Options x Numbers: aka: "Why wizards are so friggin' powerful"


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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"Martials can't have nice things"
"Casters are too powerful"

These are probably the most common sayings we see in DnD/PF forums, and pretty everyone agrees with one or another of them, probably both.

However, these statements are so overused that most people don't seem to think about why things are like this.

You know, I've loved Fighting Games ever since I first played Street Fighter 2 about 20 years ago. You won't see me winning any major tournament, but I devoted enough time and effort to them that I can tell you a lot about professional players, characters strategies, important tournaments, etc. All my life I've played lots of different Fighting games franchises. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Soul Calibur, Marvel vs Capcom, etc... Each one of them with its own unique design, characters, mechanics and gimmicks.

"But, Lemmy, what the friggin' hell does Street Fighter has to do with Pathfinder! They are completely different games, you dumb f$&$!"

I agree. They are completely different, but please, don't call me a dumb f&@%. It hurts my feelings.
Anyway, from fighting games, I learned something very interesting. Something that is consistently true to pretty much every game ever, from DnD to Mortal Kombat, passing by Magic The Gathering and Super Mario Bros. And quite possibly, to many aspects of real life as well:

Options are the most valuable resource you can have.

Read it again, it's important. It's the whole point of this post.

In fighting fames, just like in PF, we have the concept of "tiers". These tiers are based on character effectiveness. While there is never 100% consensus, there are many points where the players of any given game will agree. e.g.: In Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, people might disagree about who's better, Vergil, Zero or Dr.Doom, but they'll tell you that all 3 of them are incredibly effective.

"Lemmy, you son-of-a-pig, who cares about Dr.Doom? I don't play those stupid fighting games! I play Pathfinder! Screw you!"

I'll let you know that both of my parents are human. And I have no intention of screwing myself.

Back on topic, it's very common for "grapplers" to be at the bottom tier of fighting games. Why is that?
Grapplers are usually big characters with large amounts of health. They are also usually capable of dealings lots of damage with a single move. And yet, this doesn't stop'em from being relatively weak in many games. Game that are exclusivelly about combat, mind you!
The reason this happens is because their insane damage and huge life bars are of no use if the opponent can easility outmaneuver them or keep them away with fireballs. So grapplers have big numbers, but often lack options.
Does that sound familiar? No? Then put the Grappler in a full-plate and give him 11 extra feats. What about now?

On the other hand, top tier characters are usually those who have lots of different options. Good mobility, decent damage output, good space control and/or a good number of offensive and defensive tactics.
Remind you of anything? No? What if give them a meta-magic feat and a familiar or domain? Yeah... These are casters.

So, if in a game which involves combat and only combat, having more options with most often outweight having bigger numbers, what happens when you expand the game to involve non-combat situations? What happens when you expand it to involve pretty much every situation a GM can think of?
What happens is that having extra options becomes even more important, and number tend to mean less. Your number must be high enough to make you options effective, but after a while it doesn't matter.
A character who deals 300 damage per attack is just as good as one who deals 100000 damage per attack, but a character with 10 options is much, much better than a chracter with 5 options.

Wizards are ungodly powerful because they have an answer for pretty much every possible situation. Fighters are (IMO) underpowered because they lack options. Either you can hit the problem with your sword or you can step aside and hope your friends can solve the problem for you.
Of course, you can build a reasonably versatile Fighter. But it takes a lot more effort and investment for a lot less return.

What I mean is: when evaluating how powerful a character/build/class/whatever is, don't focus on its damage output. Focus on options first, and numbers second.

Want to buff Fighters? Giving two extra skill points will help him more than giving him an extra 50 damage to their DPR.
Gunslingers are not OP. Pouncing Barbarians are not broken. Archery is not the most amazingly powerful thing ever.

All of those things can be shut down rather easily. It doesn't take much effort for the GM to think of a way to challenge them.
It's much harder to try and prepare a challenge for a guy who has dozens of different spells to choose from, each one of them completely unrestricted by realism, while the Dragon-Slaying Demon-Hunting God-Killing Epic Fighter can't even jump 20ft in full plate without someone crying foul.

tl;dr: Options are the most valuable resource you can have. Bigger numbers are useful, but not nearly as important. Dealing lots of damage is not that good if damage is all you can do.

I'd like to know what you guys think about this. What classe do you think could use more options? Which ones need bigger numbers? Does any of them has too much of either of them?

Share your views!


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In design this is actually referred to as "Option vs. Progression".

At the starting point of a game the values look something like this.

Character A (baseline) has a value of 1 when attacking in fashion A at an enemy who's ability to resist attacking style A is equal to 1.

Character B (progression) has a value of 2 when attacking in fashion A at an enemy who's ability to resist attacking style A is equal to 1.

Character C (option) has a value of 1 when attacking in fashion A at an enemy A who's ability to resist attacking style A is equal to 1. However, character C can also attack at a value off 1 in style C, D, and E.

A simplistic point of balance can be reached when Character B's value in style A exponentially exceeded the value of Character C's value in any given style (based on the number of options). The baseline is set by the defensive capacity of the theoretically "average" enemy.

Obviously there are a great deal of constraints, particularly regarding the use of the term "exponentially". It's actually not but it's somewhat close to exponential growth at lower values... but that's the issue with higher level play. The numbers break down and need adjusting so the values of a progression character (like B) actually have a slower rate of climb at higher values.

~Red

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Spells are the problem. There are too many and every new spell that comes out is a net increase to the Wizard's power (and nearly every new book has new spells).

-Skeld


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think that you've made a very good point here, I just think that it can be taken further than what's in your initial post.

Options are indeed the most valuable resource for characters in the game. The issue becomes how to leverage that to solve the pair of quotes that you opened with.

The first one is to apply limits to characters that have seemingly (near-)unlimited options. This doesn't have to be about applying new houserules to limit what they can do, but rather to make sure that there are situations where these characters don't outshine the others.

In fact, this isn't that hard to do at all during the course of actual game-play, since the options for spellcasters tend to be tied directly to how many spells they have left, something that isn't true for martial characters. It's why I grit my teeth whenever I see armchair theory-crafters spinning some hypothetical scenario designed specifically to prove their point - actual game-play doesn't go that way. Yes, every so often you'll find a situation where your character has the right spells for the right situation, but if that's happening all the time, your GM is doing something wrong, even if that something is "not stepping up to make situations where other characters have as many or more options than you do."

The second problem is how to make non-spellcasters have more options. This is an area where I think that greater mechanical standardization of the game rules has hurt things, because having rules for what you can do carries the implication that, if something's not covered under those rules, that must mean that you can't do it. Feats are a big offender, here.

I'm of the opinion that the biggest option to solve this particular problem is to encourage the use of CMB-based abilities, and in particular I house-rule away them provoking an AoO if you don't have the Improved [CMB Maneuver] feat. I want the fighters to try repositioning their enemies into a disadvantageous position. I want the rogue to consider using a dirty trick to quite literally pull the rug out from under someone. I want to encourage things like taking advantage of the environment ("quick, cut the rope to the chandelier"), so even if there's no mechanic for it, a CMB check is the route I go, AoO be damned.

The tl;dr here is that while I do think that these are problems, I don't think they're quite as bad as people on message boards say they are, and I think they're fairly easy to fix during the course of the game.

Liberty's Edge

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There are options in the moment and options in the abstract.

Scarab Sages

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If your melee character lacks options, it is because you chose to specialize in an attempt to become "the best" in your one trick.

My melee characters may not be "the best" in any one area, but they always have options.


Melee characters options hit it, shoot it, trip it, grapple it, re-position it, disarm it and dirty trick it (minor de-buff 1 round) all the stuff other than hit and shoot it stop working very well past level 10 as CMD scales much better than CMB. You can also crit-de-buff it, daze it, cause it to bleed, stun it with the right high level feats though your chances of being successful at this will almost always be worse than an equal level well built caster.


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Alzrius wrote:


The second problem is how to make non-spellcasters have more options. This is an area where I think that greater mechanical standardization of the game rules has hurt things, because having rules for what you can do carries the implication that, if something's not covered under those rules, that must mean that you can't do it. Feats are a big offender, here.

So true.

A feat should exist to make you better at soemthing not to allow you to try something that you should be capble of triying anyways.


i think thats the issue, fighters have to choose to specialize, and once they do ANYTHING else they could do is no longer an option

a wizard who chooses to specialize can still dabble in things he doesnt have a lot of practice in, but he can still do it, and do it effectively

in a game based around magic, martials are severley under powered unless you counterbalance by giving them nicer and nicer things
when i played a fighter, it was more and more important to have shinier and shinier things, so my character cost a lot more money to be effective

but man, once he got it.... one might say that wizards are more powerful than fighters, but when you put them together, its nuts
if you as a martial somehow get the ability to fly and do elemental damage to things, your options grow by a lot

in 3.5 i played a human fighter who had in his possession a bastard sword that had the [3.5 MIC) Metalline enchantment, the Energy Aura enchantment, and was Keen

coupled with the ability to fly and he was damn near unstoppable, because he could bypass almost all damage reduction and could tap into almost all weaknesses

the best solution to balancing martials and casters (combat wise) is financially, which actually happens in balanced teams where the group understands that the martials need more money invested in them to be effective

hell, besides a headband of intellect, what does a wizard need magic item wise? i mean, not 'this would be nice to have' but essentials, what do you NEED as a caster? not much, because you already have options, thats what this thread is about


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Lemmy wrote:

I agree. They are completely different, but please, don't call me a dumb f~+!. It hurts my feelings.

Anyway, from fighting games, I learned something very interesting. Something that is consistently true to pretty much every game ever, from DnD to Mortal Kombat, passing by Magic The Gathering and Super Mario Bros. And quite possibly, to many aspects of real life as well:

Options are the most valuable resource you can have.

Read it again, it's important. It's the whole point of this post.

In fighting fames, just like in PF, we have the concept of "tiers". These tiers are based on character effectiveness. While there is never 100% consensus, there are many points where the players of any given game will agree. e.g.: In Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, people might disagree about who's better, Vergil, Zero or Dr.Doom, but they'll tell you that all 3 of them are incredibly effective.

Bad Example with the fighting games here if you ask me.I'm not so on top with the fighting games nowadays but I know my classics, and one thing I can say for sure:The complex fighters where always the weak choice

Again I'm speaking about the classics here,and there can be no debate that the top tiers where all the 1-2-3 kind of guys.

Paul in Tekken(Yoshimitsu or Lei had way more options in almost all incarnations but they where simply sucky pros choose Paul over all others although he always was one of the most limited chars but those stonefist where the best move in the game)

Sagat in Street Fighter( I don't have to elaborate on him right?)

Mitsurugi in Soul Edge(again less moves than most others but better ones)

So what did we learn? Simple and effective is the way to go.

Sorry for the nerdrage but you brought this on yourself


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Skeld wrote:

Spells are the problem. There are too many and every new spell that comes out is a net increase to the Wizard's power (and nearly every new book has new spells).

-Skeld

While I love a lot of ultimate combat material I have to say that the section about spells was a waste of space.


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I don't know man I mean my wife just destroys me in street fighter by doing that stupid crazy kick with Chun Li over and over while I just scream "MY CONTROLLER ISN'T WORKING TIMEOUT TIMEOUT" over and over.

So I guess this means that I should roll a PF fighter/rogue.


master_marshmallow wrote:

i think thats the issue, fighters have to choose to specialize, and once they do ANYTHING else they could do is no longer an option

It is not true that fighter have to specialize. It s perfectly plausible to make good fighters without being a one tricky pony.


Lamontius wrote:


I don't know man I mean my wife just destroys me in street fighter by doing that stupid crazy kick with Chun Li over and over while I just scream "MY CONTROLLER ISN'T WORKING TIMEOUT TIMEOUT" over and over.

So I guess this means that I should roll a PF fighter/rogue.

WIth this and anothers anecdotes of yours I have to say that your wife sounds like a really good wife.

Scarab Sages

Wind Chime wrote:
Melee characters options hit it, shoot it, trip it, grapple it, re-position it, disarm it and dirty trick it (minor de-buff 1 round) all the stuff other than hit and shoot it stop working very well past level 10 as CMD scales much better than CMB. You can also crit-de-buff it, daze it, cause it to bleed, stun it with the right high level feats though your chances of being successful at this will almost always be worse than an equal level well built caster.

Negotiate with it, umd it, outwit it, track it, etc....

You limit yourself to one set of options and pretend the others don't exist.


Thanks for the input, guys, especially Little Red Goblin Games and Alzrius.

ciretose, it doesn't really matter how you call options. I'm talking as a general concept. Overall versatility and utility.
Sure, the wizard might not have the ideal spell prepared, or be running low on spell slots, but he will most likely have an useful spell for the current situation and the next.

Artanthos and Wind Chime. It seems you missed the whole point of my post. I wasn't discussing any class in particular. I mentioned Wizards and Fighters because they are clear examples and perfect to illustrate what I mean.

A Fighter with all the maneuver feats and archery feats is still limited to killing stuff. How does he negotiate with the king? How does he gather info about the enemy army? How does he stop said army? How does find out where the prisioners are being held? How does he heal his allies?

Give a wizard a day and he can do all of that very effectivelly. Possibly without even using his highest spell slots.

I'm not saying that Fighters (or any other class) should have an answer to everything. I'm saying that having more answers is much better than having a REALLY GREAT ANSWER when a decent one will suffice.

This is my whole point. Having more options, and I mean real, viable options, is better than having one or two who are really good.

I always roll my eyes when people claim Gunsligers, Zen Archers or Paladins are too good, usually sayinh stuff like "They do too much damage! Their saves are too good! They are useful out of combat too!" or something like that. As if a combat-focused class dealing ltos of damage was something extraordinary or unwanted, or that if they have good damage, they should suck at everything else.

Paladins, Bards and Inquisitors are IMO the best balanced classes in the game. They are awesome at what they are supposed to be awesome, and good at lots of different situations. They are never useless, but they are also never so versatile and effective that they can outperform a specialized character.


Smug Narcissist wrote:

Bad Example with the fighting games here if you ask me.I'm not so on top with the fighting games nowadays but I know my classics, and one thing I can say for sure:The complex fighters where always the weak choice

Again I'm speaking about the classics here,and there can be no debate that the top tiers where all the 1-2-3 kind of guys.

Paul in Tekken(Yoshimitsu or Lei had way more options in almost all incarnations but they where simply sucky pros choose Paul over all others although he always was one of the most limited chars but those stonefist where the best move in the game)

Sagat in Street Fighter( I don't have to elaborate on him right?)

Mitsurugi in Soul Edge(again less moves than most others but better ones)

So what did we learn? Simple and effective is the way to go.

Sorry for the nerdrage but you brought this on yourself

Haven't played the original Soul Edge.

Have played lots of Soul Calibur (2, 3, 4, and 5) though so I'm going to challenge this.

"Options" is not about move complexity or how many moves you have. "Options" are what you can DO with those moves. Look at Yoshimitsu or Voldo (my weapons of choice). They only have maybe 7 moves you'll be using the majority of the time. Technically not a lot of options, but look at what you can do with each of those.

Almost all of Voldo's attacks:

- Hit hard.
- Move him out of harm's way at the same time.
- Have surprising range and speed.
- Let him maneuver around the opponent.
- Are extremely hard to predict since many of his moves don't really telegraph.
- Put the opponent in a position of disadvantage that you can exploit.
- Creep out the other player greatly.

Replace "Hard to predict" and "Creepy" with "Mobile" and "Nice counter attack move" and you have Yoshimitsu basically.


Smug Narcissist wrote:

Bad Example with the fighting games here if you ask me.I'm not so on top with the fighting games nowadays but I know my classics, and one thing I can say for sure:The complex fighters where always the weak choice

Again I'm speaking about the classics here,and there can be no debate that the top tiers where all the 1-2-3 kind of guys.

Paul in Tekken(Yoshimitsu or Lei had way more options in almost all incarnations but they where simply sucky pros choose Paul over all others although he always was one of the most limited chars but those stonefist where the best move in the game)

Sagat in Street Fighter( I don't have to elaborate on him right?)

Mitsurugi in Soul Edge(again less moves than most others but better ones)

So what did we learn? Simple and effective is the way to go.

Sorry for the nerdrage but you brought this on yourself

Smug Narcissist. It's always a pleasure to meet other fighting game fans.

But you misunderstood me. You are mistaking "more options" with "more attacks". That's not the same.

You can have a thousand different tricks, if they all suck, they are not real options. Just like you can have one or two tricks, but if they are so good that they can solve most of your problems, then you have lots of options.
"More choices" is not the same as "More (real) options".
Guile from SF has been in every tier from bottom to top, and he always has the same two moves... Sonic Boon and Flash Kick.
Maybe you wnat a RPG analogy? Let's take the good ol' Blasting Sorcerer. Let's say a given sorcerer has 30 spells known. If all or most of them are blast spells, then Mr.Blasty here only has one real option. He might have 2 blast or 10000. It's still a single option.

Also, I'd not say any kind of characters is always weak or always strong. Even though I mention how grapplers are usually bottom tier, I could name a dozen games were they are very powerful. In all of them, is because the developers gave their grapplers as many real options as the other characters.

But if you want, I could change the analogy to Magic The Gathering, Mario Bros, chess... whatever.
Notice how I made a point not to generalize anything.

Liberty's Edge

I'd agree with your assessment based primarily on my experience on mid-level play: My caster can be just as effective as your melee guy with a decent strength score, one feat and one spell (possibly moreso). And yet, he also has the ability to fully heal himself (Heal), call in beings from another world for aid (Planar Binding), literally make his opponent insane (Insanity), can find traps reflexively (Find Traps), resists various forms of energy (Resist Energy + Class skill ability for one type), etc. Oh, and he can fly.

Low-Level: Wizard has few options, so not so good.
Mid-Level: Wizard has many options. They may expend, but he has enough to spare. A single spell may be all he needs for an encounter.
High-Level: Wizard has more spells than he knows what to do with, almost always having the option he needs perfectly and always has something close.


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As a wizard I want a fighter around. I'm sure as **** not get in the bbeg's face. Buff the fighter and send him on his way. I'll support from back here.

Liberty's Edge

Serious discussion of the game, at least the combat aspect generally starts with the question "What can you do on your turn?". However within the answer to this is "When is this encounter"

Wizards will always dominate encounters on short, predictable days. Ambushing is what wizards do best.

On longer days (or in longer encounters), they can run out of useful spells, or at least useful spells of a level that makes the attack action valuable against the level of combatant they are facing. The empty slot only works if you have 15 safe minutes, something often hard to come by in a dungeon.

And ambushes are always a problem for squishy classes with whom the only viable option for "what can you do" is cast a spell. This is true even of high level wizards, as they are generally facing things that can end them quickly. They are, after all, still relatively squishy.

While a single spell may be all the wizard needs for an encounter, if there is another encounter coming and that useful spell is spent...there are options and variables, scrolls and bonded items (although woe be to the wizard who loses the bonded item...) but remembering the boss is usually at the end of the dungeon, spell choices through a longer day get more interesting.

Unless you have a lax GM who doesn't read the spell, or allows 'creative' reading' of spells, on a given action relative to level you will have a limited number of options that are really good, a few that are pretty good, and some other stuff you can do so you aren't just standing there looking useless.

And throughout, you will be one of the most fragile players on the table if you didn't get time to buff in advance.

Great class, potentially the most powerful in any encounter. But also potentially the least in any encounter.


This is why I think the bloatmage prestige class is extremely powerful. You can prepare one copy of each spell and use blood points to cast the spell.

Its also why Paragon Surge is so powerful. Your options expand to the entire spell list in two turns.


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Is this yet another rehashing of the old argument that it's not fair that a guy who spent his entire life researching and mastering the arcane mysteries of the universe and can manipulate space and time with words and gestures should be able to do more than a guy who swings a pointy stick at other people?

Just not getting that argument.

There's a game that does that though. It's called 4e.


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ciretose, I do get your point. But you don't seem to be focusing on the real subject here.

Wizards and Fighters are just the examples I chose to illustrate my point. I was not trying to focus on any specific classes.
Maybe you want to use Bards and Cavaliers. Or Druids and Rangers.

I'm talking about the difference between having lots of good options in lots of differents situations compared to having 2 or 3 REALLY GOOD option in a single situation.

Wizards and Fighters were just the simplest example. I'm perfectly aware that a Fighter can be rather useful out-of-combat and that a wizard can be useless from time to time.

That's not my point. I'm not comparing classes, I'm comparing choices in game design/character build. Being awesome at one single thing and terrible at everything else is, IMHO, not nearly as good as being good at pretty much everything.

I used fighting games as an analogy because they are something that I love and know a lot about and because they solely about combat, but even so, option are more often than not, much more valuable than extra health/damage.


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Nicos wrote:
Lamontius wrote:


I don't know man I mean my wife just destroys me in street fighter by doing that stupid crazy kick with Chun Li over and over while I just scream "MY CONTROLLER ISN'T WORKING TIMEOUT TIMEOUT" over and over.

So I guess this means that I should roll a PF fighter/rogue.

WIth this and anothers anecdotes of yours I have to say that your wife sounds like a really good wife.

Man do not give her encouragement because her trash talk is just ruthless and extremely hurtful all like oh with all those kicks you just took you must like feet more than Rex Ryan and dhalsim more like FALL-sim and such and it's not my fault anyway it's that the stupid controller doesn't work right.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Is this yet another rehashing of the old argument that it's not fair that a guy who spent his entire life researching and mastering the arcane mysteries of the universe and can manipulate space and time with words and gestures should be able to do more than a guy who swings a pointy stick at other people?

Just not getting that argument.

There's a game that does that though. It's called 4e.

If you're trying to say that balance isn't all its cracked up to be, then I don't disagree with you.

This particular example, however, is a poor way to go about making that point. After all, using the vital statistics table, you can start with a half-orc who's become a 1st-level wizard at sixteen years old; as a PC, he can reach level 20 in well under a year of game time.

...which makes it awkward when he then talks to an an elf who's one hundred forty-six years old (age tables again) and still a 1st-level fighter.


Lemmy wrote:


That's not my point. I'm not comparing classes, I'm comparing choices in game design/character build. Being awesome at one single thing and terrible at everything else is, IMHO, not nearly as good as being good at pretty much everything.

So, what is yoru suggestion lemmy?

EDIT: a lot of suggestion I have seens about thi issue circle aroung given spells/supernatural abilities to mundane classes, I particulary do not like that idea.

Liberty's Edge

What I would say is that even if you only have a few options, if they are all good options, where is the problem?

A fighter will always have full BaB with whatever weapon they use. If they pull out a bow, even without training they are better than most classes, not to mention they have enough feats to diversify.

They will also always have lots of hit points, generally good armor, etc...

One of the things the Devs always point about about the monk is that the monk is always going to have high saves. Always.

The inherent parts of the martial classes (extra hit points, better attack bonuses) still work if they aren't attacking with there best weapon.

A fighters back up bow is very likely to be better than a wizards 2 level under his best spell in a given encounter. And his ability to tank/soak is always there


ciretose wrote:

What I would say is that even if you only have a few options, if they are all good options, where is the problem?

A fighter will always have full BaB with whatever weapon they use. If they pull out a bow, even without training they are better than most classes, not to mention they have enough feats to diversify.

They will also always have lots of hit points, generally good armor, etc...

One of the things the Devs always point about about the monk is that the monk is always going to have high saves. Always.

The inherent parts of the martial classes (extra hit points, better attack bonuses) still work if they aren't attacking with there best weapon.

A fighters back up bow is very likely to be better than a wizards 2 level under his best spell in a given encounter. And his ability to tank/soak is always there

He is not taling about optinons in combat (well, in part he does but is not the main point).

He is atalking about overall utility of the classes.


Alzrius wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Is this yet another rehashing of the old argument that it's not fair that a guy who spent his entire life researching and mastering the arcane mysteries of the universe and can manipulate space and time with words and gestures should be able to do more than a guy who swings a pointy stick at other people?

Just not getting that argument.

There's a game that does that though. It's called 4e.

If you're trying to say that balance isn't all its cracked up to be, then I don't disagree with you.

This particular example, however, is a poor way to go about making that point. After all, using the vital statistics table, you can start with a half-orc who's become a 1st-level wizard at sixteen years old; as a PC, he can reach level 20 in well under a year of game time.

...which makes it awkward when he then talks to an an elf who's one hundred forty-six years old (age tables again) and still a 1st-level fighter.

Well, the time invested is totally irrelevant. It's the material that's mastered. After all, Sheldon Cooper was a full-on doctor and advanced particle physics professor at age 16 while the vast majority of physicists are still struggling with Lorentz transformations at 60. Not to mention the vast legions of senior citizens worldwide who have never even mastered basic algebra.

TL:DR - Age doesn't matter. Mastery of material does.

Liberty's Edge

And I am not disagreeing with the utility possibilities. But there are utility possibilities and utility "I actually have that spell, now at the time I need it not in 15 minutes if I can find a nice quiet place to hang out for awhile and read my book"...um...ities.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:


After all, Sheldon Cooper was a full-on doctor and advanced particle physics professor at age 16 while the vast majority of physicists are still struggling with Lorentz transformations at 60.

Vast majority?

Liberty's Edge

I would argue that the limited spells-per-day mechanic is a poor balancing mechanic. ESPECIALLY considering that wizards get a LOT of magic item options for alleviating just that problem. By the time you hit the mid levels the wizard should have at least one or two items to grant more spells or that act as backups. By high level they will have so many it will make your head spin. I have never played a caster that had trouble with spell quantity after about 7th level.

(Other casters get these items too, of course.)

Rant Time:

Besides which, it's poor game design in the first place as it forces the DM to go after a certain gameplay style to avoid making one class to powerful. As it stands the DM absolutely must have the full allotment of encounters or the caster will be too powerful. Not all of us like the dungeon-romp style in which monsters only seem to make perception checks for things happening in their own rooms.

Also: do you know what I *don't* want to do as a martial character? I don't want to have to wait for my caster buddy to get tired as sin before I can look effective, especially since that now means that I have to be a babysitter for captain useless-for-24-hours.

I'm not saying this can really be fixed in Pathfinder (at the very least, not in this edition), but it's still frustrating that people argue that, on a conceptual level, wizards simply *should* rock for the first couple of encounters and be close to useless by the end. That's not fun for the caster (at the final encounters), and its not fun for the martial types (for any of the encounters, though with differing reasons for each).

If you really want to have a "you suck later in the day" mechanic then you should apply it to EVERYONE. No-one expects that a warrior can fight for 8 hours straight, and yet the system allows that. So you know what? Make the warrior run out of stuff, and give him more options (and GOOD ones) in exchange. Don't give him "Here's a feat to do what you should, logically, already be capable of doing!", give him abilities that let him split boulders with a swing of the sword (doors beware!), give him abilities that let him jump a second time in mid-air (changing direction if need be), let him jump further than his move speed. And don't just give him one of these, give him ALL of these BEFORE feat expenditure. If the wizard gets to have 8 different options, the warrior should have that many too (even if they are of a different nature).

PS: Combat maneuvers don't really count due to their high failure and immunity rates, which only get worse with level. If this were improved they would count as minor (circumstantial) options.

Rant 2:
I don't care how you bend reality. If you're beyond 6th level, you should be bending reality SOMEHOW or you shouldn't be higher level than that.

A barbarian can learn to literally eat spells or break them with their bare hands. All martials should have several options that are reality-bending like that by the time they hit 20th level, as should everyone else. And they should be usable relatively frequently (subject to action economy limits).

You can't have one guy bending reality to his whim and call it balanced against a purely mundane guy just because he can hit hard, especially when the reality bending guy can do just as much damage and simply retreat to rest in his own personal (inviolable) sanctuary when he runs out of spells. It just doesn't work. It, at a conceptual level, cannot even pretend to be equal.

I'm not saying fighters should be able to heal (maybe Fast Healing or, in extreme cases, Regen), but they should have SOME kind of thematic reality-breaking powers if you want to even pretend that balance has been achieved.

If you're playing at levels 1-5, then sure, one guy is weak physically but makes minor reality alterations. That can work. But that doesn't scale, especially when the reality-altering guy can change reality such that he is no longer physically weak.

TL;DR -> Less "+1 to hit" and "+2 to strength", more "eat spells" and "naturally regenerate on a per-round basis".


I like smart fighters who take ranks in spellcraft so they know how to effectively counter magics in a mundane way.


Nicos wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:


After all, Sheldon Cooper was a full-on doctor and advanced particle physics professor at age 16 while the vast majority of physicists are still struggling with Lorentz transformations at 60.
Vast majority?

OK, that may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but when I graduated with a degree in physics I can tell you that I was not terribly impressed with the physics skills of some of my professors, and those guys did physics every day.

Was it Steven Hawking who famously said that there might be three guys on earth who understood general relativity? And that was probably an exaggeration?


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Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
I like smart fighters who take ranks in spellcraft so they know how to effectively counter magics in a mundane way.

Most of my fighters have int as a secondary attribute. I like fighters with skills and one of my favorite builds is a wand-wielding fighter.


Hmmm, I think there is a valid argument that options = power, but I think that is over simplified. I would generally say that bards have the most options, followed by rogues, but that wizards and other classes that get 9th level magic are the "most powerful".

Also, this is a combat focused game, therefore, combat options will generally be more valuable then many others. For many groups, the "in town" part of the adventure takes an hour of table time, followed by 20+ hours of dungeon crawl. Even some skills that get used in the dungeon occupy a tiny fraction of actual play time. For example, a rogue using disable device is going to take 10-30 seconds of actual play time, and probably won't come up more then once or twice a night.

I think the bottom line is there are just too many spells that negate encounters, and by the mid levels, they aren't a very limited resource anymore. The caster can save-or-suck, bypass, or even dominate (as in dominate person) many encounters. If they know it is a tough encounter, they can summon (or planar ally or whatever) in help, and be assured that if they do have to pay, they are almost guaranteed to come out ahead once they get the treasure.

I don't buy the fighters can't have nice things argument, or that casters are always better. I do think that to balance the game, there is really no option other then making access to the highest levels of magic VERY limited. EDIT: Also, limit ability scores throughout the game, and probably make crafting items not save any gp over buying.

NOTE: Many of the above statements are general. Yes there are often exceptions and some groups play very differently then others.


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Your points are all good ones. I think I made this point somewhere on the boards recently, but it's relevant again.

The "arcane magic combat class" and "arcane magic non-combat class" are one in the same (Wizard/Sorcerer/Witch, etc.), so why are the "non-magical combat class" (Fighter) and "non-magical non-combat class" (Rogue) separate?

Combining Rogues and Fighters, I think, is a great first step. After that, magic needs to be less world shaking at high levels, but that'll take a lot more work.

Edit:
Example-- Maybe high skills could create effects similar to magical spells (perhaps gated behind non-caster class levels), like Diplomacy creating charm effects, or Stealth working as psuedo-invisibility.

Maybe high level fights can cut mountains in half or whatever. The game loses "mundaneness" after level 5 or so, so a level 15 martial moving so fast it functions like a teleport or whatever doesn't seem out of line to me.

Assistant Software Developer

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This sort of thing is why martial-types are more dependant on magic gear than casters are.

Martial characters gain options when they get magic items: necklaces of fireball, boots of speed, cubes of force, potions, capes of the montebank, and so on: They all give non-magical characters abilities they just plain couldn't do otherwise.

Casters, on the other hand, are already full of options. What magic items give them is staying power. Wands, scrolls, and staves are all explictly spells that caster already has direct or indirect accss to, but outside of their X/day limit. Other magic items do the same thing: winged boots save a spell slot that would have been spent of fly. Even number boosters get in on the act: bracers of armor save casting mage armor and a headband of intellect is less a novel bonus and more a replacement for casting fox's cunning.

A lot of magic items also give martials bigger numbers, magic weapons and armor, cloaks of resistance, rings of deflection and so on. Remember, though, martial characters can't get these bonuses any other way (without a caster.) A belt of strength doesn't give the martial character more options: It saves the caster a [i]bull's strength[/i.]


mplindustries wrote:

Your points are all good ones. I think I made this point somewhere on the boards recently, but it's relevant again.

The "arcane magic combat class" and "arcane magic non-combat class" are one in the same (Wizard/Sorcerer/Witch, etc.), so why are the "non-magical combat class" (Fighter) and "non-magical non-combat class" (Rogue) separate?

Combining Rogues and Fighters, I think, is a great first step. After that, magic needs to be less world shaking at high levels, but that'll take a lot more work.

Edit:
Example-- Maybe high skills could create effects similar to magical spells (perhaps gated behind non-caster class levels), like Diplomacy creating charm effects, or Stealth working as psuedo-invisibility.

Maybe high level fights can cut mountains in half or whatever. The game loses "mundaneness" after level 5 or so, so a level 15 martial moving so fast it functions like a teleport or whatever doesn't seem out of line to me.

this creates the dragonball z effect where our guys seem inhumanly strong

if thats what you like, then fine, but rewriting the mechanics of the game shouldn't mean making our characters comparable to gods at lvl 5

i do like the general direction, in that we focus on giving non casters more skills to play with
giving fighters more knowledges and social skills, or something along those lines.

personally i love the cavalier class and how they get 4+ skill ranks


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master_marshmallow wrote:
mplindustries wrote:

Your points are all good ones. I think I made this point somewhere on the boards recently, but it's relevant again.

The "arcane magic combat class" and "arcane magic non-combat class" are one in the same (Wizard/Sorcerer/Witch, etc.), so why are the "non-magical combat class" (Fighter) and "non-magical non-combat class" (Rogue) separate?

Combining Rogues and Fighters, I think, is a great first step. After that, magic needs to be less world shaking at high levels, but that'll take a lot more work.

Edit:
Example-- Maybe high skills could create effects similar to magical spells (perhaps gated behind non-caster class levels), like Diplomacy creating charm effects, or Stealth working as psuedo-invisibility.

Maybe high level fights can cut mountains in half or whatever. The game loses "mundaneness" after level 5 or so, so a level 15 martial moving so fast it functions like a teleport or whatever doesn't seem out of line to me.

this creates the dragonball z effect where our guys seem inhumanly strong

if thats what you like, then fine, but rewriting the mechanics of the game shouldn't mean making our characters comparable to gods at lvl 5

i do like the general direction, in that we focus on giving non casters more skills to play with
giving fighters more knowledges and social skills, or something along those lines.

personally i love the cavalier class and how they get 4+ skill ranks

This idea (high level fighters having abilities that are equal in power to high level mages) is a pretty straightforward description of the 4e mechanic.

Shadow Lodge

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Nicos wrote:
Skeld wrote:

Spells are the problem. There are too many and every new spell that comes out is a net increase to the Wizard's power (and nearly every new book has new spells).

-Skeld

While I love a lot of ultimate combat material I ave to say that the section about spells was a waste of space.

God, yes. Here's a bunch of new options for martial characters. And here's the spells that let spellcasters use them too, because Asmodeus forbid that there be even a single thing in the game that cant be accomplished by spouting gibberish, making shadow puppets, and playing with owlbear dung.


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One thing that is worth pointing out is that this entire conversation is making a very basic assumption about the wizard, and that assumption is that the wizard has no interest or desire in doing the things the martial character does. Of course the same applies to any full spellcaster, but is even more meaningful for 3/4 classes like druid or cleric.

My druid is an archer. Her default combat activity is to be an archer. She only resorts to spells if she needs to. She's taken the archery feats so she does respectable damage with her bow. She also has the ability to invest a very few spells into encounter long bonuses which make her a more effective archer.

I have had archer sorcerers too. Not wizards I admit, but sorcerers.

The ugly reality here is that a caster CAN do the same things a martial character can do. Not quite as good, for sure, but in many cases they can perform respectably.

The martial classes simply cannot do what the casters do.

There simply is no way to "balance" a system where one group of characters can do A & B but another group can only do A.

Can't be done.


Kthulhu wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Skeld wrote:

Spells are the problem. There are too many and every new spell that comes out is a net increase to the Wizard's power (and nearly every new book has new spells).

-Skeld

While I love a lot of ultimate combat material I ave to say that the section about spells was a waste of space.
God, yes. Here's a bunch of new options for martial characters. And here's the spells that let spellcasters use them too, because Asmodeus forbid that there be even a single thing in the game that a spellcasters can't do by spouting gibberish, making shadow puppets, and playing with owlbear dung.

u.u


master_marshmallow wrote:

this creates the dragonball z effect where our guys seem inhumanly strong

if thats what you like, then fine, but rewriting the mechanics of the game shouldn't mean making our characters comparable to gods at lvl 5

Er, what? I specifically said things like "at level 15." The game is actually pretty balanced for the first 6 or so levels--that's why E6 works.

But the thing is, by level 15, non-casters are in the realm of super humans. A character with 15 ranks of (class skill) Acrobatics and just 12 Dex automatically jumps at least 10 feet from standing still. With a running start, they can potentially jump 39 feet. For reference, the real world long jump world record (which was made by someone who almost certainly had Skill Focus and a higher than 12 Dex) is 29 feet and a few inches.

If we took a character with Skill Focus in Acrobatics (which is a class skill) and a 20 Dex at level 15, you could get someone that could jump almost 50 feet with a running start.

This is not the realm of "normal," so I see no issue bringing some things into the game that are beyond mundane at high levels.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
This idea (high level fighters having abilities that are equal in power to high level mages) is a pretty straightforward description of the 4e mechanic.

No, that is not the 4e mechanic. The 4e mechanic is that the high level fighters ability to, say, move so fast he teleports is mechanically identical (including opportunity costs and resource expenditures) as a wizard also teleporting via magic.

The fact that Fighters and Wizards were equal was not the problem most people had with 4e, it was that Fighters and Wizards used the same mechanics and so felt the same.

There's no reason giving the fighters equal (or at least equalish) abilities to Wizard spells can't work fine, as long as they are not structured in the same way spells work.

Bad example:
The fighter prepares some special moves and attacks at the beginning of the day from a manual of styles. He can copy new moves from other Fighter's manuals, etc.

Good example:
Spell Sunder


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Adamantine Dragon wrote:


This idea (high level fighters having abilities that are equal in power to high level mages) is a pretty straightforward description of the 4e mechanic.

The problem is that the fighters weren't increased in strength to match the wizard. Nor was there an attempt to find a middle ground, where the fighter was increased in strength and the wizard was lowered in strength (which I would have voted for). Instead all the classes were brought down to the fighters level across all levels, meaning that the very concept of high level in 4e is just an illusion. You will continue to do low level actions for your entire career. You're just being told that your an awesome high level character capable of epic things. But really you're just a low level character with higher numbers and pallet swapped enemies.


mplindustries wrote:


The fact that Fighters and Wizards were equal was not the problem most people had with 4e, it was that Fighters and Wizards used the same mechanics and so felt the same.

There's no reason giving the fighters equal (or at least equalish) abilities to Wizard spells can't work fine, as long as they are not structured in the same way spells work.

The reason the fighter and wizard mechanic "felt the same" is because they achieved the same results. There was plenty of "fluff" in 4e attempting to describe the powers as "martial" vs "spell". People just didn't buy it.

Just as they won't buy it when the fighter can "move so fast" that it duplicates the wizard's ability to instantaneously teleport. People will say "huh, look at that fighter, he's teleporting!" Because, duh, he is.

Grand Lodge

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The 3.5 Tome of Battle is the most fun I've ever had playing a melee character. I thought some of it was pretty corny and animeish but as a whole... Well, I'd happily maim someone in front of their mother to get something like that in Pathfinder.


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Wyrm, just give it time. Eventually Pathfinder will succumb to the same power creep ("creep"? more like "sprint" in some cases) that 3.5 did, and then you'll get all the awesome anime type super powers for people who beat on things with sticks that you desire.

Grand Lodge

Adamantine Dragon wrote:


Wyrm, just give it time. Eventually Pathfinder will succumb to the same power creep ("creep"? more like "sprint" in some cases) that 3.5 did, and then you'll get all the awesome anime type super powers for people who beat on things with sticks that you desire.

So do you think a Warblade was more or less powerful than a Wizard or Cleric or Druid or Artificer?

Edit: Spelling

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