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


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Aelryinth wrote:

I'm reminded of the critique I sent in for the soulknife, where I pointed out that the ability to make your own +10 weapon, customizable by day, was, in effect, also a +200k expansion of your WBL, which meant they could get a crapload of other gear where a standard class still needed to buy a magic weapon, and what were they doing to counterbalance it?

In the end, nothing.

==Aelryinth

I'm uncertain of the criticism being made here... Are you implying that the Soulknife should have had some penalty to offset its decreased WBL needs? Because that's crazy.

Casters already get such huge reductions in WBL, the Soulknife is closer to an example of the kind of things martials should get natively. Paladins can already squeeze out a +10 equivalent weapon when they need it at the levels such things are available, as can basically any other caster. Cavaliers can squeeze some respectable bonuses to hit and damage that are a fair approximation of weapon enhancements, indeed most characters have some method of boosting weapon performance. The Soulknife spends the bulk of his class features on his weapon and creates it at will, so actually giving it fully scaling weapon enhancements just keeps it where it needs to be to compete with other martial options.


Aelryinth wrote:

WBL has the additional problem of casters being able to supply their own gear via spells.

Ergo, they can get magic arms and armor and protection without needing arms and armor and amulets and rings. They can just cast the spells.

So, class abilities that shrink the cost of getting such things should be part of non-caster classes.

I'm reminded of the critique I sent in for the soulknife, where I pointed out that the ability to make your own +10 weapon, customizable by day, was, in effect, also a +200k expansion of your WBL, which meant they could get a crapload of other gear where a standard class still needed to buy a magic weapon, and what were they doing to counterbalance it?

In the end, nothing.

==Aelryinth

So it sounds like WBL ia what needs to be fixed.

Perhaps an overall much small pool and automatic progression bonuses?

@Jiggy

I'm generally against anything that makes the GM work harder at the table.

Hence why I dislike heavy handed gming or using it as a means to solve the problem.

I don't want to work harder to solve a game problem.

I want to play the game. :P

Before the game though all's fair. Hence why I focus on actual rules rather than in-game fixes.


TarkXT wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

WBL has the additional problem of casters being able to supply their own gear via spells.

Ergo, they can get magic arms and armor and protection without needing arms and armor and amulets and rings. They can just cast the spells.

So, class abilities that shrink the cost of getting such things should be part of non-caster classes.

I'm reminded of the critique I sent in for the soulknife, where I pointed out that the ability to make your own +10 weapon, customizable by day, was, in effect, also a +200k expansion of your WBL, which meant they could get a crapload of other gear where a standard class still needed to buy a magic weapon, and what were they doing to counterbalance it?

In the end, nothing.

==Aelryinth

So it sounds like WBL ia what needs to be fixed.

Perhaps an overall much small pool and automatic progression bonuses?

Having a magic weapon, even if it is free is not something that should be considered impressive. Sure it's more WBL, but getting an extra 200k GP over the course of 20 levels is a pretty weak class feature. The Soulknife is doubly balanced by having a limited selection for it's chosen weapon that people who choose to spend money don't have to abide by. The Soulkinfe is on record as one of the absolute weakest classes of 3.5 and while the Dreamscarred Press version is significantly better balanced, it still falls short of tier 3.

It should be noted that I actually *like* WBL and the Christmas Tree effect (though not the "Big 6" sameness), and would like to see those maintained. Higher level people should be spending money on things that make them more effective at their chosen career, which means having a wealth of magic items. Sure a level 20 person should be awesome with a mundane weapon of their choosing, but a level 20 person completely geared for battle should curb stomp them. That makes sense to me so I like it's inclusion.


I was honestly thinking more along the lines of crafting feats.

Spells and what not never really impressed me class features that are also gear never have.


Here's another idea: Have magic items that boost ability scores only give bonuses of the temporary type, unless a specific item's description says otherwise (which would usually be something approaching artifact level, with exceptions for cursed items). Thus, boosting an ability with an item never lets you cast higher level spells, gain more spells per day, gain more channels/monster summonings/whatever per day, gain more skill ranks, or qualify for feats you would not have otherwise qualified for (unless a feat's prerequisites specifically say you must own a certain type of item, but I'm not aware of any that specify a long-term stat-boosting item). Ability score boosting items WOULDs still let you hit harder and/or more accurately, boost your spell DCs, and boost your skill roll modifiers, as well as boost anything else that can benefit from a temporary ability score boost.

This would mean that casters would gain less of a boost from these items, while martials would be mostly unaffected (the loss of bonus skill ranks would nerf both casters and martials, and occasionally a martial would run into not being able to qualify for a feat by putting on a belt of somethingorother, but more oftne it would mean that casters would have fewer spells unless they honestly invested in boosting their ability scores naturally.

As a side benefit, this would mean that everyone would have to build to be less item-dependent, and bookkeeping would be easier if something bad happened to an ability-boosting item )no more worry about where to deduct skill ranks and/or prepared arcane spells per day when losing a +Int item, for instance).


Replying a bit late on this argument, but :

Aelryinth wrote:

"What do you mean I can't get skill unlocks for Intelligence-based skills?"

"You can make magic items."

"Oh...right. Never mind."

===Aelryinth

"What do you mean I can't get skill unlocks on Spellcraft ?"

"You can make magic items."

"The point being ? Do I need to be a bad spellcaster to be good at spellcraft ?"

"Yes."

"... What."


One Question come to my mind : In Shadowrun, if you want to play a Magician or a shaman or even a Physical Adept, you have to sacrifice some of you starting caracteristics...
In order to somehow equilize the disparity, why not apply some penalties on build points : if you have 25 points to make a character, if you choose a partial caster (Ranger, Paladin,..), you have 20 points, if you choose a full caster (Mage, Sorcerer, Cleric..), you have 15 points ?


Aelryinth wrote:
Practicing spells is a time suck.

Only for wizards, maguses, arcanists, and maybe witches. Divine or spontaneous casters just get given magic by a god or develop it spontaneously from their unnatural ancestry. And witches are more like divine casters than other arcane prepared casters in fluff.


Yondu wrote:

One Question come to my mind : In Shadowrun, if you want to play a Magician or a shaman or even a Physical Adept, you have to sacrifice some of you starting caracteristics...

In order to somehow equilize the disparity, why not apply some penalties on build points : if you have 25 points to make a character, if you choose a partial caster (Ranger, Paladin,..), you have 20 points, if you choose a full caster (Mage, Sorcerer, Cleric..), you have 15 points ?

An issue is that in shadowrun you technically don't get less attribute points because you're a awakened character.

In SR4, Magic is an additional attribute, so you virtually sacrifice part of your attribute investment to level it.
In SR5, The system is a bit more complicated, but you basically sacrifice at least another "section" of the character (attributes, skills, or even gear) in order to be awakened.

Applied to PF, the SR4 version would be to create a 7th ability score (Magic), and use it for any use of Magic (while the rest of Supernatural abilities keeps their current ability).
The SR5 version isn't really applicable unless you overhaul the character creation system (in part by having Skill/Level & WBL being leveraged against Spell casting).

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I didn't say GAINING spells is a time suck. I said practicing them.

IF you don't believe spon casters have to explore internally and drag their spells out of the morass of magical choices...then no, discovery isn't a time suck. Every representation I've seen of 'picking spells' for spon casters involves intense meditation, psychotropic mushrooms, really bad dreams, and immersing yourself in the power of your bloodline and similar stuff. It's a time suck on the inspiration/artistic side instead of the problem-solving side.

If you don't believe that clerics need to practice casting spells so as to get them right, then no, spells for them are not time sucks. They don't need to carefully observe what spells do and how they interact to be perfect at using magic, right? Clerics are just that awesome. No wonder mages envy them!

Spellcraft is integral and 'free' to being a spellcaster, you don't have to pay for it. As a matter of fact, the answer to that question above was, "No, being a spellcaster makes you great at spellcraft. Not being a spellcaster means you totally suck at it."

==Aelryinth


Gonna give my thoughts on the several different things touched on recently..

Fighting Flying Creatures
There should be several options.
Firstly, all combatants should have boosts that are divorced from a specific weapon: Rage, Smite, Favored Enemy, Sneak Attack, Flurry.
If a class doesn't have a general boost, or it sucks, then it's a problem that the class needs fixed.
This way switching to a ranged weapon can still benefit from "your main thing", even if you normally prefer melee combat, or vice versa.

Second, the option to ready a grab and hang on should be available. Fleshed out rules for clinging to a larger enemy and engaging in combat. Fly-by attacks should allow a warrior to grab hold and take the fight in the air while he's got him in a death grip and stabbing/smacking away, etc.

Third, jump really high, with lots of movement per round to let it work. Take the fight to them.

Fourth, cause impairment that grounds the target, either with a ranged weapon or as a readied hit when the thing flies by.

Fifth, special gear: use any kind of rope (grappling hook, harpoon, lasso, etc) to grab hold of them and cause all sorts of havoc (grapple options, slam them around like a bad kite flier, etc).

Flight vs Travel
I'd prefer various other options than resorting to "flight under my own power". Greater speed, jump good/parkour ability, climb/swim skills, etc.
Handle animal push on a captured flying creature, or straight up overpower in a grapple and then intimidate on an intelligent one.

Or a ritual to gain longlasting travel flight, as I mentioned earlier.

Skills
I'm in agreement mostly with Jiggy. Skills should be the primary way to deal with skill situations, while spell may grant temporary boosted access for a non-skilled caster.

And write your campaign/dungeon/etc with the Three Clue Rule.
You shouldn't have your party stuck at the door with hieroglyphs without any options thinking "man, if we only had comprehend languages". They should have had a pile of options leading up to that: a guide/archaelogist accompanying them, a secret map showing bypass options, allow several types of checks to figure it out: language, a couple different knowledges, disable device, all with varying DCs to denote the easier vs harder paths, etc.


Aelryinth wrote:

Meh, DM metagame tactics against casters are no worse then what we'd use in the real world, although not allowing some caster-specific magic items could be taken wrong...

Limiting raw quantity is a hard game to play, unless you actively remove the ability to create potions and scrolls and wands like PFS does.

==Aelryinth

Agree but this is why I run a game for a long-term group and new people would know at the start. I always think about the 'sniper' approach which prioritises enemy targets according to their role in the enemy unit. Also the old saying 'What is good for the goose, is good for the gander'...


Goth Guru wrote:
strayshift wrote:

As a DM I have found that the more you target casters, the more resources they must put into defence and the less safe a caster feels the fewer offensive options they will take.

Make them the number one target wherever feasible and possible and have your tactics worked out. I also find that weapons like nets and harpoons, as well as 'anti-caster' specialists like silenced rogues and monks, make casters less inclined to venture too near a combat. Archery of course should discourage flight - especially if fort saves are thrown in. Also be prepared to sunder things like holy symbols, arcane bonds, component pouches and so forth. Familiars are fair game too.

I also don't allow a lot of items that benefit casters too (metamagics rods, pages of spell knowledge, pearls of power, etc) this makes spell slots, feats and level bonuses more valuable to them.

I control the time between adventures strictly as well. This means far less time for crafting consumables (again this means that spell slots are more valuable). Purchasing magic items is obviously subject to 'local context' with organisations and powerful individuals demanding services and favours for access to these. Anti-magical 'counter-measures' are also relatively available.

Finally other casters are often rivals and often view the player caters as a threat. This means the number of powerful casters who will freely work with the pcs is relatively small and these are generally good aligned with a particular agenda.

I could add more, but generally the strategy is to pressure the casters spell-slots and reduce their offensive ability.

That went dark. Keoland, nobody wants to play in your no magic magic kingdom pitch black. Are you going to sneak up behind anyone who wants to play a battle mage and whack them with a 4th edition rulebook on the back of the head? I'm hiding the topic and I hope it gets locked. The mods might want to delete any post that mentions targeting familiars.

Just for the record my players generally have a great time, the game is a challenge that involves them all regardless of class.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Goth Guru wrote:
Goth Guru wrote:

So for fighters only...

1-4 +1 to hit and damage with all weapons. Though magical, only a dead magic area will affect this, only with ranged weapons. Additional combat oriented feat and a prerequisite feat.
5-8 +2 to hit and damage. Additional combat oriented feat and a prerequisite feat.
9-12 +3 to hit and damage. Additional combat oriented feat and a prerequisite feat.
13-16 +4 to hit and damage. Additional combat oriented feat and a prerequisite feat.
17-20 +5 to hit and damage. Additional combat oriented feat and a prerequisite feat.
21 up +6 to hit and damage. and an epic feat.

GM fiat can give this to monks as well. Otherwise, a monk must take a fighter dip to get the +1 to all weapons, including fists and feet.

Adding 2D6+con bonus hit points per level. Can use strength in place of wisdom for will saves. (Have you tried to scare a professional wrestler?)

I'm not sure how that's applicable since professional wrestling is all performance. It's not like it's really Mortal Kombat.


Aralicia wrote:
Yondu wrote:

One Question come to my mind : In Shadowrun, if you want to play a Magician or a shaman or even a Physical Adept, you have to sacrifice some of you starting caracteristics...

In order to somehow equilize the disparity, why not apply some penalties on build points : if you have 25 points to make a character, if you choose a partial caster (Ranger, Paladin,..), you have 20 points, if you choose a full caster (Mage, Sorcerer, Cleric..), you have 15 points ?

An issue is that in shadowrun you technically don't get less attribute points because you're a awakened character.

In SR4, Magic is an additional attribute, so you virtually sacrifice part of your attribute investment to level it.
In SR5, The system is a bit more complicated, but you basically sacrifice at least another "section" of the character (attributes, skills, or even gear) in order to be awakened.

Applied to PF, the SR4 version would be to create a 7th ability score (Magic), and use it for any use of Magic (while the rest of Supernatural abilities keeps their current ability).
The SR5 version isn't really applicable unless you overhaul the character creation system (in part by having Skill/Level & WBL being leveraged against Spell casting).

Sorry Aralicia, I should have been more precise, I was talking of SR3 (The last one I've played, long time ago), you have a priority system to choose your character and If you choose a magician, you cannot have the maximum for the attributes and magic was automaticaly linked to this choice... It create a kind of balance between awakened and mundane however it is right that in PF, you can multiclass thing you cannot do in SR, it can lead to some abuse by clever players ( start as a fighter to have more build points and go to full caster later... was not so good idea in the end...


Yondu wrote:
Sorry Aralicia, I should have been more precise, I was talking of SR3 (The last one I've played, long time ago), you have a priority system to choose your character and If you choose a magician, you cannot have the maximum for the attributes and magic was automaticaly linked to this choice... It create a kind of balance between awakened and mundane however it is right that in PF, you can multiclass thing you cannot do in SR, it can lead to some abuse by clever players ( start as a fighter to have more build points and go to full caster later... was not so good idea in the end...

Ho, I see. I never got to play SR3. I started with SR4.

What you are proposing is possible under the condition that you limit multiclassing. At creation, the player must chose if he play an awakened character or not (or any other term representing the aptitude to do magic). If he does play an awakened, he can take level in magic-using classes. If he doesn't, he gain bonus ability points, but can't ever take level in magic-using classes.
Sadly, I don't think it would really give an effective advantage to non-casters.
In SR, magic tend to be really low-level, with most magical powers being more or less reproducible with technology (magic blasting is basically the same as shooting people with a gun; summoning can be imitated with drone control; spying through the astral plane is similar to hacking into the place; etc)
In PF, magic is far more powerful and varied in application than non-magical abilities. Teleportation, Flight and similar magics are only the worst offenders. In a world where the nearest thing to a grenade is create a small 4m-wide explosion, a 12m-wide fireball is severely more impressive (even when the actual damage isn't that impressive).
Simply giving a numeric buff to non-caster is maybe a step, but is clearly not enough.


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Hmm, regarding witchers, monster hunters and similar characters. We can add an ability that needs both Survival and Craft (Alchemy) skills to make dusts, oils, bombs and potions out of slain enemies.

DC to extract a needed part of creature and create an alchemical item is 10+Target HD. It's hard to saw through big and high leveled creatures with their hardened hides, muscles and other materials.

You can extract:

Racial abilities (Elven Keen senses, Dwarven resistance to poison, ressistance to elements of some creatures)

Spell-like and some (Ex) abilities.

Let's take Black dragon for example

- 1/use acid line breath weapon with power reliant on the number of ranks in Craft (Alchemy) skill

- Acid pool bomb

- Spell-likes: Charm reptiles, Corrupt Waters, Darkness, Plant growth, Insect plague

- Water breathing

- Resistance to acid

- Spell resistance

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Reminds me of Age of Worms. There's a potion you can find which gives you permanent +3 Nat AC and black dragon scales.

Non-reproducible, of course.

==Aelryinth

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Anzyr wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

WBL has the additional problem of casters being able to supply their own gear via spells.

Ergo, they can get magic arms and armor and protection without needing arms and armor and amulets and rings. They can just cast the spells.

So, class abilities that shrink the cost of getting such things should be part of non-caster classes.

I'm reminded of the critique I sent in for the soulknife, where I pointed out that the ability to make your own +10 weapon, customizable by day, was, in effect, also a +200k expansion of your WBL, which meant they could get a crapload of other gear where a standard class still needed to buy a magic weapon, and what were they doing to counterbalance it?

In the end, nothing.

==Aelryinth

So it sounds like WBL ia what needs to be fixed.

Perhaps an overall much small pool and automatic progression bonuses?

Having a magic weapon, even if it is free is not something that should be considered impressive. Sure it's more WBL, but getting an extra 200k GP over the course of 20 levels is a pretty weak class feature. The Soulknife is doubly balanced by having a limited selection for it's chosen weapon that people who choose to spend money don't have to abide by. The Soulkinfe is on record as one of the absolute weakest classes of 3.5 and while the Dreamscarred Press version is significantly better balanced, it still falls short of tier 3.

It should be noted that I actually *like* WBL and the Christmas Tree effect (though not the "Big 6" sameness), and would like to see those maintained. Higher level people should be spending money on things that make them more effective at their chosen career, which means having a wealth of magic items. Sure a level 20 person should be awesome with a mundane weapon of their choosing, but a level 20 person completely geared for battle should curb stomp them. That makes sense to me so I like it's inclusion.

Soulknife is considered a weak class because it is basically pure melee, compared to the psychic magnifiers the other classes get.

However, for all practical purposes, given its class features, its a full strength fighter with a modular and free, ultimately 200k+ weapon.

Which, when you compare it to the standard fighter, is UNDOUBTEDLY superior. That's 200k+ you can spend on other gear, just because your magic weapon is free.

And this is the kind of thing I'm noting is another extension of the disparity. In earlier editions, treasure was mostly loot, and the loot tables favored arms and armor tremendously. So fighters got magic weapons and armor as they leveled, no brainer. They just did.

Now, it's applied against WBL, and casters don't have to play that game the same way. It's another cost that got tacked onto the fighter side of things to sway balance, taking cash away from defenses and versatility once more.

===Aelryinth


Aelryinth wrote:
Anzyr wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

WBL has the additional problem of casters being able to supply their own gear via spells.

Ergo, they can get magic arms and armor and protection without needing arms and armor and amulets and rings. They can just cast the spells.

So, class abilities that shrink the cost of getting such things should be part of non-caster classes.

I'm reminded of the critique I sent in for the soulknife, where I pointed out that the ability to make your own +10 weapon, customizable by day, was, in effect, also a +200k expansion of your WBL, which meant they could get a crapload of other gear where a standard class still needed to buy a magic weapon, and what were they doing to counterbalance it?

In the end, nothing.

==Aelryinth

So it sounds like WBL ia what needs to be fixed.

Perhaps an overall much small pool and automatic progression bonuses?

Having a magic weapon, even if it is free is not something that should be considered impressive. Sure it's more WBL, but getting an extra 200k GP over the course of 20 levels is a pretty weak class feature. The Soulknife is doubly balanced by having a limited selection for it's chosen weapon that people who choose to spend money don't have to abide by. The Soulkinfe is on record as one of the absolute weakest classes of 3.5 and while the Dreamscarred Press version is significantly better balanced, it still falls short of tier 3.

It should be noted that I actually *like* WBL and the Christmas Tree effect (though not the "Big 6" sameness), and would like to see those maintained. Higher level people should be spending money on things that make them more effective at their chosen career, which means having a wealth of magic items. Sure a level 20 person should be awesome with a mundane weapon of their choosing, but a level 20 person completely geared for battle should curb stomp them. That makes sense to me so I like it's inclusion.

Soulknife is considered a weak class because it is...

Armor/Weapon training would have been way more interesting if it effectively gave you a 400k-800k discount on weapons and armor. Instead of yknow, a diminishing bonus that goes up to +4. Could have been an up to +5 stackable enhancement bonus where you can get the enhancement bonus or some kind of weapon trick that behaved like a weapon property, along with the same for armor. (When I first saw Weapon Training I assumed Armor Training was going give you armor bonuses. I was disappointed that the main ability that I wanted was to move at full speed in full plate.


Couple of other things about the Soulknife: Once you get Throw Mind Blade (right out of the box in Pathfinder + Psionics Unleashed)(*), but 2nf level in D&D 3.5), you have unlimited throwing ammunition. This gets more delicious when you become a Soulbow (D&D 3.5) or Soul Archer (Pathfinder + Psionics Unleashed + Psionics Expanded).

(*)Also saw the Soulbolt archetype of Soulknife in Psionics Expanded, that gives you serious range even before taking the Soul Archer prestige class.

Mmmmmm . . Muenster . . . .


Idea! (Mostly plagiarizing again)

Fighters need some resource mechanic so that they may have more powerful abilities which can't be spammed without care. At the same time it must be something non-magical and preferably already existing in the system to tie it with other subsystems and rules. But Paizo already made this mechanic or at least it's variant - Burn.

Taking non-lethal damage to get power-ups by overexerting body beyond normal limits.

Heroic Effort

While fighters train for their whole lives they rarely spend time to study some esoteric or magical skills beyond being able to care for their magical equipment. Many of them just don't have time to study such abilities being flung from one war to another. Others can't find suitable teachers or have trouble with more meditative approaches to combat but they all need some edge to survive on the battlefield and so most of them come to the simplest conclusion - doing what they already can do but better.

Lacking in special training they don't have ability to tap into magical energies or such things as Ki and so they use the only thing that they have - their bodies. By pushing his body beyond anything that even a highly trained creature of their species can achieve fighters surpass their own limits. For a price.

This feats of strength, speed and skill are a heavy toll on fighters body. Each one of them may deal only minor damage but then used one after another they can bring any fighter down even faster than his enemies.

Each time fighter uses Heroic Effort he takes non-lethal damage with amount dependant on the power of ability that he is utilising. This damage can't be reduced or redirected and a fighter incapable of taking non-lethal damage must take lethal damage which also can't be reduced or redirected if he wants to use Heroic Effort. A fighter who is somehow incapable of taking both lethal and non-lethal damage can't use Heroic Effort. A fighter who has used Heroic Effort never benefits from abilities that allow him to ignore or alter the effects he receives from non-lethal damage within 24 hours from last use.

Effort Level and Damage

1st level - 1 point of damage
2nd level - 3 points of damage
3rd level - 6 points of damage
4th level - 10 points of damage
5th level - 15 points of damage


Zoolimar wrote:

Idea! (Mostly plagiarizing again)

Fighters need some resource mechanic so that they may have more powerful abilities which can't be spammed without care. At the same time it must be something non-magical and preferably already existing in the system to tie it with other subsystems and rules. But Paizo already made this mechanic or at least it's variant - Burn.

Taking non-lethal damage to get power-ups by overexerting body beyond normal limits.

Heroic Effort

While fighters train for their whole lives they rarely spend time to study some esoteric or magical skills beyond being able to care for their magical equipment. Many of them just don't have time to study such abilities being flung from one war to another. Others can't find suitable teachers or have trouble with more meditative approaches to combat but they all need some edge to survive on the battlefield and so most of them come to the simplest conclusion - doing what they already can do but better.

Lacking in special training they don't have ability to tap into magical energies or such things as Ki and so they use the only thing that they have - their bodies. By pushing his body beyond anything that even a highly trained creature of their species can achieve fighters surpass their own limits. For a price.

This feats of strength, speed and skill are a heavy toll on fighters body. Each one of them may deal only minor damage but then used one after another they can bring any fighter down even faster than his enemies.

Each time fighter uses Heroic Effort he takes non-lethal damage with amount dependant on the power of ability that he is utilising. This damage can't be reduced or redirected and a fighter incapable of taking non-lethal damage must take lethal damage which also can't be reduced or redirected if he wants to use Heroic Effort. A fighter who is somehow incapable of taking both lethal and non-lethal damage can't use Heroic Effort. A fighter who has used Heroic Effort never benefits from abilities that allow him to ignore or alter the effects he receives from non-lethal damage within 24 hours from last use.

Effort Level and Damage

1st level - 1 point of damage
2nd level - 3 points of damage
3rd level - 6 points of damage
4th level - 10 points of damage
5th level - 15 points of damage

No offense, but this seems like a TERRIBLE idea. Reducing the hit point pool of the fighter, even if it IS a reduced amount of non-lethal damage, is going to have a drastic impact on their front-line survivability. This works (kinda) with kineticists because they're supposed to have a great Con score, in fact it should be their HIGHEST ability score. Fighters, otoh, need Strength as their best score in order to consistently hit and deal damage. Also unlike fighters, kineticists aren't on the front-line, they're ranged attackers blasting the enemy from behind the party's melee barrier. I do not see this working out well for the fighter at all. Combat Stamina is infinitely better at representing the body pushing itself to the limits without drastically screwing over the character using it.


Cerberus Seven wrote:
No offense, but this seems like a TERRIBLE idea. Reducing the hit point pool of the fighter, even if it IS a reduced amount of non-lethal damage, is going to have a drastic impact on their front-line survivability. This works (kinda) with kineticists because they're supposed to have a great Con score, in fact it should be their HIGHEST ability score. Fighters, otoh, need Strength as their best score in order to consistently hit and deal damage. Also unlike fighters, kineticists aren't on the front-line, they're ranged attackers blasting the enemy from behind the party's melee barrier. I do not see this working out well for the fighter at all. Combat Stamina is infinitely better at representing the body pushing itself to the limits without drastically screwing over the character using it.

Well, that's certainly not the best idea but non-lethal damage at least can be healed quickly especially since unlike Burn this variant doesn't have a clause of healing only with rest.

Add Heroic Effort ability that allows fighters to transform lethal damage into non-lethal and even if they will fall down that will probably happen after some of their enemies are dead. If they survive their downtime they will be able to spring back even without magic healing within a day.

This all is also reliant on what abilities exactly will fighters get with Heroic Effort. Let's take a look at some spells with levels 1-5 that can be appropriate for a fighter in non-magical form.

Spells:

1:
Blade Lash - reach weapon only
Blade Tutor's Spirit
Blurred Movement
Bouncy Body - drop down and jump back
Break - powerful sunder attempt
Cause fear - make people frightened of you
Jump
Linebreaker
Line in the sand
Mirror Strike - easily re-flavoured as skill
Shield - simply bonus to AC
Stone Throwing
Sundering Shards
True Strike - :) though that probably should be higher level

2:
Armor Lock - re-fluffed as a heavy hit to damage said armor
Bladed Dash
Extreme Flexibility
Shatter - loud screams and heavy strikes with weapons
Sonic Scream - Scream!
Twisted Space - redirect attacks to some random people

3:
Air Geiser - hit someone really hard
Burst of Speed
Fireball - whirlwind attack without a feat
Fly - jump good
Force Punch - hit with something heavy and send target back a couple of feet
Heart of Metal - overcome DR but instead of materials overcome limited amount of any DR
Slow - place staggered condition on target (hit them in the head)

4:
Black Tentacles - grapple everyone within reach
Rubberskin
Shout - Scream really loud
Stoneskin - gain DR
Wreath of Blades - anyone within reach provokes attacks of opportunity

5:
Interposing Hand - use shield

As long as benefits of ability allow you to harm your opponents more than you will be harmed by its cost you are good. Fighter with 14 Con will have HP by level - 12(1), 42(5), 94(12), 154(20). Due to items, feats or simply higher Con he can have more.

Yes abilities of level 4-5 won't be used frequently and that's good. They are supposed to be like this - moves that you save for the most dire moments. For that time then death is a fair price for achieving your goal.

Adding scaling with Heroic Effort level to some abilities can help too.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Add swift healing/rd for non-lethal damage only. Takes care of the 'resupply'.

Note that healing spells heal an amount of non lethal equal to the amount of lethal damage at the same time. So he'd also be double-tapping all the heal magic out there.

Lastly, if you allow the Fighter to gain additional benefits from training, one of the benefits of training is gaining additional hit points.

Between toughness, Favored Class for hit points, and paying, say, half gold, or getting 2 for 1 for hit point training, the fighter's hit points can easily skyrocket enough to afford some of these tricks.

==Aelryinth


When you hit 6 BaB, you get combat stamina for free. At BaB 12 and 18, you get extra stamina for free. Monks and 2/3 casters aside from Summoner count at full BaB for these purposes.

At level 9, everyone but full casters can spend 5 stamina to pounce and 3 stamina to ignore difficult terrain.

I had my own "maneuver pool" system for years now. Stamina works about as well, though.


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I'm in agreement with some of the things already mentioned, and rather than covering old ground, I'm gonna mention some other changes I've been fiddling with - mostly for specific classes of spells.

First, teleportation. I think long-distance teleportation has a place, narratively and mechanically. But as it stands, it is way too easy, too hard to counter, too flexible in application, to the point that it negates a lot of other things that could be interesting (any kind of overland travel, for example). So.

Long-distance teleportation requires three things. A structure, called a waystone; a handheld item, called a keystone; and a teleportation spell.
Waystones are immobile structures. Keystones are attuned to one or more waystones. Holders of keystones can use them to teleport - with a spell/scroll - to any of the attuned waystones over almost any distance. Most major cities have a waystone, and there are other waystones - abandoned or otherwise - scattered throughout the world. Keystones can be attuned to new waystones with a ritual that costs a fair bit in magical materials. Keystones have a limit on how many waystones they can be attuned to, which is determined when they keystone is crafted, and connections can be overwritten. Needless to say, better ones are more expensive.
There are also items called black keystones, that can be used to teleport to any waystone in range. The range on black keystones is usually measured in tens of miles.

Planar travel requires locations where the planes are 'closer'. These locations only allow travel to specific planes, and specific places on those planes. You still need a spell or item for planar travel.
This requirement can be bypassed in two ways. The first is through magical gate structures. Each of these gates is connected to one other gate, and their connections can cross between planes.
The second way is an expensive, time-consuming, inaccurate and one-way ritual. It is ill-advised to use one of these rituals without a way back (usual way is to bring the materials to set up a new gate on the other side, and have the gate it will connect to fully built and ready to go).

Short distance teleportation (Dimension Door) mostly works as-is, but it is medium range (100ft + 10ft/lv) and somewhat inaccurate without line-of-sight.

Edit: forgot a final point: ammunition with the Anchoring enchantment. Anchoring ammunition, when it hits and does damage to a target, binds itself to the target, requiring a high strength check (18ish?) as a standard action to remove. So long as the ammunition adheres to the target (and it's magic is not suppressed), they cannot teleport by any means.

- - - - -

Second subject: shapechanging. I think shapechanging is cool. Some time ago I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and trying to put together a class that can shapechange into anything. Ultimately I decided that would simply be too much. But there are three things that shapechanging can be nice for - espionage, environmental adaptation, combat - and only the last one is really well-represented in class abilities in pathfinder, and I didn't like that. And some classes - notably wizards - had way more flexibility in shapechanging than I thought they really ought to, especially compared to everyone else. Story-time over, now my answer.

Shapechanging is mostly (maybe exclusively) the purview of magical tattoos. Characters can generally have 2 magic tattoos, or spend feats for more. Each tattoo is for a specific form - including appearance stuff like hair color and facial structure. So a character can have a Bear tattoo, which he can activate to turn into a Bear, and activate again to turn back (side-affect of this is that, if the tattoo is suppressed, they can't switch). There is no limit to how long a character can stay in a form granted by a tattoo; they are strictly mode-switch in nature. Druids and other classes with shapechanging abilities get free tattoos and maybe free tattoo slots, rather than their usual abilities (side affect is their number of forms is more limited). Possibly also better ability in tattoo-crafting.
Also note that these may not be literal, actual tattoos - as in, ink under the skin. They are, at the very least, magical, inseparable items that look kinda like tattoos.
Some shape-tattoos are more expensive than others, depending on both how different the given form is from your baseline, as well as how powerful it is in general. Human -> Elf is cheap. Human -> Halfling not quite so cheap. Human -> Bear, bit more expensive. Human -> Fire Giant, possible, but very expensive. You can also get tattoos for the same race/species, but different characteristics. The tattoos can be nearly invisible - almost the same color as the skin it's on - but never entirely invisible.
Tattoos usually cover a small region of the body - forearm or chest, for example. They can be made smaller at greater expense.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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In 1e, for druids, I druids were limited to exactly 3 forms - one bird, one mammal, one reptile for their entire lives. That was a BIIIIG shift from what is available today. And you couldn't pick a form with more HD then your own, so if you wanted a brown bear, you were waiting a lot longer then someone who wanted a weasel to use.

Alter Self didn't grant any racial abilities, nor technically did Poly Self, although the latter could give you animal forms and movement modes.

But really, it's the size changes, move modes and extra senses that can really start to make morphing strong. Morphing BY ITSELF can be equal to every other form of spellcasting, done correctly. If you look at narrative history, morphers basically only do that...and they are very good at JUST being morphers.

So, really, while it's an iconic wizard ability, it's so powerful that it could be the ONLY wizard ability someone had.

==Aelryinth


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?

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.

Limit the game to the core rulebook only. Most of what makes casters potentially so powerful comes from feats from optional books, traits, and DM's not being careful enough with magic item access.


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bk007dragon wrote:
Limit the game to the core rulebook only. Most of what makes casters potentially so powerful comes from feats from optional books, traits, and DM's not being careful enough with magic item access.

That is a common misconception. In truth the most powerful options are nearly all in the Core Rulebook.


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Limiting the game to CRB only, and limiting magic item access, hurts martials more than it hurts casters.


Cronatos wrote:

{. . .}

First, teleportation. I think long-distance teleportation has a place, narratively and mechanically. But as it stands, it is way too easy, too hard to counter, too flexible in application, to the point that it negates a lot of other things that could be interesting (any kind of overland travel, for example). So.

Long-distance teleportation requires three things. A structure, called a waystone; a handheld item, called a keystone; and a teleportation spell.
Waystones are immobile structures. Keystones are attuned to one or more waystones. Holders of keystones can use them to teleport - with a spell/scroll - to any of the attuned waystones over almost any distance. Most major cities have a waystone, and there are other waystones - abandoned or otherwise - scattered throughout the world. Keystones can be attuned to new waystones with a ritual that costs a fair bit in magical materials. {. . .}
There are also items called black keystones, that can be used to teleport to any waystone in range. The range on black keystones is usually measured in tens of miles.
{. . .}

This is similar to what WarCraft III (not sure about WoW) does with Teleportation, except that it doesn't use Keystones, and what can serve as a Waystone depends upon the method of Teleportation (if you have an expensive but readily available Scroll of Town Portal, the scroll serves as a temporary Keystone, while only a friendly Town Hall or equivalent building can serve as a Waystone; if you have a Staff of Teleportation (works on self and items only) or a high-level Teleportation spell (actually more equivalent to SLA), you serve as the Keystone and any friendly ground unit can serve as the Waystone (but this is still more limited than D&D 3.5/PF Teleport, which doesn't need a Waystone equivalent at all). WarCraft III also has Way Gates (similar to what you describe but are not known to be used for interplanar travel, and can be connected asymmetrically), although they don't get much use (these are sort of equivalent to Elf Gates on Golarion).

Aelryinth wrote:

{. . .}

In 1e, for druids, I druids were limited to exactly 3 forms - one bird, one mammal, one reptile for their entire lives. That was a BIIIIG shift from what is available today. And you couldn't pick a form with more HD then your own, so if you wanted a brown bear, you were waiting a lot longer then someone who wanted a weasel to use.

Alter Self didn't grant any racial abilities, nor technically did Poly Self, although the latter could give you animal forms and movement modes. {. . .}

To add to this, if you wanted a spell that gave you all the physical abilities of whatever you shapechanged into, you needed the 9th Level Shapechange spell. To be fair, Pathfinder's Beast Shape, etc. DON'T give you all the physical abilities of whatever you change your form to, but what they give you or don't give you is rather uneven between different creature forms, including Animals, much to the distress of many Totem Druids, many of whose Totem Animal abilities are incomplete, while others are relatively complete.

One option would be to make Wildshape sort of like 1st Edition Wildshape, but you gradually add to your repertoire of Animal forms (or equivalent if an archetype changes this to something like Plant Form), and you can swap 1 Animal form when you gain more levels of Wild Shape. The Druid's primary Animal form (or equivalent) would be sort of like that of a Totem Druid, but would get a more balanced set of Totem Animal abilities (this would not apply to other Animal forms). Also let Druids get access to the Beast Shape and Plant Form spells (possibly also Elemental Body for certain archetypes).


Athaleon wrote:
Limiting the game to CRB only, and limiting magic item access, hurts martials more than it hurts casters.

On core rulebook access. Actually I find some of the most powerful caster builds use feats from non core-sources and they use traits.

On magic items. The ability to make items and not be restricted to what the DM will allow is a source of broken characters of all classes. Their is a reason why Pathfinder Society does not allow item crafting.


I don't go past level 10 unless I'm running an AP

Shadow Lodge

bk007dragon wrote:
Athaleon wrote:
Limiting the game to CRB only, and limiting magic item access, hurts martials more than it hurts casters.
On core rulebook access. Actually I find some of the most powerful caster builds use feats from non core-sources and they use traits.

What makes most casters super powerful isn't their feats or traits, though those certainly help. It's their spell selections.

Black Tentacles. Pit spells. Wall spells. Color Spray. Web. Divine Might. Those are just the ones off the top of my head that make casters as good as they are. All core.


It is pretty funny how some people start balance based conversation at limiting books and items, and then in the next breath, talk about shoring up martial weakness with a mess of super items and artifact swords or something. Cognitive dissonance much?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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bk007dragon wrote:
Athaleon wrote:
Limiting the game to CRB only, and limiting magic item access, hurts martials more than it hurts casters.

On core rulebook access. Actually I find some of the most powerful caster builds use feats from non core-sources and they use traits.

On magic items. The ability to make items and not be restricted to what the DM will allow is a source of broken characters of all classes. Their is a reason why Pathfinder Society does not allow item crafting.

CoDzilla is one of the most enduring statements of caster-martial disparity ever made. And its all because of core.

Core hugely favors spellcasters. It is not even a question. PF actually has toned down a lot of the spellcaster set even more with time. The only build I can think of that really gets a boost from traits is the evocation direct damage build, which is really the weakest spellcaster build you an actually take!

In Core, you have: All the Summoning spells; all the shapechanging spells; all the spells that let a divine caster play martial; Time Stop; wish; teleport; flight and other movement modes; heals, buffs, and Debuffs; crowd control spells; spells that sub for magic items (and thus allow independence from same); item creation feats.

Those are the things that form the core of the disparity. Not Splat books.

==Aelryinth


Trogdar wrote:
It is pretty funny how some people start balance based conversation at limiting books and items, and then in the next breath, talk about shoring up martial weakness with a mess of super items and artifact swords or something. Cognitive dissonance much?

???

Limiting books doesn't do anything at all to address martial-caster disparity, because that disparity is already present at full force in the Core rulebook.
So I have no idea what you're trying to say.

Dark Archive

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Trogdar wrote:
It is pretty funny how some people start balance based conversation at limiting books and items, and then in the next breath, talk about shoring up martial weakness with a mess of super items and artifact swords or something. Cognitive dissonance much?

???

Limiting books doesn't do anything at all to address martial-caster disparity, because that disparity is already present at full force in the Core rulebook.
So I have no idea what you're trying to say.

I think what he is trying to say is that the people are advocating limiting books (besides core) and items while simultaneously shoring up martials - with items.

Of course, none of it would help anyway since the problem is system related and not class related.


Just noting that restricting item access because balance and give the fighter crazy items because balance are logically contradictory positions that you probably shouldn't hold at the same time.


Trogdar wrote:
Just noting that restricting item access because balance and give the fighter crazy items because balance are logically contradictory positions that you probably shouldn't hold at the same time.

That would depend on what items, wouldn't it? As pointed out, in 1st edition there were no metamagic rods at all, and no headbands of mental stats, but artifact swords were a dime a dozen. The treasure tables were constructed around the idea that the fighter would naturally get the lion's share of the loot, because the casters couldn't use most of the items you ended up finding.

Dark Archive

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Trogdar wrote:
Just noting that restricting item access because balance and give the fighter crazy items because balance are logically contradictory positions that you probably shouldn't hold at the same time.
That would depend on what items, wouldn't it? As pointed out, in 1st edition there were no metamagic rods at all, and no headbands of mental stats, but artifact swords were a dime a dozen. The treasure tables were constructed around the idea that the fighter would naturally get the lion's share of the loot, because the casters couldn't use most of the items you ended up finding.

I can't agree with the terminology of "artifact swords", but I think Kirth is engaging in a little hyperbole to get a point across - which I do agree with.

Everything was channeled through the fighters - the treasure was heavily focused on fighters and even some spells like Strength (original Bull Strength) gave you more points in Str depending on the targets class (wizards only getting, 1d4 then going up based upon martial prowess). It was a different (and imo better) designed system.


Perhaps, but from my position, it doesn't make sense to both limit a thing and throw limits to the wind on the same thing, it just screams unintended consequences to me. Items are too variable to engineer balance around. It makes far more sense to have classes achieve relative parity through class features. Also, class features can't easily be dumb DM'd(tm) out of existence.

Dark Archive

Trogdar wrote:
It makes far more sense to have classes achieve relative parity through class features. Also, class features can't easily be dumb DM'd(tm) out of existence.

Parity through class features would help, but having a sound core game mechanic and design would go much further - a problem that starts with the ground up of the 3/X and d20 system.


Sure, but those base mechanics are also part of a classes features. If I make all saves scale off the medium track and add a plus two for good saves, it retroactively improves the save class feature for classes with poor saves. Or making all iterative hit penalties a flat -5, then the full bab class feature is better than it was, and so are all the classes with full bab as a consequence.

Balancing fundamental qualities of the dnd math is important, no doubt, but the class features still have to have relative parity at the end of the day. Otherwise your just choosing one kind of disparity over another.


Trogdar wrote:
It makes far more sense to have classes achieve relative parity through class features. Also, class features can't easily be dumb DM'd(tm) out of existence.

I agree with this. Sadly, a lot of people are stuck on the idea that the only "nice things" fighters should be allowed to have are items, though. (Shakes head uncomprehendingly)

Dark Archive

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Trogdar wrote:
Balancing fundamental qualities of the dnd math is important, no doubt, but the class features still have to have relative parity at the end of the day. Otherwise your just choosing one kind of disparity over another.

You're not (and most everyone posting in this thread) getting the bigger picture. Not trying to disparage you or any other posters, just an observation on this thread and the solutions presented.

It isn't simple a math change that's required but a total design change. No matter how many bonuses you give to Rogues to do their tricks, their tricks (skill system) become invalidated as the game assumes mid and higher levels. This has nothing to do with adding in +X to skills or saves.

D20 is a binary system (success/fail) with the ability for some classes to affect change to that system far easier than others or inversely raise the difficulty (DCs of spells) and affect character success. These flaws (yes, they are flaws) go beyond adding in a few extra points on saves for a fix - it doesn't make a difference when the premise of some classes usefulness lies on a system that gets jettisoned once you reach mid levels in the game.

Just as an example.

----
Samples:

A path to consider - if one were to really pursue this - a new Class Skill feature system (which rewards class skills and skill points vs. +X in skill derived from item A, spell B, circumstance C). Class feature protectionism. So a move away from d20/+X and a move towards you need Y number of ranks in this class skill to try this or this.

Second - combat needs to be reworked in a fashion that benefits those with high BAB and attack rolls. A change to attacks that have a high BAB with hits that have detrimental/specialized (and free for the attacker - no Feat Tax or Feat Law) effect.
A non-spellcasting critical high attack system. Need to be a full BAB character to participate and have enough BAB/Class levels in specific second tier fighters (rogue) BAB +3 = X menu effect on an 18 or higher, BAB +6, Y menu effect on 17 or higher.

----

These two things I mention above are examples of exclusive systems (casters - Stay Out) that run parallel to existing salvageable systems. The above are just placeholder ideas as an example to illustrate that a possible fix should not focus on math but extra, supplemental or replacement systems attached to character tropes (sneaky guy, fighting guy, etc).

Currently, multiple systems in 3/X need an overhaul/rewrite and maybe a few added in so each role type has its own (protected) system of game interaction and operation.

Personally I don't think it's salvageable/worth the time or effort and should just be torn down and rebuilt from scratch - my opinion of course. On top of adding in parallel systems, the DC manipulation and "all items are spells" (lazy/boring) systems need to be addressed.

Too much work for this GM.


How do I deal with the "disparity"?

1: utilize all 3 exp tracks (non-casters on the fast track, full casters on the slow track, everyone else on the middle track). Side note: I am toying around with creating a 5 track system for further refinement of this idea.

2: class skills no longer require a minimum of 1 skill point to gain the +3 bonus.

3: all classes get a minimum of 4 plus int bonus for skill points. (Minimum 4 per level).

4: For fighters ONLY each feat tree is condensed into its own "evolving" feat. (The fighter gets the next stage of the feat automatically when he/she qualifies for it or 4 levels after the last evolution, whichever is longer.


I could certainly imagine bab as some sort of variable gate that automatically grants access to stunts of some sort. You can do anything you meet the bab prerequisite for, but your capabilities are limited by action economy.

I don't really think niche protection is the way to go. If anything, I would like to add a social level track to all classes that was interchangeable, further blending classes into modular combat and social pools.

Dark Archive

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Trogdar wrote:
I don't really think niche protection is the way to go.

There isn't a singular problem - hence my comment about it being "too much work". Niche protection (or that lack thereof) is part of the problem. When you can sub out core class abilities with secondary magic items and spells - its a big system problem.

It isn't one problem, it's several. Currently the DC system (as a tool vs. threats) is primarily a Caster tool. That's a major problem.

Trogdar wrote:
If anything, I would like to add a social level track to all classes that was interchangeable, further blending classes into modular combat and social pools.

And adding something like that isn't exclusive to adding in class related system tracks (for martials, revised invested skill system, etc). So having other system changes doesn't mean you can't add in a social level track with some other function - they are not mutually exclusive.

Another very unpopular change I would advocate - and this goes to the problem of Martials/Skill based classes not being able to do enough - is that the caster classes can do too much.

Scaling back spell function and power is very unpopular around here when presented as a fix, unfortunately that is probably the biggest change (and the mutable DC system) that need to be changed. Once you touch that or try to - out come the torches.

Again, nice for people to try an make the changes to fix the problem. For me the amount of work needed to be put in it isn't worth it. I just wanted to chime back in because I feel that the micro approach (+X to this, or +Y skill points) is a band aid on a system that doesn't work well for anyone but casters.
IMO system overhaul or don't waste your time.

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