Do you actually care about Balance?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Kolokotroni wrote:


You dont even have to go to these kinds of extremes. You dont even need to go outside the fantasy genre.

Agreed,... but....

Quote:
Example, a mid level rogue-ish character has a network of spies that tell him everything of note going on in the city/region/whatever. Theres two guys like that in game of thrones, no magic required. Then theres guys who have a significant army at their beck and call, ...

That works in some kinds of fantasy stories, but it creates narrative difficulties for the more traditional quest-based stories, where it's basically just me-and-my-sword, or if the director has a huge casting budget, me-and-my-sword-AND-my-horse. ("And my bow!" "And my axe!") Think of Conan the Cimmerian, who not only often doesn't have armies, he often doesn't even have trousers....

What you described is how first edition AD&D was balanced, in a long-ago time called the 70s. It obviously didn't work well, which is why the market moved in a different direction. Today that kind of ability is a single feat (called Leadership), and it's often/usually banned [ironically because it's "overpowered," but also because it's hard to adjudicate].

And, yes, it's definitely realistic.

My point, however, is that "realism" per se isn't necessarily a good thing, and things can be unrealistic without being "magical." And there's a lot of unrealistic Muggle stuff that would let a fighter be Chuck Norris without having him be a wuxia film.

Shadow Lodge

If Pecos Bill can do it, then a fighter should be able to do it by about level 6 or so.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:


You dont even have to go to these kinds of extremes. You dont even need to go outside the fantasy genre.

Agreed,... but....

Quote:
Example, a mid level rogue-ish character has a network of spies that tell him everything of note going on in the city/region/whatever. Theres two guys like that in game of thrones, no magic required. Then theres guys who have a significant army at their beck and call, ...
That works in some kinds of fantasy stories, but it creates narrative difficulties for the more traditional quest-based stories, where it's basically just me-and-my-sword, or if the director has a huge casting budget, me-and-my-sword-AND-my-horse. ("And my bow!" "And my axe!") Think of Conan the Cimmerian, who not only often doesn't have armies, he often doesn't even have trousers....

You know what creates even more narrative issues? Magic. Obviously not every option works for every kind of campaign, but that doesnt mean it shouldnt. Besides, I am pretty sure those quest based stories also didnt have a walking miracle or a dude with mastery over time and space.

How many of conans stories would have been 30 pages long if he had a high level pathfinder wizard along for the ride?

Quote:

What you described is how first edition AD&D was balanced, in a long-ago time called the 70s. It obviously didn't work well, which is why the market moved in a different direction. Today that kind of ability is a single feat (called Leadership), and it's often/usually banned [ironically because it's "overpowered," but also because it's hard to adjudicate].

It didnt work well because dms complained it interfered with their story choices but no one mentioned how much the wizard screwed with their story choices. I dont know what it is, but dms really get riled up with non-magic takes away a bit of power from them. And that feat could easily be made less difficult to adjudicate if any effort at all was put into what having these followers actual means.

Create rules around what leadership can actually due at a given level/leadership score and its not a problem. And sure its overpowered compared to weapon focus, but it shouldn't even be a friggan feat, it should just be part of the mundane classes.

Quote:

And, yes, it's definitely realistic.

My point, however, is that "realism" per se isn't necessarily a good thing, and things can be unrealistic without being "magical." And there's a lot of unrealistic Muggle stuff that would let a fighter be Chuck Norris without having him be a wuxia film.

Thats certainly true. It would just require a break of the current mold where 'mundane' things dont require resources. Give the fighter badass points that he can use to chucknorris people and you now have a foundation to build on.


ElCrabofAnger wrote:
Why should somebody who has spent their whole life mastering martial arts be as good in any situation as somebody who spent all their time kissing up to gods for favors? Why should they be as flexible as someone who took the time to learn how to make physical and metaphysical laws sit down and do as they're told? One person can cast mighty magics to create a new dimension to their liking. Is it really unjust that a mere-sword swinger feels less powerful? They are less powerful.

Because why not? Seriously, tell me why, objectively speaking, proper spell-based magic is always the more powerful option in a fantasy universe than something like ki power or sword-techs? Because Pathfinder says so? The literal hundreds, if not thousands, of books written where that is not the case laugh at your logic.

Also, look up "confirmation bias".


Why would anyone ever want to possess magical powers?


Rynjin wrote:
To be fair, if he's Blinded he can't really cast spells anyway.

Holy word would like to have a discussion with you. As would teleport.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Cerberus Seven wrote:
ElCrabofAnger wrote:
Why should somebody who has spent their whole life mastering martial arts be as good in any situation as somebody who spent all their time kissing up to gods for favors? Why should they be as flexible as someone who took the time to learn how to make physical and metaphysical laws sit down and do as they're told? One person can cast mighty magics to create a new dimension to their liking. Is it really unjust that a mere-sword swinger feels less powerful? They are less powerful.

Because why not? Seriously, tell me why, objectively speaking, proper spell-based magic is always the more powerful option in a fantasy universe than something like ki power or sword-techs? Because Pathfinder says so? The literal hundreds, if not thousands, of books written where that is not the case laugh at your logic.

Also, look up "confirmation bias".

Sword-tech = magic.

Ki power = magic.
Sufficiently advanced science = magic.

That's not confirmation bias.

I never said that spell-based magic is more powerful than ki, or sword-tech, or six-demon bags.

What I said was this - altering physics to your advantage is ALWAYS better than not doing so for your advantage. For that matter, using physics to your advantage (technology) ALWAYS better than not doing so.

Indeed, I have no objection to rules that let characters launch 50 yard flying kicks that slay dragons, or to games that have laser sword fights over pits of lava. Sounds cool to me. I even said so - if that's what having fun means to you (sounds pretty awesome to me) then you should do it.

What I said was that a class that is literally based around hand waving the repeated violation of (earth-normal) physics is going to be more powerful than a class that is not, in a logical world. Any hey, I thought we WERE talking about Pathfinder here; that's why I based my statements around that idea (this seemed like the place; am I wrong?).

So yes, I'm making some basic assumptions, which are these:

1. Magical things are magical, regardless of who has them.
2. Martial-archetype characters, in Pathfinder, are not assumed to have the same type of proficiency in magical stuff as classes that are based around magical stuff.
3. If you give martial types more magical stuff, they become more magical. This is awesome if that's what you like.
4. Core rules don't give martial types a tremendous amount of "magical" class features.
5. Magic > not magic, because magic has less restrictions. Like physics, or chemistry, or biology.
6. Classes that have more magic will be more flexible, or powerful, or less balanced, howsoever you want to define those terms.
7. If your game is different because you have house rules, awesome! But then you've changed the rules, presumably to make things more to your liking. If so, awesome! And also, the previous may not apply to you.
8. If you use only the official rules and you don't find that casters are more flexible, or powerful, or whatever, then awesome! Please share your tips with us, so that those of us who think casters rock too hard (or not hard enough) can learn from you.

And, finally:
Have fun playing the game you want to play.


ElCrabofAnger wrote:
What I said was that a class that is literally based around hand waving the repeated violation of (earth-normal) physics is going to be more powerful than a class that is not, in a logical world. Any hey, I thought we WERE talking about Pathfinder here; that's why I based my statements around that idea (this seemed like the place; am I wrong?).

They aren't violating earth-normal physics. Flying kicks that kill dragons can be done in earth normal physics, provided you are level 10+. Just ask any level 10+ martial artist. You know... as soon as one shows up. Unless of course you are going to tell me that literally all the megafauna in the books (which under earth normal physics simply... don't work) are all magic.


blahpers wrote:
Why would anyone ever want to possess magical powers?

Because magic is cool. It can and should do things that non-magical means can't. Teleporting to another world doesn't make much sense as a fighter, for example. Same thing with bringing the dead back to life as a rogue. No, the problem is when magic can do all those far-out things AND do just as well or better at the mundane stuff without much effort.

As an example: imagine a two story building. Now, a max-level martial combatant, someone incredibly strong and fast, someone who's skilled on their feet in the midst of combat, shouldn't have much trouble vaulting onto the top of that, right? After all, this is the same caliber of warrior who slays huge dragons, massacres hordes of orcs, defenestrates demons, and beats back elder horrors from beyond into the holes they're trying to climb out of. Unfortunately, assuming they have a running start, the DC to get on top of that building is somewhere between a 60 and an 80. If we lower overall building height to a max of 6 ft. per story, it'll cap out at a manageable 48. That still means a fighter with max ranks in acrobatics has to have a +8 mod to make the jump on a natural 20. Taking 10 is out of the picture, especially in combat, unfortunately. The only way such a character makes this by taking 10 when out of combat is with max ranks and a +18 total mod from Dex, class skill bonus, magic items, etc. It shouldn't be that hard for a max level character to do such a comparatively trivial feat at such high levels, but it Pathfinder it is.

Now, same scenario, but this time with a 9th level wizard. This guy can hit a +40 in this skill with ease by use of the *Jump* spell and dumping a few extra skill points into acrobatics (assuming he has an OK Dexterity mod to start). This same wizard can also accelerate his movement, teleport himself, fly, and shift into another plane of existence. This is just in the movement/travel category of things, mind you, we're not getting into summoning and healing and wide-area suppression and mind control, etc etc. He does what the non-magickey character does better if he wants to as well as doing all the things said non-caster is simply *incapable* of doing. If the former part weren't the case, if fighters could easily perform such common and mundane tasks without expending the resources their caster bretheren would need to, I guarantee you much of the 'caster vs martial' debate would vanish overnight.


Kolokotroni wrote:

But this isn't an actual balance issue. This is a player knowledge issue. A core rules only party made up of an optimized druid, wizard, bard and paladin isn't really less work to prep for then 99% of what can be put together using the entirety of the rules today. This goes down to like 99.9% if you include the APG in your base assumption.

Just because your players weren't using it to its fullest at the start of the game and they are now doesn't mean power creep is going on. It just means your players are...

There are more, better options for fighters and straight martial characters than there were in Core only games. This has increased the base power level of the game, increasing the overall balance level. Are the top levels changed? Obviously not. Gate, Teleport, Scry, etc. were all in the CRB. However, the base level/tank monsters in the bestiary have not changed. They thus require more work to be effective than when there were fewer books published.


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blahpers wrote:
Why would anyone ever want to possess magical powers?

Magic shoudl give and advantage that non-magic can not equal, and non-magic should give and advantage than magic can not equal.


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ElCrabofAnger wrote:
5. Magic > not magic, because magic has less restrictions. Like physics, or chemistry, or biology.

From Magic > not magic it does not follow that Magic classes > non-magic classes.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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ElCrabofAnger wrote:
What I said was that a class that is literally based around hand waving the repeated violation of (earth-normal) physics is going to be more powerful than a class that is not, in a logical world.

There is actually nothing logical about a guy being able to survive 500 foot falls, cut cement pillars in half, or lift a Buick, but not being able to jump more than 10 feet in the air. That's the point he's making, that basic assumptions of the game completely refute real world logic, but then randomly reassert themselves because "realism". Realism hits its limits at 6th level. Past 6th level "realism" becomes the thing that is illogical because it no longer conforms to the rest of the gaming world.

I think what most people who want "balance" are really asking for is that the game acknowledge its own parameters equally for the breadth of its classes and levels. Your level 5 Fighter can and totally should be Conan. Conan lived in a world where scary sorcerers were often guys who displayed the equivalent of 1st level spells. When everyone else has moved on from Conan and is now re-enacting the later seasons of Naruto Shippuden though, it's nonsensical to try and make Conan keep chugging along in a world that doesn't match his reality anymore.

Really, as I think about it, since Conan was a Barbarian, the game doesn't do that. Conan would get to start growing wings and eating fireballs if he was in Pathfinder. So maybe lets say Gimli. Gimli gets to continue chugging across the tors and valleys muttering about being a natural sprinter, while Conan grows wings, Sherlock Holmes evolves into a Lovecraftian nightmare, Muhammed Ali learns how to knock dragons tail over horns and send them flying across the batlefield, and Jackie Chan learns how to teleport and kill people with a brush of his pinkie finger. One of these things is not like the other...


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Squirrel_Dude wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:

But this isn't an actual balance issue. This is a player knowledge issue. A core rules only party made up of an optimized druid, wizard, bard and paladin isn't really less work to prep for then 99% of what can be put together using the entirety of the rules today. This goes down to like 99.9% if you include the APG in your base assumption.

Just because your players weren't using it to its fullest at the start of the game and they are now doesn't mean power creep is going on. It just means your players are...

There are more, better options for fighters and straight martial characters than there were in Core only games. This has increased the base power level of the game, increasing the overall balance level. Are the top levels changed? Obviously not. Gate, Teleport, Scry, etc. were all in the CRB. However, the base level/tank monsters in the bestiary have not changed. They thus require more work to be effective than when there were fewer books published.

I am not talking about just teleport and scry. I am talking about a combat focused druid with a big cat companion wearing barding. Show me a fighter that is better at taking down a tanky monster then that.

Some classes have better options available, but none of those options are better then the ones that existed within the first year of the game for the same kind of task. Just because more character concepts can achieve them doesnt mean there is a balance problem. Thats actually a balance improvement.

So again, I'd state that when taken as a whole, the game's balance hasnt changed since the release of the Advance Players Guide. Specific options are better then other specific options at specific things sure. But the overall potential of what is available to a 4 person party is roughly the same. Players are just making different choices then they did in the first few months the game existed.


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@ElCrabofAnger - Because sometimes when you bend physics, physics bends back. That's my point, that the universe in fantasy and science fiction tends to impose balancing factors because nothing comes without a cost. It's a classic trope that harnessing forbidden / supreme power results in negative repercussions for the character physically, mentally, or spiritually (sometimes all three). Fullmetal Alchemist is a great example of this: Ed and Al are like wizards but their powers have very real limitations and came at a very high cost. Want another one? Look at Raistlin in Dragonlance, his pursuit of power nearly killed him how many times? Pathfinder doesn't do any of this, though, it's just, "stand here for five seconds and pose while babbling, then you blip over to Avistan from Tien-Xia!" The prevalence of universally versatile, powerful magic that is cheap, effortless, and consequence-free is the differentiation in the system from much of the rest of the genre and, hence, the source of the problems being discussed.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Cerberus Seven wrote:
@ElCrabofAnger - Because sometimes when you bend physics, physics bends back. That's my point, that the universe in fantasy and science fiction tends to impose balancing factors because nothing comes without a cost. It's a classic trope that harnessing forbidden / supreme power results in negative repercussions for the character physically, mentally, or spiritually (sometimes all three). Fullmetal Alchemist is a great example of this: Ed and Al are like wizards but their powers have very real limitations and came at a very high cost. Want another one? Look at Raistlin in Dragonlance, his pursuit of power nearly killed him how many times? Pathfinder doesn't do any of this, though, it's just, "stand here for five seconds and pose while babbling, then you blip over to Avistan from Tien-Xia!" The prevalence of universally versatile, powerful magic that is cheap, effortless, and consequence-free is the differentiation in the system from much of the rest of the genre and, hence, the source of the problems being discussed.

Something really should give somewhere, whether that be realism acknowledging that it simply isn't being applied consistently anymore, or if it's the game's reality being knocked down a few pegs and full casters finding their limits faster. I've noticed in our home games that when you remove the 9 level casters from the field, interparty interactions tend to be much more balanced and equitable, challenges tend to be easier for the GM and group as a whole to navigate, and everything just kind of "clicks" in a way that it doesn't when the whole breadth of material is on the table.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ssalarn wrote:
ElCrabofAnger wrote:
What I said was that a class that is literally based around hand waving the repeated violation of (earth-normal) physics is going to be more powerful than a class that is not, in a logical world.

There is actually nothing logical about a guy being able to survive 500 foot falls, cut cement pillars in half, or lift a Buick, but not being able to jump more than 10 feet in the air. That's the point he's making, that basic assumptions of the game completely refute real world logic, but then randomly reassert themselves because "realism". Realism hits its limits at 6th level. Past 6th level "realism" becomes the thing that is illogical because it no longer conforms to the rest of the gaming world.

I think what most people who want "balance" are really asking for is that the game acknowledge its own parameters equally for the breadth of its classes and levels. Your level 5 Fighter can and totally should be Conan. Conan lived in a world where scary sorcerers were often guys who displayed the equivalent of 1st level spells. When everyone else has moved on from Conan and is now re-enacting the later seasons of Naruto Shippuden though, it's nonsensical to try and make Conan keep chugging along in a world that doesn't match his reality anymore.

Really, as I think about it, since Conan was a Barbarian, the game doesn't do that. Conan would get to start growing wings and eating fireballs if he was in Pathfinder. So maybe lets say Gimli. Gimli gets to continue chugging across the tors and valleys muttering about being a natural sprinter, while Conan grows wings, Sherlock Holmes evolves into a Lovecraftian nightmare, Muhammed Ali learns how to knock dragons tail over horns and send them flying across the batlefield, and Jackie Chan learns how to teleport and kill people with a brush of his pinkie finger. One of these things is not like the other...

You know, I don't disagree with what you wrote here; I never did. The problem (if you see one) is in the game system. In its legacy, in its design. The game tries to model fighters as super soldiers, and at higher levels as classic heroes in the style of Greek Myth. Wizards are modeled completely differently. Anybody's level 5 fighter should be as cool as Aragorn; why else would we play? The game's model of reality doesn't do very well after level 6 or so, magic aside.

The point I'm making is this: by it's very nature, the heavily exception based classes (i.e. the casters, who choose when to obey the game's model of physics, realistic or not) are ALWAYS going to be better than the less exception based classes (i.e. the martials or the skill monkeys, who have far less choice in the matter). Doesn't matter what the base model is.

4th edition's dissociated mechanics were actually a great way to balance the game. Regardless of one's personal like or dislike of the game, for whatever reasons, the very model the game is based on made it easier to balance, which was, I think the goal. But PF/3.5/1st/2nd Edition is not modeled that way. Fighter gonna fight, maybe run, jump and swim. Wizards, on the other hand:

1. Gonna fight? Strange choice, but okay, there's a spell for that.
2. Gonna swim? Cool, there's a spell for that. Also for breathing water.
3. Gonna run? Cool, there's a spell for that. Also teleporting. Also flying.
4. Gonna open locked door? Cool, there's a spell for that.
5. Gonna hide? Cool, there's a spell for that. Also for hiding your friends.
5. Gonna give magic to your friends? Cool, there's a spell for that. Also a feat. And now they have magic, you know, that thing you have that makes you better. But not as much as you. And also they owe you two dollars.
7. Gonna create your own dimension, set the rules there, live forever in sybaritic luxury having your every desire acted upon while strange but oddly specifically skilled beings wait on you hand and foot? Cool, THERE'S A SPELL FOR THAT.

So yeah, sure the fighter deserves some love. But the system, as it is, doesn't really have any other direction to go. That's why we have CoDZilla and such. But once you start giving the warriors and thieves extra-normal powers, you've given them magic. Even if you don't call it that. And that's totally fine. But that doesn't mean that magic=not-magic, it means just the opposite.

Nicos wrote:
Magic should give an advantage that non-magic can not equal, and non-magic should give and advantage than magic can not equal.

If you mean in game terms, sure, I can accept that. But that's a should be, not an is, and right now that's not how the game works.

So yeah, it may be silly that fighters can survive 500 foot falls but not jump 10 feet into the air, although I would point out that people have survived longer falls, and still can't jump 10 feet into the air. That class A is "better" than class B is the inevitable result of an exception-based system where class A gets way more exceptions than class B.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Cerberus Seven wrote:
@ElCrabofAnger - Because sometimes when you bend physics, physics bends back. That's my point, that the universe in fantasy and science fiction tends to impose balancing factors because nothing comes without a cost. It's a classic trope that harnessing forbidden / supreme power results in negative repercussions for the character physically, mentally, or spiritually (sometimes all three). Fullmetal Alchemist is a great example of this: Ed and Al are like wizards but their powers have very real limitations and came at a very high cost. Want another one? Look at Raistlin in Dragonlance, his pursuit of power nearly killed him how many times? Pathfinder doesn't do any of this, though, it's just, "stand here for five seconds and pose while babbling, then you blip over to Avistan from Tien-Xia!" The prevalence of universally versatile, powerful magic that is cheap, effortless, and consequence-free is the differentiation in the system from much of the rest of the genre and, hence, the source of the problems being discussed.

I agree completely.


Kolokotroni wrote:

I am not talking about just teleport and scry. I am talking about a combat focused druid with a big cat companion wearing barding. Show me a fighter that is better at taking down a tanky monster then that.

Some classes have better options available, but none of those options are better then the ones that existed within the first year of the game for the same kind of task. Just because more character concepts can achieve them doesn't mean there is a balance problem. Thats actually a balance improvement.

An improvement of Balance among party members? Absolutely. An improvement of balance against prebuilt NPCs and monsters? Not in my estimation.


There is making the game balance and then there is making life better for martials and rogues.

The former may be impossible with just the way the game is set up, but the latter should be doable.


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Just gonna put it out there that I cannot think of any media where magic is as powerful and non-specialized as it is in DnD/Pathfinder.

In Fate/Stay Night we do have some very powerful mages, but they have severe limits to their power and specialization. Powerful magic in that system required planning, investment in the form of catalysts/offerings, and concentration for longer than 6 seconds.

In Warcraft (Pre WoW) magic was also very specialized. Very few beings ever got truly powerful and if they did it was usually from special contracts with Gods/Aliens, unique ties to the planet, or the accumulation of power through rituals and sacrifice. Even then the magic wielded was generally very specialized.

Merlin never was able to do some of the crazy magic we see in Pathfinder/DnD despite being prized as a very powerful mage.

I think the problem in the system is that we have elevated Magic to a level that's impossible to compete with through any means besides magic.


Lemme wrack my brain...

Negima! has pretty powerful magic...though also fairly specialized. Hm.

Oh, um, as I recall the magic in The Malloreon was ludicrously powerful, and versatile. So there's 1.


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I personally liked how Thrall from the novels worked his Shamanism. He was able to create Earthquakes, Firestorms, Tidal Waves, and Hurricanes. However in order to do so he had to communicate with the spirits of the land and CONVINCE them that doing so would be a good thing. Shamanism was basically the ability to communicate with the spirits, not actually do all those things yourself. A shaman had to worry about staying in the Planet's good graces in order to keep their power.

In Warcraft Shamanism was very powerful, but also very specialized. Thrall couldn't become invisible, teleport, make wishes, ect. He could make boats go faster, cause avalanches, shoot fireballs, craft storms, ect. Powerful, but specialized.

Why is this specialization important? It gives weaknesses. If you were right next to a Shaman they can't throw fire, start an earthquake, or a Storm. It would either take too long because of the communication or the Shaman would get caught in the phenomenon too.

This is the core of the problem of casting in the already existing Pathfinder classes of Wizard and Cleric.

In the ACG we got the Shaman class and when you look at its spell list, something becomes very obvious. It's a highly specialized spell list compared to the Cleric's. A shaman would have a lot of trouble becoming a doom caster. That is good class design! Something I wish we had back in core.


The main problem is the class tier thing...not all classes are created equal.Ignoring this fact does nothing to help the balance of the game.
The "Weaker" classes need more raw ability (especially narrative) or they should be allowed to level up faster.
The following describes my feelings about 7+ level casting:
[IMG]http://i751.photobucket.com/albums/xx152/larkspire/Fullretard.jpg[/IMG]
(Just to poke a bit of fun,taking the above joke seriously=doing it wrong :P)

Our gaming group uses these progressions*
.All classes are coded to 3 Tiers,with differing xp advancement.
· FAST(Green)- Exclusively martial,no spellcasting.
· MEDIUM(Blue)-Partial casters,+Barbarians*(Due to Lethality)
· SLOW(Purple)-9th lvl Spellcasters,+Summoner*(Due to Action economy/Summon monster 9)
*The books are color coded.

This causes martials to be higher level than the rest of the party,gives them the push they need to do their job well.
I base the challenge rating off the medium progression,making it slightly harder for casters and slightly easier for martials.

Shadow Lodge

@larkspire. I would crush your games, giving a character faster progression wouldn't help to balance anything. A well built martial character can one hit or take a massive chunk out of a cr that's EPL +3 if he's higher level then the NPC.


I don't just send CR level encounters..that would be boring,it's just the baseline that I modify. It's the level I consider the party. Things are plenty challenging.


ElCrabofAnger wrote:
Why should somebody who has spent their whole life mastering martial arts be as good in any situation as somebody who spent all their time kissing up to gods for favors? Why should they be as flexible as someone who took the time to learn how to make physical and metaphysical laws sit down and do as they're told? One person can cast mighty magics to create a new dimension to their liking. Is it really unjust that a mere-sword swinger feels less powerful? They are less powerful.

Because the flattery of men is as the bleating of goats to the gods and almost every literary or mythological magic system outside Vance and Zelazney has its own laws, usually either of balance or Murphy.


"Almost every" is probably the product of confirmation bias. There is a mountain of fiction in which magic users are equal or superior to mundane types in every way. When there's a price, the price is often narrative in nature rather than mechanical. Pathfinder doesn't even approach that level of imbalance, as in Pathfinder casters generally have to expend at least a bit of their resource pool to buff up and do the things that nonpractitioners can do without them.

Of course, we all know that fictional systems do not always translate well to games. But to say that fictional metaphysics are almost always balanced between magic-users and non-magic-users is to ignore a lot of great fiction.


We doing magic with no downsides again? I was reminded recently of Slayers, where the main character's default spell is "kills dragons in a single hit". It has the limit of casting time (sort of) but that only seems to come up when they want to give her beefy martial bodyguard a chance to protect her. Her most powerful spell does actually have a downside in that casting it wrong would end reality, but it's basically a god killer. Well, other gods, since it's powered by a god.

The only downside to her spellcasting is her terrible reputation as a walking natural disaster because she's got a lot of complexes, a hair trigger temper, and a spell that one-shots dragons. Collateral damage happens all the time. Other magic users get along just fine though, and there's no downside to any spells except not having them. Most are attack spells though.


IIRC Slayers was based on D&D, so not really helping any case there.


Occasionally yes, we do have media with uber powerful magic users. That's not disputable.

The thing is that in those media the Uber powerful magic user is either

A. The Big bad
or
B. Fighting OTHER uber powerful magic users

In a cooperative storytelling like say.... a tabletop RPG a setting with uber powerful magic users as playable characters only makes sense if EVERY character is an uber.

Some people may want to play a game where one player is the Wizard and everyone else are his henchmen, but I wouldn't want that kind of game.

I would rather play a Final Fantasy like game where we have Vivi fighting side by side as equals with Steiner.

This is technically possible in Pathfinder if the only 9th level casters are gentleman agreement Witches and Shamans. Impossible at some point if a Wizard or Cleric is involved.


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In the chronicles of Amber magic was crazy powerful, more so if you counted shadow walking. (In this story, powerful wielders of magic revered a one-armed swordsman)

In the Belgariad magic was far stronger than even what D&D wizards can do.

The Book of the New Sun had pretty epic "magic"

Mageborn magic was also very strong

#Anime/manga/manhwa/ect


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The main thing is that individual players don't feel disempowered. As long as it's all in the same "general ballpark" a decent GM should be able to work around it.


Insain Dragoon wrote:

Just gonna put it out there that I cannot think of any media where magic is as powerful and non-specialized as it is in DnD/Pathfinder.

Merlin never was able to do some of the crazy magic we see in Pathfinder/DnD despite being prized as a very powerful mage.

I think the problem in the system is that we have elevated Magic to a level that's impossible to compete with through any means besides magic.

In Zelazny's Amber they could do things that would make a Epic level wizard cry himself to sleep at nite.

Merlin? In some stories, yes, he was THAT powerful.

Rune priests in Runequest can do a lot due to Deific intervention. Basically anything.

Harry Dresden killed ALL the vampires in the world with one spell.

In T&T super high level Mages can do anything. Same with C&S.

Dr. Strange.

Raymond E. Feist 's Pug.

Phantom Stranger.

The Spectre.

Dr Fate.

(all comics depend heavily upon the writer)

Belgarath.

Coin the "sourcerer".

etc


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Marcus Robert Hosler wrote:

In the chronicles of Amber magic was crazy powerful, more so if you counted shadow walking. (In this story, powerful wielders of magic revered a one-armed swordsman)

In the Belgariad magic was far stronger than even what D&D wizards can do.

The Book of the New Sun had pretty epic "magic"

Mageborn magic was also very strong

#Anime/manga/manhwa/ect

Apologize for any grammar problems in this post. Not feeling it today.

Just wondering. In those media did they follow A or B?

If they didn't then what was the role of the Non-magical and weak main character? Did they have assistance from an uber in order to complete their quest?

The whole point is that in all these settings where magic is uber the main cast has to either all be uber or all be non-magical for the group dynamic to work.

Since you mention anime let's use something simple that a lot of people know. DBZ

In that case we have a cast of ubers and non-ubers on the same "party."
Now what does the usual battle look like?
Goku fighting a dude and Krillin/Yamcha/Yajirobi sitting on the sidelines.

If that was a tabletop RPG and the DM told your party:
"Ok, so in this RPG one of you guys is going to be Goku and the rest of you will be his cheerleaders who only exist to go "ooh" and "ahh" as Goku fights. Also to occasionally get killed so Goku can get serious in a fight."

I don't imagine most groups would be happy with that set up?

No if everyone was Goku or everyone was Krillin, then things would be hunky dory right? Pathfinders problem is that we have Gokus and Yamchas in the same party. Good players can coordinate so that everyone is a Yamcha or everyone is a Goku, but that's not always the case.


DrDeth wrote:


Harry Dresden killed ALL the vampires in the world with one spell.

Nitpick, that was ritual magic/artifact shenanigans, not simply a spellcaster casting a spell.


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ElCrabofAnger wrote:
The game tries to model fighters as super soldiers, and at higher levels as classic heroes in the style of Greek Myth.

If it really did that, those non-magical fighter and rogue-types (eg. Achilles and Odysseus) would be the beneficiaries of copious amounts of divine intervention and the possessors of divinely-forged weapons and armor, while the spellcasting classes (Medea, Circe, et al) would be out in the cold with only their own powers to sustain them.

It is actually possible to achieve roughly the balance of Greek myth in Pathfinder (that's pretty much how my games work), but it requires a setting in which the gods are jealous and play favorites, and a clear acknowledgement of the fact that spellcasters are mucking directly with the power of the gods, and are a threat to the status quo.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Insain Dragoon wrote:
Marcus Robert Hosler wrote:

In the chronicles of Amber magic was crazy powerful, more so if you counted shadow walking. (In this story, powerful wielders of magic revered a one-armed swordsman)

In the Belgariad magic was far stronger than even what D&D wizards can do.

The Book of the New Sun had pretty epic "magic"

Mageborn magic was also very strong

#Anime/manga/manhwa/ect

Apologize for any grammar problems in this post. Not feeling it today.

Just wondering. In those media did they follow A or B?

If they didn't then what was the role of the Non-magical and weak main character? Did they have assistance from an uber in order to complete their quest?

I feel best able to comment on the Belgariad.

The party consists of:

A rogue.
A werebear fighter.
A paladin (I'm taking a fair bit of poetic license with the term).
An archer fighter.
A ranger.
An expert (blacksmith).
A noble.
A seven-thousand-year old uber-sorcerer.
His four-thousand-year-old uber-sorcerer daughter.
And a kitchen boy who is more powerful than the lot of them put together once he has his pet rock.
Oh, and a mute commoner who ends up being more powerful than that. But that's in the Mallorean series.

They are fighting a god and that god's powerful cleric/uber-sorcerers.

The downside to magic is that it makes a "noise" that other magic users can "hear" from a ridiculous distance, and they spend most of the time trying to be stealthy.

The only one I consider "useless" in the story is the ranger, but that's because he's the least developed character. All of the others have a chance to shine, and are awesome with it.

So, for the purposes of this discussion, magic is absolutely not balanced against the mundane, but the story being told means that it is less effective than it might be at a gaming table.


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That makes sense. If the uber has incentive not to hand wave problems then everyone else will get their chance to shine.

Similar to how in LoTR Gandalf is almost "uber" level, but rarely uses his powers because he is intentionally taking the role of a "guide."

Not attacking you or anything, but if the story of Belgariad was a tabletop adventure and you were the player of the Ranger or Kitchen boy pre pet rock would you have felt like a contributing member of the party or like an audience to the rest of your group?

Having been in a group where we played a full campaign RAW I certainly felt like the audience. I was playing a Ranger using the old Hippogryph Rider archetype (before it got super nerfed) doing a mounted charge build. I used my traits for additional skills and was capable of passing a lot of skill challenges with no problem. That did not help me though as one member of our party was a Sorceror into Diabolist and he completed just about every challenge faster and more efficiently than anyone else in the party.

Who needs a player to scout when you have a permanently invisible flying imp that can also turn into a bird or octopus.

Need someone assassinated? Said Imp can turn into an octopus and use all 9 of his natural attacks to grapple, pin, jaw lock, and kill the target in 1-2 rounds. Then stuff them into a bag.

Need shock troops? Diabolist has you covered with a small army of planar bounded outsides.

Combat? Don't worry the Diabolist will destroy the enemies ability to act, buff the party, and watch his outsider minions+party minions decimate.

Somehow things went sour? Thank god Diabolist has quickened dispel magic to remove D. Anchors and teleport.

Need someone talked to? Well as a Sorceror he had optimized his charisma and had a diplomacy, bluff, and intimidation that was through the roof!

*Insert most jobs here* Either he or his Imp could do it. Either better than anyone else or by expending easily replenished resources.

Needed to sense a motive? That he couldn't do. I was the sense motive guy. By the end of the campaign my only jobs were to sense motive and to blow a guy up with a mounted charge every round.

Diabolist is PFS legal last I checked BTW. I have never had a God wizard in my group, but I've definitely seen caster supremacy in a campaign and it is not fun to be Krillin.


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Ssalarn wrote:
The point I'm making is this: by it's very nature, the heavily exception based classes (i.e. the casters, who choose when to obey the game's model of physics, realistic or not) are ALWAYS going to be better than the less exception based classes (i.e. the martials or the skill monkeys, who have far less choice in the matter). Doesn't matter what the base model is.

I disagree with this. There's no inherent reason casters need to be 'better'.

Let's suppose we're making a new system, and we want to rebalance the Cleric and the Fighter. Now, what are the Fighter's advantages? The Cleric has devoted his life to prayer and so forth, so obviously the Fighter (who has devoted himself to the physical) should have more skill points, better initiative, better saving throws, be faster at moving around the map and so forth. And why should the Cleric be able to cast powerful spells in a single round? Why not have all spells take a couple of rounds to work? And why give them powerful spells at level 3 that could be moved up to level 9? And why should a Cleric get more spells per day at higher level? Isn't it enough that the spells get more powerful?
It would not be hard to make a system where Fighter is obviously the better option, if that was your idea of a good time.


I can see what you're attempting to say, but not how it responds to anything Ssalarn said or how it's relevant for the topic of conversation.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Insain Dragoon wrote:

That makes sense. If the uber has incentive not to hand wave problems then everyone else will get their chance to shine.

Similar to how in LoTR Gandalf is almost "uber" level, but rarely uses his powers because he is intentionally taking the role of a "guide."

Not attacking you or anything, but if the story of Belgariad was a tabletop adventure and you were the player of the Ranger or Kitchen boy pre pet rock would you have felt like a contributing member of the party or like an audience to the rest of your group?

Tricky question (and I certainly don't consider your questions to be an attack).

The ranger, yes, he was definitely a contributor - an expert swordsman with an affinity for horses.

But Garion (who, I might add, is pretty much the central character of the series) often lamented that he had no idea why he was along for the adventure, and would take risks to "prove his worth" at times, despite pretty much everyone else in the group knowing how important he was. Up until he touches the rock, he's pretty much useless.


the secret fire wrote:
ElCrabofAnger wrote:
The game tries to model fighters as super soldiers, and at higher levels as classic heroes in the style of Greek Myth.

If it really did that, those non-magical fighter and rogue-types (eg. Achilles and Odysseus) would be the beneficiaries of copious amounts of divine intervention and the possessors of divinely-forged weapons and armor, while the spellcasting classes (Medea, Circe, et al) would be out in the cold with only their own powers to sustain them.

It is actually possible to achieve roughly the balance of Greek myth in Pathfinder (that's pretty much how my games work), but it requires a setting in which the gods are jealous and play favorites, and a clear acknowledgement of the fact that spellcasters are mucking directly with the power of the gods, and are a threat to the status quo.

Honestly, making the ability to pick up artifact-level weapons a Fighter class feature (as in, something that you can always count on having and does not require a GM who recognizes the imbalance) would be a proper fix and would be good from a narrative perspective.


So GM fiat? Built in. Giving them more magic equipment seems to be the fix that's already being used.
I'd rather have a fighter gain the Vorpal ability,than be automatically given a Vorpal sword at such-and-such lvl.


Agreed, but some people enter a frothing frenzy whenever a Fighter is capable of doing a thing out of his own power.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
ElCrabofAnger wrote:
The game tries to model fighters as super soldiers, and at higher levels as classic heroes in the style of Greek Myth.

If it really did that, those non-magical fighter and rogue-types (eg. Achilles and Odysseus) would be the beneficiaries of copious amounts of divine intervention and the possessors of divinely-forged weapons and armor, while the spellcasting classes (Medea, Circe, et al) would be out in the cold with only their own powers to sustain them.

It is actually possible to achieve roughly the balance of Greek myth in Pathfinder (that's pretty much how my games work), but it requires a setting in which the gods are jealous and play favorites, and a clear acknowledgement of the fact that spellcasters are mucking directly with the power of the gods, and are a threat to the status quo.

Honestly, making the ability to pick up artifact-level weapons a Fighter class feature (as in, something that you can always count on having and does not require a GM who recognizes the imbalance) would be a proper fix and would be good from a narrative perspective.

I couldn't agree more. My implementation of the "martials as Greek heroes" idea is basically a revisited and powered-up version of the old 3.5 Luck feats (granting rerolls) which characters get automatically every two levels, starting at 2nd, but lose one for each spell casting level they have reached (by this, I mean the ability to cast level_x spells)...so full casters are cut off and partial casters get less than pure martials. This is meant to represent divine favor. The way I work them is that they have normal daily use restrictions, but trigger automatically by DM fiat when a roll looks bad to me (thus avoiding dissociation between player and character).

The re-rolls and what they apply to pile up pretty quickly and martials end up being substantially luckier than casters. At around 13th level, they start getting into the vaguely supernatural, with abilities like always acting in the surprise round, one auto-success (counted as a natural 20) per day (this one is not automatic, but requires saying a prayer to a patron deity), and then going up to stuff like immunity to energy drain and death effects at 15th level, receiving an artifact at 16th level, +4 to all physical stats at 17th level and regeneration (per the ring) at 18th level...stuff you might expect from a demigod. I'd post the feat chain in a table for you, but the Paizo forums don't support anything I could use to get the layout halfway readable.

It still doesn't make martials as strong as casters (even when combined with removing the full attack), but it get them a lot closer and keeps them feeling pretty damned heroic even in the presence of high-level casters. Having martials slowly evolve into Greek-style heroes is doable without completely re-writing the game.


Larkspire wrote:

So GM fiat? Built in. Giving them more magic equipment seems to be the fix that's already being used.

I'd rather have a fighter gain the Vorpal ability,than be automatically given a Vorpal sword at such-and-such lvl.

Built-in fiat is definitely what it is, but there's nothing wrong with that. I prefer handing out artifacts to just giving fighters super-exotic combat abilities because:

1) There is strong precedent for it in western mythology. This one should be obvious.

2) There are fewer constraints on what powers can be given without getting into "wuxia...airbender...blah, blah" territory. If I want to give Joe the Fighter the ability to fly, I can hook him up with some shoes with little wings on the sides. If I just straight up hand a fighter this ability not tied to an item, he's not really a fighter, anymore.


the secret fire wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
ElCrabofAnger wrote:
The game tries to model fighters as super soldiers, and at higher levels as classic heroes in the style of Greek Myth.

If it really did that, those non-magical fighter and rogue-types (eg. Achilles and Odysseus) would be the beneficiaries of copious amounts of divine intervention and the possessors of divinely-forged weapons and armor, while the spellcasting classes (Medea, Circe, et al) would be out in the cold with only their own powers to sustain them.

It is actually possible to achieve roughly the balance of Greek myth in Pathfinder (that's pretty much how my games work), but it requires a setting in which the gods are jealous and play favorites, and a clear acknowledgement of the fact that spellcasters are mucking directly with the power of the gods, and are a threat to the status quo.

Honestly, making the ability to pick up artifact-level weapons a Fighter class feature (as in, something that you can always count on having and does not require a GM who recognizes the imbalance) would be a proper fix and would be good from a narrative perspective.

I couldn't agree more. My implementation of the "martials as Greek heroes" idea is basically a revisited and powered-up version of the old 3.5 Luck feats (granting rerolls) which characters get automatically every two levels, starting at 2nd, but lose one for each spell casting level they have reached (by this, I mean the ability to cast level_x spells)...so full casters are cut off and partial casters get less than pure martials. This is meant to represent divine favor. The way I work them is that they have normal daily use restrictions, but trigger automatically by DM fiat when a roll looks bad to me (thus avoiding dissociation between player and character).

The re-rolls and what they apply to pile up pretty quickly and martials end up being substantially luckier than casters. At around 13th level, they start getting into the vaguely...

So all martials are divine casters now. Gotcha.


Did you just see the word "divine" and do a flip? I see nothing in there that would make a Fighter play like a Cleric.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Did you just see the word "divine" and do a flip? I see nothing in there that would make a Fighter play like a Cleric.

Mostly the natural 20 for praying that casters for some reason cannot get.

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