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


Homebrew and House Rules

201 to 250 of 366 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | next > last >>

Malwing wrote:

For example I see a lot of major adjustments in this thread. I personally believe that my own house rules have a lot of changes but they are low impact in terms of playing differently or make use of Paizo alternate rules to make the game less alien and easy to use to accommodate players that find the game complex and because I don't want to go through the work of rewriting too much. Now some of the changes in this thread get drastic to the point of almost rewriting the game or making things more complicated. Those suggestions aren't for me but I appreciate seeing them because there are things to pick out that are easy to use and more to my sensibilities and it shows that they saw a real or perceived problem and did something about it. They shifted the game a little bit or a lot to make things fun for them.

And that's the whole point. Fun. We are asking each other in this thread, how we made martials more fun and see if there are any good ideas that we can adopt.

At this time there is a couple of major ways to get fun martials.

1. Rewrite. Aka "total rewrite". Aka "take chapter Combat and toss it out the window" along with at least 70% of other rules that relate to that chapter even tangentially and rewrite it from ground up along with all the classes. Simpler, streamlined without most restrictions that martials suffer just because.

Look at what Kaisoku wrote for general ideas.

This way basically kills Pathfinder and makes a new system. That's a lot of work. Like a ton. Though it probably the most effective.

2. Use alternate systems that work within main framework - Path of War and similar things. Problem with this way is that you effectively kill all old martial classes unless you spend your time to rewrite them all (again a lot of work).

3. Things along the lines of Stamina, moves that I wrote in this thread and similar things. Things that work as little helpers and at first glance work as intended. But there is a major problem with them - if you make good options they invalidate old class features, feats and abilities or you need to make them in line with the median power level of this old things.

This old things are bad. Really bad. Like called shots bad.

...

Example: Let's say I write a style move "Shield Edge Strike"

When you make an attack with your shield you can execute this move. If your attack hits your target must make a DC 10+Damaged dealt Fortitude save or loose ability to speak until healed with a Heal skill (same DC) or spells similar to regeneration.

You can attempt this move once per round.

...

This is completely realistic move and it has many implied restrictions (like being able to make attack at all) but it makes called shots look like his smaller cousins that were sick for their whole lives.

That's the main problem with all martial houserules.


I'm planning on using spheres of power, but I've also been looking at Kobold Press' Anachronistic Adventures class design. Each class has a base backbone and an anachronistic archetype. While every back backbone has an anachronistic archetype that fits the theme, no anachronistic archetype is limited to any one class backbone.

So if you wanted, you could pick up a "fighter" backbone (the enforcer class) with the spell casting anachronistic archetype. Or you could pick it up with the fighting anachronistic archetype that just grants a bunch of feats (pretty much replicating the Fighter class from the CRB). I've only made one character with the book, but I'm hoping to run a module or something with other classes to try out the rest of the book.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

What makes full casters OP are (some) spells, therefore I nerf spells. Simple things like allowing saves on enervation, making touch AC almost non existent and lowering most durations. It works pretty fine without having to change the game too much.

Also creating a combat feat to be able to full attack after the charge helps a lot... and completely reqorking the fighter of course!


Zoolimar wrote:
Malwing wrote:

For example I see a lot of major adjustments in this thread. I personally believe that my own house rules have a lot of changes but they are low impact in terms of playing differently or make use of Paizo alternate rules to make the game less alien and easy to use to accommodate players that find the game complex and because I don't want to go through the work of rewriting too much. Now some of the changes in this thread get drastic to the point of almost rewriting the game or making things more complicated. Those suggestions aren't for me but I appreciate seeing them because there are things to pick out that are easy to use and more to my sensibilities and it shows that they saw a real or perceived problem and did something about it. They shifted the game a little bit or a lot to make things fun for them.

And that's the whole point. Fun. We are asking each other in this thread, how we made martials more fun and see if there are any good ideas that we can adopt.

At this time there is a couple of major ways to get fun martials.

1. Rewrite. Aka "total rewrite". Aka "take chapter Combat and toss it out the window" along with at least 70% of other rules that relate to that chapter even tangentially and rewrite it from ground up along with all the classes. Simpler, streamlined without most restrictions that martials suffer just because.

Look at what Kaisoku wrote for general ideas.

This way basically kills Pathfinder and makes a new system. That's a lot of work. Like a ton. Though it probably the most effective.

2. Use alternate systems that work within main framework - Path of War and similar things. Problem with this way is that you effectively kill all old martial classes unless you spend your time to rewrite them all (again a lot of work).

3. Things along the lines of Stamina, moves that I wrote in this thread and similar things. Things that work as little helpers and at first glance work as intended. But there is a major problem with them - if you make good...

What I had been doing was mostly #2, but I've been adding a bit of #3.

To me condensing the most required combat feats for basic fighting styles and adding in stamina "techniques" takes less work than trying to rewrite combat rules, especially since the revised action economy does that to some extent. I don't mind new material that invalidating old stuff but handing over a third party list and shorthanding existing feats is fairly easy. For example: TWF is a very basic function of "I fight with two weapons". You need all three for it to be worth the investment but it becomes taxing for it to be three feats, especially when there are other feats that go along with it that could be interesting to combine it with. Condensing it to one feat gives so much more freedom to customize using the rest of your feats, leaving room for things like feats from Book of Martial Action to make use out of stamina, which does lead to some interesting combinations, for example; there's one feat that automatically threatens a critical by spending stamina. This seems nice but not game breaking but there are several weapons that grapple on a critical, some of them ranged. Ranged grappling is awesome. Then there are third party feats like the one that allows rogues to deal sneak attack on critical hits, combined with that rogues can have very much more reliable sneak attack triggers. There's one technique where you can spend stamina to not trigger an AoO for combat maneuvers and if you have the maneuver feat then you get a bonus to it. This way you have a whole plethora of combat maneuvers at hand to deal with more situations.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My solution is to use a point-buy system, since that helps undercut the entire "character class" structure of making characters, the rigidity of which is - to me - one of the primary reasons this entire disparity exists in the first place.

I wrote up a post talking about this specifically, including building a twenty-level progression for a martial character that has more options, both in and out of combat.


I've done something quite similar [in principle, though upon actually reading the blog link not in practice] Alzrius, stripping away the typical 'classes' in favor of three generic classes. Hero [contains anything that uses zero magic, as well as classes which use very limited magic such as Paladins, Rangers and Duskblades], Dabbler [Class that balances middle-ground martial combat with middle-ground spellcasting and ties it all into a core skill, such as Perform for a Bard, Alchemy for an Alchemist or Arcana for a Magus], or Mage [shoddy combat but full spellcasting]

Note of course that in my system Druids or Clerics as presented in Pathfinder are Dabblers centered on the Faith or Nature skills.

Low levels play a great deal like traditional PF [although martial characters tend to be slightly more flexible] whilst going through higher level play everybody levels up like a well-played Wizard/Witch/Cleric/Druid in their own style.


kyrt-ryder wrote:

I've done something quite similar Alzrius, stripping away the typical 'classes' in favor of three generic classes. Hero [contains anything that uses zero magic, as well as classes which use very limited magic such as Paladins, Rangers and Duskblades], Dabbler [Class that balances middle-ground martial combat with middle-ground spellcasting and ties it all into a core skill, such as Perform for a Bard, Alchemy for an Alchemist or Arcana for a Magus], or Mage [shoddy combat but full spellcasting]

Note of course that in my system Druids or Clerics as presented in Pathfinder are Dabblers centered on the Faith or Nature skills.

Low levels play a great deal like traditional PF [although martial characters tend to be slightly more flexible] whilst going through higher level play everybody levels up like a well-played Wizard/Witch/Cleric/Druid in their own style.

Taking off from Bookrat's post, One thing that is fairly easy is to use Anachronistic Adventures classes and Rogue Genius Games Arcane/Archer/Martial/Divine archetypes so that the class list is pared down to six classes with a lot of leeway.

Although I can't say I'm a fan of reducing the classes to a few flexible classes unless that was presented to me in a Pathfinder 2.0 book.


Malwing wrote:
Although I can't say I'm a fan of reducing the classes to a few flexible classes unless that was presented to me in a Pathfinder 2.0 book.

Care to elaborate on your reasoning for this position?


My players are generally content with the changes I've made to reduce the gap between casters and martials.

Unchained rouge and Monk. That fixed a bunch all on its own.
Increased skillpoints. The only remaining classes in my story that have 2sp per level are the full arcane casters. Everyone else who had 2sp/level now has 4.
Greatly boosted TWF rules.
Fighter upgrades, including replacements for Bravery, the full Weapon focus and Weapon Specialization feat lineup has been enhanced.
Stamina pool.
Many feats (not just martial but Metamagic feats as well) have been buffed or modified. Also a bunch of new addition that skyrocket martial defensive stats (ac, touch ac, hitpoints and hitpoint recovery). Feats that make maneuvers more fluid. Limited forms of fast healing and ways to block or negate damage and debilitating effects. These are also attacks against the 15minute adventuring day in feat form.

Proper adventure structure also helps.

.
This Does´nt remove gap altogether, the gap is mostly caused by spells that allow a caster to change the game (big controls, powerful utility spells). So long as a caster can trivialize an encounter with one spell the martial-caster disparity will never be fixed. The question is, do we actually need it as much as we claim we want it?


bookrat wrote:
I've also been looking at Kobold Press' Anachronistic Adventures class design.

OBJECTION!

Unless there's another book I'm not aware of, Anachronistic Adventures is by Owen K Stephens/RGG, and is not affiliated with Kobold Press. Unless the kobolds have their own Anachronistic Adventures product that I don't know about, in which case ignore me.

I mainly run 3.5, so my approaches don't take the massive caster-buffs from Paizo in to account. I also greatly prefer T2 as a balance point, although I know a lot of people here prefer T3 or 4. Nonetheless, here's what I do:
--The weakest classes count as only half a level. So, you could take two levels of samurai or marshal and only increase your ECL by one. Certain dip-friendly classes count as 'full' classes for the first one or two levels and 'half' classes after that.
--On the caster side, I ban both the T1 classes and anything that allows sorcerers and favored souls to edge their way into T1: no polymorph, no planar ally, no miracle, no ice assassin. No tricks to bypass xp costs of other versatile spells like wish/planar binding/gate. Unfortunately, Pathfinder replaced the significant xp costs with much less significant gold costs, which become trivial naturally due to exponential gold gain. Hence, when I run Pathfinder, I also ban the planar binding and wish series.
Also, I ban all meta-magic cost reducers like rods or DMM.

--On the martial side in combat, I altered how readying martial maneuvers work to make it more favorable. I also allow martial initiates to learn PoW maneuvers on top of what they can already learn. To round things out, I implemented a modified version of Paizo's Called Shots subsystem (the biggest change is that the Improved and Greater Called Shots feats are granted automatically to everyone with a BAB of +3 or higher, and Debilitating Blows are easier to trigger).

--On the martial side out of combat, I added a few homebrew disciplines which consist entirely of utility maneuvers and stances. I made all utility disciplines available to anyone who could normally learn maneuvers.

On the occasion when I run a full pathfinder game, for the most part, in Pathfinder I just restrict spellcasters to using SoP, Strange Magic, Ultimate Antipodism, and Pact Magic Unbound.


Haven't read the whole thread yet (and it sounds a bit messy from a brief scan), so apologies if somebody has already brought this up under a different name, but what about this? Should work whether or not you want Pathfinder Unchained Revised Action Economy.


I really appreciate that Malwing started this thread, and that most responders on it are contributing to improve the game experience. Since it is in the Homebrew section, the others who don't agree that disparity exists, etc, should simply not post here.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
kyrt-ryder wrote:
Malwing wrote:
Although I can't say I'm a fan of reducing the classes to a few flexible classes unless that was presented to me in a Pathfinder 2.0 book.
Care to elaborate on your reasoning for this position?

There's a number of reasons. I numbered them for easy reply reference;

1) I'm into making some adjustments but I'm not into changing too many things when I invite players to play Pathfinder. I've been on the other end of that invitation and it can be disappointing, especially if the extent of the house rules come with 50 pages of reading material that's hard to ignore and render what you had wanted to play unuseable. I'll make house rules but the majority of the chassis is still there and some changes are highly ignorable or are explicitly simple to adjust to for this reason.

2) I have a lot of third party (and paizo) class material that I've been wanting to use and see used that I'm not quite willing to abandon because they are fun and I have them and haven't gotten enough use out of them. to actually use them when condensing classes I would have to turn the features into packages which would require...

3) Work and balancing. If I were dealing with just the core rulebook or even just the core books I could easily boil things down to 5 classes easily but even that would require typing and thinking and playtesting and working until I'm satisfied with how it's balanced out. And then I'd have to get other people to read it, agree to it and play it. I have enough of a hard time with getting consistent players as it is and enough work to GM as it is. I tend to resort to and appreciate third party material because I don't want to do that work on top of everything else.

4) Pathfinder is already 'almost there' in terms of adjusting to my sensibilities. It wasn't even until I was deep in the game when I started identifying problems and by then some ways me and others kind of played became codified house rules and after a few third party materials it suits all of my needs. Yes I participate and start these kind of threads and always am open to new things to pick up to add to the game but I'm kind of done. Martial/caster disparity stopped existing, as I mentioned, my wife sucks at the crunch of this game and she has vehicles to get into the game and understand what's going on mechanically. I can play whatever genre I please from low fantasy to outer space to My Little Pony. (I love my Soulknife unicorn mecha-pilot, Starcharmer.) All of it is perfectly balanced with some forethought and everything is fine now. About the only real problem I have is having players that can last more than 5 levels before moving/changing jobs/having kids/flake completely and how expansive the game can get. But for simpler games I always have 5th edition and expanded rules for the Beginner Box. In terms of the rules and system I don't have any real problems anymore so I have no reason to make too drastic of changes.

5) The concept of classes to begin with can be met with scorn in a lot of RP communities but I think its kind of easy to compartmentalize things and digest them. Between GURPS, FATE, Fudge and HERO System the lack of that kind of compartmentalization was fun at first but for me as time went on and more material came to the table it got more and more annoying just to make a character let alone keep track of it. At least for me it was. Its kind of the situation with Unchained and Chained Summoner where you have compartmentalized creatures with defined themes or kind of a blob with two butts and a mouth. I don't have similar problems with Anachronistic Adventures classes because it's binary, basically being Chassis/Package, rather than Chassis/thing/thing/thing/thing/thing for up to a certain amount of points. I'm just more comfortable with my compartmentalization and its easy for me to explain to new players.


Malwing wrote:
4) Pathfinder is already 'almost there' in terms of adjusting to my sensibilities. It wasn't even until I was deep in the game when I started identifying problems and by then some ways me and others kind of played became codified house rules and after a few third party materials it suits all of my needs. Yes I participate and start these kind of threads and always am open to new things to pick up to add to the game but I'm kind of done. Martial/caster disparity stopped existing, as I mentioned, my wife sucks at the crunch of this game and she has vehicles to get into the game and understand what's going on mechanically. I can play whatever genre I please from low fantasy to outer space to My Little Pony. (I love my Soulknife unicorn mecha-pilot, Starcharmer.) All of it is perfectly balanced with some forethought and everything is fine now. About the only real problem I have is having players that can last more than 5 levels before moving/changing jobs/having kids/flake completely and how expansive the game can get. But for simpler games I always have 5th edition and expanded rules for the Beginner Box. In terms of the rules and system I don't have any real problems anymore so I have no reason to make too drastic of changes.

+1

This is why I come here. Pathfinder doesn't suck. It has a lot I like, and a few things that are a problem. Coming here, I can get advice and suggestions on how to fix the things I don't like.


Otherwhere wrote:


This is why I come here. Pathfinder doesn't suck. It has a lot I like, and a few things that are a problem. Coming here, I can get advice and suggestions on how to fix the things I don't like.

This is where some of us differ my friend.

For me Pathfinder is nothing but a starting point, a foundation upon which to build a game that's actually fun and fair for all characters through all levels.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
Otherwhere wrote:
This is why I come here. Pathfinder doesn't suck. It has a lot I like, and a few things that are a problem. Coming here, I can get advice and suggestions on how to fix the things I don't like.

This is where some of us differ my friend.

For me Pathfinder is nothing but a starting point, a foundation upon which to build a game that's actually fun and fair for all characters through all levels.

I hear you, kyrt! I just don't have the time to completely rewrite the system. But I've done home-brew on just about every rpg I've ever played in order to tell the kinds of stories I wanted to tell, and to play the kinds of characters I want to play.


137ben wrote:
bookrat wrote:
I've also been looking at Kobold Press' Anachronistic Adventures class design.

OBJECTION!

Unless there's another book I'm not aware of, Anachronistic Adventures is by Owen K Stephens/RGG, and is not affiliated with Kobold Press. Unless the kobolds have their own Anachronistic Adventures product that I don't know about, in which case ignore me.

Nope! You're quite right! I apologize! Anachronistic Adventures is by Owen K Stephens and Rogue Genius Games. The new full book compiling all the smaller classes and supplements is quite beautiful, too. I have the pdf, I just need to find a hard copy somewhere.


Okay, finally read the whòle thread (with some skimmming), and I still recommend revising the action economy (with or without the Pathfinder Unchained revision overlaid on it) as I linked above (re-linked here over more text because I realized that the way I linked it to just 1 word is awfully easy to miss). Also would help with Melee-Archer Disparity.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Domestichauscat wrote:
D and d has always been like this anyways in all editions, some classes are just better.

Not true. In earlier editions of the game, you had much stronger performance from the Fighter, who had superior defenses on all fronts, and the Rogue had pretty serious niche protection all the way up until the final days of 3.5, when experimental classes like the Factotum finally nudged their way into the Rogue's exclusive territory.

Pathfinder took away the Rogue's niche protection without giving him anything equivalent in return, and 3.0 shot the Fighter's balls off, something the class has yet to recover from. The idea that these classes have always been subpar, or that D&D has always had the same level of disparity as can currently be found in Pathfinder, is patently false though.

That being said, I'd like to remind people that this thread does not exist to argue martial/caster disparity. It says right in the OP that this thread is intended for people who acknowledge martial/caster disparity as an issue and who would like to share their solutions or discuss the solutions others have implemented. If you want to argue martial/caster disparity, please take it to one of the dozens of threads that already exist for that.


There's a similarity between advancing generations of RPG video games and pen and paper RPG.

In the first generation of a particular first person RPG, the Warrior had his "auto" attack, and maybe a kick ability. Not much to do in combat, not entirely engaging, just standing in the right spot to get all your hits in (full attack).
Conversely, spellcasters (even gish ones) had a memorized spell bar that they could put up a few of their dozens of spells. Abilities to activate, with a limited resource management (mana), etc. It made combat engaging.

In the second generation of this same game, the Warrior now has a set of abilities alongside his auto-attack. These abilities do some things (cause status effects, high burst dame, etc). Mostly limited on reuse timers.
Spellcasters also have similar abilities now too, some on just timers, while others needing resources (mana).

In a similar game's "next gen", coming out a few years later, *Everyone* has a set of abilities that they can interchange. Be you Warrior, Rogue, Engineer, Wizard, etc. Classes are distinguished by unique resource management (Rage builds up to pull off a major ability, "Initiative" is spent to allow spike damage/effects, a toolbelt of a second set of abilities or swappable special gear, etc).
One of their abilities is on a zero cooldown, and treated as the "auto-attack", but it drastically changes based on the weapon used (a rifle pierces attacks and causse bleeding, while the flamethrower causes burning secondary damage and covers an area, etc).

This third generation of combat is how I'd like to develop pen and paper RPG.

We've had "auto-attack only" in previous editions. We've got "do some special maneuvers, but mostly auto-attack" in our current edition.

My goal is to write up special abilities to replace all attacks, even a normal attack, that is modified based on the weapon used. Combined with a slew of effects based moves, such as move+attack and causing status effects, or dealing an incapacitating blow, etc.

I want even regular combat for the average Warrior to be engaging. If this also gives better combat narrative control, then great! But ultimately I'd like for combat to become more than "I swing, and hit, I swing, and hit." over and over.


gais stahp

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Kaisoku wrote:
My goal is to write up special abilities to replace all attacks, even a normal attack, that is modified based on the weapon used. Combined with a slew of effects based moves, such as move+attack and causing status effects, or dealing an incapacitating blow, etc.

You know, this made me think, I actually really like combat maneuvers, it's just frustrating how terrible the system is, with the high opportunity cost to perform them and the poor scaling. It might be interesting to tie the various feat chains directly into weapon properties, and then add a group of non-magical weapon modifications that can be created and applied with Craft (Weapons).

For example, if you're wielding a weapon with the trip property and you have a BAB of at least +1, you gain the benefits of Imrpoved Trip. If you have a BAB of at least +6, you also gain the benefits Greater Trip. For 500 gold + 500 gold per weapon property the weapon already possesses, you can add additional properties to the weapon, with new properties added to cover all the combat maneuvers. Exotic weapons that are already subpar considering the feat cost to use them could be updated with additional weapon properties to cover the unsupported combat maneuvers, which would help address at least two issues that primarily affect martials negatively.

On that subject, another thing I already do in my games to make combat maneuvers more viable is remove size bonuses and penalties from the CMB/CMD equation. Creatures already gain huge bonuses to STR that vastly outscale the penalties to DEX they receive for size increases, and the formula for DEX bonuses and STR penalties for size decreases isn't nearly as favorable, so there's no reason to double-dip with additional size modifiers. Knocking those out also removes excessive silliness from the game, like ogres who have a better chance of picking a pixie's pocket than hitting it with a club.


bookrat wrote:
137ben wrote:
bookrat wrote:
I've also been looking at Kobold Press' Anachronistic Adventures class design.

OBJECTION!

Unless there's another book I'm not aware of, Anachronistic Adventures is by Owen K Stephens/RGG, and is not affiliated with Kobold Press. Unless the kobolds have their own Anachronistic Adventures product that I don't know about, in which case ignore me.
Nope! You're quite right! I apologize! Anachronistic Adventures is by Owen K Stephens and Rogue Genius Games. The new full book compiling all the smaller classes and supplements is quite beautiful, too. I have the pdf, I just need to find a hard copy somewhere.

Wait, there were individual class PDFs? I don't see them? Searching 'daredevil' in both the RGG subsection of the Paizo store and the RGG subsection of OBS only returns one result: the full Anachronistic Adventures.

I got the full AA PDF in a Bundle of Holding shortly after it was released, and I'm happy with it. So yea, I can second your recommendation.


137ben wrote:
bookrat wrote:
137ben wrote:
bookrat wrote:
I've also been looking at Kobold Press' Anachronistic Adventures class design.

OBJECTION!

Unless there's another book I'm not aware of, Anachronistic Adventures is by Owen K Stephens/RGG, and is not affiliated with Kobold Press. Unless the kobolds have their own Anachronistic Adventures product that I don't know about, in which case ignore me.
Nope! You're quite right! I apologize! Anachronistic Adventures is by Owen K Stephens and Rogue Genius Games. The new full book compiling all the smaller classes and supplements is quite beautiful, too. I have the pdf, I just need to find a hard copy somewhere.

Wait, there were individual class PDFs? I don't see them? Searching 'daredevil' in both the RGG subsection of the Paizo store and the RGG subsection of OBS only returns one result: the full Anachronistic Adventures.

I got the full AA PDF in a Bundle of Holding shortly after it was released, and I'm happy with it. So yea, I can second your recommendation.

Yes. For example, here's the enforcer class. That was the first one I bought. I quickly bought all the rest and then grabbed the full book in the Bundle of Holding, as well. The changes in the full book are well worth it, too. Playing the enforcer from the original book was a little disappointing - it just get like something was missing and things came a little too weak, but the version in the full book is a ton of fun (the addition of mettle was exactly what the class needed).


Honestly, I think it would be easier to start with 5e, and then make objective houserules to replace the subjective guidelines.

Most of what I would change about PF is to make it more like 5e. But I don't appreciate PF's fiddly bits like others do or see a problem with subjective guidelines.

I would then just focus on porting PF material to 5e like the kineticist and DSP classes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just give martial, full BAB classes "combat expertise" for free (if they qualify), and have point blank shot completely negate the penalties for firing at short range.

More can be done, yet it is a start.

Maybe make a social "combat" mechanic that gives mechanical bonuses to successful skill checks such as bluff, intimidate, sense motive, diplomacy, etc. The more important those social skills, the more important party face characters become.


Rhedyn wrote:

Honestly, I think it would be easier to start with 5e, and then make objective houserules to replace the subjective guidelines.

Most of what I would change about PF is to make it more like 5e. But I don't appreciate PF's fiddly bits like others do or see a problem with subjective guidelines.

I would then just focus on porting PF material to 5e like the kineticist and DSP classes.

I think part of the appeal of 5E is its rule-lite nature which stems from the subjective guidelines of the game. Codifying strikes me as significantly hurting the game and making it a harder to sell when advertising games. Also it increases the potential of introducing new problems. I suspect Codification of rules at least partially explains some power imbalances in the game now.

Personally I would favor incorporating Unchained style system changes (Stamina, skill unlocks, VMC, etc), alongside replacing 9 level caster classes with DSP Psionics or Spheres of magic. I think that is probably an easier sell to Pathfinder players than what you propose to 5E players.

I unfortunately seldom get to play so I don't have much empirical testing data to say how much this stuff influences things


MMCJawa wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:

Honestly, I think it would be easier to start with 5e, and then make objective houserules to replace the subjective guidelines.

Most of what I would change about PF is to make it more like 5e. But I don't appreciate PF's fiddly bits like others do or see a problem with subjective guidelines.

I would then just focus on porting PF material to 5e like the kineticist and DSP classes.

I think part of the appeal of 5E is its rule-lite nature which stems from the subjective guidelines of the game. Codifying strikes me as significantly hurting the game and making it a harder to sell when advertising games. Also it increases the potential of introducing new problems. I suspect Codification of rules at least partially explains some power imbalances in the game now.

Personally I would favor incorporating Unchained style system changes (Stamina, skill unlocks, VMC, etc), alongside replacing 9 level caster classes with DSP Psionics or Spheres of magic. I think that is probably an easier sell to Pathfinder players than what you propose to 5E players.

I unfortunately seldom get to play so I don't have much empirical testing data to say how much this stuff influences things

I kind of agree. As I said above I get third party material specifically to not do work. Pathfinder has pre-printed things to slap on to your game to make it more or less complicated while retaining a plethora of options. 5th edition at it's base is way less complicated so you'd have to generate more fiddly bits by hand and kind of ruin what's good about it.

And honestly having both their guts are such different games I wouldn't really make one the other in the first place. I just don't need them for the same kind of games.

Shadow Lodge

Allow pretty much anything and encourage new or uncertain players toward classes I know will give them more equal footing with the rest of the party and better represent their concept, and away from classes that can't keep up.

Psionics, Akashic, Path of War, 3.5 content brought over, Multiclass Archetypes... the whole shebang.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Rewriting the system specifically to address the disparity takes a lot of work, but the good news is that it's already been done. For a higher-powered 3.5 option, check out Frank and K's "Tomes" stuff, which is also free (and which, for that sort of game, is a better choice).


One of my favorite houserule was I got rid of all ability score prereqs. It opens options for everybody but I found the martial tended to appreciate it a lot more.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Something I had also considered, in the vein of a less complicated and more open game, was to try meshing the concept of Array and Variable powers/structures from Mutants and Masterminds 2e (based on the d20 system).

In M&M 2e you can build "powers" (effectively abilities) by spending points to come up with what that ability does. An array power is one that has a number of abilities within it that use the same set of points to do various things.
For example, a Martial Artist array might have one ability that just deals damage, but then another ability that deals an affliction of some kind, and another that does ranged damage, or another that grants movement to leap to an enemy and attack, etc. The reason it works is that you can't use each of them at the same time, etc.

A variable power is one that has a set number of points that you can then spend coming up with an ability on the fly, according to the situation.
Typically, these are restricted in what can be done based on parameters built into the source of the power (and a discussion between DM and player).
This would be like a "Elemental Mage" that can change his ability to something entirely new (fire beam attacks, changed to earth armor and digging, changed to water healing and such). Once again, can't do more than one thing at a time. You can make arrays within it that have their own sets of abilities (so maybe a fire set, earth set, water set, etc), but switching between them will have an action cost.

The point of this would be to specifically allow a much broader application of a character's abilities. Instead of getting locked into a concept, or needing to wait until you get that feat chain, etc.. you juts come up with the ability within the point structure (so balanced in power) and run with it.
Make a swashbuckler that can perform crazy feats of acrobatics and melee, without needing to make up feat chains and static class abilities for each moment (diving over a railing, grabbing a chandelier and slamming it onto the guards, stunning them, etc).
More open ended combat, etc.

The problem I had with this was that M&M 2e is based primarily on a Toughness system instead of a hitpoint system, leveling was not really done (you picked a power level and stayed there usually), and equipment was a little wonky (picked up equipment didn't have a power cost, but stuff you had all the time should, etc).

Also, it would require pretty much all your players on the same page and same skill level, to come up with a good set of abilities and powers (sometimes on the fly). Mid-combat changes could slow the game down if they aren't familiar with power building and had to keep referencing the books.
Codifying "what's possible" would speed things up, but then defeats the purpose of the concept.

Something to consider though. I hear there's a mutants and masterminds 3e, but it's even more of a departure from Pathfinder d20. 8 ability score and a drastic overhaul of the skills and combat options, etc. 2e was very much compatible with 3.5e stuff.


Hi,
I'm planning to make a change on rules in a homebrew game concerning Fighters and Casters :
For Fighters, I plan to add a class feature at 6th level :
Martial Expertise : When you reach 6th level, you can choose to make a full attack as a complex action to make all attacks with full attack bonus or as a standard action to make all attacks as iterative attacks.
For Full Casters (Cleric, Magician, Sorcerer, Witch, Druid), I plan to change the action for casting a spell as a complex action.
For class features,Feats or archetypes, I think I must have a look on each to adjust it, but let me know if it seems good to balance the disparity on Fighters and Casters.
Any suggestion,advice or kind remarks is welcome...


Yondu wrote:

Hi,

I'm planning to make a change on rules in a homebrew game concerning Fighters and Casters :
For Fighters, I plan to add a class feature at 6th level :
Martial Expertise : When you reach 6th level, you can choose to make a full attack as a complex action to make all attacks with full attack bonus or as a standard action to make all attacks as iterative attacks.
For Full Casters (Cleric, Magician, Sorcerer, Witch, Druid), I plan to change the action for casting a spell as a complex action.
For class features,Feats or archetypes, I think I must have a look on each to adjust it, but let me know if it seems good to balance the disparity on Fighters and Casters.
Any suggestion,advice or kind remarks is welcome...

With complex action, do you mean full-action? Also, it doesn't really fix any of the issues. Martials still cannot do anything aside from damage and casters can still do anything.


Yondu wrote:

Hi,

I'm planning to make a change on rules in a homebrew game concerning Fighters and Casters :
For Fighters, I plan to add a class feature at 6th level :
Martial Expertise : When you reach 6th level, you can choose to make a full attack as a complex action to make all attacks with full attack bonus or as a standard action to make all attacks as iterative attacks.
For Full Casters (Cleric, Magician, Sorcerer, Witch, Druid), I plan to change the action for casting a spell as a complex action.
For class features,Feats or archetypes, I think I must have a look on each to adjust it, but let me know if it seems good to balance the disparity on Fighters and Casters.
Any suggestion,advice or kind remarks is welcome...

step in the right direction... keep going.


21 people marked this as a favorite.

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

Well, I wrote this informative bit of text, so that discussions about the topic can get beyond discussing if it exists, and hopefully come up with this some real solutions. See the list at the end for some basic suggestions.

The Caster - Martial Disparity:

Or the Angel summoner and the BMX Bandit

The caster/martial disparity is a tendency for higher level magic using characters to outshine their non-magic using counterparts in many aspects of adventuring.

Before we go further, let's get specific about what we are talking about here:
Casters: For purposes of this topic, casters are the classes that have a caster level equal to class level, and generally have access to 9th level magic. Wizards are the most classic example of "caster", while druids, clerics, sorcerers, generally present similar issues. Classes that only have access to 6th level spells are generally considered "casters", although many people have far more problems with summoners then bards. Each class fits into the disparity is slightly different ways, although the end result is usually similar.

Martials: Martials are classes that never have a caster level, and whose class features are usually extraordinary special abilities, not supernatural or spell-like abilities. Fighters are the most representative martial class, with rogues, barbarians, and monks presenting fairly similar issues.

Others: Classes that have access to 4th level spells such as rangers and paladins are generally not considered to be representative of balance problems, and are used more as a reference point for appropriate class power rather then an exception to it. Some people put bards into this category, although summoners are almost always considered representative of casters.

Now that we have defined the caster/martial part, let's move on to "disparity". While many words such as imbalance and inequity get used to describe the issue, it is important to realize that this is NOT about identical performance, perfect balance or sameness! No one is asking for the classes to perform the same or have perfect mathematical equality. Generally, people find the core problem to be a lack of options for out of combat effectiveness for martial characters. Beyond use of skills, martial characters generally have no class features that allow them to influence the narrative. Monks and rogues have adequate and great skills respectively, however both classes infamously struggle to stay relevant in combat. As both classes were recently rewritten in Pathfinder Unchained, I'm not going to bother discussing their previous issues, except to mention that they both required full round actions to contribute well, and almost completely lacked a decent ranged attack option.

At the lowest levels of play, martial characters are often considered to be better off then casters. A strong fighter or skilled rogue can effectively solve most problems that low level adventures face, and magic is usually fairly limited. This is not to say that casters are weak, they are fully effective at facing CR appropriate encounters, and if built for it, can disrupt encounters from level 1.

Most effects of the disparity begin around level 6, although they frequently don't affect gameplay much until level 11 or so. These effects can be broken into several categories.

Point Buy Economy. Casters generally need only one really good stat, and have numerous class features (magic!), and supernatural and spell-like abilities that benefit from that stat. They also have class features to boost that stat, or compensate for a lack of other stats. Wizards often have more skill ranks then rogues later in the game, and the spellcraft skill is what item crafting is based off of. Bards and sorcerers are well set up to dominate social encounters. Druids and clerics can have great perception and whopping will save modifiers.

Action Economy. Generally, martial characters need a full attack action to be fully effective, while casters can generally do almost everything as standard actions. Casters are also given numerous class features that allow their player additional actions. From an animal companion or familiar, to summoned creatures, to dominated or bound minions, casters frequently act for several creatures, while martials are often forced to spend actions moving, switching weapons, etc.

Economy Economy. Casters are far more adept at creating their own magic items. This can have a drastic effect on individual power as magic items make up a substantial chunk of a characters power, especially as they get to the mid to high levels. Wizards easily have whopping spellcraft, bonus crafting feats, and the ability to access or bypass many crafting requirements. While a caster can craft for other party members, those items are treated as purchased when calculating WBL, while items the caster makes for themselves count as cost to craft. This results in casters often having 125% to 175% of WBL. Since casters often don't need weapons (some of the most expensive items) and get amazing use out of stat boosting items, they are much better served by the game economy.

Skills vs. Spells - Some martials have can have substantial access to skills, however, even max ranks and a decent ability modifier in a class skill is often a very poor substitute for what a spell can accomplish. Skills are useful if you need to do a fairly easy task for a long time, but in many cases, magic allows automatic success for more time then you need to accomplish the task. For example, rather then make a bunch of climb and acrobatics checks to climb up a 100' wall and cross a narrow ledge, the caster can just fly right up, much quicker, and with no checks required. While skills do have their place, they are severely limited for classes like the fighter, and many other martial classes lack the ranks or class skills to use them effectively. Casters generally also have ways to increase their use of skills, while martials have none. Several casting classes are better able to use skills, and even the "master of skills" - the rogue, is often outdone by bards and even wizards.

Versatility. Martial characters generally have three basic options for dealing with a situation: Melee attack vs. AC, Ranged attack vs. AC, or Attack vs. CMD. In social or adventuring encounters, they can use a skill. Casters on the other hand, can target AC, touch AC, 3 saves, etc. they can use deal damage from 5 different elements, force, positive/negative energy, etc. Outside of combat, they can do... well... anything they wish.

What the caster martial disparity does NOT say (Or Myths about the caster martial disparity):
"Casters are better at fighting then martials" - Most people consider fighters and barbarians to excel at combat, however that is generally all they excel at. Due to limited skills and ability scores, and no class skills related to most social encounters, these classes are generally only able to contribute to combat, and even then frequently suffer if situations don't allow effective full attacking. While druids and clerics can be very effective in combat, it generally requires a few rounds, and the caster must sacrifice some casting power in exchange for martial prowess. The problem is that while the caster can play martial, martials can never play casters.

"Casters can finish any encounter with a single spell." - While this is occasionally true, the reality is that a spell is often enough to decide the encounter, while the martial characters often are just needed for coup de grace, or other shooting fish in a barrel uses.

"Casters are squishy" - Many people think that sorcerers and wizards are fragile and vulnerable on the battlefield. This has never been less true. Casters generally have good HP and thanks to spells like mirror image, invisibility, displacement and fly, they are often the safest PCs on the battlefield. All casters have good will saves, some have good fortitude saves, and they have numerous options for boosting saves, AC, HP, and other defenses. Casters also have ways to make themselves basically immune to everything from fire, to grappling, to mental effects. 3/4 BAB casters are generally not considered vulnerable on the battlefield.

"spells are a limited resource" - This was largely the balancing factor back in the AD&D era, however, running out of useful spells can easily be avoided once you get past the lower levels of the game. Most casters start with a few infinite-use 0 level spells, and frequently class abilities that can be used a half dozen times per day. Once you add in scrolls, wands, and other items, casters can frequently participate effectively in encounters without using any of their memorized spells or spell slots. Once you get past 10th level or so, most casters will have several dozen different daily options for effective magic use.

Why the Caster Martial Disparity might not appear in your games.
After leading a sheltered existence surrounded by luxury and game balance in his younger years, Prince Siddhārtha ventured out of his palace for the first time at the age of 29, accompanied by his charioteer Channa.
Prince Siddhārtha - "Why is that Fighter limping and covered in blood?"
Channa responded, "That Fighter has been injured in combat, and has no spells to heal with. Even the Heal skill is not a class skill for him."

As Pathfinder is a highly complex game, and varies widely from table to table, there are almost in infinite number of reasons it might appear or not. Here are some of the most common reasons it might not affect your games:
)Most of your play happens under 10th level.
)Players don't choose to play pure martial, or pure caster characters.
)Caster players don't optimize, and/or martial players optimize heavily.
)There is a spoken or unspoken agreement not to use some options and spells.
)The GM is highly skilled in pacing, presenting a campaign setting, presenting challenges, and giving rewards that even out or minimize the disparity.
)The GM alters dice rolls, and/or encounters so that everyone has fairly equal amounts of success.
)The group views combat and/or other rules heavy parts of the game as something to get resolved as quickly as possible, in order to move on to more roleplay and storytelling elements.
)House rules.

How to Fix the Disparity
"...I don't think its as big a deal as the internet makes it out to be. In my games, casters and non-casters tend to be equally valuable to the party, and equally dangerous in various situations as enemies. ...
...responsibility to keep things fair and fun for all involved lands on the GM's shoulders. ....
It's a balancing act."

-James Jacobs

  • 1) When making characters, no starting ability scores above 16, or below 10 after racial adjustment.
    That fixes many of the problems of class power imbalance, without altering any rule.
  • 2) Remove hold person and dominate person from the game. (If you want to keep hold/dominate monster, at least they are higher level spells.)
  • 3) 7th, 8th, and 9th level spells take at least a full round action to cast. Optionally, all save or suck/die spells take 1 round to cast. Removing the highest level spells from the game, and using the slots for metamagiced lower level spells (heighten spell feat free?) is a more extreme option.
  • 4) Spells with a duration of days/level get changed to hours/level. Some permanent spells might have their duration reduced.
  • 5) Remove quicken spell from the game, or make it apply only to spells with a range of personal.
  • 6) Remove or rewrite known problems like dazing spell meta-magic, witches slumber hex, and other obviously broken stuff.
  • 7)Consider crafted items the same as purchased when determining Wealth By Level. I would also make master craftsman into a more useful feat. To take it a step further, you could make crafted items cost market price to craft.
  • 8)It should be noted that many aspects of casters are intended to be limited by the GM. Access to new spells, planar binding/ally, divination magic, etc. are not blank checks or guaranteed success.
  • 9)Many intelligent foes will ready actions to disrupt spell casting. While it should be done rarely and only by appropriate foes, things like targeting a casters component pouch, wands, familiar and even spell books are not out of the question.
  • 10) Communicate with the players and explain that you don't want a lot of action denial techniques used in the game. RPG-Tag is not a fun way to play. This applies on both sides of the screen. I don't want to consistently take a player out of action with save-or-suck and for similar reasons, I don't want players using those tactics on my named NPC/monsters.


Nice post, Fergie. I think it's WAY more simpler to use Spheres of Power, ban all 9th level Paizo Classes (use the Full Casters from the SoP) to have a great startpoint to balance these two options.

Shadow Lodge

Quote:
the Angel summoner and the BMX Bandit

... man that takes me back.


This topic is huge.
Has anyone suggested the various anti big 6 maneuvers?
The versions that offer plusses to armor class allow you to keep that field plate of comfort without many plusses. The tank can sleep in his armor and have the maximum plusses to AC.
The Sorc can grab the cloak of the bat and ditch the cloak of charisma.

The caster's biggest problem is squishieness. They cannot cast mage armor or shield before a surprise attack.
One solution, Amulet of defensive spells
This stores 3 spell levels (Such as 3 shield spells) that activate defensively(Spells must come from the wearer). Construction costs will be posted when I get them.

If you want a fighter to fly, Go to Leveled Mutations.

With wings, abjuration spells won't shoot them down. I'm working on a teleporting mutation. Keep in mind if a PC insists on trying to port through a locked door, they should automatically take damage. For real funnies have them collide with an orc.


I always liked the idea of spells having variable casting time instead of any spell-slots or spell-points.

•Air

Standard action: Make bull-rush attempt at a distance / non-lethal damage
1 round: Make bull-rush attempt in a cone / non-lethal damage
3 rounds: Cone starts getting bigger with each round and can be sustained through concentration after third round
1 minute: Short ritual. Can be used as a battering ram.
1 hour: Average ritual. Can change weather in a small region (5-7 miles radius)
1 day: Long exhausting ritual. Can change weather in a big region (30-50 miles) but caster needs to work on his magic for a whole day without interruptions and has a chance to drop unconscious from fatigue.

Such spells will be much easier to balance with martial abilities while leaving casters toys in their hands.


Fergie wrote:
A wall of unmitigated awesomeness

Not only do i think this is the first time I've ever favorited a post but I want to favorite it again and agian untill my mouse clicking finger bleeds.

201 to 250 of 366 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Homebrew and House Rules / Martial / Caster disparity: What are you going to do about it? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.