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Mixing bard (arcane duelist) with archery is a pretty awesome combination all around. Just take the first turn to put up a buff or two and after that spend your time picking off any weakened foes, harassing enemy casters, or acting as the group's emergency medic as necessary. With good spell and skill selections you'll also be an MVP out of combat.
There's a guy in my home game like this, always making some oddball charecter who feels like an interesting NPC but not so much a professional troubleshooter. There have been sessions where he just stays in town doing some glassblowing while the rest of us go take care of something that matters.
We tolerate it because it makes for amusing conversations when he's not around, but even then only because the group is big enough (between 6-9 players on any given night, though attendance is spotty for many) that we have everything covered without him. Also his share of the treasure isn't really his so much as he's a walking 'group savings account' that will pay off when he inevitably dies in some stupid way then brings in a new guy with new gear, because the GM keeps track of WBL as a party average, not worrying about the fact that some people (that guy) are consistently well below the rest of the group.
Bold added for emphasis.
Sure you can roleplay and interact all you please, but if you expect all of that to actually, say, change someone's mind about something? That means breaking out the dice. YOUR social skills aren't what matters when your character is the one actually talking.
Outside of combat.. that's the thing called roleplaying and for the most part, it has very little to with character mechanics.
If the things you do outside of combat actually matter then they absolutely should involve character mechanics. Feel free to jabber on about pop culture references in a fake accent for as long as you like though.
I'm solidly in the "sweeping nerfs to magic would have me play a different system" camp.
Yes, everyone knows your opinion on the matter and it isn't changing any minds. Until you pick up MANY more ranks in diplomacy you can go ahead and stop copy/pasting it onto every page of every thread even vaguelly threatening the status quo, thanks.
Crossbows definately need a boost, but preferably something that gives them a more unique feel rather than just balancing them with bows straight-up. Maybe they should ignore DR by default and have a 20x4 crit? I'd push that on top of making deadly aim give crossbows a -1=+3 ratio like a 2hw does to really push home that this weapon is for dealing heavy blows rather than plinking away with arrow spam.
Assuming I'm understanding right... At that point I think you're better off starting over with a 20-sided die, a list of skills to drive your system, and the Pathfinder book on the side as "inspiration".
I freely admit I am basically calling for Pathfinder v2.0 not a simple patch job. However the system is fundamentally unbalanced in enough ways (caster/martial disparity, utterly broken high level play, skills are pointless, endless feat/spell bloat), most of them inherited from 3.X, that fixing it is harder than starting over.
And assuming I ever stop being lazy myself, I will one day be trying to publish an entirely from scratch system. There are tons of games built around rolling d6s, d10s or a d20... but why isn't there one that uses a mix of d4s, d8s and d12s when they scale so very nicely? :)
I think fundamentally the system DOES need that complete overhaul, keeping it firmly rooted in the d20 system but slaughtering a number of sacred cows in the process.
First, I want to see skills designed with diminishing returns on rank investment but also optional 'skill powers' (replacing many existing spells, feats and minor class features) to buy with ranks rather than just increasing the base roll. BAB (broken up into weapon categories, including unarmed/grapple) and saves should be reworked as skills. Spellcasting (and psionics) should also require the use of a number of separate skills for things like projection, enchantment, manipulation, etc. to achieve their effects.
I want to see a system where there are thematic martial style kits and groups of similar spells (for both arcane and divine, and more restrictive than schools currently are), with characters being able to start learning a number of each as they level up with availability depending on class. Class features should be further consolidated in similar manner to enable a classless system if desired. Nonstandard races (or applied templates like vampire) could likewise be worked up as taking up a 'kit' choice.
After all of that, feats should be relegated minor flavorful options, not something you build a character around. Traits you can keep choosing as you level up, basically.
Past about level 9 or so it becomes increasingly obvious that the casters are the adventurers actually solving problems and getting things done, while everyone else in the party are essentially just an entourage of equal level followers.
Shimesen, you seem to be willfully missing the point that no matter how great your fighter is at fighting, a proper caster can completely upstage him by making the one thing he is good at moot. Even your hamfisted GM fiat ways to keep casters in check all revolve around applying more magic to the problem or giving noncasters a few wands so they can be halfassed casters when nobody is looking. All of this is blatant admission that nothing trumps magic, nothing.
Jess Door wrote:
The only real fix for all levels is a complete system overhaul. The easiest way to attempt a rebalance and stay...
This is pretty much my thoughts as well. Let casters keep their 'vertical' power level but cut down on the 'horizontal' flexability, and do the opposite for non-casters by making skills relevant and feats that scale so they are free to take a lot more options.
As is the mechanics of the system are telling me it's easier to learn multiple new ways to break reality with your mind than it is to learn an effective new way to swing a weapon. That swinging an object more than once is too complicated to mix with walking, but casting a spell while out for a stroll is no biggie.
Plus it has the potential to clutter the game with too many sub-classes ("But, Porphy, aren't schools subclasses already? And Archetypes?" - sort of. But I think if casters are forced to specialize, to the exclusion of all spells outside their specialty [I assume that's what Ilja means by specialize] - the Devs will feel compelled to "give them something in exchange," and it will ultimately devolve into what amounts to a class for each specialty.)
I was thinking more along the lines of picking 3 schools, not just 1. One of those is primary and gets you benefits in the same vein as a domain, the others are just as normal. Everything else is strictly off limits, even to the point of not being considered on your casting list for UMD checks. Clerics and druids should have to make that choice as well, but divided up into broad categories of thematic domains or some equivalent. 3/4 casters get access to 2 schools and 1/2 casters access 1 school. In both cases the available choices should be thematically limited depending on class.
despite attempts to steer the conversation away from casters I remind you that questions of balance are always in relation to other comparable classes, so nerfing casters IS a way of relatively improving martial classes.
I'm still convinced that the way to fix it is to force casters to pick a specialty to the exclusion of other options but give them cool things to do within that area besides just spells starting at level 1, to let martials transcend the limitations of the mundane as they reach higher levels even without caster support, and to make skills matter again at all levels of play by tying _everything_ to them; both swinging a sword and throwing a fireball should require relevant skill checks.
And seriously, to hell with vancian casting, spell points, pools, and anythign else that recharges on a 24 hour cycle. This concept of daily resource management as a balance mechanism has utterly failed because players are clearly incentiveized to use them up then take the rest of the day off. For resources to matter they should be either long-term, story defining choices or dynamic systems that are managed round by round or for the duration of a single encounter. 4th edition had good underlying ideas we should build upon rather than let them be tossed asside because of the poor execution.
Some ideas for improving martials:
1) more skill points in general and add optional skill trick system that unlock specialty options at certain rank levels.
Some ideas for reigning in casters:
1) Change spell progression to allow access to new spell levels more slowly. Full casters get to 7th, 3/4 casters to 5th, half casters to 3rd. 8th and 9th level spells are now epic only.
Alexander Augunas wrote:
What would have happened if Salazaar Slaan played with a party of Wizards and Clerics, like the messageboards seem to want everyone to do?
Then in that situation he would have cast something different if he isn't a fool, right? Slow, perhaps.
And he said they were all in a tight cooridor, perfect time to break off a lightning bolt or two. Or use stone shape to collapse the tunnel on them, maybe. Or just summon some stuff. Lots of ways to deal with random guards.
A good GM makes sure that all of her players are engaged over the course of a given adventure. The GM's job is to facilitate fun and to move the story along first and foremost.
I agree, and am glad the whole group had fun. That doesn't change the fact that they were there as fodder to give the melee guys something to do because otherwise they'd have just been playing fruit ninja.
I find that the opposite is usually true. At higher levels creatures have better and better defenses against spellcasting in the form of Spell Resistance, energy immunities, and flat-out immunity to magic, and a talented GM will use a variety of creatures that cater to the strengths and weaknesses of her players.
Sure, because a smart caster always makes sure to only cover one element, only target one save, and certainly never uses spells that don't have a save at all. Why, that would be rude!
Or, failing all else, just skip around the encounter completely. Casters can do that sort of thing, while martials can only fight or run away.
Salazzar Slaan wrote:
I really don't understand these threads. I'm playing a Sorc in a current level 9 game and I'm hopelessly far behind in combat effectiveness compared to the rest of the party.
Haste won that battle, don't kid yourself. All those guards existed for the sole purpose of giving the melee guys something to do while you were fetching the important thing in a place none of them could reach.
The higher in level you get the more you will find yourself effectively ending encounters with one spell, setting it up so that you can comfortably hang back and let the meatshields clean up. You'll also notice more and more often that all the important, adventuring business depends on you while everyone else is doing some sort of busywork.
Face it man, the melee squad are already more your pets than your partners. If they weren't there you probably still could have grabbed the thing and made it out just fine on your own.
The problem with PC death is that it tends over time to greatly unbalance parties in my experience. When things go wrong more often then not it is the melee guys who suffer because they don't have an out. This leads to them making new characters while the old guys dice for your gear. Yeah they tend to help the new dude get set up so they aren't useless in combat, but unless you make the same sort of character over and over again chances are a good portion of your old gear just isn't going to help.
Alternatively the GM will the new guys the appropriate WBL to start, but the old group still has no reason to share the procedees of the last meat shield with the guy they just met at a bar and is more employee than partner. Thus the group gets taxed on the WBL payouts but the casters feel less sting.
...and that's not getting into the fact that the longer a game goes the bigger the power gap gets before gear even factors in.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Now separate HP from wounds (say, you only take wounds when hit after HP=0 or take a crit) and let players make an Endurance check to self-heal HP after each combat and after a night's rest. Heal check grants a bonus to the Endurance check.
The problem is one of balance, so other classes must be considered as well. At present casters are sitting very high, and there's also a 'glass ceiling' (the assumption that fighters have to stay mundane) which prevents the fighter from reaching them. By all means, buff the fighter... but balance will not be achieved until that ceiling is shattered or casters are dragged back down under it as well.
If there's some other option, please point it out. I certainly don't see it.
Nerfing caster is a the kind of fix that ruins the game. Fixing broken spells is one thing, but what you suggest is wrong-bad-fun and describes a game system that I would not play.
The game is broken NOW, and nerfing casters is part of fixing it. My suggestion would make casters more defined by their permenant choices the same way everyone else is, not able to change most of their defining traits every monrning.
In most fantasy fiction spellcasters are specialists in a specific field with only limited ability in other areas. This is a good thing in any narrative, as it means people have to get creative with the limited abilities they have... something that casters at present largely don't have to deal with. Even spontaneous casters generally grab the most flexible spells in the game to compensate for their limited spell selections, don't they? I say pick a concept and embrace it, stop covering all the bases; that's what the rest of your party is for.
Also, suggesting fighters should just get UMD and be crappy mages as the game progresses is not a solution and frankly I'm getting really tired of people acting like it is. Suggesting UMD is in fact an admission that noncasters start to suck as soon as the game gets past the 'local champions' stage.
I've been looking over those scaling feats again (the ones from the wiki link) and the only thing that really bothers me about them is that they all scale at the same rate as iteratives, meaning your fighter's progression is going to be EXTREMELY spiky rather than a smooth curve. Some 'combat style' feats should absolutely key off of the itterative attack rate (TWF, Vital Strike, etc) but others should probably be set to more gradual rates or at the same rate but on different 'beats' to blur the power curve a little, just as casters pick up more lesser slots between top level raises.
Note that this STILL doesn't fix the narrative disparity issue though, it just gives fighters a lot more options. My suggested ranks=level feat doesn't matter if spells can make skills pointless. Either problem spells need to be nerfed HARD or spells need to be regrouped into a number of relatively balanced triads such that picking one group means you can't have anything from the other 2, period.
But that 20th level caster doesn't have time for that s&*@ when there's always another nefarious enemy threatening the world just a little stronger than the last that needs foiling. Those enemies got that strong by killing other adventurers and taking their stuff either on this plane or somewhere else in the endless astral sea. The arms race never ends, even for the gods... it's turtles all the way down AND up.
That's why nobody who is in a position to fix it really gives a damn if farmer bob caught the pox.
Actually, here's an alternative way around the Fighter's skill problems that might make Marthkus happy, and would work very well in a world where feats scale as in that link:
You are dedicated to the mastery of a chosen skill.
Benefit: The chosen skill is considered to have ranks equal to your level. Any skill ranks you have invested in the affected skill prior to taking this feat can immediately be reinvested elsewhere.
You may take this feat any number of times but its effects do not stack. In each instance it must apply to a different skill.
I tend to think that Humans are the default and that choosing a race that has special powers is a feat you pick at 1st.
That said, I ran a game once with regional human subgroups and disallowed nonhumans entirely, the better to really play up the 'otherness' of elves, dwarves, etc. that the party encountered. Racism and other forms of intolerence was a major theme of the campaign (both between human subgroups and other actual races) so it worked really well, especially in making some of the PCs community outsiders for associating with each other and because many of their players really like those other races and it came through in their interactions.
Sure is FF7 up in here...
My suggestion would be to make flat +X bonuses be part of the weapon and save the gemstones for special abilities. Also note that if they are designed to be swapped out then opponents should have a chance of knocking them free from your armor with a crit or you losing one with crit failure on an attack roll.
Certainly seems to be what Magus was based on. AD is still more of a supporting, plays well with others class vs. the Magus as a glass cannon, but the overall flavor of 'magical fighter' is definately there.
There seems to be a distressing amount of "let's see you do better" going on here. One does not necessarilly need to have the ability to do something in order to see someone else is doing it wrong. Nor does someone need to know exactly how to get to the desired goal to still have a valid concept of which direction to start walking in.
Obviously I haven't got all of this worked out yet, sorry. If I did I'd be publishing my own game rather than arguing about Pathfinder here with you.
Powering up the fighter needs to happen by powering up the fighter, not by assuming the world cares about or even notices anything he's done. As others have pointed out, that makes wild presumptions on the sort of game being run and on the idea that the fighter would even be interested in having to deal with all that responsibility. For example, what if my fighter is part of a terrorist cell operating undercover and far from home... how exactly is he supposed to gain all these status and renown-based benefits while remaining under the radar, opposed to the local government and far removed from his own home for reasons of plausible deniability?
Beyond this though is the fact that casters can make everything else pointless. This is the fundamental problem, and it must be addressed before anything else even matters. They must be brought down to mundane level, forced to specialize so that they can't step on all toes simultaniously, or else kill the conceptual difference between casters and everyone else so that fighters can have supernaturally nice things too. A is boring and C is a different game entirely, but B is far closer to most fantasy depictions in other media so that's the route I recommend.
As to your 'camps', I believe the GM should be god AND that the classes should be relatively balanced from the beginning both in and out of combat. You do this by making Skills matter again... which is why I suggested elsewhere that casting a spell should always require a skill roll, and that BAB should be a 'swordplay' or whatever skill. You make spells that currently eliminate skills instead Dependant on having the skill it would supplant. For example, make knock let you disable a lock using your casting stat rather than dex on the roll.
and for what it's worth, I DO think your changes to blindfighting are a great step in the right direction. I'll have to find time to look at the rest of your project.
I feel it would be a much better fit as a Bard, Magus, alchemist or even a Rogue archetype, or perhaps as a prestige class meant for those classes.Have to disagree with this wholeheartedly. While the "Cardmaster as Gambit" might be specific, the Base Class is a wonderful jumping off point for creating archetypes that function very differently - for my purposes, archetypes are exactly the route I take when I want to markedly twist a theme and playstyle.
And why would your examples build off of a single card-related base class rather than as separate card-related archetypes for several different base classes if they do so many different things?
That sounds way more complicated.
Maybe to design, but to play it should be much simpler. Everything is an attribute, a skill, a kit or a feat, and it all builds on the same foundation (though kits can come with special rules of their own). A kit is essentially just a refinement of archetypes that includes common feat trees as single blocks rather than as individual items. This also means flavorful and non-combat feats will no longer have to compete with the 'must haves' for the same limited slots, enabling much more personality to come through in charecter builds without the fear of falling behind the curve.
From the publisher's perspective, making the system more modular should make it much easier to release new salable content expansions. From a GM's perspective, tying the rules to specific kits makes it much easier to ban mechanics or flavor they don't care for without removing entire classes, or even in creating more world-specific classes by altering the availability of kits.
I grant that this idea probably does sound rather frighteningly 4e-ish to some, but just because wotc failed at the implementation through unnecessary homoganization doesn't mean the modular class concept is a bad one in itself.
The verisimilitude issue is that you're giving 'powers' to a charecter that really aren't about him, but rather are dictating how the world works around him just because he gained a level. That's a really big lump to swallow.
Much better to give the fighter the skills and flexibility to EARN those kinds of social influence rather than have them be handed to him. You do this by giving them more skills, making feats scale rather than requiring deep chains, using some of the freed up feat slots as designated non-combat bonus feats with interesting and relevant social or utility abilities to choose from, and finally telling casters they can't have everything all the time.
and btw, the idea of giving fighters various social benefits as a class feature is just plain silly. It accomplishes some of what needs fixing, true, but why exactly is the kingdom filled with such awe and respect for a guy who swings a weapon really well when he's standing right next to the lady who can raise the dead and the guy who turns dragons into dust with a gesture, both of whom are almost guaranteed to be much wiser and/or intelligent than the fighter and thus naturally much better suited for leadership? It lacks verisimilitude.
As long as spellcasters can make skill obsolete, can summon fighter replacements as well as 'silver bullet' solutions, can make most of the adventure optional through mobility and information superiority, and are also what the noncasters have to rely on for gear, buffs and healing, what niche does ANYONE have left to fill?
Couple that with the mindset that fighters by definition can't do 'unrealistic' things (in a world full of magic and strange creatures and such, no less) and there simply is no improving the situation. It's impossible to balance two classes when one lives in a box and the other lives in the 4th dimension looking down on all these silly boxes with disdain.
Thus there are only two options: either let fighters have some of those healing/buffing/crafting/utility abilities too no matter how unrealistic it gets, or put the spellcasters in a box like the rest. Anything else is a non-answer.
In fact many spellcasters tend to "specialize" just because in play it's actually hard to be good at everything. Spontaneous casters especially. But the ability to take a diverse array of spells is still useful and not inherently game-breaking (the same spellcasters who "specialize" also tend to make sure they have a range of useful spells.
But aren't spontaneous casters generally considered a step below prepared casters because they lack versatility? And in talking about the usual "range of useful spells", you've just put a spotlight on exactly what I'm talking about... casters can specialize and still cover lots of other bases. Fighters can't do that, and even the mundane classes that can are still able to be replaced with a spell or two.
The happy medium that needs to be struck is that mundane classes need more versatility and the spellcasters need to be forced to specialize, essentially the exact opposite of the current situation. Don't make the magic less magical, just make it so that learning that magic means being super focused on a narrow and difficult field. Meanwhile the guys who can't command the universe to adjust to their whims should be learning all kinds of creative and effective ways to work around these issues with the tools they have available.
Either that or abandon classes alltogether and let everyone know a little magic as well as how to swing and axe. Why wouldn't every random nobody in every town at least know a few cantrips?
In theory I love the idea, but I think you're being ridiculous in your relative costing of options because frankly the existing classes are NOT balanced. With your by-level costs a fighter should start out more expensive but by 20 might fairly be costed on the whole as 2/3 the cost of a wizard, if not an even more sqewed ratio.
A classless system requires balance, and achieving that is going to require rebuilding the entire feat, ability, and spell systems from the ground up. Simply carving them up and trading pieces around won't solve this fundamental issue.
The main problem I see with this is that it's pretty much locked into a very specific flavor and playstyle. It just isn't robust enough a concept to be called a base class.
For this reason I feel it would be a much better fit as a Bard, Magus, alchemist or even a Rogue archetype, or perhaps as a prestige class meant for those classes.
Well why exactly can't that be simply part of your campaign Lincoln Hills?
Probably because making that entertaining rather than a chore would involve a number of major mindset shifts. You'd have to convince the party that socialization is as fun as grand adventure and adjust the way you hand out XP/Levels to adapt to this so they don't legitimately feel this is wasted time. You'd have to break away from "murder hobo" tendencies in order for towns to stop being just shops + quest hubs that inevitably become a sort of trap if you stay in them for too long. That's tricky when adventurers tend to be people who don't fit in with normal society in the first place which is why they'd even consider leaving a nice safe town to go risk life and limb on a get rich quick scheme that never seems to end. It also takes a lot more prep work on the GM's part to build believable, detailed towns with all kinds of social connections, rivalries, secrets and plots, along with the nagging thought that the players will just leave the area at any given moment and make all that work pointless.
1. Replace standard equip bonuses with level-scaled bonuses that are lost if your equipment is unavailable for whatever reason.
2. Magic items only give situational or flavorful buffs, never a flat +x to whatever.
3. Eliminate XP. Players gain a level when the GM decides they've earned it, period.
4. Treat player wealth as a category, not an amount. If you have wealth X you can afford stuff Y on a typical trip to town, or item Z but only at the cost of reducing your wealth a step, etc.
5. Award treasure in the form of rare items rather than mere coinage, which means converting that to a wealth increase can be an adventure in itself. (The coinage is still there, it's just assumed to be accounted for in maintaining a steady wealth level in the face of typical party expenditures between adventures)
Merge feat trees into various style kits, all with bonuses that scale with level. Break spellcasting ability up into multiple style kits (elements/schools/whatever), all scaling with level. Same with Class abilities. Non-core races (or applied templates like vampire) come in the form of a racial style kits.
Classes pick 3 style kits at 1st (class specific, general, possibly a racial), two at 6, and one more each at 11 and 16. Cross-classing just means picking a style kit from a different class's list. Prestige classes become style kits with prerequisites.
One-off feats and minor abilities are still feats, giving a few at 1st and more on a regular basis on the in-between levels. These do not scale.