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Endarire
2010-10-19, 07:37 PM
Most people agree that core is broken (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=171898&page=1). I've heard the argument that non-core material increases balance. I'm curious how this is so.

dsmiles
2010-10-19, 07:40 PM
Specifically, ToB brings non-casters up a little closer in power level to casters. (So I've heard.)

Eldariel
2010-10-19, 07:52 PM
Most splats add feats, which empowers martial types, in particular the Fighter who lacks worthwhile feats in Core. Even just CWar suddenly makes the bonus feats very worthwhile. Going further in, newer books like Dungeonscape, Player's Handbook II and Complete Champion have an array of very worthwhile alternative class features that suddenly breathe new life into the Core classes making them good in at least one thing and allowing for the class features to do something instead of total magic item reliance. They also gain unique abilities and overall, the classes just get:
1) More options.
2) More power.
3) More out of their existing class features.

While Core Fighter is little more than an NPC Warrior with +1 HP/level, +1 to hit and +4 to damage, Non-Core Fighter can be Dungeoncrasher, Lockdown, Charger of various colors, Intimidator, Archer or so on with reasonable competency and he can do more than one of those things reasonably (generally two-three over his career depending on how much resources the chosen path eats).

And Barbarian is mostly charger/tripper/some such, yes, but when we add prestige classes you get to stuff like Runescarred Berserker, Bear Warrior and so on creating whole new archetypes, and stuff like Street Fighter, Spirit Lion Totem and company adding variety to the offensive abilities.

Rogues gain the ability to penetrate Sneak Attack immunities to a degree, hide from almost anything that can't beat their Hide-check (in Core, they're painfully visible to anything with any non-standard senses) and of course, extra options with sneak attack and trapfinding, and extra sneak attack damage. And the option to go more combat focus with full BAB from Swashbuckler if they so desire, and of course the awesome that is Swordsage making TWF viable and all that.


Indeed, that's one thing that's not covered yet; in Core you really should be two-handing in the long run (unless you're a TWF Rogue), but out of Core, you can make decent Sword & Board user, decent non-precision damage TWFer, a passable one-hander, decent unarmed combatants and so on. So not only do Fighter-type classes suddenly become somewhat competent at what they're supposed to do and get more options as to how to fill their roles (and get a bunch of new classes that just do it all like it should've been from the beginning), the various combat styles between Fighter types are greatly balanced allowing for "going with your heart" to work out better as most things can suddenly be made to work without making you a huge gimp.

Casters of course get new toys, among others efficient damage dealing and more options and few borked spells (hai Celerity!), but really, the power doesn't eclipse the core spells, it just gives them more alternatives on how to build themselves.

So yeah, balance is improved because Fighter-types become somewhat competent at what they do (and half-casters like Rangers and Paladins suddenly have spell lists worth a damn), while casters become more versatile but not all that much more powerful. Really, it's just Fighter-types coming onto their own that's the balance improvement.

Starbuck_II
2010-10-19, 07:56 PM
Most people agree that core is broken (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=171898&page=1). I've heard the argument that non-core material increases balance. I'm curious how this is so.

Makes Bards more fun: more options.
No longer choose to Inspire or cast.

Improves Ranger/Paladin casting. Before they kinda sucked as casting.

tyckspoon
2010-10-19, 08:16 PM
All the tools the standard casting classes need to stomp everything forever are right there in the Spells chapter of the PHB. When you add non-Core material, you will find that with the exception of some notorious standouts, there aren't really things in there that are more powerful than what you can do with Core spells being employed by a single-classed Wizard, Druid, or Cleric. So the upper ceiling on power doesn't change all that much, especially in practical levels of optimization.

On the other hand, when you go non-core you get much more balanced options for casters; instead of Wizard and Cleric you can have Beguilers, Dread Necromancers, Favored Souls, and Warlocks. Or you can go psionic and use Psions and Ardents.

(I just refreshed the main thread and noticed that Eldariel ninja'd me on the point about the other options added for classes, so I'll skip straight to my favorite example.)

The best example of what non-Core does for weaker classes is, IMO, the Bard. Core-only, he's kinda lame. You can make him a diplomonkey and a second-rate buffer, and that's pretty much it (although the borked Diplomacy rules mean being a good diplomonkey is ludicrously powerful, so he's got that.) Expand his options with non-Core stuff, and you can:

Achieve Tier 1 as a musically-flavored Sorcerer (Sublime Chord, seasoned with Metamagic Song to taste)
Be an effective personal combatant (Snowflake Wardance, various classes, items, and feats that let you add Cha to things, Knowledge Devotion to potentially turn your skill ranks into combat bonuses)
Make your party really care when you say 'I start singing' (I'm not fond of Words of Creation, but even without it you can easily achieve +3-4 points over your normal level-based Inspire Courage bonus.. and Dragonfire Inspiration can turn that into raw damage if that's your thing.)
Or just sing really really awesome songs, if that's what you wanted your Bard to be (Virtuouso/Seeker of the Song/Storm Singer/other prestige classes and feats that let you do a variety of new and sometimes quite powerful things with your Bardic Music uses.)

Grendus
2010-10-19, 08:38 PM
They basically covered it. The tier 1 classes are so ridiculously powerful that more material won't usually make them stronger. The tier 4 and 5 classes, however, get some nice boosts and PrC's to make them viable, plus some feats that cater to them. Plus you get the ability to play more balanced versions of your character concept - for example, if you want to go full BAB fighter you can go warblade, or if you want a divine warrior without the DM screwing you over the fall you can create a crusader, etc.

It doesn't necessarily balance the game, since it doesn't nerf the OP classes, but it buffs the weaker classes and if the DM hands down a "no tier 1 or tier 2 classes" mandate you can still have a party with some decent spellcasting.

lsfreak
2010-10-19, 08:39 PM
For a TL;DR version:
10-point scale.
Core puts melee at 1-3, and spellcasters at 1-9.
Out of Core puts melee at 1-8, and spellcasters 1-10.
Outside of Core, melee and spellcasters both get TONS of options - but spellcasters are already so powerful that it basically doesn't matter. You get more interesting options, but they're not really any more gamebreaking that a Core-only wizard can be. Melee, on the other hand, get a metric ****ton of awesomesauce.

Endarire
2010-10-19, 10:43 PM
Splat makes the game more interesting, but doesn't generally raise the power level for casters.

Things that come to mind to help casters: Devotion feats, Divine Metamagic, Natural Bond, reserve feats, uber caster PrCs (Incantatrix, Shadowcraft Mage, Planar Shepherd, Dweomerkeeper).

PlzBreakMyCmpAn
2010-10-20, 12:44 AM
I like that tldr version

Also, non-core adds much more lower level tier noncasters while adding the StP erudite and archivist for casters, oh wait. :smallcool: but seriously there are only so many ways the batman, with additional material helping a little bit. But with more than core noncasters suddenly can be darn near anything they want, with enough creativity.

Example? I want to make a gnome named Punny Bones (qfg4ftw) jester who is one of the few people in the campaign who knows the killer joke. Oops I can only do that outside core. And no, a bard who makes people dance isn't close.

Keld Denar
2010-10-20, 12:57 AM
Plus, like, 80% of the T3 classes are from non-core sources. Dragonfire Adept? Non-core. Binder? Non-core. Factotum? Non-core. Totemist? Non-core. Incarnate? Non-core. Crusader/Warblade/Swordsage? Non-core. PsyWar? SRD, but technically non-core.

Isn't the only core T3 class the Bard, which argueably is the class that gets the MOST boosts from non-core material with Song of the Heart, Inspirational Boost, Dragonfire Inspiration, the Sublime Chord PrC, etc.

Since T3 is considered the "sweet spot" of balance, this encourages BANNING core base classes in favor of non-core base classes to keep (relatively) balanced characters.

JonestheSpy
2010-10-20, 12:59 AM
They basically covered it. The tier 1 classes are so ridiculously powerful that more material won't usually make them stronger.

I totally disagree. Read the various threads around here - almost all the uber-spellcaster builds discussed involve stuff like Celerity, Divine Metamagic+nightsticks, Heart of whatever spells, craft contingencies, etc.

Yeah, there's more stuff for noncasters, but it's grossly overshadowed by the magic cheese.

Non-core material helps balance only when you pick and choose from it with serious consideration. Just allowing all splatbooks is an invitation to ludicrousness.

TheThan
2010-10-20, 01:10 AM
It really depends on what sort of material weíre talking about. Most sourcebooks donít really add to balancing out core. The reason for this is that most sourcebooks provide additional material for both spellcasting and non-spellcasting classes. Both types of classes get a boost in power, therefor keeping the balance as is.

Some sourcebooks actually do. While I donít know if they are purposefully designed to adjust the gameís balance, but they do by merit of them only providing more resources for one type of character. Tome of battle is a great example, it provides new and interesting options for those who wish to play melee characters, while not providing any support for spellcasting. Therefor the balance of the game is changed so that spell casting does not overshadow melee quite so much.

Splat books can have the reverse effect; Tome of magic actually weakens spell casters. It provides cool, interesting and unique magic options but, these options are not nearly as powerful as the standard options in the playerís handbook. This brings the spellcasters down to a similar level of the non-spellcasters, therefor some semblance of balance is created.

Godskook
2010-10-20, 02:14 AM
1.It added better options for 'low-powered' character concepts like Conan or William Wallace. Shock Trooper, Dungeoncrasher, extra rage, etc, etc, are all non-core, but work to make true melee work better without changing what they were.

2.It added alternative melee options, such as Psychic Warrior, ToB, Totemist, which are much better balanced against full-casters, but don't feel like gish or full-casters themselves.

3.It added proper hybrid classes that were viable alternatives to their more single-concept brethren, such as the caster-rogue, the caster-monk, the gish, and the dual-caster. None of these options, without early-entry or Ur-Priest-type shenanigans are overly powerful compared to the straight-caster options(worst offender here probably is Arcane Hierophant, though).

4.Caster options now exist which are less powerful, but still fulfilling and useful, such as those mentioned above, but also things like Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, etc.

5.Blaster classes, which can 'properly' blast the field with wave after wave of energy damage. Dragonfire Adept stands(in my mind) at the fore-front of this group, but psionic classes, binder and warlock are all nice too.

I.e, in core it was:

Play a caster and have game-breaking power -or- play something else and not keep up with the monster manual.

In splat, its more like:

Whatever general concept you have, there's options to make it work, as long as you're not married to the fluff currently attached to the mechanics.

Yora
2010-10-20, 02:15 AM
Specifically, ToB brings non-casters up a little closer in power level to casters. (So I've heard.)

Which is a lie. Not playing a fighter does not fix fighters.
And maneuvers are spells with the name filled off. That's still spellcasting in my book.

Psyren
2010-10-20, 02:18 AM
And maneuvers are spells with the name filled off. That's still spellcasting in my book.

Let's not do this dance again...

Killer Angel
2010-10-20, 02:27 AM
I've heard the argument that non-core material increases balance.

I don't think so.
Yeah, meleers get ToB.
Casters get Celerity, Orbs, Craft contingency, the METAMAGIC REDUCERS, and all the things that render them further broken and totally invulnerable, instead of "only" very hard to hurt.
The balance issues are still there. Only, the meleers have more options and fun.

Rixx
2010-10-20, 02:28 AM
Out of control upward spiral of power wrought by lack of quality control. It really only improves balance for the canny (I.E. willing to evaluate the expanded materials for balance) by providing more powerful options - instead of fixing underpowered stuff or "nerfing" overpowered stuff, the pool of "the best options" just gets bigger (unless the bar is raised even further).

GoodbyeSoberDay
2010-10-20, 02:31 AM
I don't think so.
Yeah, meleers get ToB.
Casters get Celerity, Orbs, Craft contingency, the METAMAGIC REDUCERS, and all the things that render them further broken and totally invulnerable, instead of "only" very hard to hurt.
The balance issues are still there. Only, the meleers have more options and fun.I'd say it's easier to have a balanced party outside of core where everyone has multiple meaningful options in various situations. Sure, casters can break the game more easily, but that doesn't matter as much IME.

Killer Angel
2010-10-20, 02:36 AM
I'd say it's easier to have a balanced party outside of core where everyone has multiple meaningful options in various situations. Sure, casters can break the game more easily, but that doesn't matter as much IME.

I can agree with this, i was thinking to the theoretical optimized casters.
Yeah, in standard games, with more options for all the players and when not all the casters' players effectively pick all the powerful combo, you can have a more balanced party.
But IMO that's different. More options = balance, it's not automatic.

Yuki Akuma
2010-10-20, 02:38 AM
I totally disagree. Read the various threads around here - almost all the uber-spellcaster builds discussed involve stuff like Celerity, Divine Metamagic+nightsticks, Heart of whatever spells, craft contingencies, etc.

Yeah, there's more stuff for noncasters, but it's grossly overshadowed by the magic cheese.

Non-core material helps balance only when you pick and choose from it with serious consideration. Just allowing all splatbooks is an invitation to ludicrousness.

Yes, but those are only garnishes that let you go from a 9/10 to a 10/10.

Meanwhile, that stuff helps non-casters go from around 3/10 to 8/10.

gomipile
2010-10-20, 02:42 AM
[QUOTE=Eldariel;9589242]

Rogues gain the ability to [...] hide from almost anything that can't beat their Hide-check[...]/QUOTE]

Where is that from? I'm looking at playing a rogue in an upcoming 3.5 campaign, so that sounds pretty sweet.

Killer Angel
2010-10-20, 02:42 AM
Meanwhile, that stuff helps non-casters go from around 3/10 to 8/10.

Only because the splatbooks, introduce new melee classes that are stronger then their Core counterparts.
If I'm using a ToB class, I'm using a higher tier PC.
A Core wizard with splatbooks for spells and feats, gains a lot.
A Core fighter with splatbooks for equipment and feats? not so much.

Yuki Akuma
2010-10-20, 02:50 AM
No, non-core material also helps core classes. Fighters can take Martial Study, and the Dungeoncrasher variant is awesome.

ffone
2010-10-20, 02:58 AM
And the option to go more combat focus with full BAB from Swashbuckler if they so desire, and of course the awesome that is Swordsage making TWF viable and all that.

I'm curious - what's the Swordsage + TWF connection? A swift move or full attack charge manuever? That feat for Dex-to-damage w/ certain weapons?

Yuki Akuma
2010-10-20, 03:27 AM
Maneuvers that let them hit with both weapons for +insane damage? Also, there are boosts that add damage to all attacks as swift actions.

Killer Angel
2010-10-20, 03:28 AM
No, non-core material also helps core classes. Fighters can take Martial Study, and the Dungeoncrasher variant is awesome.

mmm... good point.
Probably, i should correct my PoV, at least a little. :smallwink:

ffone
2010-10-20, 03:34 AM
Maneuvers that let them hit with both weapons for +insane damage? Also, there are boosts that add damage to all attacks as swift actions.

Okay, so the "TWF becomes more effective (compared to two-handed or whatever) when you get more per-attack damage bonuses" principle. With the feat to add Dex to damage, is it halved for off-hand attacks, and does it replace or add to Str damage?

Yuki Akuma
2010-10-20, 03:42 AM
Dex to damage seems to add to Strength, and it isn't halved for smaller weapons. So Shadow Blade is good for TWFers too, at least those with high Dexterity.

Although ToB doesn't make TWF better than a single two-handed weapon - it just makes TWF better. Two-handed weapons are still better at dealing three digits of damage per round.

Tytalus
2010-10-20, 04:05 AM
Not playing a fighter does not fix fighters.

That wasn't the point. The point was that if you want to play a melee character, ToB provides solid choices right out of the box.

The fighter gets tons more options in non-core, too, and benefits in its own way. It's still a flawed class that requires considerable knowledge to make competitive, but it benefits nonetheless.


And maneuvers are spells with the name filled off. That's still spellcasting in my book.

If you want to flavor maneuvers as spells, that's up to you, of course. You can even flavor most fighter feats as spells, if that's what you are after.


Out of control upward spiral of power wrought by lack of quality control. It really only improves balance for the canny (I.E. willing to evaluate the expanded materials for balance) by providing more powerful options - instead of fixing underpowered stuff or "nerfing" overpowered stuff, the pool of "the best options" just gets bigger (unless the bar is raised even further).

I disagree. "Out of control" is clearly an overstatement. Core casters are already out of control - compared to the non-caster options. A few notorious caster boosts aside, casters gain more options, but hardly more power. Non-casters, on the other hand, get the tools to become (almost) on-par with casters.

"Balance for the canny" is also off: many non-core options are much more solid out right of the box. While you can completely screw up a fighter, wizard or monk build if you don't know what you are doing, many non-core classes are very forgiving to uncanny players. The tier 3 non-core options in particular are almost completely impervious to non-optimal choices. That's a good thing.

As for the not "nerfing" - that's not the issue discussed in the thread. Whether or not a complete core fix would have been better than introducing (better) alternatives for the problematic classes is a WotC design decision. In fact, ToB etc. can very well be seen as a "fix" or errata. I'd like to point to a different post that illustrates that view better than I can (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7211704#post7211704).



Where is that from? I'm looking at playing a rogue in an upcoming 3.5 campaign, so that sounds pretty sweet.

Darkstalker feat from Lords of Madness.

dsmiles
2010-10-20, 04:48 AM
That wasn't the point. The point was that if you want to play a melee character, ToB provides solid choices right out of the box.

Exactly, not a single word in my post said anything about 'fighters' specifically. I said 'non-casters.' Fighters still pretty much suck except for a few specific builds.

Killer Angel
2010-10-20, 05:48 AM
A few notorious caster boosts aside, casters gain more options, but hardly more power.

Metamagic reducers, are one of the most broken things in all the game, imo.

Yuki Akuma
2010-10-20, 05:49 AM
Metamagic reducers, are one of the most broken things in all the game, imo.

Time Stop is better.

Godless_Paladin
2010-10-20, 06:38 AM
-Polymorph, and just about anything *like* Polymorph (Alter Self, Wildshape, etc). In non-core, we get saner alternatives (PHB II Wildshape variant, X-shape spells like Trollform or Displacer Form)
-The core melee classes were never terribly good or versatile. See: Riding Dog vs. Fighter, among many other things. In non-core, we get cooler alternatives for those character concepts that are better rounded instead of one-trick ponies (such as Tome of Battle)
-Scry and Die is core. Actually, a lot of the A-List spells are core, like Glitterdust, Web, Silent Image, Illusory Script, Gate, Time Stop, Teleport, Telekinesis, Shrink Item, etc etc. Find the Path, for example, can just obviate a lot of adventures.
-Candle of Invocation is in there too.
-Don't even try to pretend there's balance between weapon styles. 2HF is where it's at unless you're a Rogue, and Rogues in core are pretty screwed out of their main combat maneuver against a huge swath of enemy types (not to mention one of the most popular armor enhancements in core). Animated Shields (in core) completely obviate shields. In non-core, there are more tools for making use of styles like double weapons (the Valenar PrC), or making Rogues better rounded and able to sneak attack additional targets without immediately resorting to becoming wannabe wizards with UMD.
-Other silly abusable equipment is also core. Put Defending on your Armor Spikes, then on your Gauntlets, and then on the Shield Spikes of your animated Shield, and so forth.
-Age category rules (favor Wizards and similar full spellcasters, disfavor the weaker classes) are Core.
-Diplomancy is core.
-Explosive Runes collecting is core.
-Bards with incredible Fascinate DCs who either obviate encounters through that or Diplomancy, OR just kinda fall behind. Like core Rogues, core Bards can often be an all or little proposition. In non-core, Bards actually get the tools to become better rounded full spellcasters (a la Sublime Chord) OR battle bards that can throw down in melee (a la Song of the White Raven). Inspire Courage becomes notably more worthwhile, too.
-In core, spellcasters, already easily surpassing the "melee" classes, pretty much have a monopoly on "Swift" and "Immediate" actions through things like Contingency and Quicken Spell. In non-core, worthwhile swift and immediate actions open up to everyone.

The list goes on and on. Sure, many of the things I listed aren't campaign smashers, but 90% of those things never get used in real games anyways, and the ones that do are the ones that suffuse large general aspects of the game through core (such as Diplomacy, or Polymorph). But the funny thing is that non-core doesn't only offer power creep. In many respects it also provides tools for balance creep, which is all too often overlooked. Remember, D&D isn't a video game where the scenario is written out for you; it's a toolbox to create your own adventures! Use supplements to enrich your games! You don't have to allow/disallow things by book, you can pick and choose things you like and throw out the silly crap like DMM:P or Celerity just as easily as you can throw out core crap like Polymorph in favor of variants.

While there are new broken options in non-core, they're not any more broken than Diplomancy, Explosive Rune Collecting, or Free Wishes (things that ARE core), and just add new things to the pile of "stuff you'll never actually allow in a game." As a bonus, the non-core ones tend to be more easily removable. What's far more important is that non-core increases the available number of viable player concepts, increasing the usable conceptual space.

Anyways, the short version is that you have many tools for balance creep in non-core. Take advantage of the right tools, and you can do a lot to improve your game. And you can ignore stuff like the Sarrukh even more easily than you can ignore stuff like summoning efreeti in core. :smallsmile:

Runestar
2010-10-20, 07:03 AM
PHB2 also has the shapeshift variant, which is generally accepted as a much needed nerf the druid needs, replacing the problematic aspects of animal companion and wildshape, as well as discouraging the use of summons in one fell swoop.:smallsmile:

Godless_Paladin
2010-10-20, 07:05 AM
PHB2 also has the shapeshift variant, which is generally accepted as a much needed nerf the druid needs, replacing the problematic aspects of animal companion and wildshape, as well as discouraging the use of summons in one fell swoop.:smallsmile:

Didn't I just say that? :smallconfused:

Eldan
2010-10-20, 07:11 AM
A good part of what non-core does, actually, is introduce stuff that could easily replace much of core while making it much more balanced and, partially, also more interesting.

Sorcerer? Use a Beguiler or Warlock.
Wizard? Psion, shadowcaster or Binder.
Fighter? Warblade.
Monk? Swordsage or Psychic Warrior.
Druid? Totemist. Shapeshift variant.

Godless_Paladin
2010-10-20, 07:13 AM
A good part of what non-core does, actually, is introduce stuff that could easily replace much of core while making it much more balanced and, partially, also more interesting.

It's not just replacements either. New tools allow you to build in combination with previously existing things in new ways, creating new mechanically viable character concepts.

Runestar
2010-10-20, 07:54 AM
Didn't I just say that? :smallconfused:

Yes. I am simply trying to steal your credibility, repackage it and then sell it back to you. :smallwink:

Dusk Eclipse
2010-10-20, 09:06 AM
1.It added better options for 'low-powered' character concepts like Conan or William Wallace. Shock Trooper, Dungeoncrasher, extra rage, etc, etc, are all non-core, but work to make true melee work better without changing what they were.

2.It added alternative melee options, such as Psychic Warrior, ToB, Totemist, which are much better balanced against full-casters, but don't feel like gish or full-casters themselves.

3.It added proper hybrid classes that were viable alternatives to their more single-concept brethren, such as the caster-rogue, the caster-monk, the gish, and the dual-caster. None of these options, without early-entry or Ur-Priest-type shenanigans are overly powerful compared to the straight-caster options(worst offender here probably is Arcane Hierophant, though).

4.Caster options now exist which are less powerful, but still fulfilling and useful, such as those mentioned above, but also things like Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, etc.

5.Blaster classes, which can 'properly' blast the field with wave after wave of energy damage. Dragonfire Adept stands(in my mind) at the fore-front of this group, but psionic classes, binder and warlock are all nice too.

I.e, in core it was:

Play a caster and have game-breaking power -or- play something else and not keep up with the monster manual.

In splat, its more like:

Whatever general concept you have, there's options to make it work, as long as you're not married to the fluff currently attached to the mechanics.

Care to elaborate that point? I don't really see what you are saying about Arcane Hierophant.

Eldariel
2010-10-20, 01:13 PM
Where is that from? I'm looking at playing a rogue in an upcoming 3.5 campaign, so that sounds pretty sweet.

As stated, the Darkstalker-feat from Lords of Madness allows hiding from extraordinary senses too.


I'm curious - what's the Swordsage + TWF connection? A swift move or full attack charge manuever? That feat for Dex-to-damage w/ certain weapons?

Various things. You can move as a swift action with Sudden Leap. You can attack with both weapons after movement with Wolf Fang Strike. You can do a full attack on a charge with Pouncing Charge. You can get easy flanking with Island of Blades. You can get easy flanking for Sneak Attack with Distracting Ember. And yeah, Shadow Blade doesn't hurt either. I had a 15th level Rogue/Swordsage built for Test of Might long ago: Will Nothere (http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheetview.php?sheetid=128332)

He showcases a decent maneuver selection for a Rogue Swordsage interested in Sneak Attacking. Note, he'd have no issues with Swashbuckler dip either, though I built him as a skill monkey for the group so I stuck with Rogue for more points.

Tyndmyr
2010-10-20, 01:30 PM
Most people agree that core is broken (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=171898&page=1). I've heard the argument that non-core material increases balance. I'm curious how this is so.

Casters have most of the most broken stuff available right there in core. Take yer standard wizard. He has archmage and loremaster, two excellent PrCs available in core. Mystic Theurge also sees a good deal of use. So, he has options. As for feats, he has more than enough feats to occupy his slots.

A majority of the most broken spells are core. Wish is ludicrously useful, and it's difficult to find anything else as generically powerful outside core. Time stop, force cage, teleportation, miss chance stacking, stat boosters, all core.

Sure, by cherry picking through all the books, you can occasionally find situationally better stuff for casters outside of core. You can theme a specific concept better, and gain a bit of power. It's not that significant, considering what you have.

The melee guy is much lower. Therefore, the options he gains are many. He has more feats(if fighter) and less to use them on. He is more equipment dependant, so greater variety helps him more. ToB does more for melee than any book does for magic. Arguably more than ALL books combined do for magic.

I won't say it makes them equal, but it does help.

SurlySeraph
2010-10-20, 02:35 PM
There's a lot of non-core material that boosts casters a lot, arguably by more than what melee gets. Celerity and Nerveskitter so acting before the wizard is no longer a viable attack strategy. Orbs so people in AMFs are easy to kill. Craft Contingency, because Contingency only does so much. Metamagic reducers for exploding faces off. Etc. But the relative increase that casters get is less than the relative increase non-casters get even though casters get great stuff.

Here's a metaphor.
Let's say casters start at "effectiveness value" 6, and non-casters at effectiveness value 3.
Let's say non-core adds 3 to the effectiveness of casters, and 2 to the effectiveness of non-casters.
So with non-core, casters are at EV 9 and non-casters at EV 5.
6/2 > 9/5. Non-core may boost casters by even more than it does non-casters - but since non-casters started farther behind, they're still more effective relative to casters even though casters gained more effectiveness than they did.

Now, you can't quantify effectiveness that simply, and it's very arguable how powerful casters and non-casters are relative to each other both in and outside core. But my point is that even if non-core material has more benefits for casters than for non-casters, it still helps non-casters relative to casters. Casters get more straightforward ways to bypass the few challenges they don't have easy answers for (dealing with people in AMFs with orbs instead of toppling walls of iron onto them, Superior Invisibility for all the easy detection methods melee gets, DMM Persist so buffs don't run out, etc.) But non-casters get solutions to challenges that they previously hda no solutions to (anything that can't be sneak-attacked for rogues, almost anything invisible for any non-caster [Blindfold of True Darkness, Hunter's Sense, etc], being unable to afford the weapon that overcomes a particular DR [Metalline, Mountain Hammer, Foehammer], etc.)

Godless_Paladin
2010-10-20, 02:41 PM
There's a lot of non-core material that boosts casters a lot, arguably by more than what melee gets. Celerity and Nerveskitter so acting before the wizard is no longer a viable attack strategy. Orbs so people in AMFs are easy to kill. Craft Contingency, because Contingency only does so much. Metamagic reducers for exploding faces off. Etc. But the relative increase that casters get is less than the relative increase non-casters get even though casters get great stuff.

So what?

1) You are not raising the upper potential of mages much... you already have straight out game-breakers in core that damage the game more than Celerity. It actually takes things like the Sarrukh or Pazuzu to outclass core in terms of how hard you can break the game.

2) You don't need to use everything from non-core, just like you don't have to have people getting More Wishes from efreeti in core, or turning into a shambling mound for electroshock therapy.

____

With any given rules set you have only so many kinds of builds that are viable at an acceptable level. Let's call these "balanced" even if that may not be the best word for it. Going non-core will increase the number of concepts that will fall into this range, thus creating more balanced options for players to take.

Restricting yourself to core only isn't helping you balance the game over non-core in practical terms.

To try to put some game design principles in layman's terms:
Remember, balance isn't the end in and of itself. It is a means to a greater end. That is to say, for example, you don't create a better game by reducing everything to one pre-built character that everyone shares, even though that would make everyone equal. You want to have a variety of comparably viable options that measure up to challenges appropriately that covers a range of conceptual space and play styles. More such options are good things. Restricting yourself to core-only is not very helpful in achieving this goal.

In terms of D&D, you generally want to fit things into that tier where they're able to play the same game test (win around 50% of the time against monsters of equal CR), contribute a variety of meaningful roles to the party (as opposed to being one trick ponies), and produce viable builds that work at a variety of levels (as opposed to only being effective at a narrow level range).

Il_Vec
2010-10-20, 02:56 PM
Most people agree that core is broken (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=171898&page=1). I've heard the argument that non-core material increases balance. I'm curious how this is so.

Short and straight answer: If used correctly, non-core use reduces the ultra-enormous versatility gap between core classes to a simply large gap.

Tyndmyr
2010-10-20, 03:11 PM
So what?

1) You are not raising the upper potential of mages much... you already have straight out game-breakers in core that damage the game more than Celerity. It actually takes things like the Sarrukh or Pazuzu to outclass core in terms of how hard you can break the game.

Nitpick. You're right, but Pazuzu isn't actually game breaking. A good ol deal with the devil scenario can be a blast, even at low levels, and there is nothing saying the DM has to blindly accept any request for a wish. In fact, there's a great deal of material indicating that attempting any sort of a trick or trap will end badly, and that the wishes inevitibly end up only turning the wisher more evil and getting him into more trouble in the long run.

It's a great fluffy option for a DM. The fact that it happens to find use in a pun-pun build is as irrelevant as the fact that pun-pun starts out as a paladin. A paladin is not uberpowerful either. The broken portion is the Sarrukk, and that's it.

Keld Denar
2010-10-20, 03:12 PM
Here's a metaphor.
Let's say casters start at "effectiveness value" 6, and non-casters at effectiveness value 3.
Let's say non-core adds 3 to the effectiveness of casters, and 2 to the effectiveness of non-casters.
So with non-core, casters are at EV 9 and non-casters at EV 5.
6/2 > 9/5. Non-core may boost casters by even more than it does non-casters - but since non-casters started farther behind, they're still more effective relative to casters even though casters gained more effectiveness than they did.

I'd say you got your numbers wrong. Say on a 10 point scale, a wizard is a 9. Thats really strong. Adding non-core material like Celerity, well, that bumps him up to a 10, thats the highest you can go, because even if you fill all of your 4th level slots with Celerity, you can only use one at a time or whatever. Going from godly to godliest is a small increase in relative sense.

Now, lets say that non-casters are a 3, like you said. Its nearly impossible to build a non-fail TWFer in core who isn't a rogue, paladins have no support for their crappy TU feature, bards either break the game with fascinate, or sit on their thumbs because ALL of their other options barely affect the game, etc. Adding non-core is more like a +4 in effectiveness, versatility, and options. Now you have Dragonfire Adepts, Factotums, Binders, Dungeoncrashers, Swift Hunters, Daring Outlaws, Penetrating Strikes, Pounce, etc. Thats a HUGE boost.

7/10 > 3/9.

Godless_Paladin
2010-10-20, 03:35 PM
Nitpick. You're right, but <nitpicking Pazuzu reference>

*Shrug* As long as I'm right. :smallwink: