Comparing talents to feats 'n stuff.


Ultimate Intrigue Playtest General Discussion


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There was mention of comparing talents to feats as a balancing metric, so I figured I'd go through. Heads up, I mostly play arcane, so other people can probably do much better comparisons. I've only got time right now for Avenger, but I'll see if I can get to the others later.

Avenger:

Are the Avenger's talents better than a feat? Let's take a look! If it's a tough call, I'll ask whether it's something I'd take before picking up Weapon Focus.

Armor Silence: Worse. This is (on its own) +4 to stealth, and it goes down. Considering Skill Focus (Stealth) eventually is +6 to stealth, this should have a little more rolled in with it. While this gets you the bonus earlier, Skill Focus is generally quite low on my list of feats to take.

Armor Skin: Worse. This (on its own) is a +4 to two skills. The +2/+4 to two skill feats are worth that eventually. While this gets you the bonus earlier, skill bonus feats are generally quite low on my list of feats to take. This also comes with a pre-req, and we don't have talents to throw around.

Close the Gap: Slightly worse. In any game with big low-Int monsters, this is handy, but most of the time a good ol' Weapon Focus would be better. The 20 ft limit is what seals the deal, since it doesn't give you much over making your acrobatics check. Why not the common base movement of 30ft?

Combat Skill: Equal. It's a combat feat, which would normally be slightly worse than your choice of any feat, but it does get you limited access to Fighter goodies. It's telling that many people mostly pick this, though. It means that if a Extra Vigilante Talent feat existed, Avenger wouldn't care.

Environmental Weapon: Worse. Catch Off Guard lets you pick up any improvised weapon, and can make people flat footed. Swift action is just letting you catch them flat-footed in the surprise round. Why not make this Catch Off Guard plus the ability to grab a weapon in a specific environment as a swift action?

Favored Maneuver: Better. No annoying pre-reqs! However, it doesn't come with the Greater version, unlike Oracle and Shaman options. Proposed fix- don't allow it to be taken multiple times, but have it grant the Greater version at level 11. Each morning, you pick which maneuver you'd like it to apply to.

Fist of the Avenger: Worse*. Improved Unarmed Strike is a feat tax. Now you can get a minor bonus with your feat tax. Yay? (*A one-level dip in Brawler or Monk will get you much more than the Vigilante level you took and spent on this feat tax.)

Heavy Training: Equal. It's a feat. The only time it's better than a feat is if you've been blowing all your talents on stuff that's worse than a feat.

Living Shield: Better. If this were a feat, every grapple build would use it.

Mad Rush: I don't know. It's Pounce, but at a terrible cost, especially for somebody rocking a d8.

Nothing Can Stop Me: Worse? I'm trying to think of when this would be useful. Getting through a door seems like the likeliest. So you save a move action, I guess? "Once per round while moving, you can open a door or move an object out of your way without slowing down". Yeah, I think this just sounds cool.

Shield of Fury: Better. This is more like it! Get a feat and make it better with a conditional feat. The nice thing is that it also lets you skirt the hefty Dex pre-req.

Signature Weapon: Better. Again, a clear cut improvement. Weapon Focus is one of those things you often end up grabbing (and the feat I'm keeping in mind for a lot of these), so getting it along with an extra feat is good.

Suckerpunch: Better. It's not a bad amount of bonus non-lethal.

Unkillable: Worse. Eventually better than Diehard, but it still doesn't pass the Weapon Focus test.

Vital Punishment: Better. This is a very clever way to make Vital Strike worthwhile. I'm seeing synergy with Favored Maneuver for Improved Trip.

Verdict:
Better: 6
Worse: 7
Equal: 2
Don't know: 1

Currently, Avenger leans slightly towards worse-than-a-feat. Since a few of the "better" options are build-specific and conflict with one another, Avenger will be looking to trade out many or most talents for combat feats.

Paizo Employee Designer

Thanks for doing this! This is very useful and we appreciate it. :)


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Logan Bonner wrote:
Thanks for doing this! This is very useful and we appreciate it. :)

Glad it's helpful! I did a full breakdown of the Stalker, but Paizo servers went down when I submitted and ate the post. Gotta remember to copy…

ANYWHO, here we go again! Spoilers: Comparing to feats, the Stalker does surprisingly well.

Stalker:

Another Day: Worse. I may be a little harsh here, but this is eventually a very narrow window of hitpoints to land at. In addition, some things don't care if you're dead, they're just going to eat you. Things that don't want to eat you probably want to take your stuff. Your allies may not in-character know you're still healable. And to for the point of comparing to feats, there are feats that let you act or temporarily heal up when in the negatives, and a trait that gives you limited actions in the negative. Acting > looking dead. Fixing this is pretty easy- Internal Alchemist already has an ability close to this. Allow faking death at will, and you get all sorts of fun hijinks.

Case the Joint: Worse. Now, don't get me wrong, this is cool. But it's floating rerolls on skills on a per-week basis if you spend an hour and make a high DC check in a background skill. Meanwhile, Improved Great Fortitude gives you a floating reroll on a save on a per-day basis if you get a really useful pre-req. That's it- no more hoops. This should grant similar bonuses to any henchmen or party members you're working with. (Up to, say, your level worth of allies? So Ocean's 11 happens at level 11.)

Expose Weakness: Worse- kind of. Okay, cool. This is neat. And I will readily admit that if this were a feat, lots of Dirty Trick builds would take it. But Dirty Trick is terrible without a lot of investment, and it's even worse on a 3/4 BAB class. This doesn't come with any easier access to Improved Dirty Trick, and Rogue Talent doesn't help out at all there either. So while I'm really tempted to list it as Equal or Better, it requires two feat taxes to make it not a trap. Roll in a free Improved Dirty Trick (or even just some way to make it without provoking), and this is solid Better!

Foe Collision: Equal- There are a lot of pros and cons vs. Cleave, enough that I'll ball-park it as about the same as a feat.

Hide in Plain Sight: Better. This is almost always better than Hellcat Stealth, which is already a nice feat.

Leave an Opening: A basic premise of this class is a lie. We are told (more or less) that you'll get a true hidden strike against somebody who is unaware of you. That makes this maybe equal? One free bonus attack per combat, provided you ambush the enemy. But that's not true, just like "Once per rage" was secretly a lie for Barbarians- Up Close and Personal makes this strictly Better. (Fortunately, the "lie" is way more obvious than with Barbs.) But when I first reviewed this, I didn't know that until I got to the bottom. Definitely seems to be heading into One True Build territory. Please don't nerf it too hard or anything, but the class shouldn't have its power hinge on getting one talent. SO. By itself, Equal. With Up Close and Personal, Better.

Mighty Ambush: Better. This is what I'd expect for the Hidden Strike we're presented with. If you set up an ambush, you get to a lovely S.O.S effect. No double-dipping and retrying, though. With UC&P, this is Very Better, in that every enemy you fight gets coup de graced by your ally if it can't make a fort save.

Mockingbird: Better. This is something like Realistic Likeness- so unique and fun you put off your combat stuff for a little while in order to make a fun character. My only problem here is that it's a level 4 requirement. This would be a really enjoyable tool to have as early as possible, and make for great character flavor without being a power problem.

Perfect Fall: Worse. There are several racial feats for feather fall effects at any time, and those are better. People still don't take them.

Perfect Vulnerability: Better. It's nice- when you just need to hit something, there's this.

Pull Into Shadows: Worse. It looks good until you realize it's only +2 over having Improved Drag all the time. You avoid the pre-req… oh, that would be Power Attack. Never mind. The movement thing is nice, but it's still super-limited in when you can use it. To make this worthwhile, throw in Improved Grab (making the +4 a +2 that stacks with it). Even so… still combat maneuvers on a 3/4 BAB class.

Rogue Talent: Equal. There's a talent for a combat feat and one for Weapon Focus, and those are what people take anyways.

Rooftop Infiltrator: Better. This works out to +13 or so on climb checks. I would take that for any skill, even Profession (Notary).

Shadow's Sight: Better. If you don't have darkvision, it is not cheap to pick up.

Silent Dispatch: Worst. This gets its own category because it makes gameplay worse for other classes. "Battle" is generally at least two people fighting. One person slitting another's throat before they can react isn't "battle". This talent should be part of the book's updates on stealth rules, not a class-exclusive feature.

Sniper: Better. Rogue called to say they're jealous.

Strike the Unseen: Better. Blind Fight isn't a feat I'd normally take, but it's the sort of thing that Brawler likes to brag about being able to pick up in a pinch. I can get my class's sneak damage against things with concealment? Aww yeah! Rolling in the other Blind Fight feats rounds this out beautifully.

Surprise Strike: Worse. It's a conditional +1. A feat is worth a conditional +2 or a guaranteed +1, so if this is supposed to be better than a feat, it should be +2/+3/+4.

Throat Jab: Better. It's a nice way to get an extra round to deal with a caster.

Twisting Fear: Better. Free damage on an intimidate check? Sounds like a build to me!

Up Close and Personal: Better. It turns out you didn't have to worry about all that talk about "caught unawares" that made you think this was just Rogue Rechained. You move up to and alongside them, hitting them in the process. Then you hit them. And then you don't move away, and you get to hit them again for Leave an Opening.

Results (assuming you take UC&P):
Better: 12
Equal: 2
Worse: 6
Worst: 1

That's enough Better to make it all the way through your career on playtest material alone. Unlike Avenger, this doesn't have a lot of mutually exclusive material in it. On the other hand, Avenger didn't hurt other classes. UC&P makes this very mobile, which isn't usually very practical in Pathfinder. It's worth noting that while this got better results than Avenger, it does start off with a slightly worse base.


Okay, let's tackle Warlock! Heads up- I'm not really analyzing the spell-free Warlock route, just the 6/9 caster version.

The two casters are in a weird position. They get an even worse base than Stalker, meaning they need some really good stuff.

So… a few balance thoughts. I would consider Bard to be the best comparison point- a social arcane 6/9 caster class.
- We can cancel out every social persona feature with all of a Bard's skill bonuses class features. We don't know the full details yet, but it seems like a fair ballpark.
- We'll pretend their capstones cancel. It doesn't really matter much.
- Bards, being proficient with rapiers, have the same effective weapon proficiency as a Warlock, who is pressured into either not using weapons in melee or going with a Dex build because of lack armored casting. (Sorry, ranged builds, no time for you.)
- At full investment in spells, a Bard's greater spells per day cancels with a Warlocks broader spell list and use of Arcanist-style casting.
- As a result, the five remaining Warlock talents should roughly compare with the remaining class features of a Bard.

Warlock:

Arcane Training II-VI: Undefined. Negative feats? For comparing against any external class, these should have been baked in. However, for comparing against the other paths, these should be balanced against the difference in power between full BAB and 6/9 casting.

Arcane Striker: Better. Arcane Strike is a good feat. This is better than Arcane Strike. Mutually exclusive with Eldritch Bolt for most builds.

Bombs: Better. Alchemists are a great emergency backup for very high AC opponents, and getting a bunch of bombs is nice. You can never throw more than one, but it's nice to TWF (see: Eldritch Bolt) and the limited splash damage means you don't need to worry about Precise Bombs.

Bond of Blood: Equal. Godless Healing is better healing, but only useable once per day instead of… 1-3 times, depending on the circumstances. Blood Armor would be nice… if you could wear armor. Mage Armor is going to outclass the clothing bonus of that.

Caster's Defense: Better. Casters often fit Combat Casting in there somewhere just in case. This is that with a little bit of an added perk- even if the wording needs some work.

Concealed Casting: Better. This is really hard to get ever since SLAs were clarified to probably be visible. (Please let other classes do this… please let other classes do this…)

Educated Defense: Better. Take that, Improved Iron Will! This is a really good one, negating two character-ending spells per day.

Elemental Battle Armor: Better. A feat is worth Resistance 5 or so, and this adds retribution damage. The inclusion of non-reach hand-held weapons is appreciated.

Familiar: Better. Two feats rolled into one! With the Familiar Folio, this becomes really useful, providing a wealth of options.

Living Shadow: Better. This is your "Get out of TPK free" card, and is great for lots of combat fun.

Mystic Bolt: Better. Touch attacks 'til the cows come home. The fact that these don't work with feats in general is probably an important balancing point. It is, however, really confusing.

Nonlethal Spellcasting: Equal. There's a feat for this… this is better than that, but that's not great, so we'll round it off to equal. Would I take this before Weapon Focus (Mystic Bolt)? Only for a particular character concept.

Shadow Jump: Better. Dimension Door is a nice effect, and getting it without draining spell slots is nice. Even if you don't feel the 40 feet is useful enough, it doubles every two levels. Glad they didn't forget to cap it at 320 feet.

Signature Spell: Equal. It's two feats that would apply to lots of spells combined, but only for one spell. (Personally, I don't mind this left unbuffed… too much reward for sticking with one spell makes for boring play.)

Social Simulacrum: Better. It's a body-double! What's not to like?

Tattoo Chamber: Better. There are items that do this, but activating wands without revealing it is nice.

Results:
Better: 12
Equal: 3
Worse: None/needing to take the arcane training talents to get their magic.

Warlock scored extremely well, as expected.

How does it stack up against a Bard?

Warlock vs. Bard:

A Bard is left with the following class features to match:
Bardic Performance (Inspire Courage/Competence/Heroics, Countersong, Distraction, Fascinate, Suggestion/Mass Suggestion, Dirge of Doom, and Frightening Tune)
Well Versed (It never comes up, so we'll ignore that.)

My favorite five Warlock options are…
Concealed Casting (Bard is close to the only other class that can kind of do this), Mystic Bolt, Educated Defense, Social Simulacrum or Familiar, and Living Shadow.

So, would I play a Bard that traded Inspire Courage for those at 2nd, 6th, 12th, 16th, and 20th? The 20th level one hurts. The answer is no… stuff just comes in too late consistently. At level 12 and up, I wouldn't mind making the trade, but before that it's just not enough class feature alongside the casting.

If I were playing a Warlock, would I trade my non-casting talents for Bardic Performance? Yes, I would, especially with Suggestion coming in at the same time as the second non-casting talent.

Seems like there could still be a little work done for levels 1-11.

Shadow Lodge

This is an interesting idea.

I'd like to add a few thoughts to these comparisons. Spoiler'd for shortness

Why spellcasting talents are worse than feats:
Simply put, because feat taxes are boring, restrictive, and overall limit flexibility. Regular feats, that give a character a concrete reason to take over other feats, are great. Feats that you are required to make a certain class/fighting style effective, are much less so. Combat expertise, for example, is a meager feat overall but is also the prerequisite for a lot of cool thematic feat paths like whirlwind attack or most combat maneuvers.

Now lets take this idea that feat taxes are bad, and apply it to vigilante talents. Assuming that the specializations are supposed to mechanically represent the iconic 4 man party but all with 2 personalities, warlock needs to take all 5 to mimic the "wizard" and zealot needs to take all 5 to mimic the "cleric". While there is more to a balanced party than the iconic party, this does seem to be the class goal overall. So, in order to do what the class portion is designed to do, you have to spend 1/2 of your class features. Personally, that alone seems like a problem (compared to stalker/avenger who get to effectively mimic their role more or less with just the base ability).

Compare this to the oracle, another class with specializations, limited talents, and different roles. Flame mystery does not make you spend 1/2 of your revelations to be a decent blaster, it gives you blast spells for free and gives alternative options as revelations for utility effects if you don't want to focus a lot on that. Battle mystery may have a couple of taxed revelations and spells, but still comes with a good amount of buffs baked in at various levels to help and has a much lower 'tax' since revelations are easier to come by and you only need 1 or 2. Same with spells, you have more and need less simultaneously.

So in my opinion, even though there isn't a feat chain that gives you spellcasting (or one of equivalent power) it still is worse because on the other hand, feats are not usually required to make a class perform its thematic function. Or ifnthey are, they are baked into the class. Swashbuckler/unchained rogue gets free weapon finesse, brawler/monk gets free unarmed strike feats, fighter gets tons of free feats for whatever type of fighter you make, etc.

That said, great job on the comparisons, QuidEst. I'd like to put in that IMO Mad Rush is better than an average feat, but still seems roughly equal to pummeling charge. Mad Rush gives the same mechanic (as charge, not style), and for Avenger it comes online earlier, but it includes a hefty AC penalty in exchange for applying to all weapons and having less prereqs. Also I think blood armor stacks with mage armor for bond of blood, as mage armor does conjur up a pseudo-armor, so thats nice.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Interesting comparison OP.

talents for casting is awesome, Spell casting is ultimate flexibility. New powerful spells are made in every book. To say it is limiting due to being too good is not a good reason to give it for free. I do hope the other talents make the player really think about picking up the spells or not. There are lots of other ways to be magical and I hope it hits those themes.

The martial options really needs to be more exciting, think book of 9 swords.


GeneticDrift wrote:

Interesting comparison OP.

talents for casting is awesome, Spell casting is ultimate flexibility. New powerful spells are made in every book. To say it is limiting due to being too good is not a good reason to give it for free. I do hope the other talents make the player really think about picking up the spells or not. There are lots of other ways to be magical and I hope it hits those themes.

The martial options really needs to be more exciting, think book of 9 swords.

But how Is it fair compared to the Magus, Bard, Inquisitor, and Witch?

They get their spell casting progression for free...

Liberty's Edge

Awesome compared with not having to spend them? Without spending them, it's almost a non-spellcasting class. Not awesome in my book.


Commenting on your comparison for the stalker...

I disagree with your assessment of pull into the shadows. It lets you do something that is otherwise impossible: you can take a move action, attack doing damage, then attempt a drag and move again dragging the enemy. Assuming the attack and drag are successful it's better than the three feat chain leading to spring attack. Plus it's very thematic.

I am concerned that at higher levels mighty ambush combined with up close and personal could be too powerful since you have the potential to knock out every enemy leaving them open to a coup-de-grace. Perhaps mighty ambush should be limited to once per combat.

I agree that perfect vulnerability looks nice until you realize you'd have to use it every round to, possibly, maintain the effect. This needs beefing up somehow.

On rogue talent, I created another thread to clarify one aspect, so I won't go into too much detail, but I think this should call out that it applies to all hidden strike attacks, not just those against enemies unaware of the vigilante. Otherwise it is strictly worse than a rogue taking the same rogue talent.


Thanks everybody! I appreciate the comments. I'll give my view on some of them.

EvilPaladin wrote:
(Why spellcasting talents are worse than feats)

I did write my Warlock analysis under the (potentially unfair) assumption that everybody will take all the spellcasting. I'm not going to count them as being the same category as "Worse", though. That means I could ignore them and take ten "Better" talents and be better off.

To me, the real question is whether or not a Warlock with five free talents can match up to a Bard. A Bard is basically a Vigilante who spent five talents on casting and five talents on Bardic Performance. Would I spend five talents on Bardic Performance? Yes. Would it be a close call with five Warlock Talents? Also yes, and it's only the terrible positioning of those talents that I do keep that makes the difference. That positioning (2, 6, 12, 18, 20) is extremely painful. 2, 6, 10, 14, 18 would be great if my casting continued along at the normal rate as well. Six levels between my unique class features is too much.

EvilPaladin wrote:
I'd like to put in that IMO Mad Rush is better than an average feat.

-6 AC total. However good the feat is, I keep coming back to that unpleasant number, so I can't really pin it down.

GeneticDrift wrote:

Interesting comparison OP.

talents for casting is awesome, Spell casting is ultimate flexibility. New powerful spells are made in every book. To say it is limiting due to being too good is not a good reason to give it for free. I do hope the other talents make the player really think about picking up the spells or not. There are lots of other ways to be magical and I hope it hits those themes.

The martial options really needs to be more exciting, think book of 9 swords.

Thanks! And yes, it's very cool flexibility. I think the issue people have is that it's good enough that it seems like it will be a necessary component of the best option. Once you take it, you look at what you have left and then compare with any other 6/9 caster. So why not play them?

I'm not really a martial expert, so the point of this is mostly to compare against feats (which is something that the devs said would be handy).

PIXIE DUST wrote:

But how Is it fair compared to the Magus, Bard, Inquisitor, and Witch?

They get their spell casting progression for free...

Yep. That's why I've included Bard. My intense dislike for Magus means I couldn't compare that fairly, and Bard is very streamlined. It has casting, bonuses to skills, and Bardic Performance. (Plus the amusingly one-off Well Versed that shows up once per campaign to humbly help save the day.)

Mike Lindner wrote:
I disagree with your assessment of pull into the shadows. It lets you do something that is otherwise impossible: you can take a move action, attack doing damage, then attempt a drag and move again dragging the enemy. Assuming the attack and drag are successful it's better than the three feat chain leading to spring attack. Plus it's very thematic.

Fair points, but my decision is based on a few reasons.

1) It's useless in combat. Once they know about you, this stops providing any benefit at all.
2) Drag is terrible. Not only do I have to hit their CMD… I have to beat it by at 5 to pull them 10 feet, and by 10 to pull them 15 feet.
3) I'm 3/4 BAB, so that +4 is getting eaten away at over time.
4) It's worse than getting +1 to all your attacks.

Mike Lindner wrote:
I am concerned that at higher levels mighty ambush combined with up close and personal could be too powerful since you have the potential to knock out every enemy leaving them open to a coup-de-grace. Perhaps mighty ambush should be limited to once per combat.

I am concerned that at any level Slumber combined with nothing and used on its own could be too powerful since you have the potential to knock out every enemy leaving them open to a coup-de-grace. Perhaps it's okay for a martial character to get in on that action. (I do agree with you, but Witch is already dishing this out, and everybody hates martials getting nerfed just for not being magical.)

A thought- what about stunned for 1d4 (or 1d4+1) rounds? Then you can happily sneak attack them to death, but they're not eligible for a cursory CDG.

Mike Lindner wrote:
I agree that perfect vulnerability looks nice until you realize you'd have to use it every round to, possibly, maintain the effect. This needs beefing up somehow.

Would I take a feat that let me once per day per target spend a standard action to just… not worry about somebody's AC for a single attack? Yes. You can't build around this, but it's still good for that one armor-piercing shot.

Mike Lindner wrote:
On rogue talent, I created another thread to clarify one aspect, so I won't go into too much detail, but I think this should call out that it applies to all hidden strike attacks, not just those against enemies unaware of the vigilante. Otherwise it is strictly worse than a rogue taking the same rogue talent.

For the purposes of this thread, regardless of * talents, Rogue talents are clearly equal in value to a feat. I've never cared for * talents much anyways, so I don't mind them being a Rogue's specialty. (Hopefully they balance out all this stealing from the Rogue by letting it take one pre-level-10 talent from the Stalker.)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
PIXIE DUST wrote:
GeneticDrift wrote:

Interesting comparison OP.

talents for casting is awesome, Spell casting is ultimate flexibility. New powerful spells are made in every book. To say it is limiting due to being too good is not a good reason to give it for free. I do hope the other talents make the player really think about picking up the spells or not. There are lots of other ways to be magical and I hope it hits those themes.

The martial options really needs to be more exciting, think book of 9 swords.

But how Is it fair compared to the Magus, Bard, Inquisitor, and Witch?

They get their spell casting progression for free...

Spell casting is not a core part of the class so they tax it, warlocks and I assume zealots have other strong options to rely on like eldrich strike. It's probably better to compare them to classes with a max of lvl 4 spells. Since two of the options are non casting and obviously do not have stronger talents to compensate. The vigilante just has the options to push spell casting further and get them sooner.


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GeneticDrift wrote:
PIXIE DUST wrote:
GeneticDrift wrote:

Interesting comparison OP.

talents for casting is awesome, Spell casting is ultimate flexibility. New powerful spells are made in every book. To say it is limiting due to being too good is not a good reason to give it for free. I do hope the other talents make the player really think about picking up the spells or not. There are lots of other ways to be magical and I hope it hits those themes.

The martial options really needs to be more exciting, think book of 9 swords.

But how Is it fair compared to the Magus, Bard, Inquisitor, and Witch?

They get their spell casting progression for free...

Spell casting is not a core part of the class so they tax it, warlocks and I assume zealots have other strong options to rely on like eldrich strike. It's probably better to compare them to classes with a max of lvl 4 spells. Since two of the options are non casting and obviously do not have stronger talents to compensate. The vigilante just has the options to push spell casting further and get them sooner.

But other classes get spellcasting AND STRONG options. The zealot is literally a weaker inquisitor (like 3/4 of its talents are just inquisitor abilities). The talents of the warlock are not su much stronger thAn a magus arcana as to justify being so hard taxed.

And comparing the Vigicasters to the 4 level casters just makes no sense. The 4 level casters have d10s and full BAB...


And the bard and the Vigilante do not have comparable skills.

Bardic Knowledge is a stupid useful ability and Versatile Performance makes for very efficient usage of skill points.

The vigilante has a rather minor buff to a social skill and an intimidate buff... that is really it ... the bard is already CHA heavy due to spell casting where as for the Warlock ChA is more of a trap than anything. So cobsidering the large difference in CHA scores, they will actually cancel each other out. So all in all, Bard is still better at skills all around. Also, if you wanna go casty, the bard does have the Magician archetype...

Lets also not foget that the Warlock is pretty much just a step better than an Adept at casting...


All right- the moment you've all been waiting for! It's time to review… the Zealot!

Zealot:

Divine Training II-VI: Undefined, but a worse undefined than the Warlock. The list is poorer, and there's nothing unique about the casting. Great chance for a divine version of the Arcanist's casting- pick your spells prepared and cast them spontaneously! All those circumstantial spells divine lists are famous for are on-hand when you know you might need them.

Channel Energy: Worse. It pains me to say it, but man. Healing everybody a d6 at level 6 means zilch. What's better? Craft Wand to save 50% on the price of your wands of CLW. This just doesn't do enough healing to matter for quite a while.

Discern Lies: Better. Bluff is really easy to boost super-high, so Sense Motive can only do so much. This might be Equal, though; I'm used to playing Bluff-abusing characters, so this feels less situational to me than it probably is.

Divine Bastion: Equal- maybe. The bonus is very hefty. This should be an immediate action to be Better, though, since combat maneuvers are pulled out so rarely. Otherwise you're just spending your swift action and hoping the other party doesn't do some very tempting meta-gaming to just not use combat maneuvers. Look, I know it's not supposed to happen, but this is just asking for awkward situations where you use one of the few unique toys that this type of vigilante has, and either the GM wasn't going to use a combat maneuver, or changes their mind. It doesn't lend itself to good play experience as a swift. (Otherwise this is only useful against cloakers and other monsters that you know are going to use combat maneuvers.)

Domain: Better. A solid Better, at that. Domains are pretty cool! Consider adding the spells from the domain as spells known for a bit of a boost.

Empower Symbol: Better- undead campaigns only. In anything but an undead campaign, this is not very useful. In an undead campaign, it jumps to golden. Since there are a lot of feats that are same way, I can't fault it.

Life Bond: Better. This is great for keeping an ally alive long enough to finish the fight off.

Penance Gaze: Worse. It's easier to just intimidate. With a feat, I could get Cornugon Smash to dish out free intimidate checks rather than spending my turn glaring. Sure, the minute duration is nice, but it's not as good as unlimited free checks as part of trying to beat something up.

Revivifying Touch: Better. If this were a feat, it would be a feat tax for every non-divine caster. This should come it at 10, though? Generally when you pick up SLAs, you get them when a full caster would.

Stalwart: Better. At high levels, dishing out spells with consolation prizes for successful saves is pretty common, and this shuts that down.

Stern Gaze: Better than Skill Focus or the twofer skill feats, but those are already worse than a lot of feats. A weak Better.

Track: Worse. You can take Skill Focus (Survival) for close to the same bonus, but on ALL survival checks.

Better: 7 (many were barely better, though)
Equal: 1
Worse: 3

A begrudging 7 better. Unlike Warlock, where everything was shiny and clearly superior to a feat, often rivaling two feats, these are bland and manage to squeak by a feat. Almost nothing was combat-oriented, so you might as well play a full caster. Most of the things that were decisively better (Revivifying Touch and Domain) are Cleric class features, and base Cleric is one of the least exciting classes. The other (Life Bond) gets at least some of its appeal from the idea that it's a great excuse to reroll.

Zealot vs. Inquisitor:
I think we know how this goes.
All right, comparison rules. Any of an Inquisitor's social stuff is already represented as talents. Instead, we are going to say that the teamwork feats and better casting stat cancel with the social identity. It's far less apples-to-apples, but it seems reasonable in that plenty of people would trade all their social bonuses for teamwork feat progression.

As before, capstones cancel.

The following Inquisitor class features are apparently worth a talent:
- Domain
- Stern Gaze
- Track
- Discern Lies
- Stalwart

Wait… that's five talents, leaving five for casting. What does the Inquisitor have left?
- Monster Lore
- Cunning Initiative
- Detect Alignment
- First/Second/Third Judgement
- Bane/Greater Bane
- Slayer

Detect Alignment is as good as Discern Lies. Monster Lore is better than Track. Cunning Initiative is better than Stern Gaze. Judgement is better than Domain. Bane is better than Stalwart. Slayer is pretty late game, so we'll let that slide.

Inquisitor is a Zealot with 15 talents. The only advantage a Zealot has is proficiency with all martial weapons, and I'm willing to cancel that out with an Inquisitor having the two best saves.

Additionally, if I wanted to play a Zealot (really liked the dual identity mechanics), it would be better to do a one level dip and switch to Inquisitor. I would get with my first level of Inquisitor two talents instead of the one I would get for another level of Zealot, plus Judgement, Monster Lore, one more first-level spell known, more spells per day, and better overall saves.


PIXIE DUST wrote:

And the bard and the Vigilante do not have comparable skills.

Bardic Knowledge is a stupid useful ability and Versatile Performance makes for very efficient usage of skill points.

The vigilante has a rather minor buff to a social skill and an intimidate buff... that is really it ... the bard is already CHA heavy due to spell casting where as for the Warlock ChA is more of a trap than anything. So cobsidering the large difference in CHA scores, they will actually cancel each other out. So all in all, Bard is still better at skills all around. Also, if you wanna go casty, the bard does have the Magician archetype...

Lets also not foget that the Warlock is pretty much just a step better than an Adept at casting...

My decision to consider them equal is based on a three factors working together.

1) Efficient usage of skills is just making up for a Warlock's Int focus.
2) Almost every social skill can be converted to Int. Yes, it's a little more investment, but it is more much efficient than trying to boost everything up directly. One trait is enough to catch up to the Bard on (most practical uses of) Bluff and Diplomacy.
3) Bard does not get dual identity or mass charm effect of Renown. This is what I was balancing against the impressive Bardic Knowledge. Yes, Renown needs smoother scaling, but it's good early on and fantastic at 9+.
I would consider those three points alone equal enough to go ahead and cancel the respective features out. Personally, I would take the Vigilante's set over that of the Bard, but it's very easy to see where people would also take the Bard's over the Vigilante's. In addition, we've been told that the Vigilante will be getting some more stuff that uses other Ultimate Intrigue material. Part of my decision to cancel those two things out was because we've been told that it will be boosted by an unknown amount.

As I said in the comparison, Warlock may have less casting, but it's much better quality. Spells known can be changed out daily (something I'd love as a Bard) and Warlock gets to draw from the Wizard list. It seems reasonable to cancel those factors out as well.


Regarding your assessment of the Arcane/Divine Training talents, I feel your harsh judgment of them is being unfair to them.

You are judging them in terms of a tax on something casting classes get for free. As such, you are correct in seeing them as weaker than a feat.

Now let's look at those automatic increases in spellcasting as other classes get as automatic bonus feats (that non-casting classes simply cannot qualify for). By this standard these talents are equal to feats.

Now let's go a bit further - would a feat that gave a non-casting class access to levels of casting be better than any other existing feat? Without a doubt.

Most arguments against the Arcane/Divine Training talents are based on being locked into the caster/non-caster paradigm - the "have"s and "have not"s. This is a "sacred cow" to many, and the reason for the pushback.

What these talents really need to be seen as is giving spellcasting to non-casters. This is hugely powerful. But the way it is implemented is so limiting compared to the way the casting classes work that you end up falling somewhere between a casting class and non-casting class if you choose to go that route.


Freesword wrote:
What these talents really need to be seen as is giving spellcasting to non-casters. This is hugely powerful. But the way it is implemented is so limiting compared to the way the casting classes work that you end up falling somewhere between a casting class and non-casting class if you choose to go that route.

That's not true though. They already have spellcasting and get caster levels. They have the same spells list as a wizard (to 6th) and can pick up wands and use them. So they AREN'T granting full casting but unlocking pre-existing casting.


If you're going to compare Warlocks to Bards, don't skim over the value of casting in armor. The Vigilante comes with light & medium armor proficiency, but they are wasted on most Warlocks. A bard-like ability to cast in light armor (or perhaps a reduction in arcane spell failure percentage) would help balance this class out.

I actually built my first test-warlock assuming they COULD cast in armor, then was surprised to find that wasn't actually in the wording.


graystone wrote:
Freesword wrote:
What these talents really need to be seen as is giving spellcasting to non-casters. This is hugely powerful. But the way it is implemented is so limiting compared to the way the casting classes work that you end up falling somewhere between a casting class and non-casting class if you choose to go that route.
That's not true though. They already have spellcasting and get caster levels. They have the same spells list as a wizard (to 6th) and can pick up wands and use them. So they AREN'T granting full casting but unlocking pre-existing casting.

Again, if you look at spell casting classes as getting their casting ability as free bonus feats, then the Warlock and Zealot are getting their Arcane/Divine Training I talent as an automatic bonus feat/talent at level 1. Access to the various spell levels is just gated behind another prerequisite besides ability score which the existing casting classes get automatically for free.

It is the same as if in order to be a spell caster you had to take Spellcaster as a feat and it could only be taken at level 1. Only spellcasting classes get it automatically for free as a bonus feat.

Vigilante doesn't grant Spellcasting as a free automatic bonus, but the Warlock and and Zealot specializations do. The class is a non-caster with specializations that give spell casting as a feat chain with the first one automatic and free with that specialization.


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Freesword wrote:
graystone wrote:
Freesword wrote:
What these talents really need to be seen as is giving spellcasting to non-casters. This is hugely powerful. But the way it is implemented is so limiting compared to the way the casting classes work that you end up falling somewhere between a casting class and non-casting class if you choose to go that route.
That's not true though. They already have spellcasting and get caster levels. They have the same spells list as a wizard (to 6th) and can pick up wands and use them. So they AREN'T granting full casting but unlocking pre-existing casting.

Again, if you look at spell casting classes as getting their casting ability as free bonus feats, then the Warlock and Zealot are getting their Arcane/Divine Training I talent as an automatic bonus feat/talent at level 1. Access to the various spell levels is just gated behind another prerequisite besides ability score which the existing casting classes get automatically for free.

It is the same as if in order to be a spell caster you had to take Spellcaster as a feat and it could only be taken at level 1. Only spellcasting classes get it automatically for free as a bonus feat.

Vigilante doesn't grant Spellcasting as a free automatic bonus, but the Warlock and and Zealot specializations do. The class is a non-caster with specializations that give spell casting as a feat chain with the first one automatic and free with that specialization.

The problem with your assessment is that we DO got a lot of casters with 6 level casting and, d8 HD, 3/4 BAB. There is 1 class that has 3/4 BAB, D8 HD, and no spell casting really and thaT is the rogue (monk is kinda sorta ish). And that class is considered by many as horridly weak....

To take away spell casting and saying "well if you burn your talents you can get it!" Is poor justification. Also the problem with saying "more powerful than a feat" is that feat power is all over the dang place. You have things like Elephant Stomp that just suck, but you also have things like Extra Hex, Extra Rage Power, or Arthimancy.


Freesword wrote:
Again, if you look at spell casting classes as getting their casting ability as free bonus feats, then the Warlock and Zealot are getting their Arcane/Divine Training I talent as an automatic bonus feat/talent at level 1. Access to the various spell levels is just gated behind another prerequisite besides ability score which the existing casting classes get automatically for free.

Lets say I go with this. So what the Warlock and Zealot get are weaker than the 'bonus feats' that other spell casting classes get as they get MORE slots. That makes them weaker than other feats you are trying to compare them too.

It's much like trying to compare a Vigilante's abilities to feats without comparing them to the extra feats for the other classes. The metric SHOULD be an oracles getting 'martial weapons and heavy armor', 'Weapon Focus, Improved Critical and Greater Weapon Focus' or an 'animal companion' for a feat as that's the standard for a powerful feat. it's disingenuous to ignore those type of feats in a 'is this more poweful than a feat' metric. 'Better than Weapon Focus' IMO isn't really a fair comparison. It'd be like picking Dolphin in a 'is it better than an animal companion' metric. it's not really the strongest pick around. It's not 'better than the average feat' but better than what feats are capable of currently. 'Weapon Focus' is in fact currently worth about 1/3 of a strong feat, not the top of the pile.

Shadow Lodge

Freesword wrote:

Regarding your assessment of the Arcane/Divine Training talents, I feel your harsh judgment of them is being unfair to them.

You are judging them in terms of a tax on something casting classes get for free. As such, you are correct in seeing them as weaker than a feat.

Now let's look at those automatic increases in spellcasting as other classes get as automatic bonus feats (that non-casting classes simply cannot qualify for). By this standard these talents are equal to feats.

Now let's go a bit further - would a feat that gave a non-casting class access to levels of casting be better than any other existing feat? Without a doubt.

Most arguments against the Arcane/Divine Training talents are based on being locked into the caster/non-caster paradigm - the "have"s and "have not"s. This is a "sacred cow" to many, and the reason for the pushback.

What these talents really need to be seen as is giving spellcasting to non-casters. This is hugely powerful. But the way it is implemented is so limiting compared to the way the casting classes work that you end up falling somewhere between a casting class and non-casting class if you choose to go that route.

I agree that in many cases, a feat chain granting 6 levels of arcanist-style casting would be very powerful, and equal to or most likely better than a regular feat, but this isn't simply something like that. Its not simply a feat chain to give you spellcasting, its a feat chain a 1/4 of a class can take to accomplish what it is described as being. Warlock is where I have the biggest hold up here, because they are listed as thematically being "skilled arcane casters" in their role and yet, the only way for them to do this mechanically is to spend 1/2 of their abilities that are useful in a combat. Assuming these talents are equal to feats, that would mean we now have a class that is required to take a feat chain five feats long to measure up to what it is apparently designed to be. And they still have less spells than their 'skilled arcane caster' peers the magus, bard, and summoner. That is a problem to me because feats aren't supposed to be required to make a class work how it is said to work thematically.


EvilPaladin wrote:
Freesword wrote:

Regarding your assessment of the Arcane/Divine Training talents, I feel your harsh judgment of them is being unfair to them.

You are judging them in terms of a tax on something casting classes get for free. As such, you are correct in seeing them as weaker than a feat.

Now let's look at those automatic increases in spellcasting as other classes get as automatic bonus feats (that non-casting classes simply cannot qualify for). By this standard these talents are equal to feats.

Now let's go a bit further - would a feat that gave a non-casting class access to levels of casting be better than any other existing feat? Without a doubt.

Most arguments against the Arcane/Divine Training talents are based on being locked into the caster/non-caster paradigm - the "have"s and "have not"s. This is a "sacred cow" to many, and the reason for the pushback.

What these talents really need to be seen as is giving spellcasting to non-casters. This is hugely powerful. But the way it is implemented is so limiting compared to the way the casting classes work that you end up falling somewhere between a casting class and non-casting class if you choose to go that route.

I agree that in many cases, a feat chain granting 6 levels of arcanist-style casting would be very powerful, and equal to or most likely better than a regular feat, but this isn't simply something like that. Its not simply a feat chain to give you spellcasting, its a feat chain a 1/4 of a class can take to accomplish what it is described as being. Warlock is where I have the biggest hold up here, because they are listed as thematically being "skilled arcane casters" in their role and yet, the only way for them to do this mechanically is to spend 1/2 of their abilities that are useful in a combat. Assuming these talents are equal to feats, that would mean we now have a class that is required to take a feat chain five feats long to measure up to what it is apparently designed to be. And they still have...

What if they combine level 2/3 training and level 5/6... as for why keep 4 separate... well here is the idea:

At level 4 training(and also for the talent for 5/6)... you get the option to add your level 4 spells Known and 1.5 times the amount of level 4 spell uses to a lower level spell tier... the new option not requiring the actual Stat level for the new tier... however if you do not have the stat level for level 4 you only get .5 times the level 4's spells known and the normal amount of spell uses added to that lower level skill slot of your choice... this choice must be made when you receive the talent, and is separate for each level(with 5 and 6 replacing 4 in the above wording as expected) of spell.

This would make for some very interesting choices and possibilities for low level CHA and Will builds, as well as Warlocks and Zealots in general.

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