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Freesword's page

1,375 posts (1,376 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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Fergie wrote:

Martial / Caster disparity: What are you going to do about it?

Well, I wrote this informative bit of text, so that discussions about the topic can get beyond discussing if it exists, and hopefully come up with this some real solutions. See the list at the end for some basic suggestions.

** spoiler omitted **...

Pretty much this right here sums it up.

You did however miss adding some flexibility on the martial side, especially having enough skill points to actually use skills *cough*Fighter*cough*, and consolidating punishing feat chains into single scaling feats instead of permanently locking up several of a limited resource (feats) to do 1 thing effectively. Not to mention dropping a few feats that should just be automatic.

We don't need 1:1 parity between martials and casters, but the gap between them needs to be much less than it currently is.

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Cyrad wrote:
The original designers deliberately built the math of the game such that a CR=APL encounter uses up 20%-25% of a party's resources.

You refer to the CR system which first appeared in 3rd Ed which never worked correctly. Primarily because it was based on flawed assumptions.

You assume that the valuation of martial attack all day vs limited number of spells per day was based on mathematical analysis rather than legacy carryover from previous editions.

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Ashiel wrote:
However, I think we do martials no favors for ignoring where they do excel. People need to understand that because one of the most common answers people initially make for martials is "mwoar damaaaage!" which is not what is needed at all.

True, increasing damage just to increase damage is a poor attempt at addressing the actual problem. However, making it easier to do more damage by freeing up more feats (consolidating feat chains and having them scale) creates flexibility and opens up more options. Allowing more than a 5' step with full attack increases mobility options, not just increasing damage output. We can't just dismiss options simply because they also increase damage output.

Ashiel wrote:
The martial caster disparity is real. But we must be honest about how far we have come!

CRB made great strides in closing the martial/caster gap vs 3.5. Those of us that were part of the playtest wouldn't have accepted it if it didn't. But the gap has grown again since then, not as rapidly as in 3.x, but it has grown none the less. Too liberal toward magic, too conservative toward martials. While I count myself as someone who thinks the CRB didn't go far enough, I still stand by my assessment at the time that it was a vast improvement over 3.5. I feel the recent surge in martial/caster disparity discussion is less about trying to force more gains in balance but more pushback against losses to the gains we had made.

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Cheburn wrote:
The amount a mage can do in 6 seconds is truly staggering in Pathfinder.
Ssalarn wrote:
Not to dredge up any edition warring again, but one thing I thought was really smart in 4E was chopping up magic into spells and rituals.

In "traditional fantasy", how exactly does a pure "gritty" martial counter a caster? He interrupts his casting.

In Pathfinder, most spells are standard action casting time, meaning you can cast one and move your full movement, all on your action. The only way to interrupt that is readied action or AoO. If a caster sees a martial not attacking anyone, he can fairly well expect a readied action to try and interrupt a spell, so he can just not cast and effectively waste the martial's action that round. The AoO requires the martial to be next to the caster, but the caster can just move out of range (yes, Step Up and Step Up And Strike). Longer casting times go further to balance out the power of spells than anything else.

Prior to 3rd Ed casting times were such that other characters could get actions before spells went off and could interrupt them. This was changed as a quality of life improvement for casters because not only did the spell not go off, but you wasted the spell slot as well. It went against the concept of casters doing things with magic.

To be fair, while I advocate for 1 round (start casting this round, spell goes off on your action next round) casting times, I would also be in favor of giving the caster a chance to not lose the spell slot if interrupted.

I also support the idea of taking some of the most powerful magics in the game and making them rituals that take minutes, hours, or even days to cast.

I would even be willing to see rituals not require a spell caster, but have a higher cost/casting time for non casters.

It's not that martials haven't gotten any nice things, but those things are often weaker than needed (especially not scaling to level), and martials are starved for access to them (long feat chains and unnecessary prerequisites), and all because not having limited uses per day has been highly overvalued.

Is it any wonder any time something nice for martials gets nerfed in errata there is a firestorm of martial/caster disparity discussion?

For the record, I do not expect Paizo to directly fix the underlying problems. They are too deeply rooted in 3.x and Pathfinder was built on a large degree of backward compatibility with 3.x, both as a selling point to players/DMs who could still use their not inconsiderable 3.x collections of material and to build on Paizo's existing 3.x products without having to re-do everything from scratch. What I hope for from them is more options like Unchained to give us tools to work with, and less nerfing of nice things that martials do get.

bookrat wrote:
I was also toying with the idea of simply using spell slots to counter (keeping it easy, but sacrificing your spell slots to do it reduces your potential casting power per day). I'm not sure how this would work with point based casters, though.

The point based casters I'm familiar with (3.x Psionics) still use spell levels with fixed base point costs. Any point based caster that uses a similarly structured system would translate over to:

Expend points equal to the spell being countered.

Additionally this does address one of the two biggest blocks to counterspelling - having the correct spell available.

Along a similar vein, what if you could spend a slot of any level, with an opposed roll of Caster Level + Spell Level (possibly + Casting Stat). where == Spell Level cancels out, lower Spell Levels is a disadvantage, and higher Spell Level is an advantage. Granted it is more complexity and still suffers from the problems associated with any action negation.

The other problem with counterspelling is it requires a readied action which can waste your action in a round if the trigger doesn't happen.

A feat to counterspell as an immediate action would remedy this.

Corvino wrote:

The Feats vs. Spells argument returns. Feats are good, but locked in stone unless you're using a class feature that allows you to switch them - Martial Flexibility etc. Once you've got your primary tactic sorted you can be stuck with it, especially mundanes. Switch-hitters and the like are a minority. If your tactic gets boring - tough. If it annoys your DM and gets shut down - better hope you're allowed to retrain.

Spells, especially from prepared casters, allow you flexibility and a different play style every 24 hours. And can be enhanced by feats. The same Wizard can take two completely different roles on different days, but a fighter would struggle to even with bonus feats.

You forgot to mention long chains of prerequisite feats requiring you to spend multiple feat slots to do one thing well. (unlike spells which don't require other spells as prerequisites)

And all this because feats being at will vs limited uses per day was heavily over rated.

Unfortunately, it still relies on being next to the caster to get an AoO. Why is a caster moving up to get next to an enemy caster? Why are they standing there provoking the AoO instead of 5' stepping away?

You want to make it easier to disrupt spells? Increase casting times to 1 round, and I'm not talking full round action that only allows a 5' step, I'm talking you start casting this round and the spell goes off at the beginning of your action next round. This would give every opponent a chance to try and interrupt the spell.

HWalsh wrote:
Freesword wrote:

with the fighter (and all other martials) limited to a single attack if he moves more than 5 feet.

This right here is the poster child for martial/caster disparity.(for those who don't believe it exists)

Don't speak for all of us.

My martial can move 30 (well 20, he wears heavy armor) feet and 9 out of 10 times get off two attacks per round.

Just because yours can't doesn't mean it can't be done.

** spoiler omitted **

Gated behind a multi-feat combo which requires a bit of dumpster diving to find the feats.

Conrugon Smash is from Pathfinder Chronicles - Cheliax: Empire of Devils

Hurtful is from Monster Codex.

A specific obscure combo and still not as good as what a caster gets by default.

Still, kudos to you for your system mastery.

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thejeff wrote:
... I just don't want the basic D&D casting system ripped out and replaced with something else. It's too much of what makes D&D for me.

And here lies a key to why this has not been fixed and why any fix will not be simple. The magic system - aka. the heart of the caster side of martial/caster disparity - is a herd of sacred cows (er...sacred cattle).

What's more, I vaguely recall some dev (maybe not even one working for Paizo) stating that designing a spell in this system is more art than science, which I believe translates as: there is no logic behind the magic system, it's just random bits that sounded cool all stuffed together. (Spell groups with logical progressions like the cure and summon spells being odd exceptions)

This mess was once balanced by it being very difficult to actually cast a powerful spell - any damage taken and the spell was lost, and between beginning to cast the spell and it going off, other characters got their actions. 3rd Ed changed all that, and it was not entirely a bad thing. It was a quality of life improvement for casters taking them from crossbow guy who occasionally manages to get off a spell to being magic guy.

Now casters are kings of the action economy, able to rewrite reality in the 6 seconds of their turn, after moving their full movement, and only interruptible by an AoO or someone sacrificing their action in advance to ready an action that they only get to take if the caster tries to cast, with the fighter (and all other martials) limited to a single attack if he moves more than 5 feet.
This right here is the poster child for martial/caster disparity.(for those who don't believe it exists)

Spells completely replace and are better than skills. (anything you can do I can do better) For (pretty much) every mechanical check in the game there is an app spell for that. Not necessarily a bad thing in principle as it remvoes the single fail point of requiring one person in the party to have trained up a specific skill sufficiently or have a specific class feature and allows magic to carry the rest of the team when everyone needs to make the check as opposed to only a single character.

Skills are a spot where fighters were really left out in the cold with only 2 skill points/level. It's just not enough to go around, especiall with must have skills like perception usuall being opposed rolls that must be kept maxed to meet level appropriate challenges.

Feat chains were an interesting idea, but feats not haveing a per day limit was greatly overvalued and as a result feats are individually weak, with the chains becoming a tax on limited feat slots. Worse, they tended to be designed to be level appropriate for the level they first become available, resulting in feats that are fine taken early but almost worthless if taken at later levels. Which combines with long chains to make single feat chain focus the only viable option. non-branching chains should be consolidated to single feats that unlock additional abilities as the prerequisites (be they BAB or Character Level or whatever) are met.

And then we get to the other major issue holding up fixing martial/caster disparity - raising up martials without handing them magic. They need to be able to do superhuman things to compete on the same field as dragons and wizards creating their own demiplanes. Yet there is an insistence that they be limited to what an average human is capable of. I can understand not letting them fly without an item granting them flight even though it is needed to face level appropriate challenges, but the status quo is too conservative.

And while we are looking at all the various facets of this gem of an issue, let's look at the design trap that everyone is caught up in - damn near everything is a +n bonus to a die roll. This has resulted in numbers being pushed off the RNG (random number generator aka d20) and a lack of real creative solutions. If all anything you add gives you is bigger numbers, you aren't adding options, you are just further minimizing the random game elements. But this mustn't lead to the trap of "you can't attempt to do this without x ability (feat, or spell)". It has been said "Don't say "no", say "yes, but...". Too much is gated in the rules behind "you cannot even attempt this without x feat or n spell". Instead of "no you can't without n" we need more "yes, and if you have n then you can also..."

In case you hadn't guessed from that wall of text, I've been following these discussions for a while now and mulling over the points of both sides. This is where I've gotten to from all that has gone before. Once I got started posting I needed to get it all out, so /rant.

Feats are definitely an "easy fix" area. Consolidate down feat chains into single scaling feats - No more feat, improved feat, greater greater -> just feat that gets better with level (or BAB for combat feats that used BAB as prereq). This gives 2 benefits: more feat slots available for greater diversity, and feats don't become obsolete.

Feats suffered from a poor design paradigm in trying to make them "level appropriate". Feats intended to be taken early ended up not being worth while if taken at later levels. Make them scale, and they are appropriate for the level you take them at rather than the level the first become available.

Feat chains are aptly named because the bind up multiple feat slots, better to replace them with feat trees where the base feats are prereqs for the branching options (like the feats that grant rider effects on criticals).

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Kirth Gersen wrote:

If you expand skills so that you can do really cool stuff with them -- if and only if you have "x" number of ranks as a class skill, then class skills mean a whole lot more than just +3 to the check. You can then tailor the class skill lists based on which cool abilities you want each class to have access to.

The spider climb spell could then be rewritten as follows: "For the duration of the spell, the target treats Climb as if it were a class skill. If it is already a class skill, the subject treats it as if he/she had an additional 3 ranks," or something like that. Same with invisibility vis-a-vis Stealth, and freedom of movement for Escape Artist, and charm person for Diplomacy, and doom, cause fear, scare, fear, etc. for Intimidate, and so on.

I may have to steal this concept for my homebrew rule set.

The idea of tying class skills into skill unlocks is excellent, and then tying skill based spells into that rather than just numerical bonuses offers some real possibilities.

Granted the fighter still needs more than 2 skill points. (maybe some day an Unchained Fighter will get some love in Unchained II)

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Crimeo wrote:
What I could use some help with is firstly, does this make any sense?

Even in the Tippyverse it would make sense that some would choose the option of "dig a hole and pull it in after yourself" to protect themselves.

What you have to remember is that prior to reaching Tippyverse levels of magical utopia, these communities would have grown naturally. Once faced with magically backed annihilation, they would face a choice:

  • Become individually big/bad enough that they could match any attacker
  • Form an alliance with other cities to deter attackers with mutual destruction
  • Your option of disappear and hide
  • Ignore it, hope it goes away, and/or be destroyed

Your option is the lowest initial risk option, but it relies entirely on a single fail point - not being found, EVER!

This means no one ever leaves the community. Anyone who finds your community must never be allowed to leave. And if they find it remotely without ever actually being where you can get at them, then it is game over.

What this means is that your hidden community would actually have been a subset of a larger community that broke off and disappeared. The rest of the Tippyverse would still be out there. Maybe it would end with last man standing final showdown, maybe it would destroy itself and the cycle would start over (unless someone managed to destroy magic). That's not your concern because you are secure in your vault hidden community.

But war, war never changes...

kyrt-ryder wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Freesword wrote:
Let's start with the idea that PCs are special and always had the potential to transcend mortal limits and achieve godhood (PC glow). It's what makes them PCs and not NPCs. (High level NPCs have similar potential, they just aren't particularly motivated to pursue it - lazy slackers that they are) Based on this premise, these tiers should work. However...
I reject that premise out of hand.

You and me both [strange as this must sound.]

Perhaps I should clarify. In general, NPCs don't level. Hence the reference to them being lazy slackers. Yet some of them do achieve high levels. Therefore they had the potential to do so. In general NPCs exist at a fixed level that allows them to fulfill their part in the narrative. They are usually static, not dynamic like PCs who actually level up, yet some of them do have higher tier levels.

PCs are special in that they are the protagonists, the focus characters. Add to this that they level much more dynamically than NPCs generally do and they clearly are special. The potential to achieve godhood part is an attempt to reconcile PC progression with the power brackets of kyrt's that I referenced in a way that doesn't inevitably result in martial/caster disparity. I then proceeded to go into how under the existing rule set even this doesn't work.

kyrt-ryder wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
But if that's true, then your whole premise is flawed. EVERY PC in Golarion could become immortal and go where gods tread. And EVERY NPC in Golarion, or at least every one that can reasonably take class levels in any adventuring class, can do the same. There are literally millions of characters in Golarion with this potential you speak of.
Of course they could. That's what it means to level up. It's not easy as evidenced by the dearth of high level NPCs.

Again, my lazy slackers reference to why most NPCs don't advance in level, even though the majority of them should be high level after 20 or so years considering PCs can go from level 1 to 20 in less than a year.

kyrt-ryder wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:

If we're playing that game, then I need to put Pathfinder on the shelf and break out a superhero game instead.

Pathfinder doesn't pretend to be that. That's WHY pure martials suck in upper level play, because they ARE NOT superheroes. That's the whole problem.

Pathfinder simultaneously pretends to be that with full casters and pretends not to be that with Martials [and pretends to be some half-way point we might call Super Heroes rather than Exalts with the 2/3rds casters]

This is exactly the point I was making. The game is built on the expectation of the full casters' power curve. The martials don't keep up, even if we start from the premise that they are supposed to and actually should be capable of doing so.

kyrt-ryder wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Pathfinder has a niche, and if you try to force it out of its niche, you have to create House Rules. Lots of them. And what is that niche? Traditional fantasy where people are just people but the ones who can use magic will rock the world. Lord of the Rings, but with more magic - but poor Aragorn is just a guy who swings a magical sword. It's truly unfair to Aragorn, and all the other martials, but that's the game Pathfinder is.
If this were Pathfinder's Niche, Spellcasters would be far, far, far, far FAR more limited and restricted than they are in Pathfinder. They may have access to comparable or even superior effects, but they sure as hell wouldn't be able to produce them in six seconds. They'd be lucky if they could produce them over the course of a whole minute. Or they might have very weak and limited but relatively reliable and readily available magic.

No, Pathfinder is about big magic and eventually taking on Demon Princes and Arch Devils with the PCs backed by Angels at the end game. Just look at the game mechanics and stat blocks of high CR monsters.

Pathfinder pretends to be about "traditional fantasy where people are just people", or is it just we, the players, pretend it is about "traditional fantasy where people are just people", and martials are held back to keep from alienating that part of the player base.

Which brings us back to kitchen sink design and trying to be both.

DM_Blake wrote:
And to you, I say we cannot put our blinders on and say PCs are better than NPCs, that's why they get super-powers because it's patently not true - caster NPCs get all the same super powers as caster PCs and martials just suck, NPC and PC alike.

I was addressing this with the part you emphasized. NPCs have the potential to reach the same power levels as PCs, but few do and most fail to continue leveling past their introduction.

kyrt-ryder wrote:
Freesword wrote:
Mechanically, the game limits non-casters to the 3rd tier (maybe just barely breaking into the fourth).

My houserules address this towards the style of gameplay my Tiers represent.

Others [Kirth, for example] impose more limitations on casters while providing less extreme boosts for the martials.

The biggest point I was making in posting my Tiers of Play is that the game does this whether the martials tag along or not.

Clarification noted. I was referencing the published rules and not your house rules, therefore my comments won't accurately reflect how your games work using your house rules.

I will note that your tier brackets are fairly representative of the power of casters in the published rules and make an excellent reference when describing the power discrepancies between casters and non-casters.

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Kirth Gersen wrote:

Or we could wake up and insist on a rulebook that has everything people need in it to actually play. In other words, rules that actually reflect all these agreements we've evolved over the last 35 years.

Exactly - rules that work right out of the box without all these unwritten behind the scenes agreements to make them work.

This is what I keep arguing for.

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kyrt-ryder wrote:


These are the levels where men rise up to face their fears

When men become legends and surpass their limits

When physics break under the strain of awesome

The path to divinity, where mortality falls behind

The trials of Divinity, where gods alone do tread


This codifying was done to make sense out of the sheer power that Full Casters achieve as they gain new spell levels.
In order to justify Heroes who are qualified to fight alongside these spellcasters, I've codified these 'Tiers of Play' in a manner that ensures that anybody at the same Tier of Play is roughly playing the same game in terms of overall power.

(emphasis mine)

Let's start with the idea that PCs are special and always had the potential to transcend mortal limits and achieve godhood (PC glow). It's what makes them PCs and not NPCs. (High level NPCs have similar potential, they just aren't particularly motivated to pursue it - lazy slackers that they are) Based on this premise, these tiers should work. However...

Mechanically, the game limits non-casters to the 3rd tier (maybe just barely breaking into the fourth). Sure they get 20 levels, but with much reduced power. Pre-3.0 this was acknowledged by the fact that classes leveled at different rates, it would eventually break down, but not as quickly and therefore not as noticeably. Locking all classes to the same leveling track made this disparity come to the fore much sooner.

Part of this might be due to kitchen sink design, where it tries to include everything, combining with a limited scope of 20 levels. Trying to model everyman heroes and nigh-omnipotent casters in the same 20 levels doesn't work because they are two fundamentally different scales. You may as well try to say a 52 inch tall person is comparable to a 52 floor building because they are both 52 levels tall. The units of scale aren't equal.

As a result you end up with 20th level non-casters who are power wise on par with 9-13th level casters. 20th level Aragorn still looks like a chump next to the 20th level caster whose power gods are beginning to envy, even though they are both 20th level.

(and before anyone tries to argue that realistic limits cap non-casters at 4-6th level, generally fictional realistic heroes never face opponents that actually get above 13th level, even if the game models them at a higher level. Additionally, the game stretches non-casters 20 levels ending them with a power level falling somewhere from Mythic to low end Demi-god)

This disparity has always been built into the game, but 3.0 broke/removed a lot of the things that reined in the power of casters. This wasn't entirely bad as some of those things were downright punishing to casters, but it did result in this power disparity showing itself earlier and more blatantly.

Which brings us to where we are today and why martial/caster disparity discussions end up going nowhere. Nice things on the realistic martial scale =/= nice things on the caster scale. Combine this with an unwillingness to make any changes that go beyond minimal impact and you have what we have.

The biggest problem with the race guide race building rules is that to get the core races to line up they cheated.

Most obvious example is Gnome Magic, a 2 RP ability that gives your 4 spell like abilities plus a DC buff to illusion spells.

If bought separately as Spell-like Abilities, they would be 1 RP each and you could only get a max of 3.

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Freesword wrote:

Too bad we are locked into Vancian casting and not using a mana system.

Well - those are both examples of how to do it in an entirely new system. I already gave my KISS fix early in this thread.

Besides - you could always just make them eat a different spell's slot every 5 rounds or so

You are still just looking at the symptom with this suggestion.

At high level skills are either irrelevant because - magic, or level appropriate DCs are so high that anyone who doesn't have the skill maxed is unable to participate.

The "irrelevant because - magic" just illustrates casters bypassing what martials(mundanes) have to grind through, which is the root problem.

I'm not saying ongoing magic drain doesn't help with this symptom.

You will pardon me if I don't sift through 9 pages to find your previous post.

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Freesword wrote:
Skills are an area where this problem shows up very blatantly (sneak v invisibility, climb v fly).

The easiest way to fix that without getting rid of them - would be to increase the cost of such things greatly, either in terms of character build or resource use.

Build example: If to fly a sorcerer needed to take Feather Fall and Levitate in order to qualify for Fly, they may not take it. At least not until higher levels. (A wizards would - but that's because knowing spells is practically an infinite resource for them.)

Resource example: Each round that a character was flying in the air, they had to use up another point from their 'magic pool' or what have you, it's limiting. Sure - they can fly right up The Cliffs of Insanity, but they'll have spent half of their 'magic pool' to do it, and then probably won't have the juice to fight the Spaniard and the giant, and then after tricking the mastermind make their way through the Fire Swamp.

Too bad we are locked into Vancian casting and not using a mana system.

Sacred Cow says : "MOO!"

What if Save or Die only worked if the target was below a certain percentage of max health (1/2 or maybe 1/4)? Otherwise it would just do n damage.

And on the related note of action denial/stunlock - What if after an action denial effect ends you are immune to action denial for 1d4 rounds?

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Petty Alchemy wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Petty Alchemy wrote:

Honestly, I'd like a hard definition of "nice things" in the context of this topic.

Are bigger numbers a "nice thing"? Is extreme combat competency (such as pre-errata Crane Wing) a "nice thing"? Is built-in narrative power/control a "nice thing"?

The first two are things people probably enjoy when playing martials, but not everyone will agree whether they are as nice as the third.

I prefer the term to be undefined - let each (contributing) poster make suggestions based on his or her own personal opinion as to what that means.
Therein lies the derailment, I suspect. How can we fix the problem when the problem is undefined? Everyone is fixing the problem as they perceive it, and disagreeing on the problem as others perceive it.

No, what is happening is that everyone is fixing individual symptoms, while circling the actual problem.

The actual problem is that martials and casters are working on two distinctly separate rule sets:

Martials are limited by reality (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). They are not allowed to transcend physical limitations (at least those imposed on a 'normal mundane' by the game mechanics).

Casters get to unlock wish fulfillment. I want that target to lose, save fails and they do. I want to be on top of this cliff, and I am there. Whatever I want, there is an app a spell for that.

There is a lot of focus in the discussion on combat because a lot of the game mechanics live there. Skills are an area where this problem shows up very blatantly (sneak v invisibility, climb v fly). But the real issue is that casters get to bypass things that martials need to grind their way through, and at a certain point they grind to a halt because the math starts working against them.

And we are all acknowledging the problem. We just don't want to to face the problem with solving the problem - solving this problem requires sweeping fundamental changes to the game.

Fergie wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Fergie wrote:
But the proposed fix won't address that.
"I personally would make all item crafting more difficult, make martials able to effectively craft weapons/armor, and remove the economic incentive from crafting. Crafting should be something you do to get the item you want, not have more then everyone else in the group."

I would propose crafting an item costs close to full price.

EDIT: Note that according the the current rules (See Spoiler below), when the wizard crafts the fighter a magic item, that item is treated as market price when calculating the fighters WBL. When the wizard makes himself the same item, it is 1/2 WBL.
I don't think it should matter who made what when calculating WBL.

** spoiler omitted **

While I don't see it has helping martials except in possibly not making them as reliant on casters for gear, I can get behind scrapping the existing item creation rules.

(Note: This is just a draft and not fully completed)
Make it a straight roll (to determine progress toward completing the item) with no modifiers except negative ones for inadequate equipment. No bonuses from anything, not stats, not skills, and definitely not spells. The only costs are gold and time, with the prerequisite of having enough skill ranks in an applicable skill to craft the item. Anyone can craft magic items, no spellcasting is required. This prerequisite would be something like 10000gp value per rank of skill (10000gp is a random amount I pulled out of thin air to use as an example and no math has been to to determine an appropriate value). No feat needed and none to make it faster/cheaper. Materials cost remains 1/2 total value.

Everyone is equally able to make magic items.

As for WBL, since martials are more gear dependent than casters, anything that lets them get ahead there helps level the playing field.

Yes, both can benefit from gear, but the difference is for a martial not having gear is "I can't do that" where for a caster it's "I have to expend a spell resource to do that". For the martial it is a yes/no situation, for a caster it is just opportunity cost.

Well I can easily get the "party win" condition, but I doubt this would achieve "win awesomely, so that everyone has a good time".

Rogue maxes bluff, convinces wizard to try this wonderful candy with a creamy chocolate coating surrounding a tasty center of sovereign glue. (an improvement on my original idea of a Chinese finger trap coated with sovereign glue on the inside)

Is hire Chuck Norris and have fun eating popcorn while watching him awesomely kick the tar out of the wizard acceptable?

I've also had ideas involving large numbers of musketeers using readied actions to interrupt spell casting.

Here's a good one. Have them challenge the wizard to 5 on 5 basketball. (let's see him prep for that contingency)

Malwing wrote:

Despite the various martial/caster threads going on one thing that's pretty agreed upon is that full BAB classes can pile on a ton of damage. giving a +5,+10/+15 boost to those attacks would just make things more lethal than they need to be when already an optimized fighter can pretty much murder anything within his APL with one full attack. The game's math just doesn't support it without changing a ton of other things.

No, the game's math doesn't support taking a 3/4 of the RNG penalty on attacks.

I'll agree that 4 attacks at full BAB (iteratives not counting bonus from haste and such) is a bit too good, but +20/+15/+15/+15 or +20/+18+/+16/+14 (only about 1/4 of the RNG) is considered acceptable (good enough for natural attacks).

kyrt-ryder wrote:
So you prefer a scenario where the martial moves and gets off one attack... and then the monster opens up with a Full Attack on him?

Maybe he's expecting you to kite it. It moves up to you and attacks, you hit it and move away (possibly eating those pesky attacks of opportunity).

Fergie wrote:
I still say no move and attack without pounce, and pounce should be hard for PCs to use. For example, Barbarian (using a couple of feats/class abilities) pounce attacking with claw/claw/bite at mid-high levels - cool. Some 5th level druid wild shaped as a lion? Nah.

Ah, I think I see the problem: pounce is special and if everyone can do it, then it isn't special any more.

Oh, and WWI trench warfare is what we have now. Stationary opponents exchanging full attacks with minimal movement.

A conceptual issue just occurred to me.

Against a level appropriate opponent, a martial character is expected to engage in an epic 15 round boxing match.

Against a level appropriate opponent, a caster is expected to nuke it with a single attack.

The characters are literally playing two different games with different sets of rules.

Possible 2 spells going off the same round is a small price to pay in exchange for having no effect for 1 round and spending an entire round casting giving all enemies a chance to hit you and disrupt your spell.

And as for move and full attack: action economy is a place where martials lose out. If buffing them in this way offends you then you will really hate that I support reducing the penalty on iterative attacks from +20/+15/+10/+5 to either +20/+15/+15/+15 or +20/+18/+16/+14.

Fergie wrote:
  • 3) 7th, 8th, and 9th level spells take at least a full round action to cast.
  • Personally I would go further and remove them entirely dropping all caster down to 6 levels. (maybe allowing some of those high level effects as multi-hour/day rituals)

    With regard to the casting time, do you mean full round (can only take a 5' step and it still goes off this round) or one round (start casting this round and it goes off at the beginning of your action next round)?

    I have in the past said save or lose should be one round casting time.

    And action denial is one of the major contributing factors in this issue. Casters have it in abundance, martials - not so much.

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    Ok, putting aside the "keep your chocolate magic out of my peanut butter martial" debate, let's start small:

    Collapse feat trees. Especially the feat/improved/greater ones. If you take the first feat in the chain, it automatically upgrades when you reach the prerequisites for the next one. This will free up feat slots for more possible diversity vs committing them all to a narrow specialization. This will be a start toward "martials can't do anything besides hit things" since they might be able to afford to invest in doing something else.

    Also don't skill starve them (looking at the 2+Int classes). This cripples diversity when popular skills need to be maxed to keep up with level appropriate challenges. (Doesn't do a damn thing for when spells completely obsolete skills, but it is a start.)

    Also let them move and full attack. Casters can do huge amounts of damage or even bypass hp altogether as a standard action and still move 30 feet. Martials don't need to be penalized in the action economy.

    Yes, these have all been said before. They aren't enough in and of themselves, but they are a beginning that shouldn't offend the magic vs mundane sensibilities of anyone. And if you think this little bit is changing the game too much then you are part of the problem because this is just a band-aid on the sucking chest wound that is martial/caster disparity.

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    Petty Alchemy wrote:
    To be fair, Hercules and Cu are demigods, not mundane folk.

    So, flying around, raising the dead, teleporting across the country, causally hopping across the planes, and creating demi-planes - are these things mundane folk would do or are they things demigods would do?

    graystone wrote:
    Freesword wrote:
    What these talents really need to be seen as is giving spellcasting to non-casters. This is hugely powerful. But the way it is implemented is so limiting compared to the way the casting classes work that you end up falling somewhere between a casting class and non-casting class if you choose to go that route.
    That's not true though. They already have spellcasting and get caster levels. They have the same spells list as a wizard (to 6th) and can pick up wands and use them. So they AREN'T granting full casting but unlocking pre-existing casting.

    Again, if you look at spell casting classes as getting their casting ability as free bonus feats, then the Warlock and Zealot are getting their Arcane/Divine Training I talent as an automatic bonus feat/talent at level 1. Access to the various spell levels is just gated behind another prerequisite besides ability score which the existing casting classes get automatically for free.

    It is the same as if in order to be a spell caster you had to take Spellcaster as a feat and it could only be taken at level 1. Only spellcasting classes get it automatically for free as a bonus feat.

    Vigilante doesn't grant Spellcasting as a free automatic bonus, but the Warlock and and Zealot specializations do. The class is a non-caster with specializations that give spell casting as a feat chain with the first one automatic and free with that specialization.

    Regarding your assessment of the Arcane/Divine Training talents, I feel your harsh judgment of them is being unfair to them.

    You are judging them in terms of a tax on something casting classes get for free. As such, you are correct in seeing them as weaker than a feat.

    Now let's look at those automatic increases in spellcasting as other classes get as automatic bonus feats (that non-casting classes simply cannot qualify for). By this standard these talents are equal to feats.

    Now let's go a bit further - would a feat that gave a non-casting class access to levels of casting be better than any other existing feat? Without a doubt.

    Most arguments against the Arcane/Divine Training talents are based on being locked into the caster/non-caster paradigm - the "have"s and "have not"s. This is a "sacred cow" to many, and the reason for the pushback.

    What these talents really need to be seen as is giving spellcasting to non-casters. This is hugely powerful. But the way it is implemented is so limiting compared to the way the casting classes work that you end up falling somewhere between a casting class and non-casting class if you choose to go that route.

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    After having seen the interview with Jason and getting a better idea of the Devs position and viewpoint (as well as some clue as to what we didn't get in the playtest) I'll append this note on fixing the most outstanding issues of the class (Dual Identity):

    • The social identity needs access to class features. This is a must and a deal breaker for the class. Each specialization needs about 6 talents that can also be used by the social identity, otherwise it is completely stripped of class features. Signature talents and 'Shock and Awe' talents can stay limited, but there need to be enough that are usable in both identities to make both sides function as PC classes.

    • The time to change between identities is too long. While I presume it was intended to include the time to change in and out of armor, it ends up being overly penalizing. I can see it taking at least 1 minute for 1st level characters, with a note that donning armor rules apply and may extend the time.

    • The full round action switch between identities come way too late. It should be kicking in by around 6th level. By that point a non-vigillante character with a couple of magic items (hat of disguise and glamored armor) is doing it better.

    The netruner syndrome is something they are aware of but consider acceptable. I admit it is possible to make it work, but doing so requires the GM to basically run 2 groups simultaneously, switching back and forth between the two frequently as a best case (a skill few GMs possess).

    That still leaves the last issue of integrating a vigilante with an adventuring party without secret identities. In another thread I compared this with Power Rangers - "Except with only one ranger morphing into civilian identity and the rest of the group going about their daily business in their ranger identities. I mean no one would ever suspect the guy hanging out with 4 of the 5 rangers is the 5th ranger."

    As you can see there would still be outstanding issues, but these are more inherent in the concept itself (a natural tendency to divide the party) rather than the mechanics to implement it.

    I still feel this concept would be best served with mechanics that integrated it into the existing base classes rather than a parallel base class (an opinion I've seen voiced by several others), but the fact that we are playtesting this class pretty much means that the decision to go this route has been made.

    As for the talents themselves, they aren't amazing (some are definitely interesting, but not "where have you been all my life" amazing), but they aren't cripplingly bad (a term that could be used to describe Dual Identity as presented). Fixing the Dual Identity would bring this class to a place where it just needs dialing in.

    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
    The reason it keeps getting compared to supers is because the only well-known groups of vigilantes (or just people with secret identities) are Justice League and Avengers.

    You would think there would be more Power Rangers comparisons. Except with only one ranger morphing into civilian identity and the rest of the group going about their daily business in their ranger identities. I mean no one would ever suspect the guy hanging out with 4 of the 5 rangers is the 5th ranger.

    The devil is in the details. Since they aren't exact clones of each other, each divination could be including a detail exclusive to individual in that guise. (one also carries a whip, one does not; eye color; stubble or clean shaven)

    It would be like scrying for the baker. The details of the baker you envision will be what you are trying to match. A search is only as good as the search parameters you put in.

    Hiro Animation wrote:
    I don't see why the dislike over the dual identity. It's kind of the whole point of said class. Or that's how I see it.

    Yes, the concept is one person with two sets of skills separated into two different identities.

    The implementation is one identity is a PC class and the other is an NPC class that falls somewhere between commoner and the rest of the NPC classes.

    If your other identity was a full PC class the 5 minute change time would be a bargain. I mean swapping between Paladin and Vigilante would be well worth 5 minutes of time.

    As for it being awkward in parites with non-Vigilantes, try imagining the power rangers where only one of the rangers changes into his civilian identity and the rest just go around in thier ranger identities all the time.

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    The masked superhero with a secret identity. This is the concept behind this class. Yet it fails to take into account the world in which that character exists. The masked superhero don's a mask to rise above the world around him. But what happens when the world around him has heavily armored juggernauts wandering the streets accompanied by people who can call down lightning bolts from their deity and people who can warp reality to imprison someone in a block of ice - and seeing them walk down the street means it is Thursday? A flying lizard the size of a house just landed in the middle of town? Oh, that just means it's the second Tuesday.

    Ok perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but the fact remains - PCs and giant monsters are not that uncommon. And the Vigilante is meant to join the ranks of the PCs. How does he fit in? The answer is not very well at all. Oh sure, in his masked persona he can pass as one of them, maybe even be mistaken for one of the other PC classes. But he's not quite on par with them. There is a reason for this - he leads a double life. He is not just a PC, he has a Dual Identity. He had to trade off some of his ability as a PC in exchange for this power.

    [Dual Identity] is the defining feature of this class, and at the same time the Achilles' Heel of this class as well. What it grants you is a divination shield, protecting you from the various divination magics that instantly reveal your secret identity (a mechanical patch to make the whole secret identity thing work). However it does so by turning you into NPC Man - a pale shadow that inhabits the background of the PC's story. No, really, this guy falls somewhere between commoner and the other NPC classes.

    As if that wasn't bad enough, it also suffers from netrunner syndrome where this ability becomes it's own little side game that doesn't include any party members that it doesn't apply to. ("I'm going to change into NPC Man now, the rest of you can go out for waffles, and don't forget to bring back take out for me and the GM.")

    Oh, and as has been pointed out numerous times by others, while you can freely change between identities, it takes 5 minutes until level 13. Which means unless you are in your masked persona, you are sitting out the action (or are stuck trying to survive it as NPC Man).

    Honestly, the best way to sum up this class as written is "NPC who moonlights as a PC".

    The divination shield is a necessary feature for enabling secret identities, but it could have worked better as a feat.

    The concept of living 2 lives has merit, but in a world where PCs casually walk among the masses forcing one of those lives to be NPC Man is immersion breaking. I get that giving the Vigilante 2 full PC classes would be overpowered, but this class would be much cooler (about 20% cooler) if you could do things like Paladin by day and Vigilante by night. (it would also justify 5 minutes to change identities since you would need to change out of your easily identifiable Paladin armor). Maybe it could be done:

    "A vigilante picks a second class (PC or NPC) for his secret identity. When in vigilante identity, all features of the social identity class are lost and replaced by those of the vigilante class. When in their social identity they retain only those vigilante features that specify being available to the social identity."

    (note: this could result in some power creep, especially in the from of a BAB boost, the skill boost should probably not be too disruptive)

    Final point: I have not gone into detail about the Vigilante specializations. This is probably infuriating the Devs as I suspect they had intended this playtest to focus on assessing and balancing them. They are weaker than their full base class equivalents, but that was already known. The problem is that determining how much weaker they should be is dependent on what one is getting in exchange for the trade off. At worst we have a vague "stuff" and at best we have an "NPC secret identity that cannot be uncovered by divination". I say worst and best because the worst gives no basis for comparison and the best is what has been clearly defined. It's like evaluating the fighter without access to any feats. You know there is more to the class but it is and undefined value of "and stuff". If however there is no "and stuff" for the Vigilante, then they are clearly giving up too much for too little.

    Sidenote: This class makes an interesting proof of concept for replacing the multitude of base classes with a single customizable class.

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    I'm going to put on my Devil's Advocate suit for a moment and say that he may have intended this construct as defensive only, with that defense being one shotting anything that got close to him.

    Now with that out of the way, the DM who enabled this truly dropped the ball. Wealth == Power and he handed out far too much wealth. While the party had equal access to said wealth, he knew one of his players was built to better leverage said wealth. (Speculation: the DM may have wanted to see what the character would come up with with that much available and didn't consider consequences)

    Even assuming that he made his crafting services available to the rest of the party, making their wealth go further, there is a limit to how much they can add to their characters in gear (limited slots, maximum bonuses, stacking limits). He knew this. He knew what he was building would eclipse another party member. When he asked for advice on how to mitigate that, he was told "don't do it". He then did it any way. What he spent on damage he could have spent on more AC - he didn't.

    He knew what he was making would not go over well, did it anyway (against the advice he asked for on this forum), and then when it went bad came back to the forum asking for validation for his choices.

    He could have held back on DPS - he didn't.
    He could have spread the money around on multiple projects - he didn't.
    He could have prevented this from going bad - he didn't.

    One thing to his credit:
    He could have made it worse (more DPS) - he didn't.

    His creation might possibly have been better received if he had named it "Plan B" and presented it as an "in case of disaster nuclear option".

    As for his title argument -
    Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit

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    Got it myself and was a bit concerned since my browser isn't on your list but does support TLS 1.1/1.2. Thought you might be just checking user agent string against your list.

    Pale Moon

    "Pale Moon: Release notes
    24.3.2 (2014-02-11)
    An update to implement TLS v1.2, implement a few new features and fix some minor bugs.
    New feature: Implemented the TLS v1.1 (RFC 4346) and TLS v1.2 (RFC 5246) protocols for improved https security.

    I logged in to make sure I still could and then noticed my OS update notifier. Did a restart due to kernel updates (linux) and you had reverted to 1.0 by the time I got back.

    FYI current version is 25.5 released today.

    Arrius wrote:

    B: Point-dependent Skills: The greatest example here is Linguistics. For every point, one gains a language. Under this system, there will be no in-built way to learn languages other than by the Retraining System of learning languages by spending time on them.

    This is a problem only in Linguistics and Performance adding in per rank specializations (individual languages or instruments/performance types) and requiring a new way of handling that. Many (myself included) would see breaking this link of "I get a skill rank I learn a new language" as a feature rather than a problem. The retraining rules appear adequate for languages and could be adapted to performance. Traits would also be good here. I'm hesitant on feats for this as there they could be seen as burned feats that could be better spent on something less situational and with more mechanical impact (especially in combat).

    Overall looks good.

    One suggestion with regard to formatting (especially on the armor table where the names can span multiple lines), separate multiple item names in the same entry with commas (like you did for Do-Maru and Kikko).

    With regard to iterative attacks, reducing the penalties has often been suggested as a house rule on these boards. The most common suggestion being a flat -5 (Using Fighter 20 example +20/+15/+15/+15).
    Personally, I prefer a progressive -2 (+20/+18/+16/+14), which would still work quite well with a reduced BAB progression.

    Ross Byers wrote:
    Freesword wrote:
    The only real catch I can see would be from spells with no save which would become the new 'Spell Resistance: No'
    Spells without saves are already popular for exactly this reason. I'm not sure that would change anything.

    Probably not. And if that is the worst issue I can find with this I'd call it pretty solid.

    Ross Byers wrote:
    Freesword wrote:

    Ok, that is a simple way to scale back Natural Armor without destroying backward compatibility.

    Not exactly sure I like the BAB scaling back faster that Natural Armor, but it is definitely a good start.

    Huh? I'm scaling them back at the same rate.

    Right, I was misreading/misunderstanding the higher/lower CR examples.

    Definitely liking your method of scaling back Natural Armor.

    An interesting idea. I'm especially liking the bits about:

    Ross Byers wrote:

    Immune to one or more schools/descriptor of magic.

    Evasion/Improved evasion or the equivalent for Fort and Will saves.
    Bonuses to saves against magic (Hi there, dwarves!)

    I'm thinking change Spell Resistance to a save bonus plus the negates all damage on successful save/half damage in failed save for all three saves vs spells and spell like abilities, and then using the specific immunities (including schools/sub-schools) as needed for flavor and/or difficulty. If I really wanted to get fancy with it the effects could be scaled to HD or CR (bonus starts low and increases with the negating damage and halving damage kicking in at certain HD/CR).

    Definitely removes a roll and a feat tax.

    Racial bonus to beat SR could become a bonus to saves (possibly situational only if target has SR)

    The only real catch I can see would be from spells with no save which would become the new 'Spell Resistance: No'

    Ok, that is a simple way to scale back Natural Armor without destroying backward compatibility.

    Not exactly sure I like the BAB scaling back faster that Natural Armor, but it is definitely a good start.

    Ross Byers wrote:

    Monsters lose Natural Armor equal to 1/2 their CR.

    The result:
    Against monsters of equal CR, combat doesn't change - Attack bonuses and AC changed by the same amount.

    Monsters above CR are slightly easier to hit.

    Monsters below CR are slightly harder to hit.

    I get scaling back monster Natural Armor to balance reduced BAB.

    I don't quite understand how exactly you are proposing to do it here. Are you talking capping Natural Armor based on CR? Or are you suggesting as it seems to read to me an across the board subtraction of 1/2 CR from all monster's Natural Armor value?

    Not liking the 0 BAB thing. I would favor something closer to 3/4, 1/2, 1/4.

    The concept however is definitely in the right direction.

    Why are BABs so high? - Because ACs are so high.

    Why are ACs so high? - Because BABs are so high.

    (This is also why monster strength has been bought cheap.)

    BAB is the best place to start fixing this arms race since it is the more static side of the equation, then balance AC against the new attack numbers.

    As for your attempt to mirror Fighter BAB and Caster Saves, the one flaw is that it is easier to boost AC than Saves. Fighter BAB should be a little bit ahead because of this.

    At 1/4 BAB, casters would still be woefully behind, but even throwing touch attacks would get them slightly better at hitting a target.

    As for rebalancing AC to the new BAB, I'm still wrestling with that math myself (along with trying to get rid of must have magic items that aren't a weapon or armor to make it more complicated).

    Calybos1 wrote:

    My players hate the 'stand still and bash things with a refrigerator' model of combat. They find frontline tanks dull and annoying; in fact, their current group's frontliner is just an NPC hireling with the tactical prowess of a rutabaga. (They only brought him on board a few sessions in because none of the players wanted to be a meat shield--their exact words.) The Thug, as they call him, simply throws a two-hander around and Power Attacks... and they're still irked that his strikes are occasionally more effective than the archer and 2WF ranger's. Now that they're at a level where DR is becoming a factor, this problem has only worsened.

    This is a Core-Book game; the players have no desire to learn any more rules, much less seek out 'builds' and feat combos to make their characters more combat-effective. And they LOVED 7th Sea, with its emphasis on style, mobility, and panache over brute force. So we're looking for the simplest possible change that will favor a high-mobility, swift-strike model of combat over a two-handed bludgeoning model.

    This changes the question a bit.

    In addition to my original suggestion, I would add the following:

    To increase mobility, first you need to allow full attack with move. Otherwise you are still stuck with a single attack if you move more than 5 feet. Additionally I would also suggest allowing movement both before and after the attack. This greatly reduced the value of Spring Attack, but it greatly increases the potential for dynamic hit and move combat.

    Secondly, reduce the penalties to iterative attacks so that the later attacks are more likely to hit. I recommend either a flat -5 to all after the first (+20,+15+,+15,+15), or a cumulative -2 (+20,+18,+16,+14).

    As for the DR issue, if you don't have the proper counter to penetrate DR, the only option is high minimum damage to power through it. I hate suggesting a feat tax, but add a feat similar to the Clustered Shots suggested by Aralicia above that allows multiple melee attacks in a single round against the same target to total up their damage before applying DR. (I call it a feat tax because it becomes a "must have" feat.) This, combined with the increase hit chance on multiple attacks is the only way to bring up the minimum damage of multiple weaker attacks compared to single powerful attacks vs DR.

    Calybos1 wrote:
    So my question is: What is the simplest rule change that would reverse this priority? What would make slow, powerful blows less effective than multiple, smaller attacks?

    Add an AC penalty to the slow, powerful blows in addition to accuracy penalty.

    The theory being that you take more damage in exchange for dealing more damage and hoping the other guy runs out of HP before you do. This being vs the higher survivability of lower damage output with higher AC.

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