Balancing Casters vs Fighters


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I love the spoons thing.

But just because there's an inherent imbalance, and that that is to some degree actually a good thing (MMOs and MOBAs use this intentionally by swapping around what class/champion is at the peak of performance with any given patch to keep people on their toes) the degree to which the discrepancy exists is a factor to keep in mind.

When your lowest performing core option and highest performing are within an acceptable margin of one another, to where while yes one is "better" on paper, in practice everyone gets the job done, its not a big deal.

When someone is consistently left out because they made the wrong decision and its too late to back out now without having wasted hours and hours of your life mastering how to perform in such and such a fashion, that just leads to bitterness.

I'm not stating how I think it stacks up one way or another in THIS game, because I don't have enough information or experience to make that call. But in generalized terms, that's the most important thing to consider once you acknowledge that a discrepancy exists.

Someone mentioned earlier about capability to engage with the narrative. That sounds like a pretty good litmus test to me.

On the other hand...Fighters. Well, its kind of in the name. They're people who are good at fighting. In numerous ways, and against any enemy. But for someone literally called a Fighter to be surprised when they're less proficient at anything that isn't fighting sounds silly.

Fighters should totally get the greater blade rush thing as a purely physical class feature though. That's awesome, and it is a TRAVESTY that that isn't a thing with TWF or 2handers, if not Ye Olde Sworde 'n' Boarde.


Solution is simple.

Ban casters. All of them. Force players to make full martial while also expecting them to take anything the BBEG(s) can throw at them magically.

Scarab Sages

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Will.Spencer wrote:

I'm completely convinced now.

If we don't remove magic above 3rd level from the game right now, Pathfinder (née D&D) will never become popular and everyone will choose to play Tunnels & Trolls* instead.

* Or whatever the alterative du jour is.

Oh, QQ. You've been offered several suggestions of a reasonable nature that address the actually Caster/Martial disparity, and clarification that the disparity does not center around martial prowess, but rather narrative impact. Anyone can do Hit Point damage, and martial characters are already good at that. What they lack in this disparity is narrative impact, not bigger numbers.


Playing with the action system opens up a lot to martial characters as casters become less capable in combat.

I've found most out of combat is either defined by what magic is available, in which case spellcasters ought to be taxed in this regard as the game expects certain capabilities; in the other case proper writing and winknodding to engage player agency to influence the narrative serves far more to other classes than simply giving more skill ranks.

The fighter specifically has the resources to invest into narrative influencing feats that are often overlooked and sidelined in favor of finishing a mechanically inclined combat build as to serve the player's vision for playing the character.

The options are out there, and one of this threads many predecessors is what lead me to even bother writing the fighter guide that I keep chipping away at.


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Part of the issue is that it is incumbent on the melee specialists to make balanced choices. If they make int a dump skill, then yes they won't have many skill points. If they dump every gold piece into maximizing their weapon DPR instead of taking one less +1 one there or +2 less on the str belt they could afford a lot of little items that open up a lot of non-combat options.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Priyd wrote:

[...]

On the other hand...Fighters. Well, its kind of in the name. They're people who are good at fighting. In numerous ways, and against any enemy. But for someone literally called a Fighter to be surprised when they're less proficient at anything that isn't fighting sounds silly.

Fighters should totally get the greater blade rush thing as a purely physical class feature though. That's awesome, and it is a TRAVESTY that that isn't a thing with TWF or 2handers, if not Ye Olde Sworde 'n' Boarde.

I think that that's probably the main issue. Every single class in Pathfinder can be good at fighting. All of them, without exception (even the core monk and rogue, though you might have to work at it a bit). So every class's secondary job description is "fighter", except for this one class where it's only job description is fighter. To maintain game balance, you really can't have any class be too much better than any other class at raw combat performance, so the fighter is in the awkward position of having very little going for him other than a narrow margin in full attack damage potential and maybe AC (though there are lots of other classes that can get similar AC, including other full BABs like the barbarian, and typically they can do it more easily).

Granted, the fighter has gotten a lot of help in recent years; if you have the Armor Master's Handbook and Weapon Master's Handbook available you can put a lot of patches on the fighter and get it to a pretty solid place, but that requires some system mastery and knowledge of the product line, and a lot of the fixes don't start kicking in until around 6th level when a lot of people are already halfway through their character's lifespan.
Personally, I think that the fighter's issues are really foundational; it doesn't really need to exist, or it should have a stronger chassis and a lot of its competition (barbarians, paladins, rangers, etc.) should really just be archetypes, or paths similar to oracle mysteries or wizard schools. But the name "fighter" has the weight of history behind it, and for many people the fighter's weaknesses as far as not being able to do much outside of combat go are actually selling points. Some people don't want to have to participate outside of combat and having full BAB, good full attack damage, and high AC are all they want out of the character. For a game to be successful, it does need to support classes like that, classes where someone can jump in and they don't need a lot of toggles or guides to play; they can just smash face and then sit back and let the other party members take care of things outside of combat. There's definitely ways to do all that without leaving some of the big weaknesses in the class chassis that the fighter has, but someone who just wants to smash face isn't going to waste too much time worrying about their weak saves and poor skills when those aren't the aspects of the game they're focused on.


For the sale of simplicity, just gestalt the fighter and the Brawler into one class, and leave the rest alone. See what happens.


so....what, are we saying Fighter should just be a tutorial class for beginners to the genre? im not trying to be sarcastic or anything, im just not sure what you're going for here. i mean i kind of get the idea that maybe you have someone who just wants to hit stuff, but theres no reason that that person's class shouldn't be CAPABLE of doing things for the plot. they would just choose not to. and that's perfectly okay, i think. like a caster who just wants to make explosions. to the exclusion of all other features. as long as everyone knows that's what youre doing and is willing to compensate when necessary to move things along, if that's what you want then why not go for it?


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I think the point is that some people just want something that beats faces in and doesn't otherwise contribute. Maybe they're shy and have a hard time doing social bits, or maybe their idea of fun involves hitting things and they just don't care about the rest. Or maybe it's something else entirely. I'm not going to judge their motivations - but it's true enough that there are some people who are happy with the Fighter, and it's good that the game caters to them.

There are plenty of other damage-dealing classes that can contribute outside of combat, even if you're only playing Core. Quite frankly, you should only need to play the Fighter if that's what you actually want to play, limits and all.

However, I do think it's the responsibility of GMs and more experienced players to tell new people what classes are like, including well-known limits and flaws. That way, new players can make a more informed choice about what class to play.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Priyd wrote:
so....what, are we saying Fighter should just be a tutorial class for beginners to the genre? im not trying to be sarcastic or anything, im just not sure what you're going for here. i mean i kind of get the idea that maybe you have someone who just wants to hit stuff, but theres no reason that that person's class shouldn't be CAPABLE of doing things for the plot. they would just choose not to. and that's perfectly okay, i think. like a caster who just wants to make explosions. to the exclusion of all other features. as long as everyone knows that's what youre doing and is willing to compensate when necessary to move things along, if that's what you want then why not go for it?

No, I definitely would love the fighter to have more goodies (I have written several supplements for expanding martial options, including some specifically for the Fighter), but the more stuff you pack into a class the more opportunities you're creating for people who do like it as is to find something they hate about it.

Mark Seifter does a really good job of getting to the heart of what I'm aiming at here. Say that Paizo did release a whole new Fighter class, the Fighter+. In addition to everything the Fighter gets, this class also gets a full set of fighter-themed narrative abilities that allow him to recruit plucky you squires who know all the goings on in the realm, or personal blacksmiths pumping out made to order gear, or what have you. Some number of people who don't want that stuff are going to assume that if they're not using it, they're missing out, and therefore the whole class is bad.

I would love to see the fighter get a broader array of tools at their disposal, both narrative and mobility, but I doubt that you'll ever see a 1pp fix outside of the kind of things we've already gotten like the Weapon and Armor Master handbooks because anything more would create a rift in the market at a time when Pathfinder is losing ground to 5E.

You can (and many have) stick fixes in feats, but that has its own issues, not least of which is that characters who don't need the fix are going to have some way to get access to it. Rising tides raise all boats or whatever.

At the end of the day there are a lot of amazing martial "fixes" out there that can address almost every issue you might have with the Fighter, the issue is just accessing those and being able to use them in your preferred gaming environment.


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And the other side of the problem is, if you're introducing new content as the patch, that requires a significant level of investment and system mastery. You're going to have a lot of folks who've never heard of these specific products, and you're going to have different products patching the products in different ways that interact in unexpected ways when combined into frankensteinian horrors.


You can only mechanically balance classes, not in other ways. How can you explain a person able to shape raw magic into armor or discharge it as raysand still say swords should be just as strong?

There are so many Fighter+ classes with magic and/or special abilities. Basic Barbarian is better with Rage, Rage Powers and more skills. Try a Bloodrager with Full BAB, limited magic, Rage and Bloodline powers.

I still think its better to just accept that as magic is so important in the world that you should actually learn to use it rather than try to prove "mundanes" are best.


Baba Ganoush wrote:
Part of the issue is that it is incumbent on the melee specialists to make balanced choices. If they make int a dump skill, then yes they won't have many skill points. If they dump every gold piece into maximizing their weapon DPR instead of taking one less +1 one there or +2 less on the str belt they could afford a lot of little items that open up a lot of non-combat options.

This in and of itself is imbalanced as there is no such incumbency on magic specialists to behave similarly. The wizard optimizing to the hilt to be as good at casting as he can possibly get is also rewarded with more bonus skill ranks than he knows what to do with and can with very limited investment gain a number of capabilities that don't even dip into their spell slots, like taking up face duties because the game is tripping over itself with options to steal charisma-based skills from charisma-based characters and give them to intelligence-based characters instead while no such reversal exists.

So the fighter, who already prioritizes three to four stats to the wizard's one, is going to be making the choice between being overspecialized and useless outside of combat because he tried to build to be good at fighting or being spread thinly and therefore being mediocre at two or three things, including the fighting he took the class for in the first place. Tom O' Fourteens, who has a +2 in every stat, can do a bit more than your average fighter. Because he's a pile of fourteens, he doesn't excel at any of it.

The wizard, optimizing his one useful attribute, gets all the skill ranks he wants and therefore increases his own options by NOT making balanced choices and focusing on pumping his god-stat.


Blackwaltzomega wrote:
Baba Ganoush wrote:
Part of the issue is that it is incumbent on the melee specialists to make balanced choices. If they make int a dump skill, then yes they won't have many skill points. If they dump every gold piece into maximizing their weapon DPR instead of taking one less +1 one there or +2 less on the str belt they could afford a lot of little items that open up a lot of non-combat options.

This in and of itself is imbalanced as there is no such incumbency on magic specialists to behave similarly. The wizard optimizing to the hilt to be as good at casting as he can possibly get is also rewarded with more bonus skill ranks than he knows what to do with and can with very limited investment gain a number of capabilities that don't even dip into their spell slots, like taking up face duties because the game is tripping over itself with options to steal charisma-based skills from charisma-based characters and give them to intelligence-based characters instead while no such reversal exists.

So the fighter, who already prioritizes three to four stats to the wizard's one, is going to be making the choice between being overspecialized and useless outside of combat because he tried to build to be good at fighting or being spread thinly and therefore being mediocre at two or three things, including the fighting he took the class for in the first place. Tom O' Fourteens, who has a +2 in every stat, can do a bit more than your average fighter. Because he's a pile of fourteens, he doesn't excel at any of it.

The wizard, optimizing his one useful attribute, gets all the skill ranks he wants and therefore increases his own options by NOT making balanced choices and focusing on pumping his god-stat.

you know i always did find that weird. ROGUES are supposed to be the stereotypical skill monkey class, but theyre expected to focus on dexterity, and to a lesser degree strength in order to not be garbage in combat and fall over in a stiff breeze.

but...skill points come from intellect. what does the wizard care that he isn't necessarily getting class skill bonuses in things when he can fit ranks up to his level easily in everything that's important and have plenty left over for other stuff? granted they arent getting ability score bonuses in a lot of things either, and possibly even penalties for things like climb and swim (irrelevant because fly) but i can't say with any certainty that that's a large enough difference to matter.


ChaosTicket wrote:

You can only mechanically balance classes, not in other ways. How can you explain a person able to shape raw magic into armor or discharge it as raysand still say swords should be just as strong?

There are so many Fighter+ classes with magic and/or special abilities. Basic Barbarian is better with Rage, Rage Powers and more skills. Try a Bloodrager with Full BAB, limited magic, Rage and Bloodline powers.

I still think its better to just accept that as magic is so important in the world that you should actually learn to use it rather than try to prove "mundanes" are best.

One of the most popular quick'n'dirty solutions is to set the level cap to 6 or 8.

Dark Archive

I think I've gathered my thoughts on this enough to post.

Clearly, the issue isn't damage, plenty of classes out damage 9th lv casters and can do it all day. But it is the extra stuff spells can do. It's the utility stuff that invalidates a huge amount of issues.

Now I don't think that making 9th level casters weaker is any fun and I don't think giving everyone spells is the right option either. I think the issue boils down to a 9th lv caster may have between 5-15 amazing utility abilities that are equal to class features of martial abilities. So if we look at monk they have some cool ki powers that let him do cool things, but he maybe will really have 3 abilities and those are equal to like 5-6th lv spells.

Personally if I were to restructure the system, I'd probably split feats into magic/combat/social/utility and the classes would much like fighters, would gain bonus feats at certain levels. For example, a barbarian maybe gets a combat and utility feat every three levels. A wizard would get a magic at 3 a social at 6 alternating. These would be in addition to regular advancement which could choose from any group. Id make 9th level casters get almost no utility feats, partial casters get some, and full martials get quite a bit. I'm not going to try and build a system or anything so i am not going to flesh anything out but that's kind of how I feel about fixing the issue


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Will.Spencer wrote:


Kageshira wrote:
1. I don't enjoy being useless and meaningless, just being the comical relief doesn't do it for me either. When you reach the level in where weapon damage is the least effective way to end encounters is when martials stop being useful and just become furniture
Dead is dead. It does not matter if it was the fighter hitting for 500 points or the wizard casting Flesh to Stone. The outcome is the same either way.

The "result" is the same, sure, but the means are not, is not the same to pick a jet to go to Australia or crawl and swim to there, there're differences and one is more effective, harmless and takes less time than the other.

LoBandolerPi wrote:


1. According to you, which is that level where damage is not effective in combat? I have played several campaigns and this never happened to me. Sometimes while playing a caster I even desisted to try to overcome certain SR and started buffing the martial mates. So did the others when I played the martial.

2. I have only read 1 person in this thread giving this opinion. It is clearly not the majority of the opinions.

I didn't say damage, I said end encounters, is different. Weapon damage might be a good way of dealing damage (as it doesn't cost spells or per day features), but is not very effective to deal with encounters beyond 10th level. Also not every encounter is a combat.

As for which level, depends on the group and level of optimization, I've seen it happen beyond 7th level, I also seen it don't happen till 11th level. Just for example in a previous game there was this admixer sacred geometry wizard with 5 of those feats and an equally optimized druid and the martials were pretty much a nonentity (Paladin and Monk), you could have a dog or a horse and would be the same.

As for point 2, is not the majority in this thread true (though I read more than 1 person saying martials being weaker is ok), but in similar threads that argument gets mentioned a lot and by different people and to the point I don't think people is joking anymore and they genuinelly believe that.

This is also my opinion that I get from personal experiences (mine and from friends) and from what I get from the mechanics. Is not meant to be an absolute truth.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Path of War doesn't fix out of combat utility (though there's definitely a few utility powers in there). What it does fix is in combat utility. You can force Fort/Reflex/Will saves with rider effects.

Core rules allow you to do this with effects on critical hits. E.g. Blinding Critical, Staggering Critical, etc.

Quote:
You can reach distant enemies (flight, teleportation, special ranged attacks).

Item Mastery feats, magic items

Quote:
I know of at least one stance to ignore invisibility (there's probably other ways).

Blind Fighting feats

Quote:
I know that doesn't bring them up to parity with full spellcasters but it's the bare minimum they should be able to do. And, honestly, until the WMH and AMH came along the only way the Fighter could do anything like that was with magic items.

You ask for nothing that does not already exist.


@Volkard

Have you played a game with Path of War or read through the rules system? :)


Kudaku wrote:

@Volkard

Have you played a game with Path of War or read through the rules system? :)

I don't disagree that Path of War fundamentally changes how melee characters operate.

But what you are asking for does exist it Pathfinder. Melee characters just have to expend a little more effort to obtain it.


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
But what you are asking for does exist it Pathfinder. Melee characters just have to expend a little more effort to obtain it.

A lot more, with fewer resources to do it with, as they're in higher demand. Hence the imbalance.

If a mage took the effort the Fighter takes to catch up and tried to be better, then at equal effort, the mage is still ahead.

Played with a significant but equal level of effort and proficiency, one's a clear winner.


What my group tends to do is just... Make all 9th level casters gain their spell progression at the same rate as a 6th level caster, removing the issues inherent with the higher level spells being godlike in power.


Backpack wrote:

I think I've gathered my thoughts on this enough to post.

Clearly, the issue isn't damage, plenty of classes out damage 9th lv casters and can do it all day. But it is the extra stuff spells can do. It's the utility stuff that invalidates a huge amount of issues.

Now I don't think that making 9th level casters weaker is any fun and I don't think giving everyone spells is the right option either. I think the issue boils down to a 9th lv caster may have between 5-15 amazing utility abilities that are equal to class features of martial abilities. So if we look at monk they have some cool ki powers that let him do cool things, but he maybe will really have 3 abilities and those are equal to like 5-6th lv spells.

Personally if I were to restructure the system, I'd probably split feats into magic/combat/social/utility and the classes would much like fighters, would gain bonus feats at certain levels. For example, a barbarian maybe gets a combat and utility feat every three levels. A wizard would get a magic at 3 a social at 6 alternating. These would be in addition to regular advancement which could choose from any group. Id make 9th level casters get almost no utility feats, partial casters get some, and full martials get quite a bit. I'm not going to try and build a system or anything so i am not going to flesh anything out but that's kind of how I feel about fixing the issue

Thats a mechanical balance, but not a logical one. Players dont explain how martial classes get anything caster classes cant. They just want them to. It becomes more confusing when you do in fact have full classes with magic and physical abilities, like the Paladin or Magus.

Trying to balance things is really about making Captain America into the Hulk and turning Doctor Strange into Ron Weasley. In that case you would do better with 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons.

Martial classes peak time is level 1-6. Its easy to make an Archer with 2 attacks every turn by level 1 and 4 by level 6. Strength warriors with two-handed weapons and Power Attack do about 16 damage per hit at level one. The problem is they grow at a much slower rate. Ability Score increases are only gained once every 4 levels and it takes 2 of them to give a bonus. Feats are gained more often but are also specialized with plenty of small feats to prevent picking the best ones immediately.

a Belt of Strength +2 has a greater result in immediate damage than the level 4 and level 8 Score increases.

Magic grows faster. Almost all spells increase in various ways. You also gain more spells per day. AND You unlock new tiers.

Its easy to just skip the Fighter entirely and make a high strength Cleric or Druid and use their stats, and abilities in combination with spells to do "burst" damage, while damage from feats is more about steady damage.

Or take the early mundane classes and multiclass into Rage Prophet(Barbarian/oracle), Arcane Archer(Archer/Wizard), Arcane Trickster(Rogue/Wizard). Theres is just so little reason to stick to mundane classes as you get so much early and so little afterwards. Pathfinder made it even easier as there arent penalties as bad as 3.5 or 2nd edition dungeons and dragons.


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My only suggestion if you are looking for a quick fix is Kirthfinder it is reasonably balanced and boosts everyone's narrative power.


Balancing Weaponry vs Casting: Have the party able to continue adventuring during the same day after their 3 challenges. A nap will slow down their progress. Make the world naturally grimmer with tiny oppositions poping out with the ability attach, grapple or with traps. Now you'll see them evening out.

For homebrew... sort of, have the plane of existance they are on have impaired magic or all creatures for example having +5 bonus to overcome spell DCs, or Spellresistance equal to 10+HD+Constitution.


Ssalarn wrote:
You can (and many have) stick fixes in feats, but that has its own issues, not least of which is that characters who don't need the fix are going to have some way to get access to it. Rising tides raise all boats or whatever.

And the thing I don't like about this approach is that it then gets rid of the fighter's "main" draw, lots of feats.

Like for a fighter to get 4 skills that's 1 feat at lv5 or 2 feats at lv 7 or 1 feat and 1 AAT. for a fighter to do something cool is another few feats. And before you know it you've traded away most of your "main feature" to get to baseline of other classes and feeling like you're tight on feats.


Chess Pwn wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
You can (and many have) stick fixes in feats, but that has its own issues, not least of which is that characters who don't need the fix are going to have some way to get access to it. Rising tides raise all boats or whatever.

And the thing I don't like about this approach is that it then gets rid of the fighter's "main" draw, lots of feats.

Like for a fighter to get 4 skills that's 1 feat at lv5 or 2 feats at lv 7 or 1 feat and 1 AAT. for a fighter to do something cool is another few feats. And before you know it you've traded away most of your "main feature" to get to baseline of other classes and feeling like you're tight on feats.

Indeed, I never feel so out of feats as I do when I play a fighter.


VIPfr33dom wrote:

Balancing Weaponry vs Casting: Have the party able to continue adventuring during the same day after their 3 challenges. A nap will slow down their progress. Make the world naturally grimmer with tiny oppositions poping out with the ability attach, grapple or with traps. Now you'll see them evening out.

For homebrew... sort of, have the plane of existance they are on have impaired magic or all creatures for example having +5 bonus to overcome spell DCs, or Spellresistance equal to 10+HD+Constitution.

If everything has +5 to their saves and SR then you'll just see wizards go with a different set of still powerful and breaking spells. Wall spells, fog spells, etc. Things that work without SR or Saves needed.

Which also serve to prove the point. "counter" the wizard and he'll still swap to useful things to do. "counter" the fighter by raising AC and HP and accuracy and damage the fighter has nothing to swap to and is effectively countered.


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AlastarOG wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
You can (and many have) stick fixes in feats, but that has its own issues, not least of which is that characters who don't need the fix are going to have some way to get access to it. Rising tides raise all boats or whatever.

And the thing I don't like about this approach is that it then gets rid of the fighter's "main" draw, lots of feats.

Like for a fighter to get 4 skills that's 1 feat at lv5 or 2 feats at lv 7 or 1 feat and 1 AAT. for a fighter to do something cool is another few feats. And before you know it you've traded away most of your "main feature" to get to baseline of other classes and feeling like you're tight on feats.

Indeed, I never feel so out of feats as I do when I play a fighter.

Exactly, not to mention that it's delayed too. A ranger has 6 skills and good ref from the get go. A fighter to match needs AWT for skills, AWT for reflex saves, AAT for skills x2 and is reachable by lv9.

Don't get me wrong, love AAT and AWT, they are good and better than nothing. Just I feel we shouldn't be accepting of them being "THE FIX" for fighter.


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VIPfr33dom wrote:
Balancing Weaponry vs Casting: Have the party able to continue adventuring during the same day after their 3 challenges. A nap will slow down their progress. Make the world naturally grimmer with tiny oppositions poping out with the ability attach, grapple or with traps. Now you'll see them evening out.

Casters can't last quite so long, but they're not that limited, except for the first couple levels. A wizard has a lot of spells (a sorcerer even more) and he might not be able to nova in that many fights, but he can still get off a spell from his top two levels in a half dozen fights or so. And mop up with his lower level ones.

Grand Lodge

Chess Pwn wrote:

Exactly, not to mention that it's delayed too. A ranger has 6 skills and good ref from the get go. A fighter to match needs AWT for skills, AWT for reflex saves, AAT for skills x2 and is reachable by lv9.

Don't get me wrong, love AAT and AWT, they are good and better than nothing. Just I feel we shouldn't be accepting of them being "THE FIX" for fighter.

Agreed AAT and AWT are helpful but you can only take them every so many levels and they still cost a feat for extra awt. It's a really slow process to patch the class. Patch will, patch ref, patch skills. Everytime you don't take one you leave a vulnerability.


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Path of War doesn't fix out of combat utility (though there's definitely a few utility powers in there). What it does fix is in combat utility. You can force Fort/Reflex/Will saves with rider effects.
Core rules allow you to do this with effects on critical hits. E.g. Blinding Critical, Staggering Critical, etc.

Apples to oranges. Critical feats are the single most luck-based rather than skill-based fighting style in the game (you have a 30% chance at best to THREATEN a critical, which you must then confirm, which the enemy then gets a saving throw against. Magic would be a lot less scary if a save-or-suck had two chances to fail before the enemy even had to save against it) and given most people comment their campaigns tend to trail off after level 12 or so virtually none of the critical feats can ever be qualified for until you're at the endgame. PoW allows you to put rider effects on your attacks during the levels far more people actually play at, and you can plan to use these attacks rather than trusting in blind luck to give you a crit when you need it. They're not similar.

Quote:
Quote:
You can reach distant enemies (flight, teleportation, special ranged attacks).
Item Mastery feats, magic items

Flying magic items are extremely expensive and the Item Mastery Feats you speak of don't come around until level 9, at which point you can do that precisely once. It's not something you can make a part of your character's game plan the way you can make having class features that give you more mobility a part of the plan. Apples and oranges.

Quote:
Quote:
I know of at least one stance to ignore invisibility (there's probably other ways).

Blind Fighting feats

Quote:
I know that doesn't bring them up to parity with full spellcasters but it's the bare minimum they should be able to do. And, honestly, until the WMH and AMH came along the only way the Fighter could do anything like that was with magic items.
You ask for nothing that does not already exist.

The difference is PoW actually prices these things so that they can be part of the game at regular levels rather than something a martial can do with severe limitations if they're rich and high-level enough that magic is already reaching its phenomenal cosmic zenith.


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Kudaku wrote:

@Volkard

Have you played a game with Path of War or read through the rules system? :)

I don't disagree that Path of War fundamentally changes how melee characters operate.

But what you are asking for does exist it Pathfinder. Melee characters just have to expend a little more effort to obtain it.

The reason why I ask is that while you're factually correct, the time these options become available and the method for how you go about using them is vastly different for Path of War. It's technically not incorrect that these options are also available in base Pathfinder, but it's not really a fair comparison either.

A PF martial can start to gain the critical feats at around level 12, with the better ones being available with BAB +15. Even if you assume that the campaign will reach the double digits, each critical feat takes a feat slot so the character will most likely have at most two of them. Even then he can't reliably force them, he has to use a high threat weapon, crit fish, and hope he rolls well. In contrast a PoW character can start reliably forcing saves v conditions at level 1.

A PF Fighter has to be level 15 and spend three feats to (mostly) ignore invisibility, and even then he's vastly better off UMDing a See Invisibility scroll. A PoW character with the right discipline can pick up at-will See Invisibility at level 5.

A PF fighter has to burn feats, have high enough saves, and rely on a magic item to gain Dimension Door or flight 1/day around level 8. A PoW character with the right discipline can gain short-range teleportation at level 3 and at-will flight at level 9.


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Path of War doesn't fix out of combat utility (though there's definitely a few utility powers in there). What it does fix is in combat utility. You can force Fort/Reflex/Will saves with rider effects.

Core rules allow you to do this with effects on critical hits. E.g. Blinding Critical, Staggering Critical, etc.

Quote:
You can reach distant enemies (flight, teleportation, special ranged attacks).

Item Mastery feats, magic items

Quote:
I know of at least one stance to ignore invisibility (there's probably other ways).

Blind Fighting feats

Quote:
I know that doesn't bring them up to parity with full spellcasters but it's the bare minimum they should be able to do. And, honestly, until the WMH and AMH came along the only way the Fighter could do anything like that was with magic items.
You ask for nothing that does not already exist.

Did you actually read the post? I bolded the important part. I freely and happily admit that AMH and WMH brought them up to a much better place. Now, that all being said, let's point out why what you mentioned still sucks.

<status> Critical effects require Critical Focus, meaning level 9 at the lowest (and you'd need two feats, so more like level 10). They're also entirely random. At least use the <status> Assault feats, you can at least trigger those when you want to.

The Item Mastery feats are nice (part of the good of WMH). As far as I can tell though, they're extremely limited. 1/day until level 14. Most aren't available until higher levels as well (Flight mastery needs level 8). And I'll concede that "magic items" is an acceptable solution once the Fighter gets an ability to make, buy, or otherwise get them that every other class doesn't also get. So at least they get armor from an AAT.

Greater Blind-Fight turns total concealment into regular concealment. There's still a miss chance. Anything below that (at level 15) still has the full 50% miss chance for an invisible creature. Unless you take a second feat chain, then you can get blindsense while yourself blinded, eventually improving to blindsight. Also level 15, a Style feat (so a swift action to start), and six feats to burn.

By contrast the PoW stuff I'm describing is both more accessible (much lower levels and in more volume) and usable more often (every round, depending on recovery mechanic). Those rider effects start at level 1. Blinding is level 3. Extra reach to attacks happens at level 1, teleport effects at level 3. The flight I know of happens at 10 and is continuous (a stance). The see invisibility is level 5 (also a stance).

Invisibility starts at level 3. For 12 levels the Fighter will be rolling twice and that's it. Of course the real threat is Greater Invisibility, so the Fighter only has to wait 8 levels to combat that one. "Available" and "useful" are not the same thing.


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Some ideas to help balance the disparity:

1. The notion that martial classes are dumb brutes with few skills is fundamentally flawed.
Watch any film about medieval warriors (particularly Wuxia) and most martial characters (or martial artists, if you will) are very skilled at quite a few things. Martial characters should get more skill points in general, and casters, who are more focused on learning arcane secrets, can have fewer. As a start, I'd re-assign the skill points per level to the following values: Barbarian (5), Fighter (6), Monk (5), Paladin (4), Ranger (7), Rogue (8), Cavalier (5), Gunslinger (5), Vigilante (7), Brawler (5), Hunter (7), Slayer (7), Swashbuckler (5) + Int modifier.

2. Versatility is everything, and martials are lacking in versatility.
This would be a more complex issue to resolve, but it should revolve around skills. Much like skill unlocks for Rogues, all martial characters should be able to access a certain number of "versatility tricks" per level. Maybe the fighter can't cast a spell to open a lock, but they could gain a trick that would let them force the door open (more easily). Maybe they can't cast a cure spell, but they know a trick using half a torn sleeve and an herb that they learned from an old wise-woman that allows for increased healing benefits while completely resting. Maybe they can't summon a dire wolf to attack their foe, but they can perform a sword dance that causes their foe to become shaken... All without having to use their pool of feats. Rogue/Ninja tricks do some of this, and granting these sorts of abilities to other martial characters could expand upon their usefulness in situations other than, "The minute his head is in view, hit it with the rock!"

I do apologize, as I feel that I'm not articulating the examples of versatility tricks as well as I could were I thinking a bit more clearly. You don't have to give them "magical powers" that are like what wizards and clerics can achieve, but that doesn't mean that your fighter shouldn't be able to produce a raucous bellow that makes those in the bar want to take him out because he's clearly the biggest, meanest son of a b***h in the bar. (Yes, I know that aside from the Antagonize feat, there's not much "drawing aggro" in this game.) It doesn't mean that the Ranger shouldn't be able to rig some kind of complex series of traps, given a reasonable amount of time, that will give the squadron of hit-men following him a reason to call today a "really bad day" (if they're still alive to say anything at all). Some of this is stuff that anyone can do (if they have the right skill points assigned), but it takes lots of time, resources, and skill rolls. There's no particular reason a martial character couldn't have some sort of "concentration bonuses" to combat maneuvers and/or CMD.

3. Magic is not the answer.
If you want to give discounts to magic weapons and armour, you have to recognize that those discounts will also apply to casters who want to use them. That just exacerbates the "arms race" that is magical power. Instead, you may wish to consider granting limited spell resistance to martial characters. This encourages casters to be cautious when it comes to going up against martial characters, and encourages martials to be a bit more bold. Maybe martials get SR 10 against 1 spell per day (of the character's choosing) for every 4 levels they possess (up to 5 spells per day at 20th level), plus their Constitution modifier. Maybe you want to grant certain classes more magic resistance than others. Maybe you want to give them blanket spell resistance that applies to both harmful and beneficial effects. Maybe you don't want to give them spell resistance at all... It's up to you.

I just find the notion that a fighter, for example, has pretty decent Fortitude saves, but poor Reflexive and Will saves, to be nonsensical. It generally takes great strength of will to be a warrior (ask anyone in the military, or watch any martial arts film). That line of work is not for the weak of heart (and not usually for the weak of mind). I think it's one of the ways that the system is balanced against the martial character, and it should be simple enough to address.

4. Martials should be resilient.
One of the things that makes martial characters less realistic to play is the fact that they can get pretty high armour class, and then that makes them unattractive targets. "Go after the squishies first" has been a solid tactic for a long time in RPGs, so armouring up to the point where your goblin opponents can't touch you is stupid (unless your GM throws realism out the window and keeps sending wave after wave of goblin at your cuisinart-like sword while you never get a scratch). Power-turtling is never a good thing.

Martials need to be attractive enough targets to where your enemies want to hit them, but resilient enough to where they can take the hit and survive it. I'm not saying to nerf AC and grant them fast healing, but granting them the ability (a certain number of times per day) to shrug off damage (before damage is rolled) wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. You roll to hit the barbarian, you connect, the barbarian uses the ability (maybe at his level, he takes 15 points less damage), you roll for damage, subtract 15 points, and then the barbarian takes anything that may be left over. This encourages enemies to engage the warriors of the group instead of only going after the casters, while making the warriors dangerous enough opponents that aren't going to be squishy-dead within the first few rounds.

This addresses (at least in part) the issue with martials doing what they do best while casters do their part in battle. Martials can end up being superfluous when it comes to intelligent opponents, and that's decidedly a bad thing.

I'm sure you can come up with other ideas (and I'm not suggesting that I've got all the answers... I just spent a few minutes putting a few thoughts out there). Deadmanwalking has some pretty solid house rules that may very well help fix the disparity somewhat.

Best wishes!


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Spheres of Might allows the Resilient thing. ^^ The Guardian sphere allows you to shunt damage (and, optionally, many negative effects) into a delayed damage pool, and quick healing can stop it from kicking in. Another talent can turn it into nonlethal damage.

(The Sentinel class, in particular, is resilient as all heck.)


GM Rednal wrote:

Spheres of Might allows the Resilient thing. ^^ The Guardian sphere allows you to shunt damage (and, optionally, many negative effects) into a delayed damage pool, and quick healing can stop it from kicking in. Another talent can turn it into nonlethal damage.

(The Sentinel class, in particular, is resilient as all heck.)

I'm fond of the Shield talent that lets you divert damage to your shield.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Omnius wrote:
GM Rednal wrote:

Spheres of Might allows the Resilient thing. ^^ The Guardian sphere allows you to shunt damage (and, optionally, many negative effects) into a delayed damage pool, and quick healing can stop it from kicking in. Another talent can turn it into nonlethal damage.

(The Sentinel class, in particular, is resilient as all heck.)

I'm fond of the Shield talent that lets you divert damage to your shield.

We had a blacksmith playtest character who carried around 4 quickdraw shields for use with Sacrificial Shield. He'd burn through his shields while tanking with Guardian, then reforge them all at the end of combat.


Athaleon wrote:
Nodrog wrote:

Or maybe just give the not spell casters something else to do while the spell casters cast spells.

And honestly, I have advanced the plot as a martial character far more often than any of the spell casters in the party. Barbarians and ninjas are an impulsive lot and generally hate waiting for the spell caster to stand around and spend 30 minutes trying to pick the "right" spell for what ever.

The game I am GMing running right now the Fighter and Swashbuckler have done more to figure out how to do things and keep the plot moving more than the magic users.

What if those players were playing Wizard and Cleric instead?

They would more than likely spend 30 minutes looking at spells trying to do what they did in 30 seconds as a martial.

When you can do anything, it takes longer to figure out what to do than if you can only do a couple things.

This party doesn't have a rogue, so I just gave the swashbuckler the ability to do the lock picking and trap disabling. I could have let the caster do it, but then the pirate just spends more time standing around not feeling useful and is bored.

And really that is my biggest gripe with most systems is how skill-less they make the classes that would actually have more skills. The martial classes are going to have more practical skills than the casters. Simply because they will have done more things thru experience than reading them out of a book.


30 minutes? it doesn't even take me 2 when I play full casters, and 2 that aren't in my actual turn as I check my spells and their utility in other player/enemies turns.

True that I've seen players take 5-7 min in their turns (problem with most beginners it that they don't do anything out of their turns to save time in theirs), but they were new players or beginners in the caster department.

Anyway, preparation is everything, you choose spells for broad situations and think those situations beforehand instead of just picking randomly and see once in the encounter if said spell will world in said situation.

Casters require a little more effort in char creation and every time you level, but that is done out of game, you don't need and shouldn't spend time of the session stalling the game just because you didn't do your homework.

PS: Maybe they don't have it writen in a card or similar and have to check the manual to see what the spell does? I since a long time make cards with the description of each spell and then prepare "decks" each day, it helps a lot speeding things up. My current group adapted to it and they like it.


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I don't even neccessarily think that casters require more effort to level up than most martials. For prepared casters in particular, you don't tend to have many class features to speak of and new spell selections can be pretty trivial compared to someone like the sorcerer because you can just buy new ones later if you wanna.

The fighter has to go back to the overcomplicated trap-laden jungle that is feats every time it levels up and those decisions will make huge impacts on how well the character performs while being much harder to reassign in the event a feat choice was not the best option. It's part of the reason I think the fighter is probably the worst martial class for new players, but its sparse class features make people think it's the best.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Blackwaltzomega wrote:

I don't even neccessarily think that casters require more effort to level up than most martials. For prepared casters in particular, you don't tend to have many class features to speak of and new spell selections can be pretty trivial compared to someone like the sorcerer because you can just buy new ones later if you wanna.

The fighter has to go back to the overcomplicated trap-laden jungle that is feats every time it levels up and those decisions will make huge impacts on how well the character performs while being much harder to reassign in the event a feat choice was not the best option. It's part of the reason I think the fighter is probably the worst martial class for new players, but its sparse class features make people think it's the best.

I would hand a new player a pregenerated fighter to play, but I've had enough new players drop Pathfinder entirely after spending hours working on a Fighter only to have something bad happen to the character shortly into the game that I no longer recommend it to anyone building a character for the first time. I'll point them to other options like the barbarian/UC barbarian, the slayer, or even the ranger since it's much easier to let the player know where the campaign will be taking place and what types of creatures will be common than to try and describe every possible permutation of combat they might run into.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Manager

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Be wary of getting into arguments that boil down to “I’m right about this subjective thing and that means someone (everyone) else is wrong.”
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Lantern Lodge

I think eliminating power word spells would do a lot to balance a fighter versus a wizard. I still think it's bad design something that requires no save for such strong status effects were left in the game. If something like that was on a martial class people would nerf bat it instantly.

In terms of utility and things you're not going to fix that. Fighters should focus on dealing damage and surviving hits. They can use magic items for utility and rely on the party to help them get where they need to be to hit stuff


Ssalarn wrote:
We had a blacksmith playtest character who carried around 4 quickdraw shields for use with Sacrificial Shield. He'd burn through his shields while tanking with Guardian, then reforge them all at the end of combat.

Get a magic adamantine shield. Get CL20 Hardening on it, and have some source of Harden Armaments. Redirect damage to your hardness eighty shield.


the next time I play a wizard I might just voluntarily restrict myself to a single school of magic. I've always thought that might just be the fix we need. The problem in my experience is options, not raw power... for the most part, and only a single school would definitely remove options.


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Kobold Commando wrote:
the next time I play a wizard I might just voluntarily restrict myself to a single school of magic. I've always thought that might just be the fix we need. The problem in my experience is options, not raw power... for the most part, and only a single school would definitely remove options.

The concept is sound, the execution not so much.

The schools aren't really balanced against each other, nor necessarily well defined in what they even do, putting all kind of weird effects in weird places.

Most notably, transmutation and conjuration can do pretty much everything.

The schools would have to be rejiggered and designed to stand on their own in a coherent but limited way for this to work.

This is the basic approach the spheres of power system did, however. And their method ends up more coherent.


Well, at least you'd be giving up all of transmutation for conjuration, and vice versa. Both on the same character is just begging for you to overshadow everyone. But you're right, a more in-depth solution would have better results. Like all of these "just change one thing" attempts at fixing what is most definitely a complex problem, it has it's failings.


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Bob Bob Bob wrote:

What, exactly, does higher numbers do for the Fighter? They already hit most of the time once they can get in range and swing against AC. The problem is reaching enemies (flying, burrowing, project image), finding enemies (invisibility, fog, smoke), and getting through layered defenses (miss chances, mirror image). Put the Fighter up against, say, the Tarrasque and they don't need any help. All problems (DR and regeneration) can be solved by just hitting it harder. Put them up against, say, a Solar and they're a lot less happy. They need flying. Minion clearing (at-will Summon Monster VII and Animate Objects). See invisibility (again, at-will). Will saves up the wazoo (at will @#$%ing Imprisonment). And their own healing, otherwise they're blind at 200, stunned at 150, and dead at 100. And that's not including full level 20 Cleric spellcasting and whatever the angel decides to prepare that day.

What, exactly, does a few extra + to attack and damage do to change that?

Condense feat chains so that martials can feasably pursue more than 1 combat style and that solar problem becomes "Fighter wins initiative, full attacks with his bow and gibs the solar"

Most peoples problems involve narrative power, what a non caster has to roleplay and work for a caster gets with a spellcast


Condensing martial feats sounds good for everyone really, not just pure fighters. Even some metamagic feats, though i haven't delved too deep into that particular rabbit hole.

it seems like you need so many feats just to hit your target at all, let alone do any real damage, that you have no room for any of the FUN stuff.

if average play sees at most 12 levels of play, at one feat per two levels, thats only 6 feats, barring bonus feats from certain classes and the extra one humans can start with as compensation for not having cool racial superpowers and only one positive mod (at least they get to pick where it goes though).

that wouldn't be too bad normally. except you need feats to get feats, oftentimes ones that you either aren't interested in or do little or even nothing for you. these should just be baked into the better feats and weapon/armor proficiencies.

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