View Full Version : Reimagining the base classes [3.5]

2012-09-14, 08:44 PM
As we all know, D&D 3.5 is quite unbalanced, heavily favoring casters. I'm probably treading on old ground here, but I thought I'd give a shot at reimagining the base classes to make them more fun and a bit more balanced. Now I'm not a super-optimizer, but even at mid optimization levels, classes like wizard start to completely outclass the fighters and monks.

The main goals of this are:
1)To take the PHB classes and push them closer to T3.
2)To remove dead levels and to encourage people to stick with a class, rather than relying heavily on 1-2 level dips.
3)To add more fun and flavorful options to players.
4)To create a system that would be fun to DM & play with my friends.

Step 1:The world, prestige classes, spells, and magic items.
Rule 0: Infinite power loops are banned by DM fiat.
Rule 1: The Magic Item Compendium is not a shopping list that you browse through. Every item is subject to an availability check based upon your/its level, class, your social skills, your contacts, and how specific the item is. Asking for a +1 longsword will be a relatively easy find at a market. A talisman of the disk still won't be hard to find for an appropriate level character. Asking specifically for a Mind Jar will probably be harder to find on level. As a rule of thumb, higher level magic items are as rare as high level casters, and as such are harder to find in shops.
Rule 2:The world moves on without you. If you want to spend a month crafting magic items, that's okay, but the world still goes on. Evildoers are plotting. Wars are being waged. Other adventurers are out in dungeons fighting zombies and looting treasures. Friends and enemies alike are dying.
Rule 3: Fluff applies, usually. If you want to be an Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil, you have to find at least something similar in world to join. And you have to keep up your duties as a member in order to keep advancing. Classes don't exist "just because."
Rule 4: Weapon Group Variant rules are used. This includes feats applying to weapon groups instead of specific weapons.
Rule 5: The Giant's social rules apply.
Rule 6: This is incomplete, and I probably forgot to include something, so I will be rewriting and revising this as things go along.

Now for the rewriting of the classes...

Approach: I decided to start with wizard, because we all know that a wizard will rewrite your campaign if left unchecked. I feel the world limitations provides a good start to limiting their power, but it still feels as if it could grow unchecked.
I want them to still be masters of the arcane, to be the focused academic type, and to keep enough versatility to make their magic worthwhile, while preventing them from making a mockery of the world.

New Abilities:
- Spell Trick X - When memorizing spells each day, the wizard chooses a level 0 spell that he has memorized. He may sacrifice any memorized spell of a greater or equal level in order to cast this spell.
- Focused Studies X - As the wizard delves deeper into magical knowledge, he must narrow his focus. Choose X schools of magic. The wizard may not learn level X+1 or higher spells from these schools. The Universal School may never be prohibited. If you have prohibited a school at a lower level, you must continue using this as one of your prohibited schools for high-level spells.
- Library Card X - A Wizard has a library card. In any city with sufficient facilities, he can instantly find a teacher for any spell of level X. He also gets a 50% availability time reduction and a +5 to his acquirement check when trying to find a magic item using a spell of level X+1 or below.
1: Summon familiar, Scribe Scroll, Library Card 0
2: Spell trick 0.
3: Focused studies 1.
4: Spell Trick 1
5: Focused Studies 2, Bonus Feat, Library Card 1
6: Spell Trick 2
7: Focused Studies 3
8: Spell Trick 3
9: Focused Studies 4
10: Bonus Feat, Library Card 2
11: Focused Studies 5
12: Spell Trick 4
13: Focused Studies 6
14: Spell Trick 5
15: Focused Studies 7, Bonus Feat, Library Card 3
16: Spell Trick 6
17: Focused Studies 8
18: Spell Trick 7
19: Bonus Feat
20: Spell Trick 8, Library Card 4

First of all, specialist wizards no longer exist in this world. Guild mages are probably out as well.
I attempt to limit their overwhelming versatility by limiting spell schools (which seems to work for the other tier 3 casters).

Every level, the wizard will get either a "spell trick," a new level of spells, or a bonus feat. Now, there are no dead levels. By skipping the "spell trick" at level 10, we slow the power creep of the ability at mid levels, while giving wizards a cool capstone ability at level 20. To do this, I decided to speed up the bonus feat at level 20 by one level.

By 17th level, a wizard has been limited to 1 school of 9th level spell. This means he can cast time stop or foresight or wail of the banshee, but not all of them. He can still overcome most his limitations with magic items, but hey, so can a rogue.

Rogue is already a pretty solid tier 4 class, but I'd like to see it get a little extra oomph to push it closer to tier 3. Trapfinding is a mostly useless ability, so I don't even count that as a dead level filler. Meanwhile, Sneak attack is more of a progression than adding any new abilities. This means we have a lot of extra levels to fill with abilities.
I want the rogue to be a master of subtle tactics. He can be the face of the party, the engineer, a sneaky backstabber, or an acrobat. All of the abilities given are meant to further increase his versitility and to give him a few more options.
HiPS was an obvious choice for a level 20 capstone, but I also felt that rogues should get some extra bang at level 17 (to slightly offset level 9 spells for full casters).
Also, since many skills are already overshadowed by magic, I thought I'd give the rogue a bit more leeway with their choices by combining a few, and by adding able learner later on.
There's also a few abilities from Dungeonscape that fit the rogue really well, so I took the liberty to add them.

New abilities:
-Calculated Strike - The Rogue may spend one round analyzing the weaknesses of an enemy. The rogue makes an attack roll against the target, using his Int modifier instead of the appropriate physical attribute. If successful, the rogue bypasses all forms of critical immunity that currently apply to the target, critical threat range is doubled, and all critical hits automatically apply sneak attack, regardless of flanking. This may be performed out of combat, the rogue may take 20 if time permits (but not 10), and the attack may be made against any situation the rogue chooses, however those situations must apply for the bonuses to take effect (The opponent must be wearing the same or lesser armor, have the same or lesser protective magics, and must have the same or greater debuffs). This may only apply to one target at a time.
-Underworld Legend - The Rogue reroll any failed social rolls a single time when trying to gather information, find a magic item in a shop, or hire a contact, as well as any social rolls specifically dealing with members of the underworld.
-Uncatchable. Once per encounter, a rogue may shake off any effect that hampers his movement. This includes, but is not limited to spells like entangle, solid fog, and hold person. This ability is an immediate action, but the duration only lasts one round.
-Thief's Tricks. When you gain a level as rogue, all skillpoints spent in Disable Device also grant skillpoints to Open Lock, all spent in Hide also grant Move Silently, and all spent in Sleight of Hand grant either one point in Forgery or Craft: Trapmaking.
-Rapid Calculations. Once per encounter, you may use Calculated Strike as a swift action.
-Perfect Strike. If you successfully used Calculated Strike against an opponent, treat your next attack roll against that target as if it were a natural 20.
1:Sneak attack 1, Trapfinding, Booby Traps (Simple), Thief's Tricks
2:Evasion, Trap Sense 1
3:Sneak attack 2, Booby Traps (Advanced)
4:Uncanny Dodge, Spell Sense 1
5:Sneak attack 3, quick fingers
6:Calculated Strike, Trap Sense 2
7:Sneak attack 4, Able Learner
8:Improved Uncanny Dodge, Spell sense 2
9:Sneak attack 5, Make Your Own Luck
10:Special Ability, Trap Sense 3
11:Sneak attack 6, Rapid Calculations
12:Avoid Disaster, Spell Sense 3
13:Sneak attack 7, Special Ability
14:Camoflage (All), Trap sense 4
15:Sneak attack 8, Perfect Strike
16:Special Ability, Spell Sense 4
17:Sneak attack 9, Uncatchable
18:Underworld Legend, Trap sense 5
19:Sneak attack 10, Special Ability
20:Hide in Plain Sight (All), Spell Sense 5


I was about to do a remake of Fighter, but I saw http://alt.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=241661. This is what I want my fighters to be. I can't improve on it.

I'm planning on remaking the Monk next, since I have some cool ideas I've been throwing around, and since it's easier to improve a class than to nerf it.