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sunshadow21's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 3,163 posts (7,949 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 29 aliases.


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You're right. It could work, and Marvel may have a really good story brewing. But for every attempt at something like this that succeeds, there are multiple that fail, and while failure may not have a massive direct impact, it would definitely hamper the creation of further new characters along that line, which doesn't need any more obstacles than it already has. In end, regardless of the name recognition or the story, this has be treated as trying to create a new character as far as setting odds and expectations. And the odds of a long term success, are frankly, not all that good, which reduces this to a temporary gimmick that will piss off as many people as it will please. If it was an alternate universe, like they did when they replaced Peter Parker, where Peter Parker was still around in the main universe, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but for the mainstream story, this is, quite frankly, a bit too much a bit too quickly for them to really fully control the end result, and that could be problematic.

thejeff wrote:
Furthermore, I think the fact we're having this conversation proves it's working. "Marvel announces new title that stars a female character" wouldn't provoke any debate, much less this much attention.

The question I have is whether the added attention and hype is really worth it. It gives the new character more exposure, sure, but also ups the level of quality required to satisfy people. If they have the long term story to back it up, and stick with that long term story, they will be fine. If not, this is going to come back and bite them hard, and that's the part that a lot of people seem to want to ignore. Good comic stories are not hard to do; great stories, which a lot of people will be expecting from this, are a lot harder and rarer.

People have to buy the comics for the heroes to be made. A large part of the population that has traditionally bought comic books is the white and male population, so it's no real surprise that most older heroes reflect this. As the type of people who buy the comics change, I fully expect the heroes being featured to change. I just don't care for the idea of completely changing old heroes to fit the new desired stories. New characters tell the new stories far better, and can do so without stepping on the toes of the stories already being told by the existing ones.

PirateDevon wrote:
Aranna wrote:

Also by doing things this way we already have a tie in to her background in the form of the old Thor. So an existing character with an established back story the readers probably care about will feature prominently in her story. That is way more mileage than they would have gotten from a brand new character with her own version of Thor like powers.

I agree. Instant background not to mention the inherent juicy potential for conflict between this newcomer and the old Thor. Thor already has daddy issues so depending on who this is and how they interact with both old Thor and other mutual allies this could set the ground for a lot of storytelling for years to come.

This creates other problems, though. Mainly, how to tie her into Thor's story without making her feel like a ripoff of Thor, either in back story or powers. What they gain in name recognition, they lose in having to deal with the baggage that comes with that name recognition. It also sets the level of success needed to actually pull it off that much higher and more difficult to attain. It will be very easy to end with a female version of Thor, and nothing else, which to many people would not be the kind of success required for this to be worth it.

In the end, the name recognition may help initial sales, but the challenges it creates dampens any long term benefits over starting from scratch. It's good for maybe a single story arc, and possibly less than that, and that's it. Apparently Marvel thinks they have the story to back up the initial boost; I certainly hope so, because they aren't going to get another chance at this character concept anytime soon. To me, the risks aren't worth the limited rewards. There are other ways to do it that do a better job of limiting unexpected challenges down the road while attaining most of the short term benefits.

thejeff wrote:
Actually, AFAIK, we still don't know who the character is, if she's new or an existing character and how much of her own backstory and identity she already has.

Backstory and a normal identity yes, possibly, but a superhero identity with defined and at least somewhat unique powers, not so much. Doing a female with Thor like powers isn't going to get them far once Thor gets his hammer back, which means they will need to sow the seeds for her own source of power that doesn't seem like a direct ripoff of Thor. This is true regardless of whether they use an already established minor character or a new one. The one exception I could think of would be Sif, where all that work for being an indepedent character has already been done. Similarly, I suppose they could pull out one of the other female heroes they have tried to use and just have not got the traction they wanted. In the end though, for this to work, the character wielding his hammer has to be able to stand on her own eventually. Starting the spotlight with her having Thor's hammer is not going to let Marvel avoid that step, and depending on how they handle it, could make that eventual step harder.

Aranna wrote:
And I would be totally fine if they spin her into her own title later on and keep her as a major face in that universe... I would also be massively let down if they return Thor's hammer later and simply treat her as a discardable character; THAT would be unforgivable, and would prove every neigh sayer right about them.

That honestly is my biggest concern with this whole thing. if they can successfully use this as a launchpad with a plan already in place of where to take this new character, it could work, and work fine, but they are not giving themselves a lot of wiggle room, seeing that initially she is going to be borrowing everything from Thor save the back story. If they have a plan and are able to work in elements that can eventually be built upon to give her her own identity later, great, but otherwise, they are setting themselves back by creating a weak persona with little to no individual identity. It's a major risk that lacks certainty. By starting with a new character from scratch, they could at least identify where challenges would be and plan and adjust accordingly as things develop; with this approach, they basically have to have everything planned out ahead of time and hope the plan holds up. That is my problem with this approach; once the plan is put in motion, there is not a lot of wiggle room if things need to change, especially if they need to change drastically. It's not what they are doing, but how they are doing it; the goal is fine, the methods are dangerously close to be a ill advised shortcut.

EDIT: In short, a new character may be a harder path, but it is also a clearer one. This method may be easier in the short term, but in the long run may prove to be more difficult due to the the development of unexpected expectations and story lines.

thejeff wrote:
Obviously it's not the same character. I don't think that's in question at all. The name change does seem weird to me, but I'm assuming they'll have a reason for that as well. I'm assuming the new character will have her own personality and motivations as well as her own history. I'm also assuming that the original Thor will continue to be a character, either in a supporting role in this book or in a title of his own. The press releases may not have explicitly said all that, but that's because they're press releases.

Yet, by keeping the same name, and not releasing details of how the new character is actually different, like they did with the Captain America changes, they clearly want to give the impression, at least for a while, that all they did was make Thor a woman. If they had given even a partial explanation, like they did with Captain America, instead of banking on controversy to sell at least the first part of the new character, there would be far less difficulties on my end. As it is, it just comes across as a politically correct gimmick that has no long term value. Maybe that initial impression will prove to be wrong, but that is definitely the initial impression that a lot of people will have.

Durngrun Stonebreaker wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
Reaching not built in audiences is always tough, but it doesn't get easier by changing what appeals to the audience you already have.
You read Thor because he's a guy?

I enjoy the character of Thor because of the entire character, and I imagine that many people fall into that camp. Being male is part of that character, and changing that will have significant repercussions on the rest of the character. In the end, if they are going to change that, they need to acknowledge that the character as a whole is not the same character, and they don't seem to be willing to do that from what we've seen so far. That is where they are going to run into problems with the existing audience. At least with Captain America, they are acknowledging that the new person is not the same character, and will have different motivations. They haven't done that with Thor, at least not yet, and that is the step too far for me personally.

thejeff wrote:
Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the idea of a black Captain America, a black symbol of America, is far more controversial in some very patriotic circles than a female Thor will be.

That part will largely be blunted by the fact that the new Captain America has an established history that goes back several decades. Most fans of the comic books will have dealt with that aspect of his character a long time ago, and it will likely only be a major issue for those actually buying the books if the writers make it one. With Thor, there is no such character to really step up in the same way. There's a few side characters that would be better than most, but none are really a natural fit the same way a decades old sidekick is.

ShinHakkaider wrote:
It's funny that I was just listening to the PaizoCon Coverage of a diversity in gaming seminar. Wes Schineder, James Sutter, Judy Bauer and Crystial Fraiser pretty much have it right in terms of wanting to make things more representative in the gaming community.There are few people in this thread and in comic fandom (as well as gaming) who would get a better understanding of why it's important as opposed to just hating it.

It's important, yes, but taking shortcuts, and making Thor into a female character is definitely a shortcut, to achieve it doesn't actually achieve the kind of long term success needed for it to be sustainable. They need to find other ways to achieve it, and be willing to accept that the initial steps will not always be completely smooth to full achieve what they seek.

ShinHakkaider wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Sadly, it's a little naive in the comic book market to think that good stories will be enough all on their own. Without them of course, you're sunk, but even with them you need the buzz to get people to read them in the first place and/or the built-in audience that the classic characters have.

It's not naive, I understand fully that most new characters don't survive. That doesn't change that fact that at some point they have to be able to sink or swim on their own, and starting with both Thor's power and name is going to handicap this new character's long term future because eventually Thor will get both back, leaving the new character with nothing of their own. They are better off simply trying out new characters or putting existing side characters in their own comics until one sticks, because once they do stick, they will have proven they have the necessary support to survive on their own. It's a brutal method, but one that all the now classic characters had to go through. Classic characters aren't made by shoehorning new concepts into existing characters.

True but it definitely helps if those classic characters are white and male, just like their fanbase though. They dont have THAT extra hurdle to go through.

That just means they need to do a better marketing job to attract the other audiences they want. Trying to change existing characters isn't going to help them in that. Reaching not built in audiences is always tough, but it doesn't get easier by changing what appeals to the audience you already have. That's the point where the changes to Thor will go over less well than the ones to Captain America; the audience for the new Captain America is clearly not expected to significantly shift, while the they clearly hope to expand the audience for Thor, which is hard enough to do without risking alienation of the existing audience. If you want characters that aren't white and male, than you need an audience that isn't white and male, it's that simple. Building that audience won't be easy, but taking shortcuts in the beginning will only come back to bite them later.

thejeff wrote:

Sadly, it's a little naive in the comic book market to think that good stories will be enough all on their own. Without them of course, you're sunk, but even with them you need the buzz to get people to read them in the first place and/or the built-in audience that the classic characters have.

It's not naive, I understand fully that most new characters don't survive. That doesn't change that fact that at some point they have to be able to sink or swim on their own, and starting with both Thor's power and name is going to handicap this new character's long term future because eventually Thor will get both back, leaving the new character with nothing of their own. They are better off simply trying out new characters or putting existing side characters in their own comics until one sticks, because once they do stick, they will have proven they have the necessary support to survive on their own. It's a brutal method, but one that all the now classic characters had to go through. Classic characters aren't made by shoehorning new concepts into existing characters.

Aranna wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
The powers, the name, the hammer, everything else is staying the same, rendering that one change a silly gimmick that benefits no one.

Um? Excuse me? It benefits young girls who could use more role models. And if what they are doing is a little deliberately sensational then who cares? You should applaud their efforts to revive a dying industry by drawing in new readers. Thor sells 45 thousand comics... any other industry would have given up on such a low rate of consumption. Think about that a second 45k versus the millions of people who still read comics. Clearly he isn't on more than a tiny fraction of pull lists. If this more than doubles his sagging sales and the writing/art can hold the new readers then I predict the female Thor will be a long term addition to the Marvel line up. Who knows if enough of the old Thor readers like the new Thor then people may forget the poorly read old male version all together.

But that really isn't fair to the new character or Thor. Take Freya or the valkyries or one of the existing side characters and give them a chance to sink or swim on their own. No need to use an existing character to try to feed them life support, especially, if as you say, that character barely has pull to begin with. And you are assuming a fair bit when it comes to the writing; perhaps it will be decent, perhaps not, but it certainly won't pull in new readers who are just as familiar with the Norse version as they are the Marvel version and are likely to be as confused with Marvel using the same name as they are impressed.

In the end, I don't think it necessarily bad, I just don't think it's particularly necessary or helpful. If you want female role models, support new female characters that have great stories, don't be content with warping existing male characters because they are afraid the new character won't take without external help. If they can write that good of a story, than the new character doesn't need the benefit of the old name; if they can't, using the old name isn't going to be all that useful in the long run, so it ends up being pointless and a short term gimmick, nothing more.

Shiftybob wrote:

You know, I probably have a charisma stat of about 6 or 7 in real life, and I can still walk through small towns just fine without getting rotten vegetables thrown at me.

-2 really isn't much of a handicap in a system with a probability variation of 20.

Which is why I tend to treat it by circumstances. Normally just walking around a town or doing basic shopping won't elicit any kind of notable reaction unless there are local circumstances that dictate otherwise, because, well, most people engaged in those activities just don't care. Getting information, dealing with specific people or issues, or getting rarer, hard to find items is where things can get tricky, and while having a higher or lower number on the sheet will have an impact, so will other factors, some of which can be controlled by the player, others not.

Slaunyeh wrote:
Also, I wouldn't really consider MarvelThor to be a ripoff of the Thor from mythology. They don't even have hair colour in common. This is also why I don't really have much of a say in this. I could go "...but the hammer doesn't work like that" except, you know, I have no idea if it does for MarvelThor.

The problem is that a lot of the audience they are trying to grab may very well be more familiar with Thor the Norse God, not Thor the Marvel Superhero, whose backstory happens to include being a Asgardian. This is where it just doesn't work for me, and wont' work for a lot of people.

Those who are familiar with, and accept, Thor the Norse God, are not going to find it any easier to get into the character because they made Thor a female, and are likely to be turned off by the seemingly random and entirely political correct nature of trying to use an established male character's name for a female character on a story that may or may not end up being decent.

Those who are familiar with, and accept, Thor the Marvel superhero, are likely going to be fine with everything up to retaining the name, at which point, they are going to wonder why they didn't just create a new character for those that wanted that particular twist, and leave the old character alone for those that were enjoying the old character.

In the end, it just comes off as a bit too much for a lot of people. Captain America most people who really care will accept at least for a short time because they are utilizing already existing characters and a reasonable assumptions already largely present within the Captain America story. It's a change, but it doesn't fundamentally change the core story, and the changes that are being made are acknowledged (such as incorporating elements of the old persona into the new costume). With Thor, though, they seem to be trying to make fundamental changes to the character concept without being willing to openly acknowledge the full impact of the changes. That is what ultimately seems to be the major sticking point I'm seeing in the reactions against it. It just comes across as an uncomfortable way of trying to feed off the status quo while trying to fundamentally change it at the same time.

Personally I tend to deal with dump stats by treating any score, positive or negative, noticeably out of the norm as something that will tend to be get noticed by NPCs, who will react according their own points of view. Sometimes the reaction will be positive for the character, sometimes not, and again it doesn't matter if the difference is a positive or a negative number. If 2 characters walk into a seedy bar in the rundown part of town, and one has a 20 charisma and the other a 6, the one with the 6 is going to tend to have an easier time getting information because the one with a 20 is going to come as too polished and practiced to be trusted by folks in that particular bar. The character with a 6 charisma will also likely have less expectations placed on him than a character with a 20 charisma, and suffer less penalties if he fails to meet them precisely. He will also be less likely to find himself facing jealous rivals and other problems that come with being super charismatic. He'll have his own set of problems, to be sure, but they won't be particularly more of a burden than the ones facing the 20 cha character.

The number the player gives the character is only part of the equation; how well that number matches up with the NPCs in any given scenario and their expectations that come with that particular number matter just as much. Same with any stat, race, or class; any deviation from what is seen as normal will come with certain expectations, challenges, and opportunities. The line between famous and infamous can get pretty thin at times and it's not always within the control of the character how others view them or react to them. The farther from normal one gets, the truer this becomes.

By doing it this way, and using an alternate rolling method that limits really, really low stats to those who really try for them, I don't usually have very many complaints of people who roll low if everyone else is rolling high, because the people who roll low usually end up closer to normal, and thus find it easier to control any difficulties that come from their stats.

Artanthos wrote:
Scavion wrote:
ryric wrote:
Pendagast wrote:
oh I don't like the lowest CHA gets attacked by the animal… an optimizer is going to use that to build a tank, so basically you created an exploitable mechanic where the character is building "aggro"…so basically he can tank against anything that does employe tactics in combat.
Well the whole point of the houserule is that low-Cha characters have trouble getting what they want - so if he was trying to tank he would get ignored. It's less of a hard-and-fast thing and more "the universe tends to dump on you."
Penalties outside of what the game dictates. 5 star DMing.

Ignore my low charisma tank ... if you can.

** spoiler omitted **

A big enough battlefield, enough enemies, and/or enemies that have the tactics to counter his abilities, and it doesn't matter if Charisma rolls are involved. Your character could pin down a few to be certain, but it wouldn't be that hard for a competent DM to find a way for NPCs to ignore such a character if he really felt like it. Honestly, if the DM is pushing for that kind of use of Charisma and you don't like it, trying to create a character that directly challenges it is not usually a good idea. Better to simply find another group and/or find a compromise that works for both parties.

Captain Marvel was at least a Marvel creation and not a ripoff from ancient mythology with a lot of stories existing that Marvel had no part of. And they at least changed the name in that instance as well. Plus, at the time they did it, he wasn't all that major a character, so the fans pissed off were comparatively few. None of those circumstances apply here. Thor has joined the ranks of recognizable characters, so the number of fans they can piss off is greater, and the only thing they are changing is the gender as far as we know. The powers, the name, the hammer, everything else is staying the same, rendering that one change a silly gimmick that benefits no one.

And for the female counterpart of Thor, they could have taken any one of the female characters from the exact same mythology, have basically the same level of name recognition, and not have it feel superly cheesy by having to rip off Thor's name.

I'm just disappointed that Marvel gave into the easy gimmick of keeping the name while changing other key details in an effort to build a new character. Establishing characters of any stripe has never been easy, but it's like they aren't even trying anymore, and are content to twist and bend existing characters knowing full well that in a year or so, the new character will probably be thrown out anyway because it doesn't get the traction they want from new readers and old readers just want the original character back.

andreww wrote:
Outside of combat they need something to give them a lot more versatility. More skill points, tricks they can access at higher skill ranks, something really that actually lets them accomplish things within the context of the mechanics.

For that, I would rework skill points so that there are more of them, and they are based the relevant stat (i.e. strength based skills use skill points derived from the strength stat, etc.) and bring in skill tricks from 3.5. Simply upping the number of skill points by itself does not really resolve much; it just adds to the number inflation that is a big problem with this system. By making skill points dependent on more than just Int, you can give more skill points overall without the wizard with a 20+ Int overshadowing everybody in the skills arena.

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Without having read the entire thread, two things need to happen. First, combat maneuvers need to be made easier to get by removing the prereq feats and combining many of the existing feats for the maneuvers a bit. Pathfinder did a lot to make these easier to use, but a lot more needs to be done.

Second, all spell lists need to be redone, from scratch; they worked fine when clerics and wizards were the only casters in the game, but at this point, they need to be reworked. For the divine casters, I would personally like to see them make domains drive what spells the caster has access to; makes domains more of a core feature of their class while building in some rp enforcement into the mechanics by making the different flavors of deities matter. Wizards still have enough limitations in their own class that the list is not a big problem for them, assuming that the DM properly manages the resources he is giving the party, but using it as a base or starting point for every other full arcane casting class is not an effective solution.

Third, they need to formalize a different system, either a point system or the words of power system, for spontaneous casters in order to truly make the difference between prepared and spontaneous noticeable and real.

Fourth, they need to look at the numbers within the healing and destruction spells and rework them to make them functional within the greater math built into the system now, not the math built into earlier systems. That or look at the math of the overall system and reign it back in, but the former is far easier, and far more likely to happen. This way, people who want to play blasters and healers can actually do so, rather than every caster ending up being a summoning and buffing god because literally nothing else is effective.

In the end, I would have to say neither to the original question, as both nerfs and buffs are better off being used sparingly and when nothing else will work. What needs to be done is reexamining the base material for each class and seeing if it's still working as originally intended, and reworking it as needed. Simply reworking the spell lists and the math found within the spells themselves would fix most of the caster problems we've seen crop up since 3rd edition. Go back to the idea that not all clerics had access to the same spells, and limit the all encompassing arcane list to the wizard, which has definite limitations built into the class if you know where to find them (even with the d6 hit dice and unlimited cantrips which were much needed improvements), and the raw power of the casters is suddenly not an issue. Meanwhile, making maneuvers easier for all classes to get and use makes it easier for the non-full caster classes to add interesting options to combat that don't require a magical explanation.

EDIT: Fifth, change skill point allocation. Make each stat, or at worst, each major group of stats (physical and mental) provide skill points for related skills. This gives more skill points overall, making it more likely that more skills would be used while enforcing a focus. A wizard that chooses to dump their physical stats would not be able to be stealthier than a rogue that invested heavily in both dex and stealth. Again, this provides more options overall while making it less likely that any one character is going to dominate overall.

I don't mind the Captain America switch, and wouldn't mind the Thor switch if they didn't insist that a proper name is a title that can easily be transferred to another character. There are certainly good stories that can come from giving Thor's hammer to someone else for a while, but the way they are going about it this time around is more than what would be necessary to tell a good story. Most of the annoyance I've seen comes from how they are doing this, not what they are doing.

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Drock11 wrote:
From what I remember comics have always had gimmicky things to draw attention to themselves, but am I the only one that seems to think they rely more and more on gimmicks as the years roll on and not on good old fashion quality story telling? Is it actually getting worse or is my memory working through a nostalgia filter and it has always this bad?

It's probably amplified as the amount of competition for people's attention has amplified, but it was always there. It's just that most gimmicks are not remembered for very long and they tend to reuse the same gimmicks over and over again, so it can easily feel like the latest round of gimmicks is much worse than the last 10 combined.

I would be surprised if they don't already have a plan to bring back the original Thor, given that they seem to have put at least some effort into making both this transition and the Captain America one seem natural.

Aranna wrote:
I may be a bit of a newbie to comics having only recently read Ms Marvel... BUT I like that they made Thor a woman. It is as much a title as it is a name, the original Thor will probably still be called Thor, and the new Thor will also have her own real name; just her super hero name will be "Thor". This also makes a lot more sense than creating a new super hero with a hammer and lightning powers because this ties her into a long and glorious history and gives her back story instant depth. Hopefully bringing in old Thor readers as well as the batch of new ones who like the idea.

Except that Thor isn't an alter ego or name for the masked part of the hero, it's actually his name. It's not like Captain America or Superman where their normal personas have a different name. Thor is Thor; it's his one and only name, and not a title, alias, or alternate way of addressing him. That's the problem with this particular scenario. If they really wanted to a female hero, there are plenty from the same source material that they got Thor from that would not require this kind of over the top silliness.

But again, I suspect it's mostly a way to try to establish a new base character or upgrade an existing side character while feeding off the controversy and name recognition that comes with using an already established name. If people like the new character, they will find a way to bring the old Thor back, and give her a new name. If they don't, they will find a way to bring the old Thor back, and ten years from now, only hardcore fans will remember this experiment. Either way, Thor as we know him today isn't going anywhere in the long term; it's mostly a publicity stunt to try to sell comic books.

Give this new person a new name rather than trying to convince people that this new hero is Thor, and and most people wouldn't care. But that precisely is probably why Marvel is doing it this way. My bet is that they are trying to use the controversy surrounding this plus the recognition of a familiar name to try to establish a new base character before giving the real Thor his power and hammer back and finding some other use for the new base character without having to try to create a brand new hero from scratch and market it as such. It's silly and over the top, but that's probably the point. The only way to get new people to pay attention to new comics is to be controversial, so that's what Marvel is doing. I doubt they even really care about the exact identity of the new character as long as it sells comic books.

Vanykrye wrote:
My group uses 2d6+6. Mitigates the problems of minimal rolls, but I also look at nearly every set rolled and say "That's playable" or "Eeww." And sometimes I say "Crap that's awful," and the player will go "Yeah, but I think I'll play it anyway." We also tend towards higher-powered campaigns as a general rule, so the 2d6+6 works well for that.

This is the method I've settled on as well, along with giving one free 16 and no rerolls unless most of the stats rolled are 8 or 9, and even then the rerolls are limited to one or two of the middle stats rolled, not the ones on either end. This tends to make reasonably well balanced parties with everyone having stats that can support some kind of viable character. It also retains a sense of organic development where strengths and weaknesses are at least somewhat random.

I personally also tend to have a couple of different character ideas in mind when I start in a campaign that rolls for stats; one that works well with only high stat (15 or 16 counts for this purpose), which even the strictest of DMs usually find a way to work in, and one that would be fun to play if the dice gods are nice and give me the stats to support it properly. This way I can take advantage of a particularly good roll, but can still make a perfectly viable and fun character it the rolls tend to be more average or worse.

Rudy2 wrote:
I'm in agreement that they should have more WBL, but the question is how much. If they can effectively half the cost of the items, it makes Craft Wondrous Item the most powerful feat in the game by a large margin, with Craft Magic Arms & Armor the runner up.

You're forgetting the cost of time, something that may or may not be present in any given campaign, and gold, which is rarely as common in an actual campaign as the theorists tend to assume when on forums. They have a few more items, but especially since it's casters, and particularly wizards, taking these feats, a lot of the stuff is going to be consumables used up as quickly as it's made or stuff made for other party members. In practice, crafters are not going to have access to that much more readily available resources at any given time than anybody else, so the feats while useful, they are more about customizing the party's wealth and magic than making the crafter and/or the party stronger. As such, they are not automatically all that powerful.

How flexible are you on traits? I'm trying to put together a jungle druid/ranger type tengu together, and may need to refluff a trait or two to get the build I am shooting for.

This sounds interesting, I'll get something together over the next few days.

Playing a strong SoD style with any caster type is boring. Witches may be more prone to it than others, but they are far from being at the center of that issue. The fact that it might take a bit more effort to make them non-SoD doens't make the witch class unfun, it just means that the class tends to be a little more specialized than the wizard. The bigger problem is people trying to play the witch as some kind of alternate wizard when in fact it does best when played as a distinct class with distinct strengths and weaknesses.

ryric wrote:

So I've been playing since the days of BECMI and 1e - I do have opinions on your list.

1. Before 3e it never occurred to me that druids wouldn't be able to just cast in wild shape. Honestly I would just remove the feat and make it a class ability of druids. Then again, groups I play with tend to use wild shape for scouting and spying more than for combat.

That basically highlights the biggest difficulty with this entire list. For all that concepts remained unchanged going into 3E, implementation saw a major revamp, one that continued on through 3.5 and PF. At this point, everything is interconnected to the point that even removing natural spell as a feat requires you to either find some other way to implement or change the druid class to keep it useable. Same with most of the number inflation and magic item issues. Trying to simply remove those elements at this point doesn't work; you have to find a way to adjust them to a form that you can live with, not remove them. Those wanting the original feel of the original game are best off playing the original game, making tweaks to it as desired, than trying to twist modern D&D into something it hasn't been for a long, long time. Even pre 3rd edition was already starting to see a lot of these trends creep in, so it's not just an issue of 3rd edition and beyond.

Zardnaar wrote:
FallofCamelot wrote:

Wands of CLW are absolutely essential to avoid one simple question:

"So who is going to get stuck with the cleric this time?"

Cleric is a lot better than in AD&D and a Druid can heal as well.

Last time I ran Pathfinder I used the following house rules and the game still worked.

Low magic world.

1. Natural Spell is banned
2. You can't start the game as a primary caster. You can only take levels in Wizard/Cleric/Druid at level 3 (there were none left in the world)
3. AD&D magic item creation rules except you do not lose a point of con.
4. Wands of CLW do not exist.

Similar to the start of Dragonlance I suppose. THe game still worked they just had to be a bit more careful.

Some of my other ideas would need a rewrite. Better saves could be patched in by giving everyone +3 on all saves at level one and you can't stack them together by multiclassing.

A Game of Thrones type campaign could also be fin I suppose but has n ot really been an option since 2nd ed which could support a game like that.

You also rewrote basically every assumption about the game in the process of doing all that, which is not bad, but not something that everyone can or wants to do. The problem with most of the points on the original list is that the only way to change them is to make major changes somewhere else in the system, at which point, it is often easier just to find a system that was designed with your goals in mind in the first place.

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Balgin wrote:
Zardnaar wrote:
3. Wand of cure light wounds/knock etc in particular.

Hate. Hate. hate with a passion. Magic should be special. It should never be some cheap affordable convenience otherwise it stops being special, rare, mystical. The problem with having cheap healing on tap is that it encourages lower level characters to push the limits of what they can do in a day "because we can just heal up afterwards" instead of being more responsible and learning their limits.

The same goes for all that 3rd edition "magic for people who can;'t do magic" kind of item. You know, tindertwigs, tanglefoot bags, thunderstones, sunrods, smokesticks, everburning torches. All those things should never have been put on the equipment lists to begin with as players assume they can have them and I keep having to explain that I don't like having these things in my games.

Than D&D is not a good system for you, because even early on, when magic items were officially rare and special, actual adventures and campaigns usually had their share of non-special magic because magic is cool and shiny and something everyone who has ever played the system has tried to get a hold of. A better idea than trying to make all magic special is to accept that wands of CLW, tindertwigs, smokesticks, +1 weapons, etc do exist, are common, and really aren't all that special. Save the specialness for the higher end stuff that shapes entire sections of campaigns. The key is to find a middle ground where common magic is common, but rare magic retains that true specialness.

I usually follow the different charts for wondrous items for guidance in this area. The cheap magic, basically anything on the minor wondrous item chart or its cost equivalent and spells up to 3rd level, I don't waste time worrying about as a general rule, although I make exceptions as needed. The stuff from the second wondrous item chart, anything in that rough price range, and spells level 4-6, are common enough most people know about it, and those who can afford it can usually find a way to get it, but it's not automatic, and it's not something that can simply be found sitting on a shop shelf. Anything above that goes through me, the DM, at all times, and even in game knowledge of such items or spells tends to be limited or nonexistent to the all but a select few. I find this is the easiest way to not have to change a lot of game mechanics that rather rely on the presence of cheap magic while still keeping magic itself as something mysterious, dangerous, and near impossible to fully understand.

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Can only really comment on a couple of these.

First, natural spell is necessary for the druid as written in 3.5 and PF. Without it, natural shape and spell casting will never work well together and you end up with the same problem that monks have, which is a lot of different abilities that completely fail to work with each other and, worse, often clash with each other. Now you could probably find some other way of implementing it, but if you intend to use the druid as written in 3.5 and PF, yes, you do need the ability to cast spells while in animal form. Otherwise, you may as well dump the class, and play a nature based cleric or oracle (which has it's own problems because the cleric spell list is not designed for that kind of character). In the end, it's not the best solution, but to get rid of it would basically require rewriting the entire druid class, as well as polymorph rules in general; something that could be done, but probably isn't worth the effort.

Second, I've never found unlimited ability score progression to actually be an issue in an actual game. Every resource spent on raising ability scores beyond the bumps you get by leveling is a resource not spent somewhere else, and most DMs in an actual game tend to be a lot stingier with giving players unlimited resources than the theory crafters tend to admit.

Third, fighters with 2 skill points are a problem, but to me the bigger problem is basing all skill points off of int. Simply increasing the number of skill points doesn't really solve much, it just adds more inflation to the game. I've toyed around with several ways to increase skill points while forcing a certain amount of specialization at the same time. My preferred idea so far is to give out a number of skill points to each ability's scores based on that ability, i.e. Dex drives the number of points you have to spend on Dex based skills, with a base that reflects the current tiered system so that skill based classes still have an advantage over the other classes in the skills arena. An alternate method I've played with is to somehow average the physical abilities to drive the points available for physical skills, and the same for mental skills. In both cases, there is an increase in skill points, but less chance of stepping on toes because characters will tend to have skills based on their abilities, not on what players think are the optimal skills that everyone automatically should take.

I'm not quite sure how people are finding this spell broken. It's potent, but like most potent control spells, effect the party just as much as the enemy. Anyone spamming this endlessly is going to annoy the other players just as much as, if not more than, the DM. The pit spells are very much like the cloud spells; fantastic in the right situation, but quite capable of limiting the caster's allies if not used wisely.

I would allow it as long as the rest of the specifics on cleric spells followed with it, i.e. alignment restrictions, reliance on an supernatural being for at least some of the power behind the wizard spells, etc. I would not allow such a character to cherry pick the parts they wanted to carry over, however. Spontaneous cure spells for wizard spells opens up a lot of headaches that would require a counterbalance to keep the player from abusing.

The sorcerer bloodlines don't bother me because, quite frankly, damage spells need all the help they can get; if the only effect is that an entire class of spells suddenly becomes useful, then I worry far less about the precise source of why that happened. If I were one of the actual game designers, it would probably bug me a lot more, but as a DM whose main concern is a smooth experience at the table, not in game design theory, sometimes it's simpler to take the scraps where you can find them, and not look at them too much while using them.

The biggest thing I find that keeps at will cantrips in check is that any tool the PCs have can become a weapon in the enemy's arsenal if not used correctly. The other is that the too many worlds seem to have a lot of dumb NPCs that don't understand how to turn the potential strength of all divination spells into a weakness to be exploited.

Detect Magic in particular is prone to all sorts of problems if you're running an reasonably realistic world. It requires a lot of time and a clear line of sight; any party member between the caster and the target area is going to slow the process down, during which time the fighter with a 10 dex wearing heavy plate is likely going to be making at least some noise that could attract the random scavenger or predator. Also, pretty much any dungeon is going to have lingering auras in seemingly random spots just because magic as a tool is pretty dang common. Lastly, just because they know it's an illusion doesn't mean squat; even knowing where the illusion is doesn't really help much if used in conjunction with pretty much any other technique designed to hamper or slow down a party. Even a semi-effective use of illusion auras can create huge time sinks with no appreciable gains, making it it unlikely that the party is going to want to explore every single aura you throw in their path.

The only reason that illusion magic is at a distinct disadvantage vs detect magic is that designing a full dungeon that allows for detect magic to work while not being overpowered takes a lot of effort, and most DMs just don't always have that kind of time. At that point, detect magic isn't the problem, it's a player that refuses to respect the effort it takes to counter certain tactics, and uses those tactics anyway knowing full well that it ruins the game for the DM, and quite possibly everyone else at the table.

Magic, and especially any magic dealing with illusions, has always required both the player and DM to look past the written rules and find a common ground that works for that individual group, campaign, and even specific dungeon. A DM with lots of prep time that can develop full, robust dungeons can let a player get away with a lot more than a DM that is barely able to find time to read a premade adventure, and both players and DMs need to be very clear on what should be done, vs what can be done, to keep everyone at the table happy and engaged.

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Anzyr wrote:
I'm shocked at how underestimated Wizards total resources are... seriously, when is the last time you saw a 10+ Wizard actually run out of spells? The correct answer is never.

Out of all spells? Rarely. Out of immediately useful spells? Not all that uncommon.

Your argument assumes that the wizard knows that the guard encounter is likely, is able to prepare enough invisibility spells to get the entire party past (since generally getting only part of the party past is not much of a solution), while not hindering his ability to deal with whatever may lie beyond, and that nothing happens on the way to the guards that changes the course of events. Believe me, it's a lot easier for a DM to determine what instances will and will not be relevant at any given point in time than any player, especially since that player is relying not just on the information the DM has chosen to give, but the focus of the other players not straying. Total resources don't ultimately determine effectiveness; the ability to bring those resources to bear does, and in that, all casters are just as dependent on both the DM and the rest of the party to set up favorable scenarios as non-casters. The task is easier for the rest of the party with a caster around, but it's still comes down to "gentleman agreements" that the party comes up with regarding party tactics and strategy.

A character's true potential is never held entirely in the hand of the immediately controlling player, and that's just as true for a high level caster with a great deal of total resources as it is for the high level fighter or rogue that has less total resources that are more easily understood and brought to bear. Those "gentleman agreements" that you write off lightly are just as important as the rules in the book because they dictate how well the party works together, and how likely all of the additional resources the caster has can actually be used.

Anzyr wrote:
Also "resources" does absolutely nothing to stop a caster. Even a Wizard.

Maybe not once a caster is allowed to get going in the first place, but getting the initial resources is very much in the DM's control, and any good DM is going to put enough strings on the resources the caster does get to limit the potential for the caster to run wild.

This is generally why I tend to treat the forum's expectations for all characters at high levels as being more dream than reality. No DM wanting to run a long term campaign is going to just give his players anything without exacting an appropriate cost in return, so if the wizard has been allowed to have the necessary time and resources to pull your stunt off, it's probably because he needs it to deal with an even bigger problem, assuming it's not weak DMing, in which case, the chances of the campaign lasting much beyond that point are already small enough that the wizard going crazy and ruining the campaign really doesn't change anything. In neither case has the wizard drastically changed the campaign; either the DM had control the entire time and decided that the wizard needed those things, or no one had control, and the campaign was already doomed to collapse. At on time can the player of the wizard claim to control anything beyond his own character's actions nor can that player simply sit down at the table and unilaterally declare they suddenly have all the resources they want with no drawbacks or limitations.

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Rynjin wrote:


Now, yes, it burns a resource, but think about Invisibility for a moment.

What does it do?

It replaces a skill. Granted, it works better on those who are already stealthy, but you are essentially making someone with 0 ranks in Stealth stomping around in full plate as good at Stealth as a Dex based Rogue of up to 10th level (10 ranks, 3 class skill, 7 Dex).

That is stupid. INSANELY STUPID spell design. A spell should not be able to DO that.

And that's one of the most innocuous examples of a broken spell I can think of.

The spell lasts at most an hour; the skill is always usable. The spell costs either a spell slot or buying/making a scroll every single use; the skill costs nothing beyond the initial skill point. To say that the spell replaces the skill is a bit of an overstatement; it is a useful, but temporary, and often expensive, supplement, nothing more. Same with most spells; they cost more than and only work for a short time compared to the related skill. Resources matter a lot, and just because a wizard has the potential for doing everything, they still are not going be able to do everything at once without having a very generous DM that gives them both time and resources to do so.

andreww wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
Spells also have a far better chance of backfiring or generally not working as intended, especially higher level spells with less well defined abilities.

They really dont. In fact this is pretty much one of the defining features of 3.x and later versions of the game. Magic is reliable, it is generally very clear how it works and it works that way every time. There are a very small number of spells where there is a degree of disagreement about how they work (Simulacrum) and then a smaller number which might backfire (Planar binding) but for the most part spells just work.

The things which are supposed to limit spell efectiveness end up nor really doing so. SR is very easy to play around with conjuration spells or to ignore at higher level with caster level boosts. Save bonuses generally dont keep up with spell DC's because casters only have to boost one stat while saves are based on three.

You really dont need to mess around with blood money, simulacrum, planar binding or creating your own planes to dominate the game. A standard set of mixed battlefield control, enchantment, summons and utility will allow you a huge impact on the game and it gets more significant the higher level you get to.

There's a great deal of reliability within the spells themselves and the direct effects, but any good DM is going to be able to find ripple effects to take advantage of to make high level casters cautious of throwing around high level magic on a whim. It's very easy for the DM to allow those casters to have a high impact, but little control over what that impact actually is beyond the spell itself. The more you try to change the world, the more people that are going to be impacted, and the more chance you have of others' reactions that alter the ultimate effect.

In the end, magic can be a very powerful tactical weapon, but it takes a lot of system mastery to really pull off large scale strategic success using just magic, and even that usually can be controlled by the DM limiting access to the necessary resources to pull off the magic. In the end, it's not hard for a good DM to keep the high level fighter just as useful as the high level wizard if he utilizes the NPCs and the world smartly from the first adventure to the last. There's a reason that Elminster usually doesn't do anything directly; same with Gandalf, Saruman, Sauron, and Raistlin. They can control magic, but they can't really control the world as a whole, no matter how much they might wish they could. Even the rings in the Lord of the Rings didn't allow direct control of the world, just massive influence over a handful of the world's hopefully more influential individuals.

Iron Heart wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
Scavion wrote:
Marthkus wrote:
I do find that following the rules tends to limit caster power.

I find following the rules plays exactly into spellcaster's hands.

The rules say you can make tons of simulacrum of yourself.

I want to play under the DM that gives you the resources to be even begin to do this, since all of the ones I've played under tend to be much tougher in terms of what resources the party is given to work with.
If you read back to Anzyr's post earlier in the thread, I think he also says something about a billion free instances of simulacrum.

I'm pretty sure that assumes that the DM gives you resources and rewards in the first place to start the process; if you're not getting the starting resources from the DM, I don't know where you're getting them, since the DM generally has full control over such things. Most actual DMs in actual campaigns tend not to give players free access to the time, money, or whatever other resources they need to pull these so-called "broken" stunts off. It's not hard to stop the problem before it even starts, and it's still quite possible stop something in progress.

MrSin wrote:
Artanthos wrote:
With the level of system mastery needed to truly break the game as a wizard, you could just as easily break the game with a barbarian or fighter.

I'd imagine the wizard's ability to bend space and time and generally be god-like has a lot more potential than martials ability to whack things with a stick. Also a lot more easier, a single spell is a lot easier and requires less investment than a feat chain, and feats and combinations only add to the power of a wizard.

That said, there are games where wizards aren't nearly the gods, and fighter's aren't nearly the mortals.

Spells also have a far better chance of backfiring or generally not working as intended, especially higher level spells with less well defined abilities. They also cost resources, and as a DM, I would most definitely make players running casters pay attention to additional costs, spell components, or other limiters described within the spell for higher level spells that require things that cannot be assumed to be available everywhere on a whim.

It's very hard to kill a decently built high level wizard, but it's actually not all that hard as a DM or martial opponent to put some pretty big dents in his scheming. A high level wizard facing a high level fighter is frequently only one successful saving throw from the fighter away from losing control of the situation and being at the very least unable to accomplish their goals for that encounter.

Scavion wrote:
Marthkus wrote:
I do find that following the rules tends to limit caster power.

I find following the rules plays exactly into spellcaster's hands.

The rules say you can make tons of simulacrum of yourself.

I want to play under the DM that gives you the resources to be even begin to do this, since all of the ones I've played under tend to be much tougher in terms of what resources the party is given to work with.

Diffan wrote:
I'm starting to get the feeling your 4E DMs did you and your group a horrible disservice with the system.

The DMs didn't help, but the system itself was no help initially either. A mediocre to average DM with a mediocre at best ruleset doesn't get very far, and 4E at launch was mediocre at best in a lot of spots. It improved, but not until just before Essentials, when WotC finally settled on a focus and a path to follow, by which time, most people had simply tuned out. It could very well be that 4E has developed enough that a mediocre DM could still run a decent game; the one chance I had at playing a 4E game post Essentials, the game died fairly quickly, so I genuinely don't know. If it has, than creating a clone would be much less of a headache; if it hasn't, creating a clone would be a lot more work.

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Scott Betts wrote:
I'm astonished by the number of people claiming that rituals were "too expensive". Not only are they very affordable at the level you can learn them, but the utility rituals don't scale in cost with level, so in a few levels their cost becomes completely trivial compared to the massive amounts of gold you are receiving from adventuring.

I could see them being very good at level 10; at levels 1,2, and 3, most of them were not worth the effort, time, or cost. And I suspect the very short list of rituals in the initial players handbook also contributed to the limited usefulness, so just like with the overall power list becoming less restraining with later additions, rituals probably became a much better system over time.

Initially, though, both the rituals and the limited power selection was pretty bad, and throwing in DMs not prepared to deal with them effectively just made the whole experience not good, and since 4E had no default to fall back on, that not good experience had no silver lining to it, leaving a very bad impression overall. 3rd edition, for all its faults, could usually be made workable even with the worst adventure and worst DM possible; maybe not enough for a new person to keep playing, but at least enough for that person to not feel like they wasted their time in trying it once. For a 4E clone to really take off, and Next for that matter, it needs to put back at least some of that safety net, because otherwise all it takes is one really bad experience to turn someone off the system forever to the point they will actively tell others to avoid it.

Diffan wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
Matthew Koelbl wrote:

They might have put most of that stuff in the Ritual category at launch, but that definitely didn't remain the case for long. I know I played an illusionist who had the spells to do pretty much all of those tricks without a problem, completely within the system.

They may well have adjusted that over the course of the edition, but early on, that was definitely not the case. I remember being completely turned off by the wizard initially precisely because there was no real option for anything but combat attacks. Rituals were way to expensive and took way too long to cast to be of much use for anything.

*sigh* Did you read any of the ways in which simple at-will spells can do more than just attack stuff? Also:

Disguise Self
Wall of Fire
Arcane Gate
Mirror Image

+ 49 Rituals

Tell that to the DMs I had that didn't allow for any flexibility, aided and abetted by WotC's painting the powers as defined combat skills with defined uses and quite literally everything else entirely up to the DM. It's not WotC's fault that many DMs took the wording literally and ignored the powers outside of combat, but they didn't do anything to help the situation much either. And don't get me started on rituals; they were an absolute joke to actually try to use; way too expensive, had the same narrowness of the powers in definition, and took too long to cast to be of any use in the vast majority of situations. That may have changed since the intial release, but that's how it was initially; a great idea with horrid execution.

Matthew Koelbl wrote:

They might have put most of that stuff in the Ritual category at launch, but that definitely didn't remain the case for long. I know I played an illusionist who had the spells to do pretty much all of those tricks without a problem, completely within the system.

They may well have adjusted that over the course of the edition, but early on, that was definitely not the case. I remember being completely turned off by the wizard initially precisely because there was no real option for anything but combat attacks. Rituals were way to expensive and took way too long to cast to be of much use for anything.

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Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Its an excellent system for city adventuring. Very much if I where to run 4E for those who where in doubt about the system I'd almost certainly put them in a city adventure since I think that this is where it is going to most starkly show why it is a strong version of D&D. I'd especially do this if they where experienced enough that I could show off some somewhat higher level city adventuring. Throw them into a political intrigue at 12th level for example. Its here that the system really shines, especially if one can compare and contrast it with other editions of D&D past and, I suspect, future.

That is the one reason I really wanted to like 4E. It's combat is thoroughly average (like every D&D combat system, it has it's strengths, it has it's weaknesses), but the potential it had for non-combat scenarios was promising; for me at least, though, it never lived up to it's potential. The reason it's that this is also 4E's biggest weakness in that everything outside of the powers is entirely dependent on the DM. If the DM can craft a good political intrigue and set appropriate DCs on the fly, the story is going to be awesome; if they can't, it's going to be worse than anything you'll ever see in 3.x/PF, where there are default options to fall back on before things get really sour. The problem here is that most D&D DMs have not really studied how to craft a good political intrigue or improv using both roleplay and available mechanics really well, they've tried to figure out how to craft the most awesome boss fight ever seen, and this was true even before 3.x made it even more prevalent. It didn't help that every chance that WotC had to showcase skill challenges turned them into something akin to very dry combat.

A clone that built in a few more basic protections and guidelines while avoiding hard and fast rules would probably do really well, as it would provide a functional guide to the rp aspect to match the solid combat rules, provided that the DMs and players didn't turn those guidelines into hard, immutable rules the same way the majority of the community did with 3rd edition, which I think was one of the bigger differences between 3rd edition and the earlier editions. In the earlier editions, all the charts and rules were there, but no one insisted on using all of them all the time. If a clone could provide the foundation that 3rd edition does while trashing the idea that anything in print must be the only way to do something, I would definitely try it out.

LazarX wrote:
Sir_Wulf wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:
Imbicatus wrote:

Prestidigitation is an instant shower, laundry service, and odor/taste enhancement. It's also useful for minor entertainment on it's own, or AV effect to enhance a Bardic Performance.

It's absolutely VITAL if you happened to have taken a vow of cleanliness. Otherwise, it's a quality of life spell that is great for RP value but it has zero combat value.

Are there other spells that enhance bardic performance? If so, Prestidigitation can't help you there.
You're interpreting prestidigitation too strictly. It can't reproduce what other spells do, but that doesn't mean it can't reproduce aspects of their function or mimic their effects in a limited way. Obstructing someone's vision isn't blindness.
When it comes to cantrips and magic in general, but especially cantrips, it's far better to err on the side of strictness. They are after all intended to be weaker than first level spells. And a cantrip should not, in most cases have more battle impact than them.

While that is true, cantrips are the magic that most of the world is most familiar with, so are the ones that would see the most experimentation and use overall, with only 1st level spells coming close to being as common. They make sense as spammable ways to deal with concerns such as light or finding water because that is what most of the world cares about finding solutions to; they are the fantasy world's version of the smartphone, mobile, helpful in the right situation, but not usually a solution to more than a passing, common everyday problem (in this case common and everyday being by the commoner's point of view, not necessarily an adventurer's).

Especially with open ended cantrips like Prestidigitation, there will be some mimicry going on, at least as far as end result is concerned. A sheet over someone's eyes or putting mud in someone's eyes has a similar effect briefly as the blindness spell, but the means of accomplishing it are different enough, and the effect generally doesn't last as long, so it's not true mimicry. I usually see Prestidigitation as being able to create a shadow effect of other spells, but it's range, duration, and other factors limit it's ability to truly copy anything. In combat, it's generally good to potentially eat up one, maybe two if you are really lucky, enemy actions, and that's about it before the enemy can forget it was ever cast, so it's still weaker than higher level spells unless you get really lucky.

Message is good, but even if you ignore the whole one person has to relay all messages to everyone else, there's still a matter of time constraints. Six seconds is not a lot of time to convey a lot of information, especially if you are doing anything else in that period of time. The whole caster has to initiate the message and others can only reply generally isn't worth it; it's not the constraining factor on the spell; time and ability to communicate both quickly and well is. Out of combat, time really isn't a major issue as long as you aren't trying to recite Beowulf one line at a time. In combat, it's still not really worth dealing with. If the party worked up an effective system of code words and phrases, and the caster can get it up before the party is torn apart, there's no reason why it shouldn't be allowed to be used to guide party strategy; it will not defeat the enemy by itself after all, and for a party well organized enough to really get full benefit from it, it's probably icing on the cake anyway. If they haven't worked up such a system, chances are it's not going to help them much anyway, and might actually provide a hindrance to the few that can actually act well on their own, so it's still not more powerful than higher level spells.

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