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Realms of Chaos
2011-10-13, 02:36 PM
Note to Moderators: I honestly don’t know where this post belongs. It seems related to gaming philosophy and design, makes reference to other homebrew, and it’s intended audience was other homebrewers so I am putting it here for now. If you think that it belongs on the gaming board instead, feel free to move it.


Combat in D&D is an interesting thing. Though almost every class in existence has some way to deal with it, those who deal exclusively with combat are often viewed as sub-par at best. This has always seemed rather odd to me, seeing as so many of D&D’s mechanics seem directly tied to combat. Though some battles may last one or two rounds, I’ve heard of others that take hours IRL and weeks on PBP. Hell, D&D evolved from WAR GAMES. Even so, fighting is somehow considered too weak of a specialization compared with spellcasting or skill-monkeying. After some time and thought, I think that I’ve discovered one of the biggest reasons why this would be true. People often talk in vague terms when using tiers to represent flexibility but I think that this will help crystallize the discussion a bit further on that matter. To understand this theory, however, a couple key terms must first be understood:


Role Continuity and “Job-Based Clases”:
Put simply, role continuity is the ability of a class to do their job in a way that results in them continuing to do their job. When a skillmonkey sneaks into a camp of bugbears (requiring skills), it might give him the chance to scout (also requiring skills). Likewise, using disguise to impersonate a noble may lead to a few gather information/bluff/diplomacy checks before making an open lock check on the real noble’s safe. Alternately, when a spellcaster uses magic to solve one problem, it is incredibly likely that magic will have some use in whatever situation this leads her to.

In the “default party” of D&D (blaster, heal-bot, trap-monkey, and fighter), you might notice that nobody has any real degree of role continuity. Finding one trap doesn’t inherently lead to finding another and healing a creature leads to them being healed (rather than needing more healing). Similarly, blasting or slashing a target leads to an encounter ending rather than starting. While you might argue that there is some degree of role continuity here (you’ll never reach another encounter if you don’t end this one first, for example), each one of these roles works more directly towards the completion of a specific job than towards the continuity of their role. These are what I like to call Job-Based Classes.

While this set-up may have worked if everyone was trapped in these job-based classes, this was obviously not the case. Skill-Monkeys are rarely aimed so narrowly when played by a veteran player and both arcane and divine casters have their fair share of room to fix most problems that come their way rather than focusing on one primary “job”. The only one who ended up trapped in his role was the fighter (or most combat-focused classes, for that matter). This leads us to the worst part of job-based classes.

Though it should be readily apparent, job-based classes are only truly effective when they are fulfilling their job (Monks are as frustrating as they are in part because their “job” is so nebulous and ill-defined). Though your fighter or barbarian may have some skill points under its belt, they likely lack the options required to gain role continuity and stop remaining grounded in their “job”, meaning that playing them is thus most satisfying when doing your character’s “job” (fighting in this case). The interaction between this trend and other classes with role continuity creates something of a paradox:


THE FIGHTER PARADOX:

In simple terms, the fighter paradox is the inner conflict that combat-based classes have between the pressure to justify their role in the party and the sense of uselessness that acting on these pressures create. In even simpler terms, becoming a worthwhile combatant often means minimizing the amount of time spent in combat. Attacking these issues one at a time:


First, as mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, almost everyone has at least some ability to fight or to act within combat. In many cases, these so-called “secondary combatants” can easily overshadow the classes that are focused on combat. Rogues TWF, druids gain a front-line combatant as a class feature and become one in their own right, clerics load up on persisted buffs, and arcane casters skip the middle man and rain down death from above. When playing with others who play in this way, it can be hard to justify the existence of your front-line barbarian or fighter as a meaningful participant in battle. To justify the role of such combatants, we end up with famously efficient builds such as uberchargers, trip-lockers and hulking hurlers as well as many of the super-efficient class fixes that we see on this and other forums.

When players go for such martial efficiency, however, they are often the ones who end up paying for it. As stated above, members of a “job-based class” are only really useful when fulfilling their job. If your job happens to be winning encounters, you can end most encounters in 1 round, and there are only 3.33 encounters per day, a min-maxed martial character ends up with an effective work-day of 3.33 rounds (even though such characters may be able to carry on far longer). Even if their character carries the same degree of narrative strength with their combat (or possesses more through their incredibly might), the player ends up doing nothing for most of the time and this can make the game less fun. Though casters are known for their ability to end combats equally fast (if not faster), their role continuity ensures that they’ll be useful in whatever comes after the battle.



What This Means For Fixes:

To begin with, those “super-efficient class fixes” that I mentioned above are not useless, even if they play into this paradox. Most lower the amount of game mastery needed to give one’s combatant relevancy and a few even grant multiple options that one can use to achieve it, meaning that those 3.33 rounds of use need not be identical to each other.

Secondly, at this moment in time, there are only two mechanics in D&D that can grant a “suitable” degree of Role Continuity by the standards we seem to hold on this forum: skills and magic systems. The book of nine swords was a fairly successful attempt to solve this problem through the latter option. Most fighter fixes and other “tier 3 mundane” classes that we see up here tend to fall into the former, meanwhile, stepping on the toes of skill-monkeys as they have no other way to expand.

Edit: Class features other than magic systems, if sufficiently varied, could potentially make for homebrewed classes with sufficient role continuity as well. Though not originally listed as they were not central mechanics of the game, they are definitely worth noting.

To help remove this paradox, there are three obvious roads that we could take, none of which look too promising to me (if you see others, feel free to list them):

First, we could invent or re-invent a mechanic (victory points? feats?) that grant combatants some degree of role continuity. Though I can’t picture how it would work, creating a universal system that allows someone’s skill in combat to extend to other tasks (without directly using skills and making skill-monkeys the new worst option) would certainly do the trick
Secondly, we could rob everyone else of their role continuity and trap everyone in “job-based classes”. While perhaps an easier road to take, taking this option would degrade the enjoyment that some people take out of the game. As a certain degree of role continuity (which we call Tier 3) has become the measure by which we measure everything, pulling everything back would likely lead to a game that feels… lacking.
Finally, we could choose to smash combatants and skill-monkeys together and change the four traditional roles (combatant, skill-monkey, arcane caster, divine caster) into a more equalized trifecta (mundane, arcane caster, divine caster). This might be the easiest road to take, all things considered, as many people have already taken this road to some degree. Even so, taking away an entire roll means that the fourth party member becomes the traditional “fifth party member” and any members beyond that start becoming redundant faster than with the traditional roles. Not a problem for some (or even most) but this is still an issue worthy of consideration.

Edit: Once again, I have forgotten the simplicity of another possible technique. Class rewrites with varied abilities that don't intrude on spells or skills too greatly while allowing for similar areas of influence would also probably work. What on earth that would look like, however, I couldn't start to imagine.


Wait a second, I already knew this:
Though I’ve never seen this paradox discussed at length anywhere on these boards, it is very possible that you readers have already realized this and have been discussing it in other terms. I’m not trying to claim this paradox as my own (hence why this isn’t the RoC Paradox) but rather to synthesize several arguments that I’ve seen across the internet into a somewhat more coherent point. Even if you already know what I'm saying here or if you think that this is obvious, I’m just trying to hammer out some terminology.

Domriso
2011-10-13, 03:34 PM
I can definitely see what you mean here. You laid out the problems with the system in better terms than I myself have seen (not to say there aren't others out there). Now then, though, we come to the possible solutions.

My personal choice of solution has been a reinvention of D&D, using the d20 system as a base, but modifying it much further from it. While nowhere near finished, my new project (which I am calling ReD&D) attempts a different fix than the three you listed: I am remaking the game from the ground up. Working with a philosophy that all types of character archetypes should be possible, without the need to carefully work around overpowered classes or trying hard not to step on toes, I am also trying to work combat into a more dangerous feel, so that other roles actually are terribly useful, because a few bad choices could kill you.

Now, I don't think this is the right route for everyone, nor do I think that most people have the patience to actually recreate an entire system, especially not with the number crunching involved with attempting to make it internally balanced, but after numerous fixes and long contemplation, I realized that my own desires for a system simply could not be found in the standard D&D 3.5 system, nor even in the many homebrew fixes or 3rd party fixes.

Those are my two cents, though I'm terribly intrigued to see what other people think.

Xechon
2011-10-13, 06:41 PM
Domriso, I am very glad to hear I am not completely alone in my task. I have been trying to reinvent d&d using the d20 system as a base for some while now, but numbers and ideas keep getting in the way. My email is guess96@gmail.com, if you are interested in working with me on this, please contact me. I don't know how far you are and how far you want to go, but we can discuss that if we try to do this.

YouLostMe
2011-10-13, 11:55 PM
Let me toss a different perspective your way.

Readjusting the Roles/Jobs
The weak idea of trap-bitch, meatbag, health fountain, and glass cannon are artifacts from an age long gone. We can balance things properly now, and redefining the jobs is well within our power.

One of the big deals about D&D is that it's hack-and-slash, no matter how much people may protest the fact. Almost the entirety of the book plays into combat. With that being the crux of the game, it's important that everyone has a combat role. creep cleaner, high damage, tactician, tank, and hybrids therein can all properly modeled. With each class having an equivalent role with abilities balanced there, your barbarian is now tailored to high damage/tank, and your paladin is now tailored to tank/tactician instead of the barbarian getting weak Trap Sense and the Paladin getting cure disease X/day at inappropriate levels.

The out of combat abilities are also divided. There is no skillmonkey. There are the sneak, scholar, performer, wilderness guide, diplomancer, crafter, etc. Now everyone has out of combat and in-combat abilities, and now you can put classes and people into "jobs" without them feeling like they're useless in combat or out of combat.

What Fighter Paradox?
From hanging out over at The Gaming Den, the "Fighter Paradox" is either viewed as simple as class balance or far more complicated than a few paragraphs can represent. The underlying idea behind all of TGD's fixes and creations is that you can just fix things that are bad. This is a really easy viewpoint to take with a group of enormous homebrewers, and if you take a look at Ziegander's sig, you'll see all of the wonderful 3.x fighter fixes you can make.

The reason the fighter is weak and there is a problem about that is the theme. People want the word "fighter" on their character sheet, because it makes them feel like they're good at hitting things with a sword, even if they're just getting +1 to hit every other level. So we build a class called "the fighter" and we make it better at fighting than the WotC class.

Paulcynic
2011-10-14, 03:44 AM
I really like how thoughtful and well organized this post is :) Though may I take a detractor's stance in an attempt to be helpful?

What would Occam's Razor do? Remove Game-breaking spells. Probably the less invasive way of rebalancing and eliminating T1 and T2 classes as we know them.

The follow up question, would the game be more, or less fun without them? My money is on Less.

Also, as YouLostMe pointed out in another thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=218520), merging a Skill Monkey (T4 with a Striker (T5) as a merged "3rd Role" will not put them on par with T1 Casters.

Can the game be rewritten for balance? Yes. Should the game be rewritten for balance? Yes again. Does this solve the problem with Wish, Gate, Gease, etc? No, because unless all classes get them, there will always be classes whose role or job is inadequate at the end-levels.

--PC

Ziegander
2011-10-14, 04:28 AM
What Fighter Paradox?
From hanging out over at The Gaming Den, the "Fighter Paradox" is either viewed as simple as class balance or far more complicated than a few paragraphs can represent. The underlying idea behind all of TGD's fixes and creations is that you can just fix things that are bad. This is a really easy viewpoint to take with a group of enormous homebrewers, and if you take a look at Ziegander's sig, you'll see all of the wonderful 3.x fighter fixes you can make.

I agree that it's fairly easy to "fix" things that are "bad," but that doesn't make any of Realms' points less accurate.

Realms, I especially enjoy the very novel (at least from my perspective) comparison between Role Continuity and Job-Based classes. And I agree that combat-oriented characters, even Tome of Battle ones for the most part, operate far too much on the completion of a single, discrete job rather than toward the continuing support of a role. If it hasn't yet been clear, what I mean to say is that I am of the opinion that classes designed with strong Role Continuity (great phrase, by the way) are much more desirable over classes with designed with strong Job Completion, no matter how sound or efficient the mechanics.

I do not think it's a lost cause; however, to attempt to design combat-oriented characters with more Role Continuity. For example, in this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=170826) I began work to do precisely that for the Fighter. The system I was setting up gave him an out-of-combat role to perform which presented him with direct advantages in combat. His role would, in theory anyway, continuously feed into itself. That system works quite well for the Fighter in my opinion, but not so much for a Barbarian or Paladin.

Thank you for this write-up. You've given me much to think about.

Realms of Chaos
2011-10-14, 08:55 AM
Let me toss a different perspective your way.

Readjusting the Roles/Jobs
The weak idea of trap-bitch, meatbag, health fountain, and glass cannon are artifacts from an age long gone. We can balance things properly now, and redefining the jobs is well within our power.

So we have the power to change the base expectations of a game as famous and widely played as D&D that has over a decade of inertia simply by fixing it on a forum? That may work for our own campaigns, true, but the point of this thread was to show a problem with the base assumptions of the game before the entire thing is rewritten.




One of the big deals about D&D is that it's hack-and-slash, no matter how much people may protest the fact. Almost the entirety of the book plays into combat. With that being the crux of the game, it's important that everyone has a combat role. creep cleaner, high damage, tactician, tank, and hybrids therein can all properly modeled. With each class having an equivalent role with abilities balanced there, your barbarian is now tailored to high damage/tank, and your paladin is now tailored to tank/tactician instead of the barbarian getting weak Trap Sense and the Paladin getting cure disease X/day at inappropriate levels.

...I honestly can't tell if you're talking about 3.5e or 4e at this point. As an aside, let me point out that 4e does handle both combat and skills in nicely universal ways, though this thread is dealing with 3.5 (should've made that clear in the OP).

In the off-hand chance that you are talking about 3.5, there are two points to make:

Although most of D&D is designed for battle, actual campaigns consist of battles (with a suggested 3.33 per day) spaced out around an ongoing story. The problem is that without a total rewrite of the system, combatants have to be soooo good at combat to validify being "the fighter" that those combats don't last long and you are left with proportionately less combat and more story (which "the fighter" can't contribute to that well).
Saying that there is no problem because we can redesign the entire system to avoid that problem seems like a HUGE example of the Oberoni fallacy. There wouldn't be need for a fix if there wasn't a problem.



The out of combat abilities are also divided. There is no skillmonkey. There are the sneak, scholar, performer, wilderness guide, diplomancer, crafter, etc. Now everyone has out of combat and in-combat abilities, and now you can put classes and people into "jobs" without them feeling like they're useless in combat or out of combat.

While this is indeed a solution (more or less the one that 4e uses with its skills), it is again not the current reality but rather a fix to a problem. Again, saying that problems I pointed out can be fixed doesn't take away from them being less of a problem with the basic design.


What Fighter Paradox?
From hanging out over at The Gaming Den, the "Fighter Paradox" is either viewed as simple as class balance or far more complicated than a few paragraphs can represent. The underlying idea behind all of TGD's fixes and creations is that you can just fix things that are bad. This is a really easy viewpoint to take with a group of enormous homebrewers, and if you take a look at Ziegander's sig, you'll see all of the wonderful 3.x fighter fixes you can make.

Yes, you can fix things that are bad. The problem that the manner of fixing things may leave a lot to be desired. Your suggested fix, for example, completely takes away the familiar roles that many players are used to in order to keep things balanced. In addition to taking a lot of work to create this fix, many players would be unwilling to sacrifice their role. Even if you can fix things mechanically, there may yet be problems with your fixes, is what I'm saying.ll

Also, with the exception of the fighter fix that Ziegander himself pointed out, his fighter fixes tend to either lean towards job completion over role continuity or to step on the toes of skillmonkeys (which, though not a problem in your rebuilt system of distributed rolls, creates problems with the current system).


The reason the fighter is weak and there is a problem about that is the theme. People want the word "fighter" on their character sheet, because it makes them feel like they're good at hitting things with a sword, even if they're just getting +1 to hit every other level. So we build a class called "the fighter" and we make it better at fighting than the WotC class.

The problem with the fighter isn't that it's too weak (indeed, I brought up ubercharging and tripper-locks with spiked chains) but rather that it (and most of its fixes) are so incredibly good at combat that they can reduce combat to 1 or 2 rounds like casters, meaning that their efficiency shortens the amount of time that they spend performing their primary role (and the time when most players have the most fun with them).

Djinn_in_Tonic
2011-10-14, 10:44 AM
Assuming that you want to keep the idea of pure "party roles" around rather than drive them to obsolescence (my preferred method), I think the approach needed is actually the one that 4e takes: instead of trap-monkey/healer/caster/fighter you have the more generic defender/striker/controller/leader, which can be filled by a multitude of different classes in an effective manner, and all of which have a more fleshed-out role during combat. It's not as great a change as removing the stereotyped roles completely, but I feel it is a step in helping to break the common perception.

To be perfectly frank, I feel the problem all begins with the Fighter class. Disregarding the rather pathetic Healer presented in the Miniatures Handbook, we don't have a "Healer" class, we don't have a "Trap-Monkey" class, and our "Caster" class is the most versatile thing in 3.5. These roles can find their crucial skills in a number of classes, where they can also find a rather wide variety of other skills to assist in adventuring. Yet, for some reason, our prototypical "Combatant" has a single specific class for his role (the Fighter) which is entirely focused on combat, and that philosophy has permeated the entire system. Tome of Battle tried, with moderate efficiency, to at least mix up the combatants choices in combat, but even then he's frightfully limited outside of it.

While I think you concept of role continuity makes some sense, I don't think the solution is to be found there: designing a combat-focused class who brings more combat to the table is nonsensical and counter-productive, plus, since encounter ending spells still exist, unable to really solve the problem at hand. I do, however, think that combatants (and classes in general) need to have more event continuity. Rather than progress from role-situation to role-situation, every class needs a way to progress from event to event, whether that be skill challenges, combats, travel, or conversation. A class without the ability to do this becomes dead weight during those parts of an adventure, which leads to problems at the game-table.

Further, a role continuous method will only assist that particular character: a skill-monkey who uses skills to lead to more skill-based situations invalidates the rest of the party. This is the reason the Wizard works so effectively: magic doesn't inherently lead to more magic, but it always will lead to a solution for the situation at hand, allowing progression on to another event. The result is a constant flow of activity and usefulness that the other classes can't replicate.

The Crux: The crux of the matter is that it's all but impossible to make a combatant able to confront anywhere near the same number of problems that a high-power mage can without a serious reappraisal of D&D as a system, and that prolonging combat is a difficult tasks without imposing artificial limiters on the abilities of many caster classes. Until high-level combatants and skill monkeys are able to interact with the world in even a fraction of the way that a Wizard can, there is little we can do but power down the crazy things magic is capable of. In my view, the solution rests with breaking away from the idea that non-casters shouldn't get psuedo-magical effects: if a high-level Rogue is able to use Hide to vanish from sight directly in front of someone, or is able to Bluff the universe into letting him pass harmless through that solid wall, that's fine with me. If the swordsman of unparalleled ability wants to cut the fabric between worlds and step across into another reality, or hammer the earth so hard he raises a wall of stone or even a naturally carved building, so be it. The stuff of legend doesn't, in my mind, have to be magical in cause, even if it is magical in effect.

Looking at our own world myths, Sun Wukong can lift thousands of pounds, move tens of thousands of miles in a somersault, and leap almost to the ends of the universe. Rama destroys Ravana with a veritable hail of arrows slicing off his many heads, one of which somehow manages to drive the magic out of the demon's body. Would I, as a Fighter, like to be able to do similar things? Definitely. The beings of legend perform a myriad of impossible tasks but, in D&D, such actions would all be the cause of magic. What if that changed?

I think that's the direction that needs to be taken if we want to remove role-confinement without powering down the Tier 1 and Tier 2 class's abilities: the lower classes need to be allowed access to the realm of game-changing abilities, and the realm of constant contribution and event continuity rather than role continuity. Forget the roles, and let everyone always have something to contribute. Do we lose a bit of "realism?" Sure. But at high levels D&D is dominated to exclusively by casters, so why not bring others up to their level?

erikun
2011-10-14, 12:06 PM
Secondly, we could rob everyone else of their role continuity and trap everyone in “job-based classes”. While perhaps an easier road to take, taking this option would degrade the enjoyment that some people take out of the game. As a certain degree of role continuity (which we call Tier 3) has become the measure by which we measure everything, pulling everything back would likely lead to a game that feels… lacking.
I would like to point out that robbing classes of their Role Continuity, as you put it, is not necessarily a bad thing. Older systems, such as AD&D and similar games, worked on the principle that no one character could do everything, and thus characters were forced to work at a team to succeed. The Fighter couldn't fight outside combat, but then again the Thief couldn't fight well in combat and the Mage couldn't fight by himself.

This isn't a directing that 3.5e has taken, preferring a more "anyman can potentially do anything" approach, but that doesn't make the playstyle invalid, or that it would automatically degrade the fun.

NeoSeraphi
2011-10-14, 12:39 PM
One suggestion I have (in the spirit of filling out role continuity) is making Diplomacy a class skill for all classes. It doesn't really strike me as realistic that being persuasive (not lying, but instead using choice words and helpful body language to make a person see your side of the argument) requires a certain type of class to do effectively.

Now, do I think a bard would be better at this than a fighter? Sure. That doesn't mean the fighter or the wizard or the barbarian should be gimped so hard at it. I think Diplomacy should be a universal skill, like Craft and Profession.

In the spirit of this, I also feel that the fighter should get 4 skill points per level (a common suggestion, I know, but it has not yet come up in this thread) Along with this, I think, the fighter should have an expanded skill list. I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to assume that a combat expert would have the Appraise skill, nor the Listen and Spot skills available. If we added Sense Motive to that list (as well as Diplomacy) then the fighter suddenly has a few different options available to him as a whole.

Before you think I'm missing the point (by focusing on the fighter class specifically rather than combatants as a whole) let me say this: another option for out-of-combat (but still combat-flavored) is to remove the provoke-AoO part of combat maneuvers for classes with full base attack bonus. I can imagine a strong circumstance bonus to my Intimidate check if my barbarian was pinning his intended target against a wall, or if my fighter Sundered the city guard's spear. I'm not saying we should remove the benefit of the Improved Bull Rush and etc line of feats, I'm saying we should make them better. (A +4 bonus is nice, but it's not worth a feat)

The provoking AoOs should remain for non-combat focused classes, to help make it a role for the full BABers.

All of this together isn't much, but I think it's a start

YouLostMe
2011-10-14, 12:39 PM
So we have the power to change the base expectations of a game as famous and widely played as D&D that has over a decade of inertia simply by fixing it on a forum? That may work for our own campaigns, true, but the point of this thread was to show a problem with the base assumptions of the game before the entire thing is rewritten.
My friend, if you're putting a post about the fighter paradox in the homebrew section of this site, expect the ideas that come from it to be discussion of possible fixes.

We will never change a major downfall of D&D by fixing things on a forum. We will also not change a major downfall of D&D by talking about how big of a problem the downfall is. Your mentality seems to be self-defeatist, and contrary to why you posted--I assumed this is here so that we can discuss ways to make "the Fighter" something somebody wants to play.


...I honestly can't tell if you're talking about 3.5e or 4e at this point. As an aside, let me point out that 4e does handle both combat and skills in nicely universal ways, though this thread is dealing with 3.5 (should've made that clear in the OP).
I was discussing 3.5: It's hack and slash roleplay gaming, even if its less-so than 4e.



Although most of D&D is designed for battle, actual campaigns consist of battles (with a suggested 3.33 per day) spaced out around an ongoing story. The problem is that without a total rewrite of the system, combatants have to be soooo good at combat to validify being "the fighter" that those combats don't last long and you are left with proportionately less combat and more story (which "the fighter" can't contribute to that well).
It appears my idea may have been miscommunicated. The plan is not to say "all right, with the given combat feats and a class that gets 1 Combat feat/2 levels, make something match that", but to say "How can we separate the fighter's role from 'Combat' to something like 'Damage' or 'Killing Hordes of Creeps'?"

In other news, if we brought all classes to the fighter's level of combat-winning, chances are that winning combats would take longer instead of less time.


Saying that there is no problem because we can redesign the entire system to avoid that problem seems like a HUGE example of the Oberoni fallacy. There wouldn't be need for a fix if there wasn't a problem.
That was a discussion of a fix. No Oberoni necessary.


While this is indeed a solution (more or less the one that 4e uses with its skills), it is again not the current reality but rather a fix to a problem. Again, saying that problems I pointed out can be fixed doesn't take away from them being less of a problem with the basic design.
All right, you've said this twice, so maybe I have the wrong opinion from this thread.

Is this thread to demoan the Fighter Paradox?

Or is it to talk about different ways to fix the Fighter Paradox?

This being a homebrew thread, I was guessing the second one, but you seem to act like the purpose of this thread is just the first...:smallannoyed:


Yes, you can fix things that are bad. The problem that the manner of fixing things may leave a lot to be desired. Your suggested fix, for example, completely takes away the familiar roles that many players are used to in order to keep things balanced. In addition to taking a lot of work to create this fix, many players would be unwilling to sacrifice their role. Even if you can fix things mechanically, there may yet be problems with your fixes, is what I'm saying.ll

Also, with the exception of the fighter fix that Ziegander himself pointed out, his fighter fixes tend to either lean towards job completion over role continuity or to step on the toes of skillmonkeys (which, though not a problem in your rebuilt system of distributed rolls, creates problems with the current system).
There will be problems with a system of redux classes, but the idea of fixes is to orient the game in the right direction, not to perfect it. Perfecting things will never happen.

The problem with role continuity, I understand, and I really don't have any way around the problem without saying "redefine the roles".


The problem with the fighter isn't that it's too weak (indeed, I brought up ubercharging and tripper-locks with spiked chains) but rather that it (and most of its fixes) are so incredibly good at combat that they can reduce combat to 1 or 2 rounds like casters, meaning that their efficiency shortens the amount of time that they spend performing their primary role (and the time when most players have the most fun with them).
Er... is this the problem we're discussing? OK, here's your answer

Make combat last longer

Problem resolved!

Realms of Chaos
2011-10-14, 03:14 PM
You Lost Me: I... was honestly very atrocious towards you in my last responsse. I'm sorry about that, especially as I now remember that I WAS asking for homebrew solutions.

To simplify matters, I'm not quite here to fix the problem or to "bemoan" it. Rather, this thread was made for descriptive purposes, to create new terminology that could be used to describe an existing problem in unfixed 3.5e in more detail that it is typically given.

It is true that this problem is easily sidestepped and that changing what rolls are expected would be a fantastic fix to this system (a brilliant idea that I'd been considering myself). Your fixes would more than likely solve this problem pretty darn effectively.

With that said, I still believe that this paradox and the terms associated with it possess some degree of relevance. Even though your fixes would certainly change everything, players (even those on this forum) don't seem to have a single "canonical" set of fixes.

As such, though your fixes would rock the world of anyone who chose to use them, each individual group in 3.5 starts off with the base problems (including the one I have labelled as the fighter paradox) before they adopt your fix, make a fix of their own, or choose to ignore the problem.

By creating terminology that allows for this problem to be discussed in more descriptive terms than tiers or "flexibility", I am hoping that others looking to develop their own fixes will be able to better picture at least one of the underlying problems (at least by a bit).

Djinn_in_Tonic: Darn. Should've known better than to think that I could out-game-philosophize you. :smalltongue:

Would you mind if I adopt your wider (and far more accurate) view of event continuity in the OP?

erikun: From the perspective of game-play mechanics, I can definitely understand what you mean. I don't have anything in particular against games that push people into roles and there's little problem with doing so. On the other hand, starting with the mechanics of 3.5 (which has the everyone can do anything attitude) and pruning back until people are pushed into roles may not work for people who were expecting a 3.5 experience (especially if they know what they're missing).

Saidoro
2011-10-14, 04:05 PM
Looking at our own world myths, Sun Wukong can lift thousands of pounds, move tens of thousands of miles in a somersault, and leap almost to the ends of the universe. Rama destroys Ravana with a veritable hail of arrows slicing off his many heads, one of which somehow manages to drive the magic out of the demon's body. Would I, as a Fighter, like to be able to do similar things? Definitely. The beings of legend perform a myriad of impossible tasks but, in D&D, such actions would all be the cause of magic. What if that changed?

You may want to take a look at this (http://www.dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Tome_of_Prowess_(3.5e_Sourcebook)). It's a rewrite of the skill system that allows higher level mundanes to do stuff that would traditionally be caster only like jumping hundreds of feet into the air, locating portals between planes or balancing on water/clouds/air/lightning.

Amechra
2011-10-14, 04:33 PM
What would be best is if we could somehow figure out a way to nearly eliminate the difference between combat rules and non-combat rules...

Pyromancer999
2011-10-14, 04:49 PM
What would be best is if we could somehow figure out a way to nearly eliminate the difference between combat rules and non-combat rules...

I know! We can give fighters special moves of their own! Except we make them per encounter because they're made to be used in battles! And give them cool-sounding names!....wait........

Ziegander
2011-10-14, 05:00 PM
What would be best is if we could somehow figure out a way to nearly eliminate the difference between combat rules and non-combat rules...

I would be wary of this route. That way lies utter homogeny (I made that word up. It makes a lot more sense than the actual word that means the same thing). It would be very easy to equate combat rules and non-combat rules. Assign "AC" and "hit points" to every challenge, also known as Difficulty Class and Resistance, and then simply roll 1d20 + modifiers vs DC, subtracting any excess value of your roll from the Resistance. When you wear down the challenge's resistance you "win." This could work for, essentially, everything and would simplify a great many things. However, I do think that the game would suffer greatly because of it.

Amechra
2011-10-14, 05:19 PM
Just throwing it out there; I actually agree with you on that count, but it must be mentioned and thought about, at least.

Mulletmanalive
2011-10-14, 05:28 PM
I would be wary of this route. That way lies utter homogeny (I made that word up. It makes a lot more sense than the actual word that means the same thing). It would be very easy to equate combat rules and non-combat rules. Assign "AC" and "hit points" to every challenge, also known as Difficulty Class and Resistance, and then simply roll 1d20 + modifiers vs DC, subtracting any excess value of your roll from the Resistance. When you wear down the challenge's resistance you "win." This could work for, essentially, everything and would simplify a great many things. However, I do think that the game would suffer greatly because of it.

I've actually tried something like this: Difficulties are as normal and you deal 1d6 against the "completion" of the task each time you succeed. You can increase the DC by +10 for an extra d6 and you can accept "Complications", which have to be defeated with another skill once per round to gain yet another +1d6.

Completion is generally set at the DC or 5x the number of rounds you expect it to take.

It's not perfect, but combined with a "how well you roleplay [for you] determines your d20 roll on social skills" rule, it's actually led to some very interesting encounters, albeit, not for everyone.

A race to get a door open while confronted by infinitely respawning, but xp lite enemies with grade A bard buffing; convincing the enemy to surrender in the middle of a battle without threat; attempting to climb a giant enemy. All of these have worked better [in our oppinion] than they would have done without this rule. Don't use it all the time, just when it's dramatic.

YouLostMe
2011-10-14, 07:33 PM
I know! We can give fighters special moves of their own! Except we make them per encounter because they're made to be used in battles! And give them cool-sounding names!....wait........

GIRALLON WINDMILL FLESHRIP

EDIT: I should add something productive to this conversation with this post...

I actually find myself interested After Sundown (https://sites.google.com/site/lokathorgames/after-sundown), basically a copyright-less adaptation of WoD with SR4 rules. The skill "Combat" (which covers guns to swords) is the same as the skill "Bureacracy", and the game balances them pretty well depending on your character class. "Combat" as a skill is basically BAB. Now, the combat rules ARE strictly defined from social combat rules and chase scenes, but there is a strong integration where Combat is just a skill in itself, and the game balance makes it to better or worse than a variety of other skills (this is almost entirely done with the special abilities towards the end of the book).

Now while I'm not optimistic about an overhaul of D&D, the integration of BAB into a skill system (though we'd really have to improve the D&D skill system too) seems like a possible solution.

Ziegander
2011-10-14, 08:02 PM
Now while I'm not optimistic about an overhaul of D&D, the integration of BAB into a skill system (though we'd really have to improve the D&D skill system too) seems like a possible solution.

I'm not sure how you'd integrate BAB (and by extension all of the combat rules, special attacks, and interesting options) into the skill system without a complete overhaul of D&D.

YouLostMe
2011-10-14, 08:48 PM
Skill Points max at level.
"Combat" is now a skill. For some people it's cross-class.

Ta-da! Now, of course, that just shafts 3/4 BAB classes and can be subject to the same problems that spot/listen have (namely, why would people take anything else?), but that's the idea. Really, the D&D skill system could be lifted up, messed with, and then placed back in without too much change.

Domriso
2011-10-14, 08:51 PM
Yeah, it's actually fairly easy to take BAB, all three saves, and even stranger things, like some ability checks, and turn them into skills. It makes the skill system more important and versatile, and makes the classes more of "bags of abilities" than anything else. I've played around with it, and I actually quite enjoy it.

Realms of Chaos
2011-10-14, 10:30 PM
I'm not sure if any old skill system would do the trick, I think that it may be possible to make a new core mechanic that runs off of BAB and allows for event continuity.

I am very tempted to go into PMs and see if my Combat Techniques (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=11971197) and Ziegander's Victory Point Fighter can have a baby together.

Djinn_in_Tonic
2011-10-15, 12:46 AM
Djinn_in_Tonic: Darn. Should've known better than to think that I could out-game-philosophize you. :smalltongue:

Silly Realms...you know not what you are up against. :smalltongue:


Would you mind if I adopt your wider (and far more accurate) view of event continuity in the OP?

By all means!

Yitzi
2011-10-16, 12:41 PM
I'd say that the answer then is to find what fighter role creates job continuity.

In other words, what combat job, when done successfully, prolongs the encounter?

The answer, of course, is the defensive role, tanking, whatever you want to call it. A defensive build has plenty of job continuity.

The only problem is that there's nothing to prevent strongly defensive builds from just being ignored while the enemy goes after everyone else. So you'd need either a taunt mechanic, a class that keeps getting more powerful offensively unless it's attacked (this is actually an interesting idea, a defensively-oriented class that gains power as it fights without being attacked), or enough boosts to the ready action that he can actually play a proper meat-shield.

Ziegander
2011-10-17, 01:41 AM
In other words, what combat job, when done successfully, prolongs the encounter?

I think you misunderstand the concept. The idea isn't to prolong combat. The idea is to give the Fighter, and other combat-oriented classes, a role that allows them to move from Event to Event (as Djinn so well put it) doing level-appropriate, role-appropriate things.

For instance, my latest Fighter remake (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=12020107) is unapologetically combat-focused, yet even outside of combat he is able to make use of combat-oriented class features and abilities to perform useful actions that will propel him from Event to Event. I understand some people will not like the class overall because they may feel it steps on the toes of too many other classes, but it is hard to deny its "Role Continuity."

jiriku
2011-10-17, 06:28 AM
Interesting discussion. RoC and Djinn, you both touched on something that caught my attention. RoC mentioned that everyone can usually function as at least a "secondary combatant". Djinn pointed out that role continuity can be a bad thing, since it can marginalize players whose characters aren't good in those types of situations.

There's a middle ground between being an efficient job completer and having nothing to offer. Some classes are built for job completion. But it's also possible to build for job enhancement. For example, a rogue is primarily a skill monkey, but in combat he functions as job enhancement by delivering extra damage and flanking. A job enhancement character isn't especially good at completing the task, but is usually very good at helping other complete them. Most classes can be built to function as job enhancers in one or more areas, although for newer players, it often isn't obvious how or why they would do so.

Importantly, a character with versatile job enhancement capabilities finds it very easy to achieve event continuity, even if he doesn't shine in any one area. For example, a bard with bardic knack, Jack of All Trades, Inspire Spellpower, hymn of praise, and inspirational boost can Aid Another in any skill challenge, add caster level to any spell, and attack attack and damage bonuses in any combat. It's hard for such a character to find himself irrelevant.

This is relevant because if players are aware that they should strive to achieve event continuity by developing job completion and job enhancement capabilities when building their characters, they're much more likely to be satisified with the end result.

Djinn_in_Tonic
2011-10-17, 09:24 AM
Importantly, a character with versatile job enhancement capabilities finds it very easy to achieve event continuity, even if he doesn't shine in any one area. For example, a bard with bardic knack, Jack of All Trades, Inspire Spellpower, hymn of praise, and inspirational boost can Aid Another in any skill challenge, add caster level to any spell, and attack attack and damage bonuses in any combat. It's hard for such a character to find himself irrelevant.

The issue I have with this is that there's a difference between relevance and fun. I personally don't find the Aid Another action or granting small bonuses to someone else's spotlight moment fun, although it's certainly great to see them succeed because of my assistance. Such a character is a great supporting character, but its event continuity is basically entirely dependent upon the characters around it, and those other characters will usually get the spotlight. While that is definitely better than a character who can't contribute, I still think the design goal should be that characters have independent means of event continuity, which working together might make more efficient.

Mulletmanalive
2011-10-17, 11:59 AM
A worked example of the above is where my very effective buffing bard was given a telepathic bond and then forced to stay away from the actual fighting so as not to allow me to get hit and lose the buffs.

At one point, this turned basically violent at table as they tried to shove my character into a bag of holding and relieve me of my character sheet to stop me even fighting the random goblins hanging around the level 14 encounter to amuse myself in the meantime...

On the other hand, everyone finds the way we read the Warlord in 4e amusing, wherein you get to basically hijack another player's character to make an attack with them. As you can't use up any of their resources, no-one cares, but it allows you to achieve more than you might otherwise.

That's active buffing right there...

Djinn_in_Tonic
2011-10-17, 12:17 PM
On the other hand, everyone finds the way we read the Warlord in 4e amusing, wherein you get to basically hijack another player's character to make an attack with them. As you can't use up any of their resources, no-one cares, but it allows you to achieve more than you might otherwise.

That's active buffing right there...

Exactly. A strong "support" class should function in this way: it's actions may grant others specific actions, or enable the supporting class to use abilities of the target. As Mulletman mentioned, this is a fun sort of active buffing which involves player communication to use the the utmost effect.

That said, no class should be designed around passively granting benefits, as that is the epitome of boring gameplay.

Yitzi
2011-10-17, 07:07 PM
I think you misunderstand the concept. The idea isn't to prolong combat. The idea is to give the Fighter, and other combat-oriented classes, a role that allows them to move from Event to Event (as Djinn so well put it) doing level-appropriate, role-appropriate things.

For instance, my latest Fighter remake (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=12020107) is unapologetically combat-focused, yet even outside of combat he is able to make use of combat-oriented class features and abilities to perform useful actions that will propel him from Event to Event. I understand some people will not like the class overall because they may feel it steps on the toes of too many other classes, but it is hard to deny its "Role Continuity."

So basically, it's about being able to be useful in every encounter, including the noncombat ones? Well then yes, fighters and other combat-focused classes have a problem there (although even so, there's nothing keeping a fighter from taking a few STR-based skills and being of some noncombat use that way), but combat encounters are common enough that I don't see that as such a big problem (well, unless combat encounters have a typical duration of 1 round, but that's where turning D&D into less of a game of rocket tag comes in). After all, even the cleric has no use for the lockpicking encounter, and the wizard has no use for the trapfinding encounter. (And of course puzzle encounters are at most marginally related to the character's class no matter what it is.)

NeoSeraphi
2011-10-17, 07:18 PM
So basically, it's about being able to be useful in every encounter, including the noncombat ones? Well then yes, fighters and other combat-focused classes have a problem there (although even so, there's nothing keeping a fighter from taking a few STR-based skills and being of some noncombat use that way), but combat encounters are common enough that I don't see that as such a big problem (well, unless combat encounters have a typical duration of 1 round, but that's where turning D&D into less of a game of rocket tag comes in). After all, even the cleric has no use for the lockpicking encounter, and the wizard has no use for the trapfinding encounter. (And of course puzzle encounters are at most marginally related to the character's class no matter what it is.)

Clerics have divine insight, which gives them up to +15 on any skill check. Or, if your DM is ****ing crazy, they have guidance of the avatar (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/sb/sb20010504a). One cross-class rank in Open Lock, and yes, they'd be just fine.

Meanwhile, wizards have summoning spells, which let them trigger traps without needing to search for them at no cost to the wizard.

DodgerH2O
2011-10-17, 11:15 PM
Clerics have divine insight, which gives them up to +15 on any skill check. Or, if your DM is ****ing crazy, they have guidance of the avatar (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/sb/sb20010504a). One cross-class rank in Open Lock, and yes, they'd be just fine.

Meanwhile, wizards have summoning spells, which let them trigger traps without needing to search for them at no cost to the wizard.

What I'm getting out of this is that we're speaking particularly of higher level play here. Since I know any Wizard I've had under level 5 or so wouldn't waste a summoning spell to trigger a trap when there's a perfectly good (and reusable) Rogue in the party.

NeoSeraphi
2011-10-17, 11:21 PM
What I'm getting out of this is that we're speaking particularly of higher level play here. Since I know any Wizard I've had under level 5 or so wouldn't waste a summoning spell to trigger a trap when there's a perfectly good (and reusable) Rogue in the party.

You can't always count on having a rogue in the party. That's why it's good for other classes to be able to do something similar to the rogue so that they don't die if no one wants to play a melee class with d6 hit dice and no defensive abilities.

DodgerH2O
2011-10-17, 11:37 PM
You can't always count on having a rogue in the party. That's why it's good for other classes to be able to do something similar to the rogue so that they don't die if no one wants to play a melee class with d6 hit dice and no defensive abilities.

Point made. I remember a party I belonged to that used our Fighter and some healing spells as a replacement since the rogue had already set off one trap. At least the fighter would survive triggering the trap. Even with a rogue, other solutions are often desirable.

Yitzi
2011-10-18, 09:01 AM
Clerics have divine insight, which gives them up to +15 on any skill check. Or, if your DM is ****ing crazy, they have guidance of the avatar (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/sb/sb20010504a). One cross-class rank in Open Lock, and yes, they'd be just fine.

Meanwhile, wizards have summoning spells, which let them trigger traps without needing to search for them at no cost to the wizard.

Point (although summoning trap-bait can easily burn up your spells if the dungeon is more than a few minutes' travel, and still doesn't help with trapped doors).

So basically, the Fighter Paradox is that the combat classes are the only ones who can't step on everyone else's toes?

NeoSeraphi
2011-10-18, 11:02 AM
Point (although summoning trap-bait can easily burn up your spells if the dungeon is more than a few minutes' travel, and still doesn't help with trapped doors).

So basically, the Fighter Paradox is that the combat classes are the only ones who can't step on everyone else's toes?

Exactly, and it's very troublesome, because he gets his toes stepped on a lot. Barbarian hits more often, rogue does more damage, wizard has higher AC, favored soul has Weapon Specialization, etc.

Realms of Chaos
2011-10-18, 01:24 PM
After listening to all of this debate, I think that I probably have to revise, widen, and further explain the fighter paradox (or at least what it is starting to look like):

At it's very core, the fighter paradox is the issue of (theoretically) trading versatility for power (or perhaps focus) in a pen & paper RPG. While I feel that the game can work if it gives everyone focused power or gives everyone wide versatility, D&D in particular allows players to make the choice on an individual basis and this leads to a lot of problems.

In an average campaign, there are both combat encounters and noncombat encounters, each of which can be split into several categories (such as ranged vs melee combat or diplomacy vs mystery solving). All things being equal, a party will spend time on various types of encounters.

If everyone goes for event continuity with their characters, all or most characters will remain meaningful in most situations and there won't be any regular spotlight hogs. The amount of time spent on each type of task isn't really affected by this arrangement.

If everyone goes for specialization with their characters, each character will have their moments to shine with the understanding that they'll be less useful or useless at other times. Unless multiple characters choose the exact same focus, the amount of time spent on each type of task again won't be affected by this arrangement.

If one person goes for specialization, however, and everyone else aims for event continuity, we end up with something of a dilemma. As most or all of the party can handle whatever area that our specialist chooses to specialize in, the party ends up spending less time on such tasks as it is better prepared to deal with them. Other tasks, meanwhile, end up taking proportionately longer as a result and our specialist won't be able to participate in such tasks.

In other words, the specialist ends up lowering the amount of time spent on things that they can actually do because they are good at it, meaning that proportionately more time is spent on things where they are useless.

Complications Regarding D&D:
Going very specifically into D&D, there are three problems in particular that make everything worse and that have made this the "fighter paradox" in particular.
1. Other than "combatants", just about every traditional role has a pretty high degree of event continuity. This is not to say that they are all more fun, of course (the marshal, dragon shaman, and bard have all taken pretty poor approaches to the job enhancement role as discussed in earlier posts), but combatants are still getting the short end of the stick in regards to relevance.
2. Classes in D&D that do have event continuity tend to have it in very large amounts. Not only do they have an unbelievably wide field of influence and effectiveness but (at least for casters) they are also extremely potent in these areas. Especially in combat, just about every class with event continuity is capable of holding its own in combat.
3. Because most classes other than focused combatants are pretty good in combat, actually claiming the spot-light in the battlefield requires a decent degree of optimization. While classes from the ToB get off easy on this point, many others like fighters and barbarians are forced into one-shot pony techniques that turn battles into rocket tag (such as ubercharging).

Obvious Solutions and Rebuttals:
Answers to this problem may seem numerous and obvious not I don't believe all that immediately come to mind may be the magical panacea that they seem to be. To go over a few "obvious" solutions:

Change the ratio of what goes on: Listing the types of encounters campaigns face, you may have noticed the words "all things being equal". Obviously, not all campaigns have to spend equal time on everything. If combat is going too fast, the obvious solution is to ignore the 3.33 encounter per day solution and throw more encounters at your player. As far as I'm concerned, this is the easiest and the best option that I've seen around so far and certain types of gameplay (such as casual dungoon crawls) do it automatically. So long as the DM knows about this problem, it can be fixed in this way. While perhaps not agreeable with more "narrativist" DMs ("why would there be more layers of guards just because a random barbarian can swing a sword better?") and using it in pre-made adventures can be tricky, it's a pretty good fix over all.
Allow for informed decisions: Some people out there, when they play D&D, put far more importance into playing the character they want to play and adding that character to the narrative than in putting the results of their die rolls into that narrative. So long as a person goes into a campaign well-informed that their decision isn't the "best" one, it is still very possible to get enjoyment and fulfillment out of a game. With this in mind, I know from experience that it's possible to get bored with characters even if you have characterized them well and written backgrounds for them and if that happens in this sort of situation, a player wouldn't have much to fall back on. Also, if the party as a whole puts more emphasis on roll playing over role playing, this approach might not end well for the roleplayer. Lastly, though this solution deals with the issue elegantly, forcing players to choose between basic meta-goals such as "have fun" and "be relevant" isn't a sign of good game design ImO.
Limit class access: Going one step further, it might make sense to create different layers of classes that your campaigns can choose from. Limiting classes to those with high event continuity, after all, may end up working just as well as limiting them to more specialized class. In this way, nobody ends up feeling useless next to other party members. The problem with this option, much like the last, is putting meta-goals into opposition (conflicting "play the character I want to play" with "have a balanced team" in this case). Even in this case, however, a plethora of fixes that would raise weaker classes to higher levels are available (though classes that force more powerful classes into focuses are a rarity).
rebuild everything: If nothing else suits your fancy and you actually want the problem fixed rather than tactfully sidestepped, you could rebuild everything from the ground up (or produce enough homebrew fixes to result in the same basic effect). Apart from the time and effort involved with such an effort, the only problem with this option (if it could be considered one) is that the fixes tend to be rather personal. Apart from pathfinder, I have never heard of any 3.5 fix gaining any real degree of speed, even within the bounds of a single forum.

Yitzi
2011-10-18, 10:48 PM
Exactly, and it's very troublesome, because he gets his toes stepped on a lot. Barbarian hits more often, rogue does more damage, wizard has higher AC, favored soul has Weapon Specialization, etc.

That's really a problem with the fighter, rather than with combatants in general.


If one person goes for specialization, however, and everyone else aims for event continuity, we end up with something of a dilemma. As most or all of the party can handle whatever area that our specialist chooses to specialize in, the party ends up spending less time on such tasks as it is better prepared to deal with them. Other tasks, meanwhile, end up taking proportionately longer as a result and our specialist won't be able to participate in such tasks.

Hence my suggestion of a defensive specialist...such a specialist makes the party better prepared to deal with combat without decreasing its length.

(The problem can also be dealt with by giving the party some degree of freedom in what sorts of missions they take. Naturally, they'll focus on those that they're best at, so by calibrating the degree of freedom the total time on each type of situation can be made roughly equal.)


1. Other than "combatants", just about every traditional role has a pretty high degree of event continuity. This is not to say that they are all more fun, of course (the marshal, dragon shaman, and bard have all taken pretty poor approaches to the job enhancement role as discussed in earlier posts), but combatants are still getting the short end of the stick in regards to relevance.

Leaving aside that the bard's job enhancement role is probably only his tertiary role (with the primary two being face and information), this can be dealt with by anything that deals with the overall problem (specialization that doesn't shorten combats, or allowing the party to focus on its area of specialization.)


2. Classes in D&D that do have event continuity tend to have it in very large amounts. Not only do they have an unbelievably wide field of influence and effectiveness but (at least for casters) they are also extremely potent in these areas. Especially in combat, just about every class with event continuity is capable of holding its own in combat.

Indeed; barbarians and paladins should be well above the others when it comes to combat, and fighters should be even above them.


Change the ratio of what goes on: Listing the types of encounters campaigns face, you may have noticed the words "all things being equal". Obviously, not all campaigns have to spend equal time on everything. If combat is going too fast, the obvious solution is to ignore the 3.33 encounter per day solution and throw more encounters at your player.

Technically, anything that has a chance of failure with consequences for failure is an "encounter", whether it's combat or not. I wouldn't say ignore the encounters/day guidelines (although they definitely should be more of an average than a clear rule), just have a higher percentage of combat as opposed to skill- or spell-based. (Puzzle-based and other ones that don't use mechanics at all can be removed from the equation, as anyone can be relevant there.)


While perhaps not agreeable with more "narrativist" DMs ("why would there be more layers of guards just because a random barbarian can swing a sword better?")

The answer there is in what I said earlier in the post: It's not that there's more guards because the barbarian can swing his axe better, it's that because the barbarian's so good with his axe, the party took the "guarded enemy" job rather than the one that called for stealth and/or diplomacy.


Also, if the party as a whole puts more emphasis on roll playing over role playing, this approach might not end well for the roleplayer. Lastly, though this solution deals with the issue elegantly, forcing players to choose between basic meta-goals such as "have fun" and "be relevant" isn't a sign of good game design ImO.

I'd say the answer here is for the DM to actively take steps to encourage in-game thinking and discourage OOC thinking (i.e. make challenges where the easiest way to win is obvious to the roleplayer but the rollplayer's approach will make things far harder than they have to be. Done right, this will also help the realism and immersion issue.)


Limit class access: Going one step further, it might make sense to create different layers of classes that your campaigns can choose from. Limiting classes to those with high event continuity, after all, may end up working just as well as limiting them to more specialized class. In this way, nobody ends up feeling useless next to other party members. The problem with this option, much like the last, is putting meta-goals into opposition (conflicting "play the character I want to play" with "have a balanced team" in this case).

And it gets even worse when the player in question can't play an effective character of a general type (e.g. martial) due to the needed books either not being allowed in the game or (worse yet) being allowed but him not having them.


Even in this case, however, a plethora of fixes that would raise weaker classes to higher levels are available

This is the answer if taking that approach.


rebuild everything: If nothing else suits your fancy and you actually want the problem fixed rather than tactfully sidestepped, you could rebuild everything from the ground up (or produce enough homebrew fixes to result in the same basic effect). Apart from the time and effort involved with such an effort, the only problem with this option (if it could be considered one) is that the fixes tend to be rather personal. Apart from pathfinder, I have never heard of any 3.5 fix gaining any real degree of speed, even within the bounds of a single forum.

I'd say that this is really too much work just to deal with this particular problem; even bigger problems (such as the overscaling of save-or-lose spells and the relative weakness of MUD classes especially at high levels) call only for fixes rather than a ground-up rebuild. The only real reason I can see for a ground-up rebuild is if you want to do a remix of all the classes (either with the same names but different mechanics or a totally different set), and even then it's probably worth keeping most of the basic system.