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View Full Version : [D&D 3.5e] Where Steel Is Mightier Than The Staff Ė Exploration In Mundane Characters



Eldariel
2010-03-17, 07:37 PM
What follows is not really relevant to the point besides acting as basis and as such, if youíre only reading this for the point, skip the spoilers. With that:
So, everyone knows this dear game of ours; we have our Wizards, our Fighters, our Druids, our imbalances, our fixes, and things to give us topics for endless discussions, like Monks. Often in the various threads discussing the inherent imbalance in the various abilities granted to spellcasting classes as opposed to martial classes, wealth per level is brought up as the magic fix that deals with all the issues.

And in a way, it makes sense; a fighter not being able to fly is fixed with Wings of Flying, not being able to hit incorporeals goes poof with a magic sword, being stuck in Forcecages is solved via simple Boots of Big Stepping and so on. At the same time though, Iíve always found this distasteful. If I want to play a non-magical character, and by that I mean non-magical, then by the gods, I donít want to copout to boatloads of magic items just to contribute over the first three minutes of a given adventure.


Why the hell would I need to fly when Iíve got a perfectly good bow? Why should I need a strength-enhancing belt when Iíve got my superhuman skill? Why should I need a teleportation tool to get out of a cage of force; canít I just pit my strength against it, or as I copped out a bit and have a magic sword, have magic defeat magic and slice the damn thing open?! I can see wanting a magic sword to have a capability to pierce all manners of magical obstacles and damaging creatures without actual bodies; thatís something magic needs to do.

I can also see a magic shield to do the job of blocking those spells, dragonbreath and such. But why the hell do I need a Christmas tree of **** drawn along with all this to not get locked out by Spell of Awesome #137? And for that matter, why do I, superhuman with a lifelong training, have to still bow down to a stupid blessed man or a beardy old dude turning into various animals and beasts without (or even with) those stupid trinkets?
In short, I find equipment reliance a real copout for the feel of a specifically non-magical character. If I wanted to play a guy with a dozen spell effects to see him through, Iíd play a damn caster. When I think of any hero in any damn story, they might have one, two magic items; and those are generally their weapon and possibly some piece of armor/protection. Arthur? Yeah, thereís that Excalibur. Odysseus? None of note. Hercules? Well, super strength (divine blood and all), but apart from that, no magic toys. Conan? Hah, I laugh at your trinkets and split you in two! And thatís just scratching the surface. Point being, heroes of various stories filled with magic and mythical creatures have always managed fine with just a magic weapon if even that. How? Well, mundane tools and their wits. And here-in we arrive at my point: I think D&D is doing a great disservice to mundanes by splitting them into so many character archetypes. Rather, I find it incredibly wrong that all mundanes lack:
- Skill points. Skills cover much of what heroes of the epics use to get by and enable making up for lacking some magical tools. Martialists seem to average some sorry 4 skill points+int/level! Thatís not enough to max anything but hiding/moving silently and spotting/listening! Good luck jumping or climbing or swimming or doing anything epic without magical help after that point.
- Bow Powers: As I pointed out earlier, the answer to lacking flight? Well, bows have traditionally worked really well for dealing with flying foes. What did Smaug die to again? A frigginí arrow! Probably a magic arrow (no problem with that, magic arrows enabling incredible feats once is just as big a fantasy trope as magic weapons in the first place) and so on, but still an arrow! Not sword, not Shivering Touch, an arrow. Of course, in D&D, your bow wonít do much unless itís BFB 9000 and youíve invested some 6+ feats into becoming somewhat proficient at using it; good luck doing that while not giving up your other weapon skills! That and the whole ďooh, thereís some wind, you canít hit!Ē-part, no matter how good you are. So swimming up a waterfall is alright, but firing a bow in wind is too much?
- Proficiency in Multiple Weapons: You barely have enough feats to specialize in one weapon. Even after reaching superhuman capabilities. And that only if you chose the one class that can learn a relevant number of weapon skills. Really cool. Would it really kill the game to have a guy who knows how to use a sword and a bow? Would it kill the game to have that be par de course? Wouldnít it just make a heapiní ton more sense for warriors to be capable of taking on flying opponents not because they have magical enhancements that enable them to fly, but because theyíre also able to use ranged weapons well?


Mundane answers to mythical problems; isnít that what mundane characters are all about? And yet, weapon skill, skill skill and actual ABILITIES are all divided to different classes. No single class gains lots of both with the single possible exception of the Ranger, which also happens to be a spellcaster and lacks the tools to be efficient at both, melee- and long ranges. Thatís just wrong; I donít think the split should be so strong.

Sure, a Rogue should be more skilled than a Fighter, but both should be more skilled than the Wizard who doesnít really have that much need for those skills, and both should be skilled enough to cover the various things mostly accomplished via. Spells anyways. The skills would allow the Fighter to eventually defeat illusions and mask his thoughts from mindreading; in other words, interact with magic in mundane ways.

And none but the Fighter having enough feats to be any good at various different weapons, especially without magic, is just fairly sad. ToB fixes this somewhat; if you add ranged schools, you suddenly have some access to multi-capability as you no longer need feats to be any good at anything.

Now, if we just had all the non-magical archetypes covered with sufficient skill coverage and access to both, ranged and melee combat capabilities, we could actually cut down on the stupid WBL crap running the game come mid-levels.


AndÖthatís about it. I donít have a solution worked out (or all martial classes rewritten, rather), nor have I found homebrew that sufficiently addresses this in a satisfactory manner. So., to avoid the ďcool story, broĒ-feel, IímÖgonna do not much. Iím sure someone will tell me why I posted this. Hopefully someone will even find this somehow useful. Good day.

tahu88810
2010-03-17, 07:42 PM
Reading your post...
Would it be too much to give fighters a free feat -every- level, instead of just on some of them?

Riffington
2010-03-17, 07:43 PM
I absolutely agree with this.
I'm not sure how best to attack the problem within a level-based system (it's much easier in, say, Gurps) but I'm thinking the basic question is probably "What should be the differences in abilities between Conan and Aragorn?" Maybe an understanding of how we'd flesh those out would help figure out the rest?

I imagine that a game that starts with letting different nonmagical hero archetypes coexist, and then puts in wizards and priests as an afterthought would probably work best, but like you I'm not fully certain how to attack that problem within D20.

Saph
2010-03-17, 07:46 PM
Here's the way I see it:

Humans use tools. Competent humans typically use the best tools they can get. In our world, the best tools are made with technology. In a D&D world, the best tools are made with magic.

So the 'Christmas tree effect' isn't actually as silly as it sounds. I mean, if you could get a set of items that literally made you stronger, faster, tougher, smarter, wiser, and more charming, wouldn't you wear them every chance you got? I know I would. :P

Sinfire Titan
2010-03-17, 07:47 PM
Reading your post...
Would it be too much to give fighters a free feat -every- level, instead of just on some of them?

Not unless you rebalance every feat to be in line with Tome of Battle maneuvers or a Beguiler's Spells/Day.

The problem isn't the number of feats, it's the number of feats that do something relevant. Numerical bonuses only go so far before they get boring by comparison.


Think of it this way: If spells were balanced with feats, Greater Weapon Focus would be equal in all ways to a Sorcerer's Scry spell (obtained at 8th level).

Fact of the matter is that this is not the case. A +2 bonus on damage rolls versus being able to find your car keys from the other side of the multiverse?

This, BTW, is the reason Bonus Spells/day are overpowered.

Crow
2010-03-17, 07:47 PM
It's not really a solution that I like, but I have seen elsewhere;

Refluff certain items that allow you do something, to be something else.

Like the belt of one mighty blow, which allows you to get extra damage on an attack, could be fluffed as special training your fighter has received that allows him to get a bit more damage out of an attack every once in a while.

Obviously this does not work with everything.

I too hate the christmas tree effect in D&D, and would really like to see it die.


"What should be the differences in abilities between Conan and Aragorn?"

That's the thing though, they really don't have all that many differences in their abilities. Some. But not enough in my opinion to classify one in an entirely different class than the other. (I am going by Conan in the stories by Robert E. Howard)

tahu88810
2010-03-17, 07:54 PM
Not unless you rebalance every feat to be in line with Tome of Battle maneuvers or a Beguiler's Spells/Day.

The problem isn't the number of feats, it's the number of feats that do something relevant. Numerical bonuses only go so far before they get boring by comparison.


Think of it this way: If spells were balanced with feats, Greater Weapon Focus would be equal in all ways to a Sorcerer's Scry spell (obtained at 8th level).

Fact of the matter is that this is not the case. A +2 bonus on damage rolls versus being able to find your car keys from the other side of the multiverse?

This, BTW, is the reason Bonus Spells/day are overpowered.

Hrm...I see. I'm afraid I've never really fully understood why it was unbalanced, but just knew that it was. Thank you for clearing that up.

Perhaps if we alter Crow's suggestion of refluffing magic items, and turn certain items into feats of a sort? Then every level where a fighter does not already gain a feat, he can choose from a list of refluffed items that fit that particular level? Almost a free item, but in feat form?

Sinfire Titan
2010-03-17, 07:58 PM
Hrm...I see. I'm afraid I've never really fully understood why it was unbalanced, but just knew that it was. Thank you for clearing that up.

Perhaps if we alter Crow's suggestion of refluffing magic items, and turn certain items into feats of a sort? Then every level where a fighter does not already gain a feat, he can choose from a list of refluffed items that fit that particular level? Almost a free item, but in feat form?

Some of the abilities Crow was describing I am actually working on (a Skill Trick for people with the Mage Slayer line that lets them use a magic weapon to "damage" force objects, for example). The trick is balancing it out so that DMs will be inclined to use the abilities. Most posters here who read my posts know I'm an optimizer, and some would be inclined to dismiss my handywork as overpowered based on that alone.

Karma, in other words, is a *****.

ericgrau
2010-03-17, 07:58 PM
My signature may help clean out certain magic items. Although this is more innate supernatural than non-magical.

Eldariel
2010-03-17, 08:00 PM
Here's the way I see it:

Humans use tools. Competent humans typically use the best tools they can get. In our world, the best tools are made with technology. In a D&D world, the best tools are made with magic.

So the 'Christmas tree effect' isn't actually as silly as it sounds. I mean, if you could get a set of items that literally made you stronger, faster, tougher, smarter, wiser, and more charming, wouldn't you wear them every chance you got? I know I would. :P

Aye, that it does; my problem is not the Xmas Tree Effect in and of itself, but how integral it is to the game. Sure, a world like Eberron has plenty of especially lower-level trinkets to go around, and enough casters that one can ensure a constant supply of just about anything this side of epic.

But when we go to a world where the number of high-level casters is almost zero, and the number of high-level casters willing to invest their life energy into items just for money is even lower, where magical items are mostly ancient relics in tombs guarded by whatever secrets the progenitors put there to ensure only the one the item was intended for would be able to use it, the whole paradigm falls apart.


I really like finding the occasional Belt of Frost Giant Strength. And if I ever got my hands on the mythical Phoenix Cloak, I'd be round with happiness. I also appreciate Disjunction, and the effect Rust Monsters have on the world. I don't want permanent destruction of those magic items to cripple my characters.

I want a Fighter who, yes, would greatly benefit of the Belt of Frost Giant Strength, but who will manage just fine fighting air elementals without Scout's Headband, Wizards without Boots of Big Stepping and Dragons without Wings of Flying. Basically, I want magic items back where they were in AD&D; a nice, but rare-and-difficult-to-acquire-bonus, not a necessity. Ultimately, I'd want Conan to be a menace with a magical greatsword, but a power to reckon with even with just a simple improvised club.

HunterOfJello
2010-03-17, 08:01 PM
Fix = Warblade

A character who uses no magic at all and improves his battle prowess and abilities by gaining experience in the art of kicking ass.

(okay some of his stuff is a little bit magical, but it's definitely not full-on arcane or divine magic being employed)


/end thread

/start argument

Tinydwarfman
2010-03-17, 08:01 PM
I feel you man. I hate it too. That's why I do away with 3.5 and play Iron Heroes. It's got some problems too, but it is awesome in it's enabling of kick ass mundane characters, and doing away with your reliance on magic items (by doing away with them entirely). Try it.

Roderick_BR
2010-03-17, 08:10 PM
That's very true. I'm working on a little system, picking only "mundane" classes, majorly inspired on the Age of Warriors thread in the Homebrew board. I talked to my group, that enjoys all-warrior sessions (they rarely pick a caster class other than paladin), and I saw some cool classes to "replace" the classic classes, like using a marshal/warlord in place of cleric, for example.

Eldariel
2010-03-17, 08:21 PM
@Crow/Ericgrau: Yeah, thanks. But as you both pointed out, those kinds of solution aren't really hitting the problem in its core. Scaling the CRs down (or just numbers), improving stat improvement rate or such is ultimately not that big a hassle. Numerically matching the two up is...in the end, the easy part. It just means adding few numeric bonuses to the core chassis here and there as opposed to getting them from magic items. And that can really be fluffed in any way whatsoever.

What I really find needed here is non-magical ways to compensate for the "necessary" options that are absent in magicless warriors. Like flight and teleportation and such. Obviously similar abilities are hardly viable as a replacement, since they're so obviously magical...which is, I guess, where this problem stems from in the first place.

@Sinfire: Well, all I can say is, hope to see some of that soon. Knowing you, they should be pretty damn usable and it sounds like a rather reasonable source of solutions. I've actually written some such stuff in the homebrew (mostly expanding skills to create more anti-magic interaction, making the "conceal surface thoughts"-use of bluff along with some other stuff into a skill all of its own and such), but I'm not sure where they are right now and whether people find them any good.

Still, I find a solution to that effect would be optimal; what the game really needs here is mutual interaction - mundanes with the capability to interact with magic, perhaps with magic tool, but just that one (the magic weapon/shield) which is best provided by inherent abilities, feats and skill tricks (which would probably be best granted in numbers). Hell, historically steel has been attributed with mythical powers (as well as just about anything else); as a good example, the ability of "cold iron" to harm fey. Maybe just playing upon that, making steel itself have inherent magical power and thus steel weapon being the ticket to interacting with magic as a mundane as opposed to requiring a magic weapon? Makes "power of steel" a much more real saying too.


I feel you man. I hate it too. That's why I do away with 3.5 and play Iron Heroes. It's got some problems too, but it is awesome in it's enabling of kick ass mundane characters, and doing away with your reliance on magic items (by doing away with them entirely). Try it.

I like Iron Heroes. But it's different; it has less of a high fantasy feel. I find 3.5 to hit closest in where I want for my fantasy roleplaying system to be in so many aspects. Except this (and then the whole caster crap, but that has been sufficiently covered so I needn't go there). So...yeah, it's a solution, but ultimately not the one I'm looking for. Any high fantasy literature doesn't...to me, at least, radiate with magic items to the degree 3.5 D&D does. I'll play Iron Heroes, but not over 3.5.


Fix = Warblade

A character who uses no magic at all and improves his battle prowess and abilities by gaining experience in the art of kicking ass.

(okay some of his stuff is a little bit magical, but it's definitely not full-on arcane or divine magic being employed)

I'm afraid you did not cover any of the issues. Yes, Warblade is much better off than a standard Fighter. Yes, I'd always play a Warblade over a Fighter simply 'cause it's more fun. But a multi-specialisation with ranged weapons? Not with the printed schools, that ain't happening.

Fight Dragon without flight? Well, good luck there, sir. Escape a Forcecage? Not in this lifetime. ToB has the groundwork to enable multispecialization; the maneuver system is an excellent basis for that as they don't look at your weapon allowing you to kick ass in various ways and look good while doing it.

As written though, you still miss out on e.g. archery entirely. And the skills could really use some reworking. And your blade still doesn't dig through Forcecage (though with a sufficiently liberal reading, I guess IHS could).

Riffington
2010-03-17, 08:30 PM
And your blade still doesn't dig through Forcecage

Should it? All the other bits make perfect sense. But why can't there be certain things a warrior can never brute-force through? Isn't a cage of impenetrable force the exact thing that Conan would overcome via cunning rather than might?

/of course, the ability to simply put your enemies into an impenetrable cage of force should be a doomsday ability, not a 7th level spell. Unless 13th level is doomsday anyway, in which case that's fine.

Eldariel
2010-03-17, 08:38 PM
Should it? All the other bits make perfect sense. But why can't there be certain things a warrior can never brute-force through? Isn't a cage of impenetrable force the exact thing that Conan would overcome via cunning rather than might?

/of course, the ability to simply put your enemies into an impenetrable cage of force should be a doomsday ability, not a 7th level spell. Unless 13th level is doomsday anyway, in which case that's fine.

Well, a no-save multiday "You won't do anything" is a bit too good. I mean, obviously you shouldn't be able to slice through the Forcecage normally, but maybe, just maybe, your magic sword (or steel sword with its inherent power) is able to interact with the Forcecage and thus, with sufficient combination of skill, power and weapon aid, you manage to eventually find the weak point in the forcefield that enables you to break it momentarily as to slip out. Or something.

It's just an example of what I think should happen, though in the spell end; even the more powerful spells should offer some option for non-casters to interact with them. Maybe it requires a magic tool and such, that's all fine. After all, it's a spell. It's powerful. Breaking it shouldn't be easy, especially since it's a high level spell. But when a caster can just say "you end now" to any non-caster, we come at an issue. When the only way to fight back or around in any way is to be a caster yourself, things become...pointless to a degree for non-casters. It's really cool to be a 15th level Warblade when you're locked in the same damn Forcecage you'd be on level 1 'cause you're still not a caster and thus can't teleport out or Disintegrate it.


Surely spells have weaknesses too. Surely there are ways through or around them. Surely they aren't perfect, especially under level 9. Surely a warrior should be somehow able to interact with them without becoming a pseudocaster, either through being able to bypass them somehow (I'm not accounting for DC 120 skill checks here, FYI) or being able to pierce them somehow. Not easily, not without effort, not on low levels; otherwise it wouldn't be a spell worth casting. But just saying "Sit." and Conan sitting isn't...how I envision the exchange going.

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-03-17, 08:45 PM
The solution is really retooling the feat and skill systems. If 6th level is the peak of mythical human achievement, feat chains shouldn't exist; you should be able to be the best archer you can be with a single feat that scales with you. Skills should grant more benefits, and epic uses should have their DCs vastly reduced; if casters can cast forcecage at 13th level, then having 16 ranks in skill Tumble/Athletics/etc. or similar should just let you slip through a forcecage or break it or whatever with a modicum of effort.

The magic/martial problem is, at its core, the problem with binary effects--either you can fly or you're screwed against most flying enemies, either you can hurt a wall of force or you're stuck in the forcecage, either you're immune to death effects or they wreck you with a single failed save, etc. Casters get lots of effects that require outright immunity to negate; martial types (A) don't get counters to them and (B) don't have any similar effects. Fix feats and skills, and fix the binary nature of things, and you won't have a problem. Of course, you'll very likely also have something that looks very little like 3e at all, but that's another issue.

Fizban
2010-03-17, 09:18 PM
I'm surprised it hasn't been pointed out yet, but part of the problem is that DnD spans a very large game. The heroes you mentioned? Level 5 or 6, Hercules might have reached 10 or 15 depending on how strong strong is. Another standard example is Lord of the Rings, where Aragorn is once again level 5 or 6. They can fill up their WBL with one or two items easy, and are in the area where movement skills and raw ability bonuses to low/untrained skills still matter.

If you're sticking to big bonuses, the christmas tree effect won't start showing up too bad till after 10th, conveniently the point at which the Legend Lore spell says you're a bona-fide legend. At this point you've got legendary heroes everyone knows about fighting massive dragons, angels, demons, and horrors from below. The kind of fights where it blinks and everyone that isn't specifically covered in magic dies immediately, and only the ones covered in magic are supposed to live. King Arthur died in combat against normal men, and while I don't know about Conan and Hercules, Beowulf died the next hit he took after the dragon breathed fire on him.

If you want heroes without tons of magic to remain viable at higher levels, then you have to pit them against foes that don't have tons of magic. If you want to fight high level magic with the mundane, you should probably find a different game. If not, best I can offer is ToB and some fancy prestige classing to get the abilities the game assumes you'll have from magic gear.

*Yes, I am aware my argument is basically that "DnD doesn't work that way". But well... DnD doesn't work that way. It's got the mundane heroes below ten and the mythical heroes with magical artifacts above ten. Don't forget that the set of magic items a non-caster needs is worth a small country, making them effectively artifacts in a low-magic game, so a non-caster with that much magic is effectively a "mythical legend with a bunch of artifacts". You've got about a 10 level window after the starting level where the game genre can hold, and after that it pretty much has to change in order for the characters to keep advancing.

**Pairo' dice make some good points on the binary situation as well. As long as there's always a mundane counter then you can survive without magic, but to do this at higher levels you'll have to modify the game.

Jack_Simth
2010-03-17, 09:32 PM
What I really find needed here is non-magical ways to compensate for the "necessary" options that are absent in magicless warriors. Like flight and teleportation and such. Obviously similar abilities are hardly viable as a replacement, since they're so obviously magical...which is, I guess, where this problem stems from in the first place.The real way to deal with it is to deal with the things that make such abilities necessary.

Warrior can't use a bow effective due to Wind Wall? It's Wind Wall that's the problem (really, it is - a no-roll spell that prevents all attacks of a certain type, with no particular way around it, is the problem). If, instead of auto-spoiling all arrows and bolts, Wind Wall simply gave a bonus to AC vs. those types of things (five or ten, maybe?) it wouldn't be nearly so problematic of a spell; the skilled fighter could get around it, fairly reliably.

Likewise, fighters and such need true-seeing... to deal with blinking, displaced, mirror-imaged, and blurred Wizards. If, instead of a miss chance, such spells granted a bonus to AC against people not immune to illusions... again, the skilled fighter could get around it, fairly reliably.

And so on. But yeah, skills would help the poor Fighter/Paladin/Barbarian out. Maybe gestalt him with the NPC Expert?

Mongoose87
2010-03-17, 09:34 PM
Here's an idea: Add a mechanic for feats of Pure [CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING]: a) Might b) Speed c) Wit d) Willpower

Have a mechanic where you assign a DC based on the task and apply the relevant bonus.

Ex. To sunder a Wall of Force, you attempt a feat of Raw Might(TM). You roll a d20 and add STR+ ECL/2. If you beat whatever arbitrary DC we decide on, you succeed.

These feats would only be doable by character belonging to classes that cannot achieve 9th level spellcasting. Or something like that.

TheCountAlucard
2010-03-17, 09:44 PM
I don't know about Conan and Hercules...Poisoned tunic got Herc in the end.

Hand_of_Vecna
2010-03-17, 09:48 PM
2 levels of bloodstormbaldes gives you martial throw which lets you use all your feats and manuevers meant for mellee on a thrown weapon and will only lose you one initiator level. Weapon aptitude allows you to shift weapon specific feats around between weapons and a swordsage dip will give you weapon focus in a whole slew of weapons.

I'm not sure mechanically if it would work but it your using throw anything on your main weapon (granted by bsb 1) and took the waepon focus line you might be able to take ranged weapon mastery with no addition investment adding 15 feet to your range increment then take farshot to double it two feats and two class levels for range increment 50 on a weapon that functions like mellee ain't too bad Warblade 5/BloodStormBlade 2/Warblade 13 should be pretty damn strong.

Godskook
2010-03-17, 10:27 PM
If you're up for homebrewed solutions, here's my old attempt, which I'm gearing up for an update on:

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130114

Notable things:
-Butchers 'cheap' contingencies, which simply don't have the caster level to survive the opposed rolls. High-quality contingencies will still be quite useful, but are also a much more significant portion of a character's budget, and thus deserve to be relevant.
-Downgrades bouncing mages, as they must now roll to react to the fighter, and must do so at a penalty.
-Increases 'mundane' action economy by allowing them to move and attack during AoOs.
-Solves a large portion of the range problem by making melee range a lot more upgradable.

Mongoose87
2010-03-17, 10:46 PM
One thing that 3.5e mundanes could definitely benefit from is a skill system more like that of SW:SAGA. Adding half your level to all skill checks keeps those non-skill monkey classes from being so bad at skills at higher levels.

The Shadowmind
2010-03-17, 11:15 PM
What about homebrewing:An increase number of skill points for the mundane types(like 6+INT for fighter, and make spot, tumble, and spellcraft, knowledge nature/arcane class skills for the non magic types), and make a bunch of skill tricks(2 points) that are designed to counter the common magic methods, and make new method to fight.

Ex:
Skill trick:Wind piercing strike,
Prerequisite:Spot 5,
Fluff:You are sure in detecting the flow of wind, and can fire arrows with such skill even wind cannot knock it off target.
Benefit: When using a range weapon, the effects of wind, even magical wind, have no effect on you ranged attacks.

Skill trick:Beast slaying strike
Knowledge: Nature 10
Knowledge Arcane 5
Jump 15:
Benefit:A full round action: You can move half up to your land speed then, you can jump upwards,the DC of the jump is equal to the DC of an equal distance of a Long distance jump, and deliver one melee attack to a target at the end of the land speed or at any point during the jump, at your normal bonus, if the create is hit by this attack, then it must make a fortitude save or die. The save is equal to your class level + damage dealt. You do not provoke an Aoo uisng this ability.
-The wording is horrible.

Skill trick:Blinding blade.
Spot 5:
Fluff:You can direct the reflect of the sun into an opponents eyes, making him an easier target.
Benefit: As a swift action you can attempt to blind an a opponent for 1 round within 30ft if you are holding a melee weapon, or twice this distance in any direction if the target is in the air.The target must make a fortitude save, or be blinded for 1 round. The DC is equal to you spot check+your BAB+5.You can only use this ability if a source of light is present.

You can probably think of better examples, though.

Harperfan7
2010-03-18, 12:19 AM
In a static campaign, a fighter doesn't have much power (compared to his level/other classes). The same is true when outside of dungeons.

Out in the open with lots of time and not much to do with it, a fighter really is just a big dumb sword swinger. Whereas in the same situation a wizard can fry you from his sofa half a multiverse away right after spending 3 years arming himself with the optimal gear he knew to have from divinations and knowledge.

But in a dungeon against enemies roughly as powerful as you are, a fighter can be more useful than another wizard. The problem is, most DMs don't put forth the effort to make this true (though, admitedly, for good reason - its just not worth it).

If a wizard has the time and safety to prepare, a fighter is useless by comparison, and when it comes down to it, two wizards have a better chance of making themselves safe than a wizard/fighter combo.

If you only had randomized treasure to arm yourself with, dungeons were constantly dangerous places, wizards/dragons/outsiders spend a great deal of time and effort planning against mages, and every rule in the book is strictly enforced, the quadratic fighter/linear wizard thing wouldn't be as big a problem.

What can you do?:smallsigh:

I always (try to) have it so that the more inherently powerful a class is, the more they, personally, have coming after them. This way, a party of wizards/druids will have just as hard a time functioning as a "standard" party.

Every once in a while, enemies that are hell for casters but relatively easy for warriors show up and wreak havoc (mage slayers, counterspelling specialists + golems, spell-sappers, etc). Casters realistically ought to actively make life much harder for other casters.

This would be harder to do for druids, but really, druids ought to be weaker (in my campaign, they have wild shape and access to natural spell, but no companion or spantaneous summoning)

JeminiZero
2010-03-18, 01:32 AM
Thinking about the matter, it seems to me... well, maybe you should look for a game other than D&D.*

It is true that most traditional fantasy stories do not depict their wizards as the reality screwing powerhouses that they are in D&D. But it seems that D&D was always aiming for a far more... high magic feel. When a spellcaster can slice a mountain in half, turn that large chunk of rock upside down, and build a city on the flat surface, it is a remarkable display of sheer raw arcane power. It is also something (mostly) absent in traditional fantasy.

But in the end it is a conscious design choice that its creators took. And one that had ramifications on every aspect of the game. (There is also the problem that a lot of the stuff wasn't properly playtested, or was terribly concieved and badly worded as written. But thats another issue).

*If you want a game where the warrior can shrug off the wizards attack and then shoot a magic shield piercing arrow, try M&M 2e. The ability to buy up your saves to however high is needed to resist effects certainly helps.

krossbow
2010-03-18, 01:55 AM
Have you tried iron heroes? that game was designed with the intention of making all the power depending on your character, without any christmas tree effects.

pffh
2010-03-18, 03:49 AM
I'm thinking about running a no magic items E6 game and this is what I've come up with:

Full casters are rare, if you want to play one you'll have to convince me.
Rangers lose their spellcasting gain druid animal companion instead.

Feats at 1, 2, 4 and 6 instead of 1, 3 and 6.

2 extra skill points per level, max ranks in skils isl ECL+2 instead of +3 to increase diversity and all skills are class skills.

The attribute increase at level 4 is +1 to two attributes instead of one.

Everyone gets endure elements (I mean what kind of hero are you if you can't climb a glacier wearing only loincloth and maybe a helmet)

Shield AC is added to touch AC.

At 2nd level you gain +2 deflection bonus to AC. This increases to +3 at 5.

At 3rd level you gain +2 natural armor bonus to AC. This increases to +3 at level 6.

At 4th level all weapons you wield are treated as a +1 weapon and possibly able to take a feat that increases this to +2 (maybe after the weapon focus line).

At 5th level you gain +1 to all saving throws.

At 6th level you gain another +1 to two attributes, only one of them can be the same as either attribute you picked at level 4. (So if you picked str and con on 4th you can only pick str or con at 6th and then must pick another stat)

This all is worth ca 45k.

Totally Guy
2010-03-18, 04:27 AM
After coming to this conclusion (and I started believing the complaints about both systems from the edition war) I decided to learn a different system for when I decide to run games.

I've settled on Burning Wheel and I've been very happy with my choice.

Steelblood
2010-03-18, 04:38 AM
What would happen if you gave all things a low base SR?

Melayl
2010-03-18, 04:46 AM
Force effects should have a Hardness and HP (probably scaling with level). Everything will break if you hit it hard enough or long enough. Or leave it within reach of a small child for any length of time...

And yeah, Fighters should be able to do cool things, and more powerful things, and most of their feats should scale the way spells do. Oh, and we shouldn't have to go to another system to make this work. 3.5 is malleable enough to make anything fit.

Maybe I'll have to try my hand at a homebrew fix. Maybe with a "Warrior's Focus" similar to Psionic Focus... hrmmm.....

jseah
2010-03-18, 07:03 AM
Everything will break if you hit it hard enough or long enough.
Conceivably, if you designed a spell that warped space backwards (and assuming wall of force worked that way)) any force you directed at the effect wouldn't interact with the spell at all. Thus you can't break it.

And depending on where you put the "origin" of the space bending magic (origin = center of effect), you can make sure that nothing can reach it at all. Not even other magic that depends on line of effect. Thus immunity to dispel.

Of course, this is bordering on... magical physics? Well, you can think of it as a bit like trying to break a portal by stabbing the interface (and not the sides), you just can't.

EDIT: but of course, this actually prevents you from making a solid cage out of it. Since anything in the cage would instantly drop out of the universe due to there being no line that leads from the inside to the outside.

And the wall would also be a perfect mirror. But that's just a detail.

Indon
2010-03-18, 07:22 AM
The problem with awesome things extrapolated from mundane means is that in a strict RAW game, it basically has to be magic. Either players can produce X predefined effect, or they can not - essentially a spell with a sword as your wand, reflavored.

The versatility of super-mundane abilities is something a strict RAW game simply can't duplicate. Take for example:

-Your group is in an ancient temple and your super-mundane character wants to rip out one of the pillars and use it as a melee weapon.

-Your group's fighting some bad guy or another and the super-mundane wants to punch the ground, causing a crack in the earth that ripples to the enemy and causes them to lose their footing.

-Your group's fighting Cthulhu and your super-mundane, unable to reach him, wants to grab a nearby steamship and throw it at him (Cthulhu's weak against steamships, you see).

A sufficiently ludicrous super-strength character should be able to do all three of these things, with no additional character investment other than said ludicrous super-strength - but it's difficult to make a D&D character that can do even one of them.

Not to say an RPG system can't easily support a character that can do all three of these things. Mutants and Masterminds is even a D20-based system and would do so easily. Exalted, well, obviously, it's Exalted. But D&D would need to be played... looser, I guess, than we ever assume it's played, in order to facilitate characters like this.

If you threw a stunt system into D&D, I feel that would go a long ways towards helping characters who strictly speaking have superhuman qualities, but can't actually do anything with them because it's not explicitly written in the rules.

Barbarian MD
2010-03-18, 08:45 AM
Frank and K's Races of War does a nice job of this. I've never actually been able to use their system for classes, but I've been allowed to use their combat system and feats once or twice.

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Races_of_War_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Races_of_War_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29/Warriors_with_Class#Base_Classes

All the basic melee classes get excellent treatment, and they combine a lot of archetypes and simplify things. In addition, they eliminated feat trees and each feat gives you a new ability every five or so levels. Check them out.

Kaiyanwang
2010-03-18, 09:22 AM
Feats should scale. This is what we said several times in several discussions, OP.

The problem is not even the feat per se, and I don't even care of what spellcasters are doing at that level.

The problem here is that when the Wizard is using gate, and again, I could be OK with that, the fihgter should be the most badass in charges, but even in TWF, ranged combat, S&B, fear effects and other battlefield control..

One aspect of this thing is that you can characterize your meleers (say "I'm Frank, the Greatest Glaivemaster"" but there's someting wrong with this.

Because the other team member is the master of wizardry now, so the fighter should be more than the master of his own discipline. This could be at level 10.

At level 20, the fighter should be an army by himself.

See, if you don't push up the power level too much, you can do something slightly more similar (say, an effective use of a composite bow even just with +20 BAB and high strenght score) but that's not enough.

I enjoy the game as-is, don't get me wrong. But I recognize that things could have been done better. I think that many people that played BECMI or AD&D recognize issues.

My idea (I said it several times but repetita iuvant) is that feats:

1) should scale; Example: Two Weapon Fighting should automatically allow the 2nd and 3rd attack oncPC reach the right BAB and Dex score. Other example, Combat Expertise, Improved Combat Expertise, Allied Defense.

2) some feat should be granted as a synergy bonus, without feat cost, a lŗ Martial Arts in Oriental Adventures.

Dual strike, you gain it with Combat Reflexes and TWF. Knock Down, With Improved Trip and Improved bull rush (examples, one could argue several ways).

IMHO, of course.

Indon
2010-03-18, 09:38 AM
Giving the Fighter feats that give them more ways to hit things isn't going to raise them any tiers. Fighters are already awesome at hitting things.

It's the ability to apply their powers - their skill, tactical ability, and raw power - creatively to other challenges that Fighters are lacking in. And D&D provides few ways of dealing with that.

Kaiyanwang
2010-03-18, 09:50 AM
Giving the Fighter feats that give them more ways to hit things isn't going to raise them any tiers. Fighters are already awesome at hitting things.

It's the ability to apply their powers - their skill, tactical ability, and raw power - creatively to other challenges that Fighters are lacking in. And D&D provides few ways of dealing with that.

What I said above is more against one-tricks, I admit.

But other fixes, or at least improvements can be doable. OP talked about skills.

So, moar skillz could be an answer. And we could go further. Think about epic skill use. Lower the DC of some wieird thing (like balance on a cloud) and be far more restictive on physical skills for spellcasters could be another improvement.


And Indon, your three examples above.. I'm not sure, i should do the math, but couldn't a charger put down a pillar?

In savages species there is a feat able to create small earthquakes with a stomp. Needs Str 30. See, the game quite approached, here and there, to this level of awesomeness, but didn't went too far maybe.

Someone could criticize the realism, but maybe the level of the party could be sort of a negative counter of the realism, after all.

(At level 1 you are an improved commoner, at level 20 you are a demigod should remain)

Ryumaru
2010-03-18, 09:58 AM
Tome of Battle might help, but even then, a lot of the classes have a much more wuxia flavour to them (Heck, Stone Dragons 'contact with earth' makes me think Dragonball Z style biting into the ground with your feet and making rock fly. Lets not even mention Desert Wind, or White... whatever the over the top Iaijutsu discipline was)

Sounds like what you want is Iron Heroes; characters gain much more feats, are said to be more capable (yet still have stats like standard DnD characters), and feats/skill use replicates certain parts (so, you make stunt checks with Spot to see weaknesses in armour and reduce AC) and that kind of thing. I personally can't stand the system, or how it advertises itself ('You break your sword and punch demons in the face? Haha. With your stats, you're going to be lucky to survive with hit and run tactics.'), but it sounds exactly like what you're after. Magic is there, but evil and dangerous. Characters are all about skills and feats, rather than magic trinkets. Best you'll get is a bunch of masterwork arms and armour.

Pluto
2010-03-18, 10:03 AM
I may be way off-base, but I thought this is what 4e did.

Most of the changes I'd put in the system to do this -- giving fighters (including the nonmagic ranged type) scaling power progressions, making high-level warriors good (but maybe not the best) at everything skill-wise just by merit of being high-level warriors, giving all characters access to ritual effects -- are the foundations of the 4e system, no?

jiriku
2010-03-18, 10:16 AM
Fizban articulated some of this quite well. All the characters you're referring to, Eldariel, are from heroic fantasy. D&D is heroic fantasy from levels 1-10, and a super-hero game from levels 11-20. Trouble is, mundane classes weren't given super-hero powers after level 10. Notice how all of their class abilities taper off at that point, as if the designers just didn't know what else to do?

As written, mundane classes ought to stop after 10 levels, to indicate to players that they aren't intended to be played beyond that point. If revised, they ought to gain powers that put them on par with Wolverine, Beast, Captain America, Mister Fantastic, and The Thing, because their spellcasting compatriots certainly have the power level of Cyclops, Storm, Iron Man, and the Human Torch.


FYI: This is tangential to the point, but even Conan basically only overcomes magic through DM fiat. He killed a pack of black sorcerers, but only because a rebel sorcerer gave him a magical belt of spell resistance to further his dying wish for revenge. He bypassed the magical wards and defenses of the sorcerers only because the rebel gave him instructions on how the wizards themselves avoid their own traps. He slew a god made of iron, but only because he stumbled across an artifact weapon that could bypass the iron god's damage reduction, which was conveniently kept in the god's palace under light guard. Often, he defeats enemies through his own strength, but just as often, he survives only because a macguffin conveniently falls into his hands at just the right moment.

I actually think this is a pretty good model for D&D adventures too, but a problem arises when the mundane characters need DM-provided macguffins to succeed and the spellcasters don't.

Godskook
2010-03-18, 10:20 AM
I actually think this is a pretty good model for D&D adventures too, but a problem arises when the mundane characters need DM-provided macguffins to succeed and the spellcasters don't.

No it isn't. D&D is both story telling and a game. Dropping required McGuffins at regular intervals in order to beat the bosses that'd be unbeatable otherwise isn't game-playing, just story-telling. If I wanted to do that, I wouldn't be playing D&D, I'd find a freeform game to join.

Totally Guy
2010-03-18, 10:25 AM
Oops... I think I mistook this this "Melee needs a buff" thread for a "Magic needs a nerf" thread.

jiriku
2010-03-18, 10:26 AM
You misread me.

My point was... Conan sometimes needs the macguffins. Often he doesn't. A little of column A, a little of column B.

Which leads to... D&D games can revolve around the players thumping heads because that's what they do, or they can involve a quest to find the holy hand grenade because only that can defeat the vorpal bunny.

I take issue, though, when the caster says to the mundane, "Don't worry buddy, I can take the rabbit with my twinned empowered maximized orb of force. Just stay out of the way and try not to get killed."


Oops... I think I mistook this this "Melee needs a buff" thread for a "Magic needs a nerf" thread.

Glug, I think the real fix here is "If you like melee and you like heroic fantasy roleplaying, retire your characters after level 10." Sorry to say, but anything that really "fixes" the problem from level 1-20 isn't going to be 3.5 D&D any more.

Kaiyanwang
2010-03-18, 10:53 AM
I may be way off-base, but I thought this is what 4e did.

Most of the changes I'd put in the system to do this -- giving fighters (including the nonmagic ranged type) scaling power progressions, making high-level warriors good (but maybe not the best) at everything skill-wise just by merit of being high-level warriors, giving all characters access to ritual effects -- are the foundations of the 4e system, no?

Is not the same. And BTW, 4th edition screwed several "cool even if exaggerated" effects in name of balance and the like.

I still prefer a warrior cleaving and one-shotting 3 advanced ogres after a charge and making them cower in fear. Next time ogres will nuke me with their x4 hammers criticals, but this is what I prefer. By far.

Superglucose
2010-03-18, 11:15 AM
Part of the problem is the absurdity of HP. At say, level 1 the difference between a guy wielding a Heavy Mace and a Mighty Composite Longbow (+1) is the difference between 1d8+3 damage and 1d8+1 damage. In a system where Kobolds are rocking 4 HP, it's the difference between guaranteed 1hko and a likely 1hko.

At level 20, however, while your ubercharger is probably going to kill it in one hit (and then some), a) you're not very likely to get that hit as your target isn't even on the same plane (astral projection, etherealness), and b) while you can choose to either 1hko with a bow or 1hko with a charge, it's difficult to 1hko with both.

At level 1, falling 30 feet is likely a death sentence unless you pull off some stunt. At level 20, being tossed out of the space shuttle won't phase you: not the lack of oxygen, not the cold, and certainly not the falling damage... and since this is D&D, not even the re-entry which would incinerate a space-shuttle sized object which is designed to repel that heat. You'll hit the earth, make a massive crater, and have a huge environmental impact but then you'll hop back to your feet and continue swiping your sword at your opponent.

I think what needed to happen (and what needs to happen) is bringing feats more in-line with spells, and tone down spells ever so slightly. Here are a few guidelines I think we should implement:


1) Flight should be non-trivial. Right now it's a 3rd level spell... I'd like it to be a 7th, 8th, or 9th level spell. Think about your examples; Smaug was a relatively epic challenge brought down by a lucky crit. Which other characters had access to flight? Not Gandalf or any of the Elves, but the Nazgul, and even then only by acquiring a flying mount.

2) Magic should counter Magic a lot. This means Mage Armor is probably fine, but Freedom of Movement probably is not, and the miss-chance-generators need to go down or away. Magical DR? Things like Prot: Arrows need to die in a fire or be raised to a much higher level. It should not be easy to stop mundane equipment with magic, and it should not be easy to stop magic with mundane equipment.

2.a) This goes with the HP thing before, in my mind the ideal would be you have the option of killing someone with a Fireball or a sword. They are equally effective at leaving your opponent/s dead, (or at least their cost/benefit ratio is similar), but in order to stop the Fireball you need another wizard, while in order to stop the sword you need a shield.

3) HP needs to be lowered. Damage lowered a little. This doesn't take away from melee, mind, because while I propose removing, say, Leap Attack, and you'll complain that this means we're only dealing 100 damage instead of 600 damage, I will point out that it is absurd that you can deal enough damage to sink a modern battleship to a fighter and the fighter keeps standing through it. Lower the HP, lower the damage, and maybe Leap Attack and friends aren't needed anymore.

4) Feats need to be improved for melee. Right now it's "+2 damage," which is crazy. I can't imagine how the playtesters arrived at the conclusion "+2 damage" from a level 4 feat was balanced when the upgrade from Burning Hands (1st level spell) to Fireball (3rd level spell) is an upgrade from 5d4 to 5d6... or +5 damage. Also an upgrade in area. Also an upgrade in range. What makes this even more perplexing is that both Fireball and Burning Hands suck.

I like the idea of feats like Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization focusing off BAB. So Weapon Focus would be "Add 1/5th of your BAB to-hit with your chosen weapon, minimum of +1" (like the Crusader's hit-pool thing) and Weapon Specialization would be "Add 2/5ths of your BAB to damage with your chosen weapon, minimum of +2" (bab +4 required instead of fighter 4). At level 4 it'd be moderately significant ("Cool, +1 to hit, +2 to damage") while at level 20 it'd be +5 to hit and +10 to damage... +5 and +10 again for the next level, and +20 total damage. With lowering of HP this will become non-trivial damage.

I'd also like a series of very specialized feats that focus on weapon defense, like Parry or whatever which let you make opposed rolls to defend yourself. Changing combat from passive defense to active defense (which is what Wizards and other magic users frequently have with contingencies and swift-action spells) can only benefit melee users in the long run. I'd also like there to be some feats which are more similar to spells... things which force fort saves, will saves, or reflex saves and have special effects like "tripping" or "confusion."

5) Spells are toned down across the board.


Just my thoughts.

Sinfire Titan
2010-03-18, 11:16 AM
What would happen if you gave all things a low base SR?

Absolutely nothing other than Evocation and in-combat healing sucking even more. It just encourages using personal buffs and SR: No offensive spells and any kind of CL Boosting abilities the players can find.


Hell, even standard SR (11+HD) isn't good enough to deter some SR: Yes spells thanks to feats like Spell Penetration and Arcane Mastery (take 10 on CL checks).

Indon
2010-03-18, 11:36 AM
And Indon, your three examples above.. I'm not sure, i should do the math, but couldn't a charger put down a pillar?
I wasn't saying, 'destroy the pillar'. I was saying, 'tear out the pillar and use it to bludgeon your enemies'.


I may be way off-base, but I thought this is what 4e did.

Most of the changes I'd put in the system to do this -- giving fighters (including the nonmagic ranged type) scaling power progressions, making high-level warriors good (but maybe not the best) at everything skill-wise just by merit of being high-level warriors, giving all characters access to ritual effects -- are the foundations of the 4e system, no?

4E did this about as well as I think a strictly-typed game can.

However, they did it not by actually allowing mundanes to use superhuman capabilities in creative ways, but by giving everyone a set number of magic-like 'tricks' that they can use with their powers, and then made mundanity a power type.

Take the three examples I made earlier - how is a 4E character more capable of doing any of them, let alone all of them, than a 3.5 character is?


No it isn't. D&D is both story telling and a game. Dropping required McGuffins at regular intervals in order to beat the bosses that'd be unbeatable otherwise isn't game-playing, just story-telling. If I wanted to do that, I wouldn't be playing D&D, I'd find a freeform game to join.

Storytelling and gameplay facilitate each other; the McGuffin that makes the Arch-badguy vulnerable allows the characters to use their mechanical abilities to kill it. In turn, killing it with mechanical abilities can cause the dungeon around the heroes to start collapsing, necessitating a rapid escape which the heroes can use their mechanical abilities for. And so on.

It used to be that D&D was designed around having mechanics facilitate that storytelling in more depth - NPCs would cast Geas on PCs as a curse that needed to be overcome, or a priest would cast Quest on a penitent by his request to bond him to a heroic task. Spells like Fog Cloud or Dominate Person provide mechanical expressions for challenges for groups.

None of those things can exist in D&D the way it seems to be played in communities like this one. The plot can not be statted out properly to allow player interaction because balance concerns need to assume the players have access to each plot element that has stats.

This forces D&D to create a strong separation of mechanics for storytelling purposes, and far better facilitates this absurd argument that boils down to, "If I wanted to roleplay, I wouldn't play D&D".

Kaiyanwang
2010-03-18, 11:47 AM
I wasn't saying, 'destroy the pillar'. I was saying, 'tear out the pillar and use it to bludgeon your enemies'.


Barbarian/FB/Berserk? Giant? Both?

Nevermind, I see your point.

Barbarian MD
2010-03-18, 12:12 PM
Again, y'all ought to check out the Races of War rewrite for 3.5

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Races_of_War_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29

It has feats that increase over time, feats that do cool things, more skill points, better saves. It takes all the melee types out there, breaks them down into just a few archetypes, and then gives them a ton of abilities. I don't know that it's going to do all that you want it to, but it might be a good starting point.

Sinfire Titan
2010-03-18, 12:21 PM
Again, y'all ought to check out the Races of War rewrite for 3.5

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Races_of_War_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29

It has feats that increase over time, feats that do cool things, more skill points, better saves. It takes all the melee types out there, breaks them down into just a few archetypes, and then gives them a ton of abilities. I don't know that it's going to do all that you want it to, but it might be a good starting point.

IIRC, that's Frank&K's work, thus it falls squarely into the Rocket Tag area. I respect the works Frank&K put out, and I know Races of War in particular has a great reputation, but some people aren't comfortable playing Rocket Tag at any level.

Don't get me wrong, I like the work put into those splats of theirs, I just don't like putting some of that on my table and expecting my PCs to be able to keep up with it (it requires a minimum amount of optimization to even call yourself a PC when something like the Wish Economy is on the table).

Kaiyanwang
2010-03-18, 12:25 PM
Again, y'all ought to check out the Races of War rewrite for 3.5

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Races_of_War_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29

It has feats that increase over time, feats that do cool things, more skill points, better saves. It takes all the melee types out there, breaks them down into just a few archetypes, and then gives them a ton of abilities. I don't know that it's going to do all that you want it to, but it might be a good starting point.

I (strangely enough) can't have access to the page at the moment, but thank you.. I will take a look as soon as possible.

Barbarian MD
2010-03-18, 12:36 PM
Yeah, D&D Wiki seems to flake out about half the time.

It's working now.

EDIT: Yeah, it's not for everyone. And like I said, I've only been able to play with parts of the whole, as no DM I've had has used the whole thing thus far. But it seems to solve a lot of the issues of weak melee types and worthless feats.

jiriku
2010-03-18, 12:40 PM
Lots of good points about static bonuses and ideas on rebalancing.

I've had some luck IMC by houseruling a lot of common feats that used to provide +1 or +2 damage bonuses (point-blank shot, weapon specialization, etc) to providing a virtual size increase for the weapon, and scaling selected feats to increase by +1 per 4 HD. So, for example, an archer takes point-blank shot, and gains +1 to hit and 1 size increase on his damage die within 30'. This same archer by 12th level has +4 to hit and +4 size increases -- all from one feat.

Why?

The feat scales with level, just like spells do.
Damage output scales faster at higher level, a benefit casters already have.
The size increases to damage only improve weapons, not weaponlike spells.
Weapon choice has more impact: because smaller weapons start with a smaller damage die, differences in weapon damage are magnified at higher levels, rather than obscured, as is the case when you pile on static damage bonuses.
The presence of many of these feats on the fighter bonus feat list allows mundanes to optimize by stacking them for a larger benefit. Casters aren't likely to choose multiple weapon-oriented feats.

Kaiyanwang
2010-03-18, 12:46 PM
Yeah, D&D Wiki seems to flake out about half the time.

It's working now.

EDIT: Yeah, it's not for everyone. And like I said, I've only been able to play with parts of the whole, as no DM I've had has used the whole thing thus far. But it seems to solve a lot of the issues of weak melee types and worthless feats.

Plenty of good ideas, thanks.

Even if... seems to me that I've seen something similar somewhere else.. :smallconfused: anyway, thanks.

Godskook
2010-03-18, 01:09 PM
Storytelling and gameplay facilitate each other; the McGuffin that makes the Arch-badguy vulnerable allows the characters to use their mechanical abilities to kill it. In turn, killing it with mechanical abilities can cause the dungeon around the heroes to start collapsing, necessitating a rapid escape which the heroes can use their mechanical abilities for. And so on.

Its called railroading. When every bad guy requires a McGuffin to defeat, do players really have any other option but to go grab said McGuffin?


It used to be that D&D was designed around having mechanics facilitate that storytelling in more depth - NPCs would cast Geas on PCs as a curse that needed to be overcome, or a priest would cast Quest on a penitent by his request to bond him to a heroic task. Spells like Fog Cloud or Dominate Person provide mechanical expressions for challenges for groups.

It used to be that D&D was a wargame, first and foremost.


This forces D&D to create a strong separation of mechanics for storytelling purposes, and far better facilitates this absurd argument that boils down to, "If I wanted to roleplay, I wouldn't play D&D".

Huh? I'm confused at your point, and your change to my statement ruins the point of what I'm saying.

Indon
2010-03-18, 01:39 PM
Its called railroading. When every bad guy requires a McGuffin to defeat, do players really have any other option but to go grab said McGuffin?
No, actually, that's not at all an example of railroading. Railroading would be to try to prevent the diplomancer from talking down the bad guy instead of beating him. Requiring the players to apply a plot device to face a bad guy is providing them with a challenge, albeit a fairly stock fantasy trope.

Yes, it can become repetitious. But you don't have to do it all the time, just as with any other plot.


It used to be that D&D was a wargame, first and foremost.
Chainmail was a wargame. D&D was about roleplaying - though admittedly, early D&D was very boardgame-like.


Huh? I'm confused at your point, and your change to my statement ruins the point of what I'm saying.
Well, I kinda went on a tangent there for a bit. The point I was rambling about isn't even really applicable to the thread. The applicable part would be summed up with, "Roleplaying games have storytelling too". That's why freeform roleplaying games would involve storytelling in the first place.

Jayabalard
2010-03-18, 03:34 PM
Just to be clear, I don't disagree. I'm not a huge fan of the D&D magic item arms race. In general though, D&D is not a very good system for the sort of play that you're talking about.


Arthur? Yeah, thereís that Excalibur.His scabbard as well, according to some stories, as well as some other weapons.


Odysseus? None of note.divine blood (he's descended from Aeolus and Hermes iirc), and Moly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moly_%28herb%29)


Hercules? Well, super strength (divine blood and all), but apart from that, no magic toys.The pelt of the Nemean lion; Arrows dipped in the Hydra's poisonous blood. etc.


Conan? Hah, I laugh at your trinkets and split you in two!I seem to recall that in the 2 official 1e AD&D modules he had a few magical items, especially an enchanted sword. I don't know how "canon" those items are, but I think that for the most part they drew on the existing conan stories.

so mostly, yeah, they follow the "magic weapon, magic armor, and maybe some other magic thingy" pattern.


Its called railroading. When every bad guy requires a McGuffin to defeat, do players really have any other option but to go grab said McGuffin?Yes; they can ignore the villain. Or do whatever they want. They can even go stab the badguy if they really want to, even though it won't do anything.

Gametime
2010-03-18, 03:41 PM
I seem to recall that in the 2 official 1e AD&D modules he had a few magical items, especially an enchanted sword. I don't know how "canon" those items are, but I think that for the most part they drew on the existing conan stories.



I'm pretty sure that was an invention for the system. I can remember only one story where Conan used anything resembling a magic sword, and even then it wasn't the sword that was inherently magical but a spell that was cast upon it shortly before he was attacked by some kind of shadow demon thing.

There was a lot of magic in Conan, but very few actual magic items. Well, magic equipment, anyway - wizards and the like very often had some horrible magical artifacts, but Conan himself usually stuck to plain steel.

ZeroNumerous
2010-03-18, 03:43 PM
But in a dungeon against enemies roughly as powerful as you are, a fighter can be more useful than another wizard. The problem is, most DMs don't put forth the effort to make this true (though, admitedly, for good reason - its just not worth it).

More often than not, if a Wizard needs something to hit stuff then he just summons one.

@Eladriel: My only real complaint are your examples. King Arthur fought entirely mundane threats. Odysseus outwitted non-mundane threats(knowing that fighting them would result in his death). Hercules was a demigod, and magical by his very nature. Conan lives in a world where wizardry takes effort and concentration. Other than the occasional wizard, all his threats are as mundane as King Arthur's.

Gametime
2010-03-18, 03:52 PM
Conan lives in a world where wizardry takes effort and concentration.

I don't know the system to represent this, but I'd love to find a game where this is the case. Almost all of the wizards Conan fights follow one of two patterns: turning into a huge monster (which is a terrible idea, since Conan can punch anything to death if he's pissed enough) or doing horrible, horrible things given enough preparation. He survives the latter sort of encounter by a combination of luck, quick-thinking, and his opponent's inability to concentrate on a spell while their blood flows out of them.

D&D 3.5 trivializes casting spells; Concentration check DCs scale half as quickly as the check bonus, even without magic items to assist, and almost nothing worse casting takes more than a standard action. When you're shooting Magic Missile at the darkness, yeah, fine. That shouldn't take long. But opening a portal to another plane of existence and pulling a being of immense power through who is forced to obey your every command in the immediate future? Why does that only take 3-4 seconds to accomplish with no chance of failure?

Calimehter
2010-03-18, 04:21 PM
A +1 for E6.

As most folks know, it cuts off advancement before the full casters exponential growth and "mechanic breaking" special abilities begin to dominate play and neuter the fighter types, and replaces that advancement with a more linear feat system rather than allowing further levels. The Christmas tree is no longer needed.

Maybe more importantly for the original poster, it also allows for increased flexibility for the fighter-types by virtue of the much greater availability of feats once you hit 6th level and beyond. If you want to shoot bows just as well as you can ubercharge, you now have the feat slots available to do both. Likewise, you can use Open Minded and other similar feats to expand your skill set if you want to go that route instead. And all this is available "organically" and doesn't require an Iron-man-esque set of magical gear to accomplish. :smallsmile:

nightwyrm
2010-03-18, 05:45 PM
Conan lives in a world where wizardry takes effort and concentration.

+1
Conan lives in a world where magic are all hours long rituals and interruptions = nasty, nasty death. None of this just lose your spell crap.

Thane of Fife
2010-03-18, 05:55 PM
I don't know the system to represent this, but I'd love to find a game where this is the case. Almost all of the wizards Conan fights follow one of two patterns: turning into a huge monster (which is a terrible idea, since Conan can punch anything to death if he's pissed enough) or doing horrible, horrible things given enough preparation. He survives the latter sort of encounter by a combination of luck, quick-thinking, and his opponent's inability to concentrate on a spell while their blood flows out of them.

Hmm, have you looked into the Conan RPG? I never actually tried it, but it looked really good, and I've only heard good things about it.

As for magic items, Conan uses a few, and he frequently has help when fighting wizards:

Phoenix on the Sword: He has the magic sword, and never directly fights the wizard, anyway.
Scarlet Citadel: I think he kills the wizard on his own, but only the second time, and he needs a wizard's help to escape back to Aquilonia (if I recall correctly).
Tower of the Elephant: He needs Yag-Kosha's heart. (Also note that the wizard in this one is described as being able to kill with a word, Conan just traps him first).
Black Colossus: He defeats Natohk alone, but only after the wizard's army has been shattered, and his summoned horror has abandoned him. Natohk's on his last legs when Conan catches up with him.
The People of the Black Circle: Conan wears a belt which protects him most of the hostile spells.
Hour of the Dragon: Conan never even fights the wizard - he just recovers an item that lets some other people do it.

There are probably some I'm forgetting, but those are the ones that most rapidly come to mind, and Conan always either has significant assistance or advantage. I don't think it's ever really implied that he can single-handedly slay them at their full power.


Conan lives in a world where magic are all hours long rituals and interruptions = nasty, nasty death. None of this just lose your spell crap.

This is untrue. Tower of the Elephant has the aforementioned killing word. People of the Black Circle has quite a bit of magic that is worked instantly. There's plenty of combat magic in Conan.

DeltaEmil
2010-03-18, 06:04 PM
The Sorcerors in the Conan Stories are also capable of throwing glowing explosive balls instantly, call nightmarish winged entities for a ride, polymorph others into tiny spiders, summon deadly scorpions, or shapeshift into whatever beast they want to be (in most cases, snakes, as Howard probably had a phobia about them).
Not every use of magic is preceded by some hour-long memorizing/preparation that is so common in D&D.

Melayl
2010-03-18, 06:19 PM
I don't know the system to represent this, but I'd love to find a game where this is the case. Almost all of the wizards Conan fights follow one of two patterns: turning into a huge monster (which is a terrible idea, since Conan can punch anything to death if he's pissed enough) or doing horrible, horrible things given enough preparation. He survives the latter sort of encounter by a combination of luck, quick-thinking, and his opponent's inability to concentrate on a spell while their blood flows out of them.

D&D 3.5 trivializes casting spells; Concentration check DCs scale half as quickly as the check bonus, even without magic items to assist, and almost nothing worse casting takes more than a standard action. When you're shooting Magic Missile at the darkness, yeah, fine. That shouldn't take long. But opening a portal to another plane of existence and pulling a being of immense power through who is forced to obey your every command in the immediate future? Why does that only take 3-4 seconds to accomplish with no chance of failure?

I'm working on it (adding risk, concentration, and failure to casting, that is). Hopefully I'll be able to post it in a few weeks...

Tinydwarfman
2010-03-18, 06:24 PM
I don't know the system to represent this, but I'd love to find a game where this is the case. Almost all of the wizards Conan fights follow one of two patterns: turning into a huge monster (which is a terrible idea, since Conan can punch anything to death if he's pissed enough) or doing horrible, horrible things given enough preparation. He survives the latter sort of encounter by a combination of luck, quick-thinking, and his opponent's inability to concentrate on a spell while their blood flows out of them.

D&D 3.5 trivializes casting spells; Concentration check DCs scale half as quickly as the check bonus, even without magic items to assist, and almost nothing worse casting takes more than a standard action. When you're shooting Magic Missile at the darkness, yeah, fine. That shouldn't take long. But opening a portal to another plane of existence and pulling a being of immense power through who is forced to obey your every command in the immediate future? Why does that only take 3-4 seconds to accomplish with no chance of failure?

GURPS balances magic fairly well with having spells with varying casting times, a skill based system, and and trading power for versatility.
A mage can certainly make game-changing moves, but he needs to spend 3 turns concentrating, succeed on his check (which admittedly should be very easy), and spend a sizable amount of FP (Fatigue Points, basically how tired you are, everybody gets them).

krossbow
2010-03-18, 07:38 PM
+1
Conan lives in a world where magic are all hours long rituals and interruptions = nasty, nasty death. None of this just lose your spell crap.


Magic wobbles to a ridiculous level in conan sometimes. In some situations it requires ridiculously random and hard to acquire materials, and can take hours or days to do, for very little effect. In other situation they're godlings who can warp reality with a few words or gestures.


Its like some people are playing D&D wizards, some are playing Gurps wizards and some unlucky individuals are playing Iron heroes ones.

Draz74
2010-03-18, 07:43 PM
@OP: I agree with your general premise and I think giving characters enough feats and skills to do things without magic is a great idea. E6 helps a lot too ... and nerfing overpowered magic in general, and introducing an Attunement system that limits characters to just a few (effective) magic items. And removing numerical bonuses from magic items, which goes a long way toward making them not necessary.

But to nitpick, since other people are doing so with Conan:


Hercules? Well, super strength (divine blood and all), but apart from that, no magic toys.

The Nemean Lion hide?

And while we're on the subject of Greek mythology, Perseus got through his adventures by using winged sandals, an adamantine sword that Hermes gave him, a purse specially designed to hold Medusa's head, a shield from Athena (specially designed to help fight against gaze attacks), and a helm of invisibility. Good luck convincing me that any of those aren't magic items.

(Granted, Perseus may just be an exception to the rules -- in my system, CRE8, I plan on giving him a feat that lets him Attune more magic items than most characters. And granted, even these five are nothing compared to the christmas-tree-array of a high-level 3e character.)

Tinydwarfman
2010-03-18, 07:47 PM
Magic wobbles to a ridiculous level in conan sometimes. In some situations it requires ridiculously random and hard to acquire materials, and can take hours or days to do, for very little effect. In other situation they're godlings who can warp reality with a few words or gestures.


Its like some people are playing D&D wizards, some are playing Gurps wizards and some unlucky individuals are playing Iron heroes ones.

Or they could all be playing GURPS wizards, just with different point-totals and magic systems. :smallbiggrin: :smallcool:

nightwyrm
2010-03-18, 08:16 PM
Magic wobbles to a ridiculous level in conan sometimes. In some situations it requires ridiculously random and hard to acquire materials, and can take hours or days to do, for very little effect. In other situation they're godlings who can warp reality with a few words or gestures.


Its like some people are playing D&D wizards, some are playing Gurps wizards and some unlucky individuals are playing Iron heroes ones.

It's been a long time since I read my Conan. Most of what I remember are wizards summoning demons who ends up eating the wizards after Conan did some barbarian-esque smashing.

Gametime
2010-03-18, 08:22 PM
Hmm, have you looked into the Conan RPG? I never actually tried it, but it looked really good, and I've only heard good things about it.

As for magic items, Conan uses a few, and he frequently has help when fighting wizards:

Phoenix on the Sword: He has the magic sword, and never directly fights the wizard, anyway.
Scarlet Citadel: I think he kills the wizard on his own, but only the second time, and he needs a wizard's help to escape back to Aquilonia (if I recall correctly).
Tower of the Elephant: He needs Yag-Kosha's heart. (Also note that the wizard in this one is described as being able to kill with a word, Conan just traps him first).
Black Colossus: He defeats Natohk alone, but only after the wizard's army has been shattered, and his summoned horror has abandoned him. Natohk's on his last legs when Conan catches up with him.
The People of the Black Circle: Conan wears a belt which protects him most of the hostile spells.
Hour of the Dragon: Conan never even fights the wizard - he just recovers an item that lets some other people do it.

There are probably some I'm forgetting, but those are the ones that most rapidly come to mind, and Conan always either has significant assistance or advantage. I don't think it's ever really implied that he can single-handedly slay them at their full power.



Yeah, there's a fair amount of magic in Conan, but relatively few magic items. The Phoenix on the Sword isn't a specially crafted magical sword, but a sword with a spell cast on it.

There's a lot of nasty spells in Conan's world. Most of them seem to allow saving throws, though. You never see a wizard just toss out a Forcecage and fly off into the sunset, cackling gleefully.

I don't think the issue is whether wizards are stronger than warriors, but whether warriors can overcome wizards at all. Given enough determination, luck, and cunning? Conan usually can, albeit with help. In D&D? It's almost an impossibility past a certain level.

Crow
2010-03-18, 08:24 PM
Conan doesn't trust magic. Most of the times that Conan needed to use it in the form of a McGuffin, it was because he was in a bad way and had to.

Gametime
2010-03-18, 08:28 PM
Conan doesn't trust magic. Most of the times that Conan needed to use it in the form of a McGuffin, it was because he was in a bad way and had to.

Considering that he's run into all of about two good spellcasters and dozens of evil ones, one can hardly blame the guy.

And one of the good guys was dead, anyway.

Volkov
2010-03-18, 08:33 PM
Learn the last word, you are now mightier than any caster, for with one word, you can kill anything (save for perhaps the Serpent), no saving throw.

Crow
2010-03-18, 08:36 PM
And one of the good guys was dead, anyway.

Was that the one who put the phoenix on the sword? I am having trouble remembering.

Thrawn183
2010-03-19, 01:00 AM
I feel it requires a combination of nerfing spells, lowering skill DC's and classes. Oh, and populating the world with almost entirely level 1 commoners. These commoners don't make skill checks.

- Ok, HP scales, so direct damage spells can stay scaling.
- Stats don't scale, so no ability damage/penalty/drain spells get to scale. A -10 to Strength is just as devastating at level 5 as it is at level 15 to a fighter.

- Drastically lower the skill DC's of things. As an example, make swimming up a waterfall a DC 30 swim check. Make heal checks remove things like ability damage (not necessarily instantly, but doable)
- Make spells opposed by skills only give a bonus on the caster's check. Ie. Invisibility is only a bonus to Hide, and allows you HiPS. Silence is a bonus on Move Silently.
- Nerf the crud out of all flat effect spells: Wind Wall, Freedom of Movement and the like. Wind Wall becomes a penalty on ranged attacks through it, Freedom of Movement becomes a significant but not insurmountable bonus to grapple checks (maybe you caster level)
- Make all spells opposable. Wall of Force? Get through it with a strength check, or give it like DR 30/-. Make it really tough, but possible to beat.
- Make spells replaceable with skills. Use Sense Motive to read people's thoughts just like the spell (though make it so the DC is achievable after the spell is available, as you can only cast the spell limited number times per day).

- Feats should act like chains. All the Weapon Focus on up to Weapon Superiority should be one feat. You only get 7 after all, why not let 1 feat really mean something.
- Feats shouldn't be necessary. Every full BAB class should automatically be able to perform attacks like grappling, tripping, and disarming without taking the feats. If they want to represent a special focus, than sure. But I want my fighter to be able to do cool stuff (like fire arrows into melee) just because he's a Fighter 1.

Lastly, give out more skills. Something like 6+int for fighters and 10+int for rogues.

What's the end result? A low level fighter will still be unable to grapple a high level wizard. A high level wizard can still just nuke a low level fighter out of existence. On the other hand, you're much less likely to run into some kind of spell that's going to do 10 strength damage to your fighter even on a made save

Long story short, this is what I wanted out of Pathfinder.

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-03-19, 01:17 AM
- Stats don't scale, so no ability damage/penalty/drain spells get to scale. A -10 to Strength is just as devastating at level 5 as it is at level 15 to a fighter.

Nitpick: Stats do scale to some degree, with the every-four-levels boost and the acquisition of +2/+4/+6 items. This means that scaling should definitely be reduced to -X plus -1/Y levels as opposed to something like -(1d6+level), but I think there should still be a minor degree of scaling.


- Nerf the crud out of all flat effect spells: Wind Wall, Freedom of Movement and the like. Wind Wall becomes a penalty on ranged attacks through it, Freedom of Movement becomes a significant but not insurmountable bonus to grapple checks (maybe you caster level)

Freedom of Movement might work better if instead of interacting with grapple at all it simply negated penalties due to magical impediments and environment effects--it'll protect you from entangle and let you fight normally underwater, but a headlock is a headlock.

Otherwise, I agree with most of your ideas and have implemented most of them in my games before to some degree.

krossbow
2010-03-19, 01:55 AM
I feel it requires a combination of nerfing spells, lowering skill DC's and classes. Oh, and populating the world with almost entirely level 1 commoners. These commoners don't make skill checks.



My god man... that's just what the housecats want! It'll be a threat to the world not seen since Die Vecna Die!

DeltaEmil
2010-03-19, 04:18 AM
Conan uses magical symbols to fool animals and beasts who serve an ancient and nearly forgotten god in the service of a pictish sorceror.

Conan doesn't distrust magic at all, he's just a mundane hero who like most people of the world is cautious about dealing with those who use it.

And there's only one story where a demon kills a wizard and then seeks to exact revenge on the one who needed him in the first place, but this is many decades after the summoning, and the demon needed time before he could enter the mortal world again.

In the world that Conan lives, all priests are wizards, and all wizards are priests (practically all the evil ones serving the great serpent of the night).

Edhelras
2010-03-19, 04:48 AM
To the OP: I agree with much of what you said. I love the mages and the priests, and what they can do with their spells. But I like too the plain, mundane warrior type, either strong or agile, but anyway tough and competent, prevailing through sheer competence and determination.

I'm not fond of making the warrior more "magical" or supernatural, really. That would only mean making him less mundane, which would take the whole point away. I would prefer making mundane skills and abilities more efficient and useful. Some ideas (mentioned by many others, of course):

- a low-magic environment is more fun, because the relatively few magic items there are will be more interesting.

- 3.5 deals out too few skill points, IMO. I find the skills a great invention, and any adventure should, according to my taste, be heavy with possibilities for skill checks. Being both a Rogue and Bard fan, I would absolutely want those classes to be uber-skilled relative to the other classes. But I think all the classes should get extra skill points. As it is, I feel I always have to spend 14 points on INT, whatever build I make, to ensure that my character gets a decent selection of skills. So my suggestion would be to give +2 skill points to each and every class, and then perhaps +4 to the Rogue and +3 to Ranger, Bard and Barbarian. The Fighter would still not be a master of skills, but he would at least get a better chance of having at least some useful skills available.

- I haven't played the older versions except via Baldur's Gate, but at least there the Weapon proficiency caterogories were broader than in 3.5. I find it less than reasonable that a Fighter is good at wielding a Longsword, but not a Katana or a Rapier. One of his strengths should be that he can handle all kinds of weapons. So I would suggest broadening the weapon categories, like: WF (bow) or WF (polearm) etc., WS (bow) or WS (polearm) etc.

- I think the old rules where there was a limit to how many HP you could get, was perhaps better. They should start tapering off once you get past lvl 15 or so.

- There is a big problem in DnD that archery is underpowered compared to both RL and fantasy fiction. I think perhaps ranged weapons should be scaled up somehow.

- Maybe Critical hits with all kinds of mundane weapons should be scaled up. After all, an arrow through the eye is an arrow through the eye. A decapitation with a longsword is something you can't survive. There should be a bigger difference between the common slashing and wounding during combat, and the particularly devastating hits. So, immunity to crits should be much reduced, and the crit multiplier should be increased, maybe.

Ryumaru
2010-03-19, 05:19 AM
To the OP: I agree with much of what you said. I love the mages and the priests, and what they can do with their spells. But I like too the plain, mundane warrior type, either strong or agile, but anyway tough and competent, prevailing through sheer competence and determination.

I think that's a bit of an issue with the thinking, though; considering DnD is a magical world, mundane doesn't -really- cut it. Heck, Conan? He's far from mundane in my eyes. Unless mundane also includes 'built like a brick crapper, smarter than most, can punch through demons and can lead whole armies to war with a single word'. Once you've got a PC level, or you've got multiple attributes way past the norm, you're no longer mundane. Extreme strength and physical power is just as much 'supernatural' by comparison in a world where 99.9% of the population are 4HP dirt farmers.

Add that to the fact that even 'mundane' warrior legends are also pretty damn big on their supernatural abilities (samurai and the ability to cut several times in the blink of an eye. Wuxia heroes who can run across bamboo which can't support their weight while batting aside arrows with a dagger). Once you hit level 4, and can shrug off ballita bolts like they were too much candy, you've pretty much lost your mundanity. ;D

Edhelras
2010-03-19, 06:22 AM
Once you hit level 4, and can shrug off ballita bolts like they were too much candy, you've pretty much lost your mundanity. ;D

Yeah, I kinda referred to that problem: When characters get too tough, it hurts realism = the mundane thingy. I don't want total realism, no way, but I think I want the realistic parts of the game to be realistic, while at the same time having the magic/unrealistic parts there as a contrast.

There should be some kind of rules to ensure that a ballista is still a ballista. To me, the solution seems to be a low-magic and low-level game.

DeltaEmil
2010-03-19, 10:56 AM
Hit points are not the amount of blood in your body. If you still have hit points left after a shot of a ballista, it means that you managed to evade it very very closely, jumped out of the way, got a scar when you threw yourself to the ground, got a little dizzy, and you're thanking whatever powers there be for such luck. It does not mean that it fully hit you in your chest and you shrugg it off, although you are allowed to say it happened like that, so as to emphasize a more supernatural endurance and healing ability (but your character is still knocked out completely at 0 and less hit points).

Gametime
2010-03-19, 11:23 AM
Conan uses magical symbols to fool animals and beasts who serve an ancient and nearly forgotten god in the service of a pictish sorceror.

Conan doesn't distrust magic at all, he's just a mundane hero who like most people of the world is cautious about dealing with those who use it.

And there's only one story where a demon kills a wizard and then seeks to exact revenge on the one who needed him in the first place, but this is many decades after the summoning, and the demon needed time before he could enter the mortal world again.

In the world that Conan lives, all priests are wizards, and all wizards are priests (practically all the evil ones serving the great serpent of the night).

There was at least one other story where the demon was bound for the entirety of the story until right at the end, where he caught the wizard.

And the other one where it was a wizard who was forced into servitude, until he rediscovered his magical ring and tried to kill the people who had held him as a slave.

And another one where a wizard captured by another wizard helps Conan kill the second wizard after being freed.

It may not usually be a demon directly, but someone is always trying to get back at those nasty wizards.

DeltaEmil
2010-03-19, 11:30 AM
There was at least one other story where the demon was bound for the entirety of the story until right at the end, where he caught the wizard.Which story was that again? Is it the one where the pictish sorceror calls his fiendish "brother" to exact revenge upon the aquilonian settlers?

Gametime
2010-03-19, 11:45 AM
Which story was that again? Is it the one where the pictish sorceror calls his fiendish "brother" to exact revenge upon the aquilonian settlers?

No, it's something else. I think it's one of the earlier ones, but I can't be sure. Some wizard has a demon bound who is forced to tell him things, but then Conan breaks in and basically breaks the binding circle, or something. Hilarity ensues!

Thrawn183
2010-03-19, 11:55 AM
Nitpick: Stats do scale to some degree, with the every-four-levels boost and the acquisition of +2/+4/+6 items. This means that scaling should definitely be reduced to -X plus -1/Y levels as opposed to something like -(1d6+level), but I think there should still be a minor degree of scaling.

You are certainly correct. To a degree attack bonuses scale faster than AC, so penalties to Strength just result in less PA; however, most games that I've played in still require melee to roll a d20 to hit (and melee can still miss) which makes that penalty to strength just as painful at higher levels as it is at lower levels.

At the same time, it is difficult to boost more than one or two stats at a time. Sure your fighter might be able to boost his Strength a lot and his Constitution a fair amount as well, but is he boosting his Intelligence score too? The closest thing I can think of is someone wearing a Belt of Magnificence.

The problem? A caster can, conceivably, attack any stat he chooses. I don't want this to turn into a schrodingers wizard type of deal, I want to turn this into niche protection.

Edit: I should mention that if you really use all of this stuff at the same time, PC's should be ruling entire countries at around level 5, plane hopping by level 10 and taking on gods by level 20.

Some of my thoughts into Game Theory:
There are two ways you can build a game. One way is to have all characters be good at everything. The second is to have all characters be good at a set number of things, and have to pool their collective niche's to succeed. The problem 3.5 has is the developers went with limited duration abilities instead. The Fighter can fight all day, but he can't really do anything out of combat; while the Wizard can fight and do whatever he wants outside of combat but only for a limited time.

This is why without a Fighter fix, I don't like things that let rogues use sneak attack on every creature type under the sun. I don't want a class that's so much better than the Fighter out of combat to approach his usefulness in combat.

I should mention that this is a fix for high fantasy. I generally don't play quite such high fantasy games, so while my campaigns run in the higher levels (starting 9-10 usually), the average person is a lot higher level than the default assumption in D&D. Ie. random guys with spears could take down an elephant without suffering losses approaching triple digits.

DeltaEmil
2010-03-19, 12:00 PM
No, it's something else. I think it's one of the earlier ones, but I can't be sure. Some wizard has a demon bound who is forced to tell him things, but then Conan breaks in and basically breaks the binding circle, or something. Hilarity ensues!Was that story told by Howard? There's nothing in my collection that lets me recall this particular story.

Pluto
2010-03-19, 12:07 PM
Hit points are not the amount of blood in your body. If you still have hit points left after a shot of a ballista, it means that you managed to evade it very very closely, jumped out of the way, got a scar when you threw yourself to the ground, got a little dizzy, and you're thanking whatever powers there be for such luck.
:smallconfused:
Now poison, bleeding wounds and broken ammunition make even less sense.

Stubbed Tongue
2010-03-19, 12:15 PM
@ Eldariel: You are playing the wrong game. You should look into Rolemaster and MERP possibly HARP if you want that kind of feel in your games.

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-03-19, 12:56 PM
You are certainly correct. To a degree attack bonuses scale faster than AC, so penalties to Strength just result in less PA; however, most games that I've played in still require melee to roll a d20 to hit (and melee can still miss) which makes that penalty to strength just as painful at higher levels as it is at lower levels.

At the same time, it is difficult to boost more than one or two stats at a time. Sure your fighter might be able to boost his Strength a lot and his Constitution a fair amount as well, but is he boosting his Intelligence score too? The closest thing I can think of is someone wearing a Belt of Magnificence.

The problem? A caster can, conceivably, attack any stat he chooses. I don't want this to turn into a schrodingers wizard type of deal, I want to turn this into niche protection.

The issue is that a spell dealing, say, 4 damage to a given stat at level 1 is fine at higher levels when you're attacking a weak stat, but the stats you really want to hit (a caster's casting stat, a meleer's Str, and anyone's Dex or Con) are the ones that are going to get raised over a character's career, sometimes by as much as 12+ points. Even the weak ones often increase by 2-6, as a fighter picks up a Wis item to shore up his weak Will save, a cleric decides to wade into melee more and casts bull's strength, etc.

Again, I'm not saying you need a huge amount of scaling, but given the choice between either a spell which deals a lot of damage to start with and wrecks things at low levels (or isn't available at all then) or one that starts fairly low and goes up by a point three or four times, I'd prefer the latter.

Thane of Fife
2010-03-19, 01:27 PM
Was that story told by Howard? There's nothing in my collection that lets me recall this particular story.

He might be talking about Tower of the Elephant - Yag-Kosha sort of fits that description.

DeltaEmil
2010-03-19, 03:48 PM
He might be talking about Tower of the Elephant - Yag-Kosha sort of fits that description.Probably. However, Yoga of Yag isn't a demon, but an extraterrestrial being (which is semantics in the eyes of Conans and the humans of his age).
The point is, in the stories told by Howard, demons who break free from the control of the sorcerors and turn on them are practically non-existant. Which would make sense, as that kind of magic is probably the supreme discipline that you learn. Summoning demons/aliens from the void and making them do your bidding can be rather quick and without any problem, as Thoth-Amon and Pelias have shown. But these two are amongst the mightiest priests-wizards of the world.

Now poison, bleeding wounds and broken ammunition make even less sense. Tiny scratches to explain poison and bleeding wounds (and you still don't lose 10 litres of blood per hit). And broken ammunition? It either got stuck in your arm or your leg, doing superficial damage, or it's entangled in your armor, hindering you, and making you easier to hit. Explaining how hit points and damage of any kind works in D&D doesn't need any imagination or logic.
Only the last attack that hits and reduces the enemies hit points to 0 and deeper is the one that goes right through the eye, dismembers his hand and lets him bleed to death while he screams, makes a deep slash under his neck with the enemy gurgling in panic, decapitates the enemy, or is just a kick in the groins painful enough to let the other squirm comically on the ground.
Everything before was just tiny bruises, small harmless flesh-wounds, near-misses, last-second-parries, lessened morale, your luck running out, and whatever abstract thing hit points represents.

Gametime
2010-03-19, 04:09 PM
Probably. However, Yoga of Yag isn't a demon, but an extraterrestrial being (which is semantics in the eyes of Conans and the humans of his age).
The point is, in the stories told by Howard, demons who break free from the control of the sorcerors and turn on them are practically non-existant. Which would make sense, as that kind of magic is probably the supreme discipline that you learn. Summoning demons/aliens from the void and making them do your bidding can be rather quick and without any problem, as Thoth-Amon and Pelias have shown. But these two are amongst the mightiest priests-wizards of the world.


No, I remember Tower of the Elephant, and it's a different story. It might just have been a story written by Robert Jordan, but I don't think so.

Oh, well.

Thane of Fife
2010-03-19, 04:17 PM
The point is, in the stories told by Howard, demons who break free from the control of the sorcerors and turn on them are practically non-existant.

Well, in fairness, not that many of the stories contain demon-summoning wizards, and there examples of rebellious creatures; in Black Colossus, Natohk's demon mount breaks free from his control and escapes him. Yag-Kosha, as you say, is not technically a demon, but similarly is trying to break free.


It either got stuck in your arm or your leg, doing superficial damage

I don't know if I'd call being shot in the arm or leg 'superficial damage.'

Pluto
2010-03-19, 04:26 PM
Explaining how hit points and damage of any kind works in D&D doesn't need any imagination or logic.
What about harpoons?

High level characters don't need parachutes.

They are all badly scarred and occasionally have arrows sticking out of their faces.
(But that's too routine for them to really mind. Or even notice.)
Don't take that away from me. :smalltongue:

Sir Giacomo
2010-03-19, 04:31 PM
What Fizban and jiriku say above is correct:


I'm surprised it hasn't been pointed out yet, but part of the problem is that DnD spans a very large game. The heroes you mentioned? Level 5 or 6, Hercules might have reached 10 or 15 depending on how strong strong is. Another standard example is Lord of the Rings, where Aragorn is once again level 5 or 6. They can fill up their WBL with one or two items easy, and are in the area where movement skills and raw ability bonuses to low/untrained skills still matter.

If you're sticking to big bonuses, the christmas tree effect won't start showing up too bad till after 10th, conveniently the point at which the Legend Lore spell says you're a bona-fide legend. At this point you've got legendary heroes everyone knows about fighting massive dragons, angels, demons, and horrors from below. The kind of fights where it blinks and everyone that isn't specifically covered in magic dies immediately, and only the ones covered in magic are supposed to live. King Arthur died in combat against normal men, and while I don't know about Conan and Hercules, Beowulf died the next hit he took after the dragon breathed fire on him.

If you want heroes without tons of magic to remain viable at higher levels, then you have to pit them against foes that don't have tons of magic. If you want to fight high level magic with the mundane, you should probably find a different game. If not, best I can offer is ToB and some fancy prestige classing to get the abilities the game assumes you'll have from magic gear.

*Yes, I am aware my argument is basically that "DnD doesn't work that way". But well... DnD doesn't work that way. It's got the mundane heroes below ten and the mythical heroes with magical artifacts above ten. Don't forget that the set of magic items a non-caster needs is worth a small country, making them effectively artifacts in a low-magic game, so a non-caster with that much magic is effectively a "mythical legend with a bunch of artifacts". You've got about a 10 level window after the starting level where the game genre can hold, and after that it pretty much has to change in order for the characters to keep advancing.

**Pairo' dice make some good points on the binary situation as well. As long as there's always a mundane counter then you can survive without magic, but to do this at higher levels you'll have to modify the game.


Fizban articulated some of this quite well. All the characters you're referring to, Eldariel, are from heroic fantasy. D&D is heroic fantasy from levels 1-10, and a super-hero game from levels 11-20. Trouble is, mundane classes weren't given super-hero powers after level 10. Notice how all of their class abilities taper off at that point, as if the designers just didn't know what else to do?

As written, mundane classes ought to stop after 10 levels, to indicate to players that they aren't intended to be played beyond that point. If revised, they ought to gain powers that put them on par with Wolverine, Beast, Captain America, Mister Fantastic, and The Thing, because their spellcasting compatriots certainly have the power level of Cyclops, Storm, Iron Man, and the Human Torch.


FYI: This is tangential to the point, but even Conan basically only overcomes magic through DM fiat. He killed a pack of black sorcerers, but only because a rebel sorcerer gave him a magical belt of spell resistance to further his dying wish for revenge. He bypassed the magical wards and defenses of the sorcerers only because the rebel gave him instructions on how the wizards themselves avoid their own traps. He slew a god made of iron, but only because he stumbled across an artifact weapon that could bypass the iron god's damage reduction, which was conveniently kept in the god's palace under light guard. Often, he defeats enemies through his own strength, but just as often, he survives only because a macguffin conveniently falls into his hands at just the right moment.

I actually think this is a pretty good model for D&D adventures too, but a problem arises when the mundane characters need DM-provided macguffins to succeed and the spellcasters don't.


I think the problem that Eldariel outlines is simply solved by just playing in the lower level range.

What I think is one of the most fascinating aspects of 3.5 (core, at least) is that you can actually attempt to play archmages and priests that can create earthquakes or sorcerers that can (apparently) stop time itself. It's highly challenging, though.
And the non-casters in those levels are capable of equally superheroic stuff.
It is true that magic items are an important balancing part at those extremely high levels - but that's just the setting. When you prefer the historical campaign feel or just want to play Athurian knights, go for the lower levels.
Or, if you do not like the role that magic items play, integrate the magical powers the items would grant into the combat styles of the charcters (I already suggested that fluff solution way back in my monk guide).

- Giacomo

Tinydwarfman
2010-03-19, 04:36 PM
Tiny scratches to explain poison and bleeding wounds (and you still don't lose 10 litres of blood per hit). And broken ammunition? It either got stuck in your arm or your leg, doing superficial damage, or it's entangled in your armor, hindering you, and making you easier to hit. Explaining how hit points and damage of any kind works in D&D doesn't need any imagination or logic.
Only the last attack that hits and reduces the enemies hit points to 0 and deeper is the one that goes right through the eye, dismembers his hand and lets him bleed to death while he screams, makes a deep slash under his neck with the enemy gurgling in panic, decapitates the enemy, or is just a kick in the groins painful enough to let the other squirm comically on the ground.
Everything before was just tiny bruises, small harmless flesh-wounds, near-misses, last-second-parries, lessened morale, your luck running out, and whatever abstract thing hit points represents.

I get almost everything else, but falling damage? And constriction and sneak attacks? It just doesn't work sometimes.

DeltaEmil
2010-03-19, 04:59 PM
I don't know if I'd call being shot in the arm or leg 'superficial damage.'
The shot wouldn't hit very deep, so that it although it hurts and stings, it's still not that bad. Like when Leia got shot in the arm by that one remarkable stormtrooper (he probably graduated as the best marksman in the academy :smalltongue: ) in "Return of the Jedi". And then later shoots back while fooling them that they'd surrender.

What about harpoons?

High level PC's don't need parachutes.
They are all badly scarred and occasionally have arrows sticking out of their faces.
(But that's too routine for them to really mind. Or even notice.)
Don't take that away from me. :smalltongue:The cloth was pierced (bonus points if the target wears a cloak).
And appearently, there are some really mundane people who survived falling to the ground from a plane without a parachute, some of them even without any real damage in the real world. They were probably helped by angels and martians.

Hit points are abstract. In most cases, they represent some undefined combination of luck, prowess in combat and survival, your wits and reflexes, morale, determination, pershaps some supernatural favor, and a little bit of vigor and guts.

You can fluff any kind of damage to look like whatever suits your gusto.

If it's a hundred arrows sticking out of your face like a pincushion, with limbs nearly falling off, the eyes gouged out by a knive that did 1d4 damage, and blood pumping out 10 liter per second from horrible gashes everywhere in infinite amount that colors the very ground you walk into a brown-crimson path, that's absolutely okay and a valable way to see the superhuman endurance of your character if you like it that way. It doesn't have to be the same for the other guy who lost the same amount of hit points, and looks like he's just tired and has a little booboo on his pinky.

Having a few hundred hit points does not automatically mean that you're not mundane anymore. This point doesn't need to be adressed in the examination of mundane character compared to force-cage throwing priest-kings who summon black fiends from outer space and fart fireballs with additional lightning effect when they're bored. :smallsmile:

krossbow
2010-03-19, 05:29 PM
Keep in mind, real people CAN continue moving and fighting with ridiculous wounds; Thats the main reason why police are permitted to use ammunition ARMIES can't use (by treaty); they need to essentially chunky salsa their insides so that when they get shot, they go down HARD, instead of clinging to life and firing off more bullets.

Tinydwarfman
2010-03-19, 05:32 PM
Keep in mind, real people CAN continue moving and fighting with ridiculous wounds; Thats the main reason why police are permitted to use ammunition ARMIES can't use (by treaty); they need to essentially chunky salsa their insides so that when they get shot, they go down HARD, instead of clinging to life and firing off more bullets.

This all depends. The US army also uses smaller caliber bullets so that they make people scream and writhe in pain on the ground instead of just dieing because it makes their allies stop firing to help them.

Also, would you care to give examples of such ammunition? I haven't heard this before.

krossbow
2010-03-19, 05:34 PM
This all depends. The US army also uses smaller caliber bullets so that they make people scream and writhe in pain on the ground instead of just dieing because it makes their allies stop firing to help them.

Also, would you care to give examples of such ammunition? I haven't heard this before.


Hollow point ammunition is Prohibited by use of armed forces in wartime by the Hague convention of 1899. (however, it is commonly used by Police forces due to the infamous Michael Platt affair, wherein he continued to fight on despite bullet wounds, bringing to bear the importance of stopping power)

Crow
2010-03-19, 09:57 PM
This all depends. The US army also uses smaller caliber bullets so that they make people scream and writhe in pain on the ground instead of just dieing because it makes their allies stop firing to help them.

A common misperception. The U.S. military's use of smaller caliber rounds comes down to controllability, weight, and a great deal of other issues which have little to do with wounding characteristics.

Anytime a rifleman fires at the enemy, he is trying to kill him, bottom line.

Sinfire Titan
2010-03-19, 10:13 PM
A common misperception. The U.S. military's use of smaller caliber rounds comes down to controllability, weight, and a great deal of other issues which have little to do with wounding characteristics.

Anytime a rifleman fires at the enemy, he is trying to kill him, bottom line.

Right. In war, if you aren't aiming to kill you are likely to be killed. Hell, cops do the same thing if it comes down to a firefight. If the enemy survives and can be arrested properly, it's considered a bonus.

Fizban
2010-03-20, 02:56 AM
The thread on Flight that just popped up recently gave me some more ideas for this thread, or rather I've shamelessly hijacked the starting idea and applied it to everything. Weather or not we think that "mundane" heroes can work at higher levels, we all agree that effects such as Fly and Invisibility that can't be duplicated without magic are part of the problem, right? Well then one solution would be to push them back a few levels.

The problem with really high skill DCs for ridiculous awesomeness isn't that the DCs are too high, it's that they never get used because the spellcasters have been doing it with magic ever since level 3. If you kick Charm Person, Jump, and Disguise Self all back to 3rd level, suddenly Diplomacy, Jump, Disguise, and Climb are very important skills to have until you get 3rd level spells, and even then it's a significant portion of your resources to do something the skillful character's been doing the last 5 levels. Everyone knows about Fly, but even Spider Climb will wreck most ground-bound opponents, but not if it's a 4th level spell. It's well known that by level 10 there are tons of enemies that can fly, but you don't need to fly to fight them, and if you want that kind of advantage then spending a top level slot is the choice you make. When you hit 13th level you're supposed to be the big cheese, so it makes sense that you can fly all day long with Overland Flight. And so on and so on.

As usual it's a lot easier to fix the spells: instead of creating an elaborate skill system to duplicate magic, pushing the spells that invalidate mundane skills (and movement) back by 2 spell levels is a lot easier and should alleviate the problem quite nicely I think.

Thrawn183
2010-03-20, 06:32 AM
I gotta disagree on this one. Changing skills wouldn't be too hard. Checking every spell written? Even just going through all the PHB would be rough.

Sir Giacomo
2010-03-20, 11:24 AM
The thread on Flight that just popped up recently gave me some more ideas for this thread, or rather I've shamelessly hijacked the starting idea and applied it to everything. Weather or not we think that "mundane" heroes can work at higher levels, we all agree that effects such as Fly and Invisibility that can't be duplicated without magic are part of the problem, right? Well then one solution would be to push them back a few levels.


I do not think that you need to change the spells. Rather, look at the mundane possibilities:
1) vs flying?
- jump skill, reach, climb skill, ambush, archery/missile weapons, traps etc.
2) simulate flying?
- jump skill, climb skill, craft-aircraft skill (think Leonardo da Vinci style...), handle animal - large flying creature skill etc.
3) vs invisbility?
spot (neeids to be high though), listen, throw some flour, get into underwater area etc
4) simulate invisibility?
hide skill, get concealment like smokesticks, darkness (at night/underground), disguise skill, etc.

- Giacomo

Math_Mage
2010-03-20, 11:29 AM
I do not think that you need to change the spells. Rather, look at the mundane possibilities:
1) vs flying?
- jump skill, reach, climb skill, ambush, archery/missile weapons, traps etc.
2) simulate flying?
- jump skill, climb skill, craft-aircraft skill (think Leonardo da Vinci style...), handle animal - large flying creature skill etc.
3) vs invisbility?
spot (neeids to be high though), listen, throw some flour, get into underwater area etc
4) simulate invisibility?
hide skill, get concealment like smokesticks, darkness (at night/underground), disguise skill, etc.

- Giacomo

But in every case, the magic works earlier and more effectively than its skill-based imitation or response. That's exactly what Fizban was talking about.

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-03-20, 12:21 PM
As usual it's a lot easier to fix the spells: instead of creating an elaborate skill system to duplicate magic, pushing the spells that invalidate mundane skills (and movement) back by 2 spell levels is a lot easier and should alleviate the problem quite nicely I think.

Alternately, change the spells to grant virtual ranks in a skill instead, with an additional bonus--knock lets you make an Open Lock check as if you had [character level] ranks in Open Lock, and you can make them from up to 5ft/CL away; spider climb lets you make Climb checks as if you had [character level] ranks in Climb, and you don't fall until you fail by 15; etc. That means that an already-skilled character is still better at a given task, but there's still a reason to use the spells (open a possibly-trapped lock from farther away if your rogue can't disable it, help prevent your Str 6 wizard from falling, etc.) Only spells which don't have a direct skill analog like fly would need to be moved up.

Pluto
2010-03-20, 12:49 PM
But in every case, the magic works earlier and more effectively than its skill-based imitation or response. That's exactly what Fizban was talking about.

But there are mundane ways to compensate for lack of magic abilities that don't require nerfing the entire magic system (and the monsters based around it).

Jump could be changed to negate some of the benefits of flight (especially with condensed attack routines like standard action full attacks or ToB-style standard action strikes) and Spot could be buffed to see through Invisibility and illusions.

Wizards becoming god-like isn't a problem if Fighters and other non-magic characters had similar potential via skill and combat revamp.

(But making a Fighter's Arrow start a hurricane or a Rogue's wink charm the gods themselves would require quite a bit of work... frankly, the best solution I can think of is fading toward a mechanics-light play-style as the game creeps toward higher levels.)

ZeroNumerous
2010-03-20, 02:59 PM
1) vs flying?
- jump skill, reach, climb skill, ambush, archery/missile weapons, traps etc.

1) Situational.
2) Situational.
3) Situational.
4) Extra Situational.
5) Viable.
6) So situational as to be infeasible.


2) simulate flying?
- jump skill, climb skill, craft-aircraft skill (think Leonardo da Vinci style...), handle animal - large flying creature skill etc.

1) See Above
2) See Above
3) The style of inventions where none of them work? Be my guest.
4) Possible.


3) vs invisbility?
spot (neeids to be high though), listen, throw some flour, get into underwater area etc

1) Ha-ha, no. Ain't doing this one without magic or epic levels.
2) Possible.
3) Situational.
4) Very situational.


4) simulate invisibility?
hide skill, get concealment like smokesticks, darkness (at night/underground), disguise skill, etc.

1) Possible.
2) A giant pillar of smoke makes you more obvious, not less.
3) Possible.
4) Situational.

Not only is magic easier and quicker, it's also not nearly as situational as mundane skills. Buffing mundane skills isn't going to help as much as nerfing magic.

Eldariel
2010-03-21, 06:16 PM
Well, since this thread blew up over the night after I posted it, I had trouble keeping up. Abbreviated answers to generic answer groups though:

@ "Play another system/E6": Thanks, but that's not really the answer I'm looking for. D&D fits a very specific nichť in my gaming experience and when I want a D&D game, I want a D&D game. E6, while helpful, isn't the answer I'm looking for either as I'm confident the default E20 can accommodate awesome melee types too, and that the fault isn't intristic to the system. Though I'm not above yoinking stuff from similar systems like Iron Heroes, but again, as they aren't directly compatible...

@ "Can't be done without turning it into another game": I'll mention that I come from AD&D and that always colors my perceptions, but I disagree; I don't see any reason why D&D would turn into an item/su-fest for martial types out of necessity. In AD&D magic items were a rarity and you just used what you found. You were perfectly competent even as a warrior without them. Of course casters had lots of abilities on higher levels that were completely out-of-balance compared to the warriors' abilities, but the warriors were still very useful with their superb HD pools, all-day performance and so on. I don't see why 3.5 couldn't accommodate such too, other than some already-failed parts of the system like CR, which are best off ignored anyways.

@ "Your examples suck": Granted, that was just off the top of my head. Since people got what I was after though, it's really besides the point.

@ "Try this": Thanks. I should probably accumulate everything of this nature here (I'm culling some stuff without direct links here, to keep this to manageable length):

The real way to deal with it is to deal with the things that make such abilities necessary.

Warrior can't use a bow effective due to Wind Wall? It's Wind Wall that's the problem (really, it is - a no-roll spell that prevents all attacks of a certain type, with no particular way around it, is the problem). If, instead of auto-spoiling all arrows and bolts, Wind Wall simply gave a bonus to AC vs. those types of things (five or ten, maybe?) it wouldn't be nearly so problematic of a spell; the skilled fighter could get around it, fairly reliably.

Likewise, fighters and such need true-seeing... to deal with blinking, displaced, mirror-imaged, and blurred Wizards. If, instead of a miss chance, such spells granted a bonus to AC against people not immune to illusions... again, the skilled fighter could get around it, fairly reliably.

And so on. But yeah, skills would help the poor Fighter/Paladin/Barbarian out. Maybe gestalt him with the NPC Expert?

If you're up for homebrewed solutions, here's my old attempt, which I'm gearing up for an update on:

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130114

Notable things:
-Butchers 'cheap' contingencies, which simply don't have the caster level to survive the opposed rolls. High-quality contingencies will still be quite useful, but are also a much more significant portion of a character's budget, and thus deserve to be relevant.
-Downgrades bouncing mages, as they must now roll to react to the fighter, and must do so at a penalty.
-Increases 'mundane' action economy by allowing them to move and attack during AoOs.
-Solves a large portion of the range problem by making melee range a lot more upgradable.

I'm thinking about running a no magic items E6 game and this is what I've come up with:

Full casters are rare, if you want to play one you'll have to convince me.
Rangers lose their spellcasting gain druid animal companion instead.

Feats at 1, 2, 4 and 6 instead of 1, 3 and 6.

2 extra skill points per level, max ranks in skils isl ECL+2 instead of +3 to increase diversity and all skills are class skills.

The attribute increase at level 4 is +1 to two attributes instead of one.

Everyone gets endure elements (I mean what kind of hero are you if you can't climb a glacier wearing only loincloth and maybe a helmet)

Shield AC is added to touch AC.

At 2nd level you gain +2 deflection bonus to AC. This increases to +3 at 5.

At 3rd level you gain +2 natural armor bonus to AC. This increases to +3 at level 6.

At 4th level all weapons you wield are treated as a +1 weapon and possibly able to take a feat that increases this to +2 (maybe after the weapon focus line).

At 5th level you gain +1 to all saving throws.

At 6th level you gain another +1 to two attributes, only one of them can be the same as either attribute you picked at level 4. (So if you picked str and con on 4th you can only pick str or con at 6th and then must pick another stat)

This all is worth ca 45k.

Force effects should have a Hardness and HP (probably scaling with level). Everything will break if you hit it hard enough or long enough. Or leave it within reach of a small child for any length of time...

And yeah, Fighters should be able to do cool things, and more powerful things, and most of their feats should scale the way spells do. Oh, and we shouldn't have to go to another system to make this work. 3.5 is malleable enough to make anything fit.

Maybe I'll have to try my hand at a homebrew fix. Maybe with a "Warrior's Focus" similar to Psionic Focus... hrmmm.....

Frank and K's Races of War does a nice job of this. I've never actually been able to use their system for classes, but I've been allowed to use their combat system and feats once or twice.

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Races_of_War_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Races_of_War_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29/Warriors_with_Class#Base_Classes

All the basic melee classes get excellent treatment, and they combine a lot of archetypes and simplify things. In addition, they eliminated feat trees and each feat gives you a new ability every five or so levels. Check them out.

Part of the problem is the absurdity of HP. At say, level 1 the difference between a guy wielding a Heavy Mace and a Mighty Composite Longbow (+1) is the difference between 1d8+3 damage and 1d8+1 damage. In a system where Kobolds are rocking 4 HP, it's the difference between guaranteed 1hko and a likely 1hko.

At level 20, however, while your ubercharger is probably going to kill it in one hit (and then some), a) you're not very likely to get that hit as your target isn't even on the same plane (astral projection, etherealness), and b) while you can choose to either 1hko with a bow or 1hko with a charge, it's difficult to 1hko with both.

At level 1, falling 30 feet is likely a death sentence unless you pull off some stunt. At level 20, being tossed out of the space shuttle won't phase you: not the lack of oxygen, not the cold, and certainly not the falling damage... and since this is D&D, not even the re-entry which would incinerate a space-shuttle sized object which is designed to repel that heat. You'll hit the earth, make a massive crater, and have a huge environmental impact but then you'll hop back to your feet and continue swiping your sword at your opponent.

I think what needed to happen (and what needs to happen) is bringing feats more in-line with spells, and tone down spells ever so slightly. Here are a few guidelines I think we should implement:


1) Flight should be non-trivial. Right now it's a 3rd level spell... I'd like it to be a 7th, 8th, or 9th level spell. Think about your examples; Smaug was a relatively epic challenge brought down by a lucky crit. Which other characters had access to flight? Not Gandalf or any of the Elves, but the Nazgul, and even then only by acquiring a flying mount.

2) Magic should counter Magic a lot. This means Mage Armor is probably fine, but Freedom of Movement probably is not, and the miss-chance-generators need to go down or away. Magical DR? Things like Prot: Arrows need to die in a fire or be raised to a much higher level. It should not be easy to stop mundane equipment with magic, and it should not be easy to stop magic with mundane equipment.

2.a) This goes with the HP thing before, in my mind the ideal would be you have the option of killing someone with a Fireball or a sword. They are equally effective at leaving your opponent/s dead, (or at least their cost/benefit ratio is similar), but in order to stop the Fireball you need another wizard, while in order to stop the sword you need a shield.

3) HP needs to be lowered. Damage lowered a little. This doesn't take away from melee, mind, because while I propose removing, say, Leap Attack, and you'll complain that this means we're only dealing 100 damage instead of 600 damage, I will point out that it is absurd that you can deal enough damage to sink a modern battleship to a fighter and the fighter keeps standing through it. Lower the HP, lower the damage, and maybe Leap Attack and friends aren't needed anymore.

4) Feats need to be improved for melee. Right now it's "+2 damage," which is crazy. I can't imagine how the playtesters arrived at the conclusion "+2 damage" from a level 4 feat was balanced when the upgrade from Burning Hands (1st level spell) to Fireball (3rd level spell) is an upgrade from 5d4 to 5d6... or +5 damage. Also an upgrade in area. Also an upgrade in range. What makes this even more perplexing is that both Fireball and Burning Hands suck.

I like the idea of feats like Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization focusing off BAB. So Weapon Focus would be "Add 1/5th of your BAB to-hit with your chosen weapon, minimum of +1" (like the Crusader's hit-pool thing) and Weapon Specialization would be "Add 2/5ths of your BAB to damage with your chosen weapon, minimum of +2" (bab +4 required instead of fighter 4). At level 4 it'd be moderately significant ("Cool, +1 to hit, +2 to damage") while at level 20 it'd be +5 to hit and +10 to damage... +5 and +10 again for the next level, and +20 total damage. With lowering of HP this will become non-trivial damage.

I'd also like a series of very specialized feats that focus on weapon defense, like Parry or whatever which let you make opposed rolls to defend yourself. Changing combat from passive defense to active defense (which is what Wizards and other magic users frequently have with contingencies and swift-action spells) can only benefit melee users in the long run. I'd also like there to be some feats which are more similar to spells... things which force fort saves, will saves, or reflex saves and have special effects like "tripping" or "confusion."

5) Spells are toned down across the board.


Just my thoughts.

I've had some luck IMC by houseruling a lot of common feats that used to provide +1 or +2 damage bonuses (point-blank shot, weapon specialization, etc) to providing a virtual size increase for the weapon, and scaling selected feats to increase by +1 per 4 HD. So, for example, an archer takes point-blank shot, and gains +1 to hit and 1 size increase on his damage die within 30'. This same archer by 12th level has +4 to hit and +4 size increases -- all from one feat.

Why?

The feat scales with level, just like spells do.
Damage output scales faster at higher level, a benefit casters already have.
The size increases to damage only improve weapons, not weaponlike spells.
Weapon choice has more impact: because smaller weapons start with a smaller damage die, differences in weapon damage are magnified at higher levels, rather than obscured, as is the case when you pile on static damage bonuses.
The presence of many of these feats on the fighter bonus feat list allows mundanes to optimize by stacking them for a larger benefit. Casters aren't likely to choose multiple weapon-oriented feats.


I don't know the system to represent this, but I'd love to find a game where this is the case. Almost all of the wizards Conan fights follow one of two patterns: turning into a huge monster (which is a terrible idea, since Conan can punch anything to death if he's pissed enough) or doing horrible, horrible things given enough preparation. He survives the latter sort of encounter by a combination of luck, quick-thinking, and his opponent's inability to concentrate on a spell while their blood flows out of them.

D&D 3.5 trivializes casting spells; Concentration check DCs scale half as quickly as the check bonus, even without magic items to assist, and almost nothing worse casting takes more than a standard action. When you're shooting Magic Missile at the darkness, yeah, fine. That shouldn't take long. But opening a portal to another plane of existence and pulling a being of immense power through who is forced to obey your every command in the immediate future? Why does that only take 3-4 seconds to accomplish with no chance of failure?

I feel it requires a combination of nerfing spells, lowering skill DC's and classes. Oh, and populating the world with almost entirely level 1 commoners. These commoners don't make skill checks.

- Ok, HP scales, so direct damage spells can stay scaling.
- Stats don't scale, so no ability damage/penalty/drain spells get to scale. A -10 to Strength is just as devastating at level 5 as it is at level 15 to a fighter.

- Drastically lower the skill DC's of things. As an example, make swimming up a waterfall a DC 30 swim check. Make heal checks remove things like ability damage (not necessarily instantly, but doable)
- Make spells opposed by skills only give a bonus on the caster's check. Ie. Invisibility is only a bonus to Hide, and allows you HiPS. Silence is a bonus on Move Silently.
- Nerf the crud out of all flat effect spells: Wind Wall, Freedom of Movement and the like. Wind Wall becomes a penalty on ranged attacks through it, Freedom of Movement becomes a significant but not insurmountable bonus to grapple checks (maybe you caster level)
- Make all spells opposable. Wall of Force? Get through it with a strength check, or give it like DR 30/-. Make it really tough, but possible to beat.
- Make spells replaceable with skills. Use Sense Motive to read people's thoughts just like the spell (though make it so the DC is achievable after the spell is available, as you can only cast the spell limited number times per day).

- Feats should act like chains. All the Weapon Focus on up to Weapon Superiority should be one feat. You only get 7 after all, why not let 1 feat really mean something.
- Feats shouldn't be necessary. Every full BAB class should automatically be able to perform attacks like grappling, tripping, and disarming without taking the feats. If they want to represent a special focus, than sure. But I want my fighter to be able to do cool stuff (like fire arrows into melee) just because he's a Fighter 1.

Lastly, give out more skills. Something like 6+int for fighters and 10+int for rogues.

What's the end result? A low level fighter will still be unable to grapple a high level wizard. A high level wizard can still just nuke a low level fighter out of existence. On the other hand, you're much less likely to run into some kind of spell that's going to do 10 strength damage to your fighter even on a made save

Long story short, this is what I wanted out of Pathfinder.

To the OP: I agree with much of what you said. I love the mages and the priests, and what they can do with their spells. But I like too the plain, mundane warrior type, either strong or agile, but anyway tough and competent, prevailing through sheer competence and determination.

I'm not fond of making the warrior more "magical" or supernatural, really. That would only mean making him less mundane, which would take the whole point away. I would prefer making mundane skills and abilities more efficient and useful. Some ideas (mentioned by many others, of course):

- a low-magic environment is more fun, because the relatively few magic items there are will be more interesting.

- 3.5 deals out too few skill points, IMO. I find the skills a great invention, and any adventure should, according to my taste, be heavy with possibilities for skill checks. Being both a Rogue and Bard fan, I would absolutely want those classes to be uber-skilled relative to the other classes. But I think all the classes should get extra skill points. As it is, I feel I always have to spend 14 points on INT, whatever build I make, to ensure that my character gets a decent selection of skills. So my suggestion would be to give +2 skill points to each and every class, and then perhaps +4 to the Rogue and +3 to Ranger, Bard and Barbarian. The Fighter would still not be a master of skills, but he would at least get a better chance of having at least some useful skills available.

- I haven't played the older versions except via Baldur's Gate, but at least there the Weapon proficiency caterogories were broader than in 3.5. I find it less than reasonable that a Fighter is good at wielding a Longsword, but not a Katana or a Rapier. One of his strengths should be that he can handle all kinds of weapons. So I would suggest broadening the weapon categories, like: WF (bow) or WF (polearm) etc., WS (bow) or WS (polearm) etc.

- I think the old rules where there was a limit to how many HP you could get, was perhaps better. They should start tapering off once you get past lvl 15 or so.

- There is a big problem in DnD that archery is underpowered compared to both RL and fantasy fiction. I think perhaps ranged weapons should be scaled up somehow.

- Maybe Critical hits with all kinds of mundane weapons should be scaled up. After all, an arrow through the eye is an arrow through the eye. A decapitation with a longsword is something you can't survive. There should be a bigger difference between the common slashing and wounding during combat, and the particularly devastating hits. So, immunity to crits should be much reduced, and the crit multiplier should be increased, maybe.

So, reworking feats and skills, reducing HP, rewriting spells, scaling weapon damage...yeah, pretty much the same conclusion I've come to. Simple, easily implementable solutions are a personal favorite though; something to the effect of "give all non-casters +8 skills per level, lower "impossible" DCs to 30, make Force-effects eventually destroyable, make Wind-effects only grant penalty to attacks and remove things granting total immunity" seems like rather easy to implement and going a long way towards making melee more versatile and interesting.

Oh, and rewriting martial skill lists as they're dumb. And maybe combining some martial classes and making the feat trees make sense. Ah well, this is just repetition of what's already been said anyways. May be worth the effort to turn that into a compendium of some sort.

@ Inevitable Sidetracks: Cool.

ZeroNumerous
2010-03-21, 06:35 PM
@ "Your examples suck": Granted, that was just off the top of my head. Since people got what I was after though, it's really besides the point.

They really suck though. :smalltongue:

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-03-21, 06:40 PM
So, reworking feats and skills, reducing HP, rewriting spells, scaling weapon damage...yeah, pretty much the same conclusion I've come to. Simple, easily implementable solutions are a personal favorite though; something to the effect of "give all non-casters +8 skills per level, lower "impossible" DCs to 30, make Force-effects eventually destroyable, make Wind-effects only grant penalty to attacks and remove things granting total immunity" seems like rather easy to implement and going a long way towards making melee more versatile and interesting.

If you're looking for a simple, easily-implementable solution, well, you'll be looking for a while :smallwink: but as a stopgap there are two overarching themes to follow:

1) Make the mundane accessible at lower levels, and the amazing accessible at mid levels. Drop most of the prerequisites of higher-level martial feats (and make some early feats default options) and lower PrC prerequisites, bring high skill DCs down by a factor of 4 or 5, make most magic weapons and armor (and other less-flashy combat items) much cheaper, and so on. Basically, when looking at any given ability, ask yourself "Is this something a real person or Greek hero can do?" (if yes, it should probably be accessible by level 6 or so) or "Is this something a superhero or Hindu demigod can do?" (if yes, it should probably be accessible by level 16 at the latest).

2) Remove absolutes and binary abilities. Immunities become resistances or save bonuses, wind walls just inflict penalties, walls of force can be bypassed by skill or ability checks (or just destroyed), spells that flat-out do X give good bonuses to relevant checks, spells that allow no save or SR, etc. Essentially, anything that says you automatically can or automatically can't do something should be changed.

Keeping those two things in mind should solve many problems without entailing rewriting everything.


@ "Can't be done without turning it into another game": I'll mention that I come from AD&D and that always colors my perceptions, but I disagree; I don't see any reason why D&D would turn into an item/su-fest for martial types out of necessity. In AD&D magic items were a rarity and you just used what you found. You were perfectly competent even as a warrior without them. Of course casters had lots of abilities on higher levels that were completely out-of-balance compared to the warriors' abilities, but the warriors were still very useful with their superb HD pools, all-day performance and so on. I don't see why 3.5 couldn't accommodate such too, other than some already-failed parts of the system like CR, which are best off ignored anyways.

The issue with this approach is that AD&D and 3e are fundamentally different when it comes to the mechanical core of the editions.
Fighters had awesome make-it-on-a-2 saves because they had their own progressions independent of other classes'; if you're limited to choosing between a good or poor save progression, there's a limit to how much better they can be.
Fighters did a lot of damage to monsters and were a credible threat on the battlefield; if you gain HD past level 10 and add Con to HP, damage becomes less effective unless you increase damage potential accordingly (which they didn't).
Fighters were fairly resilient and could tank to a good degree; if you move from a declare-all-actions-and-resolve-in-order initiative system to a round-robin system, move from a freeform or wargaming movement system to a square-based system, and move from a fixed 20-point AC spread to an open unbounded one, you lose the ability to protect your teammates against monster movements and can't take a hit nearly as well without proportionally higher investment.
Fighters were the only ones able to take advantage of high BAB, high Str, intelligent swords, etc.; if you standardize these mechanics across all classes, the potential now exists for other classes to outfight the fighter.
Mages were easier to prevent from casting spells; if you introduce Concentration and reduce casting times, you significantly enhance their power.
Mages had a very tough time creating magic items and finding new spells; if crafting requires only a feat and some time and you can buy scrolls of new spells, their versatility shoots up.

None of these things is going to be corrected with a spot-fix solution. To bring things back to the AD&D paradigm, you have to decouple saves and BAB from classes, change initiative, change HP, and change other wide-ranging mechanical bases of the system--and since 3e wasn't build with that in mind, you can't just change them, you have to examine what effects that has on other mechanics, and what effect changing those secondary mechanics would have on other mechanics, and so forth.

In short, you can fix several big things with easy solutions, but you can't really fix things once and for all without a severe rewrite. That "other game" it turns into will probably still be D&D and look a heck of a lot like 2e, but it won't look like 3e much at all.