Paizo, stop hatin' on prestige classes


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Grand Lodge

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A current trend in the books that have been released by Paizo for the Pathfinder campaign setting seems to have made it very clear that current design staff do not enjoy prestige classes. With every new book there is a swathe of archetypes, while prestige classes were present in the core rulebook and then quickly went extinct, aside from some necessaries in Inner World Guide.

It seems Paizo authors now believe the prestige class can be replaced by the archetype.
This is simply not true.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the archetype system. They represent a great evolution in the class mechanics of the game and I’m overjoyed to see characters who can get to their schtick at earlier levels and not have their feat choices eaten by a prestige class.

But archetypes cannot do everything.

Misses, more misses and hits

We are seeing more and more archetypes written with miniscule word counts. One of the longest entries – the synthesist from ultimate magic – is a little over 700 words. And attempting to fundamentally rewrite and reflavour a base class so dramatically in this many words using the archetype system has led to rules headaches all over the game.

Two of the shortest archetypes in the game – the Gunslinger’s musket master and pistolero are a little over 300 words. Instead of offering a true archetype, these class options merely make the base gunslinger class redundant via giving the player an option to perform better with one type of gun, by eschewing the other option completely. This is min/maxing in its purest form.

My favourite archetype – the Bard’s arcane duelist is instead, a wonderful example of how an archetype works. It focuses on a strong mental image of the character it offers, in this case a witty and sly magical warrior, and tweaks the original class to lose scholarly abilities to bolster the ability to last longer in combat. The performance abilities match the flavour and the arcane duelist player gets to enjoy their character concept earlier. The barbarian archetypes that blend reckless, naked madmen, drunken brutes, totemic berserkers also shine.

Lost opportunities

Since the release of the gunslinger and alchemist class, I’ve been desperately hoping for some sort of character option that’d allow me to play the ultimate steampunk hero who blends their accuracy with an experimental weapon with plenty of strange concoctions and arcane bombs. This is too hard for the archetype system. It can’t be done.

Since reading the cool Summoner class abilities for fighting mounted on, or next to, their eidolon, I’ve dreamt of Summoner-Knights who eschew their summoner abilities to train as summoning cavaliers. This is too hard for the archetype system. At least how the archetype system is working at the moment.

Since reading about the strange curses of the Oracle, I’ve dreamt of an oracle whose initial curse – and magical abilities – become exponentially more otherworldly. Aside from ‘double cursed oracle’ I’m not expecting to get anything.

And then there’s the issue of the beautiful and imaginative art that went alongside the prestige class options. Who didn’t want to play a Rage Prophet when they saw the wicked artwork for a totemic orcish spirit leader? People fled to the Purple Dragon Knight in Faerun because the art looked so badass, and gave players a mental image of what these heroes looked like. For archetypes, we’re lucky if we get two paragraph breaks. It diminishes the excitement I get for the character options. That's sad.

Don’t be hatin’

I have primarily been a 3.5 player over the years, I started roleplaying in 2000. But I realised last night that I am not excited to come up with any class concepts for the system as it stands now. I saw what the essence of multiclassing did to 3.5. I had to play alongside characters who had level-dipped through the wazoo. It sucked. But Pathfinder has real favoured class benefits that discourages this. And Paizo developers are smart enough to know to put the best class abilities beyond 1st or 2nd level in a prestige class. I want to be eager to play a certain class again.

So come on guys. Rethink your stance on Prestige classes. Give us a giant book of character options that explore Golarion's roles, your new classes, all the ideas that are possible that the archetype system just can’t deliver.


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Ahem?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

/thread

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I guess anything that's not as powerful as the 3.5 PrC which totally overshadowed the base classes counts as "Hatin".

Grand Lodge

64 pages?
Come on.
EDIT: That is awesome news though.

I'm just stick of our new character options being 300 word paragraphs.

Shadow Lodge

this is going to be a good and bad thing. optimizaers are going to have a field day with this book making broken combos (hope not), and at the same time it will give more depth to roleplayers.

im loving this book already.


I can't imagine labeling Archetypes as "missed opportunities" in any statement praising prestige classes. But then, I can't imagine praising prestige classes.

I remember my buddy Jason running to me at the advent of 3.0 (he got his books first), and shouting to the heavens about this great new prestige class feature. I remember reading through the first of them in the DMG, and thinking, "okay, these are totally less than spectacular, but I guess the idea has merit."

By the time I got through reading the next splat book, I was pretty much done with them. They didn't even last until 3.5 for me. I won't say I never used one for an NPC - I did, here and there, but they were always an enormous letdown, and I'd say the epitome of "missed opportunities." Except for the spellclassing feature where you got to take a level of spells from the relevant class (which the designers overused to the point of being vomit-inducing), they were always underpowered, half unpopulated, and full of fail. I don't remember a single one of my players taking a level in a prestige class, not even Jason himself, who had been their biggest proponent. They always seemed to offer too little in his eyes, as well.

You take a prestige class, you are basically gimping your character worse than if you simply multiclassed, and worse, the prestige classes were the testing ground for WoTC's ridiculous, in-house, totally-irrelevent-to-the-outside-world, mind-boggling builds. It was basically the first step on the road to reptilian half-bugbear abyssal toadstool ranger/barbarian/clerics of St. Dufus. They probably seemed cool to the designers' minds, but I didn't personally know anybody who really liked them or used them. I can't tell you how sick I got of that whole scene. Prestige classes were fruitcake.

Archetypes are like a huge, juicy steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, followed by a brownie sundae - all good and to everybody's taste.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

You'd rather they were 300 word writeups with multiple paragraphs? :)

Shadow Lodge

Bruunwald wrote:

I can't imagine labeling Archetypes as "missed opportunities" in any statement praising prestige classes. But then, I can't imagine praising prestige classes.

I remember my buddy Jason running to me at the advent of 3.0 (he got his books first), and shouting to the heavens about this great new prestige class feature. I remember reading through the first of them in the DMG, and thinking, "okay, these are totally less than spectacular, but I guess the idea has merit."

By the time I got through reading the next splat book, I was pretty much done with them. They didn't even last until 3.5 for me. I won't say I never used one for an NPC - I did, here and there, but they were always an enormous letdown, and I'd say the epitome of "missed opportunities." Except for the spellclassing feature where you got to take a level of spells from the relevant class, they were always underpowered, half unpopulated, and full of fail. I don't remember a single one of my players taking a level in a prestige class, not even Jason himself, who had been their biggest proponent. They always seemed to offer too little in his eyes, as well.

You take a prestige class, you are basically gimping your character worse than if you simply multiclassed, and worse, the prestige classes were the testing ground for WoTC's ridiculous, in-house, totally-irrelevent-to-the-outside-world, mind-boggling builds. It was basically the first step on the road to reptilian half-bugbear abyssal toadstool ranger/barbarian/clerics of St. Dufus. They probably seemed cool to the designers' minds, but I didn't personally know anybody who really liked them or used them. I can't tell you how sick I got of that whole scene. Prestige classes were fruitcake.

Archetypes are like a huge, juicy steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, followed by a brownie sundae - all good and to everybody's taste.

no? i would completely disagree witht his post. if anything prestige classes gave to much flexablility,and if used correctly, way to much power. prestige classes in 3.5 were a 2LB ribeye while archetypes were 1LB ribeye. both taste good, but prestige classes were" better" at giving your character an identity once you met the prerequisites.


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PrC's still have a niche in Pathfinder: That of mechanics to cover setting specific character concepts that are not easily covered by base classes.

That said, they should always be flavor, rather than power-oriented.

A PrC should NEVER be more powerful than a base class. They should not provide a means to greater power than a base class.

A core class taken straight to levels 1-20 is meant to be king of its niche, in PF. It should remain this way.


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Generally, I find I enjoy prestige classes more than archetypes.

Archetypes are something you are from the beginning. You're an archetype or not. There's no progressing into that path if you didn't start on it. No archetype is available to more than one class, so the concepts for them are quite narrow.

Prestige classes are a later development of a character and can represent an altered outlook or new path of learning. They are available to a wide variety of classes, so you don't require a fixed direction to approach them.

I think both are very necessary for the breadth of character concepts.

Liberty's Edge

Umbral Reaver wrote:

Generally, I find I enjoy prestige classes more than archetypes.

Archetypes are something you are from the beginning. You're an archetype or not. There's no progressing into that path if you didn't start on it. No archetype is available to more than one class, so the concepts for them are quite narrow.

Prestige classes are a later development of a character and can represent an altered outlook or new path of learning. They are available to a wide variety of classes, so you don't require a fixed direction to approach them.

I think both are very necessary for the breadth of character concepts.

+1


That said, prestige classes also require a lot more design work to make them function properly and with adequate balance. Archetypes are much easier by comparison.


Prestige classes are the glue that holds multiclassing together. There needs to be a good PrC for every pair of base classes that makes any sense combined that doesn't combine naturally.

We need monk/arcanist, monk/cleric, rogue/cleric, prepared caster/spontaneous caster, alchemist/wizard, the Gunslinger/Alchemist and Summoner/Cavalier the OP mentioned, and surely others.

Unless the multiclassing rules are revamped to not screw over casters PrC support is desperately needed.


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Multiclassing being generally weaker than single classing is a feature, not a bug.

Grand Lodge

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Thanks Atarlost and Umbral, I agree totally. I'd add that originally Prestige class characters were meant to be part of a closed order that represented training required. I like that aspect of them, anything that makes a GM be more creative with the training of the PCs seems like a nice touch.

I am just gleeing out on the Golarion Prestige release coming out atm. 64 pages doesn't seem enough.

Prestige classes don't cause power creep, power creep causes power creep.


I don't understand why some people are so against Paizo making more Prestige Classes (maybe a 256+ page Ultimate Prestige). Calm down, it might happen, but you don't have to buy it. I agree, archetypes are great and did cut out a need for quite a few PrC, but there are alot of 3.5 prestige classes that can't fit into an archetype. If you go through all the Complete Series, Dragon Magic, Dragon Magazines, Manual of the Planes, Draconomicon, a ton of Forgotten Realms, and on and on. Not all of them are balanced, some overpowered, but you would have the same exact people that made CR, APG, UC, UM making the Prestige Classes, which I think have done a pretty good job. If you don't want it don't buy it. But I bet even some of the people on here who are crying about it would buy it. I was one who did not want Gunslingers or guns what so ever, now I just skip by it, and its in a book with other stuff I use. An Ultimate Prestige is a book you could fully ignore, not even have to buy (but if it was there you would buy it, admit it). So for those who don't like 'the bloat', if it comes out, don't use it and don't worry if someone else is, it has nothing to do with you, people can game how they want. I for one like archetypes and prestige classes and if Paizo came out with a Ulimate Prestige done right I could get rid of all of my complete series, which have way too many stupid PrC in them.

Scarab Sages

KestlerGunner wrote:

Thanks Atarlost and Umbral, I agree totally. I'd add that originally Prestige class characters were meant to be part of a closed order that represented training required. I like that aspect of them, anything that makes a GM be more creative with the training of the PCs seems like a nice touch.

I am just gleeing out on the Golarion Prestige release coming out atm. 64 pages doesn't seem enough.

Prestige classes don't cause power creep, power creep causes power creep.

30 new prestige classes isn't enough?

Might I inquire as to what IS???


Prestige classes are like bb guns for kids. They are really fun but sooner or later trouble is coming. All that fun can end up breaking things or is only usable in certain circumstances.

I love prestige classes they make for some awesome characters.

I think I prefere archetypes at this point, though I can see mixing them being a viable option for unique combinations.

I think what scares people (I know it scares me) about the idea of PF prestige classes is that it is going to start the power creep, abandonment of core classes and the ridiculous builds that dip into 4 prestige classes.


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I sort of begrudgingly accept a world where prestige classes are kind of weaksauce as being a better alternative to a world where Fighter 15 is considered just straight worse than Fighter 5/Thraben Crusade Punk 5/Visiswisi Bladewarden 5 or whatever, and every other PC fighter is veering off into what are theoretically sort of specialist things.

Now, why don't they just aim to make PrCs equal to base classes, rather than intentionally aiming a bit short? Here's the thing: balance isn't an exact science. If you aim for a bullseye, even if you're really good at darts, you're going to hit a bit high sometimes, and you're going to hit a bit low sometimes. Sometimes if you're rushed - an inevitable feature of RPG sourcebook writing - you'll hit REALLY high. And suddenly every wizard under the sun is a Gromulan Pukemage, or they're grudgingly playing below potential. So they aim a little low, produce a lot of content that's not considered very seriously by mechanics-focused players.

In a dream world, it'd be the case that straight-classing to 20 was a solid, strong option, but taking a PrC was a nice varient that didn't just lure in everyone but wasn't just throwing aways character power for the abilty to get a tiny diplomacy bonus in one specific pub. And it might be possible to get a little closer to that ideal than they currently are, but if I have to take "clearly underpowered PrCs is the standard" in order to avoid "Ranger 10/Tattooed Centipedehat 10 is the new Ranger 20", I'll take it.


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Is it sad that I wish all of Joyd's fake Prestige Classes were real? I really want to play a Tattooed Centipedehat...


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TheWarriorPoet519 wrote:
Multiclassing being generally weaker than single classing is a feature, not a bug.

The Inner Sea Pirate PrC being horribly weak is NOT a feature.

If you are thinking about taking up piracy as a full time career, 99 times out of a 100 it is better to multi-class into a vanilla Rogue than it is to take this PrC. And that same vanilla Rogue is magnitudes better on land. How is that useful at all?

PrCs should have a focus that is difficult to accomplish via multi-classing and archetypes alone. That focus shouldn't be something that can be easily overshadowed by base classes. At the same time, the focus offered shouldn't be something that is automatically better. Dragon Disciple and Rage Prophet are good examples of PrCs done right. Inner Sea Pirate is one done horribly wrong.

And while I am really, really excited about the new PrC book coming out, I am a little bit less excited because it is locked in Golarion flavor. There could be some really cool PrCs that fit my character's flavor really well, and gives me some interesting abilities, but because I'm not a member of the Wind Clan Shoanti from northern Varisia, I don't qualify for the class. That's lame.

The only other issue that I have with PrCs is that while Paizo has in general increased base class power and decreased PrC power, they've left a lot of the PrC requirements. Especially when a lot of those requirements aren't utilized by the PrC. For example, why does the Shadow Dancer require the Combat Reflexes feat when none of it's abilities work around making AoOs?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
TheWarriorPoet519 wrote:
Multiclassing being generally weaker than single classing is a feature, not a bug.

It's a feature to you, and a bug to others.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
TheWarriorPoet519 wrote:
Multiclassing being generally weaker than single classing is a feature, not a bug.
It's a feature to you, and a bug to others.

Fair enough. I apologize for any offense given.

Grand Lodge

Perspectives perspectives perspectives.

Joyd, those are incredible names for prestige classes. Can we get a write-up for Gromulan Pukemage please? It sounds great. I hope the new book's classes are easily adapted to any campaign setting. They should be.

Davor: Let's get a hardcover going :D

Scarab Sages

KestlerGunner wrote:

Perspectives perspectives perspectives.

Joyd, those are incredible names for prestige classes. Can we get a write-up for Gromulan Pukemage please? It sounds great. I hope the new book's classes are easily adapted to any campaign setting. They should be.

Davor: Let's get a hardcover going :D

Sure, why not.


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Sure. Design goals are something that everyone wants to take mechanically and nobody wants to take flavorfully.

Gromulan Pukemage

Legendary for their mechanical superiority and off-putting flavor, the Gromulan Pukemagi were the worst thing to ever happen to Golarion. Commanding powerful arcane forces, clearly busted mechanics, and a variety of incongruous and just plain weird motifs, the order of Pukemagi has throughout the years attracted a huge number of very, very reluctant acolytes.
Role: The Pukemage fills largely the same role as the wizard, just better.
Alignment: Gromulan Pukemagi may be of any alignment, provided that nobody else in the party is that alignment.

Requirements

To qualify to become a pukemage, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Skills: Heal, 5 ranks.

Spells: Able to cast 3rd-level prepared arcane spells.

Class Skills

The Pukemage’s class skills are:
Bluff, Intimidate, Swim

½ BAB, Good Fort save, Poor Reflex save, Good Will save, d6 Hit die

Spellcasting:
At every level, the Pukemage gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in an arcane spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain other benefits a character of that class would have gained, except for additional spells per day, spells known (if he is a spontaneous caster), and an increased effective level of spellcasting. If he had more than one arcane spellcasting class before becoming a pukemage, he must decide to which class he adds the new level for the purpose of determining spells per day. Seriously, every level.

Sagari Familiar:
At first level, the Pukemage acquires a Sagari as a familiar, replacing whatever the heck he had before, if anything. The Pukemage adds his Pukemage level to the level of any other class granting him a familiar to determine this familiar’s abilities. (The Sagari is the thing with a horse head for a head and a tentacle for a body.)

Horse Head:
At first level, the Pukemage’s head is replaced with a horse’s head. This gives the Pukemage a bonus to intimidate and bluff equal to his pukemage level, but only against things without horse heads for heads.

Summon Sangria:
At first level, the Pukemage adds Create Water to his spellbook or familiar. Whenever the Pukemage casts Create Water, he instead creates ½ the equivalent volume of sangria, or 1/10 the equivalent volume of tequila.

Boozecaster:
At second level, whenever the Pukemage imbibes an alcoholic beverage, his caster level is treated as being equal to his actual caster level plus 2 for the next 24 hours. This bonus increases by 2 at every second Pukemage level, up to a maximum of 10 at level 10. Who thought this was a good idea?

Droolpool:
At third level, whenever a Pukemage imbibes an alcoholic beverage, the next time he prepares spells, he may prepare a spell of a level no greater than his Pukemage level, even if the spell is not in his spellbook or known to his familiar (if a prepared spellcaster, such as a wizard or witch), as long as the spell is on his class list. He may do this once per alcoholic beverage consumed in the past 24 hours. At any time, he may consume an alcoholic beverage to exchange a prepared spell for another spell. Any spell on the class list.

Equine Resilience:
At fifth level, the Pukemage gets a +2 bonus to saves against the spells and spell-like abilities of things that don’t have horse heads for heads.

Horse with a Person Head for a Head Companion:
At seventh level, the Pukemage gains the service of a loyal horse with a person head for a head. He gains a Foo Horse as a companion, as the druid ability. Treat his character level as his druid level for the purposes of this ability. While able to see and hear his horse with a person head for a head, the pukemage gets a bonus to initiative equal to his pukemage level.

Improved Droolpool:
At ninth level, once each day the Pukemage may use his Droolpool ability to prepare a spell not on his class list.

Equine Apotheosis:
At tenth level, the Pukemage becomes more human with a horse for a head than human. He may choose to treat his type as his natural type or as animal, whichever is more advantageous, for the purpose of mind-affecting spells. He gains a bite attack (1d6 for a medium pukemage; 1d4 for a small pukemage), even though horses don’t have one of those. His spells also ignore spell resistance, but only agaisnt creatures that don't have horse heads for heads.


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What I miss is alternate class features. Just good old fashioned, straight-up swaps. Trade out something for another thing that's at least hypothetically balanced at the same level. Nice, and clean.

I hate how archetypes shove all these stupid little extra things in your face and force you to take them all. I hate that two archetypes are incompatible because they both replace some stupid 15th level ability you don't even care about. I hate the archetypes have become breeding grounds for bad design and game balance. You see archetypes that take away class features and give you nothing in return until many levels later (like Psychonaut Alchemist - he loses bomb damage right from level 1 and sees no actual benefits till level 5!)). You see archetypes that give freebies immediately in return for awful changes later (like Divine Hunter Pal giving essentially a free Precise Shot but sucking ass at level 3+) You see archetypes that give you godawful trades early on only to try and balance it out by giving you better swaps later (like Empyreal Knight Pal trading divine grace to learn the Celestial language at level 2!).

It's all terrible, terrible game design.

And more frustrating than the balance disparities, is the lost opportunities. Take the Controlled Rage variant that Urban Barbarian gets. That ability itself is very well written, it is clearly balanced with normal rage, it has more options and less penalties, but the bonuses are also smaller. It would make a great...alternate class feature! But, it's chained to this horrible archetype system. So I can't just grab my balanced rage alternative, apply it to whatever kind of barb I felt like playing, and be on my jolly way. I also have to give up Fast Movement (probably messing up doing another archetype I would have wanted to flesh out my character concept) for... some stupid riot police based ability? WTF? I don't want that! Why can't I just have my nice little balanced trade? Why?

I miss alt. class features so much...


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I really only support PrC's being equivalent to the classes they leave behind, if once you are in it you are stuck to the end. The very end. If its a 3 level class you are stuck taking all 3 in order start to finish. Same with 5 or 10 or whatever.

The problem- to me- with the 3.5 wasn't the PrC's. it was with people cherry picking a level- sometimes two- and moving on to something else, trying not to get flavor but rather to build the most absolute mathematical abomination that they could assemble.

Something that was useful and flavorful for the PRC it was intended for got ripped out because "oh thats handy, forget the rest of the stuff in the PrC that was intended to balance it".

Without it you either get folks ranking PrC's in terms of their usefulness as a level dip or the designers being forced to stave off the useful abilities of the class until very very late.

The middle ground of course is to tie every single mechanic into the level of the PrC. but that too gets to be a stale mechanic after a time.

To me, they just need to make 'em all or nothing things. You either take the class or you don't. There is no "some".

-S


StreamOfTheSky wrote:

What I miss is alternate class features. Just good old fashioned, straight-up swaps. Trade out something for another thing that's at least hypothetically balanced at the same level. Nice, and clean.

I hate how archetypes shove all these stupid little extra things in your face and force you to take them all. I hate that two archetypes are incompatible because they both replace some stupid 15th level ability you don't even care about. I hate the archetypes have become breeding grounds for bad design and game balance. You see archetypes that take away class features and give you nothing in return until many levels later (like Psychonaut Alchemist - he loses bomb damage right from level 1 and sees no actual benefits till level 5!)). You see archetypes that give freebies immediately in return for awful changes later (like Divine Hunter Pal giving essentially a free Precise Shot but sucking ass at level 3+) You see archetypes that give you godawful trades early on only to try and balance it out by giving you better swaps later (like Empyreal Knight Pal trading divine grace to learn the Celestial language at level 2!).

It's all terrible, terrible game design.

And more frustrating than the balance disparities, is the lost opportunities. Take the Controlled Rage variant that Urban Barbarian gets. That ability itself is very well written, it is clearly balanced with normal rage, it has more options and less penalties, but the bonuses are also smaller. It would make a great...alternate class feature! But, it's chained to this horrible archetype system. So I can't just grab my balanced rage alternative, apply it to whatever kind of barb I felt like playing, and be on my jolly way. I also have to give up Fast Movement (probably messing up doing another archetype I would have wanted to flesh out my character concept) for... some stupid riot police based ability? WTF? I don't want that! Why can't I just have my nice little balanced trade? Why?

I miss alt. class features so much...

+1. all the way

Edit: Back on topic... In the mean time PrCs really need a lot more love. +1 on this thread.


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I completely agree with Selgard. Too often in 3.0/3.5 the PrCs were just a way to break the game. Rediculous combos with no shortage of minor level dips. The fact that the main classes didnt usually have alot to offer was a large part of the problem. I love how PrCs are done now. Flavor, but not game breaking. - Gauss


I want it to be possible to take a smart Sorceror 4 and find, in character, that spontaneous casting isn't flexible enough and study wizardry and be at least as powerful as if I'd gone into Cleric and the Mystic Theurge PrC. And Mystic Theurge is below par, especially compared to a concept that gains less in the way of versatility.

I want to be able to follow a trickster deity and mix rogue and cleric and have a PrC to go into that's at least as good as Arcane Trickster.

I want to be able to mix nontrivial amounts of Monk and Sorceror to produce a more magical ascetic and be at least as good as an Eldritch Knight.

I want to take a Cleric or Druid and get the special call of the Oracle and not suck any more than if I'd started with Barbarian instead.

I want to take a scholarly Wizard and study Alchemy and study how spells relate to extracts and not completely trash my ability to function in an adventuring party for an interesting bit of fluff.

Mystic Theurge, Arcane Trickster, Eldritch Knight, and Rage Prophet are not broken overpowered prestige classes. What they do is make concepts that otherwise would require a full base class work, and indeed in all cases but rage prophet they make concepts that would otherwise require at least two base classes work. Sort of. Some of the concepts that involve character transition cannot possibly work without multiclassing of the sort that isn't remotely viable without a PrC.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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The "Paths of Prestige" supplement is enough to make me seriously reconsider my subscription to the campaign setting line.

A good Archetype is a more narrow, more focused variant of a class. A Prestige Class is an straight cut through the system. One or two might be necessary to fix something, too many cuts and the whole thing bleeds to death.


Variant class, into a prestige. Mmmm mmm smells good.


I have to admit I don't think prestige classes should be the best at everything but they should be the best at -something-. I like to think of it as trading niches or further specialization but they do need to be better at that specialty otherwise there really isn't a point in making them a class.

It would be like saying, "Hey this class is awesome look at all this sweet sweet fluff but mechanically you'll be playing a fighter but worse!"

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

As long as prestige classes are suboptimal, heavily niche, specialized options with very distinctive flavor, I'm all for more of them. Archetypes just can't cover the really bizarre stuff that inspires entire characters.


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The Red Mage wrote:
As long as prestige classes are suboptimal, heavily niche, specialized options with very distinctive flavor, I'm all for more of them. Archetypes just can't cover the really bizarre stuff that inspires entire characters.

Why not just tell the player he's going to suck and call it a day? At least that way you're being honest about it.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Prestige classes should be heavily specialized. Unfortunately, this automatically translates to "godlike in their niche" in the mind of most players. :(

I agree with The Red Mage in that they should be specialized, niche options. There should be a reason why most high level NPCs do not feature 3-4 of them, and not just the development nightmare that would be.

The ability to mix and match PrC to your desired effect is a powerful bit of versatility... that absolutely should come with a hefty pricetag. In my perfect world, the optimal path would be using an unaltered base class.


I hate PrC's.

I quite like Archtypes.

3.5 was just not a game I liked, and the PrC's overshadowing Core had a lot to do with that. Sub-par PrC's might be welcome though.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
gnomersy wrote:


Why not just tell the player he's going to suck and call it a day? At least that way you're being honest about it.

Because suboptimal means less than optimal, not sucky. You know, like most of the archetypes and prestige classes.

The minute you design something without the goal of aiming just under a base class, you've got a scene full of Fighter 10/Milkurian Goatshredder 10s.


The Red Mage wrote:
gnomersy wrote:


Why not just tell the player he's going to suck and call it a day? At least that way you're being honest about it.
Because suboptimal means less than optimal, not sucky. You know, like most of the archetypes and prestige classes.

Except most archetypes people take are optimal and prestige classes should be optimal that is to say that at the thing they do they should do better than the base class so two weapon warrior fighter archetype should be a better twf than a base fighter but he should also be less well rounded.

They're specialists or jack of all trades so arcane archers meld ranged combat and spells they can cover a broader spectrum but less effectively on the otherhand a two weapon warrior fighter archetype is a specialist he should beat the standard fighter at TWF but fall off in other areas to make up for it. But they should be optimal at something if they aren't again there's no reason to take the class.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

PRC MYTHS by Gorbacz

1. PrCs are accessible for every class!

Not really. Full casters will take only +caster level class, and only those that give you every or almost every caster level. Rogues will want only sneak attacks PrCs. Rangers - favored enemy PrCs. Paladins - smite PrCs. You get the drift. The more core class features your base class has, the more it loses when it PrCs. Summoners, for example, ride on the short bus when it comes to PrCs.

2. PrCs can be taken at any point during your career!

Cute, but here's a dark secret of PrC design: PrCs are balanced with assumption that they are taken ASAP (read: level 6 in most cases). So, their class features are balanced against class features of base classes of level X+5. If you pick a PrC at, say, level 10 - you're shafting yourself in the foot, because you are 5 levels late with class feature power level.

3. PrCs give you a meaningful way to showcase your character's development!

Yeah, but let's be real, most people game on early levels. Want a proof? Check how popular low-level adventures are in contrast to high level ones. Given the odds of gaming group falling apart, real life taking over or just plain old slow pace of a game, chances that you reach your iconic abilities is moderate to low, and all the way along you have to pigeon-hole yourself by keeping up with PrC prerequisites, some of which are quite stupid (5 ranks in Profession (basketweaving) and some worthless feat such as Run or Endurance).

Sure, archetypes also take some time to develop, but guess what, you're 5 levels ahead of PrC folks. And in gaming cycle, 5 levels may mean a couple of months of gaming.

Sovereign Court

StreamOfTheSky wrote:
snip

The problem here is that class features are not equal: it is almost impossible to design a class feature which is completely equal to another, so if you have a whole load of alternate class features then people hunt down the good ones with a great deal of synergy and use them to create overpowered monstrosities which they bring to your PFS table and use to overshadow everyone else.

Archetypes prevent synergy hunting.

Also, your Empyreal Knight criticism is too narrow.

You actually, over two levels, exchange divine grace + mercy for voice of the spheres and celestial heart: otherwise you either get celestial heart too early or you can't have it (because combining celestial heart and divine grace would be too much).

...It's not considerably different in power but it is different.

Alternate Class Features actually means: A few weeks after release the synergies are pinned down on internet lists and there is a new definition of the 'standard' class.


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Selgard wrote:

I really only support PrC's being equivalent to the classes they leave behind, if once you are in it you are stuck to the end. The very end. If its a 3 level class you are stuck taking all 3 in order start to finish. Same with 5 or 10 or whatever.

The problem- to me- with the 3.5 wasn't the PrC's. it was with people cherry picking a level- sometimes two- and moving on to something else, trying not to get flavor but rather to build the most absolute mathematical abomination that they could assemble.

Something that was useful and flavorful for the PRC it was intended for got ripped out because "oh thats handy, forget the rest of the stuff in the PrC that was intended to balance it".

Without it you either get folks ranking PrC's in terms of their usefulness as a level dip or the designers being forced to stave off the useful abilities of the class until very very late.

The middle ground of course is to tie every single mechanic into the level of the PrC. but that too gets to be a stale mechanic after a time.

To me, they just need to make 'em all or nothing things. You either take the class or you don't. There is no "some".

-S

I completely disagree. If a PrC offers some class feature that fits really well with my character concept and I can get it by dipping 2 levels in, it should be my choice whether or not to continue taking levels in the PrC or to go on to something else. If I got what I wanted fairly early, why should I get "stuck" with the rest? Forcing me to take possibly 8 more levels of a class I don't want to play as sounds pretty un-fun to me.

I've done the real life equivalent many times over. I changed majors a few different times in college, but still picked up a few tricks from each of those previous majors along the way.

Maybe the character changed their mind, had a change of heart, or for whatever reason decided that this particular PrC path was just not for them? In 3.5 there were already caveats with Monk and Paladin that implicitly stated that if you ceased taking levels, you could not return, so I see no harm in a particular PrC having the same limitation(but not ALL PrC's).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
gnomersy wrote:
The Red Mage wrote:
gnomersy wrote:


Why not just tell the player he's going to suck and call it a day? At least that way you're being honest about it.
Because suboptimal means less than optimal, not sucky. You know, like most of the archetypes and prestige classes.

Except most archetypes people take are optimal and prestige classes should be optimal that is to say that at the thing they do they should do better than the base class so two weapon warrior fighter archetype should be a better twf than a base fighter but he should also be less well rounded.

They're specialists or jack of all trades so arcane archers meld ranged combat and spells they can cover a broader spectrum but less effectively on the otherhand a two weapon warrior fighter archetype is a specialist he should beat the standard fighter at TWF but fall off in other areas to make up for it. But they should be optimal at something if they aren't again there's no reason to take the class.

Well, yeah, that's what I meant by suboptimal or niche. Part of an optimal character is being able to deal with any situation effectively (ie: a well-built wizard). More specialized means you'll be spending some fights or social encounters doing nothing. That's what I want out of a new PrC. You chose to specialize. You made a meaningful choice to increase your effectiveness in a narrow set of skills, and there should be implications to that.


The Red Mage wrote:

Well, yeah, that's what I meant by suboptimal or niche. Part of an optimal character is being able to deal with any situation effectively (ie: a well-built wizard). More specialized means you'll be spending some fights or social encounters doing nothing. That's what I want out of a new PrC. You chose to specialize. You made a meaningful choice to increase your effectiveness in a narrow set of skills, and there should be implications to that.

Oh okay XD sorry I totally misread what you said as something should be suboptimal to just be a worse but more flavorful choice. Totally my bad, apparently reading comprehension declines around 4am.


Josh M. wrote:
Selgard wrote:

I really only support PrC's being equivalent to the classes they leave behind, if once you are in it you are stuck to the end. The very end. If its a 3 level class you are stuck taking all 3 in order start to finish. Same with 5 or 10 or whatever.

The problem- to me- with the 3.5 wasn't the PrC's. it was with people cherry picking a level- sometimes two- and moving on to something else, trying not to get flavor but rather to build the most absolute mathematical abomination that they could assemble.

Something that was useful and flavorful for the PRC it was intended for got ripped out because "oh thats handy, forget the rest of the stuff in the PrC that was intended to balance it".

Without it you either get folks ranking PrC's in terms of their usefulness as a level dip or the designers being forced to stave off the useful abilities of the class until very very late.

The middle ground of course is to tie every single mechanic into the level of the PrC. but that too gets to be a stale mechanic after a time.

To me, they just need to make 'em all or nothing things. You either take the class or you don't. There is no "some".

-S

I completely disagree. If a PrC offers some class feature that fits really well with my character concept and I can get it by dipping 2 levels in, it should be my choice whether or not to continue taking levels in the PrC or to go on to something else. If I got what I wanted fairly early, why should I get "stuck" with the rest? Forcing me to take possibly 8 more levels of a class I don't want to play as sounds pretty un-fun to me.

I've done the real life equivalent many times over. I changed majors a few different times in college, but still picked up a few tricks from each of those previous majors along the way.

Maybe the character changed their mind, had a change of heart, or for whatever reason decided that this particular PrC path was just not for them? In 3.5 there were already caveats with Monk and Paladin that implicitly stated...

A dip into a prestige class for a level or two is not that big a deal its the dip in 2 or more prestige classes that becomes ridiculous.


Gnomezrule wrote:
A dip into a prestige class for a level or two is not that big a deal its the dip in 2 or more prestige classes that becomes ridiculous.

Just my opinion, but even that doesn't bother me. I guess it depends on the PrC in question; some are very fluff heavy/setting specific, and have a host of hoops to jump through in order to join; those I'd be iffy about hopping around cherry picking levels from.

But vanilla/generic ones, such as Duelist, Exotic Weapon Master, etc, which don't involve specific organizations, I see no problem just picking up a level here and there.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
gnomersy wrote:
The Red Mage wrote:
Sry bro

No worries. I totally agree that a PrC should be the best at "that specific thing". But if "that specific thing" is more like "the best at many things", I think that falls outside the boundary of what a PrC should be.


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KestlerGunner wrote:
Prestige classes don't cause power creep, power creep causes power creep.

Truer words cannot be spoken.

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