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


Homebrew and House Rules

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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.


Added stuff to the weaker classes, like a skill unlock type system for fighters based around different special materials (I really need to finish that some day).


Milo v3 wrote:
Added stuff to the weaker classes, like a skill unlock type system for fighters based around different special materials (I really need to finish that some day).

I haven't taken a full look at everything but I'll already tell you I find adding variant multiclasses to fighters for free very interesting and oddly flavorful.


We use Unchained revised action economy and automatic bonus progression. It helps.


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Remove 8th n 9th level spells.
It's the only way to be sure...

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I stopped playing Pathfinder.


Rhedyn wrote:
We use Unchained revised action economy and automatic bonus progression. It helps.

Can you describe how? I have my own ideas but because we're in a 'lets do something thread' it would be wonderful if you could point out specific problems that the Unchained action economy and automatic bonus progression resolves that mitigates disparity. Y'know, sell us on the idea.


Jiggy wrote:
I stopped playing Pathfinder.

I still play it but I DM 5e.

It's why my only real contribution to this topic is suggesting Paizo rules because other GMs might actually use those.


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Malwing wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
We use Unchained revised action economy and automatic bonus progression. It helps.
Can you describe how? I have my own ideas but because we're in a 'lets do something thread' it would be wonderful if you could point out specific problems that the Unchained action economy and automatic bonus progression resolves that mitigates disparity. Y'know, sell us on the idea.

You can move and attack twice. Twf works. Multiple swift actions per turn if you want. Swift and 5ft step aren't free. Immediate actions don't prevent swifts the next turn. Caster can't move, cast, and cast a quicken spell. Summoning is reduced to a one turn cast time (which actually helps martials.

Most of the problems of the game stim from the fullattack mechanic, which this economy kills.

Automatic bonus progression means martials aren't beholden to casters for the basic math to make their class features work. Casters get decent AC, which good standard defenses are what they need before you remove exploits which casters are designed to be dependent on.

The two systems lay the groundwork for further changes if you want to actually solve the problem.


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My biggest thing is that I actually enforce the rules on spellcasters - I want to see your spell lists, you better have your material component bags, you need to actually buy your costly material components, I enforce the limitations written actually into the spells themselves, that sort of thing.


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Jiggy wrote:
I stopped playing Pathfinder.

Awwww! Really?

Though I suppose any of us who are so heavily house-ruling the system aren't playing Pathfinder either.

I'm adopting a lot from Kirth's homebrew.

Allowing martials to move and full attack.
Giving people free Power Attack and Combat Expertise as long as they meet the reqs.
Martial Flexibility for any martial classes that don't have spell-casting.
Adopting SoP to bring casters back into a more level playing field.

Just a few...

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MeanMutton wrote:
My biggest thing is that I actually enforce the rules on spellcasters - I want to see your spell lists, you better have your material component bags, you need to actually buy your costly material components, I enforce the limitations written actually into the spells themselves, that sort of thing.

So did I. Didn't change the fact that wizards fly and teleport while fighters use legs and doors.


Let's see, I am looking to add spheres of power to my games, probably on a permanent basis, and as mentioned above the revised action economy helps.

I doubt I'll be doing that locally though; our game session have become nothing but 5e...and I really don't mind that. At least there isn't much of a caster/martial disparity in that game.

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Otherwhere wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
I stopped playing Pathfinder.

Awwww! Really?

Though I suppose any of us who are so heavily house-ruling the system aren't playing Pathfinder either.

Yeah, I would think of a thing I could change (whether related to C/M disparity or not), but then that would impact something else that would need to be adjusted to match, which would in turn impact something else; basically, a ripple effect whose ripples all had ripple effects of their own.

Eventually I gave up and admitted that I just needed to write a system from scratch if I wanted it to be how I liked. In the meantime, 5e has been a great substitute; there are some elements of it that don't quite match my preferences, but overall it's a breath of fresh air.


Rhedyn wrote:
Malwing wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
We use Unchained revised action economy and automatic bonus progression. It helps.
Can you describe how? I have my own ideas but because we're in a 'lets do something thread' it would be wonderful if you could point out specific problems that the Unchained action economy and automatic bonus progression resolves that mitigates disparity. Y'know, sell us on the idea.

You can move and attack twice. Twf works. Multiple swift actions per turn if you want. Swift and 5ft step aren't free. Immediate actions don't prevent swifts the next turn. Caster can't move, cast, and cast a quicken spell. Summoning is reduced to a one turn cast time (which actually helps martials.

Most of the problems of the game stim from the fullattack mechanic, which this economy kills.

Automatic bonus progression means martials aren't beholden to casters for the basic math to make their class features work. Casters get decent AC, which good standard defenses are what they need before you remove exploits which casters are designed to be dependent on.

The two systems lay the groundwork for further changes if you want to actually solve the problem.

Fantastic. Speaking of making class features work, I noticed that with the automatic bonus progression the Monk vow; Vow of Poverty, action has a chance of working out, which resolves to complaints I've seen often, that Monks are ki starved, and the concept of an ascetic character is hard to do with the Christmas tree effect.

To get the blood flowing a bit more, so to speak, I want to direct you to Ssalarn's Spark of War thread. Very often Dreamscarred Press is cited as a huge leap in balancing out martials by giving them interesting abilities that that work on a faux per-encounter slot system. But one issue that has been a turn off for some is that it feels like the martials got vancian fighting and getting Maneuvers on your existing martial is very feat intensive. However Sslarn has written up a system of using Stamina to access Path of War maneuvers.

I myself have been working on a number of new houserules lately with the specific ones meant to aid martials being shortening combat feat chains, creating new feats that use stamina and represent great power, and minor magic slots that function on a similar basis to Path of War maneuvers.

I've seen some things as radical as replacing casting entirely with Spheres of Power which has been makign waves in the third party scene. This method kept casters powerful but not as versatile in terms of producing silver bullet solutions.


DSP is what I miss in 5e. Good god, WotC open up that license a tad.


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Rhedyn wrote:
DSP is what I miss in 5e. Good god, WotC open up that license a tad.

There's been some stuff going on with third party 5e, but with a head start, relative compatibility with 3.5 and a much more open license, using Pathfinder you can, without any hiccups, play My Little Pony, in space, with psionic classes, riding mythic mecha, and are also planeswalkers that collect pokemon. I've done it.

One reason why I think it would be more productive to have a proactive thread that can identify and share things that change the dynamic of the game as opposed to discussing whether or not it exists or how bad it is, the game is wide open by nature of it's origins.


Switched to FATE at about level 12 / tier 6 for the current campaign.

Also, rewriting the game now so as to have it ready for the next campaign. *Shrug*, Don't claim it will be perfect, but it will be more of what my group prefers.

P.S. When I say rewrite I mean everything, with MathHammer as my Mantra. If anyone is interested I can share but I admit it is preliminary right now as I have 6 months to 1 year before the next campaign.


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I'm a big fan of both Path of War and Spheres of Power. I haven't quite replaced Vancian casting entirely with Spheres, but with a group of new players the Spheres was certainly more intuitive for them. Alongside Spheres of Power my martials are fairly capable of holding their own, both in and out of combat, due to everyone having a certain niche.

I'm also in the process of working with something to handle the Christmas Tree effect, similar to Mythic Evil Lincoln's. Along with that is also a small change to caster's involving two attributes, rather than one pumped attribute. Both have seen some success but having been tested enough to be sure yet.


Otherwhere wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
I stopped playing Pathfinder.

Awwww! Really?

Though I suppose any of us who are so heavily house-ruling the system aren't playing Pathfinder either.

I'm adopting a lot from Kirth's homebrew.

Allowing martials to move and full attack.
Giving people free Power Attack and Combat Expertise as long as they meet the reqs.
Martial Flexibility for any martial classes that don't have spell-casting.
Adopting SoP to bring casters back into a more level playing field.

Just a few...

Oh, keep going. The point is to share ideas.


I'm experimenting with allowing martials to do anything the player can imagine that would be possible in real life, as long as the player can make a CMB check (or other roll as appropriate), rather than locking these options behind feats and insisting on published rules.

This requires me to make up suitable CMD modifiers and effects for things like, "My monk will judo-flip this enemy into this that enemy." The tricky thing is to avoid ever improvising a rule that makes other forms of combat obsolete.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Next time I run a game, I'm tempted to mix in classes from Iron Heroes and increase the number of feats and use the Complete Book of Experimental Might.


Much of what we've done is modify things more on the caster end the spells we think of as problem spells have been twiddled a bit.

One of our limits is a caster can't have more spells active at one time then his casting stat mod. If he's reached his limit he has to drop some or stop casting.
Teleportation spells that leave you with distance based 'port lag' and have casting times increased.
Scrying spells that don't function without a piece of the target.
Other divination spells that flat out answer questions instead requiring and granting bonuses to skill checks.

On the martial end
Fighters, Brawlers, and Swashbucklers get access to the stamina rules from Unchained and some costs have been adjusted.
Vital strike feats work whenever you only take a single attack in a melee round.
Various third party feats allowed and some errata ignored
Some feats turned from feat chains to feats that scale up with your bab, skills, or when you gain other feats

Fighters get a good will save and free variant multi-classing

Rogues are as unchained with the following adjustments
They just get skill unlocks in every skill they have.
When a rogue would take 10 in a skill instead he takes 10+ that skills ability modifier, Basically he adds his stat twice when he takes ten.

Monks are as unchained but three good saves and his ki pool is = to his level plus his wisdom modifier *or* it stays at 1/2 and he gains a stamina pool.

Swashbucklers finesse works with any light or one-handed weapon they wield and adds Dex to hit and damage from the start.

We also use a variation of the wound penalty system where whenever a character takes damage in excess of his wound threshold <Hit die + Base fort save + con mod> in one hit he suffers -1 to attack rolls, damage rolls, skill checks, and save DCs <Not saving throws>. A night's sleep, a heal check vs DC 15 as a standard action, or any magical healing removes 1 wound and multiple wounds stack.

Liberty's Edge

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I've never noticed this... either as a GM or a player. Diversity, yes. Disparity, no.


CBDunkerson wrote:
I've never noticed this... either as a GM or a player. Diversity, yes. Disparity, no.

/ominousmusic ...

Community Manager

Removed some unhelpful posts and their responses. Keep it civil please.

Shadow Lodge

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I've noticed this...both as a GM and a player. Diversity, yes. Disparity, yes.


DMed a 3.5 E6 game (in PF I'm only a player for now), for almost 2 years on forums. It works. Not ideally because you still need to watch characters for some low-level cheese but if casters want to be really good at something they need to invest feats and resources in it.

Watch for enchantment it's really strong at low levels. Casters of 5+ level are really a force on the battlefield that can destroy dozens of soldiers with one fireball but at the same time they are vulnerable to specialized tactics and small strike teams.

And a fighter of level 6 is a monster that carves a bloody path through enemy ranks. He also can bring down castle wall with his own bare hands if he wishes so (and has relevant feats).

Though I think a good houserule will for characters to die at -HP. That will also make Diehard worth at least some consideration.

...

For PF I want to try and homebrew some armed combat style feats that feed from other feats. Basically a feat has simple prerequisites but the more other feats you have the more options it will open.

Something like:

•Style A (Prereq X)

Basic move

Move (Prereq Y)
Move (Prereq Z)

etc.

You at the same time gain benefits of the normal feat and style gives you some additional moves. In this way you can also customize your style and not be locked in a feat chain.

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There's a bunch of house rules for me and mine, hmm...

1) I don't use most advanced classes, those would mostly just be archetypes, and I don't use most archetypes, those are just a couple feats.

2) The Fighter was totally redone to bring him inline with paladin/ranger levels of power. He gets recovery powers, warlord ability, followers, and skill boosts.
The Rogue is to follow suit.
Stamina is a 'meh' thing. Skill unlocks have the flavor I wanted, but skills still need to be repriced and revalued upwards.

3) Defenses against magic, including immunities, are far more common and easier to purchase. This is especially true in cities and hardpoints, meaning skills are far, far more valuable in civilized, urban areas. Spellcasters run across personal and AoE zones of immunity and anti-magic and dispels all the time.
Anti-Flying and Anti-Dimensional magic are standard protection for almost all settlements.
Corpse burning using Vivic fire to foil necromancy and undead creation is a standard ceremonial thing and responsibility of churches.

4)Brought back 3.5 Reserve Casting, which gives Casters an 'all-day' option.

5) Use Health and Soak. Health can be healed by Reserve HEaling, Soak is healed by time, Curing Magic can cure both. Soak is explicitly called 'martial magic' and is expressly pointed out as why high level characters can survive ridiculous damage, i.e. it is recognized for what it is.
Health comes from physical reality and magical reinforcement of the body. Soak comes from trained class levels.

6) Use Racial levels as the default 'class' for most races. Really simplifies NPC's. By stacking 'trained' levels with racial levels, you get a more solid foundation, and draw a line between the two.

7)Many proficiencies are gained only at level 1 to reflect the fact you've been spending years getting them, and must be purchased afterwards. For instance, Martial Weapons Proficiency is a feat you must take, and then you must spend skill points to get the weapon you want.
Starting weapons and armor profs adjusted by class.

8) For Fighters and Rogues, Feats have vastly expanded uses (esp fighters). Expertise, for instance, is an extremely powerful, versatile feat. Feat chains are compressed and simply level with the character. The standard of power for Rogues/Fighters is that every feat they take with class abilities should be equal to a good Rage Power.

9)Being non-magical is a very viable thing, esp. against magical creatures and casters.
The standard Human Race is Homo Sapiens Primos, and has no magical ability. People with the ability to use non-martial/non-rune magic are called 'Powered', and it is assumed their ability comes from something mucking about in their genetics in the past (i.e. via interbreeding or experimentation).
Powered Humans do not normally have Powered children unless the other parent is non-human, or powerful ceremonial magic is used to change them.
Most other races are innately magical and are all potentially Powered.

10) Martial classes get extra stat points to reflect their continuous training. Monks and fighters get the most. The ability to self-enchant magical weapons and armor by Naming them is part of all martial magic.

There is a clear line between Casters, who use spells, and Heroes, who use Skills/BAB. Since the latter is usable by basically anyone, they are far more popular and common.
3rd level is the 'racial ceiling', and where 90% of common races never pass.
6th level is the 'first ceiling', and where 99% of common races never pass, simply multi-classing instead.
10th level is the 'Second Ceiling', and only 1/1000 people ever rise beyond it (also multi-classing to gain further power). Most 'high-level' people are Tens with multi-classes.
20th Level is the 'Final Ceiling', and stepping past it involves becoming Eternal.
Levels are understood and are a known thing, deciphered by analyzing how Casters level, the effect on Valences, the resultant increase in spiritual ability, and comparing such to other individuals.

11) Making magic items is either rune-based with skills, or caster-based via levels.
Magic items need certain levels of craftsmanship to be made, typically 20+ Caster level of effect. SO, to make an item with a minimum caster level of 9 (like a +3 sword), you need a Mastercraft check of DC 29.
High level Mastercraft checks by non-magical crafters get more and more valuable, and help satisfy the 'gold required' side of things. Thus, a DC 30 Profoundly Crafted item has a minimum GP value of 5500 when used in making a magic item, and will take that long to make based on price.

Bonuses of any type to Crafting cannot exceed the Crafter's skill Ranks in that SKill (i.e. no +10 Competence bonus for 5 Ranks in a skill).
Ranks represent Knowledge of a skill. Feats represent a focus on the skills. Stats represent Talent. Masteries represent intense training. Class bonuses represent a form of synergistic understanding. Only feats, stats, ranks, Masteries, and class bonuses count towards Profound Crafting. All other bonuses only affect the speed of the crafting (how fast you work).
Skill Ranks are a form of martial magic and can break physics at higher levels. Likewise, without sufficient Ranks, some things are just not doable regardless of your modifier.

12) Fabricate = 1 day of crafting per casting, and must roll the check. It cannot make Profoundly Crafted items (i.e. DC 21 mastercraft and higher). Fabricated items are extremely generic and similar and can be recognized for what they are by anyone with 3 or more Ranks in an appropriate skill, having little to no artistic value.

13) Dispel Magic can take control of Summoned creatures; dispel them home; or simply free them from control (which often turns them on their Summoner instantly). Calling Creatures definitely puts your name Out There, and can have dire consequences if abused.
Addendum: Efreeti and other Genies are perfectly aware of the value of Wishes and are simply not allowed to barter them freely with mortals, and cannot benefit directly or indirectly from any sort of Wishes made on their behalf.

14) Counterspell exists as a universal spell of its own and works against all schools, making counterspelling a viable option.

15) multi-school magic is possible. Arcane healing is possible (using skill ranks and Masteries).

16) Opposition Schools/bloodlines for arcane casters are barred. Ditto many opposition domains for deities.

17) Star magic patterns that use all 8 schools are accessible by generalist magi, and grant bonus caster levels, as opposed to extra spells.

18) Masteries are purchased skills/powers that reflect training in specific things often associated with class levels (mechanics not entirely worked out). Anything with training naturally favors Fighters and Rogues.

19) Path of War-style 'martial magic' exists, and is the power behind many Fighter Techniques and Masteries.

20) Stats limit levels. You must have an ability score of 10+Class level to reach that level, in an appropriate Stat for your class.

21) Multi-classing is in parallel, not stacking. It is limited to half your current level, round down, +1. The cost of one level is always what it would cost your next highest level. Spell slots do not stack, they are combined (you'd cast cleric and wizard spells from the same pool of spell slots), but bonus spells are extra. Skill points can only be spent on class skills. Higher Hit Dice just give a couple bonus hit points.

22) Prepared Casters have Int as the limit of Spells Known by level, and so have to pick what spells they want in their books. Their downtime training is automatically assumed to always be researching new spells and prayers to expand their repertoires. Thus, no class has unlimited Spells Known.
Extra spells can be learned as Rituals read directly from spell books that cost time and money to learn and use, and are not usable in combat.

23)Battle-magic is faster then 'normal' magic (typically, evocations and abjurations, some illusions). Most normal magic is a full attack or full round action.

24) Your Summonings dying in battle mean they are unavailable for usage until the next day. Summonings must be statted up with the Names used to call on them, or are unavailable for use (researching avatar names is one of the downtime things Casters do).
You can advance a Summoning up in power using the Animal Companion rules and a higher level spell. once you do so, however, you cannot drop it back down.
Your Summonings do recall how you treat them from spell to spell, and will respond accordingly to you. They are compelled to serve, they usually do not WISH to serve. Thus, Summoners are also called 'slavemages'.

25) Most (good/neutral)churches have accepted public responsibilities, and adventurer priests are expected to share those goals. The churches usually dominate their areas of concern.
Goood religions use non-violent means to resolve differences, especially between one another, and this extends to Good Outsiders (War in Heaven simply does not happen.)
Doctrinal differences between Neutral/Lawful branches of churches are usually the result of regional customs and non-important, or outside interference, and rapidly set right to minimize conflict among the faithful.
Churches with evil and/or unconcerned with the public agendas are usually not popular. They may be feared, but veneration is rare unless they utterly dominate the area. With anti-magical Forsaken being a thing, oppressing a population with magic takes a LOT of magic.

26) The alignment forces are known and understood to be cosmic forces of their own that surpass those of deities, in the same way as the elemental forces are the foundation of the material universe, the alignments are foundations of the spiritual universe.

27) Ceremony/Rituals where casters band together to create higher caster level effects are quite common, and the biggest reasons Caster Guilds and Churches come together.

28) Divine Domains Dominate: A Divine Caster wielding a spell from a Domain of his Patron Deity will always be stronger then a non-Domain caster doing so from personal power. This usually takes the form of automatic Dispels and automatic Improved Counterspells against non-Domain spellcasters, or just plain higher Caster Levels.

Admittedly, this isn't all caster/martial disparity, but it means that it IS very different from a core campaign, especially default assumptions of what Reality Is.

==Aelryinth

Dark Archive

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

A:Tried fixing it and then deciding not running PF or 3/X derivatives has been the best fix so far.

Otherwise, a complete game re-write of the:

- Skill system (and manipulation)
- DC system (and manipulation)
- Item creation (and stat manipulation/poorly gauged stat & meta power expectations)
- Standard Action vs. Full actions as they relate to attacks
- Almost all the spells/Magic Items are spells
- A few dozen other problems: Casting in combat, core class functions overridden by spells items, default power level hard coded, WBL (Bleahhhhh!) and so on.

Just too much work for me to do to enjoy the game.
Went back to 2nd ed AD&D and the Martial/Caster disparity disappeared. This problem is a construct of the d20/ 3.X systems.

My opinion and view on the matter, I'm sure that others will disagree.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Zoolimar wrote:

DMed a 3.5 E6 game (in PF I'm only a player for now), for almost 2 years on forums. It works.

Right, but some of us want to play higher level games. I'm certain most of the people who don't think it's a problem never play up past 10th level. I've GM'd a game from 1-20. The higher the level, the more easily you notice.

For my previous campaign the martials ended up with artifacts to help boost their power. The casters didn't really need anything beyond a good staff.


deinol wrote:

Right, but some of us want to play higher level games. I'm certain most of the people who don't think it's a problem never play up past 10th level. I've GM'd a game from 1-20. The higher the level, the more easily you notice.

For my previous campaign the martials ended up with artifacts to help boost their power. The casters didn't really need anything beyond a good staff.

I can completely understand that. In my game I used scaled down monsters. They retained their abilities except normal spellcasting with some restrictions on spell-likes but all numbers were scaled down to 6 HD.


@Aelryinth, do you have any written down details of your house rules? Or just more details about the most impactful ones?

I've at least twice in this thread seen variant multiclass as free for fighters, how has that worked out?


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Just a note. When I planned on doing this I wanted to make it explicit that this is not the place to discuss the existence of the disparity one way or another.

In short this thread is for people who have already decided there is an issue and wish to resolve it.

Not through heavy handed gming, but through mechanics homebrewed or 3pp.

If this thread's existence bothers you I would suggest taking your issues up in the half a million other threads custom built for you to fume and whinge over hearts and minds cannot be won here. Your game works, than good we can't take that way from you, so please, leave this be.


I just run the world logically.

Enemies are aware of, and more able to counter, magic. Your average Warlord is going to spend significant GP on anti-wizard defenses and far less on mundane defenses.

It works fine.

You want to fly over the wall?

Good luck, the Warlord has specific countermeasures to deal with that. You're invisible? Good thing he thought to arm his guards with a way to pierce that tactic. You want to teleport in? Oh man, so glad I popped Warlord Junior's Warlord College Fund on making some permanencied teleport traps.

What do you mean the Rogue snuck in and stole my treasure? The lock was enchanted to have spell resistance! He picked the lock? With what? Masterwork tools? What do you mean add more thief countermeasures? Everyone knows those guys aren't as dangerous as casters!

And the problem sorts itself out.


Potions = SL * CL * 15 gold pieces. (so min. lvl 1 = 15, lvl 2 = 90, lvl 3 = 225)
Potions = 1 pound each in weight
Potions can be made out of range:personal spells as logically reasonable.

The weight makes it hard for casters to carry many of them, encouraging them to still use scrolls and wands for compactness (and greater flexibility, not just self target). The cheapness means that martials have something they can use that is as cheap as a wand charge and actually even more useful as they don't have to come in lots of 50, and the martials can easily handle the weight.

You can put potions in an ED space, by the way, but they smash and spill unless you wrap them carefully in a way that makes it take a lot longer to get them out if so. Carried in a potion bandolier is the quick access way, so you can't get around the weight.

Shadow Lodge

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HWalsh wrote:

What do you mean the Rogue snuck in and stole my treasure? The lock was enchanted to have spell resistance! He picked the lock? With what? Masterwork tools? What do you mean add more thief countermeasures? Everyone knows those guys aren't as dangerous as casters!

And the problem sorts itself out.

And then the warlord runs out of money to counter magic, and the problems are back again.


Malwing wrote:


I've at least twice in this thread seen variant multiclass as free for fighters, how has that worked out?

It's worked fairly well for us so far. It gives the fighter the choice to either be more fightery by taking another combative second class or have more options by taking a less combat-focused choice. Barbarian, Bard, druid, oracle, and witch have gotten the most positive input so far.


In a word: minions (aka Underlings, see the PDF by Minotaur Games on the Paizo store). Four minions count as one normal monster, but each one has weaker stats based on CR. They're easy to toss down and run, plus I can easily add small little details to each group to customize their abilities / the threat they pose. It's like Simple Monster Creation rules, but even lighter! Spread them out and the party spellcasters will find it much more beneficial to focus on party buffs and AOE damage to thin out the herds rather than SoS against the heavier hitters. Also, many minions attacking a caster will wear down things like stoneskin or mirror image pretty fast. Also also, tossing down twenty pennies next to the three enemy figurines and announcing "It's on" is fun.

Speaking of Simple Monster Creation, damage and saving throws for those guys tends to be pretty darned good, without any degree of weakness that I can see. I make a lot of things with that and I believe I've noticed a small increase in the saving throw successes of my monsters as a result. Plus, by creating new critters this way, the likelyhood of your players using meta-knowledge to advise their tactics is far less likely. I've also starting assigning twice as many options to non-class-grafted monsters and it's working well to keep up with a decently optimized / coordinated party so far.

For house-rules, I use a variant critical wound system to simulate the potentially lethal implications of a single well-placed strike, as well. Three tiers of wounds, minor being < 50 pts of damage on a crit, major being < 100 pts, and massive being 100+. Use the called shot effects from Ultimate Combat, with the Fort save being equal to 10 + that attackers BAB + their crit mod. Naturally, higher AC / higher hit point / higher Fort save martial characters are going to fare better in such a system.

A longer adventuring day, with many fights of varying size and complexity, seems to help as well. One fight might be against a couple advanced, max hit point golems, followed by a few minutes exploration, then a complex skill check, then a fight against a room full of minions, followed by a mini-boss & company fight, followed by more exploration and skills challenges, etc. Even casters with lots of spells, like high CHA sorcerers / oracles, are gonna learn to pace themselves then. If they don't and the party falls back to rest, more of the enemy comes to take the place of those that fell AND larger objectives become harder / impossible to achieve, which impacts the long-term results of the campaign.

Let's see, I also do complex skill challenges, with various ability or skill checks allowed to contribute, so even the fighter can contribute. Background skills out of Unchained for everyone also helped out everyone in the party, but probably more so the fighter than anyone else. While they haven't done much with it yet, Skill Unlocks are allowed in my group too, which the ninja (who got all the UC rogue goodies) seems to like and has used to some success a few times.

That's all that comes to mind for now.


Some of what I've done over the years and/or are experimenting now:

* Teleportation is severely limited, as is extra-dimentional travel, and requires more effort and time.

* Spell casters have weaknesses. We've toyed with a number of them over the years, from "noise" ala Eddings books, extra time for casting, and so on.

* Experimenting with martials gaining resistance to magic at +1/3 levels. Toying with saves.

* Precognition, scrying, and many divination spells are unreliable and more so over distance.

More when I can find my notes.


TarkXT wrote:

Just a note. When I planned on doing this I wanted to make it explicit that this is not the place to discuss the existence of the disparity one way or another.

In short this thread is for people who have already decided there is an issue and wish to resolve it.

Not through heavy handed gming, but through mechanics homebrewed or 3pp.

If this thread's existence bothers you I would suggest taking your issues up in the half a million other threads custom built for you to fume and whinge over hearts and minds cannot be won here. Your game works, than good we can't take that way from you, so please, leave this be.

I didn't want to exclude answers like certain kinds of GMing. I'm hoping that people without problems with martial caster disparity will elaborate on how to GM to prevent it and not incite discussion as to whether or not it exists, otherwise it would be another thread about martial caster disparity itself. Also why I originally posted this in general discussion.

I don't feel like my own house rules are terribly drastic and I feel like they work partly because my GMing style does assume that everyone is aware of magic but a hole I saw was a lack of proper defenses. At this point in my games if a caster is flying over city walls he'd better prepare for the garrison with grapple guns and grapple weapons(which can reliably grapple due to 3pp feats) get past the alchemical scopes (also 3pp) that detect magic and teleport past the alchemical lead glyphs that prevent such a thing (homebrew item) if the city is aware that casters exist and what they can do or just had one too many dragon problems.


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Use third party authors that give players options appropriate to the situation in their designs.

Honestly right now the designers I keep an eye on for solid mechanics are Alexander Augunas, Bradley Crouch, and especially Michael Sayre (who created my 2 favorite full BAB classes).


Insain Dragoon wrote:

Use third party authors that give players options appropriate to the situation in their designs.

Honestly right now the designers I keep an eye on for solid mechanics are Alexander Augunas, Bradley Crouch, and especially Michael Sayre (who created my 2 favorite full BAB classes).

Alexander Augunas, particularly with the contents from ultimate Charisma have made charisma actually pretty worth it and is one reason why my homebrew fighter and rogue don't have many drastic changes since with third party those classes have natural ways to gain advantages on Leadership scores. I also made house rules in the past a few things so founding a thieves guild, dojo, or training camp is a pretty hefty advantage even if you don't look for a cohort.


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HWalsh wrote:

I just run the world logically.

Enemies are aware of, and more able to counter, magic. Your average Warlord is going to spend significant GP on anti-wizard defenses and far less on mundane defenses.

It works fine.

You want to fly over the wall?

Good luck, the Warlord has specific countermeasures to deal with that. You're invisible? Good thing he thought to arm his guards with a way to pierce that tactic. You want to teleport in? Oh man, so glad I popped Warlord Junior's Warlord College Fund on making some permanencied teleport traps.

What do you mean the Rogue snuck in and stole my treasure? The lock was enchanted to have spell resistance! He picked the lock? With what? Masterwork tools? What do you mean add more thief countermeasures? Everyone knows those guys aren't as dangerous as casters!

And the problem sorts itself out.

Sweet! WBL breaking loot!

As to what am I going to do about disparity:

In Pathfinder? Inform new players it exists and move them towards Tier 3 stuff.

To fix the problem? A hypothetical Anzyrfinder would rewrite the system. Power down some of the craziest caster stuff. Power up the martials by making ToB like stuff the base line. After say 6th level, martial abilities can violate the laws of physics.

Make Vancian still an option, but a minority option, with point based casting being the majority (it's more grokable for newcomers and truer to most fanasty).

Make being a "skill" class matter, by making skills matter. If you have enough ranks in say Heal, reviving the recently dead should be par for the course.

Revise the action economy.

Make multiclassing scale well.

Offer alternative abilities for each class to allow for more customization and avoid situation where gaining a second instance of an ability is useless.

Something like that.


Breaking WBL [in imbalanced proportions handed out to the classes that need it most] is an excellent way to mitigate Martial Caster Disparity.

I hate it thematically, but it works.

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