Thoughts On Paladins and Warriors From a Non PF Player


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Background I have been playing D&D for around 25 years and have 7 editions of it on my shelf, more if you count sub editions. I played Pathfinder a few years ago and bought some of the books and loved the Inner Sea World Guide but burned out on the 3.X system before 5E landed and went back to AD&D 2E and retroclones. I also got sick of Paizo going down the 3.5 splat book treadmill. To me Pathfinder is a clone of 3.5 just well supported. I played because it was not 4E, I do not think 3.XYZ is the D&D ideal.

Realistically I may not be in the PF2 target audience as I do not have that undying loyalty to Paizo some have. I liked the Inner Sea World Guide and the work they did on the Dragon and especially Dungeon magazines and generally I like the company. I liked 3.x for 12 year.

It is interesting in seeing what people on the forums here expect from the various classes and PF2. In general I do not care about exact mechanics of a D&D but more the concepts. For example I think Paladins should smite I do not care if it is AD&D smite evil, 5E smite mechanic, or if it is double damage or whatever.

On things like Alignment restrictions etc I am kind of neutral. I prefer my Paladins to be LG but I can live with them being good aligned as they usually get smite evil not smite chaos so they are more holy than law IMHO. I do not like non good Paladins but its not a deal breaker as you can always play them as LG if you want and evil Paladins have been in the game going back to the 1970's you are just letting them into the PHB. Alignment restrictions however can help define a class, the 5E Ranger is kind of a hot mess as they tried to design a ranger for every edition as the 1E to 4E+ Pathfinder rangers were all different to each other.

I am also not a fan of the +16/+11/+6/+1 type attacks for warriors (fighters, rangers, barbarians, paladins or anyone else with full BAB in PF). This idea is a bad idea and it is unique to the 3.x system. It was a bad idea in 2000 and its still a bad idea now IMHO, AD&D never had it, 4E kind of fixed it in the wrong way and I think 5E got it right. Just give them a multiple attacks at level 6,11,16, and perhaps tone down the extra strength modifier damage on 2 handed weapons and the -1/+2 damage on power attack. This is simple and discourages a lot of multiclassing abuse.

2 skills a level for fighters is also a bad idea, once again this was added in 3.0 before that the difference was 3 vs 4 proficiencies. I think 5E once again got it right here as each class in effect gets at least 4 skills (2+ 2 back ground), whole the classes that are ore skill based get 5 or 6+ things like expertise. The difference between 2 skills and 8 is to much IMHO, 4 and 8 would be better if not 3-6.

As previously stated the 5E Ranger is a hot mess partly because it tried to be to many things to to many people and arguably failed at all of them. For example they tried a beastmaster ranger despite beasts never being a strong part of the class, 3E was the one where the ranger had the "best" beast but it was kind of marginal even then as it was a lot weaker than the Druid. The best ranger conceptually IMHO was the 1E AD&D one although it was a bit overpowered. What is a ranger? These days people seem to think it means wilder rogue (why not be a fighter/rogue instead?) but I think the AD&D Aragon wilderness defender/defender is the stronger archetype to focus on and should be supported mechanically.

Barbarians in the d20 era are also built around rage, that is a new thing unlikely to change but once again it was not a defining feature in AD&D. They dropped the ball on the 3.0 Barbarian and the Pathfinder one is still based off that. 5E did alright with one of the subclasses but the other one not so much (the Totem one is the good one BTW). I'm not convinced you even need a raging barbarian although the option of having it should be there.

The fighter design is elegant, a few more skills and some BAB/multiple attacks and saving throw tweaks and rewritten feats it can pick would fix it IMHO. The band aid AC bonuses added to the class from 3.5 can perhaps be toned down or removed if they power up other aspects of the design (multiple attacks, better saves).

4E got a few things right conceptually (not the class design anyway) but more things like how saves and defences interact with offensive options. I don't really care how they do it mechanically but conceptually warriors should be closer to AD&D and 4E rather than the 3E system where DCs can vastly outstrip saves and its not a good thing in 5E either IMHO.

Whatever happens I think you need to ask the hard questions. What is a fighter/ranger/Paladin/Barbarian conceptually and then design mechanics to enable that. 5E did that, missed the mark in a few cases mechanically (beastmaster ranger, champion fighter, frenzy barbarian) but they at least tried.

Make a better Pathinfder/D&D, learn from other games and not just some late PF books where they seemed to have dropped the ball anyway. Keep the good bits of 3.X (customization, fort/ref/will, options some of the ye olde D&Disms it retained) and overhaul the mechanics that makes it less awful to run and play once you hit level 7 or so.


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Zardnaar wrote:
For example I think Paladins should smite I do not care if it is AD&D smite evil, 5E smite mechanic, or if it is double damage or whatever.

Uh... There was no AD&D Smite Evil.

Smite Evil didn't exist at all until 3.0


I definitely agree with you on iterative attacks and the fighter's 2+int on skills. The former just made extra attacks too complicated sometimes, and the fighter's lack of skills really killed his ability to function outside of combat. I mean at least 4+int will give you a somewhat decent amount if you invest in some intelligence, but 2 is just too crippling.

I am curious about the ranger changing on different editions though. I only played the revised ranger in 5e (which was an unearthed arcana that buffed rangers, particularly the beast master), and I looked up the AD&D version, and apparently it looks like a prestige class of sorts, with some spell casting as well as some 24 followers. How different were they in 2e and 4e?


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Zardnaar wrote:


On things like Alignment restrictions etc I am kind of neutral.

I see what you did there.


I have to agree that the Ranger hasn't been as enjoyable since AD&D. One kick to the proverbial groin was when 3.5 made Tracking a skill anyone with Survival had. Worse, they made the Druid better trackers. I mean really? The thing that defined the class was just given to a full caster for nothing. Not like anyone every let's tracking do crap, but it was still a gut punch to the class concept.

The animal companion aspect seems cool at first, then you realize that a level -3 animal is barely better than a familiar. Without Boon Companion, the SPCA would be beating down Paizo's door. Worse, AC's are a nightmare in PFS. GMs are all over the board with how these things are managed. 2e should just dump the AC, give Ranger's back double HD at 1st level, spontaneous casting of any spell on the list, dramatically increase the things that a Ranger can from the Tracking skill, and give two combat styles. Keep Wild Empathy, though.

I disagree about Fighters having 2 skills. I actually think that is very important. Why? Because it allows a 4 skill Barbarian and 6 skill Ranger to be comparatively more skilled. The Fighter is skilled at fighting and it is a valid trade-off that they don't get to steal table time outside of combat. I think a lot of people fail to understand how important deficiencies in classes are.

It's been my observation that, at least on forums, there is extremely vocal minority that thinks everything should be open and there should be no restrictions to anything. IMO, this would be a major mistake and the more the game moves in this direction, the more it undermines one of the most iconic things about D&D - Roleplaying. Having class decide and restrict many aspect of the characters boundaries, imo, is part and parcel to what made D&D what it was. Everyone being able to do what everyone else can do is detrimental, imo.


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N N 959 wrote:

I disagree about Fighters having 2 skills. I actually think that is very important. Why? Because it allows a 4 skill Barbarian and 6 skill Ranger to be comparatively more skilled. The Fighter is skilled at fighting and it is a valid trade-off that they don't get to steal table time outside of combat. I think a lot of people fail to understand how important deficiencies in classes are.

It's been my observation that, at least on forums, there is extremely vocal minority that thinks everything should be open and there should be no restrictions to anything. IMO, this would be a major mistake and the more the game moves in this direction, the more it undermines one of the most iconic things about D&D - Roleplaying. Having class decide and restrict many aspect of the characters boundaries, imo, is part and parcel to what made D&D what it was. Everyone being able to do what everyone else can do is detrimental, imo.

Roleplaying predates Niche Protection (which was invented in order to justify the Thief class), and rules in general.


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Too late to edit the last post. I should add that I'm not against restrictions in general. For example, I'd like casters' spell lists to be much more heavily restricted along logical and thematic lines. I'm against restrictions that aren't justifiable with in-universe logic, because they damage verisimilitude. Why shouldn't Survival include the ability to follow tracks, other than to ensure that only people with Ranger levels can do it? Why such a hard separation between Ranger and Druid when ultimately they're very similar conceptually, just on different sides of the Martial/Caster spectrum (on which classes like Barbarian, Rogue, or even Fighter might fit at the far Martial end).

And to be perfectly blunt, get f+*&ing real: Two more skills aren't going to make the Fighter start stepping on the Ranger or Barbarian's toes, never mind that the Fighter isn't actually better at fighting than the Barbarian. You want to talk about vocal minorities? I've never seen anyone else claim that the Fighter would have too much out-of-combat utility at 4+INT skill ranks per level.

You heard it here first: Dump INT and CHA down to 7 and pour your entire customization budget into combat ability. It's not min/maxing, it makes for a better roleplay experience because there are fewer things you can do.


BluLion wrote:

I definitely agree with you on iterative attacks and the fighter's 2+int on skills. The former just made extra attacks too complicated sometimes, and the fighter's lack of skills really killed his ability to function outside of combat. I mean at least 4+int will give you a somewhat decent amount if you invest in some intelligence, but 2 is just too crippling.

I am curious about the ranger changing on different editions though. I only played the revised ranger in 5e (which was an unearthed arcana that buffed rangers, particularly the beast master), and I looked up the AD&D version, and apparently it looks like a prestige class of sorts, with some spell casting as well as some 24 followers. How different were they in 2e and 4e?

2E was kind of a wilder rogue dual wilder similar in ways to the 3.5 Ranger without the archery thing.

4E was a dual wielder/archer "striker" which did not cast spells kind of more like a Scout I suppose from 3.5 on steroids as it was the best striker for DPS in 4E.


Athaleon wrote:
Too late to edit the last post. I should add that I'm not against restrictions in general. For example, I'd like casters' spell lists to be much more heavily restricted along logical and thematic lines.

I think 3.5 made a mistake in allowing arcane casters to just pick any spell on the list. Kind of goes hand-in-hand with the Magic Mart paradigm of 3.5/PF, but one of the primary ways arcane caster's were "balanced" in AD&D was that they had so few spells. The problem, however, is that you're dependent upon the GM to be exceptionally skilled at knowing what spells to give out and which ones to withhold. What's more, 3.5 made great strides in shifting the burden of the game from the GMs to the players, so I can also understand why it made sense to just let arcane casters pick two spells a level.

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I'm against restrictions that aren't justifiable with in-universe logic, because they damage verisimilitude.

Sure, but people aren't going to agree where that line is drawn.

For example...

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Why shouldn't Survival include the ability to follow tracks, other than to ensure that only people with Ranger levels can do it?

A whole bunch of reasons:

1. Just because you can pitch a tent or cook breakfast over a campfire, doesn't mean you know how to track any manner of creature through dungeons, city streets, mountains, etc. And vice versa. Sure, it's natural to associate hunting/camping with tracking, but one doesn't have anything to do with the other, they merely compliment each other. But I agree that it's not a crazy notion to combine them;

2. Why does anyone else need Tracking? They don't. Tracking, if we're being frank, is totally under utilized/leveraged by GMs/designers/players. I play PFS and I think one scenario in twenty contemplates someone using Survival to track, and, I've never seen a scenario where you actually track something. Usually it's one of several skill options to do things like avoid getting lost, or find a path through a mountain pass. And while I can see how Druids could arguably be trackers, it was never part of their core identity. It would have been more plausible to give them speak with plants/animals as a cantrip and let them do the same thing via innate divine magic;

3. Saying Rangers are similar to Druids is like saying Paladins are similar to Clerics. Depending on the criteria for what we call "similar," we can connect lines from anything to nearly anything else. Barbarians are similar to Fighters. Druids are similar to Clerics. Regardless of what level they might be "similar," tracking was never part of the Druid mindset. So why would you go and make them the best at it? Nobody who fancied themselves as playing Aragorn, viewed the Druid as an option. Are there famous Druid trackers in fantasy fiction? If so, then maybe that explains it.

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And to be perfectly blunt, get f$#@ing real: Two more skills aren't going to make the Fighter start stepping on the Ranger or Barbarian's toes, never mind that the Fighter isn't actually better at fighting than the Barbarian.

Since were being blunt, I'd say you need to pull your head out. Like so many on these forums, you're only focused on what you want, "me me me me." Players, by and large, think games are "balanced" when the characters they like to play are the strongest. You think I'm taking a pot shot, but it's the ever-lovin truth.

But let me address these two skill points head on:

Awhile back, I wanted to make a Fighter. I wanted something that took less In-character focus than the Rangers/Investigators I was typically playing. I wanted a class for which it felt natural to be simple-minded. I narrowed it down to a Fighter and a Barbarian and went with the Barbarian because of the extra skills, despite my not liking Rage as a mechanic. You're exactly right, a class with 2 skills points (fighter, cleric) is not as much fun out of combat. I've played clerics and did not enjoy them, in large part because of the lack of skills. So I made a Barbarian and those four skill points make a difference; two extra skill points makes a difference. For me, it significantly changes the feel of the character, especially because I went human and didn't dump INT.

The point of that story is that your only focus is on what you're not getting. But you're failing to see the other side, that those skill points obviously matter to you. Ironically, the fact that you're so bothered by the lack of skill points for the fighter is exactly what the game designers should be striving for. Small differences that matter.

What is lost on so many is that as a designer, you don't want the perfect class. You don't want players to be 100% satisfied with any class. There needs to be some, if not several, deficiencies with each class that makes players think the grass is greener on another class. What's more, the deficiencies need to create design space for other aspects of the game, including the need to team-up and the desire to try a different class to get that thing you've been starved for.

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You want to talk about vocal minorities? I've never seen anyone else claim that the Fighter would have too much out-of-combat utility at 4+INT skill ranks per level.

That's right, because the average player doesn't think holistically or globally, they focus on what they aren't getting and block out arguments on why the game is better off if they don't get it.

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You heard it here first: Dump INT and CHA down to 7 and pour your entire customization budget into combat ability. It's not min/maxing, it makes for a better roleplay experience because there are fewer things you can do.

You want skills? Then don't dump INT and CHR, and boost INT to 14. Go human and you're getting five skill points a level. Take Fast Learner and you're getting six skill points and keeping your HP from Favored class.

Then use some of those feats at every odd level and invest in Skill Focus or Additional Traits that give you class skills. But it's going to cost you some combat effectiveness to go that route, exactly like it should. The game is giving you plenty of opportunities to make a Fighter that's useful out of combat, the question is what are you willing to give up for it?


Athaleon wrote:
never mind that the Fighter isn't actually better at fighting than the Barbarian.

I'm sure this has been debated ad nauseam on these forums, but the Barbarian was always better at straight up damage than the Fighter going back to AD&D. Unearthed Arcana balanced this by making Barbarians reject all things magic, iirc.

What the 3.5 and particularly PF did was make the Fighter more robust. More skilled in a variety of weapons, more durable on average, more damage on average on account of combat feats, and more options for combat maneuvers.

The problem, ime, is that, at least in PFS, you almost never run out of Rage. Combats don't last long enough and a typical scenario doesn't have enough encounters to deplete the average player's Rage cache. So the thing that was meant to give the Barbarian short damage burst, is essentially a permanent damage boost. Rage rounds should probably be cut in half, perhaps function more like Smite. Only comes out for the BBEG.

Another problem is that combat maneuvers are largely pointless outside of grapple-locking humanoids. I've never seen anyone attempt a sunder in PFS. I'm the only player I've seen attempt disarms, and that's because my Investigator is using a whip and it's either disarm or do 1d3. Bull Rush (outside of shield slam), Overrun, Dirty Trick, Reposition, etc....not once. I did see a halfling bard attempt a Steal once. So one of the things a Fighter should have at its disposal in contrast to the Barbarian, just isn't that useful, and certainly less valued than simply doing more damage.


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1. I think Survival's close association with hunting is enough on its own to encompass tracking. Surviving in the wilderness, especially one full of creatures as deadly as fantasy worlds always seem to have, is more serious business than camping.

2. Sure, Tracking is a minor ability in the grand scheme of what the game's characters are capable of. But that's partly because it'd get monotonous to have players constantly in the sort of specific situations where Tracking would be useful, and partly because the game eventually introduces magical means both to find creatures and to deny Tracking.

3. Aragorn isn't a Druid because, among many other reasons, he's not a spellcaster. And what I mean by "similar" in this case is that the Ranger and Druid are empowered by nature, just as the Cleric and Paladin are empowered by divinity, the Wizard and Magus are empowered by the arcane. The difference between those sets of classes is the degree to which each is a spellcaster. Not having spells (or not having as many spells) requires the character, from a game design standpoint as well as because it's a good idea in-universe, to possess greater martial prowess and adeptness with mundane skills if they want to keep up. Incidentally, that's one reason the Fighter deserves more skills and a better ability to use them. And unless the Druid is some kind of prodigy, being a Druid must involve living and surviving in nature, and having done so for a long period in which they could not simply magic such problems away. That wilderness apprenticeship heavily implies investment in Survival, and therefore expertise in hunting, and in tracking.

And the Barbarian is similar to the Fighter, in the sense that the former relies on rage and pure strength of body and will. And possibly, but not necessarily, a connection to the nature theme. The latter relies on skill as well as physical prowess, and is more or less a blank slate otherwise. IIRC the Barbarian started as a class kit for the Fighter, and if we weren't constrained by tradition dictating that Barbarian be its own class, I would say it would function perfectly well as a Fighter archetype.

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What is lost on so many is that as a designer, you don't want the perfect class. You don't want players to be 100% satisfied with any class. There needs to be some, if not several, deficiencies with each class that makes players think the grass is greener on another class. What's more, the deficiencies need to create design space for other aspects of the game, including the need to team-up and the desire to try a different class to get that thing you've been starved for.

What are you even saying here? Obviously I don't want any class to be able to do everything, which is why I'm in favor of tight restrictions on the Wizard spell list. Two skills, while very welcome on a class like the Fighter, isn't going to turn it into 3.5's Factotum. And I think it's been proven over the years since D&D 3rd has been around that the deficiencies have been very unevenly spread. A necessary part of fixing that is making a more skilled Fighter.

If anything I would say your anecdote proves my point: You chose Barbarian over Fighter, even though you wanted a simple character to play, even though you don't like Rage, even though you believe the Fighter has its own advantages in combat over the Barbarian, and even though you went Human and didn't dump INT. The takeaway is taht Fighter isn't fun because it's good at too few things. It doesn't have to be good at everything, nor should it be, but it has to be good at more than that. A class can be fun without being good at everything, it just has to be good at enough things. That's good game design. Making excuses for deficiencies by calling them features is not.

I would add that the Fighter being skilled in so few areas is in its own way a blow to verisimilitude. If you want to be a Mundane Fighting Man getting stuck in with the multiverse's big boys, you had better be a past master of getting things done without magic. That's why one quick-and-dirty fix to both the Fighter and the Rogue is to gestalt them together, and in a way it's fitting: Again, the Thief should never have been split off into its own class to begin with.

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You want skills? Then don't dump INT and CHR, and boost INT to 14. Go human and you're getting five skill points a level. Take Fast Learner and you're getting six skill points and keeping your HP from Favored class.

Then use some of those feats at every odd level and invest in Skill Focus or Additional Traits that give you class skills. But it's going to cost you some combat effectiveness to go that route, exactly like it should. The game is giving you plenty of opportunities to make a Fighter that's useful out of combat, the question is what are you willing to give up for it?

For what it's worth, I almost always play Human, and I never dump INT below 10, on any class. 2 skill ranks are nevertheless still welcome.

The Fighter shouldn't have to sacrifice any combat effectiveness for a better use of some skills. They get those bonus combat feats as a substitute for actual class features. That's why PF1's Barbarian blasts PF1's Fighter right out of the water, and not just for damage. Paizo—the professional game designers—seem to agree, which is why the Unchained Barbarian was almost wholly a nerf and the Fighter's Advanced Weapon & Armor training grants, among many other things, more skills.

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Since were being blunt, I'd say you need to pull your head out. Like so many on these forums, you're only focused on what you want, "me me me me." Players, by and large, think games are "balanced" when the characters they like to play are the strongest. You think I'm taking a pot shot, but it's the ever-lovin truth.
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That's right, because the average player doesn't think holistically or globally, they focus on what they aren't getting and block out arguments on why the game is better off if they don't get it.

Horse s$*!, and I hope I never become as embittered toward players as you apparently have.

I rarely, if ever play Fighter because I find it boring in and out of combat—just as you did. I post what I do as often as I do because I want the game to be the best game it can be, and to succeed. A part of that involves a better role for the Fighter than "guy who's good at fighting and precious little else". Are you accusing me of arguing in bad faith because I want my pet class to get buffs? F+*% your hat.


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I want to defend the concept of iterative attacks. Just calling them a "bad idea" doesn't make it true.

Now, I don't claim to fully understand the mathematics behind Pathfinder (or 3.5e) combat, but I doubt anyone does (although if someone has, I'd be really interested. I wouldn't be surprised if you could publish an academic paper on it.)

One of the features of Pathfinder/3.5e is Unbounded Accuracy. A fighter (or ranger, or paladin, etc) at level 6 can often get into a situation where, fighting a CR6 creature (let's say a Wyvern (AC19)), they can hit on the roll of a 4 (+6 BAB, +4 str, +1 weapon, +1 weapon training, +1 weapon focus, +2 from a flank or buff). It's not unlikely that the required roll would drop to a 2.

Iterative attacks exist twofold: to quadratically increase the damage output of martial classes, and to enable the creation of monsters that can be hit by non-focused combatants without making them trivialised by focused combatants. The +15 that the fighter gets on their first attack drops to a +10 on the second attack.

This allows to-hit modifiers tend to increase faster than AC, without making AC irrelevant. It also avoids the "treadmill effect" that has been observed in 4e, where the required roll to hit barely changes from level 2 through level 22.

Are they perfect? Of course not. Do they inherently advantage certain types of weapons (archery comes to mind)? Probably.

Are they a bad idea, or bad design? My opinion is No. They might benefit from some tweaking, but it's a novel idea that enables Pathfinder to "feel like Pathfinder".


Athaleon wrote:
F&!! your hat.

Sorry, I've flagged your post and am moving on.


N N 959 wrote:
Athaleon wrote:
F&!! your hat.
Sorry, I've flagged your post and am moving on.

Seriously?


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I don't understand how someone can think fighting is the Fighter's niche. Literally every class participates in combat in some way. Some provide utility, some provide damage, some provide a mixture of both, but when every other class works both in combat and out of it you have to wonder what the hell the point of the Fighter is.


Arachnofiend wrote:
I don't understand how someone can think fighting is the Fighter's niche. Literally every class participates in combat in some way. Some provide utility, some provide damage, some provide a mixture of both, but when every other class works both in combat and out of it you have to wonder what the hell the point of the Fighter is.

Fighters are for people who want a simple, underdog character.


Arachnofiend wrote:
I don't understand how someone can think fighting is the Fighter's niche.

Yeah, what a crazy notion that people would think the class called a Fighter would be good at fighting. You should start a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Fighters everywhere. I know two gnome lawyers if you need a referral.


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johnlocke90 wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
I don't understand how someone can think fighting is the Fighter's niche. Literally every class participates in combat in some way. Some provide utility, some provide damage, some provide a mixture of both, but when every other class works both in combat and out of it you have to wonder what the hell the point of the Fighter is.
Fighters are for people who want a simple, underdog character.

Fighter is for a dip so you can get a free feat, armor up to heavy, shields up to tower and weapons up to martial.

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I tried creating fighters in PFS.

My -1 was initially a TWF... that debuted the GenCon that the ACG came out, and became a Slayer by L2.

My -2 was initially 'sword and board'... that turned into the newly released (at that point) Unchained Barbarian by L2.

The lack of skill points was just too big of a hurdle with attribute needs in Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, even taking the FCB in a skill.

The one archetype that held a great deal of promise was viciously nerfed into the ground in part BECAUSE it got two skill points that were able to be used for Knowledge and Int skills only.

So there may be a bit of salt there and frustration that the PF1 fighter can't be a true tactician, but instead constantly is just 'muscle for fite'.

This changed some later on, but still.


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graystone wrote:
johnlocke90 wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
I don't understand how someone can think fighting is the Fighter's niche. Literally every class participates in combat in some way. Some provide utility, some provide damage, some provide a mixture of both, but when every other class works both in combat and out of it you have to wonder what the hell the point of the Fighter is.
Fighters are for people who want a simple, underdog character.
Fighter is for a dip so you can get a free feat, armor up to heavy, shields up to tower and weapons up to martial.

Or for going full fighter and doing specialist builds last fighter I did (Lost his leg in a cave first of all) was a strictly no magic build. I got away with it by being a intelligent player who carved out a niche for the character in demolitions via heavy weapons.

There may or may not have been an incident involving three walls, and four natural Twenties on strength checks to put a heavy weapon through said walls and carve out a new path where none existed to allow us to avoid a miniboss that would have been able to wipe the party, the DM threw out my dice for me.


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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


I tried creating fighters in PFS.

My -1 was initially a TWF... that debuted the GenCon that the ACG came out, and became a Slayer by L2.

My -2 was initially 'sword and board'... that turned into the newly released (at that point) Unchained Barbarian by L2.

So in neither case did you make it past 2nd level as a Fighter?

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The lack of skill points was just too big of a hurdle with attribute needs in Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, even taking the FCB in a skill.

I find this to be a curious statement. A Human Fighter gets 22 feats by level 20. So with a 13 INT, a Human Fighter can have Improved Improvisation and get a +4 bonus to use every untrained Skill on the list...by level 3.

You're also getting 5 skill points a level with that config as well as keeping your +1 HP FCB.

So the idea you can't build a Fighter with non-combat options is demonstrably false. But what's really funny is there's something about being a Fighter, that makes me not want to spend a single feat on something non-combat related.

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So there may be a bit of salt there and frustration that the PF1 fighter can't be a true tactician, but instead constantly is just 'muscle for fite'.

This changed some later on, but still.

With 22 feats at a player's disposal, I'm not sure I believe that. The real question is whether a tactical build is rewarded by the game.


I've done pure Fighters. They are totally viable.

You can run into some PFS problems, depending on the season, the year of the skill check was less than fun.

If all you do is try to min-max Str, Dex, and Con I can see issues, but I play a human Paladin with a 10 int and I've got 2 +Int (0) +1(human) skill points per level. Sometimes I toss my FCB to add a 4th.

If I can be useful (at times) in a skill, so can you.

Are you gonna beat out a Rogue, Wizard, or Arcanist? No.

However you, as a Fighter, have more play in ability scores.

Heck, I met a PFS Fighter, level 10, last week who has a +33 to intimidate.

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N N 959 wrote:
So in neither case did you make it past 2nd level as a Fighter?

Nope.

N N 959 wrote:

I find this to be a curious statement. A Human Fighter gets 22 feats by level 20. So with a 13 INT, a Human Fighter can have Improved Improvisation and get a +4 bonus to use every untrained Skill on the list...by level 3.

I do not focus on Humans. In fact, I don't particularly care for humans *at all* in playing my fantasy games.

In the first case, the character was tengu, and trying to make the math balance out made Intelligence and Charisma difficult to avoid dumping, much less *pumping* beyond base levels.

In the second case, the character was half-elf, and admittedly I went with 'lucky number sevens' for the mental attributes (but improved them over time) but still, to get the big 'oomph' on the character REQUIRED the sacrifice of INT in practical means.

N N 959 wrote:


You're also getting 5 skill points a level with that config as well as keeping your +1 HP FCB.

Actually, it was 3 skill points a level and that was WITH the FCB and a non-tanked Int in both cases. Taking barbarian in the second case allowed me to tank Int and STILL come out even with skill points, which was not possible with Fighter.

N N 959 wrote:


So the idea you can't build a Fighter with non-combat options is demonstrably false. But what's really funny is there's something about being a Fighter, that makes me not want to spend a single feat on something non-combat related.

With 22 feats at a player's disposal, I'm not sure I believe that. The real question is whether a tactical build is rewarded by the game.

Feats are not the equivalent of skill investment, based on PFS play. They just aren't.

Sure, some may be useful in some situations, but they aren't ENOUGH.

Sure, if we use the human race as 'the only race' and get ALL TEH FEATZ and pump INT it is a viable thing... but that's boring.


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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
So in neither case did you make it past 2nd level as a Fighter?

Nope.

N N 959 wrote:

I find this to be a curious statement. A Human Fighter gets 22 feats by level 20. So with a 13 INT, a Human Fighter can have Improved Improvisation and get a +4 bonus to use every untrained Skill on the list...by level 3.

I do not have a 'human fetish'. In fact, I don't particularly care for humans *at all* in playing my fantasy games.

In the first case, the character was tengu, and trying to make the math balance out made Intelligence and Charisma difficult to avoid dumping, much less *pumping* beyond base levels.

In the second case, the character was half-elf, and admittedly I went with 'lucky number sevens' for the mental attributes (but improved them over time) but still, to get the big 'oomph' on the character REQUIRED the sacrifice of INT in practical means.

N N 959 wrote:


You're also getting 5 skill points a level with that config as well as keeping your +1 HP FCB.

Actually, it was 3 skill points a level and that was WITH the FCB and a non-tanked Int in both cases. Taking barbarian in the second case allowed me to tank Int and STILL come out even with skill points, which was not possible with Fighter.

N N 959 wrote:


So the idea you can't build a Fighter with non-combat options is demonstrably false. But what's really funny is there's something about being a Fighter, that makes me not want to spend a single feat on something non-combat related.

With 22 feats at a player's disposal, I'm not sure I believe that. The real question is whether a tactical build is rewarded by the game.

Feats are not the equivalent of skill investment, based on PFS play. They just aren't.

Sure, some may be useful in some situations, but they aren't ENOUGH.

Sure, if we use the human-race fetish and get ALL TEH FEATZ and pump INT it is a viable thing... but that's boring.

Wei Ji - If I may, I recommend you try to edge away from the hyperbolic statements and gross exaggurations.

I've seen you do this in Paladin and LG threads, you make statements like: LG Players need humility (because they want to keep the class as it is), or lawful goods want to bring violence, to lawful corrupts the good, to a host of other such statements...

Here you're calling people who play humans as those suffering from a fetish.

It is making your statements much less convincing because they sometimes seem too hyperbolic.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is a gross mischaracterization of things I've posted, though the advisement was taken under consideration and adjusted for the above post you quoted.

Thank you for the insight.

Please do not put words in my mouth, as it were.

Please do not apply false attributions to me.

We can all gain Wisdom and Humility if we remain Open to new ideas and thoughts.


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What gross exaggerations?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I always wish fighters were masters of weapons.

The 'brawler' was a good idea - I'd love to see fighters able to change things up so they are able to take advantage of any weapon they come across.

That (to me) would be a cool niche to have - and a valuable skill in a world where the odds of getting the specific weapon you want to drop is much less (outside of GM fiat).


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johnlocke90 wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
I don't understand how someone can think fighting is the Fighter's niche. Literally every class participates in combat in some way. Some provide utility, some provide damage, some provide a mixture of both, but when every other class works both in combat and out of it you have to wonder what the hell the point of the Fighter is.
Fighters are for people who want a simple, underdog character.

Intentionally making a class without much depth is a trap for players who like the class's flavor but want more depth than it offers. Classes that *can* be played simply are good game design, classes that *are* played simply because it's all the potential they have are not.


Pandora's wrote:
Intentionally making a class without much depth is a trap for players who like the class's flavor but want more depth than it offers. Classes that *can* be played simply are good game design, classes that *are* played simply because it's all the potential they have are not.

With 21 feats, 11 of which can be non-combat focused, the Fighter is hardly constrained to simplicity. The fact is, and it is a fact, if someone wants to use a Fighter to be good at some skill, it's entirely possible. The idea that the Fighter cannot supplant an Investigator is not a defect in the class. The idea that choosing skills sacrifices some combat or vice versa is a defect in the Fighter class is misguided because that is part and parcel to how this game is designed. Every class can participate in combat, and every class can attempt skill checks (as many are untrained). But with both, it's a question of degree, not absolutes. My Investigators can't hold a candle to my Barbarians in combat and the converse is true when it comes to skill checks. That's by design. And if a person doesn't like that and can't understand why that's necessary, then they need to find a different game.

But the idea that a Fighter can't be made useful out of combat, is just flat out not true.


First off WJL, thanks for sharing your perspective.

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Actually, it was 3 skill points a level and that was WITH the FCB and a non-tanked Int in both cases. Taking barbarian in the second case allowed me to tank Int and STILL come out even with skill points, which was not possible with Fighter.

I'm not sure I understand your math. You tanked INT with a the Barbarian and came out even with a 10 INT Fighter on skill points, but it was "not possible with Fighter"? You realize that for any INT, WIS, or CHR based feat, your non-dumped Fighter is getting +2 higher mod.

You also realize that as a Fighter, you get 10 more feats than a Barbarian with which to build your character. Use Skill Focus on any Skill and you're getting the same benefit as having a class skill and after level 10, you're better than the Barbarian at that same class skill.

Considering that you didn't actually play the Fighters into level 2, I'm hard pressed to look at your example as proof of anything about the Fighter, other than you didn't like it through level 1. Which is fine. I tried a Varisian Cleric and made it through one PFS scenario before I turned him into an Investigator. Lack of combat and lack of skills was just too painful for me. Even if the class blossomed later, I wasn't going to play through it. But I don't see that as a flaw in the class, just an indicator of why some classes are better suited for me than others.


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N N 959 wrote:

With 21 feats, 11 of which can be non-combat focused, the Fighter is hardly constrained to simplicity. The fact is, and it is a fact, if someone wants to use a Fighter to be good at some skill, it's entirely possible. The idea that the Fighter cannot supplant an Investigator is not a defect in the class. The idea that choosing skills sacrifices some combat or vice versa is a defect in the Fighter class is misguided because that is part and parcel to how this game is designed. Every class can participate in combat, and every class can attempt skill checks (as many are untrained). But with both, it's a question of degree, not absolutes. My Investigators can't hold a candle to my Barbarians in combat and the converse is true when it comes to skill checks. That's by design. And if a person doesn't like that and can't understand why that's necessary, then they need to find a different game.

But the idea that a Fighter can't be made useful out of combat, is just flat out not true.

The PF1 Fighter has quite a bit of depth when building the character. However, I'm talking about depth when playing the character. Fighters, and martial characters more generally, if we're honest, have a reputation for low depth of agency. There are not very many viable options for decisions they can make, even in combat. Full-attacks should be made whenever possible, with precious few exceptions. Combat maneuvers are incredibly sub-par. What does a fighter do during combat, that comes from his class, besides "I am making an attack?"

What you're describing is a character that takes a great deal of skill to build and allows relatively few options in play when compared to, say, a spellcaster. That seems the worst of both worlds to me. Hard to make, boring for many to play. PF2 is emphasizing maximizing depth and minimizing complexity. That needs to extend past making your character into playing your character. The three action system is a good start; I hope most class feats and features are active actions you can take rather than passive bonuses.

And of course fighters aren't literally without use outside of combat. That doesn't mean they are interesting enough to play outside combat to justify the class's existence (especially compared to better designs like the Avenger Vigilante). In a well-designed game, I would think that all classes would have significant contributions in all parts of the game, even if certain classes emphasize one area over the other. The core conceit of a tabletop RPG is making decisions for a character, so all characters need to have enough interesting decisions to satisfy most players.


First, let me thank you for the good faith response and civil discourse.

Pandora's wrote:
The PF1 Fighter has quite a bit of depth when building the character. However, I'm talking about depth when playing the character. Fighters, and martial characters more generally, if we're honest, have a reputation for low depth of agency. There are not very many viable options for decisions they can make, even in combat. Full-attacks should be made whenever possible, with precious few exceptions. Combat maneuvers are incredibly sub-par. What does a fighter do during combat, that comes from his class, besides "I am making an attack?"

I understand what you're trying to say, but i think you're conflating issues. A Fighter has no more or less agency than a Wizard, Sorcerer, Investigator, Alchemist, etc. Classes that have "agency" are classes that have some built in ethos e.g. Druid, Cleric, Paladin, Monk, Barbarian, and some more than others. Not all classes should have an a priori path/compass/direction. The classes like Fighter/Wizard, etc get their agency from the player's self-determined lore for the character. That is no doubt, by design.

What's more, the Fighter is free to be as psychologically complex or simple as the player requires. Barbarians are much conceptually limited where as Paladins are generally more complex (despite an expectation of narrow-mindedness).

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What does a fighter do during combat, that comes from his class, besides "I am making an attack?"

That question applies to every class, unless you're trying to suggest that casting spells is somehow more "agency" than anything else.

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What you're describing is a character that takes a great deal of skill to build and allows relatively few options in play when compared to, say, a spellcaster.

I sensed this was at the core of your post: martial/caster disparity

As I said, you're conflating issues. The broadband utility of casters isn't a defect in Fighters, it's a convergence of Amazon Prime scroll service, no requirement of casters to actually find spells to learn them, and too few casting demands on casters in a given day, combined with SAD allowing their Primary state to improve their number of spells. In AD&D Clerics had to "justify" their need for more powerful spells and had to use them in accordance with alignment and their worship.

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Hard to make, boring for many to play. PF2 is emphasizing maximizing depth and minimizing complexity. That needs to extend past making your character into playing your character. The three action system is a good start; I hope most class feats and features are active actions you can take rather than passive bonuses.

1) Fighters aren't hard to make. They are hard to optimize so that you're better than other classes at doing X, which is the typical the concern for forum posters. Other than a proliferation of choice, there isn't anything inherently hard in building a Fighter.

2) The fact that "many" find the class boring isn't data, it's anecdote. There are plenty of people who enjoy playing a Fighter, enjoy the lack of constraint or the mandate to do anything other than be good at combat. You want to have a useful Intimidate or Diplomacy? The option is there. It just cost you a feat or two. and some HP's, or, god forbid, one has to play the race that is intended to be more utility-based.

3) The three-action system isn't going to do squat to improve player agency. it might add more tactical options, but if simply killing stuff continues to be the default goal (which I don't see that changing) all those options will coalesce into simply maximizing damage.

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Combat maneuvers are incredibly sub-par

I agree. Outside of grapple-locking casters, the game penalizes you for not killing as fast as you can. But I don't see anything in 2e that is going to change this paradigm. If Paizo really wants to empower things like Combat Maneuvers, then it needs to make the killing of sentient races/creatures, illegal. If there is no penalty for killing brigands on the highway, then there is little or no reason to use a CM over straight damage. And even if you need to capture someone alive, you just use a non-lethal attack or two, followed by lethal attacks.

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That doesn't mean they are interesting enough to play outside combat to justify the class's existence (especially compared to better designs like the Avenger Vigilante).

That's strictly an opinion. If I played with a group that had an Investigator, Cleric, and Wizard, I would absolutely enjoy playing a Fighter. In fact, I'm playing a Cleric in a non-PFS group that has two Fighters, a Rogue, and a Druid. Neither one of the players who are the Fighters has complained about lack of utility and I am certain one of them is glad that she doesn't have to constantly figure out whether she should be making skill checks.

The fact that the Fighter doesn't appeal to everyone doesn't mean the class is broken or needs to be fixed.

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I would think that all classes would have significant contributions in all parts of the game, even if certain classes emphasize one area over the other.

Completely disagree. IMO, the game gains far more benefit in having classes play and feel as disparate from one another as possible. All classes don't need to be equally useful in and out of combat in different areas. I don't agree that a*Combat + b*Skill=X should come out to the same value for X for any given class(C). That doesn't make the game inherently more fun than some classes X's being larger than others. What makes the game fun is having classes that provide an experience that taps into to some core aspect of what we envision in this genre. Not all players want to have the same quality or quantity of decisions. Some people just want to roll dice. The Fighter gives players that option without making them feel like they are doing it wrong.


Athaleon wrote:
Aragorn isn't a Druid because, among many other reasons, he's not a spellcaster. And what I mean by "similar" in this case is that the Ranger and Druid are empowered by nature, just as the Cleric and Paladin are empowered by divinity, the Wizard and Magus are empowered by the arcane.

Well, the ranger is also very much in the training/specialist/skill area (like Special Forces types), they use magic like a tool, in 4th Ed they are completely martial. I wonder if the ranger will have spell points, like the paladin, in PF2.


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HWalsh wrote:

I've done pure Fighters. They are totally viable.

You can run into some PFS problems, depending on the season, the year of the skill check was less than fun.

If all you do is try to min-max Str, Dex, and Con I can see issues, but I play a human Paladin with a 10 int and I've got 2 +Int (0) +1(human) skill points per level. Sometimes I toss my FCB to add a 4th.

If I can be useful (at times) in a skill, so can you.

Are you gonna beat out a Rogue, Wizard, or Arcanist? No.

However you, as a Fighter, have more play in ability scores.

Heck, I met a PFS Fighter, level 10, last week who has a +33 to intimidate.

The Paladin is a charisma class with diplomacy as a class skill... Paladins can be useful outside of combat with zero investment beyond that one skill point. For a Fighter to be similarly useful in face situations you have to burn one of your traits and put points into your least useful stat. Personally I tend to do this anyways because I like to play the damn game but I do it with the Barbarian because, y'know, Fighters suck.


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First, yes, my claims in my previous post and in this one are not objective facts. They are subjective positions that I support with arguments and evidence. Some parts are anecdotal, gleaned from opinions of posters in these boards. Unfortunately, if you need scientific proof to give any weight to an assertion, I won't be able to provide it and this discussion won't go far.

N N 959 wrote:

I understand what you're trying to say, but i think you're conflating issues. A Fighter has no more or less agency than a Wizard, Sorcerer, Investigator, Alchemist, etc. Classes that have "agency" are classes that have some built in ethos e.g. Druid, Cleric, Paladin, Monk, Barbarian, and some more than others. Not all classes should have an a priori path/compass/direction. The classes like Fighter/Wizard, etc get their agency from the player's self-determined lore for the character. That is no doubt, by design.

What's more, the Fighter is free to be as psychologically complex or simple as the player requires. Barbarians are much conceptually limited where as Paladins are generally more complex (despite an expectation of narrow-mindedness).

A disagree in a couple ways, but I think one potential reason is a difference in definition. While the agency of the character in the world is certainly related to what I'm saying, I'm primarily talking about agency the player has when playing them. When I say agency, I don't just mean that the player needs to have control over the character choices, I mean that they also need to have meaningful choices to make. If a player has 10 decisions to make, each with only one meaningful choice, than I don't consider that player to have made real choices. They instead followed a pretty simple path of least resistance and didn't really have much affect on the outcomes.

When it comes to the psychology of the character, or really anything outside of the games mechanics, all characters are obviously equal in potential, as that part of the game has no definition. I believe that applies even to classes with strong flavor suggestions, like the Paladin, but that it's irrelevant to what I'm discussing. I'm talking about the game's mechanics, which is what differentiates it from other games. It's really the only part of the game that makes much sense to discuss in objective terms, as everything else is completely defined by the players in a game.

N N 959 wrote:
That question applies to every class, unless you're trying to suggest that casting spells is somehow more "agency" than anything else.

I am indeed suggesting precisely that, according to the definition of agency above. Spellcasters infamously tend to have more useful, applicable tools to apply to any given problem. I don't think that's a bad thing; I think spellcasters are better designed for that reason, though they also have a related weakness I'll discuss in a minute.

N N 959 wrote:
1) Fighters aren't hard to make. They are hard to optimize so that you're better than other classes at doing X, which is the typical the concern for forum posters. Other than a proliferation of choice, there isn't anything inherently hard in building a Fighter.

Fair. They're difficult to build effectively enough that they aren't overshadowed by other characters at the table, which can definitely be disheartening for newer players.

N N 959 wrote:
2) The fact that "many" find the class boring isn't data, it's anecdote. There are plenty of people who enjoy playing a Fighter, enjoy the lack of constraint or the mandate to do anything other than be good at combat. You want to have a useful Intimidate or Diplomacy? The option is there. It just cost you a feat or two. and some HP's, or, god forbid, one has to play the race that is intended to be more utility-based.

This is my primary contention with your stance as I understand it. No class should ever, in my opinion, be designed with the assumption that a player will have little to contribute during any significant portion of play. The reason is that this is a role-playing game. Choosing a role in this fictional story that appeals to you is the defining experience. You should be able to pick that first, and then within your character concept be able to find a style of play that interests you. You should be able to play a fighter simply or only in combat, if that is your desire. You should also be able to play a fighter with deep pools of options and difficult decisions to make or a fighter who is meaningfully involved in every aspect of the game. You should never be told "because this aesthetic appeals to you, it's now your turn to be bored."

This is the problem with spellcasters that I alluded to earlier. Casters, especially Vancian ones, offer deep, complex playstyles full of interesting options. They rarely, however, enable a player to enjoy the concept of being a wizard or cleric as well as a simple playstyle.

So what I dislike with your stance is that there are classes meant to have X playstyle, and that's also the reason I dislike your assertion that players being driven towards a single race to have adequate utility is reasonable. All character flavors, all genre fantasies, from the devote cleric to the powerful mage to the sneaky thief to the skilled warrior, should support as many playstyles as possible so that as many flavor concepts are fun for as many players as possible. Designing a single flavor of character to be intentionally "easy" or "complex" pushes out players who want don't enjoy those playstyles.

Classes can also be very different while being useful in every major part of the game. That just requires they have fundamentally different ways of overcoming obstacles and niches within the various game activities. Note that "skills" is a bad niche because skills are the primary way you interact with the game outside combat. If someone has "skills" as their niche, it implies that other dissimilar classes need to be poor at skills, and therefore not very relevant outside combat. It's also unfair because no class is designed to be mostly irrelevant in combat, as it is such a central part of the game. If all classes are designed to be relevant in combat but only some are designed to be relevant during other parts of the game, that design consigns some players to a less holistic experience. If a player chooses that for themself, fine, but the system shouldn't do it for you.

N N 959 wrote:
3) The three-action system isn't going to do squat to improve player agency. it might add more tactical options, but if simply killing stuff continues to be the default goal (which I don't see that changing) all those options will coalesce into simply maximizing damage.

The three action system could help by allowing more varied actions to be taken, but yes, if it still boils down to move-attack-attack or attack-attack-attack it won't have helped. Dealing damage can even be the primary focus, inside combat, and still have interesting options. All that requires is that the means by which you deal damage are meaningfully different and multiple are available to one character. It'd be even better if non-damage options, like defense, debuffing, buffing, healing, etc, were more viable as well. One of the key reasons for a disparity between spellcasters and martial characters is that spellcasters have many more ways other than damage to win fights, and can deal damage more different ways.


Once again, great response and discussion.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I feel this discussion is conflating several core concepts into one Gordian Knot. I'll try and untangle it where I can.

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I mean that they also need to have meaningful choices to make.

I completely agree a cornerstone of an RPG is meaningful decision making. But I think you're overlooking that not everyone requires the same level of decision making. Or, perhaps more accurately you don't believe that one class should be designed as having any less agency than another, regardless of context. Naturally I disagree. But I'll revisit that later. What I will say here is that even if we subscribe to your PoV, the Fighter has just as much agency as any other non-caster.

What the Fighter cannot do is be demonstrably better than everyone else at the thing that those classes are designed for e.g. a Barbarian at raw damage, a Rogue at utility, a Paladin at resilience. This is clearly seen as a defect by the min/maxer mindset which dominates threads and discussions on class adequacy. And while I will concede that min/maxing is as valid an approach to playing as an other, I don't agree that it is a desireable mentality from which to make design decisions.

Why? Because min/maxing typically is about beating/exploiting the game on a mechanics level.. It tends to flatten the game into a contest of metrics. You use the concept of player agency, but min/maxing actually eliminates any agency and mandates choices that reduce the game into EV equations. And while I am not contending that min/maxing is a binary state of being, I think it is the mode that dominates forum discussions and advocates the loudest for changes that support that mindset.

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Spellcasters infamously tend to have more useful, applicable tools to apply to any given problem. I don't think that's a bad thing;

It is a bad thing. It's one of the major oversights/screw-ups of 3.5. As the saying goes, the road to ruin is paved with good intentions. I've seen Monte Cook's articles on how/why he changed spell casters for 3.x. The goal was valid, but to quote Ultron, WotC just didn't think it through. Too many spells, essentially no restrictions on what can and cannot be accomplished via spells, no restriction on obtaining spells, and the inherent IC/OOC limitation on how many encounters a party can have in a given session, meant that high level casters were too capable. Throw in scrolls, rods, and metamagic, and it's a rofl stomp for those with sufficient motivation and system mastery. That is totally a bad thing.

No class should have the agency that high level casters are able to achieve. WotC got it wrong and Paizo just went with it. I'm pretty sure WotC was in denial about it. At least Paizo is acknowledging it in 2e. However, I fear the solution is to give more agency to martials, rather than take it away from casters. If so, its'not going to work out like you think. It creates power creep and it generally means that encounters will become sufficiently harder to account for all the increased utility. What do you do when everyone can comprehend languages or pick locks? What then, is the point of even having languages or locks?

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No class should ever, in my opinion, be designed with the assumption that a player will have little to contribute during any significant portion of play.

Yes, we have a philosophical disagreement.

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The reason is that this is a role-playing game.

Ironically, that is the exact reason why I disagree with you. Roleplaying has two meanings in the RPG game world. Most people think of roleplaying as what they want to do with their character concept. But in AD&D and PF, classes fulfill functional roles. In team sports, especially basketball, roleplayers are people whose focus is fulfilling the functional role that their position requires. Centers don't try to take on the role of point guards and vice versa.

In AD&D each class had a functional role. Each class had a sphere of the game where that class would shine. In order for one class to shine, the other classes cannot shine as brightly. This is, imo, part and parcel to what makes AD&D the game that it was and what makes the legacy games what they are. This shinning has another name: purpose.

Purpose, imo, is as important to the heart of what makes an a team based RPG fun as anything else and more important than substantive decision making/agency. Players have to feel that their character fulfills a non-trivial purpose. Purpose is mutually exclusive. If everyone is equally good at combat and skills, then no one has an sense of purpose or need. If everyone has an equally good option for defeating the lock or curing the disease, then you marginalize the purpose of any class or ability.

Once you start down that path, you're actually making agency irrelevant. If any class I choose is just as good at getting past the obstacles as the next class, you've robbed me of any meaningful decision making.

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All character flavors, all genre fantasies, from the devote cleric to the powerful mage to the sneaky thief to the skilled warrior, should support as many playstyles as possible so that as many flavor concepts are fun for as many players as possible.

You're not alone in that thinking, but I believe it to be a fundamental mistake. What you don't realize is that if every class supports every playstyle, then you don't have classes. The entire point of a class is to provide someone with a specific set of skills and exclude them from others.

The strength of AD&D wasn't the fact that my Cleric could be a Thief if I chose. The game worked because whether I played a Cleric or a Thief, there was a apart of the game that was all my own. The Thief wasn't going to Turn Undead and the Cleric wasn't going to pick pockets. I don't feel powerful if I can do what everyone else can do. I feel powerful when I can do things that others can't and that doesn't have to happen every encounter.

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It's also unfair because no class is designed to be mostly irrelevant in combat, as it is such a central part of the game.

No class is designed to be irrelevant outside of combat. A non-human Fighter has 11 feats with which to make itself relevant outside of combat and 10 combat feats to make itself relevant inside of combat.

The fact that a Wizard has so many spells on account of its casting stat is its Primary stat and the fact that one can buy essentially any spell on a scroll is not a failing of the Fighter, it's a failing of the Wizard.

As far as the fairness of the skills/combat balance, I have to disagree with you. I've played with a number of non-martials that were almost worthless in combat. So much so that they were far more helpful using Aid Another than actually trying to do damage. One of my Investigators (Empiricist) is essentially worthless in combat at 4th level, especially when compared to Barbarians and Fighters. Low level casters that run out of spells, can be pretty much worthless.

I've seen some Investigator builds be competent in combat, but they had to make sacrifices to that. I've had to do that with my other Investigator, to the point of using Prestige to retrain his feats to make him proficient with a whip. So when a person complains about their Fighter having to give up 3 of 22 feats to make have some skills, I am not sympathetic.

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So what I dislike with your stance is that there are classes meant to have X playstyle,

That's exactly what Classes mandate to some degree or another. That's the entire point of a having a Class or even a Feat tree. Any RPG with a feat tree or class system is going to dictate a type of play style based on those choices.


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My hope is that martial agency goes up and caster agency goes down. I'm not sure where exactly the happy medium is but there's definitely plenty of room for martials to do More Stuff without being as insane as casters are in PF1.


Arachnofiend wrote:
My hope is that martial agency goes up and caster agency goes down. I'm not sure where exactly the happy medium is but there's definitely plenty of room for martials to do More Stuff without being as insane as casters are in PF1.

It would be pretty easy to fix arcane casters: Give them one school for which they pay normal spell costs. All others cost triple the cost, and one you can't cast from. You want to Evoke? Fine, but your transmutations, illusions, enchantments, and divination are going to be so costly, you're going to let someone else deal with it.


N N 959 wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
My hope is that martial agency goes up and caster agency goes down. I'm not sure where exactly the happy medium is but there's definitely plenty of room for martials to do More Stuff without being as insane as casters are in PF1.
It would be pretty easy to fix arcane casters: Give them one school for which they pay normal spell costs. All others cost triple the cost, and one you can't cast from. You want to Evoke? Fine, but your transmutations, illusions, enchantments, and divination are going to be so costly, you're going to let someone else deal with it.

That cripples the entire point of generalists.

Just reign in how they get new spells.


N N 959 wrote:

Once again, great response and discussion.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I feel this discussion is conflating several core concepts into one Gordian Knot. I'll try and untangle it where I can.

Quote:
I mean that they also need to have meaningful choices to make.

I completely agree a cornerstone of an RPG is meaningful decision making. But I think you're overlooking that not everyone requires the same level of decision making. Or, perhaps more accurately you don't believe that one class should be designed as having any less agency than another, regardless of context. Naturally I disagree. But I'll revisit that later. What I will say here is that even if we subscribe to your PoV, the Fighter has just as much agency as any other non-caster.

What the Fighter cannot do is be demonstrably better than everyone else at the thing that those classes are designed for e.g. a Barbarian at raw damage, a Rogue at utility, a Paladin at resilience. This is clearly seen as a defect by the min/maxer mindset which dominates threads and discussions on class adequacy. And while I will concede that min/maxing is as valid an approach to playing as an other, I don't agree that it is a desireable mentality from which to make design decisions.

Why? Because min/maxing typically is about beating/exploiting the game on a mechanics level.. It tends to flatten the game into a contest of metrics. You use the concept of player agency, but min/maxing actually eliminates any agency and mandates choices that reduce the game into EV equations. And while I am not contending that min/maxing is a binary state of being, I think it is the mode that dominates forum discussions and advocates the loudest for changes that support that mindset.

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Spellcasters infamously tend to have more useful, applicable tools to apply to any given problem. I don't think that's a bad thing;
It is a bad thing. It's one of the major oversights/screw-ups of 3.5. As the saying goes, the road to ruin is paved...

Spellcasters in 3.X also get to double dip on their primary spellcasting stat. For example you need a 19 whatever to cast a level 9 spell (DC 19) and your spellcaster modifier adds another +3.

And you can get your caster stat a lot higher than 19.

That is more or less unique to 3.X and one of the biggest flaws of the system (5E to a lesser extent). High level fighters used to be good at saves and 4E at least got the concept right (execution not so much defence treadmill).

Its 2018, some of the problems PF has date back 20 years to when they started designing 3.0.

I've gone full circle form having 80 odd 3E books to 6 PF books to preferring the old Basic D&D.


N N 959 wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
My hope is that martial agency goes up and caster agency goes down. I'm not sure where exactly the happy medium is but there's definitely plenty of room for martials to do More Stuff without being as insane as casters are in PF1.
It would be pretty easy to fix arcane casters: Give them one school for which they pay normal spell costs. All others cost triple the cost, and one you can't cast from. You want to Evoke? Fine, but your transmutations, illusions, enchantments, and divination are going to be so costly, you're going to let someone else deal with it.

3.x had the Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Warmage that worked somewhat like that. 2e AD&D had specialty priests with seriously limited access to the wide range of clerical spells as well as special abilities that were appropriate for the interests of their deity. Both those would be good possible models for arcane and divine casters that could be 'magical' without making non-casters feel like afterthoughts.


Bluenose wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
My hope is that martial agency goes up and caster agency goes down. I'm not sure where exactly the happy medium is but there's definitely plenty of room for martials to do More Stuff without being as insane as casters are in PF1.
It would be pretty easy to fix arcane casters: Give them one school for which they pay normal spell costs. All others cost triple the cost, and one you can't cast from. You want to Evoke? Fine, but your transmutations, illusions, enchantments, and divination are going to be so costly, you're going to let someone else deal with it.
3.x had the Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Warmage that worked somewhat like that. 2e AD&D had specialty priests with seriously limited access to the wide range of clerical spells as well as special abilities that were appropriate for the interests of their deity. Both those would be good possible models for arcane and divine casters that could be 'magical' without making non-casters feel like afterthoughts.

Trimming the spell lists and rewriting a few or removing them also works. 5E did that, and Basic D&D used to have a small spell list for higher level games.

They plugged in more spells in 1E then UA then 2E then 3E and 3.5 and PF inherited all of that.


Zardnaar wrote:
Bluenose wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
My hope is that martial agency goes up and caster agency goes down. I'm not sure where exactly the happy medium is but there's definitely plenty of room for martials to do More Stuff without being as insane as casters are in PF1.
It would be pretty easy to fix arcane casters: Give them one school for which they pay normal spell costs. All others cost triple the cost, and one you can't cast from. You want to Evoke? Fine, but your transmutations, illusions, enchantments, and divination are going to be so costly, you're going to let someone else deal with it.
3.x had the Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Warmage that worked somewhat like that. 2e AD&D had specialty priests with seriously limited access to the wide range of clerical spells as well as special abilities that were appropriate for the interests of their deity. Both those would be good possible models for arcane and divine casters that could be 'magical' without making non-casters feel like afterthoughts.

Trimming the spell lists and rewriting a few or removing them also works. 5E did that, and Basic D&D used to have a small spell list for higher level games.

They plugged in more spells in 1E then UA then 2E then 3E and 3.5 and PF inherited all of that.

I think it wouldn't be too bad to have a large number of spells if any particular subclass of arcane/divine caster only had access to a sensible fraction of them. Another hundred 'cleric' spells that are available to any Cleric is going to do much more to increase their versatility than a hundred spells of which they can only use the ones that a God of Luck and Death would be able to grant.

Dark Archive

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Thank you for the cordial response, N N 959, and allow me to show my logic path. It is entirely possible that it is riddled with Gross Conceptual Errors, but there is a reasonable certainty that I'm on the right track?

N N 959 wrote:


I'm not sure I understand your math. You tanked INT with a the Barbarian and came out even with a 10 INT Fighter on skill points, but it was "not possible with Fighter"? You realize that for any INT, WIS, or CHR based feat, your non-dumped Fighter is getting +2 higher mod.

Okay.

A 10 Int Fighter gets (if they use FCB for a skill in PF1) 3 skills per level non-human, such as half-elf in this case.

A 7 Int Barbarian gets (if they use FCB for a skill in PF1) 3 skill points per level non-human, such as half-elf in this case.

If the Barbarian puts those points into a reasonable spread, say, K: Nature, Perception, Survival then those skills are going to be at Class Skill (3)+Attribute Modifier (-2)+1 skill rank, for a total of +2. In return for which the Barbarian also gets rage, fast movement, and a larger hit die.

If the Fighter puts those points into a reasonable spread, say, K: Dungeoneering, K: Engineering, Survival, sure, they are getting Class Skill (3)+Attribute Modifier(0)+1 skill rank for a total of +2. In return for which the Fighter gets...a Feat.

Typically speaking, most of the feats available to a 10 Int character don't appear to do a heckuvalot.

Combat Expertise (INT 13) is a gated path to all the Combat Maneuvers. Things like Cleave and Power Attack reduce AC or chance to hit, which a fighter can ill afford since they have to rely on their equipment for the most part for their to hit and AC, versus a stockpile of rage powers plus Uncanny Dodge plus Danger Sense.

I couldn't see an investment in a bunch of things that aren't going to hit well enough or made the character less survivable, plus the character has less capability to provide other roles to the party -- the Barbarian can eventually serve as a low-budget trap finder and scout whereas the Fighter cannot.

N N 959 wrote:


You also realize that as a Fighter, you get 10 more feats than a Barbarian with which to build your character. Use Skill Focus on any Skill and you're getting the same benefit as having a class skill and after level 10, you're better than the Barbarian at that same class skill.

The problem is that those '10 more feats' REALLY need to be dumped into combat feats to keep the character viable at the 'one thing they do reasonably well' versus 'spread out over into nice other things that are kind of cool'.

N N 959 wrote:


Considering that you didn't actually play the Fighters into level 2, I'm hard pressed to look at your example as proof of anything about the Fighter, other than you didn't like it through level 1. Which is fine. I tried a Varisian Cleric and made it through one PFS scenario before I turned him into an Investigator. Lack of combat and lack of skills was just too painful for me. Even if the class blossomed later, I wasn't going to play through it. But I don't see that as a flaw in the class, just an indicator of why some classes are better suited for me than others.

Every time I've tried to create a fighter, by the time I've reached L2, it's 'This class does what Fighter does, does it *better* and provides *more out of combat/support*'.

I've played a few 'specialized' characters before I started playing Pathfinder, and the experience of sitting on my hands for half to two-thirds of a game session unable to contribute is not good nor fun gaming for me.


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HWalsh wrote:

That cripples the entire point of generalists.

Just reign in how they get new spells.

Enabling the "generalist" is the problem. It's problematic for one class/archetype/decision tree to have as much agency (as defined by Pandora) as the 3.5/PF Wizard when you have a game with classes/archetypes/feat trees.

Reigning in how players get their spells is also just as problematic. For one, it puts too much burden on the GM, or rather, penalizes GMs for lack of system mastery. A new GM, or even an experienced may not be able to adequately anticipate the campaign altering effects of some spells. Conversely, a GM refusing to provide useful or iconic spells can undermine the class entirely.

In line with Pandora's mantra, I'd rather move the game towards making each decision more meaningful. Fewer spells and more costly spells does that. The GM or the dice deciding which spells you get, doesn't do that.


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I actually agree with N N on that one, I'd much prefer the Wizard to be pushed more towards the "expert in a given field" territory than have him capable of just being the best at everything that isn't doing damage with a melee weapon. The generalist role is more suited to the Bard and other mid-casters who trade their broad usefulness for not being the best at anything.


Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
Thank you for the cordial response, N N 959,

Likewise.

WJL wrote:


the Barbarian also gets rage, fast movement, and a larger hit die.

the Fighter gets...a Feat.

Your comparison is, for lack of a better phrase, not exactly scientific. For one, the classes are not going to be perfectly "balanced" at each level. Some get stuff early and some get stuff late. For two, it's not one feat, it's one feat every other level on top of the normal feats and class abilities. Is One feat the equivalent of Rage, Fast Movement, and more HP? It depends. That one feat (combined with common feat at 1st level) allows you to get Mobility by 1st level if you really want it. You can get Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot at 1st level. Is +4 to AC to avoid AoO's while moving worth more or less to you than Rage, FM, and an expected 1 HP more per level? What about getting to 4th level and having Spring Attack along with Power Attack? Or Spring Attack and Improved Init?

The point here is that the Fighter has a degree of flexibility far beyond the Barbarian. If you value Rage and FM, then obviously the Fighter is not the best choice, and that has nothing to do with INT or Skill points.

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Typically speaking, most of the feats available to a 10 Int character don't appear to do a heckuvalot.

What besides Combat Expertise requires a higher INT?

Quote:
Things like Cleave and Power Attack reduce AC or chance to hit, which a fighter can ill afford since they have to rely on their equipment for the most part for their to hit and AC, versus a stockpile of rage powers plus Uncanny Dodge plus Danger Sense.

Not sure I follow this. Barbarians are notoriously easier to hit. Fighter can wear Heavy Armor without losing class abilities and certainly afford Cleave (Power Attack doesn't lower AC).

Quote:
The problem is that those '10 more feats' REALLY need to be dumped into combat feats to keep the character viable at the 'one thing they do reasonably well' versus 'spread out over into nice other things that are kind of cool'

This is the crux of the debate. Those 10 feats don't "need" to be pumped into anything specific. That's a function of perception about the class. Look, you haven't played the class past level 1. Do you really think your'e an adequate judge of how well the class fights with 15 feats devoted to combat vs 21?

The attitude that the Fighter can't compete is not convincing. Especially when it's not that the Fighter can't compete, it's that the Fighter isn't demonstrably better. And let's be honest, these comparisons are all made vs a Barbarian or some other highly specialized build. No melee martial class, ime, out damages a Raging Barbarian. More to the point, you don't need to rival a hypothetical Barbarian's damage to be useful/needed in a party. Especially when said Barbarian may not even be in your party.

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Every time I've tried to create a fighter, by the time I've reached L2, it's 'This class does what Fighter does, does it *better* and provides *more out of combat/support*'.

As I said before, If a player's enjoyment of a class is based on how well it competes with other classes, the Fighter is going to be frustrating. But that is a far cry from not being to make a build that can provide support out of combat and be a main player in combat.

And for the record, I think the Barbarian is ridiculously overpowered in Melee at low levels. My non-dumped two-handing Barbarian was able to one or two shot just about everything through levels 1-3. I often held back so as to give other martials opportunities to contribute. But at higher levels, my damage hasn't appreciably increased. Why? Because I don't the extra feats to grab things like improved crit, weapon specialization, Vital Strike, etc.

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