The "cost" is the "feat tax" (if we're replacing it with one or more feats) or the loss of a class feature (if we're replacing it with an alternate class feature).
And the cost of the PrC is the prereqs and the loss of some scaling on base class abilities.
I like the Knight Protectors, love the long history they have in the game, enjoy the idea they are fighting a slow and lossing war against chaos in the Great Kingdom. I could just as easily replace the entire PrC though with a string of feats. Iron Will, Improved Iron Will, Power Attack, Cleave, Great Cleave, Mounted combat and ride by attack. You take all those feats and what you end up with if you start as either a Fighter or Paladin is a Knight Protector. I could get close to it from Ranger too just takes heavy armor feat or even cleric with heavy armor as well. This to me is a good example of a PrC that can be made into a feat chain, I am sure there are some that don't work so neatly.
I'm not saying that a bad PrC isn't essentially just a string of feats. I'm saying that taking the concepts and abilities of a PrC shouldn't be broken down into a chain of feats you have to take instead of your class levels. Because even the bad PrC that just grants the relevant feats has a better return on those concept specific abilities than simply snatching up those feats with another class.
And no, continuing to progress your base class instead of the PrC when you have a feat chain is not a proper alternative; stacking abilities that are entirely useless to your playstyle while paying more for the abilities you actually use is exactly the problem I am talking about here. It's the reason why PrCs should not be broken into feat chains 99% of the time.
I personally agree with EJo that the only prestige classes that should be reduced to feats are the ones that can be reduced to just one or two, maaaaaaybe three feats.
I actually think that if it can't be done with one (two on the extreme outside and only if both give great benefits), then it should be a PrC instead, even if only 3 or 5 levels.
EJoThims, I think I love you.
I <3 you too.
And it's he, btw.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
First of all, voluntarily paying for something and getting something in return is not a tax. It's perfectly reasonable to get one feat's worth of abilities by paying one feat.
And one feat's worth of abilities is far more valuable than a single class level.
The idea of a 'feat tax' is that feats are being paid to play a certain character concept, while other characters that are not any mechanically weaker (and often actually stronger) but follow a more main stream concept still have all their feats to spend.
There should never be prestige classes that are like "a cleric, but better"
Again, this is the fault of the [u]cleric class[/u]. It is strong but boring. All Cleric PrCs are either crap because they have interesting abilities but bring down it's spellcasting (thusly reducing it's overall effectiveness) or make it more powerful. There is no middle ground, and it's because the class is poorly designed. It has two class features. Spellcasting and turning. That's it. And that is boring and bad. It's not the well designed PrC's fault that it is meant to be tacked on to such a crappy (but so so powerful) base.
For instance, if you want to have a "metamagic mastery" chain of powers, and you turn those into feats, then 'mastering metamagic' is going to prevent you from taking actual metamagic feats...
But this applies in all situations, not just metamagic.
Any time a character would have to sink a large portion of their feat investment into their character concept instead of into enhancing their character concept it would be handled better with a PrC (or even base class).
Swift Hunter and other similar one feat long multi-class oriented feats are an exception, since they are one single feat that enhances the mixed concept that already exists, and they scale that mix of abilities regardless of which class is progressed.
Epic Meepo wrote:
The most common mistake I see in prestige class design: creating a new prestige class for a character concept that could also be accomplished by creating three or four new feats.
Feats are more scarce than class levels. It doesn't make sense to create a 'feat tree' to embody an idea that should be covered by a class.
Now, if the entire concept of the class can be done in one feat, then it's best as that single feat. But if you require two or more feats, it's better to flesh it out into a PrC instead.
So often on these boards I see people constantly advising turning prestige classes into feat chains, and while I can see that being viable in some cases, most of the time it's just putting a massive feat tax on everybody to the point the abilities cease to exist in anybody but a fighter.
Exactly. 3.P increased feat costs enough for some basic items, we don't need to go inflating them even more by making them buy class abilities as well. Feats, after all, are a far more limited resource than class levels.
100% of the benefits of a regular cleric, with added bonuses on top.
This is a problem with the base class, not the PrC.
And I am still quite amused that this whole thread was a spin off of a quote claiming that the Warmage was actually overpowered, as, barring Rainbow Servant cheese, this idea is comically incorrect.
When evaluating a conversion, look at it in two categories:
Compatibility with 3.P
If a PrC has few compatibility issues and is already at roughly even in power for it's entry class(es), then it can likely be ported straight, especially if it progresses any base class abilities.
If its weaker than it's entry class(es), as sadly far too many PrCs are, it's better to overhaul it entirely and either wrap it into an option of the base class (not through feats, that's a trap) or to "power it up."
If its one of the few super strong PrCs, remember to look at the place of it's entry class(es) in the rest of the game before nerfing or banning it. A Warhulk is a powerhouse, but if the rest of your game is well played wizards and clerics, then it's still going to be a weakling.
And about the only thing I'd add to your character EJoThims, just because I hadn't looked that hard at your spell list, is to add more spells. Their 3.5 counterpart has access to 91 spells from lvl 1-4.
The spells from 1-4 are additions to the normal list. The list for 5 and 6 is a little lackluster, true, but I couldn't find much that seemed to fit and the options that are there are pretty tasty, but I plan to add to it when I can devout the time to pick more that seem appropriate. I'd like to roughly double the size of each of those levels' list.
Also, I hate the EJo thing, but apparently I created a profile here at some other point in time and can't remember the info for it, so Ejo is taken... -.-'
I like the options for curses, but feel it doesn't mesh well with spellcasting, especially when both are still limited to /day. Curses /day is terrible anyway, just like /day rages or smites. After all, the best way to balance a class who is weaker in any given round because they can be that much weaker continuously is by giving them a core ability to be stronger for one round which you then balance the rest of their abilities around... /facepalm.
Aside from that, however, it just makes more sense for the bread and butter ability of the hexblade to be their curse. Even with adding Cha to number of curses, a high level CW hexblade has more spells per day than curses, and this is just silly.
If you want a Hexblade with more varied debuff options but not more powerful spells, I can link you to some that use an invocation system instead, but I prefer the simple (but effective and expansive) debuffs paired with spells, which I why I stuck with what I did.
And as kevin pointed out, you entirely skipped over the Mearls suggestions, which are entirely open (following all the same forum post rule use rules we all do). They include the free quicken (since Hexblades have such a weak spell list and are intended to cast them alongside melee combat), better armored spellcasting (for the same reason), cha adding to number of curses (though he still fell for the /day trap), not consuming a use of curse when it's resisted, and the good fort save (because it makes more sense than good ref when they have d10 HD).
There should be a link to the post floating around somewhere, unless the new forums at WotC ate it.
Here you go:
This includes most the changes recommended by the original author of the Hexblade, plus a lot more. Dark Companion and Curse Caster variants modified to fit included as well, as well as the new feats. Sadly the formatting is a little off here.
Details of some abilities described in CW intentionally omitted for safety, reference your copy as needed.
BAB Fort Ref Will Abilities
1. +1 +2 +0 +2 Hexblade's Curse 1/Encounter, Armored Spellcasting
Spells Per Day Spells Known
1. - - - - - - - 1. - - - - - - -
Hexblade’s Curse: A Hexblade's Curse works a number of times per encounter instead of per day. The number of uses by level are the same. Additionally, a use of this ability is not consumed if the target successfully resists it.
Armored Spellcasting: Hexblades ignore the arcane spell failure chance of light and medium armor, bucklers, and light shields.
Swift Spell: Starting at 6th level, a Hexblade can, once per encounter, cast any spell with a cast time of one standard action or less as a swift action. He gains an additional use of this ability every four levels thereafter.
Aura of Unluck: This aura is constantly active, and is gained at 8th level. At 12th level and every 4 levels after, the miss chance increases by 5%, to 35% at 20th level.
Greater Hexblade's Curse: In addition to it's other affects, all enemies within a 10' burst of the initial target take a -2 penalty, as if they had been hit with the standard Hexblade's Curse.
Dire Hexblade's Curse: In addition to it's other affects, all enemies within a 10' burst of the initial target take a -4 penalty, as if they had been hit with the Greater Hexblade's Curse, and all enemies within 30' burst (but not within the 10' burst) take a -2 penalty, as if they had been hit with the standard Hexblade's Curse.
Spells: Hexblades add the following spells at the listed level to the list of Hexblade spells they can cast:
1: Enlarge Person, Wraithstrike, Remove Scent, Swift Expeditious Retreat, Net of Shadows, Serene Visage, Blood Wind, Master's Touch
Some Hexblades choose to focus their arcane potential almost solely into their curses and aura of unluck, though they do retain a nominal spellcasting ability.
Hexblade’s Curse: Each time a Curse Caster uses his Hexblade's Curse, he can choose to affect two separate targets (or two separate areas if he has the Greater or Dire curse) without consuming an additional use.
Aura of Unluck: A Curse Caster’s Aura of Unluck affects all opponent’s within 40’ feet, regardless of if they are targeting the Hexblade or not.
Spellcasting: A Curse Caster knows ones less spell of his highest level, and casts one less spell per day of all levels.
Many Hexblades choose to give up their ability to summon a familiar for the ability to call a shadowy extension of their will. By expending 100 gp and 24 hours, the Hexblade summons a Dark Companion.
All enemies that are adjacent to the Dark Companion receive a -2 penalty on all saves and AC. Enemies in the same 5’ space as the Dark Companion suffer a -3 penalty instead. A Dark Companion targeted by the spell Augment Familiar provides a -2 penalty to all enemies within 10’, a -3 penalty to all enemies within 5’, and a -4 penalty to any enemy occupying the same 5’ square. A Dark Companion targeted by the spell Fortify Familiar applies a further -2 to all creatures it affects.
The Dark Companion cannot provide flanking, nor can it be harmed, though it can be Dispelled (effective level is 1/2 Hexblade level) or Turned (effective HD is 3/4 Hexblade level). If dispelled or destroyed it reappears in 24 hours.
The Dark Companion moves at the Hexblade’s speed and on his initiative, and it instantly reappears at his side if ever more than 120’ from the Hexblade at the start of a turn.
Feats for Hexblades:
Hexing Strike: The Hexblade has such knowledge of cursing that each time his weapon strikes his foe, that foe is affected by the Hexblade's curse.
Contagious Hex: Enemies find themselves cursed just by coming too close to you.