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View Full Version : [3.5] Factotum Variant: Martial Dilettante



Ernir
2011-08-24, 01:51 PM
Representing "mundane badasses" as we see them in most fiction within 3.5 can be kind of difficult. The non-magical classes within 3.5 are often rather limited in scope, lacking critical skills and flexibility. The (Feat) (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#rogue) Rogue probably comes the closest, but that class has issues of its own. The "fixed" jack-of-all-trades class, the Factotum, fits pretty well... except that the Factotum is not a strictly mundane class, having both spell-like and supernatural abilities.

So I cut those out, and replaced them with everyone's favourite mundane stuff: Maneuvers. I seriously doubt that I'm the first one to come up with this idea, but I haven't seen it actually written down anywhere, so here it is!

Factotum Variant: Martial Dilettante

This variant base class uses the good Base Attack Bonus progression (as a Fighter), rather than the medium Base Attack Bonus progression (as a Cleric). This variant Factotum does not gain the standard Arcane Dilettante, Opportunistic Piety and Cunning Breach class features, and instead gains the following abilities:

Maneuvers: Starting at 2nd level, you acquire a vague understanding of the sublime art of martial adepts. You know that with a bit of weird footwork and flashy hand movements, you can perform something that looks just like a martial maneuver.
At the start of each day, choose a number of maneuvers from any of the nine disciplines to know. You can choose one maneuever at 2nd level, and you gain additional maneuvers as shown on the table below. See table 3-1 on page 39 of the Tome of Battle to determine the highest-level maneuvers you can learn. You can select any martial maneuver up to that level, but Factotums face special restrictions - on any given day, you can not learn more than one maneuver of your maximum level, and you can never learn maneuvers that are supernatural in nature. You must meet the maneuver's prerequisites, as normal (choose your daily maneuvers one at a time, so that maneuvers with no prerequisites can make you qualify for those who do). Your initiator level is equal to your Factotum level, plus one-half your level in other classes, as normal.

Maneuvers Readied: You can ready the only maneuver you know at 2nd level, but as you advance in level and learn more maneuvers, you must choose which maneuvers to ready. You ready your maneuvers by exercising for 5 minutes. The maneuvers you choose remain readied until you decide to exercise again and change them. You need not sleep or rest for any long period of time to ready your maneuvers; any time you spend 5 minutes in practice, you can change your readied maneuvers.
You begin an encounter with all your readied maneuvers unexpended, regardless of how many times you might have already used them since you chose them. When you initiate a maneuver, you expend it for the current encounter, so each of your readied maneuvers can be used once per encounter (until you recover them, as described below).
You can recover one of your expended maneuvers by spending an inspiration point as a full-round action.

Stances Known: Starting at 5th level, you can choose to know one stance from any of the nine disciplines. At 10th level and again at 15th level, you can choose to learn additional stances. You can select new stances to know at the start of each day - make this choice at the same time you choose your maneuvers known for the day (simultaneously, so you can use your stances to qualify for maneuvers, and vice versa). You can learn any stance for which you meet the prerequisites and is extraordinary (not supernatural) in nature. Unlike maneuvers, stances are not expended, and you do not have to ready them. All the stances you know on each day are available to you at all times, and you can change the stance you are currently using as a swift action.

{table=head]Class level|Maneuvers[br]Known[br]Per Day|Maneuvers[br]Readied|Stances Known[br]Per Day
1st|-|-|-
2nd|1|1|-
3rd|1|1|-
4th|2|1|-
5th|2|2|1
6th|2|2|1
7th|3|2|1
8th|3|3|1
9th|4|3|1
10th|4|3|2
11th|4|3|2
12th|5|3|2
13th|5|4|2
14th|6|4|2
15th|6|4|3
16th|6|4|3
17th|7|4|3
18th|7|4|3
19th|7|4|3
20th|8|5|3[/table]

[b]Cunning Circumvention (Ex): Starting at 11th level, your broad knowledge allows you to study an opponent and gain a brief flash of insight to breach her defenses. By spending an inspiration point as a free action, you can ignore a single target's damage reduction for 1 round.

Ernir
2011-08-24, 01:56 PM
Reserved, in case I think of something.

Doktor Per
2011-08-24, 02:19 PM
Here I am, needing to add a spark of badassitude to a desk jockey, paging through dungeonscape, checking webses. Not really liking my options.

Solution found.

flabort
2011-08-24, 02:36 PM
*Dies from the sheer force of Mundane Awesome*
*Regenerates from phylactery*
If you think of anything for the second post, would it perhaps be a discipline? Or a PrC that can be entered from either multiclassing the Factotum + a ToB class or by using this variant?

In either case, THIS is what melee has needed. For so, so, long.

Ziegander
2011-08-24, 04:39 PM
I'm a bit uncomfortable about this. Somewhere between giving it full BAB, the inspiration points, more maneuvers readied than a Warblade, and a list of maneuvers and stances that evolve every day... seems WAY more powerful than any other martial adept.

I'm not entirely sure how you tone it down actually. I mean, yes, the normal Factotum is almost always more powerful than a martial adept anyway, but I feel that when you're tweaking it to play the same game as other martial adepts you should do what you can to balance it more strictly.

Swooper
2011-08-24, 04:41 PM
Excellent. Now I will never need to play another class, ever :smallbiggrin:

On a more serious note, maybe using manoeuvres and/or changing stances should require using an Inspiration Point the way casting spells via Arcane Dilettante does?

Dralnu
2011-08-24, 05:50 PM
Medium BAB. No reason why it should be Full.

Morph Bark
2011-08-24, 06:47 PM
Swordsages handle themselves perfectly as martial adepts with Medium BAB. The only difference full BAB makes is full attacks and perhaps at level 1 where AC still has great use in place of other defenses.

Also, due to getting Stances AND access to ninth-level stances, this effectively makes this a High Tier 3. Very high.

Fizban
2011-08-25, 02:08 AM
I like it except for one thing: I hate, absolutely hate anything that gives you maneuvers without a recovery mechanic. I don't think people realize how integral the recovery part is to the whole system. One of the advantages that mundane character (and sorcerers) have over wizards is that they can keep trying until they get their manuever/feat combo/whatever to stick. Even a swordsage can burn a turn if he really needs that one specific maneuver again. If you end up fighting for more than a few rounds for any reason, you're going to run out of useful maneuvers, and if you don't have a recovery mechanic you're screwed. /rant

Agreed that it becomes really powerful, but it does give up a lot of normal factotum abilities to get it. Other than lack of recovery, I think the thing I'm most disrupted by is completely rechoosing all of your maneuvers from any school every day. It's not really any worse than Arcane Dilettante choosing from any wizard spell in existence, but since ToB is a more self-contained system it's a bit of a shock.

Ernir
2011-08-25, 08:11 AM
Here I am, needing to add a spark of badassitude to a desk jockey, paging through dungeonscape, checking webses. Not really liking my options.

Solution found.
*Dies from the sheer force of Mundane Awesome*
*Regenerates from phylactery*

[cut]

In either case, THIS is what melee has needed. For so, so, long.
Whee! Glad you like it.

If you think of anything for the second post, would it perhaps be a discipline? Or a PrC that can be entered from either multiclassing the Factotum + a ToB class or by using this variant?
I'm coming up a bit short on ideas, here. This is a very broad (alternate) class, it should be more or less applicable to any character concept that A) Is smart, and B) Does not do magic. Makes it kind of hard to come up with dedicated support...

I'm a bit uncomfortable about this. Somewhere between giving it full BAB, the inspiration points, more maneuvers readied than a Warblade, and a list of maneuvers and stances that evolve every day... seems WAY more powerful than any other martial adept.

I'm not entirely sure how you tone it down actually. I mean, yes, the normal Factotum is almost always more powerful than a martial adept anyway, but I feel that when you're tweaking it to play the same game as other martial adepts you should do what you can to balance it more strictly.My balance point was the original Factotum, not the martial adept classes. Having a pre-defined limit on how good/flexible a martial class can be when trying to make Nice Things for Melee is kind of counterproductive, IMO.
Also, I don't really agree with it being way more powerful than the ToB martial adepts. Incrementally, perhaps. But blowing them out of the water altogether? I don't think so, really.

The "more maneuvers readied than a Warblade" thing is kind of dumb, though. I think I'll tone that down a bit. :smallconfused:

Excellent. Now I will never need to play another class, ever :smallbiggrin:

On a more serious note, maybe using manoeuvres and/or changing stances should require using an Inspiration Point the way casting spells via Arcane Dilettante does?
I thought about using IP that way, then decided that this kind of a limitation is what "maneuvers readied" is for.

But now I'm thinking that maybe I could build IP into its recovery mechanic.

Medium BAB. No reason why it should be Full.
I made it full BAB for two reasons. One, so it can hit stuff more easily. Two, because less than full BAB causes no end of trouble when it comes to Feat and PrC qualification. Weapon Finesse? Can't take it until ECL 3. Snap Kick? Not until ECL 9. Shock Trooper? ECL 9. Greater Two-weapon Fighting on ECL 15? Really, I've groaned over building too many Rogues and Swordsages to saddle any class whose only purpose in combat is to kill people with sticks with medium BAB. (PsyWars and Totemists and such are a whole different thing entirely, though. They have other avenues to explore.)

Medium BAB might be a better fit thematically, but I don't think that's a good enough reason.

Swordsages handle themselves perfectly as martial adepts with Medium BAB. The only difference full BAB makes is full attacks and perhaps at level 1 where AC still has great use in place of other defenses.

Also, due to getting Stances AND access to ninth-level stances, this effectively makes this a High Tier 3. Very high.
Hmm. I see this as a nerf to the original Factotum. Is the guy with a 9th-level maneuver really higher up in Tier 3 than the guy who started off his day with a Planar Binding and shows up to battle Polymorphed and with a Contingency? :smalleek:

I like it except for one thing: I hate, absolutely hate anything that gives you maneuvers without a recovery mechanic. I don't think people realize how integral the recovery part is to the whole system. One of the advantages that mundane character (and sorcerers) have over wizards is that they can keep trying until they get their manuever/feat combo/whatever to stick. Even a swordsage can burn a turn if he really needs that one specific maneuver again. If you end up fighting for more than a few rounds for any reason, you're going to run out of useful maneuvers, and if you don't have a recovery mechanic you're screwed. /rant

Agreed that it becomes really powerful, but it does give up a lot of normal factotum abilities to get it. Other than lack of recovery, I think the thing I'm most disrupted by is completely rechoosing all of your maneuvers from any school every day. It's not really any worse than Arcane Dilettante choosing from any wizard spell in existence, but since ToB is a more self-contained system it's a bit of a shock.
I thought about this, I really did. I ended up going with "no recovery mechanic" for two reasons:
Not being at home in a prolonged battle is the Factotum's signature weakness. And this is still a Factotum. It matches how not-real-martial-adepts-using-maneuvers are portrayed in the ToB.

Still, these are mostly thematic reasons, which probably means they're not good enough. :smalltongue:
I'm thinking spending an IP as a an [action] (Move? Swift? Full-round?) to recover an expended maneuver, maybe. Preserves the alpha-strike necessity too.

Morph Bark
2011-08-25, 09:44 AM
Hmm. I see this as a nerf to the original Factotum. Is the guy with a 9th-level maneuver really higher up in Tier 3 than the guy who started off his day with a Planar Binding and shows up to battle Polymorphed and with a Contingency? :smalleek:

You're making a mistake here. Played that way, a normal Factotum is Tier 2, not Tier 3. What you have presented here is better than a Warblade at most levels, other than 1-4 and 20.

Ernir
2011-08-25, 01:20 PM
You're making a mistake here. Played that way, a normal Factotum is Tier 2, not Tier 3.
Hmm. Rather the bottom of tier 1, then. Factotum is too flexible to fit into the tier 2 definition. Still think it's a better fit for tier 3, whose description includes "capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area." and "Can be game breaking only with specific intent to do so.".

But the precise, appropriate tier assignment for the standard Factotum doesn't really matter. What does is this:

What you have presented here is better than a Warblade at most levels, other than 1-4 and 20.
Now this is a concern.

I'm nerfing it's maneuvers readied, looking like this right now (haven't updated the OP yet):
{table=head]Class [br] level|Maneuvers[br]Known[br]Per Day|Maneuvers[br]Readied|Stances Known[br]Per Day
1st|-|-|-
2nd|1|1|-
3rd|1|1|-
4th|2|1|-
5th|2|2|1
6th|2|2|1
7th|3|2|1
8th|3|3|1
9th|4|3|1
10th|4|3|2
11th|4|3|2
12th|5|3|2
13th|5|4|2
14th|6|4|2
15th|6|4|3
16th|6|4|3
17th|7|4|3
18th|7|4|3
19th|7|4|3
20th|8|5|3[/table]
This follows the Warblade's maneuvers known/readied ratio rather closely for most of the career, except that the Warblade's goes up to 13/7 at 20, and this one up to 8/5 at 20 (which is what a Warblade has at level 10).

Obviously, the low number of maneuvers known isn't as big an issue for a Martial Dilettante Factotum as it is for a Warblade, since the selection isn't permanent. But the number of maneuvers readied should now be a serious concern. Does that help?


And since I'm on the subject of this variant's power, I'd like to point out two things that in my head at least, severely limit how useful the "reselect your maneuvers known every day" feature is.
Maneuvers do not exist in the same vacuum to the same degree that spells do. Most spells do not have to be built around, any spellcaster can benefit from Black Tentacles or Simulacrum or Fly or what-have you. This is less commonly true for Maneuvers. Not everyone can benefit from Girallon Windmill Flesh Rip or Shield Block or something like that, due to melee builds being more locked into a combat strategy due to their feat and gear choices. You still need to qualify for the maneuvers you select. You want Feral Death Blow as your 9th level maneuver? That means you need to have four other Tiger Claw maneuvers, some of which will be low-level stuff of little use to you. A Warblade would have traded all that stuff away, you can't.

YouLostMe
2011-08-25, 01:31 PM
You're making a mistake here. Played that way, a normal Factotum is Tier 2, not Tier 3. What you have presented here is better than a Warblade at most levels, other than 1-4 and 20.

Agreed with Morph here. That sort of work a) comes at level 18 minimum, and b) makes use of the Spell of Total Ownage (Have we mentioned that polymorph is broken?).

In addition, Dread Necros, Warmages, and Beguilers can imitate that with Extra Spell as early as level 11. And they're totally Tier 3.

EDIT: Hurgle Burgle, you beat me with your response. Does this count as being ninja'd..?

Draz74
2011-08-29, 11:55 AM
No stance at Level 20?

But in general, I concur with those who are saying this looks too powerful, compared to ToB initiators. I think this is a better martial adept than the Swordsage is.

Morph Bark
2011-08-29, 02:31 PM
And since I'm on the subject of this variant's power, I'd like to point out two things that in my head at least, severely limit how useful the "reselect your maneuvers known every day" feature is.

And that is exactly why this blows the other initiators out of the water.

Ernir
2011-08-29, 08:44 PM
No stance at Level 20?
It looks odd, I know, but I just gave stances out at the Opportunistic Piety levels.

In fact, I started it out with no stances, then they were kind of an obvious choice when it came to switching out the other two Supernatural class features.

But in general, I concur with those who are saying this looks too powerful, compared to ToB initiators. I think this is a better martial adept than the Swordsage is.
And that is exactly why this blows the other initiators out of the water.
The tribe has spoken, it is too powerful. :smalltongue:

I implemented the maneuver readied nerf earlier, and added a (horrible) recovery mechanic. It now has... approximately zero staying power. Does that cut it, in your opinions?

Metahuman1
2011-08-29, 09:14 PM
Ok, doesn't need a horrible recovery Mechanic. As long as the recovery Mechanic isn't as good or better then Warblade, it's fine with the reduced number of ready and known maneuvers a day. Your all thinking of this in the wrong terms.

This isn't so much THE jack of ALL trades, this is Conan. This is Batman in the JLA's world. This is Badass NORMAL! Your not super-powered, just brilliantly trained and smart enough to use that training too the inch for best effect. This is a way to play a magic items only character with out it being much of a Nerf.

And it's getting watered down, too much so too be truly effective as such. So yeah, improve the recovery Mechanic some, get it up to at least swordsage good. Your not breaking the game, I promise, Spell casting, Item crafting ala Artificer, or Psionics is ABSOLUTELY required for that.

Do that, and I may just have to hunt down a solid VoP fix and really play that none gear dependent unarmed ultra badass that does nothing meaningful for himself with the adventuring money and instead spends it on helping worthwhile cases and people. It would finally work and not have to be carried by the party.

Ernir
2011-08-29, 10:04 PM
I think the balance concerns weren't as much about it being too powerful on an absolute scale, and more about it being too flexible (read: powerful) compared to the poor old martial classes we already have. I have yet to see disagreement on it being a nerf down from the vanilla Factotum played to its potential.

The other idea I had was to make recovery a move action. Any thoughts on that?


This isn't so much THE jack of ALL trades, this is Conan.
Indeed it is. I made this the day after seeing the new Conan film. :smallredface:

Metahuman1
2011-08-29, 11:04 PM
Move action, maybe take away an inspiration point. it's still surmountable after a few levels as you can burn more inspiration points to get a standard action, down grade it too a move action, and move that way, but it's costly enough to stop you doing that unless you really, really need too.

Hazzardevil
2011-08-30, 03:55 AM
I think just a single maneuver for a move action isn't too bad, although I think that rather than changing the whole set every morning just change one, so it takes several days to completly change maneuvers.

Circle of Life
2011-08-30, 08:36 AM
Is there anything preventing this from initiating all three (or more) readied maneuvers it has available in a round by using cunning surge? I mean, yes, then you're stuck as a beatstick until you can recover, but you probably have one very dead enemy at your feet, too...

Or was that intended?

(Also, I'd third (or fourth, whatever it is now) the call to keep the medium BAB of the normal factotum. Swordsages do fine, and while you can give them full BAB, I don't see why they should have it. Eh.)

Metahuman1
2011-08-30, 09:46 AM
Because that Medium BAB, in order too work, requires lot's of other sources of bonus too hit, and that often get's heavy into eating feats and other resources too keep that up. Full BAB, though often touted as underpowered compared to the value wizards originally though it would have, is very helpful for a character who isn't looking to build a straight up warrior who has a minor ability or two invested in something else. Particularly when your only taking one or two shots a round at your opponent.

Ernir
2011-08-30, 04:51 PM
Move action, maybe take away an inspiration point. it's still surmountable after a few levels as you can burn more inspiration points to get a standard action, down grade it too a move action, and move that way, but it's costly enough to stop you doing that unless you really, really need too.
Yeah, I'm coming to the same conclusion. Move action it will be the next time I update the OP.

I think just a single maneuver for a move action isn't too bad, although I think that rather than changing the whole set every morning just change one, so it takes several days to completly change maneuvers.
I think that kind of a switching mechanic would actually be a stealthy boost. That way, you could (slowly) switch out lower level maneuvers for higher level ones. Not being able to climb up the maneuver level tree like the ToB classes is one of the valves blocking the power of this class.

Is there anything preventing this from initiating all three (or more) readied maneuvers it has available in a round by using cunning surge? I mean, yes, then you're stuck as a beatstick until you can recover, but you probably have one very dead enemy at your feet, too...

Or was that intended?
Cunning Surge is still just as busted as before - that is, it's completely busted if allowed to work more than once per round. It's not a new problem I introduced.

Really, how ridiculously incompetent (or outmatched, I guess) must your character be offensively if you are in someone's face and can't flatten that someone in three standard actions? :smalltongue:

(Also, I'd third (or fourth, whatever it is now) the call to keep the medium BAB of the normal factotum. Swordsages do fine, and while you can give them full BAB, I don't see why they should have it. Eh.)
Sounds like I'm in the minority here. :smalltongue:

Moving it back to a medium progression, and noting full BAB as an option for increased power.

Circle of Life
2011-08-30, 04:58 PM
Well, see, usually those standard actions are spent casting spells, which you don't get back the next time you have five minutes of peace. It's a little different with maneuvers. If you're okay with that functionality though, then whatever. As you say, a DM can always impose sanity caps on Cunning Surge.

Ernir
2011-08-30, 07:17 PM
Well, see, usually those standard actions are spent casting spells, which you don't get back the next time you have five minutes of peace. It's a little different with maneuvers. If you're okay with that functionality though, then whatever. As you say, a DM can always impose sanity caps on Cunning Surge.

My point was more that you don't really need spells or maneuvers to kill things when you have 3 standard actions to do it. Your Empowered Lesser Shivering Touch wand or your series of Iaijutsu-razors or your manyshotted poisoned arrows or whatever could do the trick too.

But yes, renewability is an advantage for maneuvers, when you're only nova-ing out your potential for the encounter, not for the whole day.

Hazzardevil
2011-08-31, 01:46 PM
I think that kind of a switching mechanic would actually be a stealthy boost. That way, you could (slowly) switch out lower level maneuvers for higher level ones. Not being able to climb up the maneuver level tree like the ToB classes is one of the valves blocking the power of this class.

I don't see how, you change your maneuvers known everyday, so restricting the number of maneuvers you can relearn per day is going to make you stronger.