Being punished for wearing the "wrong" armor type at 13th level?


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Champions and fighters have heavy armor proficiency (though they have difficulty affording heavy armor at 1st level short of a loan), druids should not use metal armor, and monks essentially always want to stay unarmored.

But there is a rather weird and janky phenomenon associated with all the other classes: alchemist, bard, cleric, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, and wizard. I am talking about being punished for wearing the "wrong" armor type at 13th level.

Consider a melee alchemist, the kind who wants to scrap in melee, maybe with a bestial mutagen. It is questionable how strong such a build is, but suppose it is what they want to do. They invest in Armor Proficiency twice, potentially through human Versatile Heritage and/or General Training. They do just about fine until 12th level. The moment they hit 13th level, poof, their class tells them, "Sorry, but you are not wearing heavy armor any more. You are heading back down to light armor. Did you neglect your Dexterity because you were using heavy armor? Too bad."

Consider a bard who likewise wants to do battle in melee, dishing out the damage. Weapon proficiency is not too big a deal for them, since ancestry feats can provide reasonably scaling proficiency. As for armor, the bard, likewise, invests in Armor Proficiency, getting themselves up to medium or heavy. This works swell until 12th level. At 13th level, their class abruptly says, "Sorry, but a bard is supposed to be in light armor by this point. Medium and heavy are a no-no for a bard."

Consider a cloistered cleric, a class build that has a terrible, terrible AC problem, particularly given a lack of Mage Armor. A cloistered cleric needs to sink into Armor Proficiency, or else they will get completely destroyed, particularly since they are the party's resident healer. So suppose the cloistered cleric invests into medium armor, or possibly even heavy armor. Again, they do fine until 12th level. At 13th level, the hammer comes crashing down, and they get told, "Sorry, but that armor of yours is now obsolete. You are supposed to be going unarmored by this point."

Then they have to spend weeks retraining, and by the end of it all, their AC suffers for it. Why does it have to be this way? What purpose does this serve? It is a strange phenomenon that hits only at 13th level. This can be mitigated with a champion multiclass, but that carries so much baggage with it, and it takes 2nd- and 14th-level feat investments.


Colette Brunel wrote:
Consider a melee alchemist, the kind who wants to scrap in melee, maybe with a bestial mutagen. It is questionable how strong such a build is, but suppose it is what they want to do. They invest in Armor Proficiency twice, potentially through human Versatile Heritage and/or General Training. They do just about fine until 12th level. The moment they hit 13th level, poof, their class tells them, "Sorry, but you are not wearing heavy armor any more. You are heading back down to light armor. Did you neglect your Dexterity because you were using heavy armor? Too bad."

I don't have the rules. What's the feature they get at 13th level that discourages heavy armor?


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Is there a way to consolidate all of your questions into one thread or something?

EDIT: I was under the impression that generally given Item bonuses and Dex caps, AC was pretty much normalized with nods being given to fighters, champions, and those with access to armor specialization. Getting higher armor proficiency doesn't seem to actually add much?


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And, of course, there is a similar issue with Weapon Proficiencies. My suspicion is that Class Archetypes will be the way to ameliorate these problems.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
Consider a melee alchemist, the kind who wants to scrap in melee, maybe with a bestial mutagen. It is questionable how strong such a build is, but suppose it is what they want to do. They invest in Armor Proficiency twice, potentially through human Versatile Heritage and/or General Training. They do just about fine until 12th level. The moment they hit 13th level, poof, their class tells them, "Sorry, but you are not wearing heavy armor any more. You are heading back down to light armor. Did you neglect your Dexterity because you were using heavy armor? Too bad."
I don't have the rules. What's the feature they get at 13th level that discourages heavy armor?

Their light armor proficiency increases to Expert at 13th level.


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What the OP is really complaining about (AFAICT) is the automatic class-linked way that armor proficiencies are handed out. Various classes are intended to work without armor, or with specific categories of armor, and only get boosts to their proficiencies in those specific categories as they level up. If they take some feat or other to gain, say, heavy armor proficiency on a character class that wasn't intended to be wearing heavy armor, that missmatched proficiency doesn't automatically increase at specific levels.

I suppose the OP could be trying, in a very roundabout and circuitous fashion, to get off-class armor proficiencies to have language making them auto-improve at the same time as the classes base proficiencies.

Personally, I think that if a player wants his character to wear heavy armor, he should choose a class that is listed as getting proficiency in it.

Note that, with the disappearance of such odd notions as Arcane Spell Failure from PF2, anyone can wear any sort of armor they want. Regardless of training, they can still wear it. They just get fewer advantages from doing so.


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It's weird how someone can become more proficient with something they never used (like say light armor), but they never get any better with something they've used for over 10 levels (like say medium or heavy armor).

If someone goes out of their way to take a feat and gain medium/heavy armor, then their proficiency with it should raise alongside your proficiency with light armor. Same with weapons.

With things the way they are, there's no point in those weapon/armor feats even existing. You could even say they are a trap option. Though that may be going a little too far.


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Wheldrake wrote:

What the OP is really complaining about (AFAICT) is the automatic class-linked way that armor proficiencies are handed out. Various classes are intended to work without armor, or with specific categories of armor, and only get boosts to their proficiencies in those specific categories as they level up. If they take some feat or other to gain, say, heavy armor proficiency on a character class that wasn't intended to be wearing heavy armor, that missmatched proficiency doesn't automatically increase at specific levels.

I suppose the OP could be trying, in a very roundabout and circuitous fashion, to get off-class armor proficiencies to have language making them auto-improve at the same time as the classes base proficiencies.

Personally, I think that if a player wants his character to wear heavy armor, he should choose a class that is listed as getting proficiency in it.

Note that, with the disappearance of such odd notions as Arcane Spell Failure from PF2, anyone can wear any sort of armor they want. Regardless of training, they can still wear it. They just get fewer advantages from doing so.

I think the issue is that the armor proficiency feat is, to some extent, only worth taking at lower levels and then becomes obsolete.

Take as an actual mechanical example an Alchemist (or Bard) with +1 dex at character creation who picks up medium armor proficiency so they can wear a breastplate. Once they're expert in light armor, studded leather is as good as the breastplate they're only trained in, so that armor proficiency feat is mechanically superfluous.

The feat can give you a bit of a bonus so long as you take it at least twice, but any class who takes it only a single time will eventually find the tier of armor their class is proficient with catching up to the heavier armor.

A feat that you have to take a 2nd time in order for it to remain functional seems to be counter to the design principles of PF2.


Ruzza wrote:
I was under the impression that generally given Item bonuses and Dex caps, AC was pretty much normalized with nods being given to fighters, champions, and those with access to armor specialization. Getting higher armor proficiency doesn't seem to actually add much?

Heavy armor as opposed to light/medium armor could be understood as +1 to AC in exchange to -5 to your land speed; Full Plate has the added bonus of replacing your dex mod entirely since you won't even need it for reflex saves anymore.


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It's a really, really bad design decision it seems. Either that, or they just missed it.

But no point arguing here. You'll just get bogged down in arguments how allowing you to progress these feat investment is taking away other classes uniqueness or some such things.


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It annoys me that we're still gonna need minor archetypes like the Armored Hulk that could have been served perfectly well if the feats just did what they're supposed to.


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It could have been intentional design decision - some classes are supposed to wear heavy armour. Others use it as a stop gap but are never really supposed to use it

Perhaps the thought was opening everything up like this removes so much from classes that at that point you may as well have no classes

Although I do see the point on not getting better with something you have worn for 10 levels. Perhaps there should be feats to advance your feat gained armour training to expert. But they would simply have to come online later than those who naturally gain expert in Heavy armour (for example).

Tricky part is some get it at different levels (so you would have to go with the latest, which for heavy I think is fighter)

Would this be a compromise? I would this also be considered unfair?


Also (and I think this is what is meant by class archetypes from Gisher) there will probably be some archetypes to open this up

For example there were several armour using archetypes in 1E - Armoured Hulk, Gun tank. This could be opened up to all now

And then I can only assume Hellknight will get some kind of armour boosting effects ...


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Azurespark wrote:

It's weird how someone can become more proficient with something they never used (like say light armor), but they never get any better with something they've used for over 10 levels (like say medium or heavy armor).

If someone goes out of their way to take a feat and gain medium/heavy armor, then their proficiency with it should raise alongside your proficiency with light armor. Same with weapons.

With things the way they are, there's no point in those weapon/armor feats even existing. You could even say they are a trap option. Though that may be going a little too far.

Exactly

This
.


I would guess they are not truly a "trap" as you can now retrain
Also by the time these increased proficiency comes online you have had options to raise dex

And even if not the +2 from expert puts you higher than the armour above in most cases even without the dex

Now if conceptually you want to stay in heavy armour I guess there will be archetypes that fit that conception. (Just not yet)

The general proficiency feats would not be balanced if they keyed to your standard advancement as they would replicate a scaling class feature. Perhaps extra ones will come out (especially as this proficiency point is provoking a lot of heated feedback). But as I mentioned the feats would probably kick in at higher level. Since the increases are at 13th level then this would be the 15th level general feat


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You can always retrain them, once they're no longer useful.
However I expect that in future we'll either see those feats rectified to include later advancement, or completed by higher-level feats.

I expect most folks would prefer the former. <g>


Of course the former would be preferred because it would make it a very easy and powerful feat investment

I would expect (and probably hope for) the latter...


Lanathar wrote:

It could have been intentional design decision - some classes are supposed to wear heavy armour. Others use it as a stop gap but are never really supposed to use it

Perhaps the thought was opening everything up like this removes so much from classes that at that point you may as well have no classes

Although I do see the point on not getting better with something you have worn for 10 levels. Perhaps there should be feats to advance your feat gained armour training to expert. But they would simply have to come online later than those who naturally gain expert in Heavy armour (for example).

Tricky part is some get it at different levels (so you would have to go with the latest, which for heavy I think is fighter)

Would this be a compromise? I would this also be considered unfair?

I think they just forgot to add the paragraph that was included in the ancestry weapon familiarity feats: "For the purpose of determining your proficiency, martial [ancestry] weapons are simple weapons and advanced [ancestry] weapons are martial weapons." If it doesn't break anything for an ancestry to get a bunch of martial weapons that are treated as simple weapons, it's not going to break anything if anyone can take a feat that lets them treat one martial weapon as a simple weapon.

Methinks the dwarf ancestry may have benefited from a "treat heavy armor as medium armor and medium armor as light" as the unburdened iron feat, which, BTW, is kind of useless at character creation anyway unless you are a low STR dwarf in medium armor. Maybe also throw a Very Heavy dwarven armor variant into the equipment list like full plate with +7 AC, -4 check, -15 ft, 20 STR, 5 bulk, that dwarves treat like heavy armor. Dwarves would still benefit from high STR.


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Arachnofiend keeps bringing up archetypes which seems like a solution for the future. I'm not annoyed by this idea, however, since I like the design space.

Giving up some class features to have different armor proficiency seems like a valid way to get certain builds and a small way that archetypes can bridge that gap.


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Ruzza wrote:

Arachnofiend keeps bringing up archetypes which seems like a solution for the future. I'm not annoyed by this idea, however, since I like the design space.

Giving up some class features to have different armor proficiency seems like a valid way to get certain builds and a small way that archetypes can bridge that gap.

That sounds awfully clunky.

Light and Medium armor cost practically the same because you trade off DEX resources for STR resources for the most part. I think any effort to distinguish the two by class beyond the initial training is a waste of space. Even heavy armor distinctions are unnecessary because, while you get better AC with heavy armor, high DEX characters might not appreciate the check and speed penalties.

The armors have enough resource gating to make archetype dedications unnecessary or perhaps even annoying. Feats are more than enough of a cost to increase the weight of your armor training. A whole archetype for a heavier armor just seems insane to me.


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I'm confused by the "Punishment" part. If the new AC is higher, switch to Light Armour. If the new AC isn't higher, don't switch. If the new AC is higher, that's a win. If the new AC isn't higher, then nothing has changed.


totoro wrote:
Ruzza wrote:

Arachnofiend keeps bringing up archetypes which seems like a solution for the future. I'm not annoyed by this idea, however, since I like the design space.

Giving up some class features to have different armor proficiency seems like a valid way to get certain builds and a small way that archetypes can bridge that gap.

A whole archetype for a heavier armor just seems insane to me.

Oh, man, completely agreed. But I'm talking about seeing archetypes that cater to specific niches and allow access to things in that area. I honestly can't say what I would want to see because archetypes are currently something of an unknown (in terms of structure), but something akin to a "Battlemage" for instance: Switching out class features for armor prof and getting access to specialized feats. We know that archetypes are going to be allowing people to switch around class features, so I don't see armor being tagged in along with everything else as anything of a stretch.


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Considering lvl 14 Champion multiclass benefit is getting expert on all armor types, I doubt general feat is an investment of equal size. Heavy armor is merely now a more exclusive club than before.


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I'll add auto progression with armor you've invested in to my list of house rules, along with weapon proficiency.


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Why is it okay for characters to benefit in full from Armor Proficiency investments at lower levels, only for such investments to become null and void by 13th level?


Colette Brunel wrote:
Why is it okay for characters to benefit in full from Armor Proficiency investments at lower levels, only for such investments to become null and void by 13th level?

I would say that not all games play out to 20th, much less 13th. I like having options for doing one-shot games. Maybe I want to try out a fun character idea at 5th or 7th and there's a GM running a game at that point. Again, I have no horse in this race at all, but this really seems like it's being blown way out of proportion.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
Why is it okay for characters to benefit in full from Armor Proficiency investments at lower levels, only for such investments to become null and void by 13th level?

Because sometimes choices are good at one level but not so good later. Not all choices are required to be equally awesome for all levels in the game. I get that you seem to feel like this game should be played such that only the most optimal choices are ever made, but the game isn't only made for you.


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I don't think an archetype dedicated to armour using is too niche to print. An archetype can happily take up half a page. They only need to be 3-5 feats long afterall.

So I can see a dedication that improves what proficiency you have, one that gives you the armour specialization benefit. One that gives you a special action/reaction based on the armour you have (body block for medium, something that involves your armours hardness for heavy and a nimble dodge style thing for light.)


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What does it accomplish for some options to have an expiration date?

Is there some hidden nugget of game design that makes the system function better by having Armor Proficiency investments mostly be valid from 1st to 12th, only to become sidelined by 13th?


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You can just retrain if you don't want to continue investing feats to use that type of armour. The core book supports using a feat for a while, then changing it out for something more appropriate later on.


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Colette Brunel wrote:

What does it accomplish for some options to have an expiration date?

Is there some hidden nugget of game design that makes the system function better by having Armor Proficiency investments mostly be valid from 1st to 12th, only to become sidelined by 13th?

If nothing else it opens up design space for other things that do scale up. The Fighter and Champion dedications include high level feats that scale arbitrary weapon or armor proficiency up to expert. The fact that it's actually super awkward to find that sort of scaling is in fact part of what makes those dedications valuable. Now does that mean I think nobody other than a Champion multiclass should ever be able to scale up to expert armor proficiency? No, but I also don't think it should literally just come along with the Armor Proficiency feat, or just be a General Feat that anyone can take at 13th level because the existence of such a feat means that Champion Dedication gets worse.


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I think proficiency is being undervalued for legacy reasons. Getting to master in a weapon or armour is actually a big deal on a level with PF1s Full BAB or 9th level spells, it's not like dipping a single level to get a PF1 weapon or armour proficiency. Look at how many feats you spend for some spell access, having higher levels of proficiency gated behind some feats is actually pricing the strengths of some classes at an appropriate level.


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Azurespark wrote:
It's weird how someone can become more proficient with something they never used (like say light armor), but they never get any better with something they've used for over 10 levels (like say medium or heavy armor)

I seen that comment before and it still doesn't make sense. With that logic of yours, every class that gives proficiency in all simple, martial or advanced weapons is weird because it's unlikely someone will use every single weapon.

You're trying to apply some realism to a mechanical feature that doesn't make sense to be honest. Sounds like you and the others making this statement need to make a houserule that levels proficiency based on usage.

It's a bit like, rogues who don't saps or rapiers, are better with saps and rapiers and not the advanced weapon they used a feat on. Are rogues weird?

I think it kind of boils down to, people just want access to master/legendary proficiency no matter what class they pick.


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Corvo Spiritwind wrote:
I think it kind of boils down to, people just want access to master/legendary proficiency no matter what class they pick.

Flat out wrong. People want to be able to pick an armor or weapon type, play with it, and not have the rug pulled out from under them with a surprise number switch that means they're better off switching to something else.

Especially with armor, which is as tightly balanced as its ever been, it makes no sense to jump out of a bush and clobber an armor wearing wizard with "you're playing wrong!" for no good reason.

As for the argument "Just retrain it!", I say hogwash. Not only does a party not have guaranteed down time for retraining, but GMs like me will insist on an RP justification for any retraining and "It's optimal for my build to switch something I've had since level 1 for pure numbers reasons" doesn't pass muster. I'd MUCH sooner fix the number problem they were trying to solve for them.


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WatersLethe wrote:
Corvo Spiritwind wrote:
I think it kind of boils down to, people just want access to master/legendary proficiency no matter what class they pick.

Flat out wrong. People want to be able to pick an armor or weapon type, play with it, and not have the rug pulled out from under them with a surprise number switch that means they're better off switching to something else.

Especially with armor, which is as tightly balanced as its ever been, it makes no sense to jump out of a bush and clobber an armor wearing wizard with "you're playing wrong!" for no good reason.

As for the argument "Just retrain it!", I say hogwash. Not only does a party not have guaranteed down time for retraining, but GMs like me will insist on an RP justification for any retraining and "It's optimal for my build to switch something I've had since level 1 for pure numbers reasons" doesn't pass muster. I'd MUCH sooner fix the number problem they were trying to solve for them.

Not that flat-out I think. I believe I've seen comments that boiled down to champion/fighter MC "only" giving out master proficiency in armor/weapons.

I have to flat-out disagree with the rug idiom and the surprise number. The moment you glance at a class, you know when it's proficiencies go up. It should be zero surprise that a wizard won't get same proficiency in heavy armor as in light. It's right there on page 207.

There's a bit hyperbole going on here I think. It's not that some crazy bush goblin whacks you with a stick and makes your heavy armor useless. It's more that you went ahead and picked something that doesn't scale and are unhappy that it doesn't scale.

There's a clear way to get expert any armor on any character, and currently it's champion archetype, which at level 14. Granted, it's not a method that works for many characters but it's out there to get expert, albeit not master, in heavy armor on any class. I think not giving players time to retrain and demand higher standard of fluff for retraining is on you.

But saying that it's surprising and unfair that a class doesn't get heavy armor proficiency on par with martial classes like fighter or champion, even though it's right there on the first pages of a class, is a bit silly.


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That 13th level ability really should say "...as well as any armor type you are proficient in."


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If its core to your concept you can spend the two class feats and get plate to expert on your wizard. If the champion multiclass is a deal breaker on that, I'd wait a little, I'm sure another archetype that does something similar will come along.


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Ravingdork wrote:
That 13th level ability really should say "...as well as any armor type you are proficient in."

That would obsolete the last champion MC feat.


HidaOWin wrote:
If its core to your concept you can spend the two class feats and get plate to expert on your wizard. If the champion multiclass is a deal breaker on that, I'd wait a little, I'm sure another archetype that does something similar will come along.

By two feats, do you mean one on the Dedication and then one on the Armor expert feat?


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HidaOWin wrote:
If its core to your concept you can spend the two class feats and get plate to expert on your wizard. If the champion multiclass is a deal breaker on that, I'd wait a little, I'm sure another archetype that does something similar will come along.

That's where I stand on this. People are cool with having a fun class concept, but requiring every concept to be as optimized as the classes that have that as their identity seems just a bit much. If a few feats makes my fighter not feel special next to the wizard, then I start seeing a problem.

I much rather enjoy having players who have their concept that works at the table (as all builds seem to do) than have players feel like their character is replaceable.


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Xenocrat wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
That 13th level ability really should say "...as well as any armor type you are proficient in."
That would obsolete the last champion MC feat.

That feat should probably do something else that doesn't obsolete player choices for all the other characters.


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Corvo Spiritwind wrote:
HidaOWin wrote:
If its core to your concept you can spend the two class feats and get plate to expert on your wizard. If the champion multiclass is a deal breaker on that, I'd wait a little, I'm sure another archetype that does something similar will come along.

By two feats, do you mean one on the Dedication and then one on the Armor expert feat?

Yeah, with a bit of retraining that should be doable at 10th level after putting a 5th level and 10th level boost into your Strength and Charisma.


HidaOWin wrote:
Corvo Spiritwind wrote:
HidaOWin wrote:
If its core to your concept you can spend the two class feats and get plate to expert on your wizard. If the champion multiclass is a deal breaker on that, I'd wait a little, I'm sure another archetype that does something similar will come along.

By two feats, do you mean one on the Dedication and then one on the Armor expert feat?

Yeah, with a bit of retraining that should be doable at 10th level after putting a 5th level and 10th level boost into your Strength and Charisma.

That's actually nice, I didn't think of skipping feats in between.


Corvo Spiritwind wrote:
It's a bit like, rogues who don't saps or rapiers, are better with saps and rapiers and not the advanced weapon they used a feat on. Are rogues weird?

Absolutely, but no more so than any other class.

If I have a character who has practiced with daggers since first level, and never wielded a rapier, and you sudden toss them a rapier at 13th level for the first time, they should be comparably terrible with it. Likewise if I have some sort of Kuthite assassin who picked up proficiency with a spiked chain they should be able to still be as deadly with it at high level as a rogue with any standard rogue weapon. But no better than that rogue either.


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"Just multiclass into champion" group is basically making a powergamer.
There is a difference between being a powergamer and wanting to play a mechanically good character with interesting twists.

General feat group already has fairly few options, with the fact that Weapon and Armour proficiency are clear trap options, it both reduces the pool of General Feats (so basically they turn into Skill feats), and removes some character concepts from play.

When I say I want my Wizard to use a martial weapon, I don't mean I want to be a martial Wizard. I just mean I want to be as good with it as I would be with a staff at my level.


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NemoNoName wrote:

"Just multiclass into champion" group is basically making a powergamer.

There is a difference between being a powergamer and wanting to play a mechanically good character with interesting twists.

General feat group already has fairly few options, with the fact that Weapon and Armour proficiency are clear trap options, it both reduces the pool of General Feats (so basically they turn into Skill feats), and removes some character concepts from play.

When I say I want my Wizard to use a martial weapon, I don't mean I want to be a martial Wizard. I just mean I want to be as good with it as I would be with a staff at my level.

Not really about powergaming. I'd say the same to a martial who wants casting. "There's a way and it's called MC Archetype."

Anyone can put a level 2 and 12 class feat to become Expert in simple and martial weapons, and trained in all advanced weapons.

Or 2 and 14 feats to become Expert in all armors. But that's more power gaming than wanting a general feat to scale on par with multiclass archetypes? If anything it's less power gaming because you're giving up Class Feats instead of General Feats which tend to have less overall impact, hindering your power levels a little.

What's the alternative, scaling general feats? Rewriting fighter and champion archetypes two weeks after release of the new books?


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NemoNoName wrote:


There is a difference between being a powergamer and wanting to play a mechanically good character with interesting twists.

Currently at launch, "mechanically good" with weapons or armor is the purview of martials. This is currently sitting at +2 starting at 13th level. Am I crazy in thinking that's not too big of a deal? I mean, we know that we're going to get material in the future (we literally heard about APG playtests last week). I feel like playing a fun concept is "mechanically fine."

Sovereign Court

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Can we please stop using language like being “punished”? The concept is patently ridiculous.

If you take a less desirable option for reasons of good roleplay, good for you for putting character above optimization. That has been true in every edition, especially with only one Rulebook released.

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