View Full Version : Making Race Matter More--LOTS more!

2006-10-29, 02:51 AM
It's late at night and I'm tired, but I had an idea while working today that I thought I'd just throw out there with an example or two. I remember reading on these boards that past a certain point, race really tends to stop mattering (except for LA boosts, that is).

So I was thinking about the "Favored Class" racial feature, which I've not used much in my comparatively small time that I've spent gaming. It seems rather arbitrary to give out penalties to specific races for wanting to break the mold a little bit. The resulting idea may be genius, madness, or just stupid, but it boils down to an attempt to turn favored class from a non-penalty to a bonus.

Experience penalties for multiclassing may or may not be removed in tandem with this. I don't have time or energy to think about how that may affect the rest of the idea.

At levels divisible by 4, a character (including any and all NPCs) receives a single gestalt level; one of the two must be their favored class. Humans and any other races who normally determine their favored class during play rather than having it predetermined must declare their favored class at character creation. Characters must meet the prerequisites for all class abilities gained from these gestalt levels (for example, if an Aasimar loses his paladinhood, he still gains a paladin level at reaching level 8, but is still considered a fallen paladin). Characters may, at DM's discretion, take variants of the class in question (e.g. Paladin again; a lawful evil Aasimar could take a level in Paladin of Tyranny).

The logic is that studying something that you have natural aptitude for lets you take on other studies as a hobby; or, if you're studying other things, your natural aptitude becomes your hobby.

Let's take on two examples. Gronk is a half-orc fighter, level 3. He levels up to level 4 and chooses to take a level in fighter again. He becomes a fighter level 4 with the benefits of having 1 level in barbarian as well; 3d10 + 1d12 + 4 * con modifier for hit points, BAB of 4, 3 bonus feats, rage 1/day, fast movement in medium, light or no armor, and saves of 5/1/1 (he gains +2 to fort save at level 4 because of his barbarian level, rather than +1 that he would gain due to his fighter level; he does not gain both bonuses).

Meanwhile, Denderry is a halfling fighter, level 3. He levels up to level 4 and likewise takes a level in fighter. He becomes a fighter level 4 with the benefits of having 1 level in rogue. 4d10 + 4 * con modifier hit points, BAB of 4, 3 bonus feats, sneak attack 1d6, trapfinding, a boatload of skill points at that level, and saves of 4/3/1.

What do you all think? I think it has potential...but then again, it IS very late at night! Or...early in the morning.

Captain van der Decken
2006-10-29, 03:57 AM
It's a good idea, but makes people who take their favoured class less powerful.

2006-10-29, 05:35 AM
I wouldn't say it makes them less powerful. A halfling Rogue 20//Fighter 5 would be no less powerful than a halfling Fighter 20//Rogue 5.

Captain van der Decken
2006-10-29, 05:42 AM
Ohh. Never mind, i misunderstood the OP.

2006-10-29, 05:49 AM
My worry is that this might require a lot more bookeeping. You'd have to record what classes were taken on the particular levels, in addition to everything else.

2006-10-29, 10:33 AM
I think I can overcome that. I have work again today...let me see what I can come up with.

It seems like a neat idea right now, after sleeping. Makes me wish I had an active DM right now.


It's possible to overcome. I can probably make an excel spreadsheet that would let the user pick classes and level numbers, and the spreadsheet would tell them what to add to their character. I'll start working on it soon...

2006-10-29, 10:58 PM
I like this idea, as i usually throw out favored class too.

No complaints here, but traditionally I have been confused by Gestalt, I think ill go read up on the rules again.

2006-10-29, 11:55 PM
When you gain a gestalt level, you get the benefits of both classes in the gestalt, with the exception being that features gained by both classes independantly don't stack. E.g. save bonuses--if one of your classes gets +1 fort, and the other class gets +2, you only get +2 instead of +3. But if one gets a level of CHA-based arcane spells and the other gets a level of INT-based arcane spells, you DO get both.

One caveat, though, is that you have to break BAB down into its component--meaning 1 or .75 or .5 per level, rounded down. Otherwise you can get some serious cheese.

Edit: I'll be working on making a spreadsheet that lets you pick two classes and mix them at a particular level as a gestalt; it should then show you exactly what the character in question should add to his character sheet.

2006-10-30, 03:55 PM
This all seems very complicated.

How about if, instead of the XP penalty related to favored classes, you eliminate that rule, and give a small XP bonus for levels taken in the favored class?

So, if you are (say) a PHB elf, whose favored class is Wizard, you get a 5% XP bonus for each level in which you level up as a Wizard. E.g., at the moment you advance a level, you gain an XP bonus of 5% times the amount of XP you needed to gain that level.

If you are a race with favored class: all (such as human) you'd always get this bonus.

This could be seen as penalizing those who don't take a favored class, because they don't get the XP bonus. But really it makes more sense than the current system, where you can avoid the XP penalty by maintaining even numbers of levels in your various classes, doing all this dancing around with your multiple classes to avoid the penalty, etc.

I think it makes more sense flavorwise, too. If elves really do have a higher number of wizards, and a natural aptitude for wizardry, it makes sense that they'd advance slightly faster when studying wizardry than otherwise.

Of course, this does make humans and other races with favored class: all, fairly powerful. But 5% isn't all that much, in the long run. It might mean you occasionally level up 1 adventure before your party mates who aren't taking their favored class...but they'll earn more XP during that adventure on average (due to the way XP is calculated), so they'll tend to catch up.

Of course, all of this is just an alternative to simply throwing out the whole favored class system anyway, which is also a reasonable (I think) house rule.


2006-10-30, 03:57 PM
That seems to do the exact opposite of what you are trying to do. You're saying you don't like favored classes because it prevents characters from getting away from the stereotypical version of themself. However, you are then giving EVERY character the stereotypical version of themself.

Like EVERY halfling adventurer (level 4 and above) knows how to sneak attack. EVERY elven adventurer (level 4 and above) knows how to cast spells.

Plus this could really ruin RP. The Elven cleric who spurned arcane magic for Divine would suddenly develop arcane magic at level 4. Just seems weird to me.

I like what I think is the overall idea, but not the implementation. I think that all half-orcs tapping into a "mini-rage" would be cool, but not all of the abilities are going to fit every race.

Captain van der Decken
2006-10-30, 04:31 PM
I like what I think is the overall idea, but not the implementation. I think that all half-orcs tapping into a "mini-rage" would be cool, but not all of the abilities are going to fit every race.

Give them it as a racial ability then. They are underpowered.

2006-10-30, 05:19 PM
The problem is partly that the bonus/penalty exists in a way that really is purely mechanical and not really expressed in roleplay. These characters are supposed to be from different cultures, which embrace different ideals of professions, and yet an elf wizard has pretty little to show at high level that will show up an upstart dwarf wizard.

I find no problems with it as far as stereotyping; it makes sense to me that halflings would be great at sneak attacking (especially against males) and elves are supposed to be magical. They don't HAVE to all get magic missile and dress in robes any more than the halflings all HAVE to put their skill points in hide in shadows and disable device. It adds versatility to the characters, adding in more options in and out of combat...plus you never know when someone might be a reincarnated character from another race, with a different favored class than you expect.

And yeah, it is complicated to do, but I think it might be fun to try.