Class architecture: The ceilings and floors of Pathfinder classes


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Silver Crusade

Being someone with a bit of experience in seeing the power levels of certain things, I wanted to get other people's perspectives on a certain issue, namely the ceilings and floors of classes.

By this I'm talking about the skill ceiling and floor, which is to say the most powerful and weakest a class can be. The power floor of a class would be the worst it could be, although in this context I mean it more as the worst it could reasonably see play as, since we could all make a full plate wizard who only memorizes Mage Hand to lift skirts.

So I was looking to get the ideas of what people considered the ceilings and floors of classes on a numerical scale. Power level is subjective though, and a lot of people see DPR as a large part of it. To clarify, at least for myself, that is not the case. For me, power level is the ability to do many things to a high degree of success. If a fighter can do 39230 damage, but he can only do it with a charge lane against a single enemy, that's not very 'powerful.

To me, the system would go something like this:

0: This is a character made purposefully to fail; a heavy armor wizard, mute instrument less bard, or other character concept of which was never intended to be able to survive. This doesn't mean that they won't, or that you can't apply flaws to your characters, this is more intended as an extreme example, like a Merfolk who can't breath air in a non aquatic game.

1: This is a low op rogue, no system mastery, and very 'story' based choices, such as skill boosting feats. Note that I'm not saying this is wrong, I'm saying that in the general scheme of how the game is played, this character is not very adept at performing many roles to completion, using adventure paths as our baseline.

5: This would be a low/mid op bard/alchemist/inquisitor. They take feats that help them out, work towards their class design, but aren't searching multiple books to find THE BEST options. These characters would work well in an adventure path, and maybe even are slightly too advanced for the difficulty curve.

10: This would be a high op full caster, along the lines of the God Wizard or CODzilla. They're using whatever advantages they can, but they're staying within the bound of the rules. These characters are apex powerful in most situations, and are rarely lacking solutions in adventure paths.

10+: This is game breaking stuff, simulacrum wish farming and other exploits that wouldn't be viable in any actual game. I recognize that's a vague term, but it's a subjective topic.

Now for this, I'd pick a class such as Fighter, and say the floor, or weakest it could be is a 2 out of 10, whereas the ceiling, or most powerful it could be would be about a 4.

Now as for other classes, this gets more interesting. The largest issue is classes with low floors being considered 'overpowered.' Honestly the floor is more important that the ceiling for most people, as rarely will people play a character at their ceiling.

To give an example of what I mean, I would consider the floor of the Summoner to be about a 4, while the ceiling to be a 9. Even a relatively low op summoner is about as good as the best fighter, which isn't great balance, but casters were never balanced to martial characters.

I feel as though this is the problem for a lot of cries of OP. It's hard to make a bad summoner, which is why when other people are playing at the same level of optimization, certain characters seem more unfair. If both the fighter and the summoner are low op, we have a 2 and a 4 competing, and this only gets worse if the level of optimization goes up, as the fighter only has so much room to grow, whereas the summoner has an immensely higher power ceiling to reach.

This can lead to frustration on the part of the fighter player, which is justified. Personally I'd like to find more ways to raise the floors of the lower tiered characters rather than working on their ceiling, since as I said before, more people play on the floor.

But I'd like to get other people's opinions about the floors and ceilings of classes, as well as ideas to help alleviate this issue.


I would say the fighter's floor is equal to or lower than the rogues. Because the rogue can always do more stuff, is more versatile than just hit things and be useless when not hitting stuff. You seemed to place the rogue floor at 1, the fighter's at 2. I'd put both at 1. And I'd put the summoner's ceiling to 10.

Rogue 4 - 1
Fighter 4 - 1
Slayer 5 - 2
Ranger 5 - 2 (I see the ranger as stronger than the slayer. But the range is to small to show that.)
Barbarian 6 - 2
Bloodrager 7 - 3
Summoner 10 - 4
Witch 9 - 3

Just to give some.
And I never use spreadsheets BTW.

Silver Crusade

Umbranus wrote:

I would say the fighter's floor is equal to or lower than the rogues. Because the rogue can always do more stuff, is more versatile than just hit things and be useless when not hitting stuff. You seemed to place the rogue floor at 1, the fighter's at 2. I'd put both at 1. And I'd put the summoner's ceiling to 10.

Rogue 4 - 1
Fighter 4 - 1
Slayer 5 - 2
Ranger 5 - 2 (I see the ranger as stronger than the slayer. But the range is to small to show that.)
Barbarian 6 - 2
Bloodrager 7 - 3
Summoner 10 - 4
Witch 9 - 3

Just to give some.
And I never use spreadsheets BTW.

Yeah, I probably highballed the fighter, I just have a soft spot for them.

It makes me wonder what could be done to increase their usefulness. I have the idea of a rogue/fighter archetype where they get 1st-4th level extracts, since honestly extracts solve a lot of problems.


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Interesting. I think to do this right we would have to split the game into it's, roughly, three parts: adventuring, socializing, and combat. Then, you would create floors and ceilings for each segment of the game for each class.

For example, I would grade a few this way...

Fighter
Adventuring 3-1
Combat 10-4
Socializing 3-1

Rogue
Adventuring 9-4
Combat 7-1
Socializing 9-4

Wizard
Adventuring 10-1
Combat 10-1
Socializing 10-1


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I think this is a really great topic, but I don't think I like the number scale here. The power you're talking about is a great way to judge higher tiers of power, but it's a really bad way to judge low op characters and games.

For example, if you had a totally unoptimized party played by low skill players consisting of a Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, and Wizard, the Wizard is going to be miserable while the Fighter (and later Rogue) probably look like game dominant beasts.

Spellcasters only dominate the game when played by people that actually understand the game, which is really not as many people as you think. When you aren't bypassing encounters left and right with your unfair reality altering, you're stuck in the same world as the martials except you do less damage--a lot less damage.

So, talking about ceilings, obviously, 9 level spellcasters (plus summoners who compress 9 levels into 6) are at the top, 6 level casters are next, 4 level casters third, Zen Archers, Barbarians, and Ninja 4th, all the other full BAB classes 5th, and Rogues/non-zen archer Monks last.

But talking about floors? Very different. Wizards are dead last, no question in my mind. A poorly played Wizard is painful to watch. They are fragile and useless on every level. Someone who makes poor choices of what to memorize is like an active detriment to the party.

I would say Witches and Sorcerers are next. They're both super fragile and can't contribute to combat with weapons, just like the Wizard, but they have fewer options (making choice paralysis less of an issue) and more raw power (more spells per day or Hexes with infinite uses).

Clerics are next. Wait, hear me out. A cleric has terrible skills and, when played wrong, like a typical MMO healer for example, they basically do nothing in combat, either. The instinct of poor players is to maximize Wisdom (best for aggressive casters using spells with saves) but then still play full support with all spells that don't care about your Wisdom. They have the BAB, armor, and toughness to help in a fight, sort of, but your typical cleric is going to be just so much worse at this than a fighter and will contribute very little with their magic. Oracles and Shaman are next, for the same reason the Sorcerer and Witch have better floors than the Wizard.

Druids are strange. Even with prepared casting and weak armor/weapons, it's hard to be terrible in Wild Shape unless you focused on Wisdom. A caster Druid is probably worse than a Cleric, actually, since they can't even healbot and summoning is complicated, while a Wild Shape focused Druid is still pretty damn good. Having a pet helps a lot, too.

Martial guys are solidly in the middle here. Fighters, Barbarians, Rogues, these guys are hard to screw up totally--their issue is lack of versatility, not power. Monks are the exception--monks are REALLY easy to screw up AND they have a low ceiling. Not a good combination. But they're still likely better than the full casters. Slayers are probably a little bit above the middle, Rangers a little below (bad Favored Enemy picks will screw you), and Paladins/Bloodragers are like the king of the (mostly) martial pile.

So, who is at the top? Who has the highest floor? I would agree with Summoner and probably add Hunter in the mix. Not only do you get very clear direction as to what to do, you come with a second character that's quite capable and mostly built for you. These classes also have focused spell lists that make it clear what you should do: buff your pet and either control the battlefield (Summoner) or fight alongside/at range (Hunter).

I'd say Warpriest is probably next, since, again, their class features clearly direct you to play in their optimal fashion: buff yourself with Fervor and hit stuff with your enhanced weapon.

The other 6 level caster classes are all hovering up near the top, too. They only slip a little because they are divided in focus and it's easy to raise your casting stat too high and screw your fighting. In this way, I'd put Skald over Bard, actually, though, just slightly, since the Rage Song clearly says, "hey, use Strength and hit stuff, too."

But yeah, I just can't imagine trying to actually put numbers to this sort of thing.

Liberty's Edge

Okay, let's do this thing. Note: All classes can go down to 1. This is how low they go with a very basic amount of skill.

Core Rulebook:

Barbarian: 4-7 (Very hard to screw up completely as long as you go High Str and Power Attack. 7 reserved for the optimized Superstition/Beast Totem build.)

Bard: 4-8

Cleric: 2-10

Druid: 5-10 (assuming an Animal Companion. Can go lower with Domains.)

Fighter: 2-5 (5s are restricted to certain very specific Archetypes like Mutagen Warrior and Lore Warden)

Monk: 1-6 (Qinggong Monk plus certain other Archetypes and/or Pummeling Style can push it up to 6. That's rare, though.)

Paladin: 3-7

Ranger: 2-7 (Low minimum because it's easy to pick bad Favored Enemies. 7 only with Boon Companion and a good Favored Enemy.)

Rogue: 1-4

Sorcerer: 2-9

Wizard: 3-10

Advanced Player's Guide:

Alchemist: 3-8

Cavalier: 2-6 (6 only with charge builds and/or Beast Rider. Or maybe Daring champion.)

Inquisitor: 4-8

Oracle: 3-9

Summoner: 5-9

Witch: 4-9

Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Magic:

Magus: 4-8

Gunslinger: 5-7

Ninja: 1-5 (Better than a Rogue. Not, y'know, a lot, but better.)

Samurai: 2-6 (Same as Cavalier, basically)

Advanced Class Guide:

Arcanist: 5-10

Bloodrager: 3-7 (A little easier to screw up than Barbarian. 7s are usually gonna be Primalists.)

Brawler: 3-6 (6 usually involves Archetypes. A bit more forgiving of error than Fighter due to Martial )

Hunter: 4-7

Investigator:[/u] 2-8 (I'd like to think the floor was higher, but people seem really disinclined to make Investigators properly.)

Shaman: 3-9

Skald: 2-8 (Easier to screw up than Bard, basically.)

Slayer: 3-6

Swashbuckler: 3-5

Warpriest: 2-7


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The idea that d6 prepared spellcasters have a minimum power level of 4 is insane to me. I don't think you've seen actually average gamers play wizards.

Liberty's Edge

mplindustries wrote:
The idea that d6 prepared spellcasters have a minimum power level of 4 is insane to me. I don't think you've seen actually average gamers play wizards.

You're right, Wizard should be a 3 (and has now been edited to be so). I bounced around a lot on the scale I was using for these in general (mostly what a base level of competency for players was), and that one got miscalibrated a bit.

I'll stick to Witch as a 4, though. With any of the good Hexes and high Int, you're pretty much good to go. It's almost Barbarian-build simple, really.


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I think any class can get a 0.


I mostly agree with DMW's list. I'd maybe change a few numbers, but not by more than +1/-1.

So... That.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
The idea that d6 prepared spellcasters have a minimum power level of 4 is insane to me. I don't think you've seen actually average gamers play wizards.

You're right, Wizard should be a 3 (and has now been edited to be so). I bounced around a lot on the scale I was using for these in general (mostly what a base level of competency for players was), and that one got miscalibrated a bit.

I'll stick to Witch as a 4, though. With any of the good Hexes and high Int, you're pretty much good to go. It's almost Barbarian-build simple, really.

I just think the idea that a poorly made fighter or rogue is worse than a poorly played character with no armor or weapons and half the hp is crazy. Great witches and wizards are beyond compare. Bad ones are patheti-sad.


mplindustries wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
The idea that d6 prepared spellcasters have a minimum power level of 4 is insane to me. I don't think you've seen actually average gamers play wizards.

You're right, Wizard should be a 3 (and has now been edited to be so). I bounced around a lot on the scale I was using for these in general (mostly what a base level of competency for players was), and that one got miscalibrated a bit.

I'll stick to Witch as a 4, though. With any of the good Hexes and high Int, you're pretty much good to go. It's almost Barbarian-build simple, really.

I just think the idea that a poorly made fighter or rogue is worse than a poorly played character with no armor or weapons and half the hp is crazy. Great witches and wizards are beyond compare. Bad ones are patheti-sad.

I think DMW's assumption is that the player have a "bare minimum" level of competence. Enough to at least have an idea of what the class is capable of... Even if it's just casting Fly, Invidibility anf Fireball (all of them very common, relatively low-levrl and reasonably good spells... Even a complete noob can tell the value of flight and invisibility).

Liberty's Edge

Lemmy wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
The idea that d6 prepared spellcasters have a minimum power level of 4 is insane to me. I don't think you've seen actually average gamers play wizards.

You're right, Wizard should be a 3 (and has now been edited to be so). I bounced around a lot on the scale I was using for these in general (mostly what a base level of competency for players was), and that one got miscalibrated a bit.

I'll stick to Witch as a 4, though. With any of the good Hexes and high Int, you're pretty much good to go. It's almost Barbarian-build simple, really.

I just think the idea that a poorly made fighter or rogue is worse than a poorly played character with no armor or weapons and half the hp is crazy. Great witches and wizards are beyond compare. Bad ones are patheti-sad.
I think DMW's assumption is that the player have a "bare minimum" level of competence. Enough to at least have an idea of what the class is capable of... Even if it's just casting Fly, Invidibility anf Fireball (all of them very common, relatively low-levrl and reasonably good spells... Even a complete noob can tell the value of flight and invisibility).

This. Note the first sentence in my post showing the scores. With absolutely no competency, any of them can be a 1 or 0...which would make the lower of the two numbers meaningless.


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A numerical scale is essentially meaningless, as is factoring in people with no system mastery and especially ones with purposefully crippled options. Apply both of these as a "Basement", since they're below the basic floor of the class played by an average player (which is what games should be balanced around). I'll use the numbers for simplicity, however.

So with those criteria in place (average player as bottom, high optimization as top), here we go:

Core:

Barbarian: Power floor is on the low-middle scale (3-4), ceiling is above-average (6-ish). The class is powerful and one of the better martial classes with even a modicum of system mastery, but highly optimized builds are chained to a relatively few options, and even though the number of things (such as spells) he can hit is expanded, he is essentially still limited to "Whack it with a stick".

Bard: Floor and ceiling both hover around the 6-7 range. Bards are versatile, but for the most part all of their power comes from the class features they have out of the box, not the options they take. Thankfully, these are good options all around, and the class is useful in pretty much any party.

Cleric: Floor is around a 4. Depending on choice of god, Domain, and usual spell loadout, they can end up less powerful, and Feat selection has something to do with their power. At the end of the day, though, these problems can be mitigated by good spell choice, which can be changed daily to change their power level. With high optimization they're a solid 8 or 9, being a versatile full caster with some not insignificant combat ability as well, augmented by powerful Domains. They're one of the most versatile classes in the game, along with other full casters.

Druid: Floor is around a 3. Druids are easier to mess up than many other full casters, their spell list being more focused. With optimization they hit a 7 or 8.

Fighter: Floor is around a 3. Fighters are one of the hardest classes in the game to truly mess up. Unfortunately, they can only ever hit about a 4 or 5. They're not particularly versatile, and embody the "Hit it with a stick" martial problem the most of any other classes. They're a class with a very fixed range that optimization can help. Both a complete newbie and an experienced Pathfinder play achieve a similar level of power, the main difference being how well an experienced player can balance getting the most out of their few features and shoring up their weaknesses.

Monk: Floor is a 2. The average player may go into a Monk expecting it to simply "work" which is, sadly, not the case. Ceiling is about a 5. If you work hard with it you can make a solidly workable character, but you'll never reach truly exemplary levels, even with the myriad useful archetypes.

Paladin: Floor around 4, ceiling around 6. Paladins just get most of their class features handed to them, which is a blessing for raising skill floor. Every Paladin will have a basic functionality (Smite, Heal, be good at saves). With optimization (proper balancing of Cha and attack stats, good Feat choices, etc.) they can be true powerhouses. Not as versatile as a 6 level caster, but with many useful tricks, such as bringing people back to life for free and nigh unparalleled durability.

Ranger: 4 and 6, like many of the more balanced martial classes. This is where a numerical scale shows its failings, They're definitely not as powerful as a Paladin, but nor are they as weak as a Fighter. They're reasonably versatile, but focused.

Rogue: Floor is 1. An average player wanting to make a Rogue just "work" like a Monk is in for some disappointment. They're even worse than a Monk in that regard, since their class features are very few i number, their modularity is high but usefulness of the options (Talents) is low, and the archetypal Rogue, a dexterous sneaky warrior, is probably the least powerful version. Even with optimization, they only reach about a 4 A Rogue can never truly be said to excel, merely become passable with a lot of work.

---Ninja: Bundling this here since they're essentially the same class. Ninja is a low of 2, high of 4.5-5. Ninjas are slightly better in most regards than a Rogue, but still fairly weak.

Sorcerer: Low of 2, high of 9. Sorcerers are pretty easy to screw up for a full caster, but when they're on, they're on. Not really much to say here. With the proper choice of Bloodline, spells, and Feats, they can dominate, but poor spell choice cripples them.

Wizard: Low of 4, high of 10. Even poor spell choice doesn't cripple a Wizard since they can simply re-prepare the next day. When they're highly optimized they can turn the game on its head.

Base:

Alchemist: Low of 4, high of 6 or 7. Alchemists are versatile, and at high levels can pull some neat shenanigans like permanent Displacement or other usually short duration, very powerful buffs. They can also achieve a high level of damage, and are hard to cripple for most players.

Cavalier: Low of 4, high of 5.5. Much like a Fighter, they're hard to cripple, but impossible to really elevate very high. Slightly better than a Fighter because of superior skills and team synergy (granting Teamwork Feats).

Gunslinger: See Cavalier, except replace team synergy with more reliable damage (Ranged, touch) and some utility and combat versatility.

Inquisitor: Low of 3, high of 7. Inquisitors are GOOD. Poor spell and Domain choice can make them poor, but class features can make up for Feat selection (even otherwise fairy weak weapons can become decent), and when well made they're powerful, versatile 6 level casters who basically have "See everything, know everything" as their class motto.

Magus: Low of 2, high of 6. Magi are easy to mess up, but when well made are pretty good. 6 level casting automatically bumps them a notch, and Prepared even better, but their class features point them towards very specific builds and their spell list is not as full of utility spells as many lists.

Oracle: Same as Cleric, really, but with a low of 3 and a solid 8 ceiling. They share most of the same strengths and weaknesses, but Oracle is more reliant on spell choice.

Summoner: Low of 3, high of 8. Their spell list is essentially a 9 level list on a 6 level chassis, and their action economy is doubled. The average player may have trouble taking advantage of these, however, with their spontaneous casting and convoluted Eidolon rules.

Witch: Low of 2, high of 8. Witches are Easy to screw up based on Hex choice, but when everything comes together they rock, while still being one of the more balanced full casters. Like the Druid, their list is a little weaker than their non-Nature themed cousin (the Wizard), but still good, and prepared casting helps.

I'm not going to do one for the APG classes I haven't played, so here:

Brawler: Low of 4, high of 5.5-6. Thy're more versatile than Fighters, and have some neat tricks they can pull with Martial Versatility, while maintaining good to-hit/damage.

Slayer: Low of 4, high of 6. They're a Ranger without the spells, but honestly I don't think I'm hurting for it, and Favored Target makes up for it by beating out the Ranger's situational damage boosts.

Swashbuckler: Low of 2, high of 4.5. They're like a Fighter, but easier to screw up. They're also very not versatile, being limited to one singular fighting style to make use of their class features, maybe two with Thrown weapons. Their defenses are worse, as well.


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You guys really think that prepared casters are harder to mess up than spontaneous casters? I understand that you can change your spells from day to day, but preparing spells properly is a much more difficult skill than you seem to think.

Picking spells for a spontaneous caster and picking spells for a prepared caster are of similar difficulty levels, but always having the right spells prepared (like spontaneous casters effectively have) is a huge help to beginners.

Being able to change your whole load out based on the situation is why prepared casters have a higher ceiling. But always having access to your preferred attack, defense, and utility spells without having to micromanage how many you're going to need of each for the day is the reason I think spontaneous casters have a much higher floor.

Yes, I know you can pick HORRIBLE spells, but I think most people know how to pick at least average spells. A wizard with just magic missiles prepared is worse off than a Sorcerer with magic missile and two other spells known.


Yes, they are harder to mess up.

Spontaneous casters are stuck with what they have, period. Prepared casters are not.

It may be a difficult skill, but so is picking spells to begi with. If you can't pick spells properly for one, you can't pick spells properly for the other. There's more margin for error in prepared casters.

Spontaneous casters don't "always have the right spells prepared", I'm not sure where you get that notion. They have the spells they have.


Rynjin wrote:

Yes, they are harder to mess up.

Spontaneous casters are stuck with what they have, period. Prepared casters are not.

It may be a difficult skill, but so is picking spells to begi with. If you can't pick spells properly for one, you can't pick spells properly for the other. There's more margin for error in prepared casters.

Spontaneous casters don't "always have the right spells prepared", I'm not sure where you get that notion. They have the spells they have.

Except they can cheat and get more spells through rings and pages of spell knowledge. They're stuck at the early levels, sure, but once they get enough money the limits come off. They can also exchange spells at certain levels.

Silver Crusade

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I think really what you're looking at is a spontaneous caster that learns lightning bolt vs. a prepared caster who prepared 1 lightning bolt, 1 daylight, and 1 blink. Lightning bolt may not be that good, but with only one spell to chose most players will at least pick something moderately useful for a spontaneous caster. A prepared caster compounds the risk of picking bad spells with the risk of using the wrong spell at the wrong time and picking the wrong amount of each spell.

Spontaneous caster uses lightning bolt at the wrong time, doesn't care, tries again later, overall it averages out to passable.

Prepared caster uses lighting bolt at the wrong time, now has to use a different spell, probably also at the wrong time, and averages out to near ineffectiveness.

EDIT: I really think the overall trend will end up being an inverse relationship between the number of options/choices to be made and the level of the floor. That is, more choices lead to lower floors.


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Riuken wrote:

I think really what you're looking at is a spontaneous caster that learns lightning bolt vs. a prepared caster who prepared 1 lightning bolt, 1 daylight, and 1 blink. Lightning bolt may not be that good, but with only one spell to chose most players will at least pick something moderately useful for a spontaneous caster. A prepared caster compounds the risk of picking bad spells with the risk of using the wrong spell at the wrong time and picking the wrong amount of each spell.

Spontaneous caster uses lightning bolt at the wrong time, doesn't care, tries again later, overall it averages out to passable.

Prepared caster uses lighting bolt at the wrong time, now has to use a different spell, probably also at the wrong time, and averages out to near ineffectiveness.

EDIT: I really think the overall trend will end up being an inverse relationship between the number of options/choices to be made and the level of the floor. That is, more choices lead to lower floors.

Exactly. A spontaneous caster with Lightning Bolt, Daylight, and Blink is infinitely better off than a prepared caster with one of each of those prepared. Yes, I understand that the prepared caster can change it up tomorrow, but I don't think a low skill player is going to make any better decisions the next day.


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Since we're assuming a decent amount of skill for the judging I think under those circumstances a Spontaneous caster would have a higher skill floor just based on the fact it has more spel slots.

Even assuming a terrible build idea like "Fire Mage" the Sorcerer would have an advantage by having more slots to cast the fire spells.

Silver Crusade

Well I'd like to note that the reason for the numerical value isn't for everyone to agree on one (fat chance), it's more to get an idea of everyone's perspective on it. Someone's 3 could be my 4 and so on.

And while any class CAN be a 0 or 1 (0 being considered a deliberate attempt to hinder one's self), a basic level of system mastery and willingness to choose options to achieve a character's role is the baseline for the basement of a class. We can make an illiterate wizard, but that doesn't really represent the average low op character.


I think optimization tiers would be a great discussion, but this has problematically veered into a class tier discussion right in the OP.

I'll try at making an optimization tier list.

6: Characters purposely built to fail.
5: Characters meant to be deeply flawed.
4: Characters meant to be competent, but purposely avoid strong choices because they are strong choices.
3: Characters meant to be strong. They take strong choices, but do not depend on tricky rule interpretations or obscure rule combos.
2: Characters meant to be the pinnacle of excellence. They take only the best mechanical choices. They may depend on certain rule interpretations, but that is only because without that rule interpretation they would have picked something else because that would be the new "best".
1: Characters meant to be all powerful. They will not be satisfied until they devour the AP seasoned in the GM's tears. Their enemy from the onset is the true-God of the campaign world and they seek characters that rival in power to the GM. They see themselves as the GM's Lucifer.

Obviously different classes are capable of different tiers. Since class choice itself is a certain level of optimization.


I really really do not get why people set the rogue lower than the fighter when looking at the whole picture. Combat, sure. But when it comes to utility, versatility and social aspects the rogue hands down wins.


I think the reason for that is because while the Rogue has the ability to participate in Combat, Adventuring, and Socializing it excels at none. The Fighter can at least excel at damage. I would personally rate a class excelling at only one thing over another class that excels at nothing.


Umbranus wrote:

I really really do not get why people set the rogue lower than the fighter when looking at the whole picture. Combat, sure. But when it comes to utility, versatility and social aspects the rogue hands down wins.

The Fighter at least has a niche. It does damage well.

The Rogue? Not so much.

It doesn't do combat well at all.

And it doesn't do utility, versatility, or social aspects better than any other class (even Core classes).

Liberty's Edge

Umbranus wrote:

I really really do not get why people set the rogue lower than the fighter when looking at the whole picture. Combat, sure. But when it comes to utility, versatility and social aspects the rogue hands down wins.

As others have noted, a Fighter can actually be pretty good at one thing (combat) and, if going Lore Warden, pretty good at Knowledge Skills to boot.

A Rogue? Looks like it's supposed to be good at combat, which there are a few ways to do, but mostly not good ones, leading people down the garden path to error.

As for social stuff and utility...yeah, they're better than the Fighter, but they're actually mediocre at best. They have a lot of skill points, giving them several areas to function in, but they're mediocre at best within those areas, lacking any supportive spells, meaningfully supportive class features (with the exception of Trapfinding), or a stat-layout to support most of them.

Meaning that, unless the whole party is avoiding other skill classes entirely, you'll get overshadowed in large portions of those skills. And potentially get overshadowed even then by spellcasters. Being best at something only by default is not really a good role.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Umbranus wrote:

I really really do not get why people set the rogue lower than the fighter when looking at the whole picture. Combat, sure. But when it comes to utility, versatility and social aspects the rogue hands down wins.

As others have noted, a Fighter can actually be pretty good at one thing (combat) and, if going Lore Warden, pretty good at Knowledge Skills to boot.

A Rogue? Looks like it's supposed to be good at combat, which there are a few ways to do, but mostly not good ones, leading people down the garden path to error.

As for social stuff and utility...yeah, they're better than the Fighter, but they're actually mediocre at best. They have a lot of skill points, giving them several areas to function in, but they're mediocre at best within those areas, lacking any supportive spells, meaningfully supportive class features (with the exception of Trapfinding), or a stat-layout to support most of them.

Meaning that, unless the whole party is avoiding other skill classes entirely, you'll get overshadowed in large portions of those skills. And potentially get overshadowed even then by spellcasters. Being best at something only by default is not really a good role.

While it doesn't convince me I see your point(s).

At least when it comes to the floor I would still see the rogue above the fighter because even a bad build rogue has lots of skill points and by that lots of things he is good at. A bad fighter build can't do anything. No skills, no utility and little combat power.

Perhaps we have to agree to disagree.


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A poorly built Fighter is still at least hard to kill though, and deals decent damage.

A poorly built Rogue is squishy, has the worst saves in the game, and is still encouraged to get up close and personal with big nasty.

Liberty's Edge

Umbranus wrote:

While it doesn't convince me I see your point(s).

At least when it comes to the floor I would still see the rogue above the fighter because even a bad build rogue has lots of skill points and by that lots of things he is good at. A bad fighter build can't do anything. No skills, no utility and little combat power.

Perhaps we have to agree to disagree.

Depends on how you define 'bad'. I'm assuming a minimal level of competence, like enough to go Str 16 and maybe grab Power Attack as a Fighter and focus on a particular weapon.

Building a truly effective Rogue is quite a bit harder than that, and the ceiling's lower to boot.


Rynjin wrote:

A poorly built Fighter is still at least hard to kill though, and deals decent damage.

A poorly built Rogue is squishy, has the worst saves in the game, and is still encouraged to get up close and personal with big nasty.

Which ignores roughly 2/3 of the game. Nobody disputed that a fighter is better in combat.

Sure, if you 100% only look at combat the rogue is worse.


A perfectly capable adventuring party that would make a Rogue cry, such as

1. Bard/Skald
2. Inquisitor/Hunter
3. Ranger/Slayer
4. Oracle, Druid, Shaman, or Wizard

Is capable of sneaking (all 4 of them), speaking (1-3 of them), buffing (1-2 of them), slaying (all 4 of them), dealing with bad conditions (Skald, Inquisitor, Shaman, and Druid), and disarming traps (Urban Ranger, Slayer, and Seeker Oracle). Between them most stuff is covered and they would be far from squishy.

A rogue as a 5th man in that party would find themselves unable to to anything and if the Rogue attempted to replace any member he'd make the group weaker as a result.

A group like that would also have an easy time sharing the spotlight while having bases covered from multiple players in case of bad rolls.

Inquisitor and Bard can wreck knowledge checks.
Not any specific one of them is required to kill through HP damage
All of them can sneak together as opposed to being the one sneaky guy in a party of buffoons.
Multiple ones can speak if you get in a situation where the primary speaker for the group would have trouble (Inquisitor would be more believable in a church setting for example).

A proper group works together and the problem with low ceiling classes is that they drag to potential of a group down.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Umbranus wrote:

While it doesn't convince me I see your point(s).

At least when it comes to the floor I would still see the rogue above the fighter because even a bad build rogue has lots of skill points and by that lots of things he is good at. A bad fighter build can't do anything. No skills, no utility and little combat power.

Perhaps we have to agree to disagree.

Depends on how you define 'bad'. I'm assuming a minimal level of competence, like enough to go Str 16 and maybe grab Power Attack as a Fighter and focus on a particular weapon.

Building a truly effective Rogue is quite a bit harder than that, and the ceiling's lower to boot.

Two-handed weapon + power-attack + weapon focus is above the floor for a lot of players I know and play with. When I build a fun PC I have to be careful to not roflstomp everything. They think my primitive template kobold natural weapon barbarian is highly optimized. Especially now that I took power-attack at 5th level.


We're not here to judge people, but that is kind of saddening. Even the worst character builder I know grabs power attack and at least 16 str on his martials.


Umbranus wrote:
Rynjin wrote:

A poorly built Fighter is still at least hard to kill though, and deals decent damage.

A poorly built Rogue is squishy, has the worst saves in the game, and is still encouraged to get up close and personal with big nasty.

Which ignores roughly 2/3 of the game. Nobody disputed that a fighter is better in combat.

Sure, if you 100% only look at combat the rogue is worse.

If I look at anything other than combat, the Rogue cries because every other class is better at other things too.

Umbranus wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Umbranus wrote:

While it doesn't convince me I see your point(s).

At least when it comes to the floor I would still see the rogue above the fighter because even a bad build rogue has lots of skill points and by that lots of things he is good at. A bad fighter build can't do anything. No skills, no utility and little combat power.

Perhaps we have to agree to disagree.

Depends on how you define 'bad'. I'm assuming a minimal level of competence, like enough to go Str 16 and maybe grab Power Attack as a Fighter and focus on a particular weapon.

Building a truly effective Rogue is quite a bit harder than that, and the ceiling's lower to boot.

Two-handed weapon + power-attack + weapon focus is above the floor for a lot of players I know and play with. When I build a fun PC I have to be careful to not roflstomp everything. They think my primitive template kobold natural weapon barbarian is highly optimized. Especially now that I took power-attack at 5th level.

Your experience is atypical. 2H weapon + Power Attack is the most basic of the basics as far as builds go.

People who don't even play RPGs know that archetypal character.


Insain Dragoon wrote:

A perfectly capable adventuring party that would make a Rogue cry, such as

1. Bard/Skald
2. Inquisitor/Hunter
3. Ranger/Slayer
4. Oracle, Druid, Shaman, or Wizard

1. Barbarian/Bloodrager

2. Inquisitor/Hunter
3. Ranger/Slayer
4. Oracle, Druid, Shaman, or Wizard

Now it makes the fighter cry. Everyone has skills or spells or both. Most get abilities that are either stronger than feats or can be exchanged for feats. A fighter would bring no abilities to the party that it currently lacks and would weaken the party if you exchange one of the others.

Liberty's Edge

Umbranus wrote:
Two-handed weapon + power-attack + weapon focus is above the floor for a lot of players I know and play with. When I build a fun PC I have to be careful to not roflstomp everything. They think my primitive template kobold natural weapon barbarian is highly optimized. Especially now that I took power-attack at 5th level.

I didn't specify a two-handed weapon or weapon focus. Just focusing on one weapon for purposes of Weapon Training, Str 16, and Power Attack. That...seems a pretty reasonable level of optimization for a standard group.


Umbranus wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:

A perfectly capable adventuring party that would make a Rogue cry, such as

1. Bard/Skald
2. Inquisitor/Hunter
3. Ranger/Slayer
4. Oracle, Druid, Shaman, or Wizard

1. Barbarian/Bloodrager

2. Inquisitor/Hunter
3. Ranger/Slayer
4. Oracle, Druid, Shaman, or Wizard

Now it makes the fighter cry. Everyone has skills or spells or both. Most get abilities that are either stronger than feats or can be exchanged for feats. A fighter would bring no abilities to the party that it currently lacks and would weaken the party if you exchange one of the others.

That party still makes the Rogue cry because the Barbarian/Bloodrager is just as good as a Rogue at stealth.

I really don't see what you were attempting to do honestly. All you did was show that a Fighter is as easily outclassed as a Rogue, but still better than a Rogue.

Aside from that shouldn't you have replaced Ranger/Slayer with the Barb since they're the most similar? Slot 1 belonged to the party buffer, not the full BAB beat stick.


Your list was one with classes that work better than the rogue. My list is one with classes that work better than the fighter.

But as I said before we seem to disagree and have to accept that. So I will not derail the thread further with this side-discussion.


Actually my list was an adventuring party split into roles.

1. Buffs
2. All Rounder
3. Full BAB Beatstick
4. Fullcaster

The fact that each of them works better than a Rogue is a hilarious coincidence. My main point was that a unified group doesn't drag each other down.

Silver Crusade

Well I saw the suggestion of possibly dividing up the list into different categories, which I think could be helpful. Honestly I think the floor of these classes is far more important to look over, since it's where a lot of this will be seeing play. Perhaps getting ideas on a combat/social/exploration ceiling and floor could give more insight to the class balance.

And I will agree that for the floor, most early players won't change around their known spells, giving them a slightly lower floor than spontaneous casters. I would say a wizard has a floor of 1, while a sorcerer has a floor of two if only because the sorcerer will generally pick at least one combat spell, giving them something to do in combat.

I must admit, this conversation (aside from the first reply) is going far better than I expected.

Liberty's Edge

The floors on my list are a lot shakier than the ceilings simply because they're a lot more subjective. What precise level of optimization experience are you going with?

Me, I was mostly going by the level used in my first Pathfinder game, which involved a bunch of people who'd never played Pathfinder before, but were relatively experienced gamers in other systems, and thus made pretty decent decisions.

I have no idea how typical that is.


Rynjin wrote:

Yes, they are harder to mess up.

Spontaneous casters are stuck with what they have, period. Prepared casters are not.

It may be a difficult skill, but so is picking spells to begi with. If you can't pick spells properly for one, you can't pick spells properly for the other. There's more margin for error in prepared casters.

Spontaneous casters don't "always have the right spells prepared", I'm not sure where you get that notion. They have the spells they have.

Except they aren't really. PF adds loads of ways for sponataneous casters to gain extar spells known whether it is with cash and pages of spell knowledge, the Human FCB, Mnemonic Vestment, Paragon Surge, Razmirian Priests or the Spirit Guide archetype.

Every 9th level caster has a ceiling of 10+ at high OP levels in PF because all of them can access their entire list in one way or another and many of them can poach from others.


I really have to agree with Umbranus here. Lower skill players don't always take Power Attack or a two handed weapon. The low skill players I have seen almost all try to dual wield or, as a fighter type, try to "tank" by using sword and board (without shield bashing) with feats like toughness and combat expertise.

But, like I said, those players, along with the rogues dual wielding daggers, are still better off than the cleric with a high Wisdom that only prepared support spells with no saves or the wizard with a couple magic missiles and burning hands prepared.

There's a huge difference between "my wizard wears full plate (and does nothing to mitigate spell failure" and "my wizard knows how to pick spells effectively." There is, for example, "my wizards job is blasting but I know nothing about making blasting effective." in there. And between "My fighter's highest stat is Charisma!" and "my fighter took power attack and a two handed weapon" there's room for "I think fighters are supposed to tank, so, Con is my best stat and my feats give me better AC and HP."

Liberty's Edge

mplindustries wrote:

I really have to agree with Umbranus here. Lower skill players don't always take Power Attack or a two handed weapon. The low skill players I have seen almost all try to dual wield or, as a fighter type, try to "tank" by using sword and board (without shield bashing) with feats like toughness and combat expertise.

But, like I said, those players, along with the rogues dual wielding daggers, are still better off than the cleric with a high Wisdom that only prepared support spells with no saves or the wizard with a couple magic missiles and burning hands prepared.

There's a huge difference between "my wizard wears full plate (and does nothing to mitigate spell failure" and "my wizard knows how to pick spells effectively." There is, for example, "my wizards job is blasting but I know nothing about making blasting effective." in there. And between "My fighter's highest stat is Charisma!" and "my fighter took power attack and a two handed weapon" there's room for "I think fighters are supposed to tank, so, Con is my best stat and my feats give me better AC and HP."

Once again, I don't think anyone is assuming two-handed weapons. I'm sure not. I was assuming a Str of 16 or so, and maybe Power Attack. Frankly, I was thinking the PFS Valeros Pregen or slightly better. So...very much not optimized, if not quite as unoptimized as you're talking about.

And I wasn't assuming anything about starting spells...just that if their spells aren't working, the Wizard's player might look into getting new and different ones. Since, y'know, he can.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
And I wasn't assuming anything about starting spells...just that if their spells aren't working, the Wizard's player might look into getting new and different ones. Since, y'know, he can.

Changing your spells over and over until you get it right and, essentially, learn a new skill (how to prepare spells correctly) is a lot different than the actual responses I've seen such as:

- Absolutely fail to realize how crappy you are and continue on as a dead weight to the party without knowing it

- Loudly complain that wizards are useless and that other classes need nerfs

- Refuse to admit the problem is you and just pretend you're bored of the idea so you can make something else

- Never play any class with vancian magic again

- Start multi-classing as a Fighter or Barbarian or something, abandon magic essentially entirely, and switch everything over to a fighting build with a couple of gimped d6 HD.

I've honestly never witnessed someone actually get better at preparing spells. They've either given up, or continued to suck. But mostly just given up.

Frankly, as much as I recognize the potential power of it, I HATE preparing spells, personally, and find that for every day you pull it off perfectly and ruin an oppositional GM's day, there's another you get caught with your pants down and you can't Black Tentacles ghosts.

Liberty's Edge

mplindustries wrote:

Changing your spells over and over until you get it right and, essentially, learn a new skill (how to prepare spells correctly) is a lot different than the actual responses I've seen such as:

- Absolutely fail to realize how crappy you are and continue on as a dead weight to the party without knowing it

- Loudly complain that wizards are useless and that other classes need nerfs

- Refuse to admit the problem is you and just pretend you're bored of the idea so you can make something else

- Never play any class with vancian magic again

- Start multi-classing as a Fighter or Barbarian or something, abandon magic essentially entirely, and switch everything over to a fighting build with a couple of gimped d6 HD.

I've honestly never witnessed someone actually get better at preparing spells. They've either given up, or continued to suck. But mostly just given up.

*blinks* Wow. I've never seen any of those. I've seen some less than ideal spell loadouts, and at least one seriously subpar character (though that was a Fighter/Cleric), but never anything quite that bad. I mean, if they're having that much in the way of problems, somebody with a better idea of how the system works (whether from aptitude or experience) will step up and give some advice. Okay, so that somebody's often me...but is that really especially unique? Doesn't anyone else try and help fellow players who are clearly struggling a bit?

And, frankly, those all sound like people with absolutely no idea what they're doing. As in "not minimally competent" and thus not a good benchmark.

mplindustries wrote:
Frankly, as much as I recognize the potential power of it, I HATE preparing spells, personally, and find that for every day you pull it off perfectly and ruin an oppositional GM's day, there's another you get caught with your pants down and you can't Black Tentacles ghosts.

I actually really dislike prepared casting as a rule, myself (though I do make an exception for Investigators, because I'm in love with that Class). Doesn't mean I don't know how to do it, though.


mplindustries wrote:
I've honestly never witnessed someone actually get better at preparing spells. They've either given up, or continued to suck. But mostly just given up.

I have. She plays a druid.

So while she was figuring out how to prep spells, her AC was chewing through encounters.

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