Martial / Caster disparity: What are you going to do about it?


Homebrew and House Rules

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Speaking of Sslarn's initiative on the subject. The above mentioned Bravery feats go a long way, along with The Talented Fighter, and Fighter Nuances, in terms of giving Fighters a niche. The key reason why I condensed combat feats required for specific playstyles is to make room for feats like these. In the end with condensed feats, stamina and better exclusive feats the fighter is significantly better and drastically more lethal.

The Talented line from Rogue Genius games has also done wonders for the Rogue, Monk and Cavalier with the new condensed feats bringing them closer to tier 3.

Speaking of condensed feats. The inspiration came from Kobold Press' New Path Compendium and functioning with similar logic to the fighter's choices of combat specialty in 5th edition. For the most part you can choose one feat and run with that style of fighting leaving plenty of room for other feats.

Casters themselves present a different kind of issue. While the comparison to martials is the popular subject the main issue that I have is that casters can trivialize situations. Buffing the weakest classes is easy. Use the scaling feats from New Paths Compendium, pick up products that specifically buff the weak classes. But with casters they are both powerful and fragile in the sense that having heavy nerfs can make them completely unfun because they don't have much else in terms of class features. I think Spheres of Power has a lot of traction because it doesn't exactly nerf casters but remove their ability to silver bullet problems and actively obsolete skills, which is where I think caster should be. The issue is still sensitive however because there are plenty of spells and other caster materials in Paizo Products and third party products and don't feel right abandoning all that in favor of Spheres of Power despite SoP covering a lot of bases. (could use advice on that. )


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Yap, this is the HOMEBREW section. Debates are at General Discussion.


Malwing wrote:
Casters themselves present a different kind of issue. While the comparison to martials is the popular subject the main issue that I have is that casters can trivialize situations. Buffing the weakest classes is easy. Use the scaling feats from New Paths Compendium, pick up products that specifically buff the weak classes. But with casters they are both powerful and fragile in the sense that having heavy nerfs can make them completely unfun because they don't have much else in terms of class features. I think Spheres of Power has a lot of traction because it doesn't exactly nerf casters but remove their ability to silver bullet problems and actively obsolete skills, which is where I think caster should be. The issue is still sensitive however because there are plenty of spells and other caster materials in Paizo Products and third party products and don't feel right abandoning all that in favor of Spheres of Power despite SoP covering a lot of bases. (could use advice on that. )

I haven't tried it, but in theory, I really like one idea I saw in one of these threads... translate those spells that obviate the need for skills into things that rely on those skills to function.

So, perhaps spiderclimb unlocks bonuses based on how many ranks you have. If you combine it with something like the class skill abilities that Kirthfinder attaches to skills, you could do something like make spiderclimb let you treat Climb as a class skill or (if it is already a class skill) let you act as if you had an additional X ranks (possibly something like 1 per 4 caster levels?).

Doing something like this means that those spells are still useful to casters, though they still need some baseline competency in the skill. It also means that those who have focused on a skill can get even more crazy awesome with it with the aid of magic -- such as potions.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

A few people have made suggestions about removing or limiting 'utility' spells like teleport and flight. Is that what is meant by 'martial / caster disparity'? That some casters have access to a wide array of effects? If so... don't things like magic items, use magic device, rogue magic talents, leadership to get a caster cohort, et cetera allow martial characters to eliminate most of this 'disparity'?

One of the suggestions was to impose limits on teleportation because it allows too much skipping over things. I actually did that in one game... but it was an all martial PC group. If that's the 'disparity' then the reason I've never seen it is because... martials can do those things too.


CBDunkerson wrote:
A few people have made suggestions about removing or limiting 'utility' spells like teleport and flight. Is that what is meant by 'martial / caster disparity'? That some casters have access to a wide array of effects? If so... don't things like magic items, use magic device, rogue magic talents, leadership to get a caster cohort, et cetera allow martial characters to eliminate most of this 'disparity'?

No, since casters have those as well.


CBDunkerson wrote:

A few people have made suggestions about removing or limiting 'utility' spells like teleport and flight. Is that what is meant by 'martial / caster disparity'? That some casters have access to a wide array of effects? If so... don't things like magic items, use magic device, rogue magic talents, leadership to get a caster cohort, et cetera allow martial characters to eliminate most of this 'disparity'?

One of the suggestions was to impose limits on teleportation because it allows too much skipping over things. I actually did that in one game... but it was an all martial PC group. If that's the 'disparity' then the reason I've never seen it is because... martials can do those things too.

This has already been answered but I will elaborate a bit.

The issue with the solutions presented is that those are not opitions unique to martials, or to literally any other class.

A commoner for example can use everything listed.

More, casters through dint of getting crafting feats can halve the costs of magic items allowing them to gain access to such items far sooner.

Liberty's Edge

Make Attacks of Opportunity a Fighter Class Feature at Level 5, a Monk/Ranger Class Feature at Level 10, and a Rogue Class Feature at Level 10 with the added bonus of being able to do Dirty Tricks instead. Also, deny AoO for other classes, and the fact Fighters don't get it until Level 5 means you can't just Level Dip.


Milo v3 wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:
A few people have made suggestions about removing or limiting 'utility' spells like teleport and flight. Is that what is meant by 'martial / caster disparity'? That some casters have access to a wide array of effects? If so... don't things like magic items, use magic device, rogue magic talents, leadership to get a caster cohort, et cetera allow martial characters to eliminate most of this 'disparity'?
No, since casters have those as well.

More than that, they aren't exactly reliable. If it's an item you have to be able to reliably gain said item which is at the mercy of the GM or setting or you have to buy it. If you can reliably buy them then you're putting an economic pressure on classes that are already gear reliant. Also because those items are priced very high it doesn't deal with the issue because casters don't just have a wide array of effects but at some point a wide array of effects at once and for free, (another reason I frequently bring up Spheres of Power is that they have casters that are powerful and can trivialize encounters and obsolete skills but only a for a very narrow amount of skills or kinds of encounters unless you sacrifice power for versatility.)and in the case of say a fighter a number of items they'd need to spend resources they barely have (skill ranks) to use.

However with a healthy injection of some third party materials this is mitigated. Scaling combat feats leave room for more interesting feats, like Feats of Runic Might, which allow access to short flight bursts by a feat. By increasing the amount of alchemical items a fighter has a chance to craft appropriate for himself reliably.

Although one argument is that martials shouldn't do the same thing as casters or even virtually the same thing but preserve class interdependence. I don't think removing spells like teleporting and flying were really on the table but effects that mimic and obsolete skills, a mundane thing, or allow a character to mimic martials in function like too powerful summoning or Divine Power.

In my upcoming game we're playing in space. Fighters naturally have Knowledge Engineering and have incentives to have decent Int and can reasonably craft technological items for themselves and use knowledge engineering to pilot vehicles. Also technological arms and armor gives them an array of martial effects that many other classes cannot use as effectively and are otherwise normally exclusive to casters. Martials are somewhat kings of lethality while casters can do one better but not without protection and planning. Which is where I think things should be; Casters should be better than martials, but not within 60 feet of one.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Ssalarn wrote:
It is because people like the Fighter/Rogue/whatever that they attempt to find ways to fix them and propose solutions so that others who also like those classes and find themselves stymied by their design flaws can spend more time enjoying them.

I'm a bit curious about this - is there a reason why people like the fighter that much? I mean, the class is quite literally a bunch of feats and a few bonus numbers; I don't consider it a loss at all to just rename the 'Myrmidon Archetype' to 'Fighter' (or heck, rename 'Warlord' to 'Fighter') and scrap the class altogether.

Same goes for rogue. I mean, many of us will gladly argue for class mutability - you can still be a 'rogue' while actually being a Slayer, Vivisectionist, Investigator, Stalker, etc. What is it about rogue that makes it a necessity to salvage the class, instead of just piecing together the desired features from other, stronger classes like Slayer or Stalker?

Or making an unarmed stalker, making him/her bald, giving it some plain monk robes and a zen philosophy, and calling that character a "monk"?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ssalarn wrote:
Also, I hate the idea of gentleman's agreements as a balancing factor. First, it requires everyone at the table to actually know and understand both the issue and the accepted solution.

In other words, they should sit down and talk to each other.

Quote:
This is a big deal in and of itself, because in my experience many people who are upstaging others at the table aren't aware they're even doing it, and it's not like there's some universally accepted definition of "cheese", especially when the most broken things in the game are often working exactly as intended or written.

If someone's not even aware that they're doing something, I find that the best result is to actually try and talk to them about it (and by talk to them I mean doing so in a manner that isn't accusatory, angry, or otherwise petulant). That doesn't necessarily solve the problem in and of itself, but it's certainly a good first step.

Quote:
Secondly, gentleman's agreements often don't account for new material. How do you just accept that no one is going to use something like Sacred Geometry when half or more of the group may not frequent the forums and know that it's a poorly designed and overpowered feat?

Wouldn't a well-formed gentleman's agreement address the issue of new material to begin with? That seems like a very big area to overlook; something along the lines of "these are the books that we all have, so let's agree to limit ourselves to these, and if something new comes out later that somebody really likes we can have a conversation about it" doesn't seem that unusual (at least to me).

Quote:
In addition, something that's a problem for person A may be something that person B actually really likes about the game. Several people have stated that ridiculously overpowered casters are their favorite thing about the game, and others have staunchly defended the Fighter's right to be a hot worthless pile of crap at high levels, because not only do they not want to have to think while playing one, they want to make sure that nobody else has the option to think while playing one either. How do you reconcile these differences?

I'd presume with maturity, and the understanding that you're playing the game *with* the other people around the table and not against them, but that's just me.


Felyndiira wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
It is because people like the Fighter/Rogue/whatever that they attempt to find ways to fix them and propose solutions so that others who also like those classes and find themselves stymied by their design flaws can spend more time enjoying them.

I'm a bit curious about this - is there a reason why people like the fighter that much? I mean, the class is quite literally a bunch of feats and a few bonus numbers; I don't consider it a loss at all to just rename the 'Myrmidon Archetype' to 'Fighter' (or heck, rename 'Warlord' to 'Fighter') and scrap the class altogether.

Same goes for rogue. I mean, many of us will gladly argue for class mutability - you can still be a 'rogue' while actually being a Slayer, Vivisectionist, Investigator, Stalker, etc. What is it about rogue that makes it a necessity to salvage the class, instead of just piecing together the desired features from other, stronger classes like Slayer or Stalker?

Or making an unarmed stalker, making him/her bald, giving it some plain monk robes and a zen philosophy, and calling that character a "monk"?

The short answer is yes. But there are two obstacles of ditching a class from the core rulebooks.

1) You ditch a bit of familiarity. When you have a group that slowly developed an appreciation for third party classes and just filing off the serial numbers for the flavor they need things work out fine. but I've had numerous times where I have a completely new group and they will actively avoid third party classes options and feats for a lack of familiarity. It requires reading and analyzing and when you have internet group-think to optimize for you managing a core class is much easier because you are familiar with it's capabilities and expectations without reading exactly what it does. Think about psionics vs psychics. Psionics, from my experience is often met with fear and distrust because its a different mechanic of casting while psychic classes follow more of familiar paradigms that players can latch onto. In fact less experienced players are more likely to pick up on new material because they don't have full familiarity.

2) You ditch tings exclusive to the abandoned class. Even if there is a suitable new replacement you still have man hours, splat blooks, core books and material for the replaced class that people are wary of ditching even for something better. That stuff costs money and it feels awkward for it to just be uselessly dangling there because something else trumped it. Sure this happens even within the confines of itself but this includes system mastery over the class so it becomes a more emotional issue as well. I can completely rewrite casters with Spheres of Power but were does that leave 1001 spells, a fat book full of new options I spent money on? What about the 1/3 chunk of the core rulebook or any other hardcover with a fat load of spells in the middle? It doesn't matter if one relatively cheap pdf can replicate most of what that has to offer, its just throwing away a bunch of options.

Dark Archive

Add a 15% spell failure chance to all casters, which they can never get rid off, anything that provides a spell failure chance is added to this base.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Malwing wrote:
1) You ditch a bit of familiarity. When you have a group that slowly developed an appreciation for third party classes and just filing off the serial numbers for the flavor they need things work out fine. but I've had numerous times where I have a completely new group and they will actively avoid third party classes options and feats for a lack of familiarity.

I can definitely see this happening, though - at least in the case of T5 martials - trying to bring them up-to-par will invariably do the same. Even something simple, like the Stamina system, is completely new territory for many groups, that they'll have to learn and adapt to.

I concede that Path of War is much more complicated and Core-only/Paizo-only games only has Barbarian (very different crunch) as a no-magic alternative to Fighter, though any game that uses DSP material (which consist of, I would assume, almost everyone in this thread) or any strong 3rd party martial classes should have no issue replacing the fighter with that. And anyone who's willing to homebrew Fighter to that extent probably is okay with DSP.

Also, even with just Paizo sources, Rogues can mostly be replaced by Slayer without too much problem. Just open up all of the rogue talents and you're set.

Malwing wrote:
2) You ditch tings exclusive to the abandoned class.

I think this is mostly an issue with casters. Martials do not really have that many feats or features that are both exclusive to them and completely immutable; if I want to replace Fighter with Warlord and a player wants to take, say, Disruptive, I can just replace "Fighter Level 6" with "BAB +6" and it would function just as well.

A rogue only has rogue talents to call "unique", and a stalker or slayer can grab them as well. If a player really wants Sneak Attack, we can easily replace Deadly Strike dice with SA dice for the stalker, and it would require almost no rewrite at all (and actually end up weakening the Stalker class a bit).

As I have stated before, I'm not in support of nerfing casters for this exact reason. I'm just a bit curious on why the weaker martials have to be kept in the game, when many of the suggestions would have to amount to heavy changes that change the essence of the class anyway.


Basic Move - Block
Equipment prerequisite: Heavy shield or tower shield

Any time you become a target of attack (including touch attacks), spell, spell-like ability or must make a reflex save against an AOE effect with clear point of origin (fireball, cone of cold, breath weapon, some traps, etc.) you can use this move.

To activate this move you expend 1 AOO. You must be aware of the enemy targeting you and not flat-footed. You can't block incorporeal attacks unless your shield has ghost touch property.

Make a reflex save and add shield bonus to AC provided by your shield (feats, class features and any other abilities or effects that increase bonus provided by your shield do apply) to its result. If you fail this save the effects of attack or ability work as normal. If you succeed the effects instead are applied to your shield.

Effects that can't normally affect inanimate objects are wasted. Damage and effects that can affect inanimate objects are applied as if the shield was the initial target of attack, spell or other ability.

For non-attack abilities and spells DC is as per base spell or ability.

For attacks and combat maneuvres DC is 10 + enemy BAB + DEX or WIS modifier (whichever is higher).


One thing I do that helps this problem, to the degree that I haven't really seen it pop up much at all, is go big. By which I mean using a stat rolling method that generates high numbers, averaging the equivalent of a 42 point buy. Pure casters have the 20 casting stat they were always going to have, and martials can be both effective in combat and intelligent. Even the original monk works with stats like that.

Another thing is I have full attack as a standard action.

Dex to hit is an automatic option (the finessable property) with any light weapon or weapon that finesse would apply to. A single feat allows dex to damage. (For those who worry about such things, Str isn't invalidated because there's no way to reduce it in exchange for more power. With the stat gen method I use it's rare to have a stat below 12, and 15 is the average. Even the Dex focused type is probably still going to have a decent strength, for climb and swim.)

I've also experimented with various other systems that have helped, such as evolving magical weapons, or a transmutation chamber that allowed players to gain qualities of monster races. (Allowing access to things like flight or SLA). I've used a spell point system that gives versatility in exchange for quantity. Recently I've developed a "big six" replacement that allows players to progress as they like, focusing on offense, defense, or balance. Finally, I'm willing to work with a player if they want something that isn't already covered.


Felyndiira wrote:
Malwing wrote:
1) You ditch a bit of familiarity. When you have a group that slowly developed an appreciation for third party classes and just filing off the serial numbers for the flavor they need things work out fine. but I've had numerous times where I have a completely new group and they will actively avoid third party classes options and feats for a lack of familiarity.

I can definitely see this happening, though - at least in the case of T5 martials - trying to bring them up-to-par will invariably do the same. Even something simple, like the Stamina system, is completely new territory for many groups, that they'll have to learn and adapt to.

I concede that Path of War is much more complicated and Core-only/Paizo-only games only has Barbarian (very different crunch) as a no-magic alternative to Fighter, though any game that uses DSP material (which consist of, I would assume, almost everyone in this thread) or any strong 3rd party martial classes should have no issue replacing the fighter with that. And anyone who's willing to homebrew Fighter to that extent probably is okay with DSP.

Also, even with just Paizo sources, Rogues can mostly be replaced by Slayer without too much problem. Just open up all of the rogue talents and you're set.

Its not about complexity. Its familiarity. Last year I started two games where I allowed Book of Martial Action's martial pool free for fighters (its like stamina with halfway towards Path of War Maneuvers) condensed combat feats, psionics, and 101 new skill uses. With the less experienced players I got a Bloodrager tricked out with condensed feats and using a third party feat to wield oversized weapons, a psionic marksman, a Ninja with ki feats, dex to damage and a third party feat that applies sneak attacks to crits, and a samurai with ki. With the experienced players, almost all of them (among two games that had about 6 players each) were core classes, no archetypes and ignoring the condensed feats or extra skill uses. Some experienced players just have emotional expectations from the flavor of older classes and latch to them even if a better alternative exists. One of my players relied on Herolabs so much that he'll politely opt out of any third party thing that they haven't bought or house rules that run things better no matter how small. The players with the least preconceptions about the classes that are in the core rules are just more likely to try out something new because they don't have the idea that 'if you want to be a mundane martial warrior choose fighter' they just see a few different kinds of 'fighting man' in the options and present and either go with the one that looks cool, does what they want it to do, or tell me what they want to do and go with what I recommend. I don't exactly understand it but it happens. When I they play more with all this stuff they branch out more, especially when the setting screams for something different and some players want to tinker with new toys because their bored with the old ones or are just more adventurous but as a whole I just find experienced players to be more set in their ways and very much more likely to pick up a Rogue with no archetypes, or vanilla conjuration wizard.

Quote:


Malwing wrote:
2) You ditch tings exclusive to the abandoned class.

I think this is mostly an issue with casters. Martials do not really have that many feats or features that are both exclusive to them and completely immutable; if I want to replace Fighter with Warlord and a player wants to take, say, Disruptive, I can just replace "Fighter Level 6" with "BAB +6" and it would function just as well.

A rogue only has rogue talents to call "unique", and a stalker or slayer can grab them as well. If a player really wants Sneak Attack, we can easily replace Deadly Strike dice with SA dice for the stalker, and it would require almost no rewrite at all (and actually end up weakening the Stalker class a bit).

As I have stated before,...

All i can say is that people are weird. Think about it. Say that you wanted to be a fighter in my campaign. Then I told you that you can either take TWF, Cleave, Vital Strike, and Combat Expertise/Improved combat maneuver/greater combat maneuver(with no Int requirement) as one feat or three feats as normal. I also gave you the option of getting stamina for free and access to stamina-based Path of War maneuvers as feats. You also have access to dex to damage, over-sized weapons, a scaling Dodge feat, and a multiclassing feat that gives you access to 1st level wizard spells.

Do you a) take one or more of the condensed feats, spells or stamina maneuvers? or do you b) make a regular fighter with the normal rules?

Well guess what, more than a few people choose (b) and those are are the people that know more about what they're doing than some of my other players. Some of them are people that have been playing since 3.5. And they know about these options because when I run a campaign I print out a short primer of house rules that explicitly point out the nice options. I even made another sheet with a short summary of good third party products I allow. People are weird.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Choosing the familiar and therefore simpler option doesn't seem weird to me. Your boosts (and this thread) are addressing the problem of fighters being weaker than other classes - not everyone is concerned about power level when choosing their class. Even if they agree the fighter is weaker, there are other reasons beyond mechanical effectiveness to choose a class.

That's not challenging the premise of the thread, but it's worth bearing in mind that familiarity and simplicity have value to some players. If your players are like that, then I think any solution you come up with to address disparity should strive to be simple and familiar.


So, I'm getting ready to start a bit of an experiment in class shuffling.

So we'll see how that turns out.

One rule I considered using in other games is the idea of Combat Sense.

Combat Sense is 5+Wis modifier.

If you miss an opponent by more than this amount you provoke an AoO.

Does it solve the disparity? Not by itself certainly not.

But it does incentivize wisdom a lot. It allows for defensive and dex based strategies to suddenly have much more clout as they take advantage of an opponents over extensions. Opening up more actually viable builds helps close the gap in one form.

Further you can expand on it. Such as if you make your save by over a certain amount it triggers an effect. Or other things will trigger off of it. Perhaps if an opponent misses his ranged attack you get a free move. Maybe have an ability that halves their combat sense.

Seems like an idea worth expanding on.


Its because of that very same desire for simplicity that I came up with a Juggernaught class for Pathfinder before my houserules took me too far away from PF entirely.

All good saves and a class bonus to saves by level.
Fast Healing
Very Good Mobility
Hits HARD and well [we're talking Smiting Paladin levels at all times with no resources]
8+Int Skill Points per level
Able to forcefully recover from negative effects [ranging from poisons to diseases to enchantments etc etc etc] at an action cost.
Gains a bonus feat at every even level, and ignores ALL non-mandatory prerequisites [mandatory prerequisites being prerequisites which are either fundamentally required to be physically capable of performing the feat] for one feat per level taken in the class. [So if someone dipped it for a few levels they could hack their way into a few barricaded feats but a dip isn't open season for life.]

This is also used in a game where feat chains are all condensed as much as possible.


Zoolimar wrote:

Basic Move - Block

Equipment prerequisite: Heavy shield or tower shield

Any time you become a target of attack (including touch attacks), spell, spell-like ability or must make a reflex save against an AOE effect with clear point of origin (fireball, cone of cold, breath weapon, some traps, etc.) you can use this move.

To activate this move you expend 1 AOO. You must be aware of the enemy targeting you and not flat-footed. You can't block incorporeal attacks unless your shield has ghost touch property.

Make a reflex save and add shield bonus to AC provided by your shield (feats, class features and any other abilities or effects that increase bonus provided by your shield do apply) to its result. If you fail this save the effects of attack or ability work as normal. If you succeed the effects instead are applied to your shield.

Effects that can't normally affect inanimate objects are wasted. Damage and effects that can affect inanimate objects are applied as if the shield was the initial target of attack, spell or other ability.

For non-attack abilities and spells DC is as per base spell or ability.

For attacks and combat maneuvres DC is 10 + enemy BAB + DEX or WIS modifier (whichever is higher).

I rather like this, Zoolimar!


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Malwing wrote:


We see thread upon thread about the martial/caster disparity, and why it exists and what the problem is but very often, at least to me nothing is outwardly done to make it better and when it is it's scattered throughout arguments branching on and off the topic at hand.

GOSH IF ONLY SOME SOURCE EXISTED TO CATALOG THOSE THREADS FOR YOU

GOSH GOSH GOSH


Malwing wrote:
Its not about complexity. Its familiarity.

I would say complexity is still a factor, I mean, there aren't many classes in the game that aren't complex and the simple ones are generally very very weak, despite simplicity being a very useful benefit.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

ZZTraider wrote:

I haven't tried it, but in theory, I really like one idea I saw in one of these threads... translate those spells that obviate the need for skills into things that rely on those skills to function.

So, perhaps spiderclimb unlocks bonuses based on how many ranks you have.

This is one I've seen brought up and played with a bit myself, and I think it can really go a long way towards balancing the system by emphasizing that teamwork aspect of play. I've always been a bit annoyed bybthe fact that a Wizard can be better at stealth than a Rogue for a fair chunk of the game just by casting invisibility. He gets all the concealment and similar benefits that make up invisibility, plus he gets a +20 to Stealth checks. Generally I've just removed the bonus to Stealth checks from the spell so that it's usually a better idea to cast it in the Rogue/Ranger/Stalker/whatever, but making the effects of the spell itself key off the target's ranks in Stealth could be really cool, where it's basically just camouflage for someone with 5 or fewer ranks, and then gets better the more training in Stealth you've had.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Felyndiira wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
It is because people like the Fighter/Rogue/whatever that they attempt to find ways to fix them and propose solutions so that others who also like those classes and find themselves stymied by their design flaws can spend more time enjoying them.

I'm a bit curious about this - is there a reason why people like the fighter that much? I mean, the class is quite literally a bunch of feats and a few bonus numbers; I don't consider it a loss at all to just rename the 'Myrmidon Archetype' to 'Fighter' (or heck, rename 'Warlord' to 'Fighter') and scrap the class altogether.

Same goes for rogue. ....

For me, a big part of it is expectations and functionality of the chassis. Part of being a fighter is having a set of "always on" abilities. You don't have a pool, slots, or essence to worry about, you just have things that you can or cannot do. There's also certain options that only Fighters can pull off (like level 2 Thunder and Fang) that are pretty fun and enjoyable. I'd rather allow that existing class, with all the supporting material it already has, than rebuild or replace with other materials that may not actually scratch the itch people are looking to have scratched in the right way.

For example, I have players who have no interest in playing a Warlord, Warder, or Stalker, or in using maneuvers at all, but they'd love it if their Fighter could jump more effectively in combat and not get rendered useless the moment a Will save is called for. The Fighter and Rogue are actually really close to being what people want, they just have a small number of really serious design flaws.


The Rogue being underpowered is mostly an error of execution. The idea behind its mechanics is pretty solid ("This guy has lots of utility out of combat, and while not a heavy hitter, he can deal a good, possibly great, amount of damage if he finds an opening"). The problem is just the execution... Turns out that in practice, Rogues aren't all that useful out of combat and their one and only offensive tool, while not bad, is simply not good enough to make it relevant in combat.

The Fighter design is a completely different case, though. The whole design philosophy behind the class is extremelly flawed ("This guy can hit things really hard. All day long. So to balance that, he'll be awful at everything else!"). That's terrible design. Not surprisingly, it made a terrible class.

In the Monk's case... Well, considering how random are its class features and how little synergy they have with each other... I'm guessing the original designer had nothing but the vaguest idea of what the class was supposed to do...

Paizo inheritted and adopted these design philosophies. They knew their flaws but simply didn't do enough to fix them. And in some points, made them even worse.


I am pretty sure an early post I made here was declared unhelpful by the powers that be. But it's pretty insane that the thought that we don't need 1000 posts on the same on the board all the time is unhelpful. I would really appreciate if these boards were not censored with such a heavy hand; it's really disrespectful to the community.

If we are going to have posts like this can we at least try to make them about something new. And if we're going to have censorship, just censor martial/caster disparity threads because they are just frustrating and repetitive.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Create Mr. Pitt wrote:

I am pretty sure an early post I made here was declared unhelpful by the powers that be. But it's pretty insane that the thought that we don't need 1000 posts on the same on the board all the time is unhelpful. I would really appreciate if these boards were not censored with such a heavy hand; it's really disrespectful to the community.

If we are going to have posts like this can we at least try to make them about something new. And if we're going to have censorship, just censor martial/caster disparity threads because they are just frustrating and repetitive.

This is a thread in the Homebrew section created to allow various people who've felt stymied by martial/caster disparity to discuss the solutions they've tried and/or would recommend to address it. It's intended to be instructive, supportive, and helpful.

If you don't believe in or care about martial/caster disparity issues, then it's unlikely you'll be able to contribute meaningfully, which may be why whatever unhelpful thing you posted earlier was removed. If you have a problem with that, maybe go find a different thread to post in.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Otherwhere wrote:
Zoolimar wrote:

Basic Move - Block

Equipment prerequisite: Heavy shield or tower shield

Any time you become a target of attack (including touch attacks), spell, spell-like ability or must make a reflex save against an AOE effect with clear point of origin (fireball, cone of cold, breath weapon, some traps, etc.) you can use this move.

To activate this move you expend 1 AOO. You must be aware of the enemy targeting you and not flat-footed. You can't block incorporeal attacks unless your shield has ghost touch property.

Make a reflex save and add shield bonus to AC provided by your shield (feats, class features and any other abilities or effects that increase bonus provided by your shield do apply) to its result. If you fail this save the effects of attack or ability work as normal. If you succeed the effects instead are applied to your shield.

Effects that can't normally affect inanimate objects are wasted. Damage and effects that can affect inanimate objects are applied as if the shield was the initial target of attack, spell or other ability.

For non-attack abilities and spells DC is as per base spell or ability.

For attacks and combat maneuvres DC is 10 + enemy BAB + DEX or WIS modifier (whichever is higher).

I rather like this, Zoolimar!

A nice nod to shield users, but wow, would you be going through a LOT of shields! A hardened +5 Invulnerable Dwarfcrafted adamantium shield would basically be a necessity, and better have mending spells on hand!

==Aelryinth

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Ssalarn wrote:
Had a moment tonight where the party monk made a 40 foot long jump with an Acrobatics check that was exactly the same as an earlier jump check he'd attempted that failed to give him enough height to grab the railing of a 2nd floor balcony. Has anyone played with just cutting the DC of high jumps in half to help improve martial mobility? Correct me if I'm wrong, but since Acrobatics are generally completed as part of another action, this could at least make 20-30 foot leaping charges directly at aerial opponents reasonably feasible. Ignore the silliness with Vital Strikes not working with charges and allow them to work whenever you make only a single attack in a round, and you're actually approaching martial options that are reasonably effective without making particularly large changes. As near as I can tell, you wouldn't even need to change the charge rules at all, just the High Jump DCs and ignoring the Vital Strike FAQ.

This is something that should come with Skill Focus (Acrobatics) and/or Skill unlocks by Rank. A simple +1 per Rank to Height of Jumps could make this easily viable for bigger jumps.

There was a Stance in the Bo9Swords that gave +10 Distance to all jump checks, which included vertical height. SO much bouncy goodness was easy with that stance.

==Aelryinth


One thing I've been thinking about doing is simply giving every non-magical class a supernatural power source.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

There's technically no need to do that.

The intangible aspect of hit points is basically 'martial magic'.
Skills becoming more then physics is 'martial magic'.
Being able to carve a specific symbol (i.e. Runes), that is magical just because of What It is, is 'martial magic'. The more perfectly carved, the stronger!
Giving something a Name of its own, so it can grow with power on its own, is 'martial magic'. The name Excalibur created a sword that is now a legendary artifact around the world!
Saves improving and BAB transcending human ability and attack speed faster then the eye is 'martial magic'.
LEVELS are 'martial magic'.

You just have to acknowledge it is 'martial magic' that comes from raw ability and you forcing the universe to realize just how awesome you are. You don't actually need a 'power source', you just have to acknowledge that the universe works this way and exploit it for all its worth.

Fighters and Rogues are the masters of 'martial magic' in their own ways. You just have to make that MEAN something.

For Fighters, that should mean absolute mastery of all the fundamental aspects of fighting, which is BAB, HP, Saves, Movement, AC, Attacks, Proficiencies, Stats, and Skills.

FOr Rogues, this should emphasize more skills, burst dmg (i.e. attempted one shot kills, SA, condition infliction), and skill mastery that transcends luck and fate and leaves others behind. The Rogue should be the master of the most skills, and the best person at those skills, bar none. That's his FOCUS. (&)(*& Bards.

==Aelryinth


Aelryinth wrote:

There's technically no need to do that.

The intangible aspect of hit points is basically 'martial magic'.
Skills becoming more then physics is 'martial magic'.
Being able to carve a specific symbol, that is magical just because of What It is, is 'martial magic'.
Giving something a Name of its own, so it can grow with power on its own, is 'martial magic'.
Saves improving and BAB transcending human ability and attack speed faster then the eye is 'martial magic'.
LEVELS are 'martial magic'.
You just have to acknowledge it is 'martial magic' that comes from raw ability and you forcing the universe to realize just how awesome you are. You don't actually need a 'power source', you just have to acknowledge that the universe works this way and exploit it for all its worth.

==Aelryinth

Having a power source other than "martial magic" means the character can do non-martial things with their magic.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

At which point you've a magical martial, so why bother? Just use the magic system to do what you want, or a ki pool, or whatever.

==Aelryinth


Aelryinth wrote:

At which point you've a magical martial, so why bother? Just use the magic system to do what you want, or a ki pool, or whatever.

==Aelryinth

What's wrong with a supernatural martial?


I assume because, like Aelryinth said, a magical martial can easily be made with existing caster classes. :P

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ulgulanoth wrote:
Add a 15% spell failure chance to all casters, which they can never get rid off, anything that provides a spell failure chance is added to this base.

You really aren't going to please the fighter class players when the wizard's haste they're depending on goes fizzle.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Is the desire to make the spellcaster's class options more limited? If that's the case eliminate all casters save kineticists.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Or, Spheres of Power, sounds like. Although I don't own the product, I believe the whole concept behind it is to turn all casters into specialists so they have limited powers, but are great in their niches.

==Aelryinth


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
I assume because, like Aelryinth said, a magical martial can easily be made with existing caster classes. :P

Some magical martials have been made through casting classes. But it isn't hard to have supernatural martials that don't use spells. I mean, look at the Flesheater Barbarian. More things like that would be great ways to reduce the disparity.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Aelryinth wrote:

Or, Spheres of Power, sounds like. Although I don't own the product, I believe the whole concept behind it is to turn all casters into specialists so they have limited powers, but are great in their niches.

==Aelryinth

Yeah, Spheres of Power takes every kind of magic, Mind, Light, Destruction, Darkness, Nature, etc. and sets it up very much like a kineticist, with an at-will magical option and then a limited resource to pump or activate various effects. It's essentially what a magic system would look like if you completely removed Vancian slots but kept the various magical effects and put them all on the same kind of use and progression as the kineticist's powers.


Lemmy wrote:

The Rogue being underpowered is mostly an error of execution. The idea behind its mechanics is pretty solid ("This guy has lots of utility out of combat, and while not a heavy hitter, he can deal a good, possibly great, amount of damage if he finds an opening"). The problem is just the execution... Turns out that in practice, Rogues aren't all that useful out of combat and their one and only offensive tool, while not bad, is simply not good enough to make it relevant in combat.

The Fighter design is a completely different case, though. The whole design philosophy behind the class is extremelly flawed ("This guy can hit things really hard. All day long. So to balance that, he'll be awful at everything else!"). That's terrible design. Not surprisingly, it made a terrible class.

In the Monk's case... Well, considering how random are its class features and how little synergy they have with each other... I'm guessing the original designer had nothing but the vaguest idea of what the class was supposed to do...

Paizo inheritted and adopted these design philosophies. They knew their flaws but simply didn't do enough to fix them. And in some points, made them even worse.

OK. I can't tell if people are talking about crb rogue or unchained rogue.

Unchained rogue problems veer into general martial v caster problems, but out of all pure martials, I think rogues have the most narrative power between skill unlocks and talents. It's not like they couldn't just take over a kingdom if they really wanted too and then run it excellently.

Though, I will once again say unchained revised action economy and automatic bonus progression really help. I don't need daddy caster to make my big 6 items so my class features work and I can move more than 5ft without losing most of my effectiveness.


Aelryinth wrote:
Otherwhere wrote:
Zoolimar wrote:

Basic Move - Block

Equipment prerequisite: Heavy shield or tower shield

Any time you become a target of attack (including touch attacks), spell, spell-like ability or must make a reflex save against an AOE effect with clear point of origin (fireball, cone of cold, breath weapon, some traps, etc.) you can use this move.

To activate this move you expend 1 AOO. You must be aware of the enemy targeting you and not flat-footed. You can't block incorporeal attacks unless your shield has ghost touch property.

Make a reflex save and add shield bonus to AC provided by your shield (feats, class features and any other abilities or effects that increase bonus provided by your shield do apply) to its result. If you fail this save the effects of attack or ability work as normal. If you succeed the effects instead are applied to your shield.

Effects that can't normally affect inanimate objects are wasted. Damage and effects that can affect inanimate objects are applied as if the shield was the initial target of attack, spell or other ability.

For non-attack abilities and spells DC is as per base spell or ability.

For attacks and combat maneuvres DC is 10 + enemy BAB + DEX or WIS modifier (whichever is higher).

I rather like this, Zoolimar!

A nice nod to shield users, but wow, would you be going through a LOT of shields! A hardened +5 Invulnerable Dwarfcrafted adamantium shield would basically be a necessity, and better have mending spells on hand!

==Aelryinth

Yeah, fighter will go through his supply of shields somewhat fast but there is a couple of points to counteract that.

1. It is supposed to be only a basic move of the style with others providing additional benefits. Like taking down enemies before shield cracks. (There is also supposed to be 3 other defensive moves for other styles - Deflect, Void and Parry. But the process is rather slow.)

2. Fighter supposed to be able to use improvised objects as shields so you can just grab some table, chair or even a part of fallen tree and use it for defense. Less effective but still really frustrating for your enemy. And with 2-3 feats or some archetypes even improvised shields will get a good bonus to reflex save.

3. Loosing shield is much better than getting hit by some effects. So be smart in choosing the right time for this move.

4. Shields breaking down is a really big trope in fantasy. Accompanied by fighter cutting down the one who broke his shield in half.


I encourage the use of third party classes (SoP especially),or of mid tier Paizo classes, use the automatic bonus progression to eliminate the rather boring Big Six and free up those slots for more interesting items (and ensure the Wizard can't jump ahead to a HoVI +6), and change the magic item crafting rules: I eliminate the various spell requirements, get rid of Master Craftsman and change everything based on caster level to be based on points in spellcasting, including feat prerequisites. Anyone can craft.


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Malwing wrote:
So a lot of us have opinions about Martial/Caster disparity, the idea that martially inclined classes have less of an ability to contribute to many of the deadly situations that arise as you level or that casters have too unique of an ability to trivialize the same problems. Some of us believe that it doesn't exist or is exaggerated on the forums but for those of us that do think that it's around; What do you do about it?

When running Pathfinder or some 3.x based system, I fall back to education first as knowledge is power. Letting players know upfront that some classes have issues compared to others is something I do and I'll let them know as much as I can about any classes they are interested in.

Secondly, I emphasize prioritizing defenses when possible since resistances and immunities like death ward and freedom of movement help tons.

Thirdly, I'm not afraid of the magic item creation rules as they are quite elegant and work very well if you're not using the % cost reductions which were never part of the core rules anyway according to the 3.x DMG. Being able to spend your money on things like an x/day freedom of movement can go a very long way.

Fourthly, I'm very comfortable with homebrewing material if a player wants to fill a gap that is either unfilled by Paizo or poorly filled by Paizo.

Quote:

We see thread upon thread about the martial/caster disparity, and why it exists and what the problem is but very often, at least to me nothing is outwardly done to make it better and when it is it's scattered throughout arguments branching on and off the topic at hand. So here is a thread for you guys that have done something about it, because if Pathfinder Unchained has told us anything its that this game is not one set in stone even if Paizo itself isn't quick to rock the boat. There are a ton of alternate rules and optional rules within the game and many of the developers spring all kinds of crazy things for the game through other companies.

What have you done in your games that mitigate or lessen martial/caster disparity?

This can be house rules, styles of GMing, implementing specific third party products or making good use of Paizo products. If you reference a specific product please linkify the name so others can view it. If there is no review for it and you have it, try to write one. If you have a laundry list of house rules using a document sharing program such as Google Drive would be helpful, especially if it can be directly commented on. Offer compliments and advice on other people's methods but be nice and constructive even with criticisms. Hopefully by the end of it we'll have very solid ways to bring balance to the game, and hopefully that can partially be achieved by throwing Combat Expertise down the reactor core.

In the system I'm working on, part of balancing martials and casters more closely involves giving all spellcasters access to every spell in the game, giving them 10th level spells, and giving them free heighten spell.

:B


Basic Move - Parry

Equipment prerequisite: Armed with a weapon that doesn't rely on moving parts to deliver damage (you can't use spiked chains, flails or similar weapons to parry). Shields are considered a weapon for the purpose of this move (just to make it clear).

Any time you become a target of attack including melee touch attacks and ranged touch attacks that have a visible projectile or ray (acid splash, ray of frost, etc) you can use this move.

To activate this move you expend 1 AOO. You must be aware of the enemy targeting you and not flat-footed. You can't parry incorporeal attacks unless your weapon has ghost touch property.

Make and attack roll as if you were making an attack of opportunity. If your result is higher than that of the enemy you successfully parry his attack and it's effects are negated.

+2 to the result of your attack if you are using two-handed weapon
-4 to the result of your attack if you are trying to parry thrown weapon
-10 to the result of your attack if you are trying to parry bow, crossbow or magic attack
-20 to the result of your attack if you are trying to parry a bullet from a gun

Unarmed parry: You must have Improved Unarmed Strike feat and can't parry ranged touch attacks unless you are wearing gauntlets or have a monk-like ability to deliver unarmed strikes with any bodypart and wearing armor.

Special: If you have Deflect Arrows feat you do not get penalty to your attack roll while parrying thrown weapons, bows, crossbows and magical attacks. Also you get only -10 to your roll while parrying bullets. If you do not have Deflect Arrows feat you still may gain this benefit if you have Missile Shield feat but only with shields (including bucklers).


One thing I noticed in a weird west dungeon punk campaign, When guns are advanced, martial weapons and cost 10% of the price casters have a hard time. It is ridiculously easy to shut down a caster with guns, especially guns with a high capacity. Called shot makes it worse.

It reminds me a lot of tropes where magic and technology are mirrored and opposed things. It had led me to introduce more third party alchemical technology such as an alchemical healing potion so that at the very least it is possible to go about without a divine caster.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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Seeing that complicated parry houserule makes me happy about a game mechanic in an RPG I designed. In my RPG, all attacks are opposed skill checks. The standard defense skill is Reflex. However, you can defend against melee attacks using your Melee skill if you're wielding a melee weapon or have training in unarmed combat. Shields are melee weapons that allow you to defend against ranged attacks using the Melee skill.


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I've thought about what kinds of changes I'd make to a d20 system to improve the non-casters capabilities in the game. I narrowed down the core "problems" involved, and then built the changes out of them.

1. Uneven item dependencies.
2. Restrictive non-spellcasting themes.
3. Spellcasting as the ubiquitous problem resolution.

.

Here's what came out of it.

Moving Bonuses to the Character:

Moving Bonuses back to the Character

1. Saves are adjusted in scaling. The baseline increase in saves for all characters is 3/4 per level. A "high save" is now basically a "class save bonus" (similar to class skills) and grants a +2.
This does two things; first it boosts the minimum save such that the differences between someone without any real bonus to the save vs someone focused (high save, high ability score), is around 10 or so points at the high levels, still well within the d20 spectrum and far more manageable to GM.
Second, the baseline bonus folds in the resistance bonus from magic items. There can still be the occasional +2 to specific things (vs vermin, poison, mind-affecting, etc), but "generic bonus to saves" is assumed. Less item dependency, more about being inherently bad-ass, and now you can wear a cloak of anything else.

2. Expanded Downtime rules (see later). This has a Training option that includes (among other things), boosting your ability scores. This bonus is similar to an enhancement bonus, restricted by character level / 2. This obviates the need for enhancement bonuses, and insight bonuses from items. Items like "manuals of dexterity" instead grant effects like access to skill tricks, feats or combat techniques, rather than just a boosted bonus.

3. Class defense. Actually, just change "Base Attack Bonus" to "Base Combat Bonus" and have it apply to attacks like normal, but then also AC. Then take out enhancement bonuses to armor & natural armor, and deflection ac. Also, change armor bonuses to 0 for Light armor, +2 for Medium armor, and +4 for Heavy armor. The bonuses work out the same, but a person is simply better at defending himself in combat if he's meant to be in combat. BCB to AC applies as armor would. Regular armor grants DR against attacks too (chain gains DR/piercing, for example). Magic armor instead now makes a portion of your BCB to AC count against touch attacks and incorporeal attacks (like deflection). Ghost Armor makes ALL your BCB to AC count against incorporeal, etc. It keeps the items relevant, but puts the bulk of the level dependent relevancy in your characters levels.

4. Weaponry is pulled back in importance. Weapons are pared down to just defining the damage type, handedness (hands, reach, range, etc) and complexity (minimum proficiency and crafting). Damage & Tricks are based on the character's proficiency with the weapon, which is also much more easily gained and can be broadened.

5. Crafting is overhauled. Crafting time decoupled from cost and magic items are simply a skill trick picked up from crafting. Spellcraft can be used as a replacement, but at a major penalty: spellcasters can enchant anything, but a dedicated crafter can make same items with less training, etc. Spellcasters gain broad, but not deep access to enchanting.

6. Magical weapons do not gain generic bonuses. No +1 to attack, nor +1/1d6 to damage. Attack bonuses are now something gained by anyone through successive combination attacks in combat, tied to BCB. Damage is tied to proficiency and combat techniques. It is a universal bonus, high BCB and martial classes get greater/quicker access, but it otherwise applies to all attacks.

Side Note: What is left for Magic Equipment?
Effects! Now it's not game-breaking that you didn't get that +5 weapon, or +Xd6 multi-damage weapon. Now you want that magic weapon because *It literally explodes with flames!* (adds "fire" to your damage type, applies area damage per hit, creatures can catch fire, emit a fire aura or fire damage protection, or various other things). Or, more simple things like attunes to the user, so they can call it to them as a swift/free action, etc.
A magical weapon should feel special and unique in use, not because "it's a super good version of the weapon" (and I'm not talking vorpal here). "Super good at killing" is built into the character being awesome with weapons, the magic should give different effects.
Note: This doesn't preclude the ability for a character to cause magical effects to occur on his own, applying to any weapon held. This should also be a thing. I'm just noting what magical weapons are being reduced to in effort to pull away from the dependency on such weapons.

Keeping Extraordinary Relevant in a World of Magic:

Keeping Extraordinary Relevant in a World of Magic

1. Adding Skill Tricks. This is an old, but good idea. The key thing to do with Skill Tricks is to keep them relevant to the level. If expectations are set that at certain levels you can divine information or become invisible or cure poisons, then it should be so regardless if you are casting a spell or using a skill. Tricks need to be level-relevant. And once you've got things in place, you can change the spell to simply "grant temporary access to that skill trick", etc. Also, since spellcasting can allow broad access, it needs to be delayed in that access compared to the focused user: a spellcaster can "do everything", but a skilled person does it earlier/easier.

2. Group Skills. Key skills can be used to assist the entire party. For example: Stealth or Climb skill checks. The "hyper focused" character can grant a significant portion of his bonus to others in the party to allow them to accompany along Stealth or Climb situations. This keeps the whole party in play (when needed or desired), and still lets the player who invested in the skill shine (it wasn't possible without them). Maybe he can spiderclimb in combat, and no one else can.. but when the journey calls for scaling a massive cliff, they aren't stalled because they don't have a caster with teleport to get "Mr Heavy Armor" up that wall.

3. Skill Overhaul. Dividing skills into subsets that grant greater access in unique ways. Gives more skills to more characters, and opens non-level locked increases in skills.
"Action" skills: Things like Stealth, or Acrobatics, or Diplomacy. These grant synergy points to spend on similar action skills. Simple rule, putting a rank in say Diplomacy, allows putting a rank in one of Deception, Intimidate or Sense Motive. Overall increase in skills, so characters are capable of doing more things. However, only actual ranks (not synergy ranks) open access to skill tricks (there's the kicker).
"Technique" skills: Crafting, Medicine, Survival, Linguistics, etc. These only need half the ranks (max 1 + 1/2 level), but gain additional bonus from an associated Knowledge skill. For example, you have your ranks in crafting, but then you also need to apply your Knowledge in say "weaponmaking".
"Knowledge" skills: languages, performances, bestiary, geography, weapon/armor proficiencies, etc. These have only 5 levels of "knowledge/fluency" (unskilled, basic, common, expert, master) that grants bonuses to related checks (technique skills, or attack rolls, etc), and allow access to greater levels of expertise in the field, but are very specific in nature (so a single creature type, geographic land type, performance, language or weapon/armor group). An exotic weapon may require a master level of knowledge in weaponmaking before it can be Researched and the Crafted at all (and then have an actual DC to pull it off). Knowledge skills aren't bound by level, and obtained through various means (primarily spending Downtime points), so it is more of a lateral/stuff increase instead of a level/power increase. It also means a low level character can have great amounts of knowledge.. Boom, ancient scholar NPC without needing to be "super high level".

4. Scaling Feats. Feats gained are few, and normally fixed. This means they should scale with level to compete with other mechanics they are compared against (skills: adding ranks improves all uses and now adding tricks; magic: higher spell levels x more spells). So, a change in concept of feats: a feat choice should give you everything needed to be excel at the thing it's for.

Example Feat wrote:


TWO WEAPON TECHNIQUE
You have trained in the skill of using a weapon in each hand in combat.
Prerequisites: Dexterity 13
Benefit: Your penalties on attack rolls for fighting with two weapons are reduced. The penalty for your primary hand lessens by 2 and the one for your off hand lessens by 6. You may also make an additional attack with your off-hand weapon for each secondary attack gained from high base attack bonus, using the same bonus as these attacks.
Improvements: If you are proficient with the net and are holding the line to an entangled target, you can drag or reposition the target as an attack action with that hand, and any attacks made with a weapon in your other hand against the target gains +2 attack and damage rolls.
If you are proficient with a one-handed or light firearm or any crossbow, you do not provoke attacks of opportunity when firing that weapon from anyone you threaten with a melee weapon in your other hand.
Upon reaching +6 base attack bonus, you may forgo your first primary hand melee attack to make a feint check against an opponent. If you successfully feint, that opponent is denied his Dexterity bonus to AC until the end of your turn.
If you have the Improved Shield Bash feat, upon reaching +11 base attack bonus, you no longer suffer any penalties on attack rolls made with your shield while you are wielding another weapon, and add your shield's enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls made with the shield as if it were a weapon enhancement bonus.

On top of this, move what should be basic options into normal combat: Power Attack, Combat Expertise, Deadly Aim, etc. These should be simply be normal combat options. Weapon Focus feats are folded into weapon proficiency levels (Knowledge: Unskilled = -4 penalty, Basic = -2 penalty, Common = no penalty, Expert = +1 attack bonus, Master = +2 attack bonus).

5. Expanded combat actions. Actions per round is given a greater gradiant. 3 actions per round. Action can equal an attack action or move action. One swift can be done per action while doing something else (a particular swift still limited to once per round, but you can do 3 different kinds of swift actions). Free actions don't change. Speed is slightly changed (Normal is 20, Slow is 15) keeps things the same per round.
No full attacks.
Instead, attack actions is turned into a technique system, allowing a new avenue to allow non-magical combatants to do extraordinary things. Instead of having an attack action just be "attack roll, deal damage", we bring out an attack system that allows different kinds of attacks. This is where combination or "attack routine" bonuses kick in (granting back the +1-5 attack bonus, based on level), but also allows things like "move and attack" or "hit multiple opponents, or multiple times".. but baked into this single attack action. We can even create things like Finishing Moves that allow ending your routine (losing your bonus), but adding some devastating effect. This gives an opening to bring in neat effects, "techniques" that can be added to attacks that can be learned (on your own, by a master, by reading a text or manual, etc). Similar to spells, it expands a non-caster's repertoire of actions in combat, giving more things to do to affect the combat narrative.
Lastly, move Attacks of Opportunity to a rare technique, and downgrade "unskilled use" from "free wallop" to "a little off-balance this round", making inventive combat actions less punishing. Tie special combat actions to proficiency, so fewer people overall are punished at all for doing a neat combat maneuver.

6. Downtime codified. Downtime now grants points to spend gaining knowledge skill ranks, training in an active skills (extra temporary skill ranks, doesn't give trick access, must be maintained with minor downtime points once learned), increases to ability scores, crafting (including magic items or spell/technique research), or even running a business for profits (playing Markets and Merchants in your Dungeons & Dragons).
Some might say this "limits" what characters could do during downtime (since before it was left open to DM rule0), but I feel it would present codified (hopefully somewhat "balanced") options for various types of character concepts, and either limit spellcasting from getting out of hand, or bringing up options for non-spellcasting to gain some kind of equivocal benefit.
Also, the speed of downtime could be adjusted to group preference for a campaign, and some options may be limited based on what's available around them (hard to craft without at least a portable set of equipment, hard to learn without access to a tome of knowledge or library, etc). IF the assumption is that DM's need to rule on how this runs in their campaign, rather than "I'm entitled to at least this".

Adjusted Spellcasting:

Adjusting Spellcasting

1. Change in how to look at general spellcasting. As I noted in the previous sections: a spellcaster has a broader, more general access to changing the world. Therefore, it should take more for them to enforce that change than if someone did it the "normal" way. Think of using magic as a hammer, and trying to apply it to every situation. Sometimes it takes a lot more effort to get that screw in place, using the hammer instead of the screwdriver. If that amounts to a higher wealth cost in crafting, or needing a higher level before being able to do the action, or even just taking longer or more limited actions to perform it (casting a spell taking a round, vs a swift action if done by skill, etc).
A specialized spellcaster may equate to the normal methods, but then he absolutely must give up his general access to changing the world with magic to get at that level.

2. Introduce a Base Magic Bonus. This is similar to the Base Combat Bonus, however it applies to applications of magical attacks. This gets away from inanity of Touch Attacks, and allows multi-classing to encourage, not neuter, some character concepts.

3. Expand the "Vancian" spell slot system. Introduce spell slot mechanics a single spell can operate differently based on slot usage. Levels of requirement giving stronger benefits.

Example Spell wrote:


MAGIC MISSILE

School: evocation [force]; Level: sorcerer/wizard 1
Slot Requirement: Reserved
Casting Time: varies (see text)
Components: V, S
Range: 50' range increment
Targets: varies (see text)
Duration: instantaneous
Saving Throw: none; Spell Resistance: yes

As an attack action, you may make a missile of magical energy dart forth from your fingertip and strike your target, dealing 1d4 plus one half Charisma bonus points of force damage. You must make a ranged magic attack roll to strike your target.
Specific parts of a creature can't be singled out. Objects are not damaged by the spell.

Slot Modifications
Forceful (Open x1): You increase the damage dealt by 1 point per spell level of the highest open slot.
Unerring (Burn: Open): A single magic missile can be fired as an attack action that strikes unerringly, even if the target is in melee combat, so long as it has less than total cover or total concealment.
Swarm (Reserve x1): You may reserve an additional slot to gain additional missiles fired. You may spend a swift action during your attack action to fire a number of additional missiles equal to the spell level of the slot. Alternatively, these additional missiles may be used when using the Unerring modification, targeting a single creature or several creatures, although you must designate targets before you check for spell resistance or roll damage.

Metamagic is moved from feats to spell slot mechanics. Now reserve a slot to make appropriate spells last longer, or affect a larger area, etc.

3. Decouple Spontaneous casters from Vancian spell slots. Change spontaneous casters to a more "Ability suite" system, with points to burn for larger effects. Bring in "overchannel" spellcasting when they burn all their points, fatigued, with ways to recover, etc. Limited access to specific magic via burning points, "themed" magic comes easier and more reproducible. Ability to switch "themes" (bind yourself to a different outsider; refocus your arcane heritage, etc).
The point being to give a drastically different feel for prepared spellcasting vs spontaneous spellcasting.

4. Energy Damage shifts focus into a more effects based nature. Instead of having limited rock/paper/scissor effect from energy damages (fire vs cold, acid/sonic vs physical, force damage, etc)... each damage type gets an expanded list of detrimental or simply "neat" effects. Fire spreads and burns. Cold slows and lingers on the environment. Electricity stuns and branches to other targets as it grounds. Acid causes pain or burns through objects. Sonic deafens and pushes. Force applies across planar overlaps (incorporeal, be it ethereal or shadow), so pretty much unchanged.

Side Note: Hey! This doesn't specifically mean spellcasters are nerfed!
Nope! This isn't necessarily an intent to nerf spellcasters, except in the one department: jack of all trades and master of all is to be brought under better control.
The other changes are mostly to flesh out the idea of a spellcaster doing spellcastey things most (if not all) of the time, and expanding the thematic flavour in a few key points. Reserved spells allow a Blaster caster to blast at every opportunity, as long as he doesn't burn himself out (fatigued). Specialized spellcasters should have tons of options for things they want to do, in the field they've specialized. Energy damage should be something more than just that "extra 1d6 damage, ooh, in blue!".. ugh.

As you can see, that's a lot of work to pull off. I've just being tweaking at things in my spare time, for fun.. but it's evident that this is a change on the level of Pathfinder coming out of 3.5E.

Why even use Pathfinder at this point? The above changes would interact with the current system, allowing you to still use content from Pathfinder (adventure paths, monster bestiaries, etc). The game would just give a lot more for non-spellcasters, and possibly even open up some gameplay for spellcasters as well.

A ton of work though. Decoupling crafting times from cost (taking the list of craftable items and basically adding a "craft time" number at the end of the line could take months of dedicated work alone, if you wanted it even semi realistic).
I've started work on a number of other things (as per my examples above), but yeah.. as a passtime, it's slow going.

None of this is tested either, lol. Use these ideas with that in mind.

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