Seriously now, how do you fix martial / caster disparity and still have the same game?


Homebrew and House Rules

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Hence my point about anti-heroes.


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The Sword wrote:

Ahh. Classic my-DM-screws-with-me-syndrome.

No, it is about tropes of a game.

If I'm playing some story about some knight trying to save a princess from a dragon in fairy tale decorations I won't bother with things like blast radius or even grenades. Like at all.

If I'm playing a monster hunter game its tropes are that world and especially monsters is out to get you. 24/7. You always wear a holy symbol, beacuse vampires. You always carry a silver knife, because werewolfs. You always wear a tinfoil hat, because mindflayers.

It is expected that DM (well technically NPCs but whatever) will try to screw you over. That's written in bold print on first page of our Player-DM agreement!


The DM is there to facilitate the actions of the party in an entertaining way.

Any DM who reads that as "Screw you over" is putting their enjoyment before that of the party - unless the party have signed up to a game where they want to be screwed over as some sort of challenge of rules mastery. Difficult does not = screw over.

Of course gunpowder isn't going to come up in a medieval era fantasy unless the game world allows it. The DM or published material sets that.

If vampire hunters were prepared for evening, then films and books would be very dull. The trope of Monster Hunting is that you are absolutely NOT prepared for the full scale of horror that awaits you. Think back to every monster film you ever saw - people get prepared FAST as a consequence of their encounters - I cite tremors again as an example of one of the best monster films of all time.


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The Sword wrote:

The DM is there to facilitate the actions of the party in an entertaining way.

Any DM who reads that as "Screw you over" is putting their enjoyment before that of the party - unless the party have signed up to a game where they want to be screwed over as some sort of challenge of rules mastery. Difficult does not = screw over.

Of course gunpowder isn't going to come up in a medieval era fantasy unless the game world allows it. The DM or published material sets that.

If vampire hunters were prepared for evening, then films and books would be very dull. The trope of Monster Hunting is that you are absolutely NOT prepared for the full scale of horror that awaits you. Think back to every monster film you ever saw - people get prepared FAST as a consequence of their encounters - I cite tremors again as an example of one of the best monster films of all time.

Well that'a a difference in expectations. I don't expect DM in such a genre to use "kid gloves".

Monsters are played to their strengths. Maybe not as much as possible but without really dumb moves.

And if we are playing experienced adventurers from the beginning I will expect things like vapmires (or their thralls) trying to murder my character while he is sleeping or werewolves trying to frame someone else as the culprit.

Liberty's Edge

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While adventurers take risks neither are they suicidal either. We received our first snowfall today. I'm not simply going to go out and clean it with whatever jacket I have handy. Or any regular pair of boots and any sized shovel. I'm going out with a jacket that will keep me warm. Waterproof boots and a suitably sized shovel. As experience tells me I need those things. Adventurers are like that as well.

A empty room in a dungeon can be so much more. A experienced party is simply not going to walk in blindly. So that they set off traps, ambushed by monsters. If certain DM want player characters to roleplay their character dumber than a bag of hammers well good luck. If the DM keeps throwing trolls at the group. Guess what were going to stock up on anti-troll items. If for some odd reason the DM wants to be dick and suddenly we don't have access to such items. the party goes into areas where Trolls are rare.


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The Sword wrote:
I simply don't understand why people say fighters can't do anything outside of combat? Surely talking, persuading, planning and preparing are all things outside of combat that anyone can do?

In 5e, you would be correct. Building a fighter with social skills is exceptionally easy, the fighter and the wizard have a roughly equal number of skills they are good at, and improvising a skill you're not proficient in still has a chance of success based on how hard the GM considers the task to be and how much you can do to grant yourself an advantage on the check.

In 3.PF, there are defined numbers for how hard a skill check is that mean there are a lot of situations where if you aren't specializing in a skill you are basically useless for actually pulling it off when you need to. Many skills can't be attempted, period, unless you are trained in them. And unlike 5e, where you get to pick a number of the skills that fit your character to be trained in, in 3.PF ALL of your skills are tied to your class and the fighter has the objectively worst set of class skills in the game besides some NPC classes.

5e tends to err on the side of assuming the DM and players will improvise a lot on any given session, and so is designed so you can play fast and loose and still have a decent chance of success. PF tends to err on the side of punishing the players who improvise rather than sticking to their specialties. Try to take down someone non lethally when you're not specialized in it? Take a penalty. Try to improvise a combat trick you don't have the improved feat for? Take a penalty or get punched in the face, usually both. The game allows you to build for more specializations than 5e does at the moment, but it also tends to punish you for trying to do something it didn't say you could do, which is why people have a problem with how small the list of things the game SAYS the fighter can do is, on top of how completely arbitrary some of them are; you mean to tell me a 20th-level mage can stop time, open a portal to heaven, transform into a dragon, summon meteors from the sky, and still have most of his power left over for the rest of the day but the 20th-level fighter, the greatest weapon master in the world, STILL hasn't figured out how to hit someone more than once and move ten feet in the same turn? What kind of sense does that make?

This is one of the reasons I don't consider 5e and PF similar games. PF has a lot more of a building game for specialists, but also hates hates HATES it whenever the players do something unconventional and spanks them for it 90% of the time. Heck, a number of the suggestions for dealing with casters going off their meds is to spank them when they use their powers according to how the rules say they work, because despite how much power the rules have granted magic little to no effort was made to give the bestiary an effective response to that power. 5e, on the other hand, has very simplified character creation but also tends to anticipate players trying to get creative more, such as giving rules suggestions for things like climbing on a massive creature or making skill checks guidelines rather than "your character will always fail this check if they cannot manage a result of 30."

My players don't tend to just do what it says on their character sheets like they were robots, so I have often found PF's ruleset frustrating and restrictive and 5e's rules much more in keeping with how my group is going to play the game anyways, but to each his own.


But you can build a fighter with very good social skills.
S 14 +2 race
D 14
C 14
I 13
W 12
C 10

Ability scores are really not that different then a "normal" fighter.
You get the traits that make sense motive and diplomacy class skills and give you a +1. Full ranks in both, plus +4 and +6 bonuses from feats means:
+3 class, +1 trait, +10 ranks, +1 ability, +4 feat = +19 sense motive
+3 class, +1 trait, +10 ranks, +6 feat = +20 diplomacy

So you invest 3/20 ability point buy points.
2/12 feats
2/2 traits (or 3/11 feats if you count traits as 1/2 feat)
2/3 skill points

Part of the issue with the C/M D is that once you have a halfway optimized caster in the party, the martial characters feel pressured to optimize heavily just to remain relevant. This is especially true if the GM is trying to challenge the casters, and encounters are starting to be APL+2 or more as an average. Even if the GM is trying to provide two challenges (a demon for the caster, and a bunch of orcs for the martials) the martials are going to want to participate in the real fight, not sit at the kiddie table.

I generally don't buy the idea that martial characters are not good enough in combat, and that feat chains need to be consolidated and such*. Sure, martials need more options in combat, in terms of targeting more then AC/CMD on a single opponent, but for the most part they don't need to hit harder, just more varied.

*OK, maybe a few feat chains- looking at you whirlwind attack...


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I think I need to hide this thread. We're mostly skirting the whole solution gathering and more just arguing about non-solutions. Plus I've already given my answer that works at my table.

Consolidate and add to skills in a way that fighters can enjoy effectively 3-8 skills rather than 2+an ability score that doesn't help their class abilities.

Consolidate several core rulebook combat feats to make room for more interesting feats.

Sprinkle in third party martial classes, equipment and feats.

Use third party casters and/or depending on how you want your game to go replace spells with spheres.

After that it still feels like the same game but more capable martials and less pervasive, although more concept enabling, casters. And I presume others have answers for their own tables, otherwise we'd be playing something else.


Fergie wrote:

But you can build a fighter with very good social skills.

S 14 +2 race
D 14
C 14
I 13
W 12
C 10

Ability scores are really not that different then a "normal" fighter.
You get the traits that make sense motive and diplomacy class skills and give you a +1. Full ranks in both, plus +4 and +6 bonuses from feats means:
+3 class, +1 trait, +10 ranks, +1 ability, +4 feat = +19 sense motive
+3 class, +1 trait, +10 ranks, +6 feat = +20 diplomacy

So you invest 3/20 ability point buy points.
2/12 feats
2/2 traits (or 3/11 feats if you count traits as 1/2 feat)
2/3 skill points

Part of the issue with the C/M D is that once you have a halfway optimized caster in the party, the martial characters feel pressured to optimize heavily just to remain relevant. This is especially true if the GM is trying to challenge the casters, and encounters are starting to be APL+2 or more as an average. Even if the GM is trying to provide two challenges (a demon for the caster, and a bunch of orcs for the martials) the martials are going to want to participate in the real fight, not sit at the kiddie table.

I generally don't buy the idea that martial characters are not good enough in combat, and that feat chains need to be consolidated and such*. Sure, martials need more options in combat, in terms of targeting more then AC/CMD on a single opponent, but for the most part they don't need to hit harder, just more varied.

*OK, maybe a few feat chains- looking at you whirlwind attack...

I know it was not said, but the point was for the fight to be good at more than 2 social skills. Also a +19 or +20 at level 10 is not "very good". It is basic.

Let's take a bard as an example.

10 ranks +5 charisma(average primary stat for that level) +3 class skill +1 trait=19. no feats, magic items, spells, or class features to give more bonuses or 2nd chances. He also likely has a decent sense motive to go along with bluff and intimdate checks. A rogue or inquisitor could also do this.

17-21 is basic for someone moderately focused on something.

A broken soul lillend CR 9 has a +15 to bluff so a 19 means need about a 6 on the die.

A rakshasa has a bluff of +20 at CR 10 meaning you are 50/50 on succeeding.

The fighter will likely be ok at diplomacy as long as he does not reach too far with his request, but someone who is "very good" can have a diplomacy of at least 5 higher and have a high bluff, allowing him more leeway with his skill checks. He can actually deal with monsters who have social skill modifiers beyond what is the norm for their CR.

As for not being good in combat, when that is mentioned people are not talking about the fighter's ability to hit things. It does that very well, but other things can come up in combat, and the fighter can't do anything about it.

Boosting CMD will not normally help with semi-optimzed casters so that is not really a factor in martials having trouble with it. Once you get to about level 10-11 the monsters just get bigger and stronger, and without optimizing you won't keep up with them. We are talking about stock monsters, not some special GM monster with random "just because" bonuses tacked on.

CMD's start in the mid 30's and get close to 50.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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Okay, how are the two examples in the last 30 posts doing anything BUT extolling mc disparity?

Two barrels of gunpowder, running away. Exactly how is that a fighter class ability?
Oh, wait, a bard did it.
At least a caster, or even a barbarian, has an INCREASED MOVEMENT RATE TO RUN AWAY.
And extra skill points to spend on Alchemy to create gunpowder. Right.

And then, building a Fighter/ANY CHARACTER with a good Diplomacy score, because NOTHING in that suggestion had anything to do with the Fighter class. Except, of course, that Cha is a dump score, and buffing it up to be a diplomat is flavorful, but makes him a worse fighter.

A paladin wouldn't have to spend the trait to make it a class skill, and Cha is a prime stat, not a dump one. auto better then fighter, right at the start.

Bard it's his prime stat and he'll pump it, in addition to being able to double dip skill points and use spells to buff it.

Contrasted to a bunch of stuff ANY CHARACTER CAN DO.

Meh. Bad examples is bad examples, is.

==Aelryinth


wraithstrike - It's 100% arbitrary, but I consider max ranks in a class skill, and +5-+7 "very good" at 10th level. It is about equal to a wizards spellcraft skill at the same level. Other classes (especially bards) can do better, but most other classes are going to have to sacrifice more to do it. YMMV.

Aelryinth - Getting those skill scores was based mostly on spending feats (and traits, which you could get through a feat). Having lots of feats IS the primary fighter class feature. The other primary class feature is not needing to spend feats on armor or weapon proficiency, and getting weapon training bonuses that make stuff like weapon focus/specialization almost redundant. The whole point is that I can kick enough ass in combat that I don't need to spend all those feats and ability points on hitting stuff harder - I already hit as hard as I need to to fight CR appropriate foes.

Note: The point of the diplomatic fighter build is NOT to show the disparity does not exist. The point was that if casters were not hitting well over their APL by the mid levels, martials would not feel so compelled to optimize. People would still complain and optimize no matter how powerful martials were, they just would lose that one excuse. I'm all for giving fighters more ranks, and more class skills, and making those skills do more at higher levels.


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The following are some specific things I do to try and manage the M/C divide:

  • Martials get hero points, casters do not. This especially helps with making key saving throws.
  • Fighters and cavaliers get good Will saves
  • Fighters get +2 skill points. Perception is a class skill.
  • Fighters get a bonus feat every level. This ends up being similar to consolidating feats but I don't have to actually modify any feats.
  • The most problematic spells are removed or adjusted
  • Martials get access to a Stamina pool (fighters get this for free) from Unchained
  • Metamagic rods are removed
  • Spells of levels 7-9 take at least a full-round action to cast
  • Encourage the use of Spheres of Power
  • PCs can add the AC bonus of any shield they are proficient with to their Reflex save
  • The target of a slumber hex gets +1 to its saving throw for ever 2 levels (based on CR) it is above the witch
  • Crafted gear counts the same as found or purchased gear when calculating WBL
  • Combat maneuvers only provoke on a failed check
  • End most campaigns around 15th level

I realize that even all of these interventions don't fully "solve" the disparity but I do feel like they go a long way in mitigating the divide without completely nerfing casters. They seem to work pretty well at our (non-optimizing) table.


Aelryinth wrote:

Okay, how are the two examples in the last 30 posts doing anything BUT extolling mc disparity?

Two barrels of gunpowder, running away. Exactly how is that a fighter class ability?
Oh, wait, a bard did it.
At least a caster, or even a barbarian, has an INCREASED MOVEMENT RATE TO RUN AWAY.
And extra skill points to spend on Alchemy to create gunpowder. Right.

And then, building a Fighter/ANY CHARACTER with a good Diplomacy score, because NOTHING in that suggestion had anything to do with the Fighter class. Except, of course, that Cha is a dump score, and buffing it up to be a diplomat is flavorful, but makes him a worse fighter.

A paladin wouldn't have to spend the trait to make it a class skill, and Cha is a prime stat, not a dump one. auto better then fighter, right at the start.

Bard it's his prime stat and he'll pump it, in addition to being able to double dip skill points and use spells to buff it.

Contrasted to a bunch of stuff ANY CHARACTER CAN DO.

Meh. Bad examples is bad examples, is.

==Aelryinth

Okay but if you read the posts either side you would see it is an example of common sense application of rules, because a lot of martial choices are shut down by a slavish attention to the rules and lack of willingness to improvise novel situations. It was in response to a players attempt to blow someone up with a box of grenades... but someone else said the grenade rules don't work like that... shutting down the solution.

For the record, the bard was level 1, level 2 swashbuckler, so didn't use magic at all. The point is that no special powers were required to perform the heroic feats in the example.

The Exchange

Zoolimar wrote:
The Sword wrote:

The DM is there to facilitate the actions of the party in an entertaining way.

Any DM who reads that as "Screw you over" is putting their enjoyment before that of the party - unless the party have signed up to a game where they want to be screwed over as some sort of challenge of rules mastery. Difficult does not = screw over.

Of course gunpowder isn't going to come up in a medieval era fantasy unless the game world allows it. The DM or published material sets that.

If vampire hunters were prepared for evening, then films and books would be very dull. The trope of Monster Hunting is that you are absolutely NOT prepared for the full scale of horror that awaits you. Think back to every monster film you ever saw - people get prepared FAST as a consequence of their encounters - I cite tremors again as an example of one of the best monster films of all time.

Well that'a a difference in expectations. I don't expect DM in such a genre to use "kid gloves".

Monsters are played to their strengths. Maybe not as much as possible but without really dumb moves.

And if we are playing experienced adventurers from the beginning I will expect things like vapmires (or their thralls) trying to murder my character while he is sleeping or werewolves trying to frame someone else as the culprit.

And this is where the divide between what fixes the apparent issue and what doesn't lies.

You are playing a game of us vs them (DM in this case).

Others are playing a game of players in a a world where some folks actually like you.

In one situation you have to out power your DMs deviousness. They can be fun games but I found after some time it really just ruined the fun of sitting with some mates and having a good time. So for my group, we jut gave that type of play away. When your DM is deliberately trying to dick you because every NPC is going to betray you, then it's not a game I want to play in.

Now we run a game that lets u all enjoy the time together. Yep, some NPCs betray you, but others actively go out of their way to help and some will even risk their own lives for you. For our group it feels more organic than games where everyone actually hates you despite the fact you're cleaning the world up one monster at a time.


The Sword wrote:
How does the SGT. take into account party synergy and roles, that make abilities better e.g a rogue having someone to flank with?

It assumes they all benefit equally, otherwise you're changing test parameters (unless it's the same party accompanying each character), adding more variables, and introducing more opportunity for experimenter bias to enter the equation again. Sure the Rouge gets Sneak Attack damage while flanking. OTOH the Wizard doesn't have to bother summoning or blasting if he has party members around to deal the hit point damage.


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Wrath wrote:

And this is where the divide between what fixes the apparent issue and what doesn't lies.

You are playing a game of us vs them (DM in this case).

I think that is a baseless assumption personally, when I DM I do not play "with kid gloves on". I try to play characters accordingly with their ability scores and the resources available to them. But am definitely not Us vs. Them style (if you've read the arguments I've had on gitp lately with Darth Ultron you'd probably say I'm the opposite), and am very pro... not sure on the correct wording....hmmm. Shared creativity when playing RPG's?...

But basically, there is an immense difference between "vampires murdering people in their sleep" and "every NPC is going to betray you".


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Wrath wrote:

You are playing a game of us vs them (DM in this case).

Others are playing a game of players in a a world where some folks actually like you.

In one situation you have to out power your DMs deviousness. They can be fun games but I found after some time it really just ruined the fun of sitting with some mates and having a good time. So for my group, we jut gave that type of play away. When your DM is deliberately trying to dick you because every NPC is going to betray you, then it's not a game I want to play in.

And where did I say that everyone is out to get you ?

No. I'm playing against "monsters" or bandits, or some other antagonists. You can't win against DM.

There are characters that will not betray. There are even real paladins. But vampires ? No, these buggers are not going to be friendly or easy to kill and they are going to use almost everything to win. And lets not talk about dragons - these are just nightmare fuel.

Let's return to question at hand - non-spellcasters and their problems.

In the example above that uses grenades it's not so much characters against a problem as it's technology against a problem.

If there were more such technical, alchemical or say steam-powered things gap between spellcasters and non-spellcasters may have been a little less pronounced. Because it doesn't really matter if Fireball that killed all enemy archers comes from a wizard or from some alchemical flamethrower.

But such a game will have really different feel and setting. Probably something along the lines of Monster Hunter (Japanese game series).

Currently magic items have too many limitations and are still much easier to do with access to spells.


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Technotrooper wrote:

The following are some specific things I do to try and manage the M/C divide:

  • Martials get hero points, casters do not. This especially helps with making key saving throws.
  • Fighters and cavaliers get good Will saves
  • Fighters get +2 skill points. Perception is a class skill.
  • Fighters get a bonus feat every level. This ends up being similar to consolidating feats but I don't have to actually modify any feats.
  • The most problematic spells are removed or adjusted
  • Martials get access to a Stamina pool (fighters get this for free) from Unchained
  • Metamagic rods are removed
  • Spells of levels 7-9 take at least a full-round action to cast
  • Encourage the use of Spheres of Power
  • PCs can add the AC bonus of any shield they are proficient with to their Reflex save
  • The target of a slumber hex gets +1 to its saving throw for ever 2 levels (based on CR) it is above the witch
  • Crafted gear counts the same as found or purchased gear when calculating WBL
  • Combat maneuvers only provoke on a failed check
  • End most campaigns around 15th level

I realize that even all of these interventions don't fully "solve" the disparity but I do feel like they go a long way in mitigating the divide without completely nerfing casters. They seem to work pretty well at our (non-optimizing) table.

This is my favourite solution so far. Thanks for sharing!

In my opinion these suggestions plus an informal understanding between the players and the GM to not ruin the game with over the top caster builds solves the martial / caster disparity.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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The Sword wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

Okay, how are the two examples in the last 30 posts doing anything BUT extolling mc disparity?

Two barrels of gunpowder, running away. Exactly how is that a fighter class ability?
Oh, wait, a bard did it.
At least a caster, or even a barbarian, has an INCREASED MOVEMENT RATE TO RUN AWAY.
And extra skill points to spend on Alchemy to create gunpowder. Right.

And then, building a Fighter/ANY CHARACTER with a good Diplomacy score, because NOTHING in that suggestion had anything to do with the Fighter class. Except, of course, that Cha is a dump score, and buffing it up to be a diplomat is flavorful, but makes him a worse fighter.

A paladin wouldn't have to spend the trait to make it a class skill, and Cha is a prime stat, not a dump one. auto better then fighter, right at the start.

Bard it's his prime stat and he'll pump it, in addition to being able to double dip skill points and use spells to buff it.

Contrasted to a bunch of stuff ANY CHARACTER CAN DO.

Meh. Bad examples is bad examples, is.

==Aelryinth

Okay but if you read the posts either side you would see it is an example of common sense application of rules, because a lot of martial choices are shut down by a slavish attention to the rules and lack of willingness to improvise novel situations. It was in response to a players attempt to blow someone up with a box of grenades... but someone else said the grenade rules don't work like that... shutting down the solution.

For the record, the bard was level 1, level 2 swashbuckler, so didn't use magic at all. The point is that no special powers were required to perform the heroic feats in the example.

Right. Which makes it totally irrelevant to the disparity argument, which are all about required powers BEING needed. Because you just described something any Caster could do, and owing that most casters have access to resources which could a) detonate the thing remotely or b) run faster then base move, they could still do better then a Fighter.

And fighters don't get extra feats. They get extra COMBAT feats. Those combat feats are his 'class features'. They are supposed to make up for not getting smites, spells, rage and Favored Enemy. They do NOTHING for helping a fighter with Diplomacy.

These in no way help with a diplomacy build. The cost of a fighter following that diplomacy build is MORE then any other class out there except maybe a Barbarian. Because no standard class synergy with any elements of that build, stats, feats, traits, whatever.

==Aelryinth


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Quote:

This is my favourite solution so far. Thanks for sharing!

In my opinion these suggestions plus an informal understanding between the players and the GM to not ruin the game with over the top caster builds solves the martial / caster disparity.

Thanks. I believe in keeping solutions simple and easy to implement. I also do things like allow no more than 3 simultaneous spell-based buffs on any creature because I am lazy and I just don't want to deal with too much complexity and tracking. I have heard many people say you would have to rewrite Pathfinder from the ground up to even begin to deal with the M/C divide, but I believe some relatively simple modifications go a very long way in helping the game to work better. As you say, it also takes trust and goodwill between the players and the GM.


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Technotrooper. This guy gets it. Awesome suggestions. Favorited! :)

My group does half of these things already, or implement other changes very similar to them in terms of results. Definitely not a panacea, but a darn good start.

Cheers,
- Gears


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The 3 buff spells limit is another good suggestion. I think I will suggest that one to my group as well.


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Very nice list, Technotrooper. Thank you for all the ideas.

One of the things I like to do is watch the threads here and elsewhere, making notes of what people believe are "must have" spells, items, and the like, especially on the threads regarding powering up casters. It gives me an idea of what items and spells might be causing problems, and, assuming I haven't already dealt with them, making note to do so.


Boomerang Nebula wrote:
The 3 buff spells limit is another good suggestion. I think I will suggest that one to my group as well.

It keeps things simpler and also places a check on too many magical buffs. Because I apply the same rule to monsters and NPCs, it seems to be fairly well-balanced.


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knightnday wrote:

Very nice list, Technotrooper. Thank you for all the ideas.

One of the things I like to do is watch the threads here and elsewhere, making notes of what people believe are "must have" spells, items, and the like, especially on the threads regarding powering up casters. It gives me an idea of what items and spells might be causing problems, and, assuming I haven't already dealt with them, making note to do so.

That's exactly what I do. I watch the boards here to see which spells cause problems for GMs and I have a list of 20-25 spells that are either banned or modified. I'm also lucky because I have awesome players who will sometimes tell me, "I'm not going to take this because it seems too powerful and might disrupt our story or cause another player not to shine." They feel some ownership of not derailing the story/game and making sure everyone has fun. Ultimately, that is perhaps the very best solution to this issue.


Technotrooper wrote:
knightnday wrote:

Very nice list, Technotrooper. Thank you for all the ideas.

One of the things I like to do is watch the threads here and elsewhere, making notes of what people believe are "must have" spells, items, and the like, especially on the threads regarding powering up casters. It gives me an idea of what items and spells might be causing problems, and, assuming I haven't already dealt with them, making note to do so.

That's exactly what I do. I watch the boards here to see which spells cause problems for GMs and I have a list of 20-25 spells that are either banned or modified.

If you don't mind me asking, which spells have you banned?

Paizo Employee Design Manager

Irontruth wrote:

Your post is literally about fighting each other. Maybe not the players, but the characters and wanting them to be designed to face off against each other. You're focusing on problem #1.

If you want to see the solution to problem #1, I recommend checking out D&D 4E. You don't need to switch to it, but it will give you an idea of what that kind of game looks like.
For the classes to be perfectly balanced, they would have to be identical. You can achieve nearly balanced by having minor variations, but the more variation between the classes, the less balanced they will be.

I have played 4E. I'm intimately familiar with 4E, 5E, Pathfinder, and most other iterations of this game. Maybe you missed Jiggy's post that spawned this one, so let me be clear- 4E is homogenized symmetrical balance. I am talking about asymmetrical balance and niche protection. Please don't perpetuate a fallacy or assume ignorance on the part of others, it only makes you look arrogant and foolish.

The reality is that assymetrical balance and niche protection are very possible, and indeed existed in earlier iterations of the game. You wouldn't have dreamed of trying to play 1st or 2nd without a Fighter, and yet now you easily can, and the Fighter has gone from being just as important as the Wizard or Rogue/Thief to being the least important and most expendable class in the game (the Rogue has struggled with his own issues, but has at least had some more arguable utility and function, particularly since Unchained released). There have been many examples of ways to achieve asymmetrical balance and niche protection discussed in this thread, none of which look like 4E. Please stop propping up that willfully ignorant fallacy. The fact that 4E was a symmetrically balanced game does not mean that creating balanced classes and options will always turn a game into 4E. That's like a child believing that all things colored blue are made out of the sky because the sky is the first thing they associated the word blue with.

In the early editions of the game, the Fighter had the best saves, the best hit points, dealt the most damage, and was essential to many fights. The Wizard had to hide and carefully nurture his abilities, ultimately rising to be arguably the most powerful class in the game, but with glaring weaknesses that still made a complete party of adventurers necessary. Similarly, the Thief/Rogue had things that only he could do, and was fairly essential. The Wizard has been slowly fortified over the last few iterations of the game, becoming tougher, more reliable, more competent, and more powerful, and yet the martial classes have actually gone in the opposite direction, finding themselves drastically weakened, with many of their once iconic features now easily eclipsed by minor magics or available to anyone who wants them.

Whether the solution involves elevating the martial classes and abilities so that they are more competitive with their magical peers, removing key magical options from spell lists, a combination of the two, or redesigning options from the ground up, there are a wide variety of possible adjustments to the game that don't involve switching it to the A/E/U/D model and changing everything to 20 base abilities with different keywords. As has been mentioned, there are even 3pp companies like Drop Dead Studios with their Spheres of Power supplement, Amora Games with more flexible martial options like the Battle Lord, Dreamscarred Press with their widely praised Ultimate Psionics, and more, all of whom have presented different takes on how to achieve viable party parity and many of whom have even been proposed and accepted as solutions by posters in this very thread.


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Quote:
If you don't mind me asking, which spells have you banned?

As requested, here is my current list of banned or modified stuff. I add things as they become a problem in our game.

Archetypes
• The Invulnerable Rager, Synthesist, and Vivisectionist archetypes are not available.
• Archetypes can only be selected if a character takes at least 5 levels in the relevant class.

Feats
• Antagonize (Intimidate), Bouncing Spell, Dazing Spell, Quicken Spell, Divine Interference, Natural Spell, Opposition Research, Persistent Spell, Rime Spell, Sacred Geometry, Leadership, and Spell Perfection feats are not available.
• The Vital Strike feat chain can be used anytime you make a single attack (charge, spring attack, etc.).

Traits
The Finding Haleen, Magical Lineage, and Rich Parents traits are not available.

Revelations
The Water Sight and Earth Glide revelations are not available.

Spells
• Detect magic counts as interacting with an illusion, granting a save against it. If the save is failed, no magical aura is detected.
• Protection from good, evil, chaos, and law do not make the target immune to any attempts to possess or exercise mental control over them.
• Freedom of movement provides a + caster level bonus to CMD versus grappling and checks to escape grappling rather than immunity to grappling.
• The duration of rope trick is 10 minutes / level.
• The casting time of mage’s magnificent mansion is 1 minute.
• Casting time for teleport and greater teleport is 1 minute and the caster cannot teleport to a location he or she has not physically been to before.
• The range of black tentacles is close (25 ft. + 5 ft. / 2 levels).
• Glorious heat only works with level 1 or higher spells.
• Wall of thorns grants 30% concealment.
• A Will save negates the effects of irresistible dance.
• Detect alignment spells only work on supernatural creatures, auras, items, and places.
• Acute senses, blood money, cacophonous call, cold ice strike, detect thoughts, earth glide, enervation, fickle winds, gate, icy prison, magic jar, mass icy prison, seek thoughts, speak with dead, mage’s disjunction, planar binding, prediction of failure, and terrible remorse are not available.
• Simulacrum requires a pound of flesh from the type of creature being replicated as a material component and the resulting simulacrum is unable to cast spells.
• Long-distance teleporting causes the dazed condition for 1d2 rounds.
• Reductions to metamagic effects can’t bring the cost lower than one level.
• A creature cannot have more than 3 helpful, harmless spells active on itself at once. Additional helpful spells cast on it fail to work.
• 7th, 8th, and 9th level spells take at least a full-round action to cast.

Magic Items
Metamagic rods, Candle of Invocation, Dust of Sneezing and Choking, Otherwordly Kimono, and Pearl of Power are not available.

Paizo Employee Design Manager

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Technotrooper wrote:

The following are some specific things I do to try and manage the M/C divide:

  • Martials get hero points, casters do not. This especially helps with making key saving throws.
  • Fighters and cavaliers get good Will saves
  • Fighters get +2 skill points. Perception is a class skill.
  • Fighters get a bonus feat every level. This ends up being similar to consolidating feats but I don't have to actually modify any feats.
  • The most problematic spells are removed or adjusted
  • Martials get access to a Stamina pool (fighters get this for free) from Unchained
  • Metamagic rods are removed
  • Spells of levels 7-9 take at least a full-round action to cast
  • Encourage the use of Spheres of Power
  • PCs can add the AC bonus of any shield they are proficient with to their Reflex save
  • The target of a slumber hex gets +1 to its saving throw for ever 2 levels (based on CR) it is above the witch
  • Crafted gear counts the same as found or purchased gear when calculating WBL
  • Combat maneuvers only provoke on a failed check
  • End most campaigns around 15th level

I realize that even all of these interventions don't fully "solve" the disparity but I do feel like they go a long way in mitigating the divide without completely nerfing casters. They seem to work pretty well at our (non-optimizing) table.

Great list Techno! There's some great solutions here that I have also used in some way shape or form.

Smart look at allowing shield bonuses to Ref saves; I've looked at implementing solutions that intertwine with iconic martial class options like heavier armor, shields, etc., though obviously the limitation there is how easy it is for casting classes to manipulate the equipment options and take advantage of them more efficiently then the classes that actually rely on them. Still, there's some room there to tie in to things like BAB or even average size of hit dice that can be used to reinforce and refine that idea.


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Ssalarn wrote:
Smart look at allowing shield bonuses to Ref saves; I've looked at implementing solutions that intertwine with iconic martial class options like heavier armor, shields, etc., though obviously the limitation there is how easy it is for casting classes to manipulate the equipment options and take advantage of them more efficiently then the classes that actually rely on them. Still, there's some room there to tie in to things like BAB or even average size of hit dice that can be used to reinforce and refine that idea.

I like your way of thinking. I've always felt shields are too weak in Pathfinder (and D&D in general) so this is one way of giving them a little more power without unbalancing things. It also helps martials using a shield vs. spells with Reflex saves--which, to me, makes sense.


Aren't rangers clearly the best in 4e because they get attack twice as a power.


CWheezy wrote:
Aren't rangers clearly the best in 4e because they get attack twice as a power.

Hey! Where is the wizard build you promised? :P


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I thought I might also share one other simple house rule I use to make martials more effective and battles more dynamic:

Assault (Full-Round Action)
You can use a swift action and full-round action to move up to your speed while performing a full attack. You can move after, before or between your attacks. You still provoke attacks of opportunity while moving, and can't make a 5-foot step during a round you perform an Assault action. When you begin moving, you are considered to have committed to the Assault action, even if circumstances prevent you from attacking at the end of your movement. Creatures can only perform an Assault with melee weapons and unarmed attacks. Assault works with effects such as haste and two-weapon fighting.

I got this idea from someone here on the board but I can't remember who (or I would give credit). It kind of channels 5e's martial mobility--which I really like.


I'm not actually at home, I'm posting on my phone. Holiday stuff dudes


Ok I'm READY

Spoiler:

The Mighty, Wizard
Male human diviner 10
N Medium humanoid (human)
Init +21; Senses Perception +19
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 13, touch 13, flat-footed 11 (+1 deflection, +2 Dex)
hp 94 (10d6+52)
Fort +10, Ref +7, Will +9
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 dueling spiked gauntlet +4 (1d4-1)
Arcane School Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th; concentration +17)
Constant—detect scrying
10/day—diviner's fortune (+5)
Diviner Spells Prepared (CL 10th; concentration +17)
5th—elemental body II, overland flight, prying eyes, summon monster V
4th—arcane eye, persistent battering blast (2, DC 22), emergency force sphere, greater invisibility
3rd—battering blast (DC 22), battering blast (DC 22), battering blast (DC 22), haste, summon monster III, tongues
2nd—acid arrow (3), aram zey’s focus, invisibility, mirror image, web (DC 19)
1st—ear-piercing scream[UM] (DC 20), heightened awareness[ACG], infernal healing[ISWG], mage armor, shield, snowball (DC 18), snowball (DC 18)
0 (at will)—acid splash, detect magic, mage hand, read magic
Opposition Schools Enchantment, Necromancy
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 7, Dex 14, Con 20, Int 25, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk +5; CMB +3 (+5 disarm); CMD 16 (18 vs. disarm)
Feats Alertness, Craft Wondrous Item, Fast Study[UM], Greater Spell Focus (evocation), Improved Initiative, Persistent Spell[APG], Quicken Spell, Sacred Geometry, Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (evocation)
Traits magical lineage, reactionary
Skills Acrobatics +5, Bluff -2 (+0 to Feint), Fly +15, Knowledge (arcana) +20, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +11, Knowledge (engineering) +20, Knowledge (geography) +11, Knowledge (history) +12, Knowledge (local) +11, Knowledge (nature) +11, Knowledge (nobility) +11, Knowledge (planes) +20, Knowledge (religion) +20, Perception +19, Sense Motive +2, Spellcraft +20, Stealth +12
Languages Azlanti, Common, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Halfling, Osiriani, Polyglot
SQ arcane bond (mr wiggles, dinosaur, compsognathus), forewarned, human wizard, scrying adept
Combat Gear extend metamagic rod (lesser); Other Gear +1 dueling spiked gauntlet, belt of mighty constitution +4, cloak of resistance +2, eyes of the eagle, handy haversack, headband of vast intelligence +4, ring of protection +1, 195 gp
--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
+8 Spells in Spellbook Add one spell from the wizard spell list to the wizard's spellbook. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the wizard can cast.
Deliver Touch Spells Through Familiar (Su) Your familiar can deliver touch spells for you.
Divination Diviners are masters of remote viewing, prophecies, and using magic to explore the world.
Diviner's Fortune +5 (10/day) (Sp) As a standard action, touch grants ally +5 insight bonus to many checks for 1 round.
Empathic Link with Familiar (Su) You have an empathic link with your Arcane Familiar.
Enchantment You must spend 2 slots to cast spells from the Enchantment school.
Extend metamagic rod (lesser, 3/day) Metamagic rods hold the essence of a metamagic feat, allowing the user to apply metamagic effects to spells (but not spell like abilities) as they are cast. This does not change the spell slot of the altered spell. All the rods described here are use-activated (but casting spells in a threatened area still draws an attack of opportunity). A caster may only use one metamagic rod on any given spell, but it is permissible to combine a rod with metamagic feats possessed by the rod's wielder. In this case, only the feats possessed by the wielder adjust the spell slot of the spell being cast.

Possession of a metamagic rod does not confer the associated feat on the owner, only the ability to use the given feat a specified number of times per day. A sorcerer still must take a full-round action when using a metamagic rod, just as if using a metamagic feat he possesses (except for quicken metamagic rods, which can be used as a swift action).

The wielder can cast up to three spells per day that are extended as though using the Extend Spell feat. Lesser metamagic rods can be used with spells of 3rd level or lower.

Construction
Requirements: Craft Rod, Extend Spell feat; Cost 1,500 gp
Familiar Bonus: +4 to Initiative checks You gain the Alertness feat while your familiar is within arm's reach.
Fast Study Normally, a wizard spends 1 hour preparing all of his spells for the day, or proportionately less if he only prepares some spells, with a minimum of 15 minutes of preparation. Thanks to mental discipline and clever mnemonics, you can prepare all of y
Forewarned 5 (Su) Can always act in surprise rounds.
Greater Spell Focus (Evocation) +1 to the Save DC of spells from one school.
Magical Lineage (Battering Blast) A chosen spell counts as 1 level lower when metamagic feats are applied to it.
Necromancy You must spend 2 slots to cast spells from the Necromancy school.
Persistent Spell Foes must succeed at 2 saves or suffer the spell's full effects.
Quicken Spell Cast a spell as a swift action. +4 Levels.
Sacred Geometry (Dazing Spell, Quicken Spell) Use metamagic effects through mathematics without raising spell level.
Scrying Adept (Su) At 8th level, you are always aware when you are being observed via magic, as if you had a permanent detect scrying. In addition, whenever you scry on a subject, treat the subject as one step more familiar to you. Very familiar subjects get a -
Share Spells with Familiar Can cast spells with a target of "You" on the familiar with a range of touch.
Speak with Animals (Ex) Your familiar can communicate with animals similar to itself.
Speak with Familiar (Ex) You can communicate verbally with your familiar.
Spell Focus (Evocation) Spells from one school of magic have +1 to their save DC.


Oh if someone remembers that script for sacred geometry that would be awesome


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Oh man..

Just finished reading the last couple hundred posts...

I think the best is a 61 point buy, double barrel abusing, custom item creating "martial" facing off against a wizard with sacred geometry.

Maybe that kind of over the top face off should be put into an arena thread of it's own, because that's going to generate a LOT of unrelated chatter.
It's not like this is representative characters.


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wraithstrike wrote:
As for not being good in combat, when that is mentioned people are not talking about the fighter's ability to hit things. It does that very well, but other things can come up in combat, and the fighter can't do anything about it.

In all fairness, while I'm not talking about the fighter's ability to hit things, I don't think they're particularly good at that either. They're consistently outshone by real martials.


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Fergie wrote:
wraithstrike - It's 100% arbitrary, but I consider max ranks in a class skill, and +5-+7 "very good" at 10th level. It is about equal to a wizards spellcraft skill at the same level. Other classes (especially bards) can do better, but most other classes are going to have to sacrifice more to do it. YMMV.

Wizards have ability synergy with spellcraft. Fighters get little to nothing from a high Wisdom and Charisma. It's actually detrimental to invest so heavily in Charisma when the difference between a 7 Cha and an 18 Charisma is 6.


Kaisoku wrote:


It's not like this is representative characters.

what isn't representative of my wizard


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Wrath wrote:

And this is where the divide between what fixes the apparent issue and what doesn't lies.

You are playing a game of us vs them (DM in this case).

Others are playing a game of players in a a world where some folks actually like you.

I actually actively root for players and hope they succeed in my games. That doesn't mean the kobolds aren't going to deviously wreck your day, or that the vampire's thrall isn't going to spy on you, or that the people are even going to treat your tiefling with common courtesy.

The Exchange

Yeah, think I quoted the wrong post in there.

Zoo limit specifically stated there was an agreement that the DM was out to get them. That's where I was posting from.

And those saying they don't play with kid gloves on, fair enough, if that's your perception on things. I think allowing more than 15 points and dump statting to oblivion to boost one stat super high actually is playing with kid gloves on.

I think allowing players to use spells that are setting specific and detailed purely for dms so they know how it works when the party comes up against a creature that knows magic they've never heard of is playing with kid gloves.

I believe that some of the stuff you guys think can be done with things like simulacrum is playing with kid gloves because you aren't happy with consequences of actions in a world that evolved with that magic around and there are things that will screw your day nicely when that stuff starts happening.

Of course, that's how I view the Kid Gloves in this game. Your view may differ.


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Ok, so I was right about everything except Fickle Winds. Nice. :P


I once tried my hand at creating the "Vanilla" Fighter. A fighter that could pick up literally any weapon and be decent with it. The goal was to see if the overkill option was unnecessary, if weapon focus/specialization was locking you in too much and unneeded.

Here's the build I came up with:

FEAT PROGRESSION
(over 20 levels)
1st: (Throw Anything), Power Attack, Quickdraw
2nd: Deadly Aim
3rd: (Dodge)
4th: Shield Focus, Endurance (-Throw Anything)
5th: (Lunge)
6th: Combat Expertise
7th: Diehard
8th: Step Up, Following Step (-Dodge)
9th: (Bloody Assault)
10th: Missile Shield
11th: Disruptive
12th: Spellbreaker, Ray Shield (-Lunge)
13th: Second Chance
14th: Blind-fight
15th: Improved Blind-fight
16th: Critical Focus, Stunning Assault (-Bloody Assault)
17th: Bleeding Critical
18th: (Blinding Critical)
19th: Critical Mastery
20th: Staggering Critical, Stunning Critical (-Blinding Critical)

WEAPONS
Pilum (quick P throwing weapon ranged for opening combat, 1d8 x2, -1 shield if hits someone, 20ft range)
Chakram (quick S throwing weapon ranged for opening combat, 1d8 x2, 30ft range)
Hammer, light (quick B throwing weapon ranged for opening combat, 1d4 x2, 20ft range)
Bec de Corbin (brace/B/P reach weapon, 1d10 x3, +2 sunder vs medium/heavy armor)
Guisarme (no AoO trip/S reach weapon, 2d4 x3)
Composite Longbow (serious ranged combat weapon, 1d8 x3, 110ft range)
Longsword (mainstay melee weapon, 1d8 19-20/x2)
Spiked Gauntlets (P grappling weapon, 1d4 x2)
Light Quickshield (B grappling weapon, 1d3 x2)

ARMOR
Light Quickshield (shield, free action to put away and bring back, +1 AC, no ACP with training/mithral)
Full Plate (cuz, why not? Great movement/DEX for a fighter)

ABILITIES
Str 15, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 8
Favored Class Bonus to hitpoints
Skillpoints: 4 (2 class, Human 1, Int 1)
Skills: Full ranks (Perception, Knowledge Engineering), Half Ranks (Ride, Climb, Swim, Survival)

.

At 10th level, here's his stats:

Human Fighter 10
Init +4; Senses Perception +19

DEFENSE

AC 31 touch 15 flat-footed 27; -3 attack for +3 AC (combat expertise)
hp 80
Fort +11, Ref +9, Will +7; +3 vs fear

OFFENSE

Speed 30ft
Melee +18/+13 (1d8+8) longsword, -2 other heavy blades, -4 other melee
Ranged +17/+12 (1d8+7) comp longbow, -3 other ranged
Special Power Attack/Deadly Aim (-3 Attack, +6 Damage), -5 attack for +1d4 bleed

STATISTICS

Str 18, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +10; CMB +14; CMD 28
Feats Bloody Assault, Combat Expertise, Deadly Aim, Diehard, Endurance, Following Step, Missile Shield, Power Attack, Quickdraw, Shield Focus, Step Up
Skills Climb +11, Knowledge (engineering) +14, Perception +19, Ride +11, Survival +9, Swim +11
Languages Common, (something)
Traits Eyes and Ears of the City (LN), Indomitable Faith
SQ armor training 2 (+2 Dex, -2 ACP, fullmove heavy), weapon training 2 (heavy blades +2, bows +1)

GEAR

Combat Gear Belt of physical might (+2Str/Dex), Cloak of Res +2, +2 shield/armor/longsword/compbow +4str, +1 nat armor necklace, +1 prot ring, ring of feather falling, efficient quiver (stuffed with normal arrows)

Other Gear handy haversack, potions: 1x 3rd, 2x 2nd, 3x 1st (pick from the following list, depending on what's coming up)
1st: Endure Elements, Enlarge Person, Protection from Evil, Remove Fear
2nd: Align Weapon, Remove Paralysis, Restoration (lesser)
3rd: Fly, Remove Blindness/Deafness, Remove Curse, Remove Disease, Water Breathing

.

A typical CR 10 creature has the following:

CR 10
hp 130
AC 24
atk 18/13
Dmg 45/33
DC 19/13
Save 13/9

I haven't run the math... but it's not so good solo, I think. He's incredibly dependant on others to survive, because he's not likely to kill things as quickly and can get seriously hurt at his weakpoints.

.

If we can bring up the "Vanilla Fighter" to a point here he can do some stuff outside of combat, but still be effective without massive focus, then I'd be happy.
It'd allow for a lot more things to do in combat.


CWheezy wrote:
Kaisoku wrote:


It's not like this is representative characters.
what isn't representative of my wizard

It's representative, which I believe is the problem. The martial has to have weird custom magic items and a questionable build to stand up against the same old magical build (diviner check, compy check, reactionary check).


I don't think he even stands up to me, tbh

The Exchange

Sadly, I get the feeling he hasn't seen a caster built like that before. There's nothing in your build I wasn't expecting, and not much he can do against them.

In fact, a simple pit spell would cause his character lots of trouble as it is right now.

I think my players have more experience with the stuff casters can do so they build for it much better. Probably why our group never had much issue.


Hi reflex save is pretty stronk, an climbing out of pits isn't too hard because of the brace rule

The Exchange

True, but climbing out takes time. And that's something he won't have of the caster is doing his thing.

Plus, if he falls into,acid pit or such, his non magical gear is going to take a pretty hefty pounding.

If his anti magic pill is up though, then pit isn't even worrying him of course.


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1100 Caster Martial Disparity Binary Disparity Unlock!

May Zog have mercy on our souls!

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