this rule also applies to monsters, making brutes a lot more dangerous.

House rule #2, skilled melee combatants are allowed to nominate several squares adjacent to them that they are sort of present in. This is akin to an American Football offensive line. You can't move through those squares--it is as if the combatant was in them---without bull rushings or otherwise moving them out of the way. You can however attack them in that nominated square. Fighters always get one such square, everyone gets one at BAB 6, BAB11 and BAB16. Normally on the map we designate such squares by laying a die of your color on them.

Back in 1st/2nd edition, I had two additional base classes in my games. One was called the sorceror (a name that has been subsequently used by 3rd edition). It was essentially a secular mage/priest open to humans, with considerably different fluff text. The other was called the rogue (once again the name was subsequently swallowed), and it was essentially a fighter/thief, once again open to humans.

In 1st/2nd edition, these classes were balanced primarily by having extremely onerous experience tables (the sorceror had an xp table that was 2x the fighter table, giving it a post 9th level progression of 500k xp per level, the rogue's table was 2x cleric). This tended, interestingly enough, to lead to results very similar to 3rd edition/Pathfinder---the sorceror tended to run about 3/4 the level of a wizard---it would hit 15th level about the same time a magic user hit 20th.

The fluff for the class was that at the bottom, the use of magic is the coercion of reality by the will (Reality and Will would both be capitalized were this a formal article). Magic users use fancy formulae and rotes refined over centuries of study to focus their will. Priests use faith and some divine assistance (although back in those days, a priest could employ level 1 and 2 spells even if their god was dead, or even if he'd never actually existed, so long as his faith was undaunted). The sorceror, although since that name now has baggage---we'll call him a Primal Mage---is the result of extremely advanced magical research, probably a discovery out at around DC60 on spellcraft. Three things can considerably reduce this difficulty---the first being some understanding of psionics, which deals more directly in the Will. The second is the realization that divine magic can still be employed to a limited degree by clerics that are 'out of supply' (e.g., in a parallel multiverse wherein their god is not present) or followers of a Dead God---this gives the clue that clerics have always been doing a little of this all along. The third is if a god, godling, or demigod actually explains a little of the process of wielding primal power---this is most likely in the case of either a very very newly ascended Power or one who is giving a peek behind the Curtain to a candidate to immortality.

Simply put, a Primal Mage accomplishes magic largely through the Will. His magic observes no distinction between the arcane and the divine. He has a spellbook like a wizard, although the spells contained on it may be drawn from either divine or arcane lists (they may be drawn from the cleric and wizard lists only though).
Like a wizard, they gain 4 spells per level that they advance to add to their spell book. One of these spells is so well known that they need not their spell book to prepare it (as per spell mastery).
Their spell progression table looks like this:

1st 3 1
2nd 6 2
3rd 8 4
4th 8 4 2
5th 8 5 3
6th 8 6 4
7th 8 6 4 2
8th 8 6 6 4
9th 8 8 6 4 2
10th 8 8 6 5 3
11th 8 8 6 6 4
12th 8 8 8 6 4 2
13th 8 8 8 6 5 3
14th 8 8 8 6 6 4
15th 8 8 8 8 6 4 2
16th 8 8 8 8 6 6 4
17th 8 8 8 8 7 6 4
18th 8 8 8 8 8 6 4 2
19th 8 8 8 8 8 6 6 4
20th 8 8 8 8 8 8 6 4 2

(Gains their 8th level spells at 20th level, much like a mystic theurge with the 5 wizard/5cleric/10 MT build would). The rule of thumb is 3 levels of cleric and wizard casting per 4 levels of Primal mage, with the spell progression somewhat interpolated and the 1st and 2nd level progressions modified a little to make the class a less tempting dip.
At level 1, the Primal mage gains bonus spells on intelligence only, gains access to cantrips, and gains scribe scroll
At level 2, the primal mage gains access to orisons, and gains bonus spells based on wisdom as well.
(special note---there are a few spells, mostly commune and miracle, for which a close alliance with a deity is presumed in the casting. A primal mage can not make this assumption by default and thereby can't actually cast these spells unless the GM deems that a sufficient alliance level exists between the Primal Mage and the deity in question).
At this point, the class would be mostly finished as a conversion from 1st/2nd edition, but we'd have to add some minor and fluff powers to balance it with respect to other Pathfinder classes and the Mystic theurge.
The primal mage gets to use his spells totally indifferently between mage/cleric lists, because he only has one list. This is a bit better than the mystic theurge's prestige class ability. However, the Mystic theurge gets automatic access to all clerical spells, which the Primal mage does not. Also, the Primal mage doesn't get domain abilities or domain bonus spells or channeling. Also, the primal mage doesn't get arcane bond or familiar, not may he be a specialist of any sort, nor does he get the bonus of the universalist. The Primal mage's saving throws and BAB are both on the wizard table, which is slightly worse than most MT's, and he gets weapon and armor proficiencies similar to a wizard's. Accordingly, we probably ought to add some capabilities. One thing to note though, since this isn't a prestige class anymore, the Primal mage will usually benefit from a favored class bonus.

Any thoughts on what to add or feedback?

In 1st/2nd edition, the version of this class was generally described by its players and party members as lacking the punch of a pure magic user, particularly at high levels of experience points, but having tremendous flexibility and staying power. It had no 'hazing levels', and this version doesn't have such either. It doesn't have the ability to get 9th level spells in a 20 level progression though, but it would have 9th level capability around level 23 or so in any extended progression. It also doesn't require any legacy feats or traits to have a full casting level. It is not quite as MAD as a mystic theurge, since all its DC's are based on INT, Wisdom is just a pure bonus for them.

I've commented several times that what martial characters (particularly the rogue and the fighter) need is a sphere at upper levels that they conclusively own. This is because high level spells, particularly spells of divination, transmutation, and transportation make casters dominant outside combat past around level 8 while remaining extremely strong within the combat sphere as well. Previous editions accomplished this by providing an end-game wherein PC's became movers and shakers within the wider world, typically starting around level 9 or so, and making the martials simply much better at that function. In my own games, I accomplish this by putting my thumb on the scale heavily in these spheres, but in this post I'll try to quantify and operationalize it, so as it can be used in a coherent fashion by the reader.
Let's start with some basic assumptions. I'm using analogs from our own history and present to anchor the capabilities I'm going to be handing out. Key among those assumptions is that most people in the real world who are competent in these tasks are from 1-3rd level. People who are very noteworthy might be 4th level (called 'hero' in the old 1st edition parlance). People that'd make a top 10 list in their area could be around 8th level ('superhero'). The very top end, near legendary, would be around 10th level. So the military leadership capacity of a fighter, at, say 8th level, would be equivalent of one of the great captains of history.

We'll define three new ratings: Rulership, Military Leadership, and Intel.
Rulership is the capacity of a character to lead groups beyond the Dunbar number (about 150 tops). It is basically how good you are at maintaining a domain with substantial numbers of people in it. Here are the possible levels:
Rulership:NONE You have no particular capacity at this and your reign will be pretty inefficient and poor. Lots of real rulers are this bad. Reduce your effective tax income by 50% for budgetary purposes. You're also exceptionally vulnerable to coups, usurpers, and the like because you inspire no particular loyalty or feeling of legitimacy among your people.
Rulership:0 You have the benchmark level of rulership capacity. No tax income modifier, your government is as inefficient or efficient as the norm. Loyalty is also within the normal bounds, modified slightly for your charisma and more heavily by your track record and reputation.
Rulership:1 Your government actually works very well. You gain a +50% tax income modifier (for the same effective rate of taxation, which I generally assume the norm is around 20% of GDP). Loyalty is generally pretty high, making destablizing your rule very difficult. You can get away with things like actually holding together someplace like the Balkans.
Rulership:2 Your government works extremely well, better than any present in our own world at this time. You gain +100% tax income modifier (again at the same effective rate of taxation). You've also totally broken the small group-large group boundary (you know, when you say...if everyone did X, this would work) and your orders are carried out with a reasonable degree of initiative. Basically you've got sub-150 person size group cohesion in most of your nation. You're a serious cult of personality. Loyalty is off the charts, making human intel against your realm much more difficult.
Rulership:3 As rulership 2, but with +150% tax income
Rulership:4 +200% tax income

Who gets what?
Fighters/Aristocrats Rulership:0 at level 1, Rulership:1 at level 4, Rulership:2 at level 8, Rulership:3 at level 14, Rulership:4 at level 20
Barbarians/Rangers/Paladins: Rulership:0 at level 4, Rulership:1 at level 10, Rulership:2 at level 15, Rulership:3 at level 20
Subtract one level of rulership for paladins if the cultural alignment doesn't match theirs
Rogues: Rulership:0 at level 8, Rulership:1 at level 16
Clerics/Druids (add one level of rulership when more than 4/5 of the population follows your particular faith)
Rulership:0 at level 10, Rulership:1 at level 20
Bards: Rulership 0 at level 10, Rulership 1 at level 20
Wizard/Sorceror: Rulership:0 at level 10

Basically, Fighters and Aristocrats are very good at rulership, Barbarians/Rangers/Paladins are in 2nd place. Rogues are in third place. Clerical types and bards in 4th, unless they're in a strong theocracy, in which they're in a 3rd place and arcane casters dead last.

In my next post, I'll define military leadership and in the last, human intelligence. Any comments or suggestions?

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If you look at 3.X edition vs earlier editions, you'd notice that mercenaries and other hired followers are far less prevalent in most people's games than they once were. I'm going to argue that they can, and should, be used much more often.

A look at the economy in vanilla 3.x shows that among level 1's, skilled people typically make about 1 gp/day (half their craft or profession roll per week, if we assume a +4 bonus and a take 10, this is 7 gp/week or 1 gp/day). Unskilled people make 1 sp/day. Most of the people that a group of PC's might want to hire fall into the skilled category (frequently profession:soldier), so let's consider that group.

Let's look at your typical level 1 warrior with profession:soldier. If you make 1 gp/day, you've got an income on the order of 365 GP/year. One could reasonably assume that your government shakes 20% out of you and your church another 10%, those aren't terribly uncommon numbers in the real world. Your income is approximately 10x the average unskilled laborer's, so you're not doing badly at all. You probably even have a servant or two at home making 1 sp/day. So, aside from your living expenses, what might motivate you to consider exceptionally dangerous but highly lucrative employment with a band of adventurers?

The biggest ones, as I see it, are affording magical (specifically priestly) services. Cure disease, remove blindness/deafness, and remove curse are the biggies, and these are nontrivial hazards in a non-modern world. They're level 3 spells castable by a level 5 cleric, so they run about 150 GP each---probably half a year's salary for said warrior. That's a lot of money. For a comparison to today, imagine a 30k medical bill, that has to be paid in advance, for a family with an income of 60k/year....ouch. But is it worth it? Most people would say oh hell yes. Imagine your number one son has been blinded, perhaps in a combat or just a not terribly uncommon accident. Lots of soldiers would accept a fairly high level of risk to pay for that. Or to remove a curse, or fix a debilitating disease, or the like.
The next biggie is restoration--specifically, restoration of permanent attribute damage (you'll notice a lot of diseases can cause this). It's quite expensive, being level 4---so 280 GP plus an extra 100 for the material component---fixing a negative level is more expensive, but not usually a problem for level 1 types :-)). There you're talking over a year of income! The next big one is regenerate---level 7, requiring a level 15 to cast, so you're talking over 1000 GP there, probably 3 years worth of income. But what would you do to let Tiny Tim walk? Or to restore your son's dismembered leg?
Another big one is paying ransoms for those captured in warfare. 3 years income isn't terribly atypical there either, so your son might cost you 100 gp if he's rated as an unskilled noncombatant or 1000 gp if he's a chip off the old block.
And we haven't even considered those who just want to elevate their social station or enjoy lives of dissipation with ale and whores.

So it's pretty clear that there are going to be a fair number of people that would be willing to accept difficult and dangerous work for very high pay. There are in the real world too, look at what offshore oil workers make sometime, mercenaries for outfits like Blackwater, or just civilian contractors in war zones.

So what sort of money would a typical such 'contractor' want to make? Assuming we're not talking any more than the usual sort of desperation, probably we'd be starting at 10 GP/day when on active duty. In addition, they'd probably want some sort of combat pay. This could take the form of a 'share of the booty', which would range from a high of around 1/3 of a share if we're talking a level 1 party to around 1/100 of a share if you're talking a very high level party. Or they could instead ask for a fixed payment per fight where they meaningfully participate, if they'd rather not take the luck of the draw. In addition, they're probably want assurance that healing and the like would be provided them free of charge subject to what the party has available and some sort of death or dismemberment benefit, should they not make it back intact.

Had a long talk with some of my old-school friends on what sort of setting specific rules they'd like to see in a game I'm hoping to prepare to run next year. I tried to steer them towards discussing desired outcomes rather than rules or processes, but process talk inevitably creeps in. Here are some of the 'we'd like to try or see things folks brought up':

Believe it or not, the players that often play clerics and other classes that can heal would prefer it if it were strategically advantageous to cast healing spells around half the time. They find the post-combat dump of spell resources into healing via spontaneous casting profoundly unsatisfying and recall the days (1st edition) when they could keep a tank line intact with judicious use of healing. They don't want to have to devote 2/3 or more of their casts to healing on normal occasions, but they'd like it to be the winning choice more frequently than it is.

Most would like to make death a more significant event, and not just the best status condition. On this one I've some ideas already---I'm going to make the Law of Death fairly solid initially in the world before it is eroded or destroyed with these ramifications:
No undead can be made nor can the dead be raised. While the Law of Death (think Cronicles of Thomas Covenant here for flavor) is in full effect the dead are totally separated from the living and there's no traffic between them. The first resurrection in this game will be an event with very far-reaching implications, because it will also unleash the scourge of undeath on the world.
People actually die (in the sense of soul departure) at negative their total hit points. They can be magically healed as normal at any point before that. A CdG or similar effect is just an automatic crit.

They'd like to see a more dynastic feel and a longer scope of time than in most other games they've played. I'm thinking to further adapt a lot of the Pendragon rules on this.

So anyone have any additional suggestions or methods of best implementing these goals? I think the house rules section for this particular setting is going to set a personal record even if I discount stuff that I'm just using cutting&paste on from previous campaigns.

So, I puttered around a bit with the most excellent OgreSheet and cranked out a distant cousin to Tempest Ted. We'll call him 'Beatdown Bob', so named for his favorite tactic of shield slamming his opponents all over the place.

His stats are
STR20 (+5 ) 14 base, 2 racial, +4 belt
DX17 (+3) 15 base, 2 level
CN13 (+1)
WS12(+1) INT(10) CHA 8 (-1)
His weapon groups are close+2, bows+1
He uses a punch dagger (best close weapon) and a light shield with spikes.
Gear is +4 belt of strength, +2 full plate, +2 shield +2 punch dagger +2 shield spikes +2 ring of protection, +1 amulet of natural armor +2 cloak of resistance, handy haversack, masterwork composite long bow for 20 strength, and about 1600 or 1700 gp of consumables, miscellaneous gear, and the like
His feats are: power attack, weapon focus (light shield), greater weapon focus(light shield), improved bull rush, greater bull rush, iron will, combat reflexes, double slice, shield slam, improved shield bash, two weapon fighting, improved two weapon fighting
He'd really like the following, but he can't afford them :weapon specialization, step up, improved iron will, improved critical, critical focus, and a host of others. Fortunately his shield slam gives him a degraded step up---it's specifically permitted in the feat description to use a 5 foot step to follow up on people you thereby push. Beatdown Bob wants it bad, but he's looking lustfully at shield master at level 11, and greater two weapon fighting (although he'd need to swing 2 more dex to get that, probably upgrading his belt at +50% cost). He also desperately wants two weapon rend, so he will probably have to wait on those feats for a LONG time.

His power attack is
16/11 (on his shield, his secondary hand actually produces over half his DPR) d4+12 damage (crit on a 20, x2)
14/9 (on his punch dagger) d4+15 (crit on a 20, x3)
His lack of any exotic critical feats (both because he can't afford them and because he's got lousy weapons for stacking critical damage due to his need to keep mostly to one weapon group) makes his DPR easy to calculate and he weighs in at 33.45---about 56% of Falchion Fred's DPR, and comparable to falchion fred's magic item-less DPR. His big push over Falchion Fred is that he's got another trick (his shield slams with greater bullrush for battlefield control and the creation of AoO for his buddies and he's got a AC of 30, making him on average a solid 3 round proposition for Mr Fire Giant to turn into hamburger instead of 2 rounds with a solid chance of a one round match.

Anyone have any ideas on how to improve Beatdown Bob?
His missile fire capacity (+15/+10 at d8+6, x3 crit on 20 only) gives him a ranged DPR of 10.97, which is pretty wretched, although it is better than that of Mr. Fire Giant, who needs a 20 to hit him for an average of 23 points a hit.

Edited (bug in sheet here, added full power attack damage to shield instead of half, adjusting DPR down to 33.45 )

Continuing with my attempts to ground some of our ongoing flames/debates/arguments with a little verisimilitude/reality, let's look at what happens when our good friend Falchion Fred gets optimized.

Previously, our friend was doing 59.25 DPR. Fred without any magic items was clocking in at 35.64.

Now let's consider Fred as statted by an unrepentant min-maxer.
From RogueEidolon's most excellent Fighter guide, a 15 point human fighter would be statted
15 Point Buy:
Str 18 (10) Dex 14 (5) Con 14 (5) Int 7 (-4) Wis 13 (3) Cha 7 (-4)

Giving him a base 20 strength at level 10, he has a 24 strength with Fred's belt, making him +7 to hit from strength and +10 to damage with his falchion. this is a delta of +1 on hit and +1 on damage, how does this impact his expected DPR?
Well, he now hits base on a 3, with +21/+16 on his attack routine, and confirms a crit on anything but a 1 / 4 or better.

His DPR climbs to 64.79, representing a difference of 9 or 10% versus the less extremely optimized Fred. GM's would be well advised to consider this when deciding how punitive to be on dump stats---that is, consider just how much they're gaining in offensive output when deciding how often to drop the hammer on that INT of 7 or charisma of 7.

Now, let's consider Fred with a more generous GM---say, he's a 20 point PFS-standard build.

Again, leaning on RogueEidolon's work:
Str 19 (13) Dex 14 (5) Con 14 (5) Int 7 (-4) Wis 14 (5) Cha 7 (-4)
All increases in Str

Curiously enough, the 20 point unrepentant optimizer has the same DPR as the 15 point one. The only tangible difference here is that extra +1 on the will save. In addition, at 12th level, Fred will have a base strength of 22, which will lift him +1 to hit and +2 damage over his 15 point cousin at the same level.
Consider a less optimized 20 point build
Str 17 (7), Dex 14 (5), Con 14 (5), Int 10, Ws 13 (3), Cha 10
Same DPR as falchion fred---his dump stats are a little better, and he doesn't sink any level-gain increases into dex

Consider the 25 point version
Str 19 (13) Dex 16 (10) Con 14 (5) Int 7 (-4) Wis 14 (5) Cha 7 (-4)
All increases in Str

Once again, he's the same, except he'll have an AC that's one better.

Let's consider a 25 point less optimized character
Str 18 (10), Dex 14(5), Cn 14(5) Int 10 Ws 14 (5) Cha 10
This character would definitely walk in games I run, as I absolutely LOVE to punish characters with negative stat modifiers (ESPECIALLY 7s, where I'm downright punitive as I view a 7 as being two standard deviations below the mean in the stat in question---that's like 2nd percentile btw, really, really low).
Curiously enough, this character isn't really worse in DPR and only one worse in AC.

So, in terms of stats at least, it's not really so much the fighters that one needs to worry about being highly optimized. The nastiest optimization on their stats available results in only around a 10% push in DPR at level 10. At many point buy levels, it doesn't matter at all.

Take our friend Falchion Fred from the DPR olympics.
From that thread:

His attack routine with Power Attack is:
+3 falchion +20/+15, 2d4+25 dmg (15-20/x2)

His average damage per round is 59.25. A +1 to hit is worth 3.90 DPR (actually slightly less because crits on the first attack are already confirming on a 2+), a +1 to damage is worth 1.71 DPR, and an additional attack is worth 34.95 DPR.

When Falchion Fred is limited to nonmagical gear, his Strength drops by 4 (no more belt, worsening his to hit by 2 and his damage by 3), his to hit from his sword by 2 (+3 falchion->masterwork), his damage from the sword by 3).
So his new power attack is +16/+11 2d4+19 damage (15-20/x2)
his non-power attack is +19/+14 2d4+10 damage
in addition, his AC worsens by 3 to 22, his saves by 2 (no more cloak)

His target AC is 24, as in the DPR olympics
So he hits on a 5/10 with a non-power attack and on a 8/13 with a power attack
His average hit on a non-power attack is a 15, 24 on a power attack

His average DPR is still better doing a power attack, at 35.64, so he does so (his non-power attack dps is 27.9).

So being reduced from magic at WBL to masterwork reduces a 10th level fighter with this build's DPS down to approximately 60% of the DPR olympics Falchion Fred's. In addition, his AC dropped by 3 and all his saves by 2. My suspicion is that other builds, like 'Tempest Ted' would be even harder hit owing to the fact that they've got less latitude in 'to hit' than this build. Swapping from falchion to greatsword gives you almost the same dps on power attack (trading 2 points of average damage for 20% crit instead of 30%, this is almost at the breakpoint for the falchion/greatsword switch).

I'm probably going to be running a game next year where the setting is a VERY young world with a 'dawn of history' feel to it. Because advancing mundane and magical technology is going to be very central to the campaign, I'd like to pick the brains of some of our illustrious posters here.

The big question I'm working on initially is where to set DC's. I'm working backwards from what level I want the 'obsessed' to have a chance at doing something and what level I want more normal specs to have a shot. The big thing I want to avoid is having forgotten something that makes my carefully set DC's obsolete or trivial.

This setting would initially be an incredibly low magic setting---so low, in fact, that no magic items at all are initially available to anyone. In fact, nobody would be able to start as any class that could cast spells or had magical abilities at all. Instead, taking levels in various classes will only become possible if someone has discovered all the necessary secrets and is willing to teach them to you (or if you yourself have made said discoveries).
So we don't have to worry about any spells giving plusses, or lore abilities, or the like.
As I see it, a Level 1 could conceivably have +5 from a stat, +1 from a trait, and +3 from skill focus. Add that to +1 for a rank and +3 from it being a 'class skill' and you might be talking as high as +13. This means they could hit a DC33 on a hardcore research effort (read, keep rolling/researching until you've rolled a 20). A Level 3 could hit 35. Level 8 could hit 41 (2 level gain stat adds +5 more ranks). Level 10 could hit 46 (+3 for skill focus at 10 ranks, 2 more ranks). Level 14 could hit 50, and Level 16 could hit 53.

Am I forgetting anything? Since the magic classes are out, the only way to get class skill on a lot of the knowledges is to use a trait, unless you're willing to be an expert.

Less obsessed characters might have 4 from stat, no trait or skill focus so +8 at most at level 1, with perhaps +19 or so at level 10 and +24 at L15

So I'm thinking the thing to do is to start the Invention DC's out around 35 for the 'easy' stuff. These are the DC's for inventing something when your character doesn't even know that they are possible. DC's would be 5 lower if you knew it could be done (e.g., word has reached you that someone else has made a discovery in this area, but you have no other information on it). They'd be 10 lower if you're 'rediscovering' something where you at least have some vague hints and legends to go off of. They'd be 15 lower if your culture knows about them but you've not got anyone willing to teach you, and 20 lower if they're totally ubiquitous in your culture. If you've got someone to teach you or a manual to work from, you don't even need to 'reinvent the wheel' at all---that's why Wizards in most games don't necessarily even need Knowledge: Arcana necessarily to cast spells. Wizards that suddenly find themselves in a reality where magic still works, but according to different theories, on the other hand, might wish they'd maxed their ranks out :-)

So, let's start out with bootstrapping a wizard:
For this you need Knowledge:Arcana and Spellcraft (in general, you need a knowledge---the theoretical portion, and a craft or profession skill---the 'engineering' portion to make something happen---you can in cases approved by the GM have someone working with you to assist you to supply the other skill, but the use of 'aid another' is going to be very limited in most cases).
DC20: You determine that magic (i.e., the bending of Reality to the Will) is possible. This is a very basic realization that anyone who seriously studies their world (i.e., takes at least one rank) should be able to discover
DC25: A very crude magical theory that fits most of the observed supernatural datapoints in your world. Not good enough to research even a 0 level spell, but roughly approximating what peasants in a low-medium magic world know. Includes the knowledge that it is in principle possible to attach magic to objects.
DC30: So this point you've got a very good magical theory, frankly a much better one than most magi in high magic worlds, but you still have no ability to consciously draw magic as yet. You can, however, take talents like 'minor magic' as a rogue, or feat based access to a single level-0 spell. You can take levels of wizard if you like, although you'll not have any spells or familiar as yet.
DC35: Here you have a magical theory that is better than that of most archmagi in higher magic worlds. Only a few loremaster mages or bards would likely have better, and few of them. Make this DC first and you are the 'First One'...the first Wizard. You won't have any sort of familiar or arcane bond though--that goes under Knowledge:Nature/Handle Animal or even higher on this track if you're going for a focus item. You can research level 1 and level 2 spells. You get nothing for free.
DC40: You can research level 3-5 spells. You can take magic item crafting feats and you can do an arcane bond. Future wizards will speak of your name in hushed tones of reverence if you're the first to hit this level

DC45: You can research level 6-8 spells. You can specialize in a school of magic. You can take metamagic feats. Latter day magi speak of you in tones of awe if you are the first.

DC50: You can research level 9 spells. Your name is synonymous with Magic in your world if you're the first to reach this level. Even a pit fiend, solar,ancient gold dragon or balor has a lot of trouble at this DC---and they are frequently the ones who taught magic to mortals in many worlds.

I recall the old 3rd edition DMG had some prebuilt npcs for each class in it.
Ideally, I'd like to have a nice bank of NPCs going from 1-20 (although the 1-10 is a lot more useful and more 'bang for the buck') representing each class and each popular build for each class. Making NPCs is a huge time sink in my experience. Assume core only unless the class is an APG class.
For instance
Fighter 1) Two handed 2) Bow 3)Switch-hitter 4) Sword/board TWF 5) TWF
We'd assume standard NPC stat array and standard npc wealth by level.
I'd like them to have a reasonable degree of optimization, but not a hyperoptimization or an excess of 'cheese'.

So does a resource like this already exist, or can I call on the dark powers of these boards to summon it in tiny pieces from the void (and perhaps sticky it)?

Without adding anything to the power level of the class in general.

Amend the prerequisites of the class, such that the 1st level of mystic theurge requires 1 level of both an arcane and a divine class, as well as 2 ranks in Knowledge (arcana) and Knowledge (religion).

1 Pr1
2 W1
3 MT (here you're basically a 2/2 Priest/Wizard, which is mild hazing)

Make the prereq for the 2nd level of mystic theurge one additional level in either arcane or divine and the 3rd rank of both Knowledges. So
4 Pr2 (now you're a 3/2 priest wizard, not too shabby)
5 MT2 (now you're a 4/3 priest wizard, no 3rd level spells so it's a little hazing, but nothing obscenely onerous)

Make the prereq for the 3rd level of MT the 2nd level in the other class
6 W2 (now you're 4/4, still a little hazing, but not much)
7 MT3 (now you're 5/5, just one spell level behind in both classes, you'd be 4/4 in the old regimen)
Make the prereq for the 4th level of the MT one more level in one of the base classes
8 Pr3 (now you're 6/5, you'd be 5/5 in the old regimen)
9 MT4 (now you're 7/6, you'd be 6/6 in the old regimen)
For the 5th level of MT, you need another level in the base class you didn't get before, so
10 W3 (now you're 7/7, and the 2 regimens have converged).

Frankly, the MT probably ought to be a base class, with some options as to how to split up its 4 'elective' levels, but this is a pretty close approximation. Any thoughts?

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