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View Full Version : Little Red Raiding Hood: A Warblade Variant [PEACH]



jiriku
2010-09-04, 01:12 AM
Inspired by Endarire's Little Red Raiding Hood (http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19872838/Little_Red_Raiding_Hood:_A_Tale_of_38;_Guide_to_th e_3.5_Dragoon) build, and by Final Fantasy's Dragoon and Dragon Knight.


Warblade Variant: Dragon Knight

http://i846.photobucket.com/albums/ab24/gallopinggiraffes/dragoon.jpg

Dragon knights, sometimes referred to as dragoons, are daring and courageous knights who fight with spear and lance, and rigorously develop their inner soul force to accomplish incredible feats of leaping and tumbling. The dragon knight's iconic attack mode is to leap impossibly high in the air, only to come diving to earth for a devastating aerial charge against his opponent. Elite dragon knights sometimes ride draconic creatures into combat as mounts.

While the dragon knights are divided into several orders, holy dragon knights worship Bahamut, the platinum dragon, and strive to destroy evil draconic creatures wherever they may be found. It is whispered by some that an order of unholy dragon knights devoted to the evil dragon god Garyx may exist. Also, drow who follow Lolth may follow some form of the dragon knight's path (although they would call the class a spider knight, and prefer giant hunting spiders as mounts).

Class Skills: The dragon knight's class skill list includes Ride, in addition to the normal warblade class skills.

CLASS FEATURES
The dragon knight has all the standard warblade class features except as noted below. Since most of the features are changed, it may be convenient to use the table below to refer to the dragon knight's class features.

{table=head]
Level|
Base Attack|
Fort|
Ref|
Will|
Special|
Man. Known|
Man. Readied|
Stances Known

1st|+1|+2|+0|+0|Dragon leap 10 ft, spear aptitude|
3|
3|
1

2nd|+2|+3|+0|+0|Dragon fury|
4|
3|
1

3rd|+3|+3|+1|+1|Dragon leap 20 ft|
5|
3|
1

4th|+4|+4|+1|+1||
5|
4|
1

5th|+5|+4|+1|+1|Bonus feat|
6|
4|
2

6th|+6/+1|+5|+2|+2|Dragon rush|
6|
4|
2

7th|+7/+2|+5|+2|+2|Dragon leap 30 ft|
7|
4|
2

8th|+8/+3|+6|+2|+2||
7|
4|
2

9th|+9/+4|+6|+3|+3|Bonus feat|
8|
4|
2

10th|+10/+5|+7|+3|+3||
8|
5|
3

11th|+11/+6/+1|+7|+3|+3|Dragon leap 40 ft|
9|
5|
3

12th|+12/+7/+2|+8|+4|+4||
9|
5|
3

13th|+13/+8/+3|+8|+4|+4|Bonus feat|
10|
5|
3

14th|+14/+9/+4|+9|+4|+4||
10|
5|
3

15th|+15/+10/+5|+9|+5|+5|Dragon leap 50 ft|
11|
6|
3

16th|+16/+11/+6/+1|+10|+5|+5||
11|
6|
4

17th|+17/+12/+7/+2|+10|+5|+5|Bonus feat|
12|
6|
4

18th|+18/+13/+8/+3|+11|+6|+6||
12|
6|
4

19th|+19/+14/+9/+4|+11|+6|+6|Dragon leap 60 ft|
13|
6|
4

20th|+20/+15/+10/+5|+12|+6|+6|Stance mastery|
13|
7|
4
[/table]

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Dragon knights are not proficient with shields.

Maneuvers: The dragon knight gains inspiration from the fiery breath of its draconic namesake, and may learn maneuvers from the Desert Wind discipline. However, the dragon knight may not learn maneuvers from the Stone Dragon discipline, as its emphasis on stability and close contact with the earth is incompatible with the dragon knight's focus on mobility and diving charges.

Stances Known: You do not learn your second stance until 5th level.

Dragon Leap (Ex): At 1st-level, you gain a +10 ft increase in your base movement speed. You also reduce your effective falling distance by a like amount when figuring the damage you take from a fall (this reduction in effective falling distance stacks with any reduction you can claim from a successful Jump or Tumble check made to reduce falling damage).

The Dragon Leap distance increases by an additional 10 feet at 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th level.

The dragon knight does not gain Battle Clarity, Battle Ardor, Battle Cunning, Battle Skill, or Battle Mastery.

Spear Aptitude: A dragon knight gains Spear Aptitude, which works just like a warblade's Weapon Aptitude feature, but can only be used with polearms and spears.

Dragon Fury (Ex): When charging or dropping down at least 10 feet to attack, the dragon knight can make a jump check as a free action. Select the DC of the check prior to making the roll: either DC 15 for a chance to deal 2 extra points of damage, DC 25 for a chance to deal 4 extra damage, DC 35 for a chance to deal 6 extra damage, DC 45 for a chance to deal 8 extra damage, or DC 55 for a chance to deal 10 extra damage. If the dragon knight fails this jump check, he missed his target, and if he fails this jump check by 5 or more, he falls prone in an adjacent square.

The dragon knight does not gain Uncanny Dodge.

Bonus Feat: Replace the warblade's bonus feat list with the following list.

Bonus Feat List: Acrobatic Strike, Battle Jump, Cleave, Dragon Cohort, Dragon Steed, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (any exotic pole-arm or spear), Great Cleave, Greater Powerful Charge, Headlong Rush, Improved Initiative, Leap Attack, Leap of the Heavens, Power Attack, Power Lunge, Powerful Charge, Reckless Charge, Up the Walls, or any Limit Break feat (see below).

Dragon Rush: You may combine a charge attack with a use of Fly-By Attack, Spring Attack, or Swim-By Attack to charge and then continue your movement in a straight line. Your total movement for the round can't exceed double your speed.

Alternately, instead of continuing forward, you can flip about and return back the way you came in a straight line, but this requires a successful skill check (DC = feet moved during the initial charge). The skill required is Tumble if you are flying, Jump if you are on the ground, and Swim if you are underwater. If you fail the check, you must either stop after completing your charge attack or continue your movement in a straight line.

The dragon knight does not gain Improved Uncanny Dodge.



NEW FEATS

New Feat Type: Limit Breaks
Inspired by the Limit Break maneuvers performed in the Final Fantasy video game series, Limit Break feats are options that allow martial adept characters to perform amazing special maneuvers when specific conditions are met (such as leaping down from a great height, being reduced to 1/2 hit points or less, or successfully executing a different limit break). A limited selection of Limit Breaks are presented below for use with the Dragon Knight, but DMs who like the mechanic are encouraged to create more, either copies of those in the Final Fantasy games or completely new ones.

All Limit Break feats share a common set of characteristics, unless otherwise specified in their individual descriptions:


1. They require knowledge of at least one martial maneuver (and often have other prerequisites which make them available only to characters with a distinctive fighting style).

2. A fighter may select a limit break feat as one of his fighter bonus feats.

3. As a cost of activating a limit break, the character must expend one of his readied martial maneuvers (he does not gain the benefit of the maneuver).

4. Each limit break may be activated no more than once per encounter.

5. If a limit break directs you to make one or more attack rolls, these attacks are touch attacks made at your full attack bonus; they ignore concealment and other sources of miss chance (but not total concealment). Such attacks are referred to as Limit Break Attacks.

6. Half the damage dealt by a Limit Break Attack is divine damage and is not subject to damage reduction or energy resistance.

7. A Limit Break is a supernatural ability.


GIGA PULSE [Limit Break]
You can leap high into the air and drop down upon a foe, striking with a pulse of divine energy that knocks nearby foes off their feet and disrupts their attacks.
Prerequisites: Jump 12 ranks, Leaping Dragon stance, knowledge of at least one martial maneuver, proficiency with a pole-arm or spear,
Benefit: As a full-round action, move up to twice your speed, drop down at least 10 feet, and make a Limit Break Attack with your pole-arm or spear, targeting a single foe. Your attack counts as a charge. If you hit, all opponents within a 30 ft radius burst of the original target are knocked prone and slowed for one round (Reflex negates, DC = 10 + 1/2 character level + Str bonus). Until the beginning of your next turn, any such foe attempting an act requiring concentration (e.g. casting a spell or manifesting a psionic power) must succeed on a Concentration check (DC = damage dealt to the original target) or the act fails.

When you activate Giga Pulse, immediately gain two additional benefits which last until the beginning of your next turn. You add your character level to your Balance, Jump, and Tumble checks, including checks made as part of the double move action to initiate Giga Pulse. Additionally, you threaten all foes within reach, even if your weapon does not normally threaten adjacent foes.

To use Giga Pulse, you must be in the Leaping Dragon stance.

PENTA THRUST [Limit Break]
You drop among your foes, whipping your weapon about with blinding speed and supernatural accuracy, striking five of them in the blink of an eye.
Prerequisites: Jump 16 ranks, Leaping Dragon Stance, knowledge of at least two martial maneuvers, proficiency with a pole-arm or spear.
Benefit: As a full-round action, move up to twice your speed, drop down at least 10 feet, and make a Limit Break Attack against every opponent within reach (maximum five attacks). These are considered charge attacks.

When you activate Penta Thrust, immediately gain two additional benefits which last until the beginning of your next turn. You add your character level to your Balance, Jump, and Tumble checks, including checks made as part of the double move action to initiate Penta Thrust. Additionally, you threaten all foes within reach, even if your weapon does not normally threaten adjacent foes.

To use Penta Thrust, you must be in the Leaping Dragon stance.

MIGHTY HEAVEN [Limit Break]
Like an avenging angel, you drop among your foes, a whirling dervish of destruction clothed in a blaze of radiance.
Prerequisites: Jump 20 ranks, Leaping Dragon stance, knowledge of at least three martial maneuvers, proficiency with a pole-arm or spear.
Benefit: As a full-round action, move up to twice your speed and drop down at least 10 feet. You lay about with your weapon, striking all foes in a burst centered on you with a radius equal to your reach. Mighty Heaven damages all foes you threaten, even if you cannot see them or are unaware of their presence; only total cover offers protection from this attack. Each opponent within the burst takes damage as for a Limit Break Attack (as if you had charged them). Enemies who take damage are knocked prone and stunned for one round. The effect allows a Reflex save (DC = 10 + 1/2 character level + Str bonus). Foes who save successfully take half damage and are not stunned.

When you activate Mighty Heaven, immediately gain two additional benefits which last until the beginning of your next turn. You add your character level to your Balance, Jump, and Tumble checks, including checks made as part of the double move action to initiate Mighty Heaven. Additionally, you threaten all foes within reach, even if your weapon does not normally threaten adjacent foes.

To use Mighty Heaven, you must be in the Leaping Dragon stance.

Iferus
2010-09-04, 06:15 AM
I think dragon leap is by far superior to the battle .. series of abilities. The rest of the ACF abilities look good.

jiriku
2010-09-04, 10:19 AM
Hmm, do you think the loss of shield proficiency and the narrower selection of weapons for Weapon Aptitude balances it out, or does it need another limit? Perhaps I could reduce the Hit Die to a d10, since the dragon knight is more of a skirmisher than a front-line combatant?

Milskidasith
2010-09-04, 11:40 AM
I think dragon leap is by far superior to the battle .. series of abilities. The rest of the ACF abilities look good.

Dragon leap is... not really better at all, really. 60 foot more movespeed and decreased damage is very nice, but bonuses to rolls are also nice. For instance, my current Tiger Claw, Craven Sneak attacking (Assassin's stance, woo!) Warblade benefits more from the bonuses on attacks against flat footed enemies than he would from an additional sixty feet of movement, even though it would help his jump checks a ton.

Temotei
2010-09-04, 11:43 AM
I think dragon leap is by far superior to the battle .. series of abilities. The rest of the ACF abilities look good.

I disagree. That little boost to speed is worth little, and the lesser falling damage is okay, but more fluff half the time.

At higher levels, the speed boost is really the only part worth anything in that ability. The "battle" features are probably about on-par with this, if not worth slightly more.

I wouldn't worry about dragon leap.

Milskidasith
2010-09-04, 12:18 PM
Speed boost is actually just a +24 to jump in most cases (or is it +12?)

jiriku
2010-09-04, 01:23 PM
It's +24, or +26 if you're starting with a slow race. Chiefly, the idea behind Dragon Leap is to be able to reliably use the Jump skill to generate a 10-foot fall in order to activate Battle Jump and the limit break feats, and to be able to consistently pass the Jump checks needed for the various Tiger Claw maneuvers that require them. The extra move speed is also necessary to be able to do things like Jump a long distance without having to spend a round airborne (since Jump distance costs move speed) or dive from a great height if you're a raptoran or winged dragonborn attempting a dive attack.

So, the consensus is that it's about on par with a basic warblade? That's good. I've got a player who's interested in Hood but doesn't like complicated multi-class builds. Although this variant misses out on some of the good Hood tricks, it should be very easy to understand and use, and should mechanically represent a jump knight pretty well.

T.G. Oskar
2010-09-04, 10:20 PM
I dunno...to me, it seems kinda weak, especially since it lacks one of the key aspects of the Jump command (double damage when using polearms of any kind)

Allow me to explain:


Dragon Leap (Ex): At 1st-level, you gain a +10 ft increase in your base movement speed. You also reduce your effective falling distance by a like amount when figuring the damage you take from a fall (this reduction in effective falling distance stacks with any reduction you can claim from a successful Jump or Tumble check made to reduce falling damage).

The Dragon Leap distance increases by an additional 10 feet at 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th level.

This is expected. I would say limit it to medium armor (scale mail is medium armor and you can very well expect to see a Dragoon in dragonscale armor), but since most dragoons can actually equip heavy armor (regardless of whether actual dragoons could leap great distances or, say, wield heavy armor if they were light cavalry...but we're going for D&D's dragon knight, so...)

Dragon Leap has no inherent trouble with itself; increasing your base movement means an increase to Jump checks, so both things work as intended. You leap, move towards the target (with your speed, you can do it on the same turn) and land the strike. So far, so good...


Spear Aptitude: A dragon knight gains Spear Aptitude, which works just like a warblade's Weapon Aptitude feature, but can only be used with spears and lances.

The focus on dragoons and spears is recent. A Dragoon can equip swords without trouble, and if you don't wield a spear, a sword is the second best option. If not, watch the Cavalier and see how it handles charges, or watch Kain and Edgar wield both swords and spears. But, this is more fluff than anything else.


Dragon Fury (Ex): When charging or dropping down at least 10 feet to attack, the dragon knight can make a jump check as a free action. Select the DC of the check prior to making the roll: either DC 15 for a chance to deal 2 extra points of damage or DC 25 for a chance to deal 4 extra points of damage. If the dragon knight fails this jump check, he missed his target, and if he fails this jump check by 5 or more, he falls prone in an adjacent square.

This seems like a pretty weak option. Adding 4 points of damage for a DC you can pass just by breathing doesn't help your combat capabilities, going without notice that there are only few Jump-based maneuvers and no maneuver, that at least I have knowledge of, that combines jumping AND charging so that you can get the bonus while executing it. So, while going as a single melee attack, the damage doesn't help.

I'd go, personally, for 4 points of damage plus 2 per every five points on the check over the DC. Set the DC to something reasonable (I'd say AC, but you can be surprised of how quick that can be broken and unbalanced), then see how your single charge will deal a sizeable amount of damage to help your melee warrior.

And let's not talk about Pounce, although if you manage to succeed, you'll deal great amounts of damage (or obscene with the version I suggest, but that helps a melee character a lot).


Bonus Feat: Replace the warblade's bonus feat list with the following list.

Bonus Feat List: Acrobatic Strike, Battle Jump, Cleave, Dragon Cohort, Dragon Steed, Great Cleave, Greater Powerful Charge, Headlong Rush, Improved Initiative, Leap Attack, Leap of the Heavens, Power Attack, Power Lunge, Powerful Charge, Reckless Charge, Up the Walls, or any Limit Break feat (see below).

I mark Battle Jump because of one or two things. Basically, this should have been the basis of the Dragon Knight substitution level (or ACF, whatever floats your boat and whatever you consider the most appropriate). When you make the charge with a spear, you would deal double damage on a charge; as you gain levels, mostly at those levels in which you would have made more attacks, the multiplier would have increased (say, you get Battle Jump at 6th level except it applies whenever you make a leaping charge that gets you more than 10 feet, at 11th level the multiplier would be x3 and at 16th level it would be x4).

I also see Leap Attack (which gives the hint that you would like to have Dragon Knights learn Power Attack), not to mention Power Attack and Leap of the Heavens (no running jump required!). And yet, this is essentially the source of your power: the feats. Had you not the feats (and the maneuvers, but you don't need the maneuvers to become a Dragon Knight), the remaining benefits would be pretty, pretty, pretty weak.


Dragon Dive (Ex): When charging or diving and using Power Attack with a penalty of -5 or worse, the dragon knight can assign any portion of the attack roll penalty from Power Attack to his Armor Class instead, up to a maximum equal to his base attack bonus.

...Such as this. Basically, this is Shock Trooper's Heedless Charge without the need for Improved Bull Rush. The main benefit is that you can apply this to a dive or a leaping charge (which you...already can, since with Battle Jump you're essentially charging and the idea is that you can charge with a a jump...), and you get it much earlier (at 2nd level), but Shock Trooper offers much more (Domino Rush comes to mind: charge, damage, you trip two people along with the bull rush. Mix with Dungeon Crasher and sparks fly).

The biggest caveat is that Dragon Knight works excellent as a prestige class. Not as a class, much less as an ACF (though I detect this is more substitution levels rather than alternate class features, given that they don't have the ACF format and they replace many abilities instead of one). That would be my biggest qualm.

I can't say much about the Limit Break option, except that I find linking them to Action Points would be far, far more beneficial. You expend an action point, you gain the benefit of the feat for that round; this means you are literally desperate so as to expend a point that won't recharge until your next level to pull off something spectacular. That would make the feats much more elegant, unless you wish to make the bloodied state backwards-compatible (which is a reasonably elegant choice, but easy to achieve).

jiriku
2010-09-04, 11:27 PM
Weak? I am puzzled.

Simple build:

Dragonborn (winged) dragon knight 10
Feats: Power Attack, Battle Jump, Leap Attack, Acrobatic Strike, and any two other feats.
Assume a starting strength of 18, increased to 24 by levels and gear, attacking with a +2 large valorous longspear wielded with that vest thingy from MiC that emulates Powerful Buid.

Assume maneuvers/stances readied include Leading the Charge stance, Burning Blade, and Pouncing Charge.

Figure a common scenario: dungeon environment, 20' ceilings in a large chamber, BBEG doing his business behind a line of minions.

Our dragonborn tumbles/leaps/flies over the minions, then folds his wings and drops, delivering a pouncing charge on the BBEG.

Assuming he can claim higher ground for the diving charge, His attack roll is +26/+21, very respectable for a level 10 character. With a full power attack dumped into AC, he deals an average of 9 (weapon) + 10 (Strength) + 10 (stance) + 10 (boost) + 4 (Dragon Fury) + 20 (Power Attack) + 20 (Leap Attack) = 83 x 4 = 332 damage +1d6 fire damage, or about 770 damage if both attacks hit.

770 damage. At level 10. With feats, skill points, maneuvers, stances, and WBL left over for other things. This does not suck.

Milskidasith
2010-09-04, 11:40 PM
D&D multiplication means that two X2 enhancements actually gets you a X3, not a X4.

Also, the problem with your build is that very little of your damage actually comes from this class. A whopping four of it before modifiers comes purely from benefits this class gives over the warblade, which can easily be beaten by int mod bonuses (maybe not guaranteed at level 10, but by level 20 it's very easy to get more than a +4 to any given stat). The extra speed is nice, but there are spells and items for that anyway.

I mean, I can use a TWF build that uses shadow blades to get a *tiny* bit more damage over shortswords, but that isn't why I'm dealing hundreds of damage per round.

jiriku
2010-09-05, 12:06 AM
Battle Jump + Diving Charge + Valorous enchant = x4. Three doublings is a quadrupling. C'mon Milski, you're better than that. :smallbiggrin:

You're only getting "very little" from the class if you ignore the fact that the damage built in the example would be reduced by 65% without maneuvers or class features. And silly Milski, tricks are for kids. The extra speed stacks with similar spells and items. And, umm, warblades don't cast spells.

So as I see it, your complaint is that my example gets its damage from feats and gear and its speed and jumping capability from class features, and you'd rather that it got its damage from class features and its speed and jumping capability from gear?

Milskidasith
2010-09-05, 12:24 AM
Battle Jump + Diving Charge + Valorous enchant = x4. Three doublings is a quadrupling. C'mon Milski, you're better than that. :smallbiggrin:

Diving charge is neither on the list of feats for your character nor on the bonus feat lists, so why would I assume you have it? Also, all diving charge does is add a few dice of damage, not multiply damage.

Additionally, none of these listed are specific to the class.


You're only getting "very little" from the class if you ignore the fact that the damage built in the example would be reduced by 65% without maneuvers or class features. And silly Milski, tricks are for kids. The extra speed stacks with similar spells and items. And, umm, warblades don't cast spells.

So as I see it, your complaint is that my example gets its damage from feats and gear and its speed and jumping capability from class features, and you'd rather that it got its damage from class features and its speed and jumping capability from gear?

The damage is from being a warblade with damage stacking feats it can already take. That is the point. This offers very little a warblade doesn't; the warblade itself can build nearly the exact same way and simply be a bit slower in exchange for int to a bunch of things, which probably leads to better damage.

The variant doesn't get anything a warblade cannot already take, besides a +4 damage bonus while hitting from above. That is the point. You're acting as if the bonuses this class gets over the warblade are amazing, but they aren't. The bonuses from being a warblade are great, but being a Dragon Knight gets you little that a warblade doesn't, if anything at all (it's easy enough to get more int to damage than +4).

EDIT: If by "Diving Charge" (feat in RotW) you mean a dive attack, that can't be taken with a spear; it can only be done with claws or talons.

T.G. Oskar
2010-09-05, 12:30 AM
Weak? I am puzzled.

Simple build:

This.

This is a build. It's not a class. Hence, why I said it was better to think of it as a Prestige Class: with a PrC, you are looking for a method to improve an already existing build.

You are looking for alternate class features, which replace some of the abilities of one class for another, but they are effectively options. You are expected, with this ACF (or substitution level, as it behaves more like one) to follow a VERY SPECIFIC build in order to make it work.

So...what if I didn't want to, say, get into Power Attack/Leap Attack but I still want Battle Jump? Say, if I wanted to get the benefits of Battle Jump because I got Spirited Charge and wanted to do a leaping charge from my mount? Or, say, use something that's not a spear, for example (I can't take benefit from Spear Aptitude that way). Or, say, I don't wanna replace my AC? Each of the following means that you're nulling one of the various abilities you offer, which alongside with the offering of feats means you're looking for a very broad build that deals loads of damage from a single movement. Basically, an ubercharger build neatly fitting into the class.

Recall that one point I mentioned was that there was no synergy between Jump-based maneuvers (Death from Above, for example) and charge-based maneuvers (such as Pouncing Charge). Rather, it makes the implied assumption that you're making a jumping charge. Just by saying "when you make a charge, you may make a Jump check as part of the charge" and add a reasonable benefit (your jumping charge is treated as a mounted charge, or you gain a bonus to your jumping speed from the extra impulse of the charge, or so forth) would make your ACF much better.

Note what you say at the end: with feats (a Fighter gets LOADS of feats, so the point is kinda moot), skill points (all you need is Jump...and Balance if you need the synergy or Tumble if you want to be awesome), maneuvers (you are already seeking to get Burning Blade for your swift action, then Leading the Charge as a stance and Pouncing Charge for your maneuver, which means you can do those 770 points of damage exactly ONCE before you need to recharge, during the time you can only do a simple melee attack OR do nothing in order to use your swift action to recharge your maneuvers), stances (see maneuvers) and WBL (because you aren't considering armor, or actual items: only a weapon, and not even a method to counter stuff like armor AC, shield AC, natural armor AC, dodge AC, deflection AC or even jaunting...).

Meanwhile, a Barbarian can reliably do the same move and be far more effective (Spirit Lion Totem if you want brutal damage, but a pure barbarian can pull off roughly the same thing) because it can do it constantly. A Fighter will have a bit more trouble (mostly because of Pouncing Charge, but remember they can also dip into Barbarian or find another method to pounce-charge), but you can also decide to get Dungeon Crasher, Imp. Bull Rush, Imp. Sunder, Shock Trooper and Combat Brute and do something else with your remaining turns. Or, say, get something like Frightful Presence (from Draconomicon) and use a battle jump for extra damage AND shaken all enemies.

Notice how two base classes do roughly the same actions, but have their own ways to do this? They are also just as reliable, if not more, than a specific build.

There are great things you added, of course, but also added great vulnerabilities. For example: I like that you added Desert Wind instead of Stone Dragon, because it exemplifies the choice of mobility within martial maneuvers. However, because everything relies on charging, you neglected one of the abilities that Stone Dragon has and that can reliably stop you from level 3 (Stone Vise, and you're not the only one that can get a large Str modifier). But otherwise from that, and Dragon Fury (which I noted as a keen choice), the rest is a bit lackluster. You add the benefit of two feats which you could get as a Fighter (Shock Trooper and Cavalry Charger) and narrowed the focus (which is a key aspect in making a PrC), but most important, you expect people to make ubercharger builds. At any moment you neglect to add the components of an ubercharger build (so what if you want to use a shortspear and a shield, or a 1-handed polearm and a shield? Or entirely forget about Power Attack?).

That is the weakness: it relies on you making a build, and a very specific one, instead of a ACF that allows for a great quantity of builds. For example: you can get Spell Reflection (Complete Mage) and find more than one way to activate it. Say, you can either get concealment or raise your AC to be untouchable. Holy Warrior and Champion of the Wild replace your spellcasting for feats, and you can get a wide selection of feats that way (even though your spellcasting will suffer a bit). But, if you notice, Spell Reflection doesn't steer your entire build into a set of options any more than Evasion doesn't force you to have unbeatable Reflex; it does help, but you can focus on other stuff, like getting your AC higher, or getting feats to make your AoO chances defensive (Evasive Maneuvers), and so on. Recall I mentioned it looked like a substitution level? Even substitution levels allow some degree of liberty on your choices, not requiring some very specific choices.

The weakness consists on the lack of options, not on the raw power. If it were for raw power, you could have found ways to reduce your weaknesses (for example, Dragon Dive is a good way to reduce your weakness of poor attack bonus, but you replace that with a sign that says "hit me!"), and it would have made your ACF/substitution level much more effective. As Milski says, very little of your damage (what you are intending to provide) comes from the class: Leading the Charge and Burning Blade can be gained without entering the class (Pouncing Charge is far more difficult, but WBL says you can with less effort), and everyone can get feats. What you really, really get is Dragon Fury added to your damage. Then, you have to consider what can be reduced: the +10 damage from Burning Blade is part of the boost, and its considered fire damage so you really get 1d6+10 (not 1d6 and then multiply 10 by 3 or 4), and all of that can be reduced with fire damage (a Resist Energy spell, or even resistance gained pretty cheap reduce that damage to roughly 6 points of damage, 11 if you're lucky). Or what can be allowed: notice that the multipliers actually depend on you having ALL books, or at least Unapproachable East? If you don't play on Faerun or have a DM that allows all that, you lose the bulk of your power (the multipliers), while a mounted character already dwarfs all that with CORE attacks (Spirited Charge + lance), and can even be more successful with stuff still on core (say, a flying mount with Fly-by Attack and Ride-by Attack: how difficult that can get a flying mount?), or even with much less effort (find a way to fly, and Fly-by Attack with a charge).

Hence, and not to bash you or anything, I would work on considering those points and working in one of two factors: either making this a true ACF (choose what to replace, and add a proportional benefit that allows jumpers and chargers to take benefit), make it a substitution level proper (look at the Races of * books for the format, then substitute at the right levels and provide proportional benefits), or make it a PrC with all the benefits. And most important, think less of a build and more on a class: you could, for example, allow stuff like Spring Attack to count as a charge, and make stuff like Bounding Assault more attractive; either way, you're opening options instead of forcing options.

There is more than one way to have something weak, even if it's carefully considered. It does not take raw power to be strong, but rather a strong option by itself.

Milskidasith
2010-09-05, 12:36 AM
I think that griffons were like 4k, Oskar, but I can't recall.

So a 10th level character can have a fairly nice disposable army of Griffons to suicide bomb his foes as he jumps off them, smacks the enemy in the face, and jumps to a different griffon.

Milski: Answering rhetorical questions since 12:36 AM CST 9/5/2010 A.D.

jiriku
2010-09-05, 04:14 AM
OK guys, let me clarify a couple of items here.

Milksi, dive attack requires a piercing weapon. Really, I promise it does. I really do read the rulebooks before I post. Really, I promise I do. Quit nitpicking on my math and give me some useful suggestions.

Oskar, this is a Variant Class, not an alternate class feature or substitution level. Variant classes are introduced in Unearthed Arcana, and are in the SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm). In brief, variant classes present a different "take" on a base class, often with a theme that focuses on fighting foes of a specific alignment, getting along in a specific environment, or using a specific combat style. You've been playing D&D for a long time so I'll assume that's more than enough to show you what page I'm on conceptually.


Now, on to the meat and potatoes.

You both expressed a concern that the dragon knight warblade is overly thematic for a variant class. Frankly, that's a matter for individual taste, but what the heck, let's look into it. I think it's important to consider this within the context of existing class variants. Let me cherry-pick a few for you.


Boar Totem Barbarian: A variant that gives up traditional barbarian speed and reflexes for the durability and tenacity of a boar.
Savage Bard: a variant that gives up bardic education and calming magic for skill in the wild and a small list of animal/plant-themed magic.
Denying Stance Monk: a variant that gives up a monk's flexibility of choice in fighting styles to learn a specific combat style involving combat maneuvers that neutralize the opponent.
Planar Ranger: a variant that gives up a ranger's normal talent with animals in exchange for talent with celestial or fiendish animals.
Battle sorcerer: a variant that gives up some spellcasting to be able to fight reasonably well with a one-handed weapon and light armor.
Dragon Knight warblade: a variant that gives up a warblade's talent for clever tactics to focus on swift movement and charge attacks.

Do you see what I did there? I bet you did. So please, hush about this being too specialized or focused to be a variant class. Any game that can countenance a monk variant based around disarming and grappling or a barbarian variant based around emulating a pig can live with a warblade who favors jumping and stabbing instead of flanking and acting tricky.

Oskar, I don't get what you're saying about forcing options or requiring a specific build. How does the class lack options? The warblade is widely hailed for its versatility and I haven't changed that. Players can choose whichever feats and maneuvers they darn well please. Heck, if someone wants to make some kind of Robilar's Gambit build on a dragon knight, or even just pick maneuvers and feats on a whim like a casual player does, he can easily do so.

Similarly, why are you worried about Stone Vise or limits on maneuvers? Beguilers shut down pretty fast when facing an opponent with true seeing and protection from evil, or when they run out of spells, but it doesn't make them a bad class. Similarly, the dragon knight has plenty to do when he's not charging.

You mentioned that barbarians and perhaps fighters can deal more charge damage. So what? Dead is dead. The dragon knight can deal enough damage to get the job done.

So again, I don't see where you're coming from with "kinda weak". You can build a an effective "jumping, charging, and stabbing" type character with less investment than with a normal warblade. Although there are fair opportunity costs, you're left with more feat slots and WBL for other purposes, for a net increase in effectiveness and versatility.

As I understood them, your suggestions for improvement are basically:

Make it deal more charge damage
Make it deal more charge damage even without depending on feats
Make it deal charge damage in ways other classes can't
Turn it into a prestige class focused on dealing charge damage.

I like some of your suggestions, and I'm thinking them over, but how does charging better address your complaint that the class lacks versatility?

Milskidasith
2010-09-05, 09:59 AM
Milksi, dive attack requires a piercing weapon. Really, I promise it does. I really do read the rulebooks before I post. Really, I promise I do. Quit nitpicking on my math and give me some useful suggestions.


A creature that flies can make dive attacks. A dive attack works just like a charge, but the diving creature must move a minimum of 30 feet and descend at least 10 feet. It can make only claw or talon attacks, but these deal double damage. A creature can use the run action while flying, provided it flies in a straight line.

Actually, no, it doesn't work with piercing weapons.

Anyway, all your examples are completely missing the point: They can all actually do multiple builds. This is *only* good if built as a jump focused ubercharger. That's why it should be a PrC. A bear totem barbarian can build as a regular barbarian, an ubercharger, a tripper, the bearbarian thing that turns into a bear and has other bear related classes, etc. The battle sorcerer can build as many ways as a regular sorcerer and still be a sorcerer. This can only build as a jumping charger and get the use out of any of it's class abilities.

jiriku
2010-09-05, 11:31 AM
Sigh. OK, let's do this.


Races of the Wild (p.68):
A raptoran with flight can make a dive attack. A dive attack works like a charge, but the raptoran must move a minimum of 30 feet and descend at least 10 feet. A raptoran can make a dive attack only when wielding a piercing weapon; if the attack hits, it deals double damage.


Races of the Dragon (p.10):
A dragonborn with flight can make a dive attack. A dive attack works like a charge, but the dragonborn must move a minimum of 30 feet and descend at least 10 feet. A dragonborn can make a dive attack only when wielding a piercing weapon. If the dive attack hits, it deals double damage.

Now, Milski, you devote a lot of time to browsing the homebrew forum and critiquing people's work. I appreciate you for it; you've given me good advice before on classes that I've posted, and they're better because I incorporated the feedback you gave.

However, that's not what you're doing now. You're nitpicking an example and turning it into a debate of minutia. And even worse, you're rattling off careless criticisms without getting your facts straight. The only thing that I've gotten from you in this thread that's even an attempt at a useful suggestion was "your whole concept is wrong, plus your class sucks. Scrap it and start over." I've seen you give better feedback than that before.

Let me clarify what I'm looking for, and what I'm not.
1. A weakness of the dozen or so Hood builds that Endarire has published is that they rely on brutally complex multi-classing and prestige-classing and are math nightmares to build. I am looking to craft a simple 20-level dragoon/dragon knight class. Not a prestige class. I want a base class. A simple, straightforward base class. If you are unable or unwilling to accept this constraint and critique within it, then your PEACH is not going to be helpful.

2. I am looking for suggestions on how to change or improve the class variant as posted. For example, Oskar is giving me several specific suggestions on how to rebalance the posted features, and suggesting new features I might add. He and I are debating the merits of his suggestions, but there's no denying that he's giving constructive advice.

3. I am not looking to have a debate with some dude from the internet about specific racial features or the interactions of various maneuvers. I am likewise not looking to debate the rules integrity of a build stub that I threw together hastily in five minutes to illustrate a point.

4. I am not looking to spend hours demonstrating that factually incorrect criticisms are, in fact, factually incorrect. To illustrate my point: Your complaint about the dragon knight being overly focused for a class variant is illogical and not borne out by the rules. You're asserting:


Anyway, all your examples are completely missing the point: They can all actually do multiple builds. This is *only* good if built as a jump focused ubercharger. That's why it should be a PrC. A bear totem barbarian can build as a regular barbarian, an ubercharger, a tripper, the bearbarian thing that turns into a bear and has other bear related classes, etc. The battle sorcerer can build as many ways as a regular sorcerer and still be a sorcerer. This can only build as a jumping charger and get the use out of any of it's class abilities.

Per the SRD:

Bear Totem Class Features

A barbarian dedicated to the bear totem does not gain the standard fast movement, uncanny dodge, trap sense, and improved uncanny dodge barbarian class features, and instead gains the following abilities.


A 1st-level bear-totem barbarian gains Toughness as a bonus feat.
At 2nd level, a bear-totem barbarian gains Improved Grapple as a bonus feat, even if he doesn't meet the normal prerequisites.
A 3rd-level bear-totem barbarian gains Great Fortitude as a bonus feat.
Beginning at 5th level, a bear-totem barbarian gains a +4 bonus on grapple checks when raging.


The bear totem barbarian is inferior to the standard barbarian in "regular" barbarian combat, ubercharging, and tripping. It can only approach parity by ignoring its variant class features, none of which are useful in any meaningful way if your goal is to fight with a weapon or trip. It's only better than the standard barbarian when emulating a bear (raging and grappling) -- which is the thematic focus of the class variant. I could make similar comments about the battle sorcerer, or any one of ten other WotC variant classes, but my point is, your assertion that class variants must never sacrifice versatility in order to focus on a concept is proven false by a whole collection of published WotC class variants, including one of your own examples that you cite to support your statement.

Now, I'm raking you over the coals pretty hard here, but I do believe that you have a better grasp of class balance than most people once you take the time to do your homework. If you can critique this variant in a way that's fair-minded, accurate, and genuinely helpful, I welcome your input. How about it?

Cieyrin
2010-09-05, 03:17 PM
I'm not going to go over the class any further, as that's been beaten pretty hard already. I'm looking at the Limit Breaks, which don't honestly look that great, really.

Giga Pulse has a weird skill requirement, considering when you can meet it at the earliest, there's no option to actually get it. If it was 15 ranks, you could take it then and there at 12th, which you'll have to do anyways as it currently stands.

The main effect of Giga Pulse isn't that bad (Prone, slow and make casting all but impossible for a round? sure, why not), though I'm not sure of the secondary effects of skill bonii that probably end before you can use them and Flexible Reach, which isn't actually that bad. I suppose the skill bonii is to help break your fall and make your landing but it seems like you actually don't get them till after you finish the Limit Break. Since Limit Breaks are full round and the skill boosts end when your turn does, that's not exactly helpful.

Finally on Giga Pulse, making the prone and slow Reflex based is kinda strange, as those are generally Fort save based. You already got hit, so what exactly are you dodging at this point?

Penta Thrust seems probably the most right, though I wonder if the Whirlwind-esqueness of it actually works as described. Same deal on skill bonii being actually used.

Mighty Heaven needs the most work, as you can't take the feat pre-epic, if you want to stay Dragoon the whole way through. You can't meet the skill requirement till 19th, when your last bonus feat was at 17th and your last normal feat was at 18th. The attack effect is bizarre, as you hit everybody nearby regardless of concealment or AC, which is strange, considering Limit Breaks are touch attacks anyways. The description of Limit Breaks you gave earlier conflicts with Mighty Heaven, as it says it ignores all but total concealment. Similar to Giga Pulse, having the secondary effect be a Ref save is again strange, as you're using your ability to bodily withstand the effects, since you've already been hit at this point. Since you didn't dodge before, how can you possibly avoid losing your feat and getting slammed into the ground? Also ditto above on skills.

Otherwise, I can't fault the Dragon Leap and bonus feat list, as they do improve the Warblade for Dragooning it up, though Fury is definitely weak and not any better than it is in Raptor School, from whom you borrowed it from. Dive seems kinda cheap in stealing it from Shock Trooper, honestly, though it fits in fine with the uber charger that dragoons are supposed to be.

Them's my 2 coppers. Take as you will.

jiriku
2010-09-05, 10:02 PM
Good point on the skill requirements. They're now adjusted to coincide with the levels at which the dragon knight gains bonus feats.

Durations of skill boosts are adjusted and the text clarified to indicate that they're usable during the initial charge. The idea is to be able to pull off an especially impressive leap/run/dive/whatever during a limit break. It's mostly intended to make the move more cinematic.

Giga Pulse and Mighty Heaven both create burst effects. Compare to effects like the Inferno Blast maneuver or the blade barrier spell. The Reflex save for reduced effect is the standard way to mitigate an AoE; you're rolling with the impact just like you would with either of the above effects. I've edited the text of Mighty Heaven to make it more clear that the effect is a burst with weapon fluff, rather than a set of actual melee attacks. I've also edited the general rules for limit breaks to more clearly anticipate exceptions.

The text of the specific limit breaks does conflict with the general guidelines on limit breaks which I set out. I did mark the general description with the caveat "unless otherwise specified in their individual descriptions." This gives wiggle room to adjust the effects in situations where the general rule is inappropriate for the specific feat, such with an AoE burst, where an attack roll is inappropriate.

I'm reluctant to lift the lid on Dragon Fury, but with unanimous agreement that it needs a higher ceiling, I'll add two more tiers to it.


What would you think of replacing Dragon Dive with the following?

Dragon Rush: You may combine a charge attack with a use of Fly-By Attack, Spring Attack, or Swim-By Attack to charge and then continue your movement in a straight line. Your total movement for the round can't exceed double your speed.

Alternately, instead of continuing forward, you can flip about and return back the way you came in a straight line, but this requires a successful skill check (DC = feet moved during the initial charge). The skill required is Tumble if you are flying, Jump if you are on the ground, and Swim if you are underwater. If you fail the check, you must either stop after completing your charge attack or continue your movement in a straight line.

T.G. Oskar
2010-09-06, 08:26 AM
I think that griffons were like 4k, Oskar, but I can't recall.

So a 10th level character can have a fairly nice disposable army of Griffons to suicide bomb his foes as he jumps off them, smacks the enemy in the face, and jumps to a different griffon.

Milski: Answering rhetorical questions since 12:36 AM CST 9/5/2010 A.D.

I was thinking about pegasi or even hippogriff (I believe hippogriffs are cheaper than gryphons proper, IIRC), but you get the point.

Though...darn, the idea is awesome. Just replace "flying mount creature" with "wyvern" or heck, why not go the extra mile and say "dragon", and you get a mighty fine concept!


Oskar, this is a Variant Class, not an alternate class feature or substitution level. Variant classes are introduced in Unearthed Arcana, and are in the SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm). In brief, variant classes present a different "take" on a base class, often with a theme that focuses on fighting foes of a specific alignment, getting along in a specific environment, or using a specific combat style. You've been playing D&D for a long time so I'll assume that's more than enough to show you what page I'm on conceptually.

I have a bit of a bias against variant classes over substitution levels or ACFs. You may notice that, aside from a very few changes (Unarmed Swordsage comes to mind, and that's mostly implied), variant classes didn't got much push. What got a lot of push, and because of how it worked, was alternative class features; notice how right at the end, in Exemplars of Evil, they went with alternative class features that were both flavorful and powerful.

Variant classes...they're hit or miss. You mention much later an example of a variant class, which is an example of that concept done wrong. Concepts of variant classes done right include, evidently, the Cloistered Cleric (if the Test of Spite and most of GitP recommends and uses Cloistered Cleric in spades, it can't be wrong). Cloistered Cleric was an attempt to downgrade the Cleric to a frail caster, hence why it has Knowledge and Lore and no armor proficiency, but since the power of a Cleric doesn't stem necessarily from the armor (although it is a nice touch), and it follows a bit more closely what people seek in a Cleric (not the holy-warrior-ish core Cleric, which sadly overpowers the Fighter, the Paladin, and virtually every other martial class), people love the concept.

Another, I would say, would be the Bard variants. Divine Bard (could get a different name and more abilities, actually) serves well for a psalmist or religious spellsinger (think, say...Exiern's spellsingers or Elena from Grandia); Bardic Sage isn't so hot but it's an interesting play on the know-it-all, conservatory-trained, elitist bard. And the Savage Bard works rather well with the feel of a warrior skald, although WotC played with the warrior skald concept one too many times (see Warchanter, Warrior Skald).

One that's neither a hit nor a miss is the variant Paladin classes. Though you can rename them to fitting names instead of Paladin of X (say, Blackguard or Avenger or Liberator or Slayer), they are basically refluffed Paladins with some abilities that reflect that change. But otherwise, they are mechanically similar to the Paladin from the PHB, and that makes it a miss.

Which is the trouble with most of the variant classes out there. If the class was awesome and good, you can work with the variant and it may work as a wonderful concept, but if you're working with a class that already has trouble (for example the PHB paladin, replaced by the Cleric by 7th level and entirely by a DMM Persist Clericzilla), then the variants will hurt the class more than help it.

Substitution levels are the next step on that, taking the variant class abilities and placing them neatly upon the chassis of the class, while allowing for a case-by-case substitution. Perhaps someone doesn't want to lose their Spear Aptitude, and they don't take it; that's fine, since they are getting the rest of their abilities. Also, usually, when you take a substitution level (or a variant class, as you claim your modification to Warblade to be), if the new ability is a nerf that sacrifices power (or flexibility) for flavor, you usually bump the ability a bit. Usually it works, usually it doesn't, and WotC made SEVERAL misses at that. Spear Aptitude is a GREAT example: instead of "as Weapon Aptitude, but only spears and polearms", make it "as Weapon Aptitude, and your Dragon Knight level is equal to your Fighter level for purposes of this ability, but it only applies to spears and polearms". Weapon Aptitude is mostly flavorful and laughable already (whom on their sane mind would take Weapon Focus, when you can get better bonuses by choosing maneuvers!), so making Spear Aptitude more palatable to the taste of the prospective user. Your homebrew should sell to people.

Then, we get ACFs. They're like substitution levels, except they are mostly open to everyone and they make even more specific changes to a single ability while keeping the core intact. WotC made lots of hits with alternate class features, giving great exchanges with little effort: Spirit Lion Totem Barbarian, Spell Reflection, Invisible Fist for the Monk (the only reason you would take more than 2 levels of Monk: swift action Invisibility and Blink every few rounds), Charging Smite and Divine Spirit for the Paladin, and so on. They follow the same paradigm as a variant class, but on a more reduced concept; replace a single ability to grant the class a new, flavorful, effective, and sometimes even POWERFUL ability. Arguably, a dragon knight would rarely work as an ACF because it requires far too many changes, but it could work as a substitution level as it makes it much more organized (you can place the changes on a table, to allow people to see where they change and what they change exactly).


Now, on to the meat and potatoes.

You both expressed a concern that the dragon knight warblade is overly thematic for a variant class. Frankly, that's a matter for individual taste, but what the heck, let's look into it. I think it's important to consider this within the context of existing class variants. Let me cherry-pick a few for you.


Boar Totem Barbarian: A variant that gives up traditional barbarian speed and reflexes for the durability and tenacity of a boar.
Savage Bard: a variant that gives up bardic education and calming magic for skill in the wild and a small list of animal/plant-themed magic.
Denying Stance Monk: a variant that gives up a monk's flexibility of choice in fighting styles to learn a specific combat style involving combat maneuvers that neutralize the opponent.
Planar Ranger: a variant that gives up a ranger's normal talent with animals in exchange for talent with celestial or fiendish animals.
Battle sorcerer: a variant that gives up some spellcasting to be able to fight reasonably well with a one-handed weapon and light armor.
Dragon Knight warblade: a variant that gives up a warblade's talent for clever tactics to focus on swift movement and charge attacks.

Do you see what I did there? I bet you did. So please, hush about this being too specialized or focused to be a variant class. Any game that can countenance a monk variant based around disarming and grappling or a barbarian variant based around emulating a pig can live with a warblade who favors jumping and stabbing instead of flanking and acting tricky.

Now think of the following: any of the above-mentioned tactics, except your own change, for example. Is the boar totem barbarian much more effective than a jaguar barbarian (the PHB barbarian, to be precise)? You get Diehard, but that is a feat that can be ignored (by the time you reach later levels, the range between living, dying and dead reduces only to living or dead), you get extended raging (but you can already get that via Extra Rage, or better yet, more Constitution which is absolutely never bad), or an extra point of DR which could be the only saving grace. In the meanwhile, you lose fast movement (Haste replaces that pretty nicely), trap sense (which is pretty much useless on later levels as traps are either lethal or unexistent), uncanny dodge and improved uncanny dodge. The latter two hurt, and hurt the barbarian's toughness even more than the rest; sneak attack is the biggest offender, and anyone can get that (and Craven) with two or three feats. Or a dip in Rogue, or by PrCing. Plus, you lose AC while raging, so that's a double ouch. The greatest luck is that you can dip pretty well to get uncanny dodge, but aside from the extra point of DR (which is kinda pointless since you get DR 6/- tops, while most monsters deal several times that damage).

That is one of my problems with variant classes: they can work for very specific concepts, but in the end, you usually sacrifice more than what you get.

As for being too specialized or too focused, look at the Cloistered Cleric. The spellcasting it already has is enough to allow for several builds: you won't believe the amount of builds you can get out of a Cloistered Cleric, including and not limited to melee builds that kick some serious behind. Milski and I aspire that your class ends up with that amount of flexibility, but the build becomes way too focused. Why so? Read on.


Oskar, I don't get what you're saying about forcing options or requiring a specific build. How does the class lack options? The warblade is widely hailed for its versatility and I haven't changed that. Players can choose whichever feats and maneuvers they darn well please. Heck, if someone wants to make some kind of Robilar's Gambit build on a dragon knight, or even just pick maneuvers and feats on a whim like a casual player does, he can easily do so.

Similarly, why are you worried about Stone Vise or limits on maneuvers? Beguilers shut down pretty fast when facing an opponent with true seeing and protection from evil, or when they run out of spells, but it doesn't make them a bad class. Similarly, the dragon knight has plenty to do when he's not charging.

You mentioned that barbarians and perhaps fighters can deal more charge damage. So what? Dead is dead. The dragon knight can deal enough damage to get the job done.

So again, I don't see where you're coming from with "kinda weak". You can build a an effective "jumping, charging, and stabbing" type character with less investment than with a normal warblade. Although there are fair opportunity costs, you're left with more feat slots and WBL for other purposes, for a net increase in effectiveness and versatility.

Kinda weak in that it doesn't offer much that other classes can't already do (even requiring more effort). You don't cover your weaknesses, and leap-charging can be bypassed by MANY things (just for the worst offender of them all, worthy of facepalming: flying), and you do little to cater to your strengths aside from granting abilities that other classes can take with limited effort. Making the build easier doesn't mean you are making a strong variant, because you are still facing the same restrictions as before. Some are hard to remedy (Entangle, Web), others require a very specific maneuver which means you just lost a turn (Glitterdust, or rather being blinded), others require the expenditure of feats or WBL to counter, far more than what you would gain (invisibility, blink, etherealness, incorporeality, mirror image, jaunting, immediate actions to move away from your spot, etc.), and others simply baffle you absolutely (flying, which means you have to depend on Battle Jump but you won't be able to activate Leap Attack IIRC). Once you handle THOSE weaknesses, and appeal a bit more to your strengths, you will find your variant class much stronger.


As I understood them, your suggestions for improvement are basically:

Make it deal more charge damage
Make it deal more charge damage even without depending on feats
Make it deal charge damage in ways other classes can't
Turn it into a prestige class focused on dealing charge damage that acts like the dragoon I'm familiar with.

I like some of your suggestions, and I'm thinking them over, but how does charging better address your complaint that the class lacks versatility?

Fix'd. To hilarious appeal.

Charging better means you can reduce your dependence on feats, magic items and maneuvers and expand your choices. Charging better means that you might still do well with your build while allowing a wide margin of error (such as, for example, taking Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization on longspears and all of a sudden losing your spear: while that seems as a ridiculous example, it may not be far from the truth). Charging better means that you can, with your class, address one or two of your weaknesses without leaving it to feats or magic items, which means your class will involve directly with your build; yet, at the same time, charging better means that you can use that benefit on other attacks, or other actions, with moderate effectiveness which means your class will help other, secondary builds. It's striking a balance between elegance, versatility and specialization which can help a build be great or be bust. Dragon Leap, as it stands, is a very elegant, versatile (you have better movement, and Jump applies to other stuff like leaping through chasms without the need of flight), and yet it builds with your specialization. If you can make more abilities like that, you can make a much, much better variant class.

One more thing: you might have a desire to defend your brew with ardent passion, but don't let your emotions get the best of you. Milski goes into very specific minutiae because your build can be made or broken just by that minutiae. By addressing your diving maneuver, you just revealed that you need a very specific set of classes to make the diving attack maneuver work: either Raptoran or Dragonborn. Not everyone plays Raptoran, and not every DM will allow Dragonborn, and there is the chance that you won't have Unapproachable East to justify getting Battle Jump or the valorous weapon enhancement. Most DMs don't go with all books, instead choosing a few they are familiar with. If the Races books are out of reach, your build will suffer; if you are unable to get UE (or any Forgotten Realms book for that matter), your build will null to virtually nothing. You must consider your variant class working with some minimal requirements: say, Core + ToB and how you can make an effective build out of your variant, or Core + SRD + ToB, or even Core + Completes + ToB. Milski is trying to help, but that response was a tad unnecessary; a bit of heat is nice, but not a fireball to the face.


The bear totem barbarian is inferior to the standard barbarian in "regular" barbarian combat, ubercharging, and tripping. It can only approach parity by ignoring its variant class features, none of which are useful in any meaningful way if your goal is to fight with a weapon or trip. It's only better than the standard barbarian when emulating a bear (raging and grappling) -- which is the thematic focus of the class variant. I could make similar comments about the battle sorcerer, or any one of ten other WotC variant classes, but my point is, your assertion that class variants must never sacrifice versatility in order to focus on a concept is proven false by a whole collection of published WotC class variants, including one of your own examples that you cite to support your statement.

Actually, a Barbarian with Powerful Build can do much better than a Bear Totem Barbarian. A Barbarian with Bear Totem and Powerful Build can do slightly better, but not by that much: Powerful Build address some of the big problems with grapple (size modifiers) while Bear Totem mostly enables grappling and grants a moderate bonus (+4, which is mostly what you get if you get larger, but you are still Medium for purposes of determining how you grapple). In fact, Spirit Bear Totem works even better than Bear Totem Barbarian (and you can't get both, since you're replacing fast movement for each), because of what it provides: Improved Grab is far better than a +4 when raging since you can get grapple modifiers pretty easily, and you get even more HP per level than by getting Toughness, all by sacrificing much, much less. Cost effectiveness-wise, you're looking at a ACF that is mechanically similar to the variant class, which gets much better benefits than the variant class, and for much less of an investment. With Bear Totem, you must engage directly into grapple and rage; with Spirit Bear Totem, you do it as part of an attack so you can just full attack AND THEN grapple.

Look at Battle Sorcerer, and then look at Stalwart Sorcerer. Both get roughly the same amount of HP (the Battle Sorcerer gets a d8 which is an increase of +2 on average, the Stalwart Sorcerer gets a flat +2 HP per class level, so a Battle Sorc gets in average 2 HP more than the Stalwart Sorcerer), both get the same proficiency with weapon (except Battle Sorcs get proficiency in light armor and Stalwart Sorcs get Weapon Focus), and both sacrifice spell slots. However, while a Battle Sorc gets Cleric BAB and loses exactly ONE spell known per spell level, a Stalwart Sorc only loses 1 spell known in its entire progression. Now, consider which of the options is better: more spells known (and the Sorcerer's power is essentially its spells known) or more BAB (an increase of...5 in average, which can be bypassed by multiclassing and outright ignored by Wraithstrike)?

Notice how specific I was on expanding the argument. The reason is because the ACFs that I mentioned outright dwarf the variant classes in sheer effectiveness (a reason why I say variant classes are hit or miss). The ACFs sacrifice very little, but give options that work nicely with the concept that the variant class intended to achieve. The reason includes elegance (Toughness, by the end of D&D's 3.5 run, was considered a filler feat if not worse, while giving a class-based increase was much more effective), versatility (you could choose to keep the DR or keep the HP, whichever you found more convenient, but you had the option to choose; as well, you weren't forced only to grapple since you could take advantage of any melee attack to make a grapple), and specialization (a free feat compared to improved grab which is monstrous to behold?).

Now, on to your variant class: the big bite is that you force ALL the changes into the character, some of which may not be welcome. As mentioned above, Spear Aptitude may not be the option most people want, since it makes an already fluffy ability with low worth into an even fluffier ability with perhaps less worth. Dragon Fury is far too specific, and it doesn't scale properly; if you haven't noticed, the chances of pulling off a Jump of 55 pre-epic are pretty low, and if you do, you're expending far too much for a meager increase in damage (although, to help you, Strength helps to improve the value of the increase), which makes it inelegant. The bonus feat list is a better replacement, but you lose on some of the gems of the warblade bonus feat list (namely, getting stuff like the tactical feats), and Dragon Dive is basically the benefit of 1/3rd of a feat (something that is rather inelegant since you could simply give the feat with no further loss).

That last point would be easy to consider. What would be more elegant: giving to the Dragon Knight the Eagle's Swoop tactical maneuver of the Raptor School feat, or giving it the feat with no prerequisites? Although you can get a lot of leverage by dealing with the maneuver separately and improving it, as long as it doesn't scale properly or has a reason to exist separately, it won't be elegant. You could give Raptor School with no prerequisites and it would be much more elegant because you can use the other two maneuvers without much difficulty (in fact, you could delay your landing and use a much better version of Hawk's Eye since you wouldn't do any other actions than observe the opponent, given that'll be your landing zone, and you would give a very flavorful ability which can be made a bit more versatile).


I'm reluctant to lift the lid on Dragon Fury, but with unanimous agreement that it needs a higher ceiling, I'll add two more tiers to it.

Not a good method of improving. I mentioned a way to deal with that, in case you wish to consider. You can adapt those ideas with your own, and improve the ability so that it works appropriately.


What would you think of replacing Dragon Dive with the following?

Dragon Rush: You may combine a charge attack with a use of Fly-By Attack, Spring Attack, or Swim-By Attack to charge and then continue your movement in a straight line. Your total movement for the round can't exceed double your speed.

Alternately, instead of continuing forward, you can flip about and return back the way you came in a straight line, but this requires a successful skill check (DC = feet moved during the initial charge). The skill required is Tumble if you are flying, Jump if you are on the ground, and Swim if you are underwater. If you fail the check, you must either stop after completing your charge attack or continue your movement in a straight line.

See! This is elegant. You can pretty much do a charge attack with Fly-by, but what it does is that it enables those feats to be treated as charges, which means you apply every single benefit that applies to those. Alternatively, you're making charges act like those feats, and you can mostly combine a charge with, say, Bounding Assault or Rapid Blitz and attack three enemies on a row with your increased damage. Since that also works with normal charges, underwater charges and flying creatures, the set of options you get reduce part of the weaknesses you might confront and also expand your attack to affect more creatures.

That wasn't so bad: that kind of stuff is what makes your variant class much, much more effective and appealing to the person. I'd still go for a Dragon Knight prestige class, but that's just me (I urge to see more from a Dragon Knight than just charging).

jiriku
2010-09-07, 12:23 AM
To clarify a little more on where I'm coming from, this class is not intended for me or for the community at large. It's for a player in a game that I DM. If I mention an option, you can assume it is allowed. For the same reason, there's little need to worry about obscure means of defeating charges; I'm adept at keying encounter difficulty such that encounters are neither cakewalks nor TPKs and all players feel they have the opportunity to contribute.

It's clear that you are comfortable creating ACFs and sub levels while I am not. Humor me please while I stay in my comfort zone. I'll tackle the task of learning to build good sub levels some other time.

Regarding resource expenditure to make an effective charger: I'm leery of giving out tools that can stack with existing methods of multiplying charge damage. Charging damage is already breakable; let's not make it more so. I could support adding an in-class multiplier that would not stack with another common multiplier. I can also get behind the idea of making it easier to set up charges and making charges more flexible to use during combat. How about a this:


Spear Aptitude will qualify for fighter feats using warblade level = fighter level.

Replace Dragon Fury with Battle Jump, gained as a bonus feat at level 2 and disregarding prerequisites.

Include two new tactical feats on the bonus feat list, detailed below. Also add Freerunner to the list, to facilitate the use of movement skill tricks, many of which are good choices for a dragoon. Access to Complete Scoundrel is not an issue.


DEADLY CHARGER [Fighter, Tactical]
You are skilled at delivering devastating charges.
Prerequisites: Battle Jump, Power Attack, Jump 9 ranks, Fighter level 6th.
Benefit: The Deadly Charger feat enables the use of three tactical maneuvers.
Death From Above: When you charge a foe or jump down on your enemy from at least 10 feet up, make a Jump check as a free action immediately before your attack. Prior to making the roll, determine the DC of the check: either DC 15 for a chance to deal 2 extra points of damage, DC 25 for a chance to deal 4 extra damage, DC 35 for a chance to deal 6 extra damage, DC 45 for a chance to deal 8 extra damage, or DC 55 for a chance to deal 10 extra damage. If you fail this Jump check, you miss your target, and if you fail this Jump check by 5 or more, you fall prone in an adjacent square.
Heedless Charge: When you make a charge attack using the Power Attack feat with an attack roll penalty of -5 or worse, you can assign any portion of the attack roll penalty to your Armor Class instead, up to a maximum equal to your base attack bonus.
Lancing Charge: When you make a successful charge attack using a pole-arm or spear, you deal double damage, as if you had made a mounted charge with a lance. You do not need to be mounted. If you are already mounted and wielding a lance, this tactical maneuver provides no additional benefit.


FLEXIBLE CHARGER [Fighter, Tactical]
You are skilled at charging in a variety of situations.
Prerequisites: Freerunner, any four movement skill tricks, Jump 9 ranks, base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: The Flexible Charger feat enables the use of two tactical maneuvers.
Clever Charge: When you make a successful charge attack and use a movement skill trick in the same round, refresh the skill trick. You may use it again during this encounter. If you use several movement skill tricks during a round in which you make a successful charge attack, you may refresh only one of them (your choice).
Skillful Charge: Whenever you make a skill check to use a movement skill trick as part of a charge, you may roll the skill check twice and keep the better of the two results. You may not reroll the check more than once.

You gain 2 additional skill points when you select this feat.

FYI, a DC 55 Jump check is highly achievable pre-epic. By way of example, a level 20 dragon knight with maxed ranks in Jump and Strength 24 can meet that DC on a roll of 1 without any gear or buffs. A level 10 dragon knight with maxed ranks, Strength 20, bull's strength, haste, and an item granting a +10 competence bonus to Jump checks could also hit DC 55 on a roll of 1. And since both Battle Jump and a variety of Striking Tiger maneuvers depend on a strong Jump check, investing in the Jump skill is hardly wasted effort.

ocel
2010-11-02, 08:05 PM
Interesting class, It reminds me of the acrobat class:

http://loc.mornproductions.com/Acrobat

Any way, thanks for creating a Tome of battle Red Raiding Hood; maybe it could be tweaked a little more, but at the moment I'm out of ideas.

Vaynor
2010-11-03, 01:38 AM
The Red Towel: Thread necromancy.