A more realistic suggestion: proficiencies and class paths


General Discussion


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I recently floated the idea that players should be able to allocate their characters' proficiency ranks as they level, rather than having them set in stone by their class. I still think that's the better solution, but it might be too extreme for Paizo to take seriously, so I'd like to make a suggestion they should find more palatable.

THE PROBLEM

First, the problem being addressed. An effect of the new archetypess - that only add to the base class, rather than changing it - is that characters keep all the aspects of the base class, including the proficiency increases. All Paladins get heavy armour, all Fighters get Perception at the same level, etc.

There were many archetypes in Pathfinder 1e that directly changed your combat style. There were archetypes giving you shield strength, or heavy armour, or specific weapons, or saves. This was one of the ways of allowing every character to be different. It came at the cost, though, of needing lots of repetative archetypes to implement, and I think we can agree that the new class-agnostic archetypes are an improvement.

At present though, a Pathfinder 2e character doesn't have any flexibility at all over where and when they get proficiency increases. This is a real problem because it makes people feel like there's only one direction each class is able to take.

Another poster suggested that all classes should have a choice of class path, that represents the specialisation within that class. Several of these already exist - Sorcerer Bloodlines, Druid Orders, Bard Muses etc - while others would need to be added. It feels like a natural evolution of the Pathfinder 2e system.

THE SOLUTION

My suggestion is that your class path should grant proficiency increases beyond level 1.

So for example, consider a Barbarian. At level 1, I get all the Barbarian's initial proficiencies. I select the Spirit Totem as my class path. From level 2, the totem gives my proficiencies. At level 7 I become master at Will saves, granted by the Spirit Totem. If I'd selected the Fury Totem, I'd have got a bonus to Fortitude saves instead.

In the case of the Barbarian, the proficiencies would be listed in each totem alongside the Anathema, Rage ability and Resistance. The same would be true of Cleric Domains, Sorcerer Bloodlines etc.

AND ANOTHER THING

I've said this before and I'll say it again: Don't waste an awesome name to describe a simple proficiency increase. Don't use names like "Battlefield Surveyor" or "Juggernaut" or "Indomitable Will" when all you really need to say is "You become a master at Will Saves". Keep the awesome names for awesome things.


My wonder is how domains would have to shift, in the notion that they're the logically closest to a path that the class has (maybe deities could be more, but it'd be kind of hard to do that, for games that don't use the Golarion setting). But otherwise I think this could be neat.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I don’t think we can all agree that the new class agnostic archetypes are strictly an improvement.


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I agree. There is no good reason -- thematically, naratively, mechanically, or otherwise -- that a Rogue cannot be a legendary swordsman or a cleric legendary in armor w/o multiclassing.

Some sort of Improve Proficiency feat or tree should absolutely be in the general list.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I suspect having a general-purpose feat to improve proficiency would be overpowered. It would make the game harder to balance.


iNickedYerKnickers wrote:
I agree. There is no good reason -- thematically, naratively, mechanically, or otherwise -- that a Rogue cannot be a legendary swordsman or a cleric legendary in armor w/o multiclassing.

Probably because a Rogue is focused on sneak about, unlocking doors and disarming traps rather than swordplay? With a cleric focused on praying to his god, learning new magic, and healing people to be that good in armour?


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iNickedYerKnickers wrote:

I agree. There is no good reason -- thematically, naratively, mechanically, or otherwise -- that a Rogue cannot be a legendary swordsman or a cleric legendary in armor w/o multiclassing.

Some sort of Improve Proficiency feat or tree should absolutely be in the general list.

So in, order.

Thematically the rogue or cleric isn't the "best at weapons class" and never was.

Narratively, the rogue and cleric haven't devoted the same amount of focus to becoming a master of arms, focusing more on developing skills and magic respectively.

Mechanically, the edge in proficiency is the equivalent of BAB. It is one of tee most important balancing points for martials to have to make up for not having magic or sneak attack.

A rogue or cleric can't become. Legendary in those things even with multiclassing.

An improve proficiency feat would not only go against the goal of moving away from feats that give boring numerical bonuses, it would become extremely over centralizing because of how powerful +1s are.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If Expert, Master, or Legendary in weapon, armor, shield, or saves carried anything other then +1 I might see why people seem to want them so desperately. On the other hand this mere +1-3 is the biggest gap provided by the game that covers BAB, Base Saves, and some kind of inherent class based defense bonus.

The simple alternative since people seem pretty caught up on this is to remove anything passed trained and just give fighter "Weapon Talent" class feature that gives +1/2/3 to attack rolls (and so on for all other classes).


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You could work around BAB to get a decent hit rate. You can't do the same thing with proficiency. You're pretty screwed without that extra 10%.


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iNickedYerKnickers wrote:
I agree. There is no good reason -- thematically, naratively, mechanically, or otherwise -- that a Rogue cannot be a legendary swordsman or a cleric legendary in armor w/o multiclassing.

Agreed. It should require some investment but let characters diversify.


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Captain Morgan wrote:

So in, order.

Thematically the rogue or cleric isn't the "best at weapons class" and never was.

Narratively, the rogue and cleric haven't devoted the same amount of focus to becoming a master of arms, focusing more on developing skills and magic respectively.

For base class, sure, but individuals often break molds and that is part of the fun, sometimes, of playing a fantasy character.

Quote:
Mechanically, the edge in proficiency is the equivalent of BAB. It is one of tee most important balancing points for martials to have to make up for not having magic or sneak attack.

With class weapon proficiencies, the best damage dice a Rogue can get is d8 (Spear or Staff two-handed). Otherwise, they're swinging d4 or d6 while Fighters are swinging d10 or d12. At 12th level, with +3 Weapon Potency, a Rogue is swinging an average if 20.5 damage with 4d4 + 3d6 sneak, or 24.5 with 4d6 + 3d6 sneak. Without the conditional sneak, it's 10 and 14 respectively. A Fighter is swinging a constant average of 22 with 4d10 or 26 with 4d12.

Even with the same BAB, Rogue's certainly aren't outshining Fighters.

Judging by several threads and many posts in these forums, Fighters are certainly not handicapped by the absence of magical ability. Indeed, when MC Fighter is the way -- as some have emphatically commented -- to make a Caster viable, it's Magic that needs some balancing to Fighter.

Slaughter the Sacred Cow that says that Rogues, or anyone else, must intentionally be kept less good at hitting things than fighters. There are other ways to establish class distinctions. If a non-Fighter wants to specialize in striking that's some customization that ought to be allowed.

Quote:
An improve proficiency feat would not only go against the goal of moving away from feats that give boring numerical bonuses...

Alertness, Fleet, Great Fortitude, Hefty Hauler, Incredible Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Remarkable Resonance, Toughness...

But, there is more than just a +1 bonus in a new proficiency. There are gated abilities as well. While none are available in the play test for Master Swordsman or Legendary Crossbowman, or what have you, expect them to come. So, improving proficiency would be more than just a boring numerical bonus. It would open access to proficiency-gated feats/tricks/etc.

Quote:
... it would become extremely over centralizing because of how powerful +1s are.

If feats are done right, choosing to improve weapon or armor proficiency should be an actual trade-off, not a default setting.


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Lady Melo wrote:
If Expert, Master, or Legendary in weapon, armor, shield, or saves carried anything other then +1

I would expect, eventually, to see Proficiency-gated abilities that will make gaining proficiency more interesting, like the gated Skills Feats and Actions.


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iNickedYerKnickers wrote:
Lady Melo wrote:
If Expert, Master, or Legendary in weapon, armor, shield, or saves carried anything other then +1
I would expect, eventually, to see Proficiency-gated abilities that will make gaining proficiency more interesting, like the gated Skills Feats and Actions.

I hope so... Currently, it feels like you gain a new proficiency level but then have to wait for a skill feat to do anything interesting with it. Though, I really would prefer for the CRB to be as comprehensive as possible instead of a new splatbook adding new abilities down the road.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I actually like the idea of class providing a sequence of proficiency increase and feat choices as each class levels up, but the current progressions are not ideal.

I would like to see classes gain proficiency increases much differently. It would be nice if they could get a certain number of proficiency increases to apply to certain groups and for those groups to get matching feat choices.

e.g. These are related groups that have proficiency ranks and could benefit from having corresponding feats.

  • Armor proficiency increases and armor feats.
  • Weapon proficiency increases and weapon feats.
  • Skill proficiency increases and skill feats.
  • Casting proficiency increases and casting feats.
  • Senses proficiency (i.e. perception) increases and perception feats (hearing, seeing, smelling, etc).
  • Saving proficiency increases and saving throw feats.

    I think you can then introduce classes as "getting more of certain types of proficiency increases" based on class and class path. This would also let people retain muscle memory of things like Medium armor progression, or two weapon fighting progression, or scouting progression. Then as they explore new classes, the parts about spending those proficiencies and picking feats can be applied to the new class and lower the overall learning curve needed to get up to speed on a new class.

    For things like swinging a weapon and moving in armor, it really doesn't help if people have to relearn everything all over to do it the Druid way, or the Fighter way, or the Ranger way, or the Rogue way. They just explore that fighting style once, and can apply it to each new class they try out. Keeping this kind of stuff consistent should also help with pace of play at tables even if you have people playing a class for the first time.

    There is another thread that suggests that getting a proficiency increase that granted a new matching feat would make proficiency increases feel a lot more impactful versus the underwhelming numerical bonus and waiting another level for a new feat. If that was applied as I listed above, then a class path that listed how many increases of various UTEML things you would get, then allowing a separate even level progression of class only feats and now you get a nice character progression.

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