It's good to see that they at least recognize the need to put resources into that. That is a good solid start.
The difficulty lies in your last statement. When was the last time WotC managed to put out something truly original that was also decent? Any other company, I would agree wholeheartedly with you, but we're talking about WotC and Hasbro. At least with going with established characters, they have a chance, albeit a very small one, since they seem to do an equally good job screwing those up as well.
It wouldn't have to be single narrator, but there does need to be a clear focus of who is driving the primary storyline. In Ghostbusters, there was the team, but typically, only one of the characters was more or less the main catalyst for pushing the story forward when it started to stall. Same with LOTR; there were nine companions, but ultimately it was mostly about Aragorn and Frodo. Avengers is the only one to really break that paradigm, and that's only possible because all of the main leads were already established in their own right, so no breaks in the Avengers movie itself was needed to explain anything; Black Widow's and Hawkeye's story was even largely interwoven into the main story so as to limit the need for sidetrips for indepth character development.
If you're starting from scratch, you can't focus on everyone equally in the timeframe of a single movie, or even a single trilogy, and that is a major downfall of most of the D&D movies. They try to establish character and party rapport in two and a half hours that usually takes a good solid campaign that lasts months, if not years, at the table. That doesn't mean that you ignore all but one person, or limit the viewpoint to that one person (heck, most of Frodo's story is actually told through Sam's or Gollum's or really pretty much everyone else's perspective, not his own), but it does mean that more focus is necessary than if you started with at least one or two characters that were reasonably familiar, and this is where a character like Elminster or Volo would be a better pick than someone like Drizzt for such a focus. Elminster and Volo naturally flows into a story about those around them; the story of the others may not be told in that movie, but it can set them up to have their story told at a later time with relative ease, because both Elminster or Volo could remain the focus of the overall story without being the immediate focus of every scene. It wouldn't have to be Elminster or Volo, but the fact that they are reasonably well established already makes it easier for the director not to have to tell a lengthy backstory right off the bat. Treat the main character like Tolkien did Frodo, though, and it matters much less about how well known they already are, because the story must, in order to properly flesh out the main character, develop the other characters as well to a reasonably substantial degree.
My point is that, actually, you can make a good D&D movie. You can make a good ensemble cast movie, too.
You can, yes, but WotC hasn't exactly given the movie makers much effective material to work with lately that would accomplish both. And you can't make it too generic without losing the existing fanbase. I don't see many movie studios going for that kind of risk right off the bat, especially after the last few flops.
Making a fully balanced party is as much of a risk as using a fully established solo hero like Drizzt. It can be done but there is one big difference between a D&D movie and the others you listed; a large part of the problem isn't the material, it's the people controlling it. I don't see Hasbro or WotC loosening the reins on and/or being flexible enough with their IPs and characters sufficiently to make it work as a true ensemble cast. Following a long term strategy like Marvel, where you have at least some individual focus could work, if only to distance themselves from the disasters that were the earlier movies.
Personally, I would go back to the older 2E stories, pick a non FR world (FR could work as well, but I would start with the other settings), cull through the associated stories and characters, and assemble a group of characters that are already created and would work well together, even if they aren't well known; you have the flexibility in story, but still have some pre-existing stories you can use to help build interest. The marketing types would still likely insist on someone to serve as the "lead" to make marketing easier, though, and making someone at least somewhat well known like Elminster or Volo as the "lead" while generally following the above would be a reasonable compromise. As long as the "lead" is either a natural leader/mentor, like Elminster, or someone that takes the role of storyteller, like Volo, you could still make it work as a functional group; in both cases, the lead could serve as the main point of view while leaving room for the story to develop around the other characters as well. Also, both types of characters can easily fade in and out of the direct spotlight while remaining an integral part of the story. It's not the only way to design a party, but with the movie format and it's limitations, it's better than most any other available, and one that would soothe more nerves on the executive and business side of things.
It's also not uncommon for those kinds of characters to develop in actual games and campaigns, and DMs find ways to make it work all the time; there's no reason a good script writer couldn't. Even in successful ensembles from the past, you usually end up with one or two characters getting more of story than the rest. Tolkien, with Lord of the Rings, ended up balancing out the party by giving each individual or subgroup their own section of book. Firefly, for all that there were a lot of intertwined storylines, was still ultimately driven by only one or two primary themes, a fairly common theme from Whedon's work overall. In the end, having the focus be noticeably more on one person than the others doesn't have to be a bad thing, as long as that person doesn't end up overshadowing the other characters. The hard part is finding the right balance for any given party and story; that's where I tend to stop having faith in seeing a true ensemble work with D&D. Even the most experienced DM has to change things on the fly, and that's not really an option when making a movie; most of the details have to be set early in order to get everything in order, making them much, much harder to change. The only real way to write such a script would be to play it out, and that has just as many problems. Trying to isolate the story from the mechanics, all without losing the story, becomes a problem, as does the tendency of players to do stupid things just because they can, meaning that many sections would still have to be rewritten by an actual writer.
In the end, while I do agree that a true ensemble cast is technically possible, I don't see it being functionally possible without designating one of the characters to be the primary focus, and thus, the "lead character." Movies just don't have the time needed to develop a full party of characters equally. Even Lord of the Rings, with it's three comparatively long movies, still had to leave out a lot of details about the world, the characters, and the story that Tolkien had plenty of room to fully develop in the book. Avengers could do it simply because they first released 3 separate movies for 3 of the lead characters, while the 4th lead character had substantial development from other movies and comics that was generally well known; background character development only had to be done with the side characters that didn't have a well known story already.
If we make a Drizzt movie or an Elminster movie out of D&D, people will walk away and go, "MAN! I want to play that guy next time!" And that's problematic. Very problematic. Not because they're not cool concepts or because "I hate the cl0nez" or whatever, but because neither of those are really "playable" in a cooperative game. Elminster is a phenomenal patron for PCs, and a decent solo-campaign player. Drizzt is just a great solo-campaign player. Neither lend themselves to being part of a group - the stories are just too "them"-focused. I will note that in their books it's often noted that Drizzt's companions accomplish something he could not, and Elminster relies on other people to get things done... but the movie is, ultimately, still all about them.
The sad truth is that unless you can get Joss Whedon to do the movie, pulling off a truly balanced ensemble script is an art that very few people can pull off, and even with the Avengers, all of the lead characters have their own movies and/or comic books to establish their basic character. As much as it would be nice to see them not have to rely on a primary "lead" character, the coop concept does not lend itself well to the movie environment without a lot of base support, something that no official D&D characters or groups have at this point. Even Lord of the Rings was stretching hard at times, and it had support from the original material. However, the right script with the right lead character could still retain large amounts of coop screen time and lay down the foundation for shifting the focus away from a single character in future scripts.
Greenwood's characters and writing style is the place to start looking at how to do it because he was trying to make a world as much as he was trying to tell a single, individual story. There's a reason that most of his characters are more obscure compared to Drizzt; even when they were the focus, they weren't the entire story, and eventually the story evolved to a point where they aren't the focus anymore. A similar approach could work if both Hasbro and the movie makers would be willing to take a long term approach, much like the current Marvel movies are working largely because Marvel is taking the long term approach and not trying to do it all in a single movie, or even a single trilogy. The true strength of D&D has always been the long term campaign, not the individual adventures, after all; specific goals shift, characters evolve, and ultimately, the focus is on the party as a whole, even if individual adventures may focus on one particular character to drive it. If you're going to translate that to movies effectively, you have to be willing to look not at a single movie or trilogy, but a long series of related movies. In that regard, among established characters, Elminster would be a more natural starting point than Drizzt, as his story already has much of that groundwork laid out whereas the Drizzt stories have evolved to be about one character, and it would take a lot more effort to evolve the story beyond being Drizzt centric.
The thing in favor of starting with it is that it's iconic enough to appeal to the existing fans without making feeling not current fans feel like they are missing something. Same with using a slightly more obscure FR character. It has to be a good movie first, and an FR movie second, and the problem with either Drizzt or an older Elminster is that so many people would focus on the FR part and the iconic character that it would be far more likely to get forgotten that it needs to be a good overall movie first before anyone, including FR fans, is going to be willing to watch it. Established lore and story is important, but you don't want to hamstring the writers too much, or risk alienating the potential fanbase, at the same time. The DC and Marvel movies don't really have that problem because comic book fans are used to having the established lore changed and rewritten on a regular basis; one more iteration to make it work as a movie is far less of a concern. It's a far bigger concern for translating FR because the lore for the most part, especially for any given character, is pretty stable once create. The fact that Drizzt is so popular and his story so stable would work against the people trying to create the actual movie; the same would be a difficulty with the older Elminster. In the end, trying to retell an existing novel in movie form is not a good way to go; book to movie translations are problematic in the best of circumstances, and this would be a situation where it would be closer to the worst of possible circumstances from the point of view from the director and writer, especially with the style of writing in most of the Drizzt novels. Finding new stories that could be written with the movie medium in mind while staying within and expanding the existing lore would be far more effective, and the early years of Elminster would provide the kind of fodder needed for such a story.
As for Elminster being less well known, how many cameos has he made in someone else's story vs Drizzt? I would be willing to bet a whole lot more; he's simply a more versatile character with natural tie ins to just about anything going on in FR. It's true that as a main character, he's not as well known, but overall, I would say he's right up there with Drizzt. He's the kind of character that no one really thinks about, but when he shows up, you're not particularly surprised either, and you'll eventually notice when he doesn't, even if it takes a while. Because he's a different type of character than Drizzt, you can't really compare the two directly. Also, Elminster is more of a sleeper character right now, while Drizzt is being actively marketed. Throw that marketing on Elminster, and he wouldn't take that long to reach the same level of status.
Salvatore has considerably sold more novels than anyone else in the setting and more novels than D&D itself has sold gameing books. He's outsold Greenwood at least 3-1, if not by a lot more. Drizzt is considerably better known amongst the general fantasy readership (i.e. the SFF readership outside of gamers) than Elminster. Elminster's probably the second-best-known FR lead character, agreed, but it's a fairly distant second place. I'm not even sure who'd go in third place. Probably Minsc, as once you drop below Greenwood you're looking at books and authors who have sold a lot less than the FR computer games.
Raw novels by author don't actually mean as much as actual appearances by the characters, and Elminster probably has enough cameos in non Ed Greenwood products of all kinds that even if people don't know who he is as well as they know who Drizzt is, they would still recognize the name well enough to satisfy any movie maker.
I disagree; in fact, I think trying to establish him as an archmage first would be a mistake in this particular case. If you really want to hook the existing FR fans from all genres, actually explaining Elminster rather than simply having him be the mysterious figure in the shadows would actually be a very strong way of doing it. After all, a lot of people know the name, but the fact that not many have read his full actual story is a good thing in this case, and there is plenty of room for filling in details that those that have so they won't feel like they are being asked to rehash old stories.
In short, going with a coming of age story with Elminster, everyone gets something. You're still inside FR lore to the point that most fans would be expecting (even if they would personally prefer more), making both the existing FR fanbase and the suits behind the scenes happy. From a writer's and director's perspective, there's a fair amount of room to maneuver in character and plot development when it comes to the specific details, something the Drizzt stories, or most any other character, wouldn't really don't give them, so you make life easier for them. While Greenwood would likely be consulted, he hasn't retained the level of creative control over his characters that Salvatore has, making him far easier to please. For the non FR fans, they don't feel like they are getting beat over the head with decades of lore written while still being able to clearly identify the movie as FR based, making it easier for them to plug into the movie; if they don't care about FR, they don't have to. All of this with the only real downside being that the movie company would have to spend a little extra to get Elminster's name everywhere so as to get people to google it and making sure to leave themselves plenty of room for sequels to develop Elminster into the character that the fanbase is familiar with, something they would want to do for their own reasons, i.e. more money, as well.
Is it an automatic success to sell to the movie makers? No, but it's certainly no worse than the difficulty of selling Drizzt to movie makers and Salvatore. Drizzt maybe the most well known FR character right now, but it isn't that hard to make a case for a handful of other characters if you actually look beyond the glare of the raw novel sales. Even Minsc could be fleshed out with the right story; his own storyline is filled with enough plot twists to be interesting; you've got the death of a god and the vying for who among his progeny is going to be his replacement; you've got the entire age of troubles and god made man; and you've got Boo; very doable. It's not likely that they would ignore Drizzt over the long term because of his sales, but the emo dark anti-hero market is crowded these days, and there's no guarantee that Drizzt would be able to make much headway in the movie sector without help, or even with help, from a generally successful FR franchise. Going with Elminster, or even someone like Minsc to start with would be no riskier, and might actually be less risky because of the slightly reduced expectations.
He is and he isn't. Most of the stories I've seen with him actually have him requiring just as much aid from companions as Drizzt does; the difference is that Elminster is able to retain control of the overall process and goal a lot better. Drizzt just seems to flounder around while Elminster is more of a general fighting a long term war, using his own personal resources only as necessary. In many ways, he's like Xavier from X-men. When you most commonly see him, he's already developed, and has progressed to a more indirect leadership role, but that doesn't make him invincible or all powerful. It's simply that he has enough allies and tricks at his disposal that it takes considerable effort to deal with him directly.
I do agree, though, that for a movie, focusing on his development rather than what he has long since become would be a far better story to start with. You could pull in other characters and plotlines from the various FR novels as the story progresses, and show the development from actively adventuring and studying to being more of the shadowy figure most FR fans recognize. You could also emphasize the rogueish aspect to give him more depth and reduce the Mary Sue feeling that can sometimes develop around him. He has a lot of stuff to work with, but he worked long and hard to get his tricks and his allies, and if you show that, the Mary Sue feeling diminishes, and you get more of a Charles Xavier feeling. Come up with a good story to pit him against the Red Wizards of Thay, and you have a good long developing story with a good "hero" and a good "villain." Still takes some work, but no more than using Drizzt would, and the payoff would potentially be much bigger.
Except that to the general public, Drizzt really isn't that much better known than any of the other FR characters. Heck, if you're going for publicity and renown factor, you go with Elminster; he's as well known as Drizzt if not more and is a cool mage to boot with a story a lot more interesting.
For all that the dark elves were supposedly the villains, the movie was still basically Thor vs Loki. Everyone else, from the dark elves to the most of the humans to even most of the other Asgardians, was pretty much a plot device and/or story filler, making it easy for folks not to dwell on the dark elves aspect. With a Drizzt movie, it would be much harder to deal with without gutting key parts of his story or well established FR lore. You could get away with it for the very first trilogy, but any story after that, and you have major problems, which is a major problem for a movie producer looking to develop a long term cash cow.
On top of that, it isn't even just that Drizzt has difficulties, it's that there are ultimately other FR characters that would do a far better job of establishing the world, rather than a single character. A Drizzt movie establishes Drizzt; there's no natural tie in to any other major FR character or region outside of where his stories take place. Volo (or even Elminster if done right) could establish the base world from which they could expand into other characters, like Drizzt, with a lot less chance of backlash from people who dislike an individual character or story line. And it could be done with the same amount of support from true FR fans and a lot less consternation from the general movie viewing public.
Drizzt isn't all bad, and would be a very good followup character to focus on after establishing a solid base of movie fans, but I just don't see him being a very good lead off for anyone trying to really make FR into a movie franchise, and that is what anyone making any FR movie is going to be looking to do.
And in the process, upset all the fans that are supposedly the reason for going with Drizzt and FR in the first placed. It's still a no win situation for those making the movie. Either you get creative from the start and have the ability to make additional movies at the cost of probably alienating the built in fanbase to the point you won't be making very many beyond the first, or you please the fanbase initially, and face the problems of the later trilogies with comparatively little wiggle room and set expectations that would simply compound the difficulties.
Definitely not worth it when you could use any number of other characters from FR, get the majority of the same fan base, and avoid the headaches that would come with trying to deal with Drizzt. I still think Volo or one of Ed Greenwood's other characters would be a far better place to start making FR movies. Once you establish the basic world with the general movie going audience (something that Volo could do very well), than you could pull in Drizzt with all the challenges that come with his story. Leading with that potentially divisive story, though, is a non starter; there just isn't enough room between the fans and the general public to get anywhere with it. If you have the basic background set already, it becomes a lot easier to get away with dealing with the drow in general, and it gives an escape route back to firmer ground for future movies if that focus proves to be a dead end.
The "drow is evil and black" issue is definitely a big problem. I personally don't agree with it, but it's probably the biggest reason a Drizzt movie will never even be considered. It's simply a firestorm that no movie studio is going to want to walk into. It comes up as a side issue in other movies like Thor 2 or Lord of the Rings, but it would be part of the main story, and a significant part at that, for a Drizzt movie, and that becomes a major problem for a movie studio. For all that most gamers aren't really bothered, a large portion of the general public would go nuts no matter how it was handled.
The black raven wrote:
Interesting point about natural creatures based on negative energy; I actually kind of have done that with a variant of vampire that doesn't have the create spawn ability and functions more like a race or culture than the traditional vampire does. It's definitely an interesting concept to keep in mind as I further flesh out the world.
As for doing the same thing, they still don't; there's more overlap than in the published worlds, but they are still separate and distinct in their capabilities and uses.
Positive energy tends to create, though exceptions exist, such as the positive plane being able to kill any creature not from that plane, but most societies will still associate positive energy with good and treat accordingly.
Similarly, negative energy is a destructive force; it's necessary, and few societies will call it outright evil, but it being far more useful for the evil inclined means it's gets the rep of it's most common users.
Undeath, whether it feeds off of positive or negative energy, is virtually universally accepted to be wholy and entirely an unnatural process, and anyone who chooses to use it has to accept those ramifications. Still, disrupting the natural order is something that an individual or society often decides is justified in other circumstances with other things, even in the real world, so getting everyone to agree that undeath is universally evil and bad is much harder, and there will be those who are able to use it for good just as there are those will abuse it. It will always be more represented on the evil side, because evil folks are a lot more willing to overlook the means as long as it accomplishes the end goal, but there will be times on the good side it is accepted and even welcomed, albeit very rarely.
Which energy source is used will be reflected in the ultimate purpose of the undead in question and will reflect in turn how that undead is perceieved and treated. Someone trying to create an eternal guardian to defend a society will look to positive energy because they are basically seeking to defend and create, not destroy. Liches may also choose to feed off of positive energy as they see a contuation of their studies as a force of creation. These undead, and similar undead, are likely to be tolerated, even if they aren't greeted with open arms. Those with more destructive goals, or of an inherently more destructive nature, such a vampires requiring feeding off of nonvampires, possibly at great cost to their dinner, will tend toward negative energy as their source. These are going to have much larger problems being accepted in society as a whole, and will frequently be hunted down for simply existing.
I don't mind Golarion's setup when I'm playing in Golarion, but I dislike the assumption that every world is going to see undead and negative energy the same way. Part of the reason I like Eberron is that they were willing to make good undead and evil undead in the same setting, and it still made sense. In my personal world, negative and positive energy don't have inherent alignment connections; many cultures may attach alignment, but that's on the culture, not on the base nature of positive and negative energy. Because of this, undead can be created from either positive or negative energy, and not everyone views undead the same way. It allows for a variety of different views depending on the campaign that I am looking to run at that time.
The reincarnating of the supporting cast simply reinforces my thoughts that Drizzt really needs to be put aside, both in novels and in everything else. The early stuff may have been decent, but it's time to move on. His original story has long since been told and no new stories have ever really emerged; even with the 4E stories, it was the same old wanderer in a world that he didn't understand and that didn't understand him. If they were to treat a movie of the original trilogy as a reboot of sorts that gives a few more opportunities for Drizzt to become a bit more multi dimensional over time and less dependent on a supporting cast to drive a story, it might work, but not if they try to follow the novels all the way through.
As for the comparison to the Skywalkers, the same complaints were leveled at the movie versions of them, and even in the original trilogy, Luke was one of the weaker characters in many regards. There are several differences though. First, they were never intended to be "the" main character of the story. Luke was one in a long string of Jedi, and Anakin was always intended, at least in the movies when they finally got made, to disappear and reemerge as a different, more compelling character. Second, the few Star Wars novels I've read actually do a decent job of fleshing out both of them beyond what the movies show; I've never seen a fleshed out version of Drizzt anywhere. Third, their storylines evolve. Anakin becomes Darth Vader. Luke grows enough that he isn't the same character dealing with the precise same problems at the end of the story that he is at the beginning. I've never seen any such evolution for Drizzt. Now, if they make a movie about Drizzt, and use it as an opportunity to actually develop Drizzt, that could make for an interesting movie, but I see either Salvatore, WotC, or Hasbro, if not all of them, having a major problem with that approach, limiting what a movie script could actually do with the character beyond the first trilogy, and thus limiting the ability to capitalize on the character long term.
If they want to do FR, flesh out Volo. You can easily cover all of Fearun in the movies with no shortage of stories. The character by itself is a solid character while leaving lots of room for a fantastic support cast. Best of all, you have the ultimate guide to introduce the Realms to those who know nothing about it.
So you end up with several villages close to each other trading goods and services, with each village focusing on a different product/service. It changes the value of the trading going on, but it doesn't automatically change the world nor does it automatically create a market for the village off by itself that still needs to get those goods to a larger city where there is a ready market.
The take away I get from this thread is that creating things becomes much easier. That says nothing about gathering the raw materials and the logistics of transporting both raw and finished goods, especially in a world that has dragons, magical creatures of all kinds, and threats from all directions. So you still have to figure out a way to deal with the logistics of moving potentially massive amounts of physical stuff, and magic only goes so far to help in that department; even the highest level of teleport spells can create as many problems as they solve.
In the end, a highly magical world means better developed cities/guilds/governments (in short, a more developed, well connected world overall) than the standard psuedo-feudal society we've become used to in D&D settings. It's probably why I prefer Golarion, Eberron, and Greyhawk over FR; FR tries to be both high magic while having next to no order in Fearun as a whole, especially in the magic community and around the heavy use of magic in general that would normally be the priority for the community at large to stabilize, with the end product being borderline silly and unrealistic when it doesn't completely destroy itself ten times over. Whether you're using it to counter/regulate magic or to handle all the problems and challenges created by magic, organization is the key; no single person might be able to stop a well placed wish, but a good coalition can stop it from being made in the first place and/or counter it quite effectively. Whether such organization is proactive (meaning the world is still moderately balanced relative to our own) or reactive (where you get extremes like Tippyverse) and what groups you use to demonstrate that organization seem to be the real questions.
Even discounting the active hate, pleasing all of the active fans becomes a major problem. Less so with specific characters, but still true of anything FR. People will nitpick everything from the name of the random village to why using a different village/monster/region would have fit a particular character better, so it's still far from a slam dunk choice. The problem with the millions and millions of fans is that FR isn't a single IP put out by a single source as much as it is a world that has as many functional iterations as it does groups that run it. WoTC may determine the "official" story, but the number of groups that don't stray from that in numerous critical ways is going to be pretty small. Dragonlance or Ravenloft would be better in that those stories and worlds are much, much more targeted, meaning the official story/world is more recognizable to everyone and less deviated from.
That's one way it can turn out, but far from the only way. Tippyverse makes a lot of assumptions that I don't entirely agree with, and it is definitely an extreme example. Could be a fun one to play in, but it's not the only possibility.
For my custom world, I personally equate magic to technology in our world and treat accordingly. Low level magic/tech is pretty abundant. Anything up to 3rd level spells and/or roughly 4k would be much like cars or phones to us; a ready market with comparatively little regulation or concerns. As you get into higher level stuff, or specific subcategories, like teleporting or necromancy to name a few, limited markets, regulations, and oversight become increasingly important and it becomes a lot harder to work with such things without someone catching wind of it and running interference before you can fully execute your plans if you're doing something stupid. The really high level magic is the equivalent of top secret weaponry or nuclear warheads, and is definitely not something that anyone is going to be tossing around lightly. I like this balance as it allows for the assumptions about magic built into the system to hold true for the most part while still preserving the limited impact of the truly world shaping stuff.
I don't see them using Drizz't as a base for anything beyond existing product lines because the second they do, they get to deal with those who actively hate Drizz't for a wide variety of reasons, those who are simply tired of hearing anything about Drizz't, and the problem that Drizz't by himself is actually a pretty boring, largely one dimensional character. The same love or hate tendencies that keeps fans of the novels coming back for the next book would work against them in trying to launch a new product based on the same character; the massive amount of hate and/or apathy built up by now doesn't affect the existing novel line overly much, as it's established enough to have a solid fan base, but it would fully impact new material.
It's the same problem that FR has in general when it comes to marketing new products; the same rabidness that pushes it forward tends to create both a passive and active counter reaction, especially after so many iterations, stories, and views about it over the many years it's been in use, making it just as hard to market new products based on it as it would to market a completely brand new IP. Even the new MMO has major challenges in providing a version of FR that satisfies all of it's rabid fans without turning off those less than thrilled with the base setting.
The robes don't care if it's a single power or a full bloodline. It is not what is granting the sorcerer additional powers; it is simply enhancing the power provided by the source. The source determines what you get in terms of powers and their effective base level. So yes, getting a single bloodline power by a feat would be different from having the full sorcerer bloodline that grants multiple powers based on your level. For the purposes of these robes, however, the base effect is the same; it takes the base level for that bloodline power (whether that be determined by your class level or your character level - 2) and increases it by 4.
It's probably not worth the effort unless you really plan on taking the full feat chain, as that is the only way through the feats to get multiple powers, but it does work as intended with Eldritch Heritage. The feat gives an effective sorcerer level which can be further modified by the robes. Not worth it for one power, but if you intend to take the full chain, I could see the robes being potentially worth it in the right build.
The way I read it is that the robes would work. It deals with bloodlines and bloodline powers, and a nonsorcerer would meet the only test it has to measure that, i.e. the presence of a bloodline and at least one bloodline power. It would adjust the effective level starting from the base as determined by the source of the bloodline, and provide additional benefits as determined by the source; in the case of the sorcerer class, it would give the +4 to the class level, and provide access to any further bloodline powers as determined by the class. In the case of eldritch heritage, it would modify the stated base level of character level -2, as set by the feat, and would impact the one power given by the feat, giving no additional benefits. I don't know why a non-sorcerer would bother with the cost, but it would work.
The whole military discount example doesn't work because D&D in general, and PF specifically, often has ways of "cheating" the system while still staying within the system that you don't have in real life. If you had a way of getting a legitimate military ID without actually being in the military, than getting the military discount would be entirely possible as the only way the restaurant really has to test it is the presence or absence of a military ID. In the case of the robes, the effective test is the presence of a bloodline and associated power; someone with eldritch heritage is able to pass that test sufficiently for the item to function.
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Personally as a DM, I try to deal with this by taking the actual characters into consideration. The druid may have an easier time seeing thing, but won't necessarily understand that what they are seeing is important. The fighter might not spot it as easily, but might be more likely to recognize that small detail as being important and noteworthy. I try to do this with all skills; not every character is going to use the same skill in the same way or recognize the same things as important when using the skill. I find this resolves a lot of toe stepping while allowing players to make the characters they want rather than the characters they feel they need.
As for holes in skills, its going to happen no matter how much you coordinate it, so I while I try to cover the key things for a given campaign, I rarely worry about trying to fill every hole.
I usually aim for some overlap, regardless of in or out of combat, but not so much that it's going to be effectively be the same character repeated. You need enough overlap that you have redundancy in case one character dies or their player doesn't show up, or something else that might disrupt the party, but you have to avoid stepping on toes whenever possible as well. In the end, it comes down to what each campaign and group can support and is willing to deal with; some groups are perfectly happy leaving holes figuring that they can find some other way around the problem; other times the campaign doesn't really support that or some of the players aren't comfortable with it.
Stefan Hill wrote:
To be fair, I only reached that conclusion after years of playing 3.x/PF and than going back to trying the older system. Not all things are blatantly obvious from the start, and the changing of the round speed was certainly one of them. It seemed to be the best fix at the time I'm sure, and only time and really extensive play showed it's deficiencies. That was one concern I had when I saw how they were developing 4E, and to an extent, I have them again with Next. It's really easy when making a lot of changes to change the things you intend to keep the same.
Movement rates in pre 3.x was definitely an issue, but one that needed to be dealt with by fixing the movement rates, not the length of the round. Taking cues about movement rates from 3.x and applying them to the longer round is more effective than shortening the round, which throws everything else off while fixing the movement problem.
Pre 3.x combat had a lot of problems, but the length of the round was actually not one of them. The biggest problem with having a six second round to me is that it reduces magic casting time to a joke for the effect you're getting; the time makes sense for handling a weapon, and that's pretty much it. Going back to a full minute round while retaining the other fixes put in place by 3.x would allow those other options, like casting or a bard using inspire courage, to actually make sense without negatively impacting the martial combat aspect.
I would say in part because it significantly reduces the need to simulate every single action. It's a lot easier to say that the attack roll represents your overall effort for that full minute, not just a single swing. It also puts casting spells back into a time scale that makes more sense while keeping the casting time in line with the time scales being used by everyone else. It's not a huge difference by itself, but it allows for a setup that flows more naturally than the current six seconds allows for.
Stefan Hill wrote:
I would like to see a return to 1 round = 1 minute. This alone removes much of the combat micro-management that, personally, I felt plagued 3e+.
I could get behind that change. It would simplify not only a lot of combat micromanagement, but a lot of other issues related to time and general actions within an encounter.
To some degree, yes, but all the evidence I've seen makes it fairly clear that it happened more with 4E than the others. It just didn't have the word of mouth network or the wide spread support that 3.x enjoyed, and that hurt 4E in the long run, no matter how good the initial sales or the DDI subscriptions did. It simply lacked a sustainable and renewable community of support, and that is where it fell short of what the earlier editions had. It was much more love or hate with almost no in between.
Unfortunately the evidence is really clear. 4E was successful when compared to other editions. All the way into late 2009 they had several books on major best seller lists, when 3E did not. So sales wise they sold better than 3E. They beat out Pathfinder in the IcV sales...
A lot of people almost certainly bought the books and never opened them more than once or twice, or bought any more books at all. Also, a big part of what made 3.5 the commercial success it was wasn't the core books, it was the many splat books and world books; individual books doing well wasn't nearly as important. 3.5 may not have had as much success with individual books, but it had more books overall, and more quality books overall, at least at first. With DDI, WotC may well have ended up making more money in the 4E era, but their books probably did very little overall aside from the initial burst and the essential books. For a company that still relied heavily on book sales because they were clearly not internet experts, that had to be a problem; individual books are great, but they make their money off of multiple purchases by the same individual. Having 100 people buy one book is not the same as having 10 people buy 10 books each; there is a critical retention factor in the latter that WotC needed, and probably never got.
I didn't mind the power system; it did what it was designed to do well enough. It really didn't feel like DnD to me because it took the whole simple to complex class range that had been present in all of the earlier systems, and made it all one flat complexity, which left me feeling that the system was a bit bland. Also, they didn't have nearly enough powers out at first to really cover the full range of character options, which really hurt the initial reception of the system as a whole. On the whole though, it's not a bad concept, even if the execution left me with a very distinct blah feeling. If the rest of the inovations, like the rituals and the skill challenges, had done a better job in play, chances are I could have lived with the powers, but the powers to me were not enough to sell the system, and most of the rest of the concepts implemented fell flat on execution.
Scott Betts wrote:
But 3.5 was still strong enough to keep all other would be contenders in the wings, and so kept WotC as the keepers of the D&D tradition as a whole. Earlier editions were the same way; they all had their share of competition from other companies trying to copy them, but at no time was there serious consideration that anyone but first OSR and than WotC could produce a true complete alternative to the active and official version. Even most of the OGL copies still looked to WotC for their inspiration and starting point during the 3.5 era. That can no longer be said, and 4E's inability to capitalize on what was essentially a captive audience is a big reason for that. 3PP publishers can now make material that is all but indistinguishable from anything in the 3.5 era without ever mentioning D&D or WotC in any shape or form, thanks to Pathfinder. That has to bug WotC a lot, because it means they can't control that content or the people developing it. That loss of control is the biggest failure of 4E in many ways; before, a new edition had to compete with older editions, but being under the same company, that competition could be contained. Now, they're having to actively compete against another company in their own corner of the table top rpg market. That is going to have a dramatic effect in how Next and future editions are seen, and is a direct consequence of 4E.
4E was both successful, and not, at the same time. Compared with the rest of the market at the time, it certainly did well enough, but compared to previous editions, it failed in a lot of key areas, and created the first major splinter within the D&D world. Earlier editions had competition from other systems and companies, and even a handful of reasonably successful spinoffs from earlier editions, but not even the OGL of the 3.5 era was able to produce a competitor within the d20 ruleset that seriously challenged WotC's dominance and control of the rules and ideas normally associated with D&D. 4E was the first to make a lot of people even consider the idea that there realistically could be two different active versions of the same basic lineage produced by two different companies at the same time, and from WotC's perspective, that had to be a major failure of 4E. As several have stated above, the ideas were really good, and found a lot of support, but the implementation failed, and failed bad. For the first time, evoking the D&D feel could realistically be done without evoking the official brand. Only time will tell to see how well Next does.
Dark servitude wrote:
The problem with scrying spells is that you are basically using magic to figure out what magic you need in the adventure, draining available spells for said adventure unless you can do it the previous day. It still comes down to time and lots of forewarning. Prepared casters are heavily reliant on both time. The other thing you mention, the limited number of spell slots they have available, is a big factor as well. Many of those "ideal" spells are reliant on caster level and simply don't work on scrolls or wands unless you really have the coin to make them with a caster level of higher than the minimum, leaving those few slots you do very precious indeed. Scrying spells in particular tend to be heavily caster level reliant, meaning that they pretty much require spell slots to be effective; this can be a problem if you are trying to use them the same day you need to deal with whatever you are scrying.
Dr Grecko wrote:
Regarding the sorc having a delayed progression. I think that if they did have an equal progression to the wizard, the sorc would be hands down the better caster. As it stands, both are about equal in power, with IMO, the wizard having a slight edge.
I don't see the delayed progression being anything more than a unnecessary administrative headache. The limits on spells known do far more to balance out the class, and the delayed progression just seems punitive for the sake of being punitive. The sorcerer wouldn't be particularly more powerful with the standard progression, though I would still like to see something like spell points or words of power be used for spontaneous casters in general rather than the vancian system, if for no other reason than to make it clear that, no really, sorcerers are not intended to be wizards and wizards are not intended to be sorcerers. All the delayed progression does effectively is limit the use of prestige classes, and that doesn't seem either fair or necessary given how Paizo handles prestige classes in general. The wizards would still be better at nonfocused builds and use in utility spells in general.
Dr Grecko wrote:
Better is subjective. Sorcerers will typically tend to be better at single purpose builds like blasters because of their flexibility in the immediate moment and better options for using metamagic without having to rely on external stuff to pull it off. Metamagic rods, pearls of power, and similar stuff is great, but they are external, and they do tie up resources to do what a sorcerer can do without such objects. If you want raw power, wizards are always going to have an edge due to the (incredibly silly in my opinion) delayed spell level gains the sorcerer has to deal with. As far as blasters are concerned, its about a tie. Each can be equally strong if they stick to what they can do and not get too fussy about what they can't; wizards will have an edge in power, sorcerers will have an edge in ease of adjusting in the middle of a combat.
Lord Twig wrote:
It may not invalidate the class, but it is a notable factor and one that many "wizards are absolute gods" people tend to forget about. Wizards rely heavily on external stuff, and often very specific stuff, ranging from their spellbook to scrolls and wands to less tangible things like time and favorable circumstances. When those are readily available, the wizard shines; when any one or more of those things is not available, the wizard is often stuck in a very weak position without many tools to get out of it by himself. The sorcerer may not have the raw capacity and potential of a wizard, but it's a lot harder to truly back a sorcerer into a corner they can't get out of, largely because the sorcerer is a lot more self reliant and diversified in their available choices. If magic fails, they have a high charisma to fall back on; bluff, intimidate, and diplomacy are powerful tools, and use magic device means that sorcerers don't rely nearly as much on having precisely the right magic item in order to function.
Ultimately it comes down to cost vs benefit in an actual campaign. As options like the witch, the bard, and the sorcerer become more common, it is important to target what you want from the class. Wizards are still the best wizards, but not every campaign requires a full blown wizard capable of moving planets given enough time and resources. Other arcane casters can often bring enough of the truly useful tricks for that campaign with lower costs and lower complexities. It's the same reason that warlocks and warmages were popular in 3.5; they may have lacked raw versatility, but they did what they needed to do well, and that's all that really matters in most circumstances.
I'm not going to try to argue with you; it's obvious that you simply don't get the differences. Both have strengths and both have weaknesses, and which one is going to be better is going to depend largely on the party and campaign. It's like the old tv show MASH. Both Hawkeye and Winchester were very good surgeons, but in very different ways. In a field hospital, Hawkeye had the advantage because the style of surgery done there was better suited to him; that doesn't make Winchester bad, just a bit out of place, and having to work harder to fit into the place he found himself. The sorcerer/wizard debate is very similar; you can make either one work, but one is always going to fit individual circumstances better than the other; you can still bring the other, but it will be more work and effort required. In the end, neither has any edge overall; they are too evenly matched on paper to really say that one is better than the other.
Lord Twig wrote:
Sorcerers are still good. They can be very powerful. And in the right circumstances they can be even more useful than a wizard, but I think the wizard holds the edge most of the time.
If you try to play sorcerers like wizards always wanting to have that perfect spell, the wizard will win. If you play sorcerers like Mcgyver, improvising and thinking on their feet, they come into their own strength, and no wizard can touch them in that arena. Wizards require time, and even 15 minutes or 1 minute is not always available; that is where the sorcerer can really do well. He may not have the best solution, but its a solution, and it's one that is already available. In the passwall example, you assume they have 15 minutes; what if the party is being pursued and/or the wizard has already had to use all of his available slots for the day? Assuming neither has the necessary scroll, the sorcerer can adapt immediately while the wizard is praying that the rest of the party can buy him time or is simply staring the wall wishing he had more spells. Likewise in many social situations, the wizard simply cannot break free from the scene long enough to fill the slot. In both cases, having more spells per day, and having the freedom of deciding which one to cast at the time of casting is heavily in the sorcerer's favor. Potential is nice, but it is still only potential until you can successfully access it.
Before sorcerers, it was simply assumed that the party would cover for the wizard so that he could get that time; with wizards being the only arcane caster, there was little choice. Now, with other options commonly available, it's not an automatic that the party and DM are going to supply the wizard the time, nor is it automatic that the arcane caster is going to be a wizard. Your entire position relies on the sorcerer trying to use the spells in the same way a wizard does, and that's always going to lead to the wizard having an edge. The sorcerer's strength is that they can take the same spells, and use them in often completely different ways; this doesn't make them stronger than the wizard, just different, and when approached in this manner, not weaker.
Jason Rice wrote:
Most people wouldn't actually notice or care if their familiar died; the bonuses are nice, but not that great. Losing the bonded object not only causes the wizard to lose access to its abilities, but makes any casting significantly harder until they recover it or make a new one.
Jason Rice wrote:
However, one thing wizards have, which no one has yet mentioned, is the ability to bond with an object, instead of a familiar. I like this option, and it gives wizards some of the flexibility of a sorcerer, maybe more flexibility, depending on the size of your spellbook.
It also give the wizard yet another achilles heel, something the class really doesn't need. It's a price worth paying for many, but it is still a big price.
Jason Rice wrote:
Does anyone else wish that the sorcerer and wizard had different spell lists, if only to stop this endless debate?
My preference would be to see them use completely different systems. Have the prepared casters keep the traditional lists, and refine spell points or the words of power to use with spontaneous casters. The words of power do a much better job effectively supporting the kind of flavor that is typically used for spontaneous casters while the vancian system works well to back up the flavor of the prepared casters.
Evil Lincoln wrote:
Selection is something you can compensate for with GP. Now, you can't always do that, but let's not pretend that scrolls and wands have no place in this comparison.
Reliable access to scrolls and wands are too heavily tied to individual campaigns to be of more than limited value for comparison. Even wizards who automatically get the necessary feats don't necessarily get the necessary time and gp. Wizards do have an edge in this department, but it's one easily blunted by crafting unfriendly campaigns and/or DMs. And games where crafting as a whole is fully utilized tend to see stronger characters all around, not just stronger wizards, so whatever advantage they gain there is not as large in practice as it is on paper. After a certain point, when crafting is actually used, it doesn't really matter who is making it or for how much. If the wizard can afford to make it himself, he could generally also afford the full market value if he had to, and one more scroll after you already have 10 has much less impact than when its your second scroll. Magic items are similar; the first two or three have a big impact, but generally after that, only the two or three most powerful are really used to define overall capability. In the end, the wizard's edge in crafting, even when allowed to fully function, is one of diminishing returns. The faster you craft, the faster you reach a point where new magic items simply don't have the kind of impact that changes the game. It's still useful, but not nearly as big as some people make it out to be. A sorcerer can in the end usually keep up with the wizard if they really want to; it takes more gp, but once you are able to buy multiple magic items, money is rarely much of a barrier by itself.
Dr Grecko wrote:
To a point, but it can be carried so far that you actually end up emphasizing the weakness rather than diminishing it. You certainly need to account for the weakness, and figure out how to deal with it, but being obsessed with removing it completely can make one blind to the strengths of the class chosen. Sometimes its simply best to accept the weakness and focus on bolstering the strengths. The idea that one must have the full strengths of both is just plain insane to me, as the costs usually aren't the limited benefits.
Evil Lincoln wrote:
That's only part of the picture. The other part is that wizards are firmly locked in once they make their choices for the day. Need an extra fireball? Too bad, you've already used your pearl of power. Sorcerers, while limited in their base selection, have considerably more freedom in how they use what they have. Metamagic can be applied on the fly, they don't have to designate how many uses of each spell they have prepared, and they have more uses per day overall. The question is not who is more versatile, but which type of versatility is more useful in any given campaign? In any given campaign, do you really need the kind of versatility that a wizard can offer or is a sorcerer going to be better because they can deal with surprises a lot easier? Trying to look solely at any one aspect isn't fair to either class.
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
That variance is precisely why a lot of people prefer the sorcerer and/or spontaneous casters in general. The opportunities and resources wizards require may not be ultra rare, but they are something that the an individual player has little direct control over, which means a lot of extra potential work on the part of the player to make those opportunities possible when they don't automatically present themselves. Spontaneous casters may not have the raw potential, but getting full use out of their abilities in a wider range of groups and even within the course of a campaign is simply easier.
I will freely admit that I tend to prefer spontaneous casters. My past experiences aside, I have always despised having to be a mobile christmas tree on any character, and tend to dislike over reliance on consumables in particular. I tend to try to minimize both effects as much as possible, and that means that playing a wizard is problematic.
In the end, both approaches have about the same potential power and versatility. Wizards have the greater potential to shape the overall strategy and trajectory of the campaign as a whole, but are more limited in their impact on individual encounters that they lack access to the "perfect" spell. Also, their pursuit of limiting that particular weakness can use a lot of resources that they may or may not have, leaving them even more dependent on making sure that they do in fact have access to the "perfect" spell at all times. Sorcerers give up a lot of that greater overall versatility, but gain a lot more versatility in how to use the spells and magic items they do get, making them much better in actual encounters overall. They may never have the most powerful or the most effective spell, but it's a lot easier to pull a Macgyver when you actually take the time to learn the full capabilities of the spells you do have and can always access.
The biggest mistake people make when playing either is trying to play each of them like the other. Too many would be wizards try for the situational versatility that sorcerers have innately, and too many sorcerers try to achieve the kind of power and spell versatility that wizards have innately. Both tendencies waste a lot of the resources and potential available in both classes.
Don't misunderstand - Sorcerers are great. I like them a ton. I just think that Scribe Scroll and Craft Wand are two of the keys to a successful prepared caster. And spontaneous casters simply cannot get the same mileage out of them a prepared caster can.
Crafting in general is part of the wizards having time, and I never questioned that part. However, a lot of people when talking about the wizard seem to assume that having that kind of time and money is an automatic given when it's not. Campaigns where players can get those things are definitely for friendly to the wizard, but with all of the other options being available, it's going to be harder to find a campaign that has that since a lot of players and DMs have gotten used to, and prefer, not having to deal with what can be hassles if not handled properly. It's not necessarily hard to find a way to take advantage of the crafting feats, but it can't be an automatic assumption either.
With INT as his main stat he also has a lot of skill ranks and this can be very useful also; they have all knowledge skills as class skills. The odds that a wizard will know which spell to use in a given circumstance is much higher that a sorcerer; the sorcerer is probably only getting 2 or 3 skill ranks per level and after spellcraft, knowledge (arcana), and UMD he probably won't know very much.
But knowing what to use and being able to access and use it are two different things. Unless you have party members that can give you the opportunities you need to do the latter, having the former does you little good. Sorcerers don't worry about having the perfect tool, they simply learn to work with the tools they do have in a wide variety of circumstances.
EDIT: Elminster is a really good example here. He knew a lot, but tended to require other people to act to create the opportunities he needed to actually implement his plans and schemes.